Stan Burrell, better known as old school rapper MC Hammer, is making a comeback as a mixed-martial arts sports manager – and he’s leaving the baggy pants behind.

Burrell, and partners Lex McMahon and Nima Safapour, have launched L.A.-based Alchemist Management with a group of clients that include contenders for UFC and Strikeforce championships.

“Hammer and I saw a void in the marketplace for a full-service management company,” said Lex McMahon, president of Alchemist. “We want to provide traditional management services, but also help fighters cross over into mainstream entertainment and branding opportunities.”

Alchemist, which has the backing of undisclosed private investors, has jumped into an industry that is far more mom and pop than its sister sport of boxing. The idea is to trade on Burrell’s stage name to build bridges to the entertainment industry so that fighters can get endorsement, movie and television deals.

Burrell gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s as a pioneering rapper. He had huge hit singles such as “U Can’t Touch This” and “Too Legit Too Quit,” making more than $100 million before notoriously filing for bankruptcy in 1996.

Since then, the rapper has reinvented himself as an expert in social media, and its applications in the entertainment and sports industry. He’s makes the rounds on the speaker circuit and currently has nearly 2 million Twitter followers. He also has a history of managing fighters, including heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

Alchemist is already managing more than 20 athletes –including UFC middleweight contender Nate Marquardt and Strikeforce middleweight contender Tim Kennedy – many of whom were brought into the fold by McMahon, an experienced mixed-martial arts manager. It targets athletes who can have an appeal to wider audiences as actors.

However, Brad Marks, a mixed-martial arts talent manager, said the new firm may find it challenging to break its athletes into the entertainment business.

“A lot of guys are getting into the management business because it’s a popular sport right now, but if you don’t have a background in the field, you won’t know the first thing about negotiating these contracts,” said Marks, who represents mixed-martial artists Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson. “Anyone can start an agency, but you need the experience to get your athletes endorsements.”

Burrell, who lives in the Bay Area, was not made available for comment.

Budding Relationship

It’s got to be one of the most coveted floral sponsorships in the world: the Rose Bowl.

Last week, the Rose Bowl Operating Committee signed a deal making Passion Growers, a Miami-based rose supplier, the official supplier of the Rose Bowl game and stadium.

“We are proud to be the official rose of this internationally recognized brand,” said Jaime Peisach, founder of Passion Growers, which grows its flowers in Colombia and Ecuador.

The family-owned company was founded in 2001, and distributes 150 varieties of flowers in 5,000 retail and grocery stores nationwide. It also does business online at PassionGrowers.com

The company is paying $522,000 for the four-year sponsorship and will get signage in the stadium. The operating committee cited Passion Growers’ sustainable agricultural practices as one reason for selecting the company.

Fast Ball

Red Bull USA, the Santa Monica-based subsidiary of Austrian energy drink maker Red Bull GmbH, is ramping up its sports endorsement deals.

The company has signed a deal with San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum. The 26-year-old pitcher is the defending two-time National League Cy Young Award winner.

Over the past two years, Red Bull USA has signed endorsement deals with Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Boston Celtics star Rajon Rondo.

New Hires

Beverly Hills Sports Council made three executive moves in July. The Beverly Hills baseball talent agency hired George H. Burns as executive director of athlete marketing; Paul Kuo as director of public relations; and Ellen McGlynn as associate counsel assisting in salary arbitration, contract endorsements and other legal matters.

Beverly Hills Sports Council agents include Jeff Borris, Dan Horwits and Rick Thurman, who represent MLB all-stars Lincecum, Jayson Werth, Trevor Hoffman, Mark Reynolds, Brian Wilson and numerous other high-profile clients.

Staff reporter David Nusbaum can be reached at dnusbaum@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 236.

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