Masvidal has his eye on the title

April 30, 2009

There is no question that Jorge Masvidal believes he will be the Bellator Lightweight world champion. But before Masvidal starts celebrating his projected sweeping series of tournament wins, he must first take a good hard look at his Semi-Finals opponent, Toby Imada.

As a veteran of over 25 professional fights, Imada is often considered the best, most underrated fighter the sport has seen. Whether or not Imada’s iron chin is capable of withstanding the American Top Team standouts strikes is left to be seen, but one thing is for sure – Toby Imada is a very real contender for the title.

Imada claimed a victory early in the first round at Bellator I in Hollywood, Fla, easily defeating Alonzo Martinez via rear naked choke at just over three minutes into the matchup. The question remains whether or not Masvidal is taking Imada too lightly leading up to their Semi-Final bout in Dayton, Ohio on May 1.

If the fighters stay on their feet, the clear-cut striking advantage belongs to Masvidal, but should the match go to the ground, the advantage may be Imada’s. The only thing that is certain is that this Lightweight contest will not be your average matchup. This bout will either be the well-deserved highlight of Imada’s career or it will mark the beginning of Masvidal’s final step to $175,000 and the Bellator Lightweight title.

The winner of Masvidal/Imada will advance to the final round of the Lightweight World Championship and await the outcome of Alvarez/Reynolds bout also scheduled for Bellator V.

Payout Opinion: Rankings Issue In Need of A Better Mousetrap

April 30, 2009

With WAMMA releasing their most recent rankings last week on ESPN’s MMA Live and USAToday issuing theirs today, we once again have unleashed upon us these imperfect beasts. Whether the goal of these rankings is avarice or simple self-promotion, neither really seem the ideal. Thomas Alva Edison once said that I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. I’m not one to judge whether these rankings are failures but to my mind they sure won’t work if the goal is some ranking structure that can be taken seriously.

With WAMMA, it is a case of not passing the smell test. Something is definitely rotten in Denmark as Shakespeare once stated. Rob Maysey makes perhaps the best case for the chicanery afoot with their rankings in his Loads of Secrecy post over on his MMAFA blog, he does a much better job than I illuminating the troubling aspects of WAMMA’s push for rankings and sanctioning. The ranking and handing out of WAMMA belts is self-serving, and not really something that should be encouraged by the MMA media that push the poll and vote in it.

In the case of the USAToday/SBNation/BloodyElbow rankings, the rankings amalgam simply doesn’t pass the taste test. The chefs over at BloodyElbow, in their infinite wisdom, have concocted a recipe that they think is superior because they have tossed in the entire spice rack to make the entree taste better and they then say don’t blame me when folks blanch at the taste of the dish. Their consensus rankings are only as good as the sum of its parts and and the vast majority of those parts face a credibility gap. I’m sure some from the site will say I’m making an appeal to authority and empty the rest of the rhetorical and philosophic tool box in an effort to argue the value of those rankings but such arguments don’t make the methodology or sources or rankings any more credible.

The need is for a better mousetrap. ESPN and USAToday have made their respective choices based on some nebulous (most likely business) reasoning but neither serves the end consumer, the fan, very well. The two parties are able to collaborate on something like the USA Today ESPN Coaches poll for college football, and something similar for MMA would be in order. Having the pull of both ESPN and USAToday, they should be able to assemble a who’s who of the MMA landscape to judge who the best are independent of promotion. Having a mix of the very best online and print reporters, media and high end bloggers as pollsters would be ideal. Take 25 or so people from the various mediums, here is a sampling from my eye that could be assembled (this is just one take):

Print..Neil Davidson, Mike Chiappetta, Beau Dure, Sergio Non, Ryan Hockensmith, Gareth Davies, Todd Martin, Lance Pugmire
TV..Ron Kruck, Jon Anik, Mauro Ranallo
Online News sites…. Dann Stupp, Sam Caplan, Dave Meltzer, Ben Fowlkes, Kevin Iole, Josh Gross, Jordan Breen, Jeff Sherwood, Jeff Cain, Ken Pishna, Jesse Holland
Bloggers.. Ariel Helwani, Luke Thomas, Michael David Smith, Zach Arnold, Pramit Mohaptra, That MMAPayout Guy

Say what you will about hose listed above but I think they represent the best and brightest for judging and ranking of MMA. While wrangling all those media ego’s would surely take some work (one might even describe it as a Herculean task), the end product would be much better than either of the options we are left with now and would rival the prestige given by The Ring Magazine for their mythical boxing titles.

Who Will Win the Race for a Weekly Live MMA Fight Series?

April 30, 2009

While MMA has seen it’s share of one-off live events as well as the reality TV offered by TUF, the sport has yet to see a true weekly live fight series, akin to a Friday Night Fights offered on ESPN or like the old Tuesday Night Fights offered on USA from the Blue Horizon. Bellator Fighting Championship has recently made indications that a slot may be in the offing on ESPN or ESPN2, possibly as soon as this fall. While all chatter on Bellator’s part is pointing to that conclusion, it remains to be seen if you will see it come to it’s fruition. In the event that they do make the big leap to one of the big two, there would still be the decision to go from a one day tape delay to a true live event. The current set up benefits Bellator’s production pieces that help build human interest in the fighters, so that may be an impediment to live shows even if they do hit ESPN/ESPN2.

While there hasn’t been much public discussion as of late about a live event series on a weekly basis on Spike, that doesn’t mean that those talks haven’t been made behind closed doors. Spike TV officials spoke with MMAPayout.com and intimated there have been “lots of discussions between the UFC and Spike on the topic…but not for this year.” Talks of a live weekly series on Spike TV was first put forward at the time of the UFC’s re-signing with Spike, with the the live show being a possible replacement for a phased out TUF. Since that time there has been little talk on the subject, though. Based on the comments of Spike Execs, this may be something that will take place in ’10 or ’11.

TUF UK vs US Episode 5 Ratings

April 30, 2009

MMAPayout.com has learned that TUF UK/US Episode 5 earned a 1.04 household rating–with a 1.33 in Men 18-49, a .91 in People 18-49, a 1.59 in Men 18-34, .65 in Men 12-17, and an average audience of 1.4 million viewers.

The Qtr hour breakdowns were as follows:

.89
1.03
1.04
1.20

Fresno Missing Out On MMA Money (Vid)

April 29, 2009

Courtesy of KGPE CBS-47

The city of Fresno wanted promoter Rick Mirigian to take his fights somewhere else – and he did. The next Mixed Martial Arts event is going to the Save Mart Center. While it appears the city has won, Mirigian says it’s the taxpayers that lose, because the revenue will go somewhere else. Factoring a sellout show – at the lowest ticket price – the city is out $23,000. That’s not including parking fee and concessions which could easily add up to another $20,000 for just one event. The city does not want to hold fights at Woodward Park because some feel the MMA is not appropriate for children.

With the state sanctioning MMA, it is utter non-sense for individual cities to have bans on the sport. Such moves aren’t made in a vacuum, with the various promoters able to shift slightly geographically and capture the same audience. If a city bans it, the only thing they end up with in the end are empty tax coffers, as the event will go forward regardless.

As for the teacher mentioned in the piece, here is a little more on Ben Holscher:

NEW YORK (April 28, 2009)—By day, Ben Holscher (1-0) is an educator in Clovis, California’s public high school system. After school is out, though, he shifts gears towards his other career – professional mixed martial arts (MMA) prize fighting in the cage.

The 28-year-old Health teacher, who also coaches wrestling for the high school, is in the midst of preparing for his second professional MMA bout, which will take place at Fresno, California’s Save Mart Center on Friday, May 15 as part of the inaugural SHO MMA: Strikeforce Challengers event. He is slated to square off with Cody Cantebury (1-3-1) in a preliminary matchup prior to the SHOWTIME telecast, which airs live at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

“I just have an inner-competitiveness that drives me to test my mind and my body,” said Holscher, a lifetime athlete who excelled in the sport of wrestling all the way through his career as a student at NCAA Division II Chadron State College. A four-year starter for the school located near his home in Ogallala, Nebraska, Holscher boasts two-time National Qualifier, three-time Academic All-American, and two-time team captain, amongst other achievements, on his resume.

“Whether it’s a workout, a fight, or even a card game, I like to compete and, now, I can make a little bit of money doing it, too.”

Holscher is in the midst of his second year teaching at Clovis High but, for the first several months on the job, he kept his other career under wraps. It was shortly before his professional debut that the cat came out of the bag.

“Some of my students and wrestlers had known it was a hobby but, then when I had my first fight in November, that’s when they found out about it,” he said.

Needless to say, the news changed the dynamic of Holscher’s relationship with the teenagers, who fall into MMA’s primary demographic group of viewers.

“I have a pretty good relationship with the kids. They were very excited about it,” he said. “They think it’s cool and my colleagues and principal were real supportive of it. There are always a few people that kind of question it, but you’re always going to have those.”

Maintaining this kind of double life isn’t easy, to say the least. Holscher rises at 5 am every day to do his road work and doesn’t complete his daily training until approximately 10 pm. If he is lucky, he can catch a few winks between the close of the school day and the outset of his training that is interspersed each day with his coaching duties.

“After training is done around 10, I may have to go home and grade papers for an hour or so, sometimes,” said Holscher. His schedule has been in the same taxing state for a year and a half since he initially accepted the teaching position.

“It’s a challenge, but I was a college athlete and I grew up on a farm so time management was ingrained in me a long time ago. If I wanted to make my schedule easier, I could just take a few things off my plate, but I don’t want to do that right now.”

While a number of his teaching colleagues used their recent spring break to vacation and regroup, Holscher continued his daily MMA regimen and even ventured north one week to San Jose, an MMA hotbed and the home of Strikeforce, to train with a number of the sport’s top athletes. “I slept in the gym for almost the whole week,” he noted.

“Right now, I’m just enjoying the ride. I’m blessed that I have the opportunity to train with some of the top guys. Wherever this takes me, I’m going along with it and going to bust my butt. Wherever I end up in a year or 10 years, that’s where I’ll be.”

Tickets for the first SHO MMA: Strikeforce Challengers event are on sale at the Save Mart Center box office and select Save Mart Supermarkets as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and Strikeforce’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).

Undefeated lightweight (155 lb. limit) sensation Billy Evangelista (9-0) will face off with hard-hitting brawler and BJ Penn protégé “Iron” Mike Aina (11-6-1) in the main event that will air live, along with as many as four other Strikeforce bouts, on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from the Save Mart Center.

Also during the live telecast, female MMA upstart Kim “Sugar Free” Couture (1-1), wife of MMA legend Randy Couture, will take a major step up in competition when she squares off with submission expert Miesha Tate (5-1) in a 135 lb. limit featured contest while Aaron Rosa (11-2) will meet Anthony “A Train” Ruiz (21-12) in a light heavyweight (205-pound limit) fight.

SHO MMA: Strikeforce Challengers is a proving ground for up-and-coming MMA fighters. SHO MMA provides today’s top prospects with the opportunity to step-up their level of competition and demonstrate their ability in a nationally televised event.

Entrepreneur Magazine looks at Affliction, MMA Apparel

April 29, 2009

Entrepreneur Magazine has a look at Affliction Apparel and the face of the company, Tom Atencio. Affliction is the focus of the article but other players in the culture and style of MMA are touched on, such as TapouT, as well as efforts at Apparel by the UFC and Bellator. The article touches on Affliction’s promoting efforts briefly, but apparel talk dominates the piece. While other areas are cooling off, MMA lifestyle apparel is hailed as a area for triple digit growth rates:

“There’s been tremendous growth in the MMA apparel market,” says Eric Foster, president and COO of MMAjunkie.com, one of the sport’s most visited independent sites. “The companies that are successful are run by real MMA fans who understand the sport.”

To Foster’s point, Affliction, whose other staffers also sport huge muscles and acres of scar tissue, has seen average annual growth of more than 300 percent in the past two years. (Foss says the company broke the $100 million revenue mark in 2008.) What’s more, says Atencio, “MMA is still in its infancy. In five to 10 years, it will explode.”

While the MMA end of the business is still hot, Afflcition also is looking to other areas for growth:

As more and more companies try to ride the MMA wave, Affliction continues to expand its clothing line–and reputation–beyond the ring into higher-end evening wear. Co-founder Eric Foss even has his sights on the women’s market.

Affliction seems to walk a fine line between their MMA offerings and their non-MMA stuff. Their high-end jeans is one example of this. Having a wider product mix like that does act as a hedge against one segment going into a tailspin.

Cung Le Works With ADX for Innovative Fight Shorts

April 29, 2009

San Clemente, CA April 29, 2009 — Combining state-of-the-art materials with over twenty years of boardshort design, ADX Apparel has just announced the release of their newest product, the White Dragon Fight Shorts. Developed by action sports industry gurus and tested by some of MMA’s toughest critics, ADX’s hybrid fight shorts combined the best elements of traditional board shorts and high-performance fight gear in a package that sacrificed nothing in the process.

Created by action-sports insider Ben Young and MMA legend Cung Le, the White Dragon Fight Shorts’ patented design is constructed with a 4-way Dri-flex body and enhanced by .5mm neoprene super-flex panels. In addition to maximum flexibility, the Dri-Flex material is engineered to accelerate moisture evaporation, keeping them drier and lighter than standard fight shorts. This lightweight combination of materials allows increased performance and unrestricted flexibility while maintaining their durability inside the ring. The waist is lined with mega suede and the all-Velcro closure system is faced with neoprene giving ultra comfort when grappling.

ADX Apparel has battle-tested their design through a partnership with World Extreme Cagefighting’s Wagnney Fabiano, most recently when Fabiano sported ADX’s White Dragon fight shorts in his victory on April fifth, bringing his record to 12-1. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu star has backed ADX’s new line by saying, “ADX fight shorts are the most comfortable, flexible shorts I have ever fought in. They stretch wherever and whenever I need them to.” In addition to fighters themselves, ADX’s fight shorts are getting great reviews from industry powerhouses such as Fighter Warehouse and Fighters Only Magazine.

For additional information on the ADX’s White Dragon Fight Shorts or the rest of their apparel line, contact Ben Young or visit www.mmaadx.com.

UFC Looking at Entering the Magazine Market?

April 29, 2009

As MMA has seen an explosion in popularity one of the market segments that has been lifted with this tide has been the MMA magazine industry. The magazine publishing field as a whole is seeing a general weeding out of titles (once popular titles like Blender are being shuttered), MMA-specific titles like Fight! Magazine are reaching new sales heights, while other titles like Fighters Only are expanding into the US and new titles like MMA Cage are being planned and launched. With the newsstands bulging with MMA material, the 800lb gorilla may be making their move to enter the market.

The UFC has previously sent out a press release announcing their partnership to put out a commemorative magazine for UFC 100:

The Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) organization and American Media, Inc (AMI), today announced a partnership to publish a special UFC 100 commemorative edition magazine that will be available at newsstands across North America and in some international markets.

AMI titles including Men’s Fitness, Flex and Muscle & Fitness have featured top UFC fighters, as well as UFC President Dana White and UFC® All Access™ show host Rachelle Leah, on past covers and enjoyed a surge in newsstand sales, with several UFC covers breaking all-time sales records for AMI. “We’ve enjoyed working with Dana and his team and look forward to taking our association to the next level,” added Mr. Pecker.

While all the talk to the public has been of a one-off nature, centering on the UFC 100 issue, it is interesting in how AMI is characterizing the issue when selling it to potential ad buyers. As opposed to selling the magazine as a commemorative issue, MMAPayout.com has learned it is being announced to potential buyers as the premiere issue, which hints at a more expansive roll out of the magazine rather than a one time offering. AMI has seen significant sales numbers for their issues featuring UFC personalities, so such a expanded partnership would make sense from their end. Offering an in house magazine would be a case of the UFC further mimicking the WWE model of diversification. The WWE has multiple in house titles to sell to their fans. The UFC have made no secret of their admiration for the WWE business model.

SHINE Behind The Grind: MARKETING IS OUR MIDDLE NAME

April 29, 2009

Behind the Grind brings you into the world of Shine Fights making its debut with “Genesis” in Columbus, Ohio May 9th in the Celeste Center at the Ohio Expo Center.

Issue # 2: MARKETING IS OUR MIDDLE NAME

by Rhett Butler

Guerrilla Warfare?

You have to hit the streets and touch the people to continue the impact in a market and Shine understands this. So what do they do? Get guerrilla with it and promote! Guerrilla warfare is the term for asymmetrical marketing, reaching the end customer by non-traditional means. After placing an order for additional marketing materials the Shine team distributed 10,000 4×6 flyers and over 200 posters in the central Ohio market. This surely reinforces the show in the minds of the Ohioan.

In addition, Shine placed an order for banners to be displayed outside popular bar and nightclubs in the Arena District of Columbus, OH. If you know Columbus then you understand the value of this hot spot region of the city. Also, appearances for some of the local fighters on the card were arranged at different bars and restaurants throughout the Columbus area where people can see and touch their favorite hometown heroes. It’s hard being a fighter but hey the public is a waiting. Pressing the flesh and doing meet and greets with the public personalize the experience and inspire increased participation.

Radio Revives The Video Star

Don’t believe the hype, radio still matters folks. Yes TV makes one more legitimate but radio touches people on a totally other cerebral level. The best marketing efforts are able to find the proper mix between radio and TV to maximize turnout for your event. In the case of radio, Morning and Afternoon drive time are still listened to widely and Shine understands how to tap into this.

Main event fighter, Antwain Britt served the public by doing a radio interview with Q96 FM in Columbus, OH. In addition, tickets were given away on Q96 as well. Recently, the Shine commercials ran on Power 107.5 FM while Marketing worked on arranging interviews and ticket giveaways for the station.

Next Issue: The Importance of Digital Outreach, Star Power and Inter-company Communication

TapouT Signs Licensing Agreement with Champion Nutrition

April 28, 2009

TapouT, the premier mixed-martial arts apparel, gear and lifestyle brand, announced today a licensing agreement with Champion Nutrition to offer sports enthusiasts TapouT Sports Nutrition products. Under this relationship, Champion Nutrition will design, distribute and market the Tapout Sports Nutrition brand to all retailers in the United States and abroad. TapouT Sports Nutrition products will be available in mass-market retailers beginning this summer.

“TapouT is thrilled to be working with Champion Nutrition to offer our fans, fighters and every athlete premium sports nutrition products that will let them train harder and reach their goals,” said Punkass, TapouT Co-CEO and Co-Founder. “TapouT is about expressing your passion and attitude, and whether it’s through our clothing or nutritional products, we want our company to help take that emotion to the next level.”

TapouT Sports Nutrition products will feature premium sports supplements that will allow mixed-martial arts fighters, bodybuilders, and athletes-in-training to increase muscle size and strength. The products are competitively priced and engineered with research-tested ingredients, including highly absorbable forms of protein, creatine, hydration drink formulas and more, to deliver results for serious minded athletes and boost endurance for those pushing their physical limits.

“It’s an honor to develop a line of sports nutrition products under the TapouT name,” said Mark Post, President of Champion Nutrition. “Champion Nutrition has been developing sports nutrition products for athletes and champions in all sports for over 26 years. We look forward to working with TapouT to introduce our nutritional performance expertise to the mixed-martial arts community and all TapouT fans around the world.”

“TapouT has built a stellar reputation by supporting mixed-martial arts fighters in every facet of their career,” says TapouT Co-CEO and President Marc Kreiner. “We’re excited to team with Champion Nutrition to expand our support for these athletes by providing the supplements they need to maintain their training and take their game to the next level.”

Next Page »