Rebney Elaborates On Bellator Strategy

January 23, 2009

Bjorn Rebney recently spoke with HispanicBusiness.com about his nascent MMA promotion, Bellator Fighting Championships. The article goes into detail about Bellator’s unique ability to reach the Hispanic market, noting “Currently 30 fighters have signed up with Bellator and 60 percent of them count Spanish as their first language.” Rebney and his group did market research prior to making the leap into MMA and found the results intriguing:

Bellator commissioned a Nielsen study to track the difference between national ratings in the general market and in the Hispanic market for MMA programming. That study showed that “Hispanics disproportionately watch mixed martial arts programming.”

He said that according to the study, “In many cases there is a 2 to 1 ratio in willingness and desire for Hispanic viewers and consumers to watch MMA programming.”

Mr. Rebney also noted that Hispanics tend to be “fiercely brand loyal and have a tremendous amount of purchasing power. If you deliver a high quality product, where you have great fights, highly competitive programming, and really solid back stories in terms of getting feature pieces told about the fighters, you may be fortunate enough to capture the loyalty and alliance of that market.”

“Our target coming out of the box with this partnership with ESPN Deportes, our advertising, our marketing budget, and our promotions is the Hispanic market,” Rebney told HispanicBusiness, but there has also been mention of providing an English language version of the programming. If they are unable to get a television vehicle for the English language programming, an aggressive online campaign via streaming and other efforts will be helpful in bringing in other groups than just their Hispanic base.

Rovell Talks Affliction With Donald Trump Jr.

January 23, 2009

CNBC’s Darren Rovell sat down with Donald Trump Jr to talk about his family’s involvement with the Affliction group. You can check out video here.

Darren: Some people say that mixed martial arts is not a business. That it’s UFC and everything else. Maybe like wrestling and WWE and everything else. Dana White, the president of the UFC, said this in today’s USA Today about Affliction, “This show will be the end of it. If not, these guys are willing to lose a lot more money than I ever realized.” What’s your reaction to that, especially given the fact that we’ve had two mixed martial arts organizations in the IFL and Elite XC recently go down?

Trump Jr.: I have two responses to that. Dana White sounds like a mini-version of someone I know. That’s nonsense. But that’s what he does. He spouts off and says all sorts of things. Especially given their position with their bonds and everything that has come due, I don’t know if they’re in any real position to talk about these kinds of things. Going to what I said earlier, rather than putting on 20 shows, of which very few people are going to tune into because there’s just not that many people in the world, you can put on a great show 20 times a year. They flood it, do the old quote make it up in volume. We’re trying to put on a great card. We have the best fighter in the world and we’re going to put on a great show.

The WWE comparison is apt. If you are looking to get into the biz, you are looking to lose a lot of money for a long period of time, and even then you are still going to be a distant second. In the wrestling example, TNA Wrestling has had to go through a tremendous amount of capital to attain a modicum of visibility in the sports entertainment field. Affliction is looking at a much similar route, the question is will they abandon the ship after two shows? In the case of TNA, they had a huge financial backstop in Panda Energy to fund their foray into wrestling. Affliction has a successful but relatively minor (in the grand scheme of things) apparel company, while Affliction’s partners have dubious financial stakes in the venture. Affliction has partners in Golden Boy and Trump, but it is questionable if there are any long term commitments by those two parties to the fight promotion. They look good at press conferences and doing hype pieces for television, but there is a vast workload that goes into building a fight promotion, and I doubt those two entities are around for that long, hard slog.

Affliction Teams With Ustream For Online Barker Channel

January 23, 2009

Live TV : Ustream

Pretty interesting concept, Affliction is streaming live and taped footage the next two days leading up to their PPV. Included will be interviews at the hotel, live coverage of the weigh-ins, and behind the scenes looks live during the PPV. Justin.tv and Ustream both are seeing increasing traffic with a myriad of programming and the insatiable appetities of MMA fans make this a great tie in for both the streaming companies and the fight promotions. While the UFC has its dedicated website, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to set up a similar concept, especially for their bigger cards i.e. Penn GSP 2. Other companies like Strikeforce and a reconstituted EXC might also see it as a vehicle for promotion.

NY Times: "The Disturbing Rise of Ultimate Fighting"

January 22, 2009

The Old Gray Lady has recently been more receptive to covering MMA, with the work of Times reporter Ross Schneiderman in multiple pieces being quite good. Just the other day, they had three separate pieces on the same day dealing with MMA, which was a signifier of perhaps some walls being broken down for the sport. However, in an editorial in the New York Times today, some of the same old worn-out canards are put forth:

Ultimate fighting’s supporters also argue that at a time when funds are hard to come by, the state would earn a percentage of the big money from these spectacles, which can cost $200 to almost $400 a ticket.

But it would be — literally — blood money.

The rise of ultimate fighting, which is becoming a staple of cable television, is a tribute to the large amounts of money to be made — and to the nation’s bizarre double standard about violence and sex.

If there is a “wardrobe malfunction,” and a usually covered body part is briefly shown, the government reacts swiftly and punitively. If a young man bashes another young man’s face into a bloody pulp, well, that’s entertainment.

While it gets tiring seeing the same old guard making the same tired arguments against MMA, Mike Chiappetta of NBCSports.com gives perhaps most eloquent retort to this line of thinking in his latest piece on the topic:

The solution is simple: keep on watching; keep on supporting the sport; keep the faith. This is a time in the world’s history for open minds willing to listen to ideas they might not ever be able to conceptualize themselves. I’m not suggesting MMA has any importance in the larger world issues that dominate the day, only that the same generations that helped elect an African-American president for the first time understand that nothing is static and that the world must continue to evolve. So it is in life, so it is in sport.

So it may seem a long time coming for MMA fans eager to see their sport get the respect it deserves. That time will come. As we saw during Election Day and again during Tuesday’s Inauguration, millions of people wanting change cannot be denied forever.

Fedor Signs On With Round 5

January 22, 2009

FEDOR IN ACTION: M-1 GLOBAL’S EMELIANENKO PARTNERS WITH ROUND 5 MIXED MARTIAL ARTS FIGURINES

One of World’s Most Popular MMA Athletes Latest Star To Sign On To Create Collectible

MARKHAM, Ontario, Canada, January 22, 2009—Known across the world and considered by many to be the best fighter in the sport of mixed martial arts today, Russian star Fedor Emelianenko of M-1 Global has partnered with Round 5, the leader in collectible MMA figurines, to create a piece to be made available later this year. The heavyweight joins an All-Star lineup of 12 MMA standouts who currently work with Round 5 to produce their respective figures.

The announcement comes on the heels of last week’s notice that stars Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski – Fedor’s opponent in this Saturday’s Affliction “Day of Reckoning” event – will be one of four stars to be featured in Round 5’s Series 3 release this spring, along with “Big John” McCarthy, Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. Series 3 is scheduled to be available at retail outlets throughout North America and online at www.Round5MMA.com beginning in April.

Fedor and the Round 5 team will begin work on creating his figurine in the coming weeks. The Fedor figures will be part of a future Series issue to be determined.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me,” said Emelianenko. “I am looking forward to going through the process of making this the best figurine that we can. I think fans will appreciate that I will have a big role in how it looks and will enjoy the final product.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Fedor to customize this superstar’s figurine,” said Damon Lau, Round 5 President. “His worldwide popularity and recognition as the world’s best mixed martial artist make him a natural to make a high-quality collectible that his many fans can enjoy. The timing of his signing is perfect, too, as he will be competing in the highly-anticipated bout with another Round 5 athlete in Andrei Arlovski this weekend.”

Emelianenko, 32, has been the most dominant MMA heavyweight this decade. He enters the bout with Arlovski with a record of 28-1, including 25 straight victories dating back to December 2000. A long-time PRIDE champion, he won his Affliction debut by submitting Tim Sylvia just 36 seconds into the first round in his last action this past July.

Other MMA stars who have worked with Round 5 include Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Tito Ortiz (Series 1); and Rich Franklin, Sean Sherk, Anderson Silva and Wanderlei Silva (Series 2).

As in the earlier Series, Fedor will maintain creative control of his likenesses, including the pose, facial design and shorts. He will have a major hand in creating the final design and will benefit from a royalty agreement that gives him a considerable portion of the proceeds from the sale of his unit.

Round 5 collectible figures may be purchased at leading retailers such as Toys ‘R’ Us, Champs Sports and FYE. Other retailers can be found at www.Round5MMA.com/wheretobuy.php.

In addition to Fedor, Round 5 plans to release collectibles of three additional series of athletes in 2009, one during each quarter. Other athletes to be represented in those series are yet to be announced.

UFC Prime Time Week 2 Rating

January 22, 2009

MMAPayout.com has learned that the second installment of UFC Primetime last night on Spike drew a total of 825,000 viewers in the 10PM EST time slot. That number represents a slight dip from Week 1, but still represents a good performance based on stronger competition in that time slot this week as opposed to last week. The 10PM debut from last week drew 880,000 viewers with 614,000 viewers for the replay that followed immediately at 10:30PM. the third and final installment airs next Wednesday leading into the PPV.

HDNet Fights Announces Broadcast For 'Affliction: Day of Reckoning' Event

January 22, 2009

HDNet to air full MMA schedule for this Friday and Saturday, January 23 and 24

DALLAS, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ — HDNet Fights today announced their Mixed Martial Arts broadcast schedule for this Friday and Saturday, January 23 and 24, airing on HDNet. The full schedule features the television debut of “Affliction: Banned” and the exclusive broadcast of the five fight under card for the “Affliction: Day of Reckoning” event.

HDNet will kick off two days of coverage on Friday, January 23 at 6:00 p.m. ET with a special edition of “Inside MMA” broadcast LIVE from the “Affliction: Day of Reckoning” weigh-ins at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

The special LIVE “Inside MMA” will be followed by the television premiere of “Affliction: Banned” featuring the July 19th match-up between Fedor Emelianenko and Tim Sylvia. “Affliction: Banned” airs on HDNet on Friday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

On Saturday, January 24, HDNet will broadcast the live under card for “Affliction: Day of Reckoning” featuring Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Vladimir Matyushenko, Jay Hieron vs. Jason High, L.C. Davis vs. Bao Quach, Antonio Duarte vs. Albert Rios, and Brett Cooper vs. Patrick Speight.

Live action for the under card kicks off Saturday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

HDNet Fights announced a long-term partnership with Affliction Entertainment late last year. The agreement allows HDNet Fights to air live MMA events exclusively in North America on HDNet. These live events, featuring the top Mixed Martial Arts fighters from around the world, will be broadcast on HDNet as a lead-in to Affliction’s Pay Per View Events.

Henderson Joins Bisping As TUF Coaches

January 22, 2009

New York, NY, January 22, 2009 — Dan Henderson will serve as coach of the American team for season nine of “The Ultimate Fighter: US vs. UK” premiering Wednesday, April 1 at 10:00pm ET/PT on Spike TV. Henderson earned the right to coach after defeating former middleweight champ Rich Franklin via split decision after an intense bout at UFC 93 last Saturday night. He will be opposed by British sensation Michael Bisping. Production for “The Ultimate Fighter: Team US vs. Team UK” begins this Friday, January 23 in Las Vegas.

Henderson is the ideal American team coach for “The Ultimate Fighter: US vs. UK” as he is no stranger to representing his country in the sport he loves. Henderson was a member of the United States Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team in 1992 and 1996 and has competed all over the world both as an amateur in wrestling and as a professional in mixed martial arts.

A native of Victorville, CA, Henderson (24-7) was an all-state wrestler in high school and went on to grapple at Cal State Fullerton and Arizona State University, participating in the 1993 NCAA championships.

Henderson made his UFC debut in May 1998 at UFC 17 in a tournament-style event where he defeated Allan Goes and Carlos Newton. Henderson then embarked on an incredibly successful mixed martial arts career in Japan. In October 1999, he defeated five opponents including renowned fighters Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Renato “Babulu” Sobral to win the “King of Kings” title. He is the only the only fighter in MMA history to hold two titles in two weight classes concurrently in a major fight organization as he held the now defunct PRIDE’s 205 pound and 185 pound titles.

He returned to the UFC in September 2007 to fight Rampage Jackson in London for the UFC light heavyweight belt. In front of one of the biggest television audiences ever for a mixed martial arts fight on Spike TV, Rampage won a hard-fought five-round decision. Henderson moved down in weight-class to 185 lbs to fight Anderson Silva in March 2008 at UFC 82. Silva won the highly anticipated fight with a second round submission via choke to unify the PRIDE and UFC middleweight belts. Henderson returned to his winning ways with a unanimous decision victory over Rousimar Palhares at UFC 88 last September. His most recent victory over Franklin serves as major step in another shot at a UFC title.

Henderson currently lives in Temecula, Ca with his three children and wife Allison and trains with Team Quest.

Promoter's Spotlight: Roy Englrebrecht (Part 2)

January 22, 2009

Affliction and M1-Global Endeavours

The transition from boxing into MMA proved to be a great career move for Englebrecht as his promotional experience caught the attention of some rather big players on the MMA scene.

In 2008, Affliction Entertainment, solicited help from Englebrecht in promoting their first show at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

“[Affliction] did not have a California promoter’s license” he said. “So, in fact, they were not allowed to do a show in the state.”

“They came to me as a licensee of the state and asked me if I would assist them with the Affliction: Banned show. Being a promoter, would I bring my expertise in operations and marketing? So, it was just attending weekly meetings, making sure the fights got approved and the fighters got licensed, and just adding my two cents to make the first show successful.”

Now, nearly six months later, Englebrecht has been retained to work on the Affliction card – only this time in a consulting role, as Golden Boy will handle the promotional duties.

There’s been much ado about the Affliction-Golden Boy relationship in recent weeks and months, but no more so than about Golden Boy’s decision to promote two different PPV cards on the same night, in the same state. On January 24th, Affliction: Day of Reckoning will be broadcast live and on PPV from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California while just 30 miles down the highway, Antonio Margarita will take on Sugar Shane Mosely at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Many would suggest that the PPVs are likely to cannibalize each other in terms of live-gate and PPV revenue, but that isn’t a concern according to Englebrecht. Instead, Affliction must focus on not being swallowed whole on the media front.

“We have to make sure that we don’t get lost in that week’s media activity, so we’re not a step child that week of the show” he said. “In Southern California, with the media, there are still some high profile fighters like Shane Mosely [that draw attention].”

“I like to think that we can be creative. Have a dual press conference with Shane and Antonio and their fighters and then cut their banner down, put ours up, and have our fighters come in for the media. Keep the media there for both.”

And getting creative is going to be something of a necessity for an organization that is rumoured to have lost anywhere between $2-4 million on their last show. When asked what Affliction needs to do in order to ensure long term success, Englebrecht hinted that they needed to decide what they wanted to be.

“Are they going to be a full-time fight promotions company doing major fights as well as club level fights?” he asked. “Affliction Entertainment, with two shows under their belt, has to figure out ‘Ok, where do we go from here? Are we going to sign young fighters? Are we going to establish a brand and take our brand to small town America?’ and I think that will be decided in 2009 once they get the second show in.”

“I think the first show, everybody does the first show. It’s after the second show where you sit down and say ‘Ok, guys, where do we go from here?”

Affliction isn’t the only MMA endeavour that Englebrecht is pursuing, either.

Most recently, Englebrecht and Steven Bash were awarded an M-1 Challenge Series Franchise for the up-coming M-1 Challenge World Tour – a team-based tournament set to play across various venues in various different countries over the 2009 calendar.

“[M-1 Global] was impressed that I’m a promoter that does successful club shows, because the M-1 Challenge is not a show that would play to an 18,000 seat arena. It’ll be more of a very strong MMA show that plays to a 4,000 to 5,000 seat arena.”

“They awarded us a franchise that will compete maybe four times in 2009. We might compete against Russia in an M-1 Challenge World Tour stop in Sao Paulo, Brazil or we might compete against Korea in Seoul, Korea. And there will be six teams competing at each stop.”

The purpose of the challenge, though, is to help showcase and develop the skills of younger, inexperienced fighters.

“It’s an opportunity for young, MMA fighters that are fairly skilled and haven’t been signed by the UFC to see the world, make a name for themselves, establish themselves by competing at the world-level, and then be in line to be signed by the UFC or WEC.

“Keep in mind they won’t make a lot of money. Each fighter for USA West, when we have a World Stop will probably make $1,500 or $2,000 but they get the chance to compete against another country and fighter and they get to visit a part of the world they’ve never seen before.”

Fight Promoter University

If his roles with Affliction and the M-1 Challenge World Tour weren’t enough, Englebrecht also runs a seminar entitled “Fight Promoter University” once every 6-8 months that teaches the basics of running a fight event to individuals looking to get into the sport.

“It’s an accelerated program on how to become a club-level, minor league fight promoter” he said. “It’s like drinking from a fire hose.”

“We’ve had some graduates that have made that step and been successful, but most of the time people come and they see what’s involved and they say, ‘you know, this isn’t for me’ or ‘there is an investment on my part’ and they’re intimidated by it.”

Not only do they provide their aspiring promoters a standard “club show” template with which they can take home and run their own promotion, they also give them practical experience. Every seminar is held over a five day period that coincides with either a Battle in the Ballroom or MMA Fist Series event, which allows each student to work the event and get some first-hand experience in running a promotion.

More information is available at Roy Englebrecht’s  website: www.fightpromoteruniversity.com

UFC Rethinks Stadium Concept

January 21, 2009

There has been talk on multiple occasions of the UFC putting on stadium shows in the future, but based on the words and actions of UFC brass, those thoughts look to have been sidelined for now. Two locations mentioned for stadium shows were Hawaii and the UK for a possible Bisping title fight. Hawaii has been stripped from contention due to restrictive MMA legislation that has lead to UFC prez Dana White swearing off running a card their until the regs are amended. The UK is also looking like a no go.

The Glasgow Daily Record spoke with UFC UK Chief Marshall Zelaznik on the topic and the prospects look to have faded for putting a Stadium show across the pond:

The fight league boss admits the UFC fears such a show would lack the big-fight atmosphere they want Bisping’s title match to have.

And despite the money the fight would draw UFC chiefs want to keep it in a smaller stadium, even after seeing Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton sell out football stadiums across the country for their top bouts.

“That kind of event would do very well ticket wise,” he told DailyRecord.co.uk.

“I think it would rival any boxing shows they’ve done. The problem is that the atmosphere created by an indoor event, with the big screens and all, and I know Lorenzo [Fertita, UFC owner] is concerned about losing that contact.

« Previous PageNext Page »