Andrew Simon has seen plenty in the MMA and combat sports worlds in his career.
These days, he’s still in the entertainment business, but in a much different capacity. The former CEO of AXS TV Fights now is the president and CEO of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas.
Friday, Simon will be front and center on the long-running CBS show “Undercover Boss,” on which heads of companies are put in disguise and sent out among their employees to get an idea of what they go through on the job – and oftentimes, what they think of how the companies are run. The episode airs at 8 p.m. ET.
“For 12 years, I was behind the scenes in pro wrestling (and) mixed martial arts,” Simon told MMA Junkie Radio. “For the first time, really ever, I’m on screen. But most importantly, we’re showing off Fremont Street Experience here in Las Vegas – the downtown area – and the employees and what their jobs are really like. It really gave me a chance to go back. Thirty years ago, I dealt blackjack from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., so it’s like going back in time and doing those jobs where really the work gets done in Las Vegas.”
Simon said he didn’t want to reveal much about what viewers will see on Friday’s episode, so as to not spoil the surprise. But he did say being among the rank-and-file employees gave him and the company a chance to make a difference.
“The most rewarding part of doing (‘Undercover Boss’) is knowing that you can change people’s lives. And I will say I think we do,” Simon said.
Fremont Street Experience takes up five blocks in downtown Las Vegas. The majority of that stretch is covered with a nine-story-tall canopy with a display screen. The pedestrian mall is made of shops, casinos, bars, restaurants and hotels, and there’s even a zip line that runs nearly the full length of it.
With live music upwards of 20 hours a day and near constant entertainment, Fremont Street Experience has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Las Vegas. Simon said he hopes he can help grow it to even bigger status.
“This is the second most-traveled street in the United States of America,” he said. “You take a look: 25 million people a year come to Fremont Street Experience. And one of the reasons I did this was, everybody knows about the Las Vegas Strip. Everybody knows ‘I want to see everything there is on the Strip.’ But about 50 percent of the people come downtown, (too). I want it to be 100 percent come downtown when they come to Las Vegas in the future.”
Simon’s extensive experience in combat sports might even come into play down the road, too. He said if there are opportunities to put live fights on Fremont Street, he’d welcome it.
“We did the first live sporting event from Fremont Street back in 2011,” Simon said. “… It was amazing. That really was one of my favorite events. Just the look and feel of doing a fight on Fremont Street, outdoors with all the lights and the canopy – it was awesome.
“Whether it could happen again, there’s definitely been a lot of conversation about it. People want to do it all the time. … That’s something we would definitely consider, whether it’s boxing, MMA, pro wrestling – if it makes sense and we can pull it off financially, I’d love to do it again and this time be on the other side.”