Fickett vs Taylor Heads up Total Combat/Sycuan Card

September 30, 2008

In our post from last week on Manny Pacquaio entering the promotional field, we mentioned that the venue would also be putting on MMA cards as well. The first MMA card goes off this week, with a very attractive main event that should garner some attention:

Total Combat Entertainment in conjunction with Sycuan’s Ringside Promotions presents, Total Combat “Notorious” Live from the Sycuan Casino & Resort, located just 15 minutes east of downtown San Diego. This 32nd venture, from southern California’s premier cage fighting promotion, will take place on Thursday October 2nd, 2008.

In the main event, a decorated wrestler and finalist on The Ultimate Fighter Season 7, Jesse Taylor, wants no easy fights. According to Taylor, he wants to fight the best guys out there. Taylor is looking to move down to welterweight division and continue dominating as he did in TUF season 7, but he will have his hands full when he meets Drew “The Master” Fickett. Fickett is a seasoned veteran, with a record of 35-6, finishing more than 70% of fights. He will be looking to finish the bigger and stronger Taylor. Fickett, also a veteran of the UFC, has defeated top 10 ranked fighters: Josh Koscheck, Kurt Pellegrino, and Kenny Florian. Taylor, who was victorious in Total Combat 21, looks to return to the winner’s circle at the expense of the more experienced Fickett. Both of these Notorious Fighters always leave everything they have in the Cage!

As Co-Main Event, we have San Diego’s own, Kevin Dunsmor who will take on WEC and TC veteran, Ian McCall. Both fighters are aggressive and well rounded. The 7-1 Dunsmor will be looking to continue his 5 fight win streak and showcase his skills vs. top competition in Ian McCall. Ian McCall, 6-1, is looking to rebound off his only loss. McCall is known for his relentless pace, aggressive ground and pound, along with his technical striking.

In addition to these two main events, females will step into the TC Cage, for 2nd time in Total Combat history and will be looking to steal the show! Kim Rose, 1-0, coming off a win over Randy Couture’s wife Kim Coture, will be facing Megan Gangitano out of Team Quest. Alliance Gym, standout, Rolando Perez will be facing San Pasqual’s Nick Alvarado! This card is stacked from top to bottom and as always, Total Combat will deliver another action filled night of cage fighting. We would also like to announce our partnership with MTV3, which will be the new home of Total Combat. Please join us in celebrating our 6 year Anniversary at The Sycuan Casino & Resort, Thursday October 2nd, 2008 and experience Total Combat 32 “Notorious” Live! The best Cage Fighting action in San Diego! For more info and full fight card and to purchase your tickets please visit us on web: www.totalcombat.tv or http://www.sycuan.com/ringside or call: (619)392-4660

HBO, WWE Executives Weigh-in on UFC

September 30, 2008

MMAPayout.com recently did a segment on Inside MMA on the PPV battles between UFC, HBO, and WWE. Multichannel News recently elaborated on this battle for supremacy, with HBO and WWE execs commenting on the situation. At least for the press, both HBO and WWE execs tend to play down the impact that the UFC is having on their business.

HBO Pay-Per-View senior vice president Mark Taffet tends to feel a rising tide is lifting all boats:

“The landscape continues to look bright,” he said, adding that HBO’s pay-per-view boxing set records in 2006 and 2007 with 2008 proceeding apace, while the traditional network’s live events are also faring well. (Boxing tends to draw an older demographic than MMA.)

“There is room for everyone,” said Taffet. “It’s good for pay-per-view — mixed martial arts has just added more consumers to the television set.”

Taffet comes off as having his head in the sand as to the demographic divide between the younger skewing MMA and the graying Boxing crowd. There are a few factors, though that still make his a catbird’s seat for PPV. One is the much wider International PPV base that is enjoyed by boxing compared to MMA. International numbers put up by guys like Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe help boost the bottom line over and above the domestic sales.

Another factor keeping boxing relevant are the shifting ethnic demographics of the United States. The Hispanic audience that has been a core of the HBO boxing customer base will only continue to grow over time, with HBO reaping the benefits of this demographic shift. The UFC is currently laying the groundwork to make in-roads to the Hispanic market but it will be a long game of catch-up to get within striking distance of Boxing’s hold on the Latino fight fan.

Members of WWE management also weighed in on the UFC, believing that the WWE attracts a much wider market, limiting competition with the UFC:

Much of what UFC is doing with MMA has been done before, said WWE executive vice president Geoff Rochester.

“We think they’ve borrowed from us — all the pyrotechnics, the high-energy music are things we brought in years ago,” he said. “They adopted our production techniques.”

<
Rochester also says WWE’s demos are much broader, attracting both older and younger viewers (they just launched a kids’ magazine) and the company is more layered with books, DVDs and theatrical releases complementing the live and televised events.

WWE views movies and television shows as its main competition, according to Rochester. But with respect to UFC, he said, “We watch each other, make no mistake.”

While the WWE does attract a wider demo, the WWE has to be worried with the performance of Brock Lesnar in his performance with the UFC. The former WWE champ has drawn new customers to the UFC, and they aren’t coming because of his amateur days with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Brock’s first bout against Frank Mir brought in 300k folks that had never purchased a UFC PPV before. Most of these buys are either current or disaffected WWE fans, a sign that has to be troubling to Vince McMahon.

Rochester speaks the truth when saying that the UFC has followed the WWE blueprint, and UFC execs will admit as much. Some of these moves have been dubious (like the Octagon Card Girl search and the Dana vs Tito boxing match, both made for TV events that veered too far into the WWE antics) but for the most part, the UFC has been handsomely rewarded.

The UFC spoke recently about their plans to increase shows internationally and a big part of that was going to areas that the WWE had been able to operate successfully in. The UFC is essentially using the WWE as a “canary down the coal mine” in order to feel out prospective markets, saving both time and money.

UFC Launches TV in Romania

September 30, 2008

LAS VEGAS, NV ( USA ) — Zuffa, LLC, owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship® ( UFC® ) brand, and TELESPORT, one of the largest dedicated sports networks in Romania, today announced the successful launch of UFC live events on Telesport.

The first broadcast partner of the UFC in Romania, TELESPORT aired the recent UFC 88: BREAKTHROUGH event, featuring Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell vs. “Sugar” Rashad Evans, and received a 4.5 percent market share for the premiere and a 3.5 percent market share for its replay later that evening.

As part of the agreement, TELESPORT will air UFC’s major live events. Telesport will also present a regular schedule of UFC programming, featuring some of the UFC’s most exciting events from the past.

“We are pleased to have the world’s most exciting live sports event – the UFC – available for sports fans in Romania,” said UFC President Dana White. “We look forward to bringing them all the best fights as they happen on TELESPORT, as well as new and exciting ways that they can experience the UFC.”

TELESPORT will present UFC 89: BISPING vs. LEBEN on Oct. 18, live from National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England.

The highly-popular UFC events, featuring the world’s most recognizable mixed martial arts fighters is one of the fastest growing sporting events in history. Based in Las Vegas, Nev. ( USA ) the UFC is entering its fifteenth year of operation as a professional mixed martial arts organization. The UFC has successfully expanded into the United Kingdom and Europe, and has plans underway to establish operations globally.

Report: UFC to Ireland in January

September 30, 2008

The Sun is reporting that the UFC may return to Ireland in January. The UFC are looking at several possible Main Event match-ups for the card:

SunSport understands Rich Franklin has been sounded out about a possible light heavyweight bout with Chuck Liddell for UFC 93’s main event.

But if The Iceman turns the bout down, it is believed the UFC will turn to Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and offer him a fight with former middleweight champion Franklin instead.

Matt Hughes’ grudge match against Matt Serra is one other fight being considered for the event – which would be the first bout of any kind at the new arena.

Liddell vs Franklin or Hughes vs Serra would both be attractive main events to North American markets, with the possibility of doing vastly higher numbers than the 220k or so buys they have been doing with their shows from the British Isles. Adding this show would further crowd the calendar that starts with Brock vs Randy and concludes with the Super Saturday showdown between BJ and GSP.

UFC Fighters in Get Out The Vote PSA

September 30, 2008

The Las Vegas Review Journal had a small snippet on UFC brass and fighters doing a public service announcement imploring folks to get out and vote in the November Elections. Nice PR for the UFC, (and it never hurts to do a politician a favor, either!).

ULTIMATE VOTING

If you don’t vote, Ross Miller might beat you up.

Not really, of course. But the baby-faced Nevada secretary of state has recorded a public service announcement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship that is scheduled to start airing this week on local cable stations.

Heavy guitars crank in the background as Miller says, “The 2008 election is fast-approaching, and the electoral process relies on your participation.” Amid quick-cut shots of fighters kicking, punching and generally looking fierce, Miller adds, “That’s why I’m teaming up with the UFC and urging you to exercise your ultimate right: the right to vote.”

Fighters Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Dan Henderson, Mike Swick, Keith Jardine and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson appear onscreen, each urging viewers, “Vote.” Political Notebook has heard of none of them but is informed that these are all very impressive names.

Dana White, UFC president, adds: “Because if you don’t vote, you’re not even in the fight.” The address for the secretary of state’s intermittently functioning new election Web site, silverstate08.com, then comes onscreen.

The UFC is based in Las Vegas and co-owned by the Fertitta family. Miller’s staff said the collaboration came about because of his friendship with the family and the fact that he sometimes works out at the UFC gym. Apparently he’s even been known to spar with the fighters.

Carano Hypes EliteXC On Craig Ferguson (Video)

September 30, 2008

Dana, Lorenzo: UFC PPV Delivers Value (Video)

September 29, 2008

MMA Biz Quick Stat: EliteXC Bar Low

September 29, 2008

First of all, Saturday night is typically a barren wasteland for the broadcast networks, especially within younger age demographics. Last night for example, even with NCAA football, no broadcast network averaged even a 2.0 rating (a full ratings point = one percent of the population being measured).

— TVbythenumbers.com details the generally atrocious comparables that the networks have been doing recently on Saturday Nights.

Another interesting note on the EliteXC card comes from Michael David Smith over at MMA Fanhouse:

A CBS executive told me today that the network is committed to showing all five fights on Saturday night’s EliteXC: Heat main card, and that the addition of the Roy Nelson-Andrei Arlovski fight just means that viewers will get five fights instead of four.

CBS Senior Executive VP for Primetime Kelly Kahl tells me that the fight between Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Benji Radach is “Absolutely still on” and will be the first fight on the CBS show.

Committing to show all five fights almost ensures that they are going to go into time overages, going past the 11 o’clock cut-off into the news hour. This should lead to a generally inflated number, as was much the case with their 5/31 show. Such time over runs are generally frowned upon by local affiliates, and this was the case with the May card. EliteXC is less vulnerable to the affiliates displeasure this time, because without a strong number to boost their stock they won’t be around on CBS to face the affiliate backlash. If they go over and are able to put up a big rating, they will be more than happy to take the heat because it will mean they are still viable on the Network.

MMA For Arizona: Big Picture, Small Picture

September 29, 2008

The Arizona Republic has a nice article looking at the financial impact and various prospects for MMA in Arizona. Legislation fully legalizing all elements of MMA was passed earlier in the year and became effective this past week. Prior to the law, MMA events were held but under much more restrictive rules that limited the chance of bringing in bigger shows. Little time is wasted in moving forward with fully sanctioned events, as the law went into affect Friday and a card taking advantage of the new rules was lined up for Saturday Night.

One of the arguments for the newer rules was the financial impact of bringing in some of the larger promotions like UFC, WEC, and the like. Jason Genet of LG Sports Marketing made the case for an influx of dollars with the arrival of bigger shows:

Jason Genet, who manages several local MMA fighters out of the Arizona Combat Sports gym in Chandler, attended an MMA card in Albuquerque in February when Jamie Varner of Tempe won the World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight championship. The scene afterward speaks to him of the kind of impact Arizona can expect.

“All the joints were filled up,” Genet said. “There was not a restaurant in town that was empty at 10:30 at night. You had a world champion eating pancakes with owners of the (WEC) and fans. And Albuquerque is in the middle of nowhere.”

But everything New Mexico officials hoped a major MMA event would bring “was brought right there.”

With Arizona being more amenable to big time MMA, UFC VP Marc Ratner commented that the community can look forward to possible Zuffa cards in the near term:

“Phoenix is definitely on our radar,” Ratner said. “I would think next year is safe to say.”

While the Big Promotions should be able to come in and do big business, the article also gives a shot of reality to the folks that think that this may trickle down to the local level. Roland Sarria, a Tempe-based promoter who has put on a massive number of Rage In The Cage shows in the state, breaks down what the promoters on the local level will need to do:

Sarria said organizations without the UFC name, reputation and marketing clout will have a rough go in Arizona.

“There’s no revenue in it,” said Sarria, who built his following by starting in smaller venues and most frequently stages Phoenix-area cards at Celebrity Theatre. “Everyone thinks when the rules change, there’s going to be more (money-making) events in Arizona. But guess what? You still have to promote. (Other promoters) might come in and try once. Try twice. But they’ll see it’s very, very difficult.”

Sarria said the Arizona sports market is oversaturated and promoters without the big-name UFC fighters won’t make much money from the live gate.

Sage words from Sarria. This isn’t a market where there will be a honeymoon period, with any show being put on able to draw a crowd. A muted form of MMA has been available in Arizona for quite some time, so it isn’t a virgin territory by any means. Solid on the ground promoting skills are going to be what wins the day at the small show level as more shows are put on on Arizona.

By contrast, a place like North Carolina would be more of a market that is going through a said honeymoon period. MMA became legal in the state at the beginning of 2008, prior to that time there was a total embargo on the sport. No muted rules, no amateur bouts, nothing……no MMA at all since back in the 90’s when the UFC put on several cards in the state. This embargo caused a lot of pent up demand that has served promoters in the state well during this initial phase when MMA shows have finally started to pop up in the state. Cards that have been built around amateur bouts and local pros have drawn strong crowds, but as time goes on the wheat will be separated from the chaff as to who has the promoting acumen to be viable over the long term.

Lorenzo: Double Digit PPV Increases In 08

September 29, 2008

Lorenzo Fertitta spoke with Multichannel News, stating PPV buys are up in 08:

By 2007, UFC was, according to Forbes, generating about $250 million and about 90 percent of all mixed-martial-arts revenue. In that year, it had 5.1 million pay-per-view buys in 11 fights, essentially matching 5.2 million in 15 for the WWE. And Fertitta says the picture remains rosy: “We had double-digit growth this year in a terrible economy.”

As always, looking at the data helps give us perspective to judge such statements. Let us take a look inside the numbers, comparing month-over-month results to this point:

.

2007 2008

.

January

.

February 440,000 650,000

.

March 540,000 325,000

.

April 440,000 525,000

.

May 675,000 475,000

.

June

.

July 425,000 520,000

.

August 500,000 625,000

.

Total Domestic Buys 3,020,000 3,120,000 3.3 % Growth

.

.

UFC UK PPV Buys in US (1 event in 07, 2 in 08) 200,000 450,000

.

.

Total Buys 3,220,000 3,570,000 10.8 % Growth

Numbers courtesy of MMA Live and The Wrestling Observer.

The main difference in the PPV numbers to this point in the year stem from them holding two UK PPVs in 08 opposed to one in 07. While saying they have had a double digit increase in buys is technically true, that wouldn’t tell the whole story up to this point. Factor out the UK shows and we see modest but positive growth so far this year.

Where the UFC will increase their overall PPV numbers for the year will be their performance with the shows for September was well as the 4th Qtr of the year. For September, Chuck vs Rashad should do slightly better numbers (probably in the 525 to 550k range, I would estimate) than a comparable Chuck vs Jardine in 07, (which did 475k buys). Anderson Silva has received a bigger marketing push recently but the lack of a marquee opponent and a generally weak undercard means when he headlines the October card for a second straight year we will probably see his usual 325 to 335k buys. The November card featuring Randy vs Brock will far outstrip last November’s main event of Evans Vs Bisping, looking to beat the UFC 78 number by anywhere from 500k to 700k buys. The New Year’s card should do slightly lower to even numbers with last year’s card, in the 600k range.

When you add it all up they should do a net of plus 600,000 to 700,000 buys on the last four ppv’s of the year. In essence, the Brock vs Randy card will be the PPV that separates this year’s performance from 07, as it will account for the biggest part of whatever percentage gains they have between 07 and 08. If they hit the benchmarks listed above they should be looking at just over a 20% increase in PPV buys in 08 over 07.

Next Page »