UFC Bans More Apparel Companies

June 25, 2009

In a further move to bring fighter sponsorships under tighter control by Zuffa, the UFC announced new guidelines for apparel sponsorships starting with UFC 100. Sam Caplan with 5oz of Pain breaks the story:

FiveOuncesOfPain.com was contacted by a manager on Wednesday night who spoke on the condition of anonymity and stated that he recently received an e-mail indicating that additional clothing sponsors have been added to the UFC’s list of banned companies.

Five Ounces of Pain was able to obtain an e-mail distributed by the UFC’s legal department that now lists Dethrone, One More Round, and Rolling Stone as a list of sponsors that will not be approved for UFC 100 on July 11. Unacceptable sponsors for UFC 100 also online Poker sponsors Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet, and Party Poker.

Clothing sponsors that are approved for UFC 100 include Cage Fighter, MMA Authentic, Familia Gladitoria and MMA Elite. The source added that several clothing sponsors have indicated that they were contacted recently by the UFC and informed that in order to have the ability to sponsor a UFC fighter during a UFC-promoted event that they would have to pay a $100,000 fee to the UFC for the right to sponsor a fighter.

FiveOuncesOfPain.com contacted several other managers and agents who represent UFC fighters and they reaffirmed every detail brought forth by the original source.

I think the goals here are two fold. If they generate additional income that will be all fine and well. While these payoffs are tantamount to legal kickbacks, that doesn’t make them anymore ethical. I think the real purpose, though, is to drive traffic and business to the folks that they currently have relationships with, like Tapout, and others that I have spoken on here in the past. The UFC has financial interests in seeing these companies have less competition in the cage. While the UFC has also targeted a few non-apparel companies with these “sponsor taxes”, the apparel brands are targets because they are endmic to MMA, ie they are beholden to the UFC demographic for their success. They are basically dead in the water without the MMA market, and the UFC especially, as a vehicle to dispaly their product. The UFC want to winnow out the field and see the companies they have vested interests in get bigger. Which fine and well for the UFC and the apparel companies but doesn’t help fighters who are deprived of sponsors and in the long run have less competition for their sponsorship slots, which will mean less dollars.

Brock Lesnar believes he has “room for improvement”

June 25, 2009

ufc100fo

Speaking exclusively to Fighters Only magazine, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar comments on his will to improve despite having beaten two former title holders in his ascension to title status.

With only four mixed martial arts bouts under his belt Lesnar has arguably become one of the most successful crossover athletes in modern Mixed Martial Arts. In the five-page feature he comments on his current status:

“I’m keeping everything in perspective and keeping it real. Even though I’ve got the belt I can still become a better fighter…I’m trying to evolve as a fighter every day…I think I have room for improvement, once you think you don’t the walls to the room come tumbling down.”

Some fans have been critical of the opportunities afforded Lesnar with such a short tenure in the sport but he is accepting of this commenting:

“I can understand some fans’ opinions, but I’ve been proving myself my whole life…You don’t just gain respect overnight, you’ve got to work for it.”

Lesnar will face off against interim Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir at UFC 100 on 11th July to decide the undisputed Champion.

Issue 5 of Fighters Only is available in stores now also featuring a special 8 page feature on ‘100 things you didn’t know about the UFC’ highlighting some of the more unusual, little known and interesting facts about the world’s most successful Mixed Martial Arts promotion.

Issue 5 of Fighters Only available in the US from Barnes and Noble, Borders, 7-Eleven, Walden Books, Hastings, Books-A-Million and in Canada from Macs, Chapters many more. For more information visit:

www.fightersonlymag.com

MMAPayout on Toronto's FAN 590 – Thursday, June 25th

June 24, 2009

I’ll be on to discuss the issues surrounding MMA’s current battle to be legalized in key areas of the world, including Ontario and New York.

Be sure to tune in to The Showdown at 11 EST on Thursday night! The taping will also be available Friday morning on FAN’s website.

http://www.fan590.com/

First Look At UFC Magazine

June 24, 2009

ufcmagazine


UFC CMO Bryan Johnston shows off the “hot off the presses” UFC 100 Commemorative Magazine. The magazine will be available at newsstands starting June 29th across North America and in some international markets. TY to CageFighterMike

Anthony McGann – Enter The Wolf’s Lair

June 24, 2009

By Rhett Butler

Editor’s Note: This interview was captured before Cheick Kongo’s unanimous decision loss to Cain Velasquez

Normally, a super group of fighters deciding to forge like Voltron for a unified MMA takeover is seen as a huge threat to the MMA universe. Ok, excuse the vintage comic book speak but the likes of an MMA super group hasn’t been seen since Kevin Randleman/Mark Coleman and Matt Lindland/Randy Couture. These great duos have now been usurped by the Talented Trio: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Michael “The Count” Bisping and Cheick Kongo training know out of the Wolf’s Lair.

The Professor Xavier to this merry band of X-Men is Anthony McGann, a man of diverse experience whose eyes are sealed on the progress of his faction. As beneficiaries of a reclusive training facility and expertly executed vision, McGann steers the ship that is now an MMA athletic conglomeration.

“We’re a little bit different here at the Wolf’s Lair, you know, we don’t go out talent hunting, we don’t go out and look at who we can bring in and expand our business. Anyone who’s come and stayed here, anyone who’s come and trained with us, lived with us, we’re like a family.”

In the beginning of McGann’s career as a businessman before grappling mats and sparring drills were commonplace he was your average entrepreneurial suit. Having multiple businesses the transition to fighter manager came by happenstance.

“I come from a background where he had a security company in Liverpool and we own a construction company. We pretty much built the gym originally for all the guys who work for us. A lot of guys liked to box, kick box and do jiu-jitsu so we originally built it for most of the guys to use but we then brought in coaches and the Wolfs lair was born from there. As a businessman my job is now mainly managing fighters.”

The activity, which seemed like great recreation for his employees, turned into yet another business opportunity for the savvy McGann. According, to McGann however the city in which he is based played a lot into the development of his powerhouse.

“We’re based out of Liverpool in England. Liverpool is in the center of the UK. We’re based more northern just below Scotland. It’s pretty much a hot bed of MMA, a lot of the English guys recently who have fought for the UFC come from Liverpool like Terry Etim and other guys who fight for me but there’s a lot of MMA gyms up here. Apart from that in the UK, where we are based it’s off the beaten path and guys who come here every few months there’s not much here for you to do except train and work out.”

The complete plan really melded for McGann when he rounded out the Wolf’s Lair with the best trainers in the entire United Kingdom. Understanding that every team survives from the input of its members is another unique vantage point held by McGann and it has benefitted his collective enormously.

“This is MMA and what we’ve learned over the years is every fight is different and every opponent is different but as long as you’ve got the tools for the job; you know the best boxing coach, the best Thai coach, the best jiu-jitsu guy, a good strong team of sparring partners and teammates and we adapt to every fight. We like to joke and say that we are a democracy and everybody has a say in what’s good and what’s bad and usually the general consensus is what we go with there’s no general here we listen to everyone.”

As the future progresses for the Wolf’s Lair history will forever be marked by the appearance of the first MMA super group that banded under the banner of the Queen’s flag. With nothing but bright days on the horizon McGann can only be optimistic about his new family.

“The Wolf’s Lair has possibly three title shots coming up. If Cheick Kongo beats Cain Velasquez in Germany he gets a title shot (Editor’s Note: Cain Velasquez beat Cheick Kongo at UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany). If Michael Bisping beats Dan Henderson (at UFC 100) he gets a title shot. The only reason Quinton Jackson isn’t fighting for the title in his next fight is because, obviously, he’s going to be in the next The Ultimate Fighter show and he must fight the other coach, which is Rashad Evans,” says McGann. “So for a small gym in little old Liverpool, England there’s a chance we get three fights with the three belts and wouldn’t it be great if we won all three. That’s a tall order, I know, but from our humble beginnings to where we are now anything is possible. We’ve got the right guys, we’ve got the right formula, we’re winning fights easily, and anyone who looks at us can see we’re winning easily. So we’re getting it right, we have all the opportunities coming up. Our aim is to be the best in the world and I don’t think we’re there yet but we’re not far away.”

MMA in NY Delayed

June 23, 2009

According to MMAWeekly, it appears as though MMA will have to wait at least another year before gaining access to the world’s largest sporting stage:

The New York State Assembly’s 2009 session expired Tuesday at 2 a.m., stranding bill 2009-B, the House version of MMA legislation, in the Ways and Means Committee. It will not be seen by the Governor David Patterson in 2009, dashing any hopes of its passage this year.

The bill will now have to go back through the process in 2010, and even if it does pass next year, the soonest the UFC, or any other promotion, would be able to hold an event in New York would be late in the year or early 2011.

“Essentially, we just ran out of time,” said a representative from the office of Assemblyman Steve Englebrecht, who sponsored the bill in the House.

Payout Opinion:

In recent weeks we’ve talked at length about the legalization process and it’s disappointing to see the state’s assembly session end without the passage of bill 2009-B.

However, I choose not to view this as a setback, but rather an opportunity. The bill has a good shot of passing next year, especially if the MMA community can effectively use the next six months to really drive its message home and educate the decision makers of the NY House and State Assemblies, respectively. 

It’s frustrating, sure, but MMA is continuing to make solid progress the globe over; and, while MMA in New York or Ontario would help that progress, its absence in those areas hasn’t hurt the sport.

Patience is a virtue! It’s going to take time, but we’ll get there.

Other Shoe Finally Drops: UFC Leaves Setanta, Seeking New UK TV

June 23, 2009

MMAPayout has been keeping our readers abreast of the long simmering TV situation of Setanta Sport and how it could possibly impact the UFC in the British Isles. Word of trouble first surfaced about Setanta not being able to meet payments back in March. The situation had worsened by early May with Setanta facing a cash crunch. By the time UFC 99 rolled around, Setanta was on the verge of administration, and some other sites were finally opening their eyes to the story. While it looked like Setanta had found a reprieve with a white knight investor, those hopes were dashed as the English Premier League left the channel and possible investors fell by the wayside. The other shoe dropped yesterday as the UFC finally washed their hands of the broadcaster. The UFC UK Site issued a press release, notifying the public that the UFC had terminated their deal with Setanta:

UFC ENDS RELATIONSHIP WITH SETANTA SPORTS

London, England – The Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) organisation has confirmed it has terminated its agreement with Setanta Sports.

Setanta had been the broadcaster of UFC(R) live events and programming since January 2008.

UFC UK Division President Marshall Zelaznik said: “It was with great regret that the UFC ended its relationship with Setanta. Over the last two years, Setanta has helped the UFC become the biggest indoor sporting event in the British Isles.

“They were the right partner for us at the right time as we continued to build the sport of mixed martial arts and our brand.

“Throughout the last few weeks we have been kept informed of the situation at Setanta and therefore we are in a position to ensure our UK and Eire fans will not miss any of this summer’s huge UFC events, commencing with UFC 100 in July.

“We will be announcing the new home of UFC shortly but assure our fans they won’t miss any of the upcoming super-fights.”

And Zelaznik added: “And on behalf of the UFC I want to wish the team at Setanta all the strength to get through what must be very difficult times. We have worked very closely with the entire Setanta team over the past years and wish them the best of luck in the future.”

The loss of Setanta for the UFC represents losing the TV partner that could give UFC coverage the most breadth and depth while at the same time getting a nice license fee. Setanta were able to present live uncut UFC events, something that wasn’t available before. The UFC’s past deal with Bravo had the fights shown on a tape delayed and edited down to fit a particular viewing window. Setanta also offered up programming like the Ultimate Talk Magazine show that was a weekly primer on the UFC for UK and Ireland viewers. The UFC will now look to line up a new broadcast partner post haste in order to ensure that UFC 100 is broacast in country. Such a time crunch will make for a weakened bargaining position, but with the UK being a prime market for the UFC, look for a deal to be done within days.

TUF US Vs UK Finale Delivers 1.5 Rating, 2.2 Million Total Viewers

June 23, 2009

NEW YORK, NY, June 23, 2009 – This past Saturday, June 20, the UFC was once again the undisputed champion in sports on television among young men. The live finale of the ninth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” peaked at 2.8 million viewers for the main event featuring Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida, making it the most watched-program in all of television in Men 18-34 and Men 18-49.

Also, bucking the trend of most reality series, “The Ultimate Fighter” finale ratings for season nine were the highest since season six and the full season of 13 episodes were the highest in Men 18-34 since season five, illustrating the growing popularity in the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC brand on Spike.

Overall, the “The Ultimate Fighter: US vs. Team UK” delivered a 1.5 household rating, a 2.1 in Men 18-49 (1.2 million), a 2.3 in M18-34 (663,000), a 2.8 in M25-34 (468,000) and 2.2 million total viewers.

Many had hyped Guida vs. Sanchez as a possible “Fight of the Year” candidate, and the two warriors more than lived up to the hype in a three round war that left the sold out crowd at The Palms Casino Resort clamoring for more, as Sanchez won via split decision in a fifteen minute instant UFC® classic. The fight drew an impressive 3.1 rating in Men 18-34 and 3.3 in Men 25-34.

Qtr hours:
1.11
1.34
1.35
1.48
1.47
1.45
1.60
1.42
1.53
1.39
1.93
2.00

TUF 9 Finale: EA Makes Curious Appearance

June 22, 2009

By Kelsey Philpott

Did anyone else notice the curious appearance of the EA Sports: Fight Night Round 4 banner on the Octagon mat during the latest TUF Finale?

It’s really a no-brainer from EA’s perspective, because they’re trying to tap into that 18-34 year-old demo which is bound to have some cross-over appeal with boxing – especially where video games are concerned.

However, it seems quite out of character for the UFC to allow any sort of advertisement or promotion for a competitor over one of their own broadcasts. EA Sports’ Fight Night Round 4 is going to compete directly against UFC Undisputed 2009 in sales and likely also as fighting game of the year.

Surely, EA must have provided some sort of significant incentive for the UFC to agree with the ad (or maybe there’s an issue with SpikeTV that forced the UFC’s hand), but if I’m one of the boys over at THQ, I’m probably a little annoyed right now.

Interesting.

TUF 9 Finale Payouts

June 22, 2009

MMAWeekly has the numbers on who got what for the UFC TUF 9 Finale:

-Diego Sanchez $90,000 ($45,000 show, $45,000 win) def. Clay Guida $23,000
-James Wilks $16,000 ($8,000 show, $8,000 win) def. DaMarques Johnson $8,000
-Chris Lytle $36,000 ($18,000 show, $18,000 win) def. Kevin Burns $9,000
-Ross Pearson $16,000 ($8,000 show, 8,000 win) def. Andre Winner $8,000
-Joe Stevenson $70,000 ($35,000 show, $35,000 win) def. Nate Diaz $20,000
-Melvin Guillard $24,000 ($12,000 show, $12,000 win) def. Gleison Tibau $17,000
-Brad Blackburn $18,000 ($9,000 show, $9,000 win) def. Edgar Garcia $5,000
-Tomasz Drwal $15,600 (includes $7,000 win bonus) def. Mike Ciesnoleviscz $6,400 (win bonus would have been $8,000)
*Ciesnoleviscz had to give 20% of his show money or $1,600 to Drwal for failing to make weight, which is reflected in the amounts here.
-Nick Osipczak $16,000 ($8,000 show, $8,000 win) def. Frank Lester $8,000
-Jason Dent $16,000 ($8,000 show, $8,000 win) def. Cameron Dollar $8,000

ULTIMATE FIGHTER 9 FINALE DISCLOSED FIGHTER PAYROLL: $430,000

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