CarnalDammage New Kid on the MMA E-tailing Block

March 25, 2009

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Newcomer in the MMA e-tailing market CarnalDammage.com turned heads recently with their sponsorship deal with Top 10 heavyweight Shane Carwin. CarnalDammage.com is the brainchild of Mike Heaivilin, a native of Sparks, Nevada. While CarnalDaMMAge is new in the MMA business field, Heaivilin is a long time fan of the martial arts and comes from a business background.

“I’ve been a fan of MMA for as long as I can remember.. I was 3 years old when Bruce Lee died but I swear I can remember that day..,” Heaivilin said. “I joke about watching my first UFC fight in Enter the Dragon at the very beginning of the movie before the UFC was even around but when I saw Bruce Lee tap out his opponent, I was hooked.”

Heaivilin took a liking to the various combat sport disciplines, competing in amateur wrestling as well as Tae Kwon Do classes in his youth. He would also go on to participate in some lower level local MMA before moving on to focus on a business career. The sport would beckon him back, though with something of a siren call.

“I had been working in sales and marketing for about 15 years now and ran a successful company for a couple of years. I already had a small western clothing business called BullGear that I ran as a hobby ……..and I thought, why not come out with an MMA shirt that still fits our BullGear brand. We did and called it “Matador”.”

“Well, the line started to take off and since my son had been training in MMA and I thought I would be his sponsor… that is when I came up with the idea of opening a company where we would not only sell the top MMA brands but our own line of “Matador” clothing separating us from the competition.”

In addition to Matador, CarnalDaMMAge carries a who’s who of MMA brands, including Bad Boy, Cage Fighter, Clinch Gear, And Sinister among many others. While they carry a wide variety of product, the company looks to set itself apart from the competition with the quality of the customer experience.

“Customer service is what we’re all about” said Heaivilin. “That is why we have a toll free number and online chat support.. because we’re there to help. It’s nice you can still talk to someone if you need to and we don’t want to lose touch of our customers. We also include like to include a free item with every order. It could be a decal, keychain, or some sort of other item”

From a marketing perspective, CarnalDaMMAGE sports one of the more distinctive logos in the business. The logo as well as the name glowed from the melding of two of Heaivilin’s passions. “We came up with the name one night after I thought about what my 2 favorite past time activities were… Surfing and MMA. And it just came to me.. Carnal DaMMAge.” The result is a pretty good job of branding your company to stick out in a crowded MMA e-tailing field. CarnalDaMMAge is definitely worth a try when making your next purchase of MMA related gear.

Ultimate Bet Buys Ad Time on Fight Night Re-Broadcast

March 25, 2009

In a move that answered many questions about the status of the UFC’s poker sponsorship, Ultimate Bet was featured in commercial time during Wednesday night’s rebroadcast on Spike of a past Fight Night card. A 30-second ad featuring UB sponsored players Phil Helmuth and Annie Duke was featured prominently. The ad would seem to indicate that Spike doesn’t have a problem with ads from online poker sites, much less those with some pretty massive PR problems at the moment.

MMAPayout.com contacted Spike TV yesterday to seek clarification on the situation after the ban announcement. Word of the earlier Spike TV ban emanated from sources close to Full Tilt, who indicated that Spike TV was the impetus for the initial ban from TV programming. We spoke with Spike to verify the truth of FT’s claims or if it was just a cover story because they were being turfed out. We inquired at that time if there was any relationship that would cause Spike to have preference of UB over FT. Spike declined comment and referred us over to UFC PR Jennifer Wenk, who is generally a black hole for questions from an adversarial media (questions go in, nothing comes back out). Spike at this seems to be in lock step with the UFC as to the appropriateness of the UB sponsorship.

With UB now becoming the company’s poker sponsor, things will for the most part mirror what happened under Full Tilt. There will be a single provider that flows through UFC corporate and fighters who had old deals with Full Tilt will likely switch over to UB in a timely basis.

UFC Poker Sponsorship In Flux

March 24, 2009

A quick update on the UFC Poker sponsorship situation. There is definitely smoke where there is fire in regards to talks between the UFC and Ultimate Bet. MMAFix reports Absolute Poker, a related site to UB, will be involved:

It appears as if UltimateBet’s sister site, Absolute Poker, will be part of this deal, although we’re awaiting confirmation. The real shame here is the UFC is screwing over its fighters yet again. Full Tilt was spending good money on sponsorships, and limiting the competition does them no favors.

Word going around is that Ultimate Bet/Absolute Poker has outbid Full Tilt to be the exclusive poker sponsor for the UFC and its fighters and at this point it may be a foregone conclusion that they will get exclusive access to the cage. Sources indicate that the UFC has been quietly shopping around UB to fighter reps, gauging interest for some time now.

If the UFC does decide to cast it’s lot with UB/Absolute Poker, it would seem to be a case of Xyience Redux, with the fight company pairing itself in the public eye with a company of dubious reputation. Dave Farra of Raw Vegas TV has been doing excellent work chronicling the cheating scandal that has been dogging Ultimate Bet and UB associate Russ Hamilton

Watch RUSS HAMILTON UltimateBet Super-User Cheating Scandal (Exclusive Video) on RawVegas.tv

Much more information on the cheating scandal can be found over on Wicked Chops.

Whether it be UB or Absolute Poker, it seems like six of one, half dozen of another as both were the subject of an investigation by 60 Minutes, available below:


While I’m sure you could find worse sponsors at the moment, maybe Stanford Capital Management, bringing in UB seems like a bad decision, but one that will resemble the Xyience situation where sponsors of dubious character are allowed to flog their wares via the UFC airwaves. Author Nicholas Pillegi in his book Casino described Las Vegas as that city with no memory, the nation’s only morality car wash. The same can be said in some respects for the UFC and its sponsors.

Ultimate Fighting Championship® Inks Deal with TQS

March 24, 2009

Montreal, Quebec, Canada, March 23, 2009 – TQS and Ultimate Fighting Championship® today announced a television deal to air UFC® events and programming, marking the first time in North American history that live UFC fights will be seen on terrestrial television. TQS has reached an agreement with UFC to present fights traditionally only aired via cable television networks.

“We are pleased to have this deal in place, and look forward to bringing the most exciting live event in the world to TQS viewers,” said Dana White, UFC President. “UFC is huge in Canada, we have incredible fighters from there, and now fans in Quebec can experience UFC for free on TQS.”

Starting Friday, March 27, at 9 P.M. ET, TQS will broadcast over 52 hours of UFC fights in Canadian French language including four live events featuring the greatest athletes in the sport, as well as episodes of UFC® WiRED™ and UFC® Unleashed™. The series is produced by UFC as well as IDI, the production company headed by Anne-Marie Losique and Marc Trudeau.

Based in Las Vegas, Nev., UFC is entering its sixteenth year of operation as a professional mixed martial arts organization. Currently seen on television in over 100 countries and territories in 17 different languages, UFC is the world’s largest pay-per-view content provider, and is the fastest-growing sports organization in history. UFC programs are often the highest-rated television sports shows among the coveted male 18-34 and 18-42 demographic.

Quebec is no stranger to the UFC phenomenon, since current UFC Welterweight Champion is none other than St-Isodore native Georges “Rush” St-Pierre.

The first UFC event on TQS will be presented on April 1st, 2009 at 10:30 P.M. ET (tape-delay). Presented from Nashville, UFC® Fight Night™ will feature a full card stacked with 12 exciting match-ups. (All bouts live and subject to change).

UFC WiRED on TQS, will be hosted by Rej Laplanche (Ultimate Fighting® specialist) and top 10 UFC Middleweight Patrick Côté.

IDI specialises in the production of quality television shows and content for HD television and the Internet.

About TQS

TQS, a Canadian French-language, privately-owned television network, is available in approximately 1.2 million homes in Quebec, Canada through network-owned stations and affiliates. The network is owned and operated by Remstar Corporation.

Bellator III Set for 4/17 in Norman, OK

March 24, 2009

Los Angeles, Calif. – March 24, 2009 –  Bellator Fighting Championships announced today that Bellator III (the third event of the highly anticipated 12-week tournament series airing on ESPN Deportes) will take place at the University of Oklahoma at Norman on April 17, 2009.  The event will be held in the Lloyd Noble Center , home of the world renowned Oklahoma Sooners.

“The fights on this card should make for a spectacular night.  Our tournament match-ups on this show are pick-em fights, so the entire event should be explosive from start to finish,” said Bellator Fighting Championships CEO Bjorn Rebney.  “The Lloyd Noble Center is a state of the art facility where our large scale ESPN Deportes production will look and sound great.  Die-hard Oklahoma MMA fans, world-class fights and a spectacular venue should make for a great night of fights.”

Bellator III on Friday April 17, 2009 will feature a collection of highly-competitive, action-packed tournament bouts in the Middleweight (185 lbs.) division, as well as a collection of special feature bouts, including a women’s fight featuring Kerry Vera, wife of Brandon Vera.  Tickets will go on sale Tuesday March 24th at 12:00 pm CST and can be purchased at the Lloyd Nobel Center box office and through Ticketmaster.  Ticket prices start at $20.00 for students with student identification and go up to $100.00 for cage-side seating.  The tournament fights on the events card are detailed below:

Tournament Bouts:

185 lbs. – Jared Hess (6-0-1) vs. Daniel Tabera (12-1-3)

185 lbs. – Alex Andrade (8-4) vs. Damien Stelly (8-2)

185 lbs. – Virgil Lozano (6-1) vs. Hector Lombard (18-2)

170 lbs. – Dave Menne (42-15-2) vs. Norman Paraisy (5-0)

185 lbs. – Edwin Aguilar (20-12) vs. Yosmany Cabezas (7-1)

Non-Tournament Bouts:

120 lbs. Kerry Vera (0-0) vs. Brandi Hainey (1-0)

170 lbs. Troy Kious (1-0) vs. Lewis Washington (3-0)

205 lbs. Mike Messina (2-1) vs. William Albrecht (5-6)

145 lbs. Eric Payne (17-7) vs. Johnny Eduardo (20-8)

170 lbs. Joey Gorczynski (0-0) vs. Marcelo Alfaia (9-5)

185 lbs. Jason Norwood (5-1) vs. Ariel Gandulla (5-2)

Headlining Bellator III will be a matchup between Oklahoma hometown favorite Jared Hess and Spain ’s greatest Middleweight MMA fighter Daniel Tabera.  Hess is a multiple-time Oklahoma state wrestling Champion who’s established his name on the worldwide MMA stage with heavy hands and an eagerness to strike.  Tabera has been called the best Middleweight to come out of Spain and was the first Spanish fighter ever to win a fight on U.S. soil.  Tabera will use a well-developed arsenal of strikes and solid ground game to try to spoil Hess’ nationally televised tournament debut and knock the hometown favorite out of the $175,000 Middleweight tournament.

Another spectacular Middleweight tournament match-up pits Alex Andrade, U.S. Kickboxing Champion and World Pancration Super Fight Champion, against Damien “The Omen” Stelly, All-American Wrestler and World Sambo Champion, who is a sure contender for fight of the night.  Both fighters have tremendous records in world-class competition and have proven themselves against the world’s best; this fight promises to be an exciting display of striking and a tough battle until the end.

The bout between Cage of Fire Champion Virgil Lozano and former Cuban Judo Olympian Hector Lombard is an intriguing match-up of ground fighting specialists.  Lombard represents a step up in competition for Lozano, the Champion jiu-jitsu specialist, who has lost only once in his professional career.  Lozano will be faced with taking on Lombard who is considered one of the top up and coming Middleweights in the world and who has a streak of 12 fights without a loss on the line.  This fight also represents the U.S. national television debut of Lombard, who has fought regularly in Japan .

April 17th will also witness the return to the world stage for former UFC Champion Dave Menne against France ’s greatest Welterweight MMA fighter, the undefeated Norman Paraisy.

Finally, the Middleweight division match-up between knockout artists Edwin Aguilar and Yosmany Cabezas is expected to be a powerful fight.  Aguilar is one of the most experienced fighters in the division and is recognized by many as Mexico ’s top Middleweight.  He is a former K1 fighter and North American Muay Thai Champion who has developed a solid ground game.  Cabezas is also known for his ground game; however, it is his arsenal of devastating kicks that have become his signature.  Both fighters will undoubtedly be looking for the knockout, and both have the power and technique to get it.

Bellator Fighting Championships’ premiere season consists of 12 two-hour events to be broadcast weekly in primetime on Saturday nights.  The nationally televised events will feature a combination of tournament and non-tournament special feature bouts. There will be four simultaneous tournaments taking place in season #1 over a three month period: one in each of the Featherweight (145 lb.), Lightweight (155 lb.), Welterweight (170 lb.) and Middleweight (185 lb.) divisions.

For tickets to the live event, please visit Ticketmaster.com beginning March 20, 2009.

For more information about Bellator Fighting Championships, visit www.bellator.com.  The Spanish version of the website is available at www.Espanol.Bellator.com.  Please contact your local cable provider to learn more about viewing Bellator Fighting Championships on ESPN Deportes.

About Bellator Fighting Championships

Bellator Fighting Championships is a Mixed Martial Arts promotional company with offices in Los Angeles and Chicago .  Bellator’s founders, Bjorn Rebney and Brad Epstein, are experienced fighting sports and entertainment professionals with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes.  Bellator Fighting Championships’ executive team is comprised of top industry professionals in the areas of live event production (including Rob Beiner, winner of 12 Emmy awards for sports programming), fighter relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations.

About Lloyd Noble Center

The Lloyd Noble Center (LNC) is a multi-purpose facility that has served the University of Oklahoma and the surrounding community since December 1, 1975.  Located in Norman , Oklahoma , the LNC has hosted many great sporting and non-sporting events in its 33 years of existence.  The facility is home to the University of Oklahoma men’s and women’s basketball programs, and visiting artists have included Kenny Chesney, Bob Dylan, Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Cash, Three Doors Down and more.

On Tilt: Poker Company Full Tilt On No-No List

March 23, 2009

MMAPayout.com has learned through sources that Full Tilt Poker has been put on the list of sponsors not allowed. The UFC sent word of the ban out on Monday via e-mail :

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, FULL TILT POKER WILL NOT BE ALLOWED FOR ANY UPCOMING EVENTS.

While MMAPayout has reported of a ban on Spike, this directive will apply to all cards and will apply to both the fighters as well as the company itself.

MMAPayout.com has written extensively on the curious path of Full Tilt Poker as it has made itself a premier sponsor for both fighters and the organization itself in the UFC. The UFC had for some time kept sportsbooks and online gambling/gaming businesses at arms length. Their being competition for the major Vegas casinos who hosted the UFC as well as their illegality in some situations made the UFC reticent to work with them. With a collapsing ad market, the UFC recently changed their informal policy and brought in Full Tilt as a top shelf sponsor for the fight company. Full Tilt has also become a major sponsor of fighters, with their logo being omnipresent on fighter hats, shorts, and T-shirts. The road seemed to have taken another turn, as MMAPayout.com learned that UFC television partner Spike TV has stepped in and nixed Full Tilt from being a sponsor on its’ airwaves.

Sources indicated the Spike embargo on Full Tilt would go into effect at UFC 95 card on Spike. The ban affected the UFC in it’s ability to have signage on the Octagon mat as well as naming rights on the replays during the broadcast. The ban didn’t look to affect the fighters, who were able to wear signage for the poker company on the card. This was thought to be phased out by the next Spike card in Nashville, though. Now the ban has been put in effect for all cards. While there was no explicit connection between the two in the e-mail quoted, the leap from one to the other seems related. There are unconfirmed reports that the cause may be a push from poker rival Ultimate Bet, to be the UFC sponsor, but the validity of these reports is in question at this point.

Full Tilt Poker has been able to skirt a federal ban on online gaming by the duality of their usage of the .net/.com brands. The .net brand is used for educational/entertainment purposes and is the brand that is advertised through all of the company’s media. The .com is the money site that would raise the ire of regulators, with the .com accessible through using the software from the .net.

TVN Entertainment and UFC Partner to Launch UFC On Demand Network

March 23, 2009

Hat Tip to MMA4Real

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–TVN Entertainment Corp., the world’s largest television On Demand company, today announced that it has reached an industry-wide partnership agreement with Zuffa, LLC, owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship® brand, to launch the first ever UFC® On Demand™ network. Under this agreement, TVN is handling sales, licensing and distribution partnerships and will also support the channel through its award-winning ADONISS encoding, transport and asset management services.

The UFC On Demand network is currently available to avid UFC fans in over 6 million homes through TVN’s distribution partners including Verizon, Rogers, Shaw Cable, Insight, WOW, Bresnan, Atlantic Broadband, and Armstrong. Additional affiliate deals are in the works that will bring UFC On Demand to over 15 million homes in North America over the coming months.

“As UFC continues to dominate as the number one promoter of the fastest growing sport in the world, we constantly look for new ways to deliver the UFC experience to all of our loyal fans,” said Dana White, UFC President. “By partnering with industry leader TVN to form our new UFC on Demand service, our fans will now be able to experience UFC whenever they want, learning more about MMA and its fighters, and seeing some of the greatest fights in the sport.”

The new channel will consist of a triple-tiered offering of three distinct folders; UFC Free Zone, UFC Fight Zone and UFC Event Zone and will be available in multiple versions including SD, HD and Spanish.

UFC Free Zone offers free informative and entertaining short features on mixed martial arts rules, fighting disciplines, styles and techniques. The highly popular Countdown UFC shows, UFC event previews and full length fighter profiles are also available via UFC Free Zone.

UFC Fight Zone offers single UFC library fights in their entirety, at $2.99 per fight with a 24-hour viewing period. UFC Fight Zone features fighters who will be competing in an upcoming UFC pay-per-view event, offering fans the opportunity to see these champions and challengers in some of their most legendary fights and most recent matchups.

UFC Event Zone offers full UFC events and specials, starting at $4.99 per title for a 24-hour viewing period. Offerings include recent UFC pay-per-view events that feature fighters who will be competing in an upcoming UFC event, as well as the original and rarely seen “UFC Classics” from 1993-1998, along with UFC’s hottest selling full-length DVDs, UFC compilation specials and replays of current pay-per-view events.

Clementi Proves Mettle In Promotional Field

March 23, 2009

New Orleans City Business has a piece up that details the promoting efforts of former UFC 155’er Rich “No Love” Clementi. While he has bounced in and out of the UFC over the past several years, the one constant for Clementi has been his efforts at promoting at the local level. The article details his efforts to tie in his promoting feats to a local car show, and his fighting uphill to convince the organizers to play up the MMA angle. The article gives a good view of the depth of Clementi’s efforts:

Clementi is a world-class MMA fighter and president of No Love Entertainment, a Slidell-based MMA promotion company. In his eight years with No Love Clementi, 33, has produced more than 70 events at regional venues including the Northshore Harbor Center, LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center, the Baton Rouge River Center and the Imperial Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi.

“Some people think they can just jump into this business, that they can set up a cage and throw two fighters inside and that’s it. When people do things like that, the fans don’t get their money’s worth and it hurts the sport as a whole because it misrepresents it,” Clementi said.

After promoting the MMA for more than eight years, Clementi is used to being challenged by people unfamiliar with the sport who tell him it is too violent and will horrify women and children. But once they attend one of his events they walk away with a different perspective, Clementi said.

“Some think the people who go to my shows are the same crowd as the WWE. But most people at my shows are 25 to 40 years old and business professionals. I think something that hurts me is my age. I look like a younger guy who doesn’t have a lot of experience. But I’m the longest running and most successful promoter in the state.

While much is made of MMA fighter’s using gyms as fall back careers once their days in the cage are passed, Clementi seems to be ahead of the game in this respect. I believe Clementi also had his hands in the gym business, but going the one step further into promoting field

Subtle Observations: UFC 2009 Undisputed & In-Game Advertising

March 23, 2009

If you haven’t seen any of the gameplay footage from the UFC’s upcoming video game (UFC 2009: Undisputed, May 19th), you owe yourself to check it out. Aside from the interesting fighting mechanics and somewhat realistic character models, the tremendous level of background detail is something that really caught my eye.

Did anyone else notice the Madison Square Garden advertisement on the octagon mat during one of these videos? By no means should you read anything into this aside from the obvious that the UFC hopes to be in MSG be in New York by this time next year. However, it does raise an interesting point about the value of in-game advertising.

It’s been estimated that by 2010 in-game advertising will have become a $2 billion business and given the integral role that advertising and corporate sponsorships play within mixed martial arts, it would appear as though the UFC may have stumbled upon another ancillary revenue stream.

It’s not just MSG that I’ve noticed either, all the usual suspects are present in the game thus far: Harley-Davidson, Tapout, American Fighter, mmawarehouse.com, etc.

I doubt the revenue stream is particularly large at this point (given the economy and uncertainly towards the reach of the game itself), but you can bet that if UFC 2009 is a success the door will open to future, material revenues in the form of in-game advertising for the UFC.

Spencer Chronicles Life of Manager on Yardbarker

March 23, 2009

UFC Welterweight Champ Georges St Pierre has a blog over on Yardbarker where he shares his exploits on an occassional basis. A new twist is the fact that his manager Shari Spencer has started up a similar blog, detailing her efforts on her client’s behalf. It is interesting to get her perspective on the wild ride behind the scenes, with all the work that is encompassed by the fighter and manager to build bridges to the corporate world as well servicing media interests:

Wednesday I flew to Toronto to join Georges and shoot our 2nd movie, and in between the rehearsal & the shoot date we squeezed in filming a commercial for Gatorade. Georges was so excited to be a part of that campaign – I think it’s really precious to see him when he really doesn’t realize how big he’s become. I also sent an e-mail to Dana with a link to the press release entitled “It’s not a Wheaties box”…

What really impressed me about our time in Toronto was the media interest, especially from ‘mainstream’ shows. Between Thursday and Friday, we met with the Canadian Press, Rogers Sportsnet, TSN (both SportsCenter & Off The Record (gotta love the Vaseline-tossing Michael Landsberg!), The Score (I finally got to meet Mauro Ranallo in person – I could hardly contain myself!), The Fight Network & MMACanada.net – but for the first time, we also met with CTV’s eTalk (akin to Access Hollywood in the U.S.) and CTV’s Canada AM (similar to Good Morning, America) – it struck me that the counterparts to these shows in the U.S. are not yet covering MMA fighters, so one might draw the conclusion that MMA is gaining mainstream acceptance faster in Canada in the U.S.

You may want to add this to your list of feeds.

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