Olympic Wrestler Daniel Cormier Makes MMA Debut 9/25

September 24, 2009

Daniel Cormier (0-0) — who enters the sport as perhaps the most decorated amateur wrestler in MMA history — makes his fighting debut, after only a few months of training, on Strikeforce Challengers, which airs live on Showtime starting at 11 PM Eastern on Friday, September 25.

Cormier fights Gary Frazier in the first fight of the television broadcast.

The debut of this 2004 and 2008 Olympian and 2007 Pan American Games bronze medalist (among other sterling credentials) should not be missed!  Daniel Cormier is a name you will undoubtedly hear much of in the future.

Rampage Fallout

September 23, 2009

The brewing battle between Dana White and Rampage Jackson seems to have come to a head.

Yesterday, Rampage Jackson announced through his own website that he was essentially retiring from MMA and the UFC:

The UFC has done a lot for me but I think I have done more for them … this movie role came about that I have been trying to get for over a year & as soon as I found out I was close to getting it, I called Dana right away & asked to push the Memphis fight back just a month or so. I told him what this movie role meant to me. I told him that I used to bond with my father watching the tv show as a kid when my parents where still married & it represents the memories I had with my father when we lived together. My dad became an alcohalic & addicted to drugs & we grew apart. But after my dad got his life back together, I was so proud of my dad & I told him I would always take care of him in the future & make him proud of me. My dad & I are still very big fans of the show & I am basically doing this for the childhood memories I had spending time in front of the tv with my dad. Dana went on the internet & mocked me because of that & I still did nothing. Dana & I finally talked & we made up & then after that he went back on the internet & said some bullshit & he was talking bad about the movie when information is not even supposed to be released & talking about payments which is not even true could really hurt my future acting career, which could very well last longer than my fighting career. I’m not like Randy Couture. My body has been getting so many different injuries that I wont be able to fight until my forties & neither do I want to fight that long. So I feel like my second career could be in jeopardy.. so I’m done fighting. I’ve been getting negative reviews from the dumb ass fans that don’t pay my bills or put my kids though college. So I’m hanging it up. I’m gonna miss all my loyal fans but hopefully they’ll follow me to my new career & I will gain more loyal fans along the way. & all you hater fans out there can kiss my big black hairy ass! & anybody that don’t like what I just said can come try to kick my ass! I still feel the UFC is a great organization and I felt like I was very loyal to them but they didn’t respect my loyalty but I wish the UFC the best. I did a lot of things for them. I wish no bad blood between us but I have kids & a family back in Memphis to provide for & thats all that matters to me!

Today, Dana White responded:

 “Rampage is a grown man,” White told Carmichael Dave on the radio station KHTK (audio here). “He’s acting like a baby right now, but he’s a grown man. If he wants to be in the movie business, Rampage, good luck to you, man. I hope he makes it big, and I’m not being sarcastic. … I hope the movie thing works out for him. If that’s what he truly wants to do, and that’s what he feels and that’s what he thinks his career is, I wish him all the luck in the world.”

 

White said he didn’t get any advance warning from Jackson about the surprise retirement announcement and that he still likes Jackson personally, but that if Jackson wants to leave the UFC, White can’t stop him.

 

“I just found out, too,” White said. “Rampage has been a friend of ours. We really like Rampage. I’m not going to get into the battle of who’s done what for who and all that stuff. We’ve done a lot for him and yes, he’s been there and fought. The guys who come in here, they’re fighters. That’s what they do. We give them fights and they fight. And they make money and we make money. That’s the way it works.”

Payout Perspective:

It really does seem as though this is just another chapter of the Rampage-UFC saga.  I’m sure each side has its own story, but the bottom line is that both groups need one another.

The UFC has stuck with Rampage and were very supportive through his legal and ailment issues. They’ve also invested a lot of money in promoting the guy, without a great deal of return. He’s been the coach on two TUF series, fought in numerous main events, and despite all that never really caught on the way he should have. Just when it appears as though Rampage might be ready to breakthrough, all hell breaks loose.

Likewise, Rampage has shown to have a personality, but really no significant future in entertainment (aside from what some have pointed out to be a rather typecast role of the intimidating bully that doesn’t say much, but looks really mean). I doubt he’s going to earn the kind of living as a full-time actor – and without the association of the UFC – as he will fighting in the UFC for a few more years and retiring to acting/entertainment with a much higher profile.

I’d expect this to be rectified in the coming weeks and months. Emotional spats happen, but it more than always comes down to business.

Also, kudos to Dana White for his tempered response – maybe he’s really learned from some of his past mistakes. It wouldn’t have helped the situation to insult or belittle Rampage any further. White has left his options open with his tactful approach and should be commended.

UFC 103 Prelim Rating

September 23, 2009

Spike TV announced the ratings for its latest UFC programming piece: UFC 103 Prelims.

Spike TV’s live telecast of the UFC 103 prelims on Saturday, September 19 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT) delivered a robust 1.4 million viewers and was the #2 rated program in Men 18-34 in all of cable in the timeslot including out-delivering ESPN2’s coverage of NCAA college football (West Virginia vs. Auburn).

 

Overall, the fights drew a 1.5 (441,000) in Men 18-34, a 1.3 (738,000) in Men 18-49, and a household rating of 1.0.

 Payout Perspective:

It’s a little surprising that the UFC 103 undercard only drew a 1.0. To give you some context, these are PPV quality fights doing far less than any of the last Fight Night cards (which have averaged a 1.6 over the past five events). Although, the M18-34 rating is fairly solid…

The UFC was looking to generate cross-over purchases by holding the prelims on Spike. However, the numbers seem to question how many new buys were added as the result of the free prelim programming. I think it’s likely that the majority of the prelim audience had already chosen to buy that fight and simply tuned in to watch the prelims.

It’ll be interesting to see how the UFC reacts and whether or not free prelims are on their agenda moving forward. If the UFC were to secure a network deal in the future, free prelims would be an excellent idea on any of the majors.

However, Spike’s effectiveness as an immediate corollary push for the UFC is now somewhat in doubt. Was it the competition from Mayweather-Marquez (an event that may have done 1 million buys), the lack of advertising, or a potential lack in network reach?

Weight Watchers

September 23, 2009

We received an interesting reader e-mail earlier in the week, one worth making public:

I would love to see some analysis from you guys on fighters missing weight.  The only time Dana White seems to care is if it’s for a title.  Why should Hermes Franca get a pass?  In my mind, it is completely unprofessional and I’d go as far as to say disrespectful to the sport to show up 4 lbs overweight the way Franca did.  An even worse story is with Floyd Mayweather.  The HBO announcers unanimously believe he didn’t even try to make weight.  He’s rich, he pays the $600k because he felt it was worth that much for the advantage, and he just didn’t care.
 
I’d love your opinion on this and I think it’s timely.  I don’t think the fine (generally about 10% of the fighter’s pay, depending on the overage) is high enough.  The UFC could easily add to the amount prescribed by the athletic commissions.  Why not make it so that 75% of the fighter’s pay goes to his opponent?  I also feel the offender should forfeit his right for a cut of the PPV bonus.  He should still be eligible for fight of the night, submission, or knockout bonuses because of the built-in incentives to make the fight entertaining.  There also should be a rule, unwritten or not, that showing up over weight delays your chance at a title for 3 fights (i.e. Thiago Alves).  This is an issue, much like steroid use, that I believe Dana needs to take more seriously to grow the sport.

Payout Perspective:

I share the reader’s frustration with weight-cutting issues as they exist particularly in MMA, but as demonstrated by Floyd Mayweather this past weekend, boxing is affected, too.

I believe the ideas expressed in the e-mail are sound, and I’d particularly focus on Dana White’s share of the responsibility in reining in the problem.  The e-mail alludes to Thiago Alves, who at least partially earned his shot at the welterweight title by defeating former champion Matt Hughes after having weighed in at 174 lbs. the day before the show, and having appeared to weigh at least 190 pounds — a good weight class above opponent Hughes — by fight time. 

I fully support the reader’s suggestion that when a fighter misses weight as egregiously as did Alves, even if he then destroys his opponent, title aspirations should be placed on hold for a while. 

In fact, this is precisely why I felt frustration upon hearing Dana declare Vitor Belfort ready for a middleweight title shot after UFC 103: the guy needed four opportunities to make 195; unless Dana wants to walk into another Travis Lutter travesty, perhaps the wiser course is for Belfort to actually demonstrate the ability to make 185 before receiving an opportunity at Anderson.

Although I favor the economic-based incentives to make weight as suggested in the e-mail, I’d actually prefer to see a change from weighing fighters in the day before a fight to a system demanding same-day weigh-ins. 

Same-day weigh-ins ideally would deter massive weight-cutting (as opposed to losing weight in the weeks leading up to a fight), but there are legitimate concerns that fighters would take major health risks in massively dehydrating mere hours before a fight, providing a recipe for tragedy.  This potential problem could be mitigated somewhat by requiring fighters to be within a certain percentage of fight-weight  a week before a fight, and then by having a follow-up weigh-in either the day before or the day of the actual show.

If same-day weigh-ins seem too radical a shift, there are already schemes in place representing a middle ground that are preferable to the typical model.  Ohio, for instance, has two sets of weigh-ins: one the day before the show, and one the day of, and fighters cannot gain more than thirteen pounds between weigh-ins.

Here’s the thing, though: you’re unlikely to see a push for change with respect to weight-cutting issues in combat sports unless and until there’s a tragedy or two — that unfortunate lesson derives from neither MMA nor boxing, but from life.

NSAC Puts John McCarthy Return on Hold

September 22, 2009

Sherdog reports that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has placed John McCarthy’s referee application in the pending file, delaying indefinitely his return to officiating in Las Vegas, the Mecca of fighting:

In a mailed letter from Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, McCarthy, who submitted his application Sept. 10, was informed that the state “[does] not anticipate adding any additional referees at this time. We will place your application in the pending file in case the situation changes.”

Payout Perspective:

As others are noting, it’s difficult to believe that politics are not at play here.  John McCarthy has made comments perceived as critical of commission head Keith Kizer, and there have been reports that McCarthy’s application was in jeopardy due to how outspoken he’s been.

Regardless of the reason for NSAC’s refusing to grant McCarthy an immediate return, it’s absurd that the commission has decided there’s no place for the best referee in the sport to practice his vocation in its state. 

As McCarthy has noted, a license is not a right but a privilege, but it’s one that he’s more than earned.  The job confers a sacred duty on officials — split second decisions that can determine the difference between life and death — and with the pattern (and it’s nothing if not a pattern) of incompetent officiating in the sport, with early and, worse, late stoppages more common than they should be, any state commission should literally beg John McCarthy to work its state.

The NSAC decision is at best an embarrassment; if an MMA death occurs in Vegas, and it looks to be the result of poor officiating, the decision itself might appear to be a tragedy.

SpikeTV Announces "The Ultimate Fighter: The Aftermath"

September 22, 2009

Spike TV has announced a new piece of digital programming to accompany The Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights called “The Ultimate Fighter: The Aftermath.”

It looks to be a roundtable analysis show that will be available online every Monday. Former TUF winner Amir Sadollah will host the show and moderate a discussion between fans and the two fighters that participated in the fighting of that particular show.

Here’s the press release:

New York, New York, September 22, 2009 – Spike TV’s hit series “The Ultimate Fighter” has propelled mixed martial arts into the American mainstream while becoming the most successful franchise in the network’s history. With its tenth iteration having premiered to record ratings, Spike.com will launch the original series “The Ultimate Fighter: The Aftermath.” Hosted by Amir Sadollah, the new show will be a video roundtable discussion about the on-air episode that precedes it, with the fighters that competed in an elimination bout on hand to talk about what went on, both inside and outside of the Octagon™, during “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights.”

 

“‘The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights’ promises to be the show’s biggest season yet, and Spike.com has enjoyed great success with its ‘Aftermath’ franchise,” said Jon Slusser, SVP, Spike digital entertainment. “In combining the two, this new show will deliver exclusive content to our audience, and allow Spike viewers and members of our online community to interact with our signature franchise in new ways.”

 

Premiering Tuesday, September 22 on Spike.com, “The Ultimate Fighter: The Aftermath” will allow fans, for the first time in the show’s history, to pose their questions about “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” directly to the fighters involved. UFC® president Dana White will be on hand for the premiere episode, and, over the course of the season, coaches Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson, as well as the show’s entire cast, including Kimbo Slice, Wes Sims, Marcus Jones, and Roy Nelson, will stop by to take part in “The Aftermath.”

Payout Perspective:

MMAPayout.com has talked a lot about “corollary programming” in various different articles over the last  year, and this is yet another example of the UFC and Spike TV taking steps to ensure fans can access additional content – content that will eventually push consumers through to the PPV events.

If the Aftermath show is done properly, it should help the UFC and Spike boost their ratings even further.

MMAPayout.com Interview with Cung Le

September 22, 2009

MMAPayout.com recently sat down with former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le to discuss a variety of topics including vacating the Strikeforce title, MMA fighters transitioning to the entertainment field, and Le’s numerous side projects.

KP: I guess we’ll start with the obvious question that I’m sure you’ve answered more than a few times now: why was vacating the belt the right move? I ask in part, because the answer is the perfect segue to the bulk of our interview today.

CL: It was the right move, because I haven’t been able to defend my title, and it’s been over a year and a half now. I’ve been busy with films, so I felt like the promoter putting up the interim belt was because he was awaiting my return soon. But I felt that since I’ve been gone so long and I’m not ready to do a five rounder, I needed to take a step back and vacate the belt so the top fighters in Strikeforce could have a shot.

KP: If you do come back, how many fights will you have left on the contract with Strikeforce?

CL: I’ll have four fights left.

KP: There seem to be a lot of guys moving from MMA into entertainment. What would you say is the main motivation there: fame, fortune, experience, or something else?

CL: Well, I wouldn’t say that there are a lot of guys moving into movies. I think that there’s a really small handful from Rampage to Randy, and now Gina and myself. It’s only a really small group like that, that are able to take part in studio films like Warner Bros or the other big studios.

I feel like it’s a good thing for the sport – it generates a lot more awareness. It gets a lot more MMA fans, or non-MMA people who don’t pay attention to MMA, to look at the names in MMA.

KP: The latest incident between Rampage Jackson and the UFC has raised some interesting questions in regards to how promotions should go about handling promoting fighters in the future – the success of a fighter is highly correlated to the promotional push he receives.

Where do you draw the line between completing your obligations to a promoter, but also at the same time looking out for your best interests and taking those opportunities as they come?

CL: The line for me – I can’t speak on Rampage’s part – is that I’ve always had an open line of communication with my promoter, Scott Coker. When we sit down and talk, we’re very strategic about how it needs to happen on both ends to make it a win-win situation.

On my end, I need to live up to the part where if I’m not competing, I’m always promoting Strikeforce in the best way that I can. In interviews, any radio, and any kind of media that I get outside of MMA, I always make sure to push Strikeforce in every way that I can. It’s always Strikeforce MW Champion Cung Le starring in Pandorum alongside Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster, or Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, Cung Le, starring in Fighting with Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard, etc. It may not be fair to the fans, but it’s fair to the promotion.

I know I also have an obligation to the fans, but I think that every time I’ve stepped in the cage, I’ve come to fight and put on a good show. I think most of the fans understand that, “hey, I’d be doing the same thing too if I had the opportunity to not get punched in the face, but still get paid.”

A lot of people don’t realize that I’m doing studio films that get released in theatres; whether they’re limited releases or full releases like Fighting and Pandorum. Also, when we go to DVD, I can expect to get a royalty cheque every three months in the mail.

KP: So, just to give the fans some idea of the film environment context: how many fights would you need to take in order to balance out what you might make on your next film?

CL: Basically it depends on the part. I think the best thing to say would be that I’m one to two movies away from making seven figures. You could say that my next project, I’m expecting to make three times as much for 8-10 weeks of film work as I would for one fight.

At the same time, I’ve got millions and millions of dollars behind the project and behind my name. It reflects back upon me, but also back upon Strikeforce because I’m the middleweight champion.

 You know, at one point I was training to fight while doing the movies, but now that the roles are getting bigger I no longer have the time to film during the day and train at night. I hardly have enough time in the morning to get prepared on set and make sure I’m ready to film; and when I’m done, I’m exhausted. I’m on the set for nearly 14 hours a day – it’s not just acting, but stunts and A-unit and B-unit and it really doubles your work.

It’s really demanding and there isn’t time to train, so I just try to stay in shape and feel good about myself and do the best I can on the movie set.

 KP: Speaking from your experience, then, can an MMA fighter do both? Can an MMA fighter do a movie for ten weeks and then flip right back into the training? Can they do it consistently?

CL: Only the most disciplined fighter can do that, and I was able to do that in the beginning – do a project while training to fight.

But, now that I’m at the higher level of fighting, I have to make sure that my camp is at the highest level. Likewise in the films, I’m now getting larger roles that prevent me from training, and it comes to the point where I can only do one or the other.

 I can’t do both at the same time like I used to – those fights are a little out of reach now, especially because the fights are getting really tough.

KP: What would be your advice for any fighters – like Rampage or any marketable fighter – looking to get into the film business? Do you have any advice that might help them?

CL: The first thing is that you make sure you take your acting classes – you’re only as good as your acting. They might cast you, but getting cast doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do all the things that they ask of you. I would have never got Pandorum had I not gone through some pretty intensive classes to really prepare for the role.

Also make sure that you have an open line of communication with your promoter. You need to be able to parlay communication into something that’s going to work for both the promoter and yourself.

KP: Mind telling us about your new movie, Pandorum?

Yeah! I play the role of an agriculturalist on this ship. Basically this ship has 60,000 that they have recruited from different countries, and everyone is specialized in something, for the purpose of rebuilding another planet. It’s almost like Noah’s Arc, but it’s not like Star Trek where you can just jump to another system – it takes time to get from one solar system to another.

Over this period, everyone is staying in a sleep chamber to preserve their youth, so that when they get on this planet they’re able to re-start mankind. But, along the way people wake up and find that things aren’t going the way they should.

KP: When does it come out?

CL: It’ll be out on September 25th.

KP: I also understand you’ve got a deal with Round5 MMA to make a figurine, right?

CL: I’ve actually got two of them, and they’re both already out. The limited edition you can find on CungLe.com, and the other one can be found at Toys ‘R Us or KB Toys.

KP: You’re the consummate professional and a great self-promoter. Thanks for taking the time to speak with MMAPayout.com and we’re all looking forward to the day when you return to the cage!

CL: Thanks. I will be back!

XYIENCE Taps into Major East Coast Metro Areas with Multiple Distribution Deals

September 21, 2009

LAS VEGAS (September 21, 2009)–  XYIENCE, the official energy drink of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has knocked out another big win on the East Coast, giving Xenergy Xtreme’s four flavors—Cherry Rush, Lemon Blast, Citrus Slam and Apple Jak’d—major exposure through roughly 7,000 independent retailers in key metropolitan areas, including New York City and Philadelphia.

A distribution agreement with Beverage Incubators, Inc., formerly Victory Beverage, in Bensalem, PA—distributor of major brands like Nesquik, Skinny Water and Function—opens over 2,000 independent retailer doors in Delaware and the South Jersey and Philadelphia areas for XYIENCE. Darren Matik, president of Beverage Incubators, Inc., notes that XYIENCE’s affiliation with the UFC was a key factor in picking up the brand. “We’re not tasked with going out and developing another brand. The energy drink category is competitive and awareness already exists in the marketplace, because of XYIENCE’s association with the UFC,” he says. “In addition to that, XYIENCE’s relationship with the UFC enables Beverage Incubators to engineer unique promotions at the retail level.” Beverage Incubators, Inc. and XYIENCE kicked off the relationship with a personal appearance by XYIENCE athlete and famed UFC fighter Matt Serra, at the Jetro Cash and Carry in Philadelphia. The event coincided with UFC 101, held at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia in early August.

In the metro New York City area, newly established relationships with members of the Northeast Independent Distributor Association (NIDA), an alliance of distributors with major purchasing and distribution power in states from Maine to New Jersey, significantly boost the brand’s presence. In New Jersey, XYIENCE has entered into distribution agreements with Fisher-Thompson Beverage, based in Flanders, which services a portion of Somerset county as well as Hunterdon, Warren and Morris

counties; High Grade Beverage/Briar’s USA, a South Brunswick-based A–B distributor that services parts of sections of Somerset county and Middlesex, Mercer, Union, Sussex and Passaic counties; and J.D. Beverage in Newark, which handles Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties.

XYIENCE has also picked up additional retail real estate in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, home to the state’s four largest metropolitan areas, by striking an agreement with NIDA member B&E Juices. Combined, these relationships put Xenergy Xtreme in front of consumers in almost 5,000 independent retail outlets in the area.

According to Guy Battaglia, High Grade Beverage/Briar’s USA’s corporate vice president, XYIENCE’s affiliation with the UFC was a big factor for the group’s decision to distribute Xenergy Xtreme, and is an important selling point in his marketplace. “The choice to move forward was an easy one. XYIENCE came to us with a great product and effective packaging that includes the UFC logo in an eye-catching position on the front of the can,” explains Battaglia. “Excitement about the UFC throughout the U.S. is on the rise, and XYIENCE is a big part of the sport. Fans therefore identify with the brand, and because Xenergy is a great tasting drink, those fans will translate into customers for our retailers.”

“An East Coast presence is of paramount importance to XYIENCE, so we’re thrilled to establish these new relationships. It’s been an exciting process for XYIENCE to work with this group of distributors, who are tuned into the trends in their area and see very clearly how those can play out at the retail level,” says Csaba Reider, XYIENCE president and CEO. “After the UFC’s tremendous success in Philadelphia, we’re looking forward to leveraging that relationship to bring value to our distributors, retailers and ultimately the consumer.”

Through televised broadcasts of UFC events, the XYIENCE brand reaches some 100 million-television households in North America.  As a part of XYIENCE’s UFC sponsorship relationship, its logo receives prime positioning on the mat and bumpers of the octagon. This often results in a fight’s critical moments taking place on or next to the XYIENCE and Xenergy logos, and translates into millions of viewer impressions for XYIENCE.  Internationally, XYIENCE reaches more than 420 million television households via UFC broadcasts and Pay-Per-View broadcasts.

XYIENCE is also a sponsor of UFC Undisputed, the video game produced by THQ and released in May 2009 that to date has sold over three million copies. The brand has significant exposure in the game with the Xenergy and XYIENCE logos appearing on the mat and bumpers of the game’s octagon and on the shorts of prominent fighters featured in the game, like Wanderlei Silva.

About XYIENCE

XYIENCE nutritional products provide clean, sustainable energy necessary for an active lifestyle.  Established in Las Vegas in 2004, XYIENCE is one of the fastest-growing brands in its category.  All products are held to the most stringent standards of excellence to enable professional and amateur athletes and fitness enthusiasts to reach their goals in training and life.

Xenergy (A combination of Zen and Energy, pronounced “Zen-ergy”)

XYIENCE supports the mixed martial arts lifestyle.  Its energy drink, Xenergy, and its energy shot, X Shot, are the official energy drink and energy shot of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).  The first energy drink created by a nutrition company, Xenergy has zero calories and is a sugar-free drink fortified with vitamins.  All-natural flavors provide a consistent supply of energy, sans the “crash” inherent with most other energy drink brands.  Xenergy Premium Energy flavors include Cherry Lime, Cran Razz, Mango Guava and Blu Pom.  Xenergy Xtreme Energy flavors include Lemon Blast, Citrus Slam, Cherry Rush and Apple Jak’d.  Xenergy is available in retail stores throughout the United States and Canada.  Visit www.xyience.com for details.

XYIENCE Supplements

XYIENCE supplements provide ultimate nutrition for peak performance.  With everything from NOX-V2—for increasing strength and stamina and aiding in post-exercise recovery—to high-quality protein supplements such as the XProtein shake or the XM2 muscle meal, XYIENCE offers products scientifically formulated for specific training needs.

Strikeforce Signs Former NFLer Herschel Walker

September 21, 2009

Today, Strikeforce announced they have signed former NFLer Herschel Walker to a multi-fight contract.

Press release and then analysis below:

NEW YORK (September 21, 2009)–Former NFL and NCAA football superstar Herschel Walker will enter a new chapter in his career as a professional athlete when he makes his debut as a heavyweight in the world’s fastest growing sport – mixed martial arts (MMA) – as part of a multi-fight contract he has signed with world championship promotion STRIKEFORCE.

 

The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time Pro Bowl competitor will begin a 12 week training camp next month at San Jose, California’s American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), which plays home to a host of the world’s greatest fighters, including STRIKEFORCE Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson. The 6 foot 1 inch, 220 pound former running back, who already holds a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and boasts additional training in the combat disciplines of Muay Thai and Kenpo, will be trained by AKA co-owner and head trainer Bob Cook.

 

“I’ve been training for several years. I would play college football games on Saturday and then compete in martial arts tournaments on Sunday after church I’m now looking forward to opening up another chapter in my life and to competing in MMA,” said Walker, who recently was a contestant on the second hit season of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice reality series on NBC.

 

“I flew to LA last month to watch Herschel train and was surprised to see his advanced wrestling and striking abilities,” said STRIKEFORCE Founder and CEO Scott Coker, a martial arts promoter of over 25 years. “He’s got work ahead of him, but he’s committed to training at one of the most notable gyms in the sport of MMA so it will be very interesting to watch him progress.”

Payout Perspective:

Walker is the latest of many former football players to try their hand at MMA. It would seem to be a growing and popular trend amongst former athletes from one sport or another looking to get into the fight game.

It sort of begs the question: are these true athletic endeavours or purely attempts on behalf of these athletes to attach themselves to the MMA money train (or what they perceive to be the MMA money train)? It’s certainly relevant to point out that this isn’t Walker’s first post-football career experiment – as the PR states he was also a contestant on celebrity apprentice.

I will stop short of calling this a gimmick, because I don’t think Scott Coker would sign Walker if he wasn’t capable of competing. Quite frankly, I don’t believe that Walker’s cross-over appeal is even at a material level such as to warrant his use as a gimmick draw.

Yet, at 47 years old – despite his martial arts background – there are going to be some serious questions raised as to how well and for how long might Walker be able to compete against the MMA elite in Strikeforce.

UFN 19 Payouts

September 21, 2009

UFN 19 payouts courtesy of our friends at ULTMMA:

Fighters Purses: Show (Win)
Melvin Guillard $14,000.00
Nathan Diaz $24,000.00 ($24,000.00)
Roger Huerta $21,000.00
Bradley Maynard $12,000.00 ($12,000.00)
Jake Ellenberger $10,000.00
Carlos Condit $24,000.00 ($24,000.00)
Timothy Credeur $10,000.00
Nate Quarry $30,000.00 ($30,000.00)

 

Brian Stann $11,000.00 ($11,000.00)
Steve Cantwell $10,000.00
Mike Pyle $15,000.00 ($15,000.00)
Chris Wilson $17,000.00
Jay Silva $ 6,000.00
Clarence Dollaway $14,000.00 $14,000.00
Phillipe Nover $10,000.00 ($10,000.00)
Sam Stout $12,000.00 ($12,000.00)
Justin Buchholz $ 8,000.00
Jeremy Stephens $12,000.00 ($12,000.00)
Mike Pierce $ 6,000.00 ($ 6,000.00)
Brock Larson $26,000.00
Steve Steinbeiss $ 6,000.00
Ryan Jensen $ 4,000.00 ($ 4,000.00)

 

 

Total number of Tickets: 6687
Total number of Comp Tickets: 2803
Total Tickets Distributed: 9490
Total Gate Receipts: $577,996.72

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