Ultimate Fighting: From Blood Sport to Big Time

December 13, 2007

Ultimate Fighting: From Blood Sport to Big Time premiers tonight on CNBC at 10PM eastern. You can preview the program with highlights and web extras at CNBC.com.

One thing is already apparent: CNBC is on board with the UFC’s branding strategy of MMA as ultimate fighting.

WEC v. UFC: Zuffa Goes Head-to-Head

December 12, 2007

Tonight the WEC goes head-to-head with the UFC. The WEC gets underway at 8PM on Versus with a replay of last week’s countdown show (worth checking out), followed by the live card at 9PM featuring three title defenses and Jens Pulver’s WEC debut. The UFC on Spike has a three hour block of Unleashed starting at 9PM with Silva-Marquardt, Griffin-Edgar, and Huerta-Garcia among others.

The decision by Spike to counter program the WEC show isn’t incredibly surprising given the fact that Versus aspires to be a competitor to Spike in the 18-49 male demographic, however, the two networks have worked together in the past, with Versus airing the countdown special to the Ultimate Fighter 5 Live Finale featuring Penn v. Pulver. The live WEC specials on Versus have averaged around a 0.4-.05 rating, while Unleashed typically draws between a 0.7-.08 on Spike.

It will be interesting to see what kind of rating tonight’s WEC broadcast draws. The card is loaded, featuring the promotions biggest stars in the form of Urijah Faber, Paulo Filho, and Pulver. The event has also received the biggest promotional push yet for a Zuffa promoted WEC event, complete with a countdown show in heavy rotation.

TUF 6 Live Finale Rating

December 11, 2007

The Ultimate Fighter 6 Live Finale posted a 1.8 rating, good for 1.7 million viewers. The demographic breakouts were a 2.7 rating for males 18-34, a 2.8 rating for makes 25-34, and a 2.2 rating for males 18-49.

The overall rating matches the 1.8 average rating for the first five TUF Finales, however, the number also makes TUF 6 the second lowest rated TUF Finale, ahead of only the season four finale. The complete season by season finale breakdown:

  • TUF 1 – Couture v. Liddell – 1.9
  • TUF 2 – Hughes v. Franklin – 2.0
  • TUF 3 – Shamrock v. Ortiz – 2.0
  • TUF 4 – The Comeback – 1.1
  • TUF 5 – Penn v. Pulver – 2.0
  • TUF 6 – Hughes v. Serra – 1.8

A hot topic within the industry currently is to what extent boxing and MMA actually compete for the same consumers (more on that topic later). With that in mind, for what its worth, viewership for the broadcast peaked at 2.9 million viewers during the Huerta-Guida fight despite going head-to-head with Mayweather-Hatton on pay-per-view.

Strikeforce Announces Bob Sapp for 2/23

December 11, 2007

Today Strikeforce officially announced Bob Sapp as the headliner (opponent TBA) of its 2/23 show at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. Maurice Smith and Rick Roufus will meet in the semi-main event. Sapp and Smith both have ties to the local market.

Strikeforce is another promotion that bears watching in the battle to claim the number one contender spot in the MMA industry. The promotion enjoyed a successful 2007 in the San Jose market and has its eyes on expansion in 2008. Several weeks ago it was rumored to be the leader in the NBC television sweepstakes.

TUF Rating – Week 11

December 11, 2007

Dave Meltzer reports that the 11/28 episode of the Ultimate Fighter bounced back to 1.12 rating with 1.5 million viewers from a season low 0.95 rating on Thanksgiving Eve. The show did a 1.51 in Males 18-34 and a 1.11 in Males 35-49.

TUF 7 Coaches Set; Jackson v. Griffin Headlines UFC's Early 2008 Lineup

December 10, 2007

The UFC officially announced Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and, the original Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffin as coaches for the seventh edition of The Ultimate Fighter. Filming for season seven will begin in January. The series is scheduled to premier in April. Subsequently, Jackson will defend his title against Griffin in the summer of 2008.

Assuming an April premier and a twelve-week season, Jackson-Griffin will take place on Saturday June 21st at the earliest. At that time the company’s premier weight class will have been on hold for at least eight months. The Light Heavyweight title will likely be defended only twice next year as the company continues to move towards more of a boxing work load for its top stars (2-3 fights per year).

The pay-per-view lineup through the first two quarters of next year is shaping up like this:

  • 1/08 – England – BJ Penn v. Joe Stevenson for the Lightweight Title
  • 2/08 – Las Vegas – Tim Sylvia v. Antonio Nogueira for the Heavyweight Title, Brock Lesnar v. Frank Mir
  • 3/08 – Columbus – Anderson Silva v. Dan Henderson for the Middleweight Title
  • 4/08 – Montreal – Matt Hughes/Georges Saint Pierre v. Matt Sera for the Welterweight Title
  • 5/08 – Penn/Stevenson v. Sean Sherk for the Lightweight Title
  • 6/08 – Quinton Jackson v. Forrest Griffin for the Light Heavyweight Title

UFC Out Promoted, But Not Outperformed

December 9, 2007

Without the benefit of the critically acclaimed 24/7 series, last night’s Mayweather-Hatton fight might have been nothing more than a boring, disjointed boxing match saved by a stunning finish. However, the hype of Mayweather/Hatton 24/7 transformed the fight into a satisfying experience with a lively crowd of English invaders and a compelling, if slightly boring, build towards a hot finish in the 10th round. Credit where credit is do, outside of a mind numbing undercard, boxing delivered last night and this year.

Mayweather-Hatton was a strong punctuation, although perhaps not an exclamation, on a big year for boxing. At this point it is clear, crystal clear, that reports of boxing’s demise were greatly exagerated. But in watching the fights at a large social gathering, including fans of boxing and MMA as well as the uninitiated, one thing was clear (at least anecdotally): while boxing may have won the night and even the year, MMA is winning the war.

Boxing has become something hard to fathom, far removed from its primal nature. Actual “fighting,” that is the exchange of punches, has now become the exception rather than rule, replaced by the clinch. Mayweather-Hatton was largely incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with boxing and un-relatable, even boring, to those who didn’t have the benefit of 24/7 to provide characters to care about.

Last night across the Las Vegas strip, the UFC delivered a slightly more understated card. The event featured none of the bells and whistles of Mayweather-Hatton, but delivered a more entertaining show none the less. The event featured one, possibly two, match of the year candidates including Roger Huerta in another star making performance in a come from behind victory over Clay Guida and Jon Koppenhaver v. Jared Rollins.

Unlike Mayweather-Hatton, both matches were easily understood, even by those unfamiliar with the rules, and quickly enthralling, luring viewers in on the strength of the sport, the action alone, absent the high priced promotional tactics of 24/7.

There is the uncomfortable truth that boxing must face: MMA is immediately more understandable than the sweet science. It is what boxing was, or at least what we used to think boxing was, the purest expression of the ancient truths of violence, competition, and masculinity. So while boxing may have fixed its promotional flaws, it may have revealed a deeper disconnect in the process. One that not even 24/7 can fix.

Couture Addresses Packers

December 9, 2007

Jay Glazer, the man responsible for the event, has a great article on FOX Sports about Randy Couture’s pregame address to the Green Bay Packers.

“It was unbelievable,” head coach Mike McCarthy told FOX Sports after listening to the special guest speaker. “I don’t think I’ve ever been around a guy that impressive before in my life. He’s pretty much the baddest guy walking the country, but he’s one of the most humble guys I think I’ve ever been around.

“You had to see the guys’ reaction when he walked into that room.”

Well worth the full read.

Busy December for HDNet Fights

December 8, 2007

HDNet Fights announced yesterday that HDNet will air the IFL World Grand Prix Finals live on 12/29, head-to-head with the UFC, as well as Fedor Emeilianenko’s fight on New Year’s Eve in Japan on 12/31 live on HDNet. The promotion will also present its own card, Reckless Abandon, live from Dallas on 12/15.

HDF is doing everything right so far, focusing on slowly building into an industry leader rather than trying to compete with the UFC right away. Mark Cuban’s vision, financial commitment, vast connections in the sports and business worlds, and willingness to patiently build the business make the company worth watching in the next 3-5 years. In many respects, HDF looks to be the only current promotion with a chance to emerge as viable competition to the UFC over the long term.

For more see: HDNet Fights: Professional MMA

Mayweather/Hatton 24/7

December 8, 2007

WorldHipHopStar.com has the complete Mayweather/Hatton 24/7 series to get you geared up for tonight’s fight:

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