Cuban & Simon on CBS Debut and More

May 31, 2008

On the eve of MMA’s network television debut, reached to executives around the industry to find out how and where they would be watching tonight’s show and to get their impressions on a number of issues facing the sport.

Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban created HDNet Fights and has since made mixed martial arts programming a cornerstone of his high definition channel, HDNet. Andrew Simon was hired by Cuban as CEO of HDNet Fights last fall.

The following questions were submitted via email.

Andrew Falzon: Will you be watching the EliteXC event? If so, where? Live or taped/ “DVR”ed?
Mark Cuban: Yep, but DVR’ed on my 102 inch Panasonic!
Andrew Simon: Yes. On the road Saturday. So, will DVR and then use slingbox to watch it late Saturday night.

AF: What do you expect the response from the general public to be? Especially those seeing the sport for the first time?
MC: I honestly have no idea

AF: A lot of people are saying that the success or failure of the sport hinges on the EliteXC event, especially for organizations trying to grow a non-UFC audience. Do you agree? Why or why not?
MC: Thats ridiculous. MMA is a great sport that can and will stand on its own for a long, long time.
AS: No. The fastest growing sport in the U.S. doesn’t depend on any one entity. HDNet will have over 25 LIVE events this year in addition to nearly 50 episodes of Inside MMA on our network. We are seeing incredible demand for MMA action.

AF: We’re beginning to see grandstanding from some of the athletes involved in the sport, griping about their paychecks (Tito Oritz in the UFC and Ben Rothwell holding out on and then leaving the IFL). What do you think of this?
MC: Its part of any growing sport. Just ask Curt Flood. If anything, movement between promotions opens the doors for new and exciting matchups. We are seeing great fighters in Dream, StrikeForce, EliteXC, Affliction, Adrenaline, IFL, XFL, MFC and others. I think it ends up helping the sport.

AF: For athletes outside of the UFC, are big money contracts a realistic expectation?
MC: From the looks of the UFC 84 paydays, it looks like the biggest checks are outside the UFC. When Keith Jardine only makes 10k, thats ridiculous. When Sean Serk makes, what 35k fighting at the top of the card against BJ Penn, is that the best fighters making the most money? UFC 84 was a good card, and there was a fighter making $3-thousand. Three thousand dollars in UFC is not making big dollars in the UFC.

AF: Initial reports are that MMA has not been a profitable venture for you early on. Is this true?
MC: Thats nobody’s business but mine. I’m in this for the long run. Its a great sport and we are going to grow it via HDNet Fights and HDNet.

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