Topps-UFC Round 1 Press Release

December 16, 2008

Topps and The UFC are pleased to announce that the first ever UFC exclusive trading card product will ship mid-late January 2009…and it’s appropriately named “TOPPS UFC-ROUND ONE!”

Each 16-pack box delivers plenty of value and content with a guarantee of 3 AUTOGRAPHS and 3 RELICS and will feature the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Royce Gracie, Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin and many more UFC superstars. (image attached)

The 100-card base set includes 90 different fighters’ debut match and a mix of personalities such as Dana White and the Octagon Girls.  And to accompany UFC’s exhilarating action photography found throughout the product, UFC fans and collectors can also find the following:

PARALLEL CARDS (100)- Overall Insert Rate: 1 per Pack

  • Gold Parallel
  • Black Parallel #’d to 888
  • Red Parallel #’d 1 of 1.

INSERTS

  • Top 10 Fights of ‘08: The 10 best fights from 2008. Each fight will have 4 cards commemorating the contest (1:4 packs)
  • 20 Victorious Debuts: Includes single fighter image of them in victory pose (1:4)
  • Gold Parallel #’d to 88
  • Red Parallel #’d to 1

AUTOGRAPHED CARDS

  • Fighters/Personalities Autographs (50 subjects):
  • Fighters Red Ink Nickname Autographs (40 subjects) #’d 25.

RELIC CARDS

  • Fight Mat relics (50 cards)
  • Gold Parallel #’d 88
  • Red Parallel #’d to 1Dual Autographed Fight Mat Relics (10) Features 1 piece of mat and 2 autographs. #’d to  25
  • Ultimate Gear Relics (20 subjects) Featuring event-used gloves, shorts or shirts.  These are single subject cards #’d to 199.
  • Autographed Ultimate Gear Relics (20 subjects) #’d to 25

PROMOTION
Instant Win cards for tickets to an upcoming UFC event.

DEDICATED WEBSITE
In addition, a dedicated website has been created for Topps UFC products http://www.topps.com/ufc/

Each 8-card pack carries a $5 SRP and can be found exclusively at hobby shops and UFC events.

Amateur MMA Replacing Smokers in FL

December 16, 2008

MMA regulation has reached a near saturation point in the US, but in some areas there has been a lack of amateur status to provide an infrastructure for the growth of the sport. Florida is one of the states addressing this problem by fully regulating the amateur divisions of MMA. Sharon Robb of the Sun Sentinel gives more info:

Steve Bruno got his feet wet in unlicensed mixed martial arts fights known as “smokers” notorious for no-holds-barred mismatches and a lack of adequate on-site medical care. The American Top Team Coconut Creek rising star is one of many professional mixed martial arts fighters who came up the hard way.

That’s all about to change thanks to a law spearheaded by Tom Molloy, executive director of the Florida Athletic Commission, and Cory Schafer, president of the International Sport Kickboxing Association. With the safety and development of the fighters in mind, mixed martial arts will be a fully sanctioned amateur sport in the state beginning in January.

Florida joins California, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania with sanctioned amateur programs governed by a revised edition of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

Lesnar Content With MMA Life

December 16, 2008

2008 saw Brock Lesnar come into his own as a true rainmaker when it came to MMA revenues. Lesnar headlined three events during the year, with combined PPV sales going north of 2 million buys. His commitment to the sport, though, seemed to still be an open question stemming from his track record of flitting from one career to the next. In a recent piece with his local paper, The Rapid City Journal, Brock seems to have adapted to the MMA world and looks to be here for the long term:

“I’m done bouncing around trying to figure out what I want to do with my life,” Lesnar said in a phone interview while weaving through Twin Cities traffic. “(MMA) has been everything I hoped for and more. With the way this sport is going, I feel like this is the tip of the iceberg. I’m still pretty inexperienced at this, and I’m going to keep working to sharpen my skills.”

His agent, Brian Stegeman, puts it more bluntly: “This is what Brock was born to do. He’s not the Next Big Thing anymore. He’s the Big Thing.”

S&P Cuts Station Casinos Secured Debt Rating

December 15, 2008

NEW YORK, Dec. 15, 2008–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that its ‘CC’ corporate credit rating on Las Vegas-based Station Casinos Inc. remains on CreditWatch with negative implications, where it was placed Nov. 26, 2008. The ‘C’ rating on the company’s senior unsecured and subordinated debt issues also remains on CreditWatch with negative implications.

In addition, Standard & Poor’s lowered its issue-level rating on Station’s senior secured debt to ‘CCC’ from ‘B-‘, and revised the CreditWatch implications on this rating to negative from developing.

These rating actions follow today’s announcement by the company that certain of the conditions in its previously announced private exchange offer will not be satisfied, and that it is terminating the exchange offer. The lowering of the secured debt rating and revision of the CreditWatch implications reflect the termination of the exchange offer. We previously indicated that our preliminary expectation, in the event the exchange succeeded, was for a corporate credit rating of ‘B-‘. The current ‘CCC’ issue rating on the senior secured debt is now two notches higher than the ‘CC’ corporate credit rating, reflecting our notching criteria for a ‘1’ recovery rating.

“The continued CreditWatch listing reflects our concern that, absent completion of the exchange offer or an amendment to the terms of its senior secured credit facility, Station will violate its financial covenants in the current quarter,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Ben Bubeck. “As we have previously stated, we are skeptical that any amendment to the credit facility that does not include a significant equity infusion will allow Station to meet debt service requirements over the intermediate term, given its extremely weak credit measures, including consolidated EBITDA interest coverage of just 1.2x as of Sept. 30, 2008. We will continue to monitor management’s efforts to avoid breaching its financial covenants in the near term.”

TUF 8 Finale Payouts

December 15, 2008

Roli Delgado: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) Defeated John Polakowski: $8,000

Tom Lawlor: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) Defeated Kyle Kingsbury: $8,000

Shane Nelson: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) Defeated. George Roop: $8,000

Eliot Marshall: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) Defeated Jules Bruchez: $8,000

Krzysztof Soszynski: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)~ Defeated Shane Primm: $8,000

Junie Browning: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) Defeated Dave Kaplan: $8,000

Wilson Gouveia: $36,800 (includes $18,400 win bonus and $9,200 penalty) Defeated Jason MacDonald: $35,200 (includes $9,200 of Gouveia’s purse)

Anthony Johnson: $18,000 (includes $9,000 win bonus) Defeated Kevin Burns: $7,000

Ryan Bader: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) Defeated Vinny Magalhaes: $8,000

Efrain Escudero: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) Defeated Phillipe Nover: $8,000

Bonuses:

Fight of the Night:
Junie Browning and Dave Kaplan ($25,000/each)

Knockout of the Night:
Anthony Johnson ($25,000)

Submission of the Night:
Krzysztof Soszynski ($25,000)

Courtesy of 5thRound.com

UFC Fight For the Troops Rating

December 12, 2008

“UFC Fight For The Troops” earned a 1.43household rating — a 1.72 in Men 18-49, a 1.30 in People 18-49, a 1.62 in Men 18-34, and an average audience of 2.0 million viewers.

Compared to a year ago in the timeslot — the fight was up +177% in M18-49, +210% in P18-49, +179% in M18-34, and +160% in average audience

Qtr hours:
9-midnight
Household rating

1.19
1.44
1.48
1.45
1.43
1.54
1.47
1.46
1.46
1.40
1.54
1.28

XFC to be Featured of MTV's Made

December 12, 2008

Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) is the Southeastern-based Mixed Martial Arts promotion dedicated to launching the careers of the next generation of cage warriors.  MTV’s reality TV series “MADE,” now in its ninth season, follows the journey of young men and women hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream.

For the first time ever, MTV will film a young adult working to break into the Mixed Martial Arts – and XFC is the organization that will train, prepare and give this person his or her big break at XFC 8 in Knoxville, Tennessee’s 21-thousand capacity Thompson-Boling Arena on April 18, 2009.

“Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Tony Hawk to The Game has appeared on ‘MADE,’ helping young men and women from all walks of life make their dreams come true,” said XFC president John Prisco from the XFC offices in Tampa, Florida.  “With the explosive popularity of MMA, countless young athletes are aspiring to emulate the superstars they cheer and follow in this sport.  We’re excited about partnering with MTV to share with the rest of America all the hard work, dedication, and unbreakable discipline it takes to succeed in the ultra-competitive world of steel cage combat.”

XFC is offering an open tryout to all young men and women hoping to break into the Mixed Martial Arts, and will choose at least one participant to train at its facilities and fight before thousands of fans at XFC 8 in April.  MTV will film the entire process from start to completion.  The show is scheduled to air exclusively on MTV in 2009.

John Prisco added that XFC’s coaches and trainers were assured that they’d retain the right to decide which participants will appear on MTV.  “This was an important concession MTV made to us, but we wanted to ensure that our sport is fairly and accurately portrayed on TV.  There are still so many misconceptions about MMA in mainstream America, and we’re tremendously excited about the opportunity to demonstrate to MTV’s audience exactly how hard our athletes work and train.”

XFC’s open tryouts will be taking place at 10:00 am on Saturday, December 13 at the XFC training facilities in Tampa, Florida.  The address is: 10509 North Nebraska Avenue, Unit 6, Tampa, FL 33612.  For more information, please call 813.971.1215.

Cage Rage Owners in Flux, Look to Reclaim Brand

December 12, 2008

With the fall of ProElite and subsequent moves by several parties to bid for the remains of the company, one piece of the puzzle is looking to take back his fight promtion. Cage Rage chief Andy Geer is intimating in an interview with MMAWeekly that he may take legal action to reclaim his brand, on the premise that he was never fully paid for the purchase of the british fighting organization:

Geer explains the situation, “To all intents and purposes, ProElite had entered into an agreement to purchase Cage Rage. A deal was struck with a deposit accepted. Then they had a cut-off date to make a balloon payment; they never completed the purchase.”

Geer’s former partner looks to be moving on as he has started up a new Brit MMA promotion, Ultimate Challenge. Geer’s claims make an already murky situation that much cloudier. If someone does take over where Proelite left off, shedding the international assets like the Cage Rage and Spirit deals may be best anyway, allowing whoever takes over to concentrate on a core US business and not other far flung elements.

UFC Set to Post Record Year on Pay-per-view

December 11, 2008

With the results in from ten of the UFC’s twelve pay-per-views, the company appears certain to post a record number of pay-per-view buys in 2008. The company’s current record year came in 2006 when it posted an estimated 5.2 million buys. With the returns from UFC 88 and UFC 92 outstanding, the company has already tallied 4,850,000 buys in 2008. In 2007, the company drew 4,885,000 buys.

In 2006 the company staged ten pay-per-view events, averaging 520,000 buys per event. In 2007 the company held eleven events which averaged 440,090 buys each. So far in 2008 the company is averaging 485,000 per event.

MMA Payout.com Exclusive Interview With Michael Romero, President of BOOYAA Incorporated

December 11, 2008

MMA Payout.com Exclusive Interview With Michael Romero, President of BOOYAA Incorporated.

Los Angeles Ca: The UFC’s policy of banning its competitors from sponsoring fighters during their live events has been something of a polarizing issue throughout the world of Mixed Martial Arts. While some understand what the UFC does to protect itself from giving rival companies a platform from which to garner publicity, others believe it’s an abuse of power designed to ensure their seemingly iron clad monopoly on the sport and the products that are associated with it continues for as long as possible. Either way, the MMA giant’s decision to ban their fighters from flying the flag of any of its rivals is and will most likely continue to be the status quo.

UFC President Dana White stated previously what he considers to be the criteria of what results in a ban that is considered to be “lifetime” a company in direct competition with the UFC for business opportunities related to mixed martial arts. That being the case, President and founder of BOOYAA Incorporated Michael Romero believes that his company’s recent addition to the UFC’s famed banned list is strictly a case of guilt by association. We sat down with him recently following the announcement of the ban to discuss his feelings on the UFC’s stance and what effect it presents to his business and the fighters he sponsors.

When did you get started in the business of mixed martial arts apparel?

I launched BOOYAA back in 1998, in August we celebrated 10 years in the industry. We have been actively involved in the MMA scene since 2004, touring with King of the Cage and its affiliated productions.

The ban on BOOYAA comes after the UFC’s general council informed you that due to your affiliation with King of the Cage you would not be allowed to sponsor anyone now, or in the future at any UFC or WEC event, what was your reaction to such a decision?

Surprised with receiving the ban? No, but the stated reasoning for the ban was a little odd. The letter we received from their assistant general counsel quantified the ban as being due to an event we co-sponsored a couple years back. We believe they see BOOYAA as a potential competitor to their affiliate clothing companies, and not their fight promotion. We are very aware of the threat King of the Cage poses to the UFC; we don’t however see the relationship between BOOYAA and King of the Cage any different than Zuffa’s relationship with TapouT and Fight Industries.

It’s an interesting sponsorship model Zuffa has adopted, I’m curious to see how this all shakes out over the next year. I believe it would be in the best interest of the industry for them to structure something that makes the most business sense for not only their promotion, but the fighters as well.

The UFC sited your relationship with King of the Cage as their reasoning for the ban, what exactly does that relationship entail?

BOOYAA Inc. manages and sells merchandise for both entities at all King of the Cage events. We also assist with all aspects of the production including managing the website, sponsorship coordination, marketing, merchandise and matchmaking.

Similar bans have been doled out to Affliction, Throwdown, and Cage Fighter/MMA Authentics, all have been the result of these companies establishing themselves as direct competitors for business opportunities with the Zuffa or its affiliate companies. You’ve stated BooYaa doesn’t fit the criteria that they have established would result in a ban, is there any direct competition between BooYaa and any of Zuffa’s affiliates that they may see?

Nothing we are doing today is in direct competition with UFC or WEC. First and foremost, BOOYAA is a clothing company and we are at the KOTC events with the fighters and the fans two to four weekends per month for the simple fact we are trying to sell our products. Our position is to continue to grow the sport and our sponsorship model has always revolved around assisting fighters to capture as much sponsorship money as possible.

According to what you’ve told us, as well as the emails received by MMA Payout.com, the reason for the ban as stated by the UFC stems from an event BOOYAA co-promoted several years ago with King of the Cage. Why do you think Zuffa would come to such an extreme decision in regards to BOOYAA when this was so long ago?

Yeah I found that pretty amusing that they had to go back to a poster that was two years old.

We were a primary sponsor for an event titled BOOYAA which is common within MMA and other industries, for example WEC 21 was called TapouT. Sponsoring an entire event is smart business. My guess is that they have an idea of the potential KOTC has as their competitor and maybe feel this is a good defensive position to take but I fail to see at this time, how BOOYAA has anything to do with that.

What does this type of ban represent to BOOYAA and your ability to do business in the industry?

We honestly don’t see it having a huge impact on our brand as it will on the fighters we support. We have a very good friendship and working relationship with King of the Cage and we have a good idea of things to come for them and other productions outside of the Zuffa organizations. We are confident we have aligned ourselves the best in the industry, business will continue as usual.

Do you intend to challenge this ban either with Zuffa directly or in a court preceding?

No, they’re free to run their business the way they choose.

Have you had any further discussion with Zuffa in regards to their decision?

No, our direct response to ZUFFA read as follows:

“We totally understand the fears and concerns Zuffa, WEC, TapouT and UFC have with both BOOYAA and KOTC.”

We wish you continued success into the future.

You’ve already explained what this ban means for you and your ability to continue to do business in the MMA industry, but you’ve said this has a negative effect on the on the fighters you already sponsor who may see their sponsorship dollars decrease now that the UFC or WEC are no longer an option?

We work closely with lots great clothing companies and we have great relationships with sports marketing firms. There are a lot of existing and mainstream sponsors starting to trickle into our industry, but the bottom line it’s going to be up to the productions of who they allow to into their events. In my opinion outside sponsors should be viewed more as partners helping build fighters income, this allows them the freedom to train more and thus produces a better product. As always we will continue to assist fighters to maximize their sponsorship dollars.

We’ve heard rumblings that KOTC could possibly emerge as an alternative option for networks still looking to get involved in the business of promoting MMA events, how much of that is factual?

Right now the climate in MMA is at its peak, networks see the value in our sport and it’s ability to reach the coveted 18 to 34 year old market that advertisers actively seek out. The King of the Cage brand is touted by network officers to be one of the most brand able names in our industry. Terry (Trebilcock) and King of the Cage have the ability to identify excellent fighters that are marketable and can be developed to drive viewers to their TV’s and fans to their events.

KOTC C.E.O. Terry Trebilcock has recently been in talks with the management of ProElite in an attempt to acquire EliteXC and its assets which include the contracts of fighters such as Gina Carrano, Jake Shields, and Robbie Lawler, how close are they in terms of an agreement being reached?

I wish I knew. We all know that dialogue continues. I do hope the fighters get to fight sooner than later. There is a pool of great talent that we all look forward to watching. What I can tell you is that KOTC has proven over the last ten years that there recipe works, they continue to identify and build the biggest stars in the industry, most of which constitute a great majority of the industries high-end rosters.

Trebilcock has stated previously that KOTC, Showtime, and CBS have maintained their relationship even after EliteXC filed for bankruptcy and that there is a good chance that they will continue to be in some kind of business relationship throughout the upcoming year, what would that mean for BOOYAA?

It would be huge for us and the fighters we sponsor. Our goal is to continue pursuing A and B level retailers. Working with mainstream media platforms would allow us to penetrate those markets more effectively. BOOYAA is a viral name that has already been embraced and recognized in mainstream sports, television, music and movies, we’re confident that we could help convert mainstream sports fans and consumers into the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

When do you think you can expect to know what the future holds for KOTC and its relationship with BOOYAA?

We should all know something in the next few weeks or so if not sooner.

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