MMAterial Facts (02/26/10): Strikeforce VP Answers Lingering Q's

February 26, 2010

  • Strikeforce Answers Questions: Profits, Branding, & Decision Making
  • Strikeforce Fighters to Appear on CBS Show ‘NCIS: L.A.’
  • Mixed Martial Arts a growing sport in the Heartland
  • Mixed martial arts adds economic punch
  • Georges St. Pierre in New Under Armour Commercial

Strikeforce Answers Questions: Profits, Branding, & Decision Making

SI.com: What is it about your business model with Strikeforce that leads you to believe it will be successful for mixed martial arts? And has it been effective so far in terms of holding events, making money, being sustainable?

Goddard: We are making money. We believe it is sustainable. We believe we’ve got the right combination of expertise in the MMA business and business acumen, business sense. We are operating in a business-like way from the beginning. From the beginning we are making money, and we expect both the revenues and profits to grow over time. For that reason we believe it’s very sustainable. We think there’s plenty of room in the MMA business given the growth of the MMA industry for perhaps a second or even other participants. We’re excited about both the live-event business and the broadcast business. The growth of the sport and our role in that. We think we’re poised to be a leader in that industry.

SI.com: As a brand, how much value does Strikeforce have right now? How much has it grown since SVS&E’s involvement?

Goddard: We think it’s got a lot of value at the present time, especially among the core MMA audience. We do believe it needs more exposure and more recognition. We need to grow the exposure and recognition among the general sporting audience. We think both the live events help that on a market-by-market basis. Certainly the events on Showtime have helped that. And the broadcasts on CBS helped that immensely. We acknowledge that we need to grow that in the general viewing audience.

SI.com: Some of the critics of the way Strikeforce is operated say there are too many chefs in the kitchen, so to speak. Decisions are slow to get made. What would you say to those critics?

Goddard: I would simply disagree. Scott is running the company on a day-to-day basis. He has the authority to make decisions that need to be made. We’re in regular communication with each other so we can reach each other on a moment’s notice. We compare notes regularly. Whenever you’re starting and/or growing a business in its early stages, there are complexities. Both with live events and broadcast events there complexities. The fact of the matter is things are not necessarily as easy as they may appear to be from the outside. There are complexities which sometimes take time and effort to work through.  (Sports Illustrated)

Strikeforce Fighters to Appear on CBS Show ‘NCIS: L.A.’

Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and former titleholders Josh Thomson and Cung Le have been cast in an upcoming episode of CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles,” shooting next week in Hollywood, Calif.

Strikeforce fighters Dan Henderson, Frank Shamrock and K.J. Noons have also been cast in the episode.

“NCIS: Los Angeles” stars Chris O’Donnell and L.L. Cool J as agents with the Navy’s crime investigative service.

The fighters will play themselves as Cool J goes undercover as a mixed martial artist to investigate the death of a Marine, “tied to the world of MMA.” Referee “Big” John McCarthy has been tapped to play himself during an event sequence.

The MMA-centric episode is expected to air in April. “NCIS: L.A.” airs Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on CBS.   (Sherdog)

Mixed Martial Arts a growing sport in the Heartland

Participants say it’s one of the oldest sports in the world, we’re talking about cage fighting.

You may know it as mixed martial arts fighting, or MMA, it’s also one of the fastest growing sports in the world and here in the Heartland.

Since the ancient Greeks the sport of Pankration or cage fighting as it’s now known started out as an Olympic sport.  It’s popularity with spectators has grown rapidly in the past five years.

“The obvious conclusion, I think people are out there they’re looking for something that’s quick fast and there’s an ending to it. There’s hardly a question as to who wins and who loses.”

It’s a full contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques.

“In my opinion there’s no bigger rush than walking out to your music and seeing everybody, the cameras going off everyone cheering and then once you get in that cage it’s one on one.”

It’s that rush from the action inside the cage that is propelling audiences across the Heartland and the world to mixed martial arts fighting and pushing the sport to rank with the top sporting events in the world.

“More like an explosion, we’re just about to overtake soccer worldwide that includes South America, that’s a pretty big deal.”  (Channel 12 Heartland News)

Mixed martial arts adds economic punch

Efforts are under way to bring a major mixed martial arts event to the Bradley Center now that a state law regulating the sport has been enacted.

Bradley Center management hopes to secure a deal to bring an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event to the downtown Milwaukee sports venue some time this fall, Bradley Center president and chief executive officer Steve Costello said.

“We believe the event would be extremely popular,” Costello said. “Mixed martial arts has proven to be a very popular sport that has come into its own.”

A UFC event at the 18,000-seat Bradley Center likely would sell out quicker than a major concert and be a financial boon to the facility, Costello said.  (Milwaukee Business Journal)

Georges St. Pierre in New Under Armour Commercial

It’s certainly not news that Georges St. Pierre is a superstar in the world of MMA. But as MMA continues to creep into the mainstream, Georges is leading the charge. Already appearing in Affliction’s mainstream magazine ads and Gatorade commercials in Canada, somewhat under the radar, St. Pierre signed with Under Armour last November and began to pimp their products. The latest commercial features GSP alongside Olympic legend Michael Phelps and NFL prospect Dez Bryant. The commercial itself is amazing, but more importantly for the sport, it puts MMA and one of its athletes in the same breath with Phelps (worldwide megasuperstar) and America’s most popular sport, football.  (Heavy) … (MMAPayout Perspective)

IMAGE OF THE DAY

DREAM.13 Poster

QUICK HITS

  • Strikeforce Returns to CBS on April 17 (Sherdog)
  • “Strikeforce Challengers VI: Kaufman vs. Hashi” play by play and live results (MMAJunkie)
  • Gilbert Yvel to meet Ben Rothwell, not Pat Barry, at UFC 115 in Vancouver (MMAJunkie)
  • Herschel Walker Yes, Jose Canseco No for Strikeforce (MMAFighting)
  • Strikeforce, Showtime Give Female Fighters a Big Stage (MMAFighting)
  • OLIVEIRA IN AGAINST WINNER AT UFC FIGHT NIGHT 21 (MMAWeekly)
  • BELLATOR WELTERWEIGHT TOURNEY PAIRINGS (MMAWeekly)
  • Liddell naked video “was Reebok advert’ (Fighters Only Magazine)
  • Leites, Teixeira Win at Bitetti Combat 6 (Sherdog)
  • White’s nightmare continues: Mainstream media still loves Canseco (Cage Writer)
  • Barry, Cro Cop Agree to Battle of Strikers at UFC 115 (Heavy)
  • Etim vs. Dos Anjos, Davis vs. Gustafsson set for UFC 112  (FiveOuncesOfPain)
  • THQ versus Electronic Arts (ESPN)

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Hari vs Bonjasky) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • InsideMMA (Dominick Cruz, Alan Belcher and Karen Darabedyan) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents The Featherweights, Vol. 2, at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)
  • WEC 47: Bowles vs Cruz on at 10 PM ET on Versus (03/06/10)
  • HDNet Fights: Sengoku Raiden Championship 12 at TBD on HDNet (03/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights: XFC X-Night of Champions at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/19/10)
  • UFC on Versus: Vera vs Jones at 10 PM ET on Versus (3/21/10)
  • HDNet Fights: King of the Cage – Legacy at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs Mahe at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (03/26/10)
  • UFC 111: GSP vs Hardy at 10 PM ET on PPV (03/27/10)
  • UFN 21 : Florian vs Gomi at 10 PM ET on Spike (03/31/10)
  • The Ultimate Fighter 11 Debut after UFN 21 on Spike (03/31/10)

Liddell, Girlfriend in Viral Reebok Video

February 26, 2010

Chuck Liddell and girlfriend Heidi Northcutt have made an appearance in what appears to be a viral marketing video for athletic apparel maker Reebok. The video is shot from the perspective of a peeper as the couple workouts out in a private gym without any clothing, except Reebok shoes.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a good approach for a brand that’s increasingly becoming a little more edgy in nature. The strength of the video is not just the fact that both are naked, but also that it sort of fits the party-boy image that Liddell has maintained over the last few years.

Obviously, it’s of additional interest to the MMA community because of Liddell’s involvement; and my feeling is we’re likely to see a lot more companies using MMA personalities in the future (although not necessarily in naked clips) for these types of campaigns. The fighters already have an edgy appeal and and the young consumer identifies with these cheeky videos.

GSP Appears in Under Armour Ad

February 26, 2010

Canadian and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre makes his debut in Under Armour’s spring advertisement series with the latest Under Armour – I Will Protect This House commercial spot.

Payout Perspective:

St-Pierre signed the ground-breaking endorsement deal with Under Armour in early November of 2009, but the bulk of his involvement is now just beginning to take shape. If you’re a brand looking to reach the MMA demographic, St-Pierre is the safest bet; he’s got the right attitude, clean look, and dominant sporting abilities to truly be a successful brand ambassador.

HGH Testing May Be Difficult to Implement

February 26, 2010

Lance Pugmire of the LA Times reports on the latest development in the anti-doping world regarding a new test capable of detecting human growth hormone in blood samples. Early this week it was announced that a British rugby player had tested positive for the previously undetectable banned substance. However, while promising, the jury is still out as to whether the test will make its way to the North American sports world any time soon.

Yet, as the NFL and Major League Baseball push to institute blood-testing programs to unearth HGH users, how Newton dealt with his positive result is unlikely to be repeated any time soon in the U.S., where the test is not automatically accepted by American athletes — and their advisors — as indisputable proof.

 

“This guy [Newton] just said, ‘OK, you caught me,’ but a major league baseball player will never do that,” said Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) who was briefly imprisoned for distributing performance-enhancing drugs to world-class athletes, including sprinter Marion Jones, boxer Shane Mosley and the personal trainer of baseball slugger Barry Bonds.

 

“I know the anti-doping authorities are painting this as a big victory, but this doesn’t prove the test is reliable and valid,” Conte said. “That will only occur in a court of law, after the player, supported by a team of scientists and lawyers, takes his turn.”

 

Nevertheless, authorities such as World Anti-Doping Agency Director General David Howman assessed Newton’s positive (secured by the United Kingdom Anti-Doping agency) as a reason for the world’s sporting bodies to increase blood testing — especially out of competition — to catch those who have “been using this substance with no impunity for a number of years.”

 

The NFL this year told its players union of its interest in testing for HGH.

 

“Our position is that HGH blood testing has advanced to the point where we are taking steps to incorporate it into our program,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “Blood work is part of our players’ annual physical. We do have mandatory blood testing already.”

 

An NFL Players Assn. representative has said “there’s no reason” to implement blood testing at this time, but Aiello said a request by the league to do so can be done “between now and training camp,” in advance of collective-bargaining sessions, with the opportunity to have testing in place before the 2010 season.

 

“The argument that there’s no longer a valid test no longer holds water,” said Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of WADA’s prohibited list. “There’s now a positive, the test is commercially produced. There’s no excuses to hide from testing anymore, and the pressure is on all sports leagues to implement blood testing.

 

“The fact is there’s a way to detect HGH now and even if lawyers try to pick apart at it, or people say they didn’t take it, we can now find out. This is the wake-up call.”

Payout Perspective:

This is great news for the sports world as a whole – especially the Olympic movement – but we’re probably a long way from seeing its impact on the sport of MMA (or boxing for that matter).

The current testing standards employed by most commissions range anywhere from average to woefully inadequate (depending on who you ask). Critics claim the limited breadth and frequency of the testing gives savvy cheaters enough time to cycle off most of the higher end drugs. Thus, the entire testing system would need a complete overhaul before an HGH test could even be implemented; and that says nothing about, at this point, the questionable legitimacy of the testing results.

So, what might need to happen, exactly, before HGH is testable in MMA? First, and foremost, the industry as a whole would need to fully commit to ridding combat sports of performance enhancing drugs; without buy-in from the commissions and biggest promotions, nothing will happen.

Then, from an operational perspective, you’d likely need a global body to organize, coordinate, and implement the testing. The financial implications of that, of course, are quite steep: testing isn’t cheap, especially when you consider the frequency with which fighters, who train all over the world, would have to submit in order to ensure their clean form. Moreover, who is going to pay for that, and why?

Lastly, the issue of compliance is also important; as much as the commissions/promotions would need to buy-in, so would the fighters. There would need to be a little bit of a culture change in the way people in the industry not only submit for testing, but handle those that don’t.

MMAterial Facts (02/25/10)

February 25, 2010

  • Strikeforce Confirms April 4/17 Event in Nashville
  • Strikeforce Airs in Canada and UK, Also Adds Interactive Verizon FiOS Functionality
  • HGH testing could be adopted
  • WEC  Enters “pivotal” stretch; DirecTV still unresolved
  • Stratus Media and ProElite Appoint New Chief Operating Officer William Kelly to Rejoin ProElite

Strikeforce Confirms April 4/17 Event in Nashville

Mixed martial arts fans have been anxiously awaiting word about what’s next for Strikeforce, which has been rumored to have another big card on CBS coming up in April. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker confirmed Thursday that Strikeforce will have a card in Nashville on April 17 but said fans will have to wait just a little bit longer for any details.

“We’ve been putting most of our efforts into the fight tomorrow night,” Coker said of the Strikeforce Challengers card on Friday in San Jose. “But we’ll have some announcements next week, for sure. … We will be having a fight in Nashville on April 17, but the rest of the information we’ll be announcing next week.

In addition to the fighters mentioned above, Coker mentioned Brett Rogers, who fought Fedor in November, and Shinya Aoki, the Japanese Dream lightweight champion who could battle Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez, as fighters he’s excited about getting into the Strikeforce cage soon.

“For Brett, I think the fights that make sense for him are Antonio Silva or Alistair Overeem — those are the two guys I’d like to see him fight right now,” Coker said. “I think you’ll see Aoki relatively soon. We’re working hard to try to make that happen.”

Coker also said he expects Strikeforce to have a pay-per-view card before 2010 is out. (MMAFighting)

Strikeforce Airs in Canada and UK, Also Adds Interactive Verizon FiOS Functionality

On the eve of its sixth Challengers event on Showtime, Strikeforce has announced a pair of media deals that continue to expand its global reach and multimedia offerings.

Canadian Sarah Kaufman face Japan’s Takayo Hashi in a main event battle for the first Strikeforce women’s welterweight (135-pound) championship. The fight will now be available in Kaufman’s home country on Super Channel, Canada’s only national pay television network.

Another interesting addition to Strikeforce’s multimedia offerings is being part of the new Showtime Sports Interactive offering. Part of Verizon’s FiOS TV, Showtime Sports Interactive will offer Strikeforce Challengers 6 at 11 p.m. ET on Friday night, which includes voting and polling functionality and fighter profiles. All FiOS TV customers with a high-definition set-top box who subscribe to Showtime will have access to the interactive experience. (MMAWeekly)

***

Strikeforce Challengers VI Airs On Bravo In The UK

As part of Bravo TV’s recent deal with Strikeforce, more events than ever from the promotion will be available to air on the UK based station, including this weekend’s Strikeforce Challengers VI card.

The event, which airs live on Showtime on Friday night (26th February) in the U.S, will be shown in the UK two days later on Sunday night at 10pm.  (FightOfTheNight)

***

Showtime Networks and Verizon announced today the launch of the first nationwide, high-definition interactive television application (iTV) using EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format), with the new SHOWTIME Sports Interactive.  Verizon’s FiOS TV customers will have the first look at the network’s interactive experience – including voting and polling functionality and fighter profiles – during the live Strikeforce Challengers mixed martial arts telecast, Friday, Feb. 26 (11 p.m. ET).  All FiOS TV customers with a high-definition set-top box who subscribe to SHOWTIME will have access to the interactive experience.

“SHOWTIME has been leading the industry with digital enhancements and Interactive TV for over a decade.  With the launch of SHOWTIME Sports Interactive, we are excited to be joining Verizon at the forefront, bringing this state-of-the-art feature to SHOWTIME HD,” said Robert Hayes, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at Showtime Networks.  “SHOWTIME continues to innovate and provide value-added features to our subscribers and our sports programming provides the perfect setting for the ‘lean forward’ experience that is now possible with Interactive TV.”  (CNN Money) … (MMAPayout Perspective)

HGH testing could be adopted

The NFL this year told its players union of its interest in testing for HGH.

“Our position is that HGH blood testing has advanced to the point where we are taking steps to incorporate it into our program,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “Blood work is part of our players’ annual physical. We do have mandatory blood testing already.”

A baseball authority has said Commissioner Bud Selig wants to have players blood tested for HGH, with the baseball expected to adopt a blood-testing program for minor league players this year in its effort to root out use of the substance that has been credited for building strength.

Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said he doesn’t “know where this leads,” after a dispute over blood testing led to the cancellation of next month’s scheduled Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in Las Vegas.

“This is a pleasant development and something we’ll take great interest in,” Kizer said. (LA Times)

WEC  Enters “pivotal” stretch; DirecTV still unresolved

With strong ticket sales for March’s “WEC 47: Bowles vs. Cruz” event and a “booming” pre-sale for April’s blockbuster “WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber” card, Harris believes company records may soon be falling.

And while the promotion, along with the remainder of the Versus channel’s programming, remains on the outs with DirecTV and has met with some criticism for its choice to price WEC 48 as a $44.99 pay-per-view event, Harris says his company will deliver.

“With these next two cards, we’ve got our hands full,” Harris told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Just like [our fighters] focus on their fights, we focus on our cards, and we’re excited. These next two events are pivotal events for us at WEC.”

“Last I heard, [Versus and DirecTV] are talking,” Dropick said. “I haven’t been told it would not happen, but I don’t have anything else besides that. As we’ve said in the past, we’re hopeful it’s going to happen.

“There’s certainly some quite intriguing programming coming up on Versus over the next month-and-a-half here with the WEC on March 6, the UFC on March 21, and the NHL playoffs start in April. We’re hopeful it happens soon.”  (MMAJunkie)

***

WEC Exec: Attendance for Aldo-Faber PPV Could Exceed 15K

It has all the signs of a landmark moment, and World Extreme Cagefighting General Manager Reed Harris has done little to slow the hype machine.

Harris thinks WEC 48 “Aldo vs. Faber” on April 24 could draw more than 15,000 fans to the Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif. By comparison, the WEC’s most recent event in the Golden State’s capital city claimed an attendance of 10,027 last month.

“We had a record pre-sale,” Harris said during a Thursday teleconference. “Ticket sales are trending very well. I think there could be upwards of 15,000 or so there.”  (Sherdog) … (MMAPayout Perspective)

Stratus Media and ProElite Appoint New Chief Operating Officer William Kelly to Rejoin ProElite

Stratus Media Group, Inc., a live entertainment company, announced today that William Kelly has been appointed to the position of Chief Operating Officer of both Stratus Media Group and ProElite, Inc. Mr. Kelly previously held the position of Chief Operating Officer of ProElite from its inception until October 2008.

“I am very pleased to appoint William as Chief Operating Officer,” stated Paul Feller, President and CEO of Stratus, “Due to Stratus’ plans for rapid growth over the next year, we identified the need to hire a person of exceptional talent and experience as COO to manage the daily operations of both our existing companies and the integration of newly acquired companies and events. In addition to his experience at ProElite and his knowledge of the MMA business, Mr. Kelly’s background is an ideal fit for our requirements and we are happy to have such a valuable addition to our team.”

Mr. Kelly brings over two decades of entertainment and media operations and management experience to Stratus. Prior to ProElite, Mr. Kelly Co-founded Television Korea 24 Inc. (tvk24) in 2003, where he served as Chief Operating Officer. In 2001, Mr. Kelly joined the Extreme Sports Channel as Chief Operating Officer International…  (PRESS RELEASE)

VIDEO OF THE DAY

  • MMA Live 2-25-10: Highlights and analysis of UFC 110, as Cain Velasquez cements his status as a heavyweight contender. Also, Chael Sonnen checks in to discuss Frank Mir’s comments on Brock Lesnar.

IMAGE OF THE DAY

Bellator XIV - Chicago Theatre Poster

QUICK HITS

  • All fighters on weight at “Strikeforce Challengers VI: Kaufman vs. Hashi” weigh-in (MMAJunkie)
  • KAUFMAN PLANS TO BRING MORE GOLD TO CANADA (MMAWeekly)
  • “Countdown to UFC on Versus 1” airs March 6 after WEC 47 (MMAJunkie)
  • EliteXC champ Noons vs. Amade, Kikuno and Chonan added to DREAM.13 (MMAJunkie)
  • Fedor Emelianenko’s Next Fight Will Be in May (MMAFighting)
  • Amoussou Has Career as Undercover Cop (MMAFighting)
  • EliteXC “will be revived” (Fighters Only Magazine)
  • Analysis: Inside Zuffa’s Legal Win Over Shamrock (Sherdog)
  • KJ NOONS SLATED TO RETURN AT DREAM 13 (MMAWeekly)
  • Who’s the liar? White or Jackson? (Cage Writer)
  • Showtime, FiOS Launch Fancy New Interactive TV Application (Heavy)
  • Shine Fights announces third event “Worlds Collide: Mayorga vs. Thomas”  (FiveOuncesOfPain)
  • Frank Mir’s killer quote (ESPN)

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Hari vs Bonjasky) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • InsideMMA (Dominick Cruz, Alan Belcher and Karen Darabedyan) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents The Featherweights, Vol. 2, at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)
  • WEC 47: Bowles vs Cruz on at 10 PM ET on Versus (03/06/10)
  • HDNet Fights: Sengoku Raiden Championship 12 at TBD on HDNet (03/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights: XFC X-Night of Champions at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/19/10)
  • UFC on Versus: Vera vs Jones at 10 PM ET on Versus (3/21/10)
  • HDNet Fights: King of the Cage – Legacy at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs Mahe at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (03/26/10)
  • UFC 111: GSP vs Hardy at 10 PM ET on PPV (03/27/10)
  • UFN 21 : Florian vs Gomi at 10 PM ET on Spike (03/31/10)
  • The Ultimate Fighter 11 Debut after UFN 21 on Spike (03/31/10)

WEC 48: Record Setting Pre-Sale

February 25, 2010

Brian Knapp of Sherdog.com reports that the WEC had a record pre-sale for its forthcoming WEC 48 event, which is slated to be the organization’s debut PPV effort.

Harris thinks WEC 48 “Aldo vs. Faber” on April 24 could draw more than 15,000 fans to the Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif. By comparison, the WEC’s most recent event in the Golden State’s capital city claimed an attendance of 10,027 last month.

 

“We had a record pre-sale,” Harris said during a Thursday teleconference. “Ticket sales are trending very well. I think there could be upwards of 15,000 or so there.”

 

WEC 48, which marks the promotion’s historic debut on pay-per-view, will feature a pair of five-round title bouts, including the ballyhooed headliner between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former titleholder Urijah Faber.

 

Aldo, Sherdog’s 2009 “Fighter of the Year,” has not competed since November, when he blasted through American Top Team’s Mike Thomas Brown and captured 145-pound gold in a second-round technical knockout. Spawned by the Nova Uniao camp in Brazil, the 23-year-old will carry a nine-fight winning streak into his showdown with Faber. Aldo rose to the top of the featherweight division without much resistance, as he finished his first six foes inside the WEC, three of them inside one round.

 

Still the promotion’s most marketable commodity, Faber submitted Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Raphael Assuncao with a third-round rear-naked choke in the WEC 46 co-main event a month ago. The charismatic 30-year-old Californian has won 15 of his past 17 fights, losing only to Brown in that span.

 

Though the $44.95 price for the PPV remains a point of contention with some, Harris believes fans “will get their money’s worth” with the WEC 48 card, which includes a rematch between WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone. Still, it figures to sink or swim on the strength of the main event.

 

“In talking to the guys upstairs, [UFC President] Dana [White] and all them, they all believe this could be one of the best fights of the decade,” Harris said. “We’re very confident about it.”

Payout Perspective:

Sacramento, California may be the fighting home of Urijah Faber, but it’s also quickly becoming the unofficial home of the WEC. The organization has scored consistently high gates and ratings in the market – largely on the back of Faber – and now it’s poised to bring the biggest show in WEC history to the ARCO Arena. Not surprisingly, the fans in Sacramento have yet to disappoint.

Big crowd, big gate – what’s the big deal? Aside from the obvious larger-than-normal gate receipts, the importance of a sellout live crowd from the perspective of the PPV can be equated to credibility. WEC 48 is going to be the organization’s first PPV event, and rightly or wrongly, first impressions often have lasting effects. If everyone in the MMA community – Dana, Reed, the fighters, etc. – are telling MMA fans that this is the biggest fight of the year, then it damn well better have that look and feel.

Fifteen thousand screaming fans will help.

Strikeforce Adds FiOS Functionality

February 25, 2010

MMAWeekly reports that February 26th’s Strikeforce: Challengers 6 will feature the use of Showtime Sports Interactive technology for all Verizon FiOS HD television households that subscribe to Showtime.

Another interesting addition to Strikeforce’s multimedia offerings is being part of the new Showtime Sports Interactive offering. Part of Verizon’s FiOS TV, Showtime Sports Interactive will offer Strikeforce Challengers 6 at 11 p.m. ET on Friday night, which includes voting and polling functionality and fighter profiles. All FiOS TV customers with a high-definition set-top box who subscribe to Showtime will have access to the interactive experience.

 

“Showtime has been leading the industry with digital enhancements and Interactive TV for over a decade. With the launch of Showtime Sports Interactive, we are excited to be joining Verizon at the forefront, bringing this state-of-the-art feature to Showtime HD,” said Robert Hayes, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at Showtime Networks.

 

“Showtime continues to innovate and provide value-added features to our subscribers and our sports programming provides the perfect setting for the ‘lean forward’ experience that is now possible with Interactive TV.”

Payout Perspective:

Strikeforce has been strangely quiet since its January 30th event on Showtime. There are a host of rumors flying around, but nothing has yet to be officially confirmed by the organization: Fedor-Werdum may now fight in May and Henderson-Shields is apparently signed but may not happen on CBS.

Although, we’re expecting an announcement from Strikeforce in the coming days, there’s still a level of concern regarding the absence of any communication with the media over the last few weeks.

The latest news about FiOS is an interesting add-on; something that may help to engage the viewership a little more. However, I can’t help but think this might be a functionality more directed towards younger demographics, than the typically older skew we’ve seen on Showtime.

Countdown to UFC on Versus Announced

February 25, 2010

MMAJunkie is reporting that the UFC and Versus will produce a Countdown show to help promote the UFC’s debut on the Versus network on March 21st. The program will air following WEC 47 on Versus on March 6th.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its Versus debut on March 21, and to promote the upcoming show, Versus airs “Countdown to UFC on Versus 1” immediately following the live broadcast of WEC 47.

 

WEC 47 takes place March 6, and the “Countdown to UFC on Versus 1” one-hour special airs immediately afterward at 12:30 a.m. ET/PT, a Versus official today confirmed with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).

 

UFC on Versus 1 takes place at the 1STBANK Center (formerly The Odeum Colorado) in Broomfield, Colo.

 

The event features a light-heavyweight headliner of Jon Jones vs. Brandon Vera and a heavyweight co-main event of Junior Dos Santos vs. Gabriel Gonzaga. It’s the first UFC show to air on Versus, which has been home to the WEC, the UFC’s sister promotion, for the past few years.

 

Sources close to the preview show, which re-airs March 8 at 4 a.m. ET/PT, said it’ll be very similar to those that air on Spike TV, which has been the UFC’s cable home since early 2005. It’ll largely focus on Vera and Jones, either of whom could move into deep title contention with a victory.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC understands the importance of its debut on Versus, so it’s not tremendously surprising to see this announcement.

Versus caters to a slightly more sports-oriented demographic than does Spike TV. It makes a lot of sense not only to put together a great card, but also promote it thoroughly. A good result will help the UFC boost interest in it’s PPV event the week following, which is the key launch point for the organization’s Spring line-up. Any momentum they can build off of UFC 111 will translate into increased buyrates throughout April and May.

Fight Hype: Good, Bad, and Ugly

February 25, 2010

What do fighters like BJ Penn, Dan Hardy, Chael Sonnen, and Frank Mir have in common? A critical understanding of just how important fight hype is to the drawing ability of a fight event. Each man in the past year has stepped up his smack talk game, but with each radio clip or vlog the comments seemingly become more outlandish by the day.

It all begs the question: where should the line be drawn between healthy smack talk versus fight hype that becomes a detriment to the event for one reason or another? Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t an obvious one.

There are, of course, ethical issues to consider here; is MMA truly about hurting someone? Yet, the MMA community also needs to determine what impact this smack talk might have on MMA’s chances for further regulation. Likewise, where the future growth and success of the sport is concerned, what might be the impact of hyping a fight so much that it then becomes impossible to deliver upon that new set of expectations?

Death is taboo

The place to start is probably with the extreme and work backwards from there. Thus, it needs to be said: any talk of death or killing someone in the ring/cage is simply unacceptable.

But to be fair, it’s not just the fighters that bear this responsibility – so should the promoters. Frank Mir should not have talked about Lesnar being the first death in the UFC, but nor should Dana White have referred to Herschel Walker’s potential participation in the same light. Why? There’s simply too much on the line to risk the potential regulatory or legal implications of what might happen if someone takes a comment the wrong way or someone actually dies in a fight.

Who cares if they did or didn’t literally mean what they said – that’s not the point. Everyone in the MMA community understands that Frank Mir doesn’t actually want to kill Brock Lesnar, but the MMA community isn’t the concern here.

Yes, MMA is far from politically correct. I’d even argue there’s considerable risk in MMA trying to become too PC and appeal to everyone; MMA must stay narrow and go deeper with its audience (which is different than saying it should not expand internationally). But MMA still needs to survive and operate within the current legal, cultural, and environmental business norms that any other legitimate business has to endure.

MMA is already skirting around a large societal comfort zone because of the physical nature of the sport; taunting the greater public with threats of death is a fool’s gamble.

This isn’t MMA

More importantly, all this talk of death and hurting people isn’t MMA – it’s not what the sport is about.

MMA is about demonstrating athleticism, skill, technique, discipline, and determination in a competitive setting against both one’s self and an opponent. There is physical contact and people do get beat up – no one is hiding this fact – but I’d argue there’s a clear difference between beating someone up and trying to hurt them; one that has nothing to do with semantics.

If a fighter intends to outclass his opponent by a fair margin, there are hundreds of ways to say so without talking about murdering the guy or breaking his neck.

Drawing the line

So, where does MMA draw the line?

In addition to eliminating talk of death, there are really two other concerns:

1.) Respect. The sport and its participants deserve to be treated professionally. Nobody minds good trash talk – it helps to motivate the fighters and interest the fans – but the personal, non-MMA stuff is something the sport would be better off without. It makes the sport look cheap and petty, which isn’t going to help its push for mainstream acceptance. Moreover, any man that has the guts to step into the cage and have that steel door slam behind him deserves respect for his courage.

2.) Believability. The mantra in business is never over-promise and under-deliver, but that’s precisely what a lot of hyped fights manage to do; Koscheck-Sanchez and Hughes-Serra are just two of many examples. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but the danger in guys like Chael Sonnen making these outlandish claims is that not only will they likely not be able to back them up, but it will also encourage more of the same from other fighters that have seen what it can get them (i.e., a title shot). MMA can do without the pro wrestling-like circus drama: if you don’t mean it or can’t back it up, don’t say it.

Just because MMA should emphasize respect and believability in promoting its fights doesn’t mean that it must lose that raw, edgy appeal that is at the very core of what attracts many fans. There are ways to hype fights that retain the essence of the sport without crossing the line into a place that MMA need not go.

MMAterial Facts (02/24/10)

February 24, 2010

  • Strikeforce April Event Details Leak
  • Japanese Boxer, Tough Man Contestant Suffer Fatal Head Injuries
  • More On UFC 110 International Ratings
  • Alabama adopts MMA legislation
  • MTV’s “Bully Beatdown,” host Jason Miller renewed for third season

Strikeforce April Event Details Leak

Tennessee Athletic Commission Executive Director Jeff Mullen told MMAjunkie.com that the promotion has yet to file an official request to hold the event in Nashville, but multiple sources close to the promotion insisted Strikeforce was leaning increasingly in the direction of “Music City.”

Strikeforce officials declined to comment on the matter and insisted nothing had yet been finalized.

Should Strikeforce ultimately decide to hold the April 17 event in Nashville, Mullen said the organization has until March 18 to file an official request. All mixed martial arts events in Tennessee require a 30-day advance notice with the commission…

While MMAjunkie.com has been told Nashville is the likely destination for the April 17 event, additional sources have indicated Strikeforce is also still considering holding the event in its home base of San Jose, Calif., or perhaps traveling to the East Coast for a show in New Jersey.

Additionally, while the unannounced April card has long been considered a lock for Strikeforce’s second-ever broadcast on CBS, the card may now wind up on Showtime.  (MMAJunkie)

***

Details surrounding the date and place of Strikeforce’s next offering on CBS should be revealed by the end of the week, Strikeforce matchmaker Rich Chou told SI.com Monday night.

The San Jose, Calif.-based promotion is awaiting finalized dates from its television partners — CBS and Showtime — before announcing bouts, he said.

On Monday, newly appointed California State Athletic Commission executive officer George Dodd said Strikeforce expressed an interest in securing an April 24 date in the Golden State, meaning it could go heads-up against the first pay-per-view offering from UFC’s sister promotion, WEC.  (Sports Illustrated)

***

Dan Henderson and Jake Shields have agreed to meet in Strikeforce with the middleweight title on the line in April. Shields confirmed the bout when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio on Tuesday night.

“It’s a go now. We finally worked it out a few days ago,” he said about the fight with Henderson. “It’s a done deal, it’s been agreed upon by both parties as far as I know, and I think it’s set to go.”

“I have a date (and) venue, but they told me to hold that back,” said Shields. “Hopefully CBS. I think it’s CBS. There’s a slight possibility of Showtime because they’re still (working it out). I don’t know the rest of the card or any of that yet. But me and Dan’s on, and I’m hoping it’s on CBS.”(MMAWeekly)

Japanese Boxer, Tough Man Contestant Suffer Fatal Head Injuries

Japanese boxer Yamaki dies after suffering brain injury

Japanese boxer Hirokazu Yamaki died at a hospital Monday after sustaining a traumatic brain injury during a bout on the weekend in Tokyo, the Japan Boxing Commission said.

Yamaki, 26, suffered an acute subdural hematoma in his eighth-round knockout loss against Toshimasa Ouchi on Friday night at Korakuen Hall.

He remained unconscious after the fight and underwent emergency surgery at a Tokyo hospital to repair the brain damage(Japan Today)

***

Contestant Dies After Toughman Contest

A contestant in a “Toughman Contest” last weekend has passed away from head injuries he received during the fight.

A spokesman with the OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City has confirmed Nathan Johnson, 23, died Tuesday afternoon. The Latta High School graduate suffered severe injuries to his head, including irreversible brain damage, according to a CarePages Web site updated by Johnson’s family.

“In all my years of doing this, I’ve never seen this happen at our venues,” said Farmer’s Public Market owner Burt McAnally who confirmed Johnson’s pregnant fiancé, his mother and his sister were all present at the fight Saturday night.

His family and pregnant fiancé watched as EMSA medics and a doctor rushed to his side. Suffering from a traumatic brain injury, Johnson was taken from the ring to the OU Medical Center. There he laid in a coma until he passed away Tuesday.

Required by state law, paramedics are always on stand-by for these events.

The Toughman Contest requires its competitors to use protective head gear and gloves, but that doesn’t guarantee an injury-free fight, especially when there are a slew of punches to the head. (News 9)

More On UFC 110 International Ratings

Continuing from MMAPayout’s UFC 110 International Ratings Post:

One is the digital sports channel of Ch. 10, one of the market’s three major stations which dominate the airwaves the way the big three networks did in the U.S. in the 70s. The only people who get the channel are those with HD Digital tuners, which is about 30% of the country. The show was broken up into two blocks, the 2-4 p.m. block, which did 123,000 viewers, and the 4-5 p.m. block which did 122,000 viewers. UFC Wired (the syndicated version of the show similar to Unleashed), which airs on the station every Thursday, in recent weeks has done between 95,000 and 100,000 viewers…  The weekly UFC Wired is the highest rated of those shows and UFC 110 may have been the highest rated show on the station since a Formula One race in November.

The station was so happy with it that they are going to air the 3/21 show from Broomfield, CO, live and then replay it later that night in prime time. But Ch. One only averages a 0.6 rating. UFC 110 was the fourth most watched sports show of the day in the country, trailing a cricket match (1.25 million), Olympic coverage (Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer)

Alabama adopts MMA legislation

UFC president Dana White took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce the news: Alabama is the latest U.S. state to adopt mixed-martial-arts legislation.

The MMA regulation actually comes less than a year after Alabama passed a bill to create a state boxing commission to oversee MMA’s sister sport.

The recently created Alabama Boxing Commission will be renamed the Alabama Athletic Commission and will now oversee pro and amateur MMA events in the state.

Rep. Spencer Collier (R-Irvington) introduced the bill earlier this month to the House Tourism and Travel Committee, which approved the measure. Rep. Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale), who introduced the boxing legislation in 2009, co-sponsored the MMA efforts.  (MMAJunkie)

***

ALABAMA MMA SANCTIONING NEARING COMPLETION

UFC president Dana White on Tuesday posted to his Twitter account, “Sweet home Alabama just passed mma!!! One more down 4 more to go!!!”

While he has cause to be excited, mixed martial arts sanctioning in Alabama isn’t a done deal yet.

“The mixed martial arts legislation has passed both the Alabama House and the Senate. However, the two bills must now be reconciled before it can be sent to the governor’s desk. So we are about three-quarters of the way through the process,” Casey Sears, vice chairman of the Alabama Boxing Commission, told MMAWeekly.com.

“There are still some final hurdles, but it appears that the political support is there for this legislation to be signed into law before the end of the current session.” (MMAWeekly)

MTV’s “Bully Beatdown,” host Jason Miller renewed for third season

Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s popular MTV reality series, “Bully Beatdown,” will return for a third season later this year.

A source close to the TV show confirmed the renewal with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Tuesday.

While details about the third season are scarce, the source said Miller returns as the show’s host and that the pro-fighter-vs.-bully format will remain largely the same…

MTV has aired 16 “Bully Beatdown” episodes over two seasons, which ran from March to April and August to October of 2009.  (MMAJunkie)

VIDEO OF THE DAY

  • UFC 111 Trailer: Two world titles will be on the line for the first time in 2010 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for UFC 111: St-Pierre vs Hardy. UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has been unstoppable since regaining the title in 2008, and he aims on extending his reign and his six fight winning streak against British bomber Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy, who is unbeaten in the UFC and fresh off wins over Marcus Davis and Mike Swick… Also, former two-time heavyweight champion Frank Mir will attempt to make history when he squares off against number one contender Shane Carwin in a clash of the titans that will leave the winner with the interim UFC heavyweight championship belt. UFC 111 – Saturday, March 27th, live on Pay-Per-View from Newark, New Jersey.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

”They’ve said some things and done some things that I don’t agree with. That’s not the way I do  business. I am a loyal person, people take care of me and I take care of them. So I am done with the UFC, they cant ask any more favours from me, nothing. I just want to finish my contract and get out if there, do my own thing”  (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Fighters Only Magazine)

QUICK HITS

  • SIGNED, SEALED, AND DELIVERED: SHIELDS VS. HENDO (MMAWeekly)
  • Rampage “done with the UFC” (Fighters Only Magazine)
  • Shine Fight III takes shape with Rua, Vitale, Thompson, Pamplona, Estima, others (MMAJunkie)
  • Shine Fights 3: Ricardo Mayorga vs. Din Thomas Set for May 15 (MMAFighting)
  • EliteXC “will be revived” (Fighters Only Magazine)
  • Torres-Volkmann Added to UFC Fight Night 21 (Sherdog)
  • Child’s Play (Sherdog)
  • DREAM IS DONE, ALVAREZ FOCUSES ON BELLATOR (MMAWeekly)
  • Get the memo to Shane: Carwin calls Mir ‘a terrible human being’ (Cage Writer)
  • Luke Rockhold Continues the Climb in Strikeforce Middleweight Division (Heavy)
  • Student of the Game Gilbert Melendez Looking to Fight Legends (Heavy)
  • Bellator finalizes WW tourney roster with signing of Brett Cooper and Ryan Thomas (FiveOuncesOfPain)
  • MMA pioneers meet boxing’s forebears (ESPN)

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Hari vs Bonjasky) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • InsideMMA (Dominick Cruz, Alan Belcher and Karen Darabedyan) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents The Featherweights, Vol. 2, at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)
  • WEC 47: Bowles vs Cruz on at 10 PM ET on Versus (03/06/10)
  • HDNet Fights: Sengoku Raiden Championship 12 at TBD on HDNet (03/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights: XFC X-Night of Champions at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/19/10)
  • UFC on Versus: Vera vs Jones at 10 PM ET on Versus (3/21/10)
  • HDNet Fights: King of the Cage – Legacy at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs Mahe at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (03/26/10)
  • UFC 111: GSP vs Hardy at 10 PM ET on PPV (03/27/10)
  • UFN 21 : Florian vs Gomi at 10 PM ET on Spike (03/31/10)
  • The Ultimate Fighter 11 Debut after UFN 21 on Spike (03/31/10)

Next Page »