Fight Biz Quote: The Recession's Effect on MMA

January 26, 2009

This is their first recession, and they’re not as scared as everyone else. Their home equity is not at stake, and their 401(k) is just getting started.

Martiz Research consultant Thomas Krause explaining to BusinessWeek why Generation-Y oriented retailers like Buckle are thriving in a troubled economy. This may also explain the resilence of the UFC on pay-per-view and bode well for MMA’s ability to weather the current economic storm.

XFC Announces Multiyear Television Deal with HDNet

January 26, 2009

Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) Announces Multiyear Television Deal with HDNet

Four Live XFC Fight Cards Will Air on the Network in 2009; Four Live XFC Fight Cards in 2010; Options for 2011 and Beyond

Tampa, FL: Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC), the Southeast’s largest independent Mixed Martial Arts promotion and the company dedicated to launching the careers of the champions of tomorrow, is pleased to announce the signing of a multiyear national television contract with HDNet. Pursuant to the agreement, HDNet will air four live XFC fight cards in 2009; four live XFC fight cards in 2010; and options for 2011 and beyond.

“There’s a finite number of MMA promotions airing live coast-to-coast on national television right now,” said XFC president John Prisco. “We’re delighted to join this exclusive club. I can’t wait to introduce MMA fans nationwide to the next generation of superstars as they battle toe-to-toe in the XFC cage! I also want to thank Adam Swift, the manager of marketing alliances for HDNet Fights, for his support and partnership. HDNet is renowned amongst MMA fans for airing spectacular fights and star-studded match-ups that they cannot see anywhere else, and XFC looks forward to providing HDNet’s audience with scintillating battles between the top emerging talent in this sport for years to come.”

The first XFC fight card to air live on HDNet is expected to be XFC 8, taking place on Saturday, April 18 at the 21 thousand-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.

XFC’s next promotion, XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox,” takes place at Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena on February 20. XFC 7 will be the first-ever pro MMA fight card in Tennessee state history, featuring a main event showdown between undefeated heavyweights Chad Corvin and Scott “The Bear” Barrett. Tickets are now available at the Thompson-Boling Arena box office and Tickets Unlimited outlets, including Cat’s Music, Disc Exchange, and Fye Music.

HDNet Fights Partners With Ring Of Honor

January 26, 2009

HDNET FIGHTS ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH RING OF HONOR
Monday, January 26, 2009

HDNET FIGHTS ANNOUNCES LONG TERM PARTNERSHIP WITH “RING OF HONOR” WRESTLING

New partnership brings unique brand of professional wrestling to HDNet.

DALLAS (January 26, 2009) HDNet Fights today announced a long term partnership with “Ring of Honor Wrestling.”

Coming soon, HDNet will debut a new weekly television series, which will bring “Ring of Honor Wrestling” to a national television audience for the very first time. “Ring of Honor Wrestling” and its stars are prominently featured in the recent, critically acclaimed movie “The Wrestler” starring Mickey Rourke.

“’Ring of Honor’ is an exciting addition to our programming lineup at HDNet,” said Mark Cuban, chairman and co-founder of HDNet. “ROH has developed a cult following thanks to its special brand of professional wrestling and we are pleased to present it for the first time to a mass television audience.”

“’Ring of Honor’ is proud and excited to enter a partnership with HDNet,” said Cary Silkin, president of Ring of Honor. “Our in-ring action is the perfect compliment to HDNet’s respected programming and growing stature in the broadcast industry. It’s a match most definitely made for a Main Event.”

Founded in 2002, “Ring of Honor” has become one of the most successful and recognized promotions in the world thanks to its focus on authentic professional wrestling. Over the last seven years it has produced some of the biggest stars in the industry, including Samoa Joe and CM Punk, while featuring the best in-ring competition in the world.

The stars of “Ring of Honor” include ROH World Champion Nigel McGuiness, the 3-time reigning Wrestling Observer Newsletter Most Outstanding Wrestler Bryan Danielson, Necro Butcher, Austin Aries, Tyler Black, Jerry Lynn, and Mark and Jay Briscoe.

Air dates and times will be announced at a later date.

About HDNet
HDNet (www.hd.net) provides viewers with the best in original comedy, drama, news, sports and music programming.

HDNet is your exclusive, high definition home for popular, critically acclaimed original programming, including television’s only HD news feature programs “HDNet World Report,” the Emmy Award winning “Dan Rather Reports,” featuring legendary journalist Dan Rather and “NASA on HDNet” (presenting live shuttle launches through 2010). HDNet presents championship sports coverage featuring Major League Soccer, the NASCAR Camping World Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup re-broadcasts, and premiere Mixed Martial Arts from “HDNet Fights;” behind-the-scenes sports news with “Inside MMA;” groundbreaking music programming with the HDNet Concert Series featuring leading artists and bands including Coldplay, Gwen Stefani, John Mayer and more; and entertaining and irreverent lifestyle programming including “Deadline!,” “Art Mann Presents,” and “Get Out!” HDNet is also the exclusive high definition home to critically acclaimed and award winning programs such as the Emmy Award winning “Arrested Development,” “The Black Donnellys,” “Dead Like Me,” “Smallville” and the hit series “Torchwood.”

HDNet Movies features a wide selection of major studio theatrical releases – all uncut, unedited, and appearing in their original aspect ratio so that HDNet Movies viewers get the best possible home theater experience.

Only HDNet Movies’ exclusive Sneak Previews bring feature films to viewers before they premiere in theaters! Some of the HDNet Movies Sneak Previews have included the Academy Award nominated “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” Toronto Film Festival nominee “The War Within,” and “Bubble,” the first of six movies by acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh and produced exclusively for HDNet Films. Other featured films include “Cashback,” written and produced by Sean Ellis, “Broken English,” from Zoe Cassavetes, starring Gena Rowlands, Parker Posey, Drea de Matteo and Griffin Dunne, the critically acclaimed “Redacted” directed by Brian De Palma, “Flawless,” starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore, “Quid Pro Quo,” starring Nick Stahl and Vera Farmiga, “Finding Amanda,” starring Matthew Broderick and Brittany Snow, “Red,” starring Brian Cox and most recently “Humboldt County,” starring Fairuza Balk, Peter Bogdanovich and Frances Conroy and “Special,” starring Michael Rapaport. Upcoming Sneak Previews include “Great Buck Howard,” starring Colin Hanks, John Malkovich and Tom Hanks, and “Harlem Aria,” starring Damon Wayans.

Launched in 2001 by Mark Cuban and General Manager Philip Garvin, the HDNet networks are available on AT&T, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications, Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Insight, Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and more than 40 NCTC cable affiliate companies. For more information visit www.hd.net.

About Ring of Honor

Ring of Honor Wrestling (www.rohwrestling.com) was created as a response to wrestling fans that appreciated the athleticism and entertainment that the sport can bring. Founded in 2002, Ring of Honor’s hard hitting, action packed style has been its hallmark with wrestling fans throughout the world. In its 7 year history, ROH has promoted over 200 live events between 15 states in addition to international events held in Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. Since 2007, Ring of Honor Wrestling has been available on PPV though Direct TV, iN DEMAND, DISH Network and TVN cable systems in the U.S. as well as Viewer’s Choice and Bell ExpressVu in Canada.

Affliction Day of Reckoning Payouts and Numbers

January 25, 2009

Fedor Emelianenko $300,000
•Andre Arlovski $1,500,000

•Josh Barnett $500,000
•Gilbert Yvel $30,000

• Vitor Belfort $200,000 ($80,000 to shown, $120,000 to win)
• Matt Lindland $225,000

• Renato “Babalu” Sobral $90,000 ($60,000 to show, $30,000 to win)
• Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou $50,000

• Paul Buentello $90,000 ($70,000 to show, $20,000 to win)
• Kiril Sidelnikov $10,000

• Dan Lauzon $12,000
• Bobby Green $4,000

• Jay Hieron $45,000 ($20,000 to show, $25,000 to win)
• Jason High $10,000

• Antonio Rogerio Nogueira $150,000 ($120,000 to show, $30,000 to win)
• Vladimir Matyushenko $50,000

• L.C. Davis $14,000 ($7,000 to show, $7,000 to win)
• Bao Quach $7,000

• Albert Rios $6,000 ($3,000 to show, $3,000 to win)
• Antonio Duarte $3,000

• Brett Cooper $10,000 ($5,000 to show, $5,000 to win)
• Patrick Speight $2,000

Total attendance for the event was 13,228.

Courtesy MMAWeekly.com

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.

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