Strikeforce Challengers 7 Wrap-Up

March 31, 2010

The Staff at MMAJunkie are reporting that Strikeforce Challengers 7 drew 4,963 to the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California last Friday, which was good for a live gate of $109,222.

“Strikeforce Challengers VII: Johnson vs. Mahe” was the second 2010 edition of the organization’s prospects-based events series.

The attendance figures mark a sharp increase for the previous edition of Strikeforce Challengers, held Feb. 26 in San Jose, Calif. That show drew 2,318 attendees for a live gate of $86,440.

The figures for “Johnson vs. Mahe” represent an increase of an astounding 114 percent in attendance, as well as a 26 percent increase in gate revenue from “Strikeforce Challengers VI: Kaufman vs. Hashi.”

MMAJunkie also reported the event garned a very solid 1.0 rating with an average audience of 316,000 viewers – a 111% increase over the previous Challenger show. However, it should be noted that the event likely benefited greatly from Showtime’s free trial weekend where the premium channel was available to all digital cable and satellite subscribers.

The Staff at MMAWeekly acquired the fighter paydays from the California State Athletic Commission that totaled $73,000.

-Lavar Johnson $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) def. Lolohea Mahe $3,000
-Ron “Abongo” Humphrey $7,000 (includes $3,500 win bonus) def. George Bush III $5,000
-Andre Galvao $10,000 def. Luke Stewart $5,000
-Miesha Tate: $5,000 (includes $2,000 win bonus) def. Zoila Frausto: $3,000
-Justin Wilcox: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus) def. Shamar Bailey: $4,000
-Daniel Cormier: $500 def. John Devine: $2,500

STRIKEFORCE CHALLENGERS 7 DISCLOSED FIGHTER PAYROLL: $73,000

Payout Perspective:

The Strikeforce Challengers 7 event held in the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California turned out to be a successful event for Strikeforce.  Coming into the event, I was unusually noticing a healthy amount of traffic for the event, which is rare for a Strikeforce Challengers event.  There were 4 factors that played a huge role in the success of this event:

  1. Lavar Johnson’s Story Line – Coming back after being wounded from a gun shot was definitely a story getting a fairly good amount of press.  The Fresno crowd was definitely behind Johnson in his comeback fight after almost losing his life.
  2. Miesha Tate vs Zoila Frausto Storyline – There was a legitimate storyline between these two fighters even before the bout was booked.  Zoila wanted to fight Miesha and said some words, which then were addressed by Miesha.  This back and forth spilled over to the internet, interviews, and chat rooms.  Not only the storyline, but MMA fans have taken a liking to Tate, and may be the 3rd most marketable fighter Strikeforce has after Gina Carano and Cyborg Santos.
  3. Solid Matchmaking – Strikeforce booked Johnson, Tate, Galvao, Stewart, Cormier , Humphrey, Wilcox, and Bailey.  All are considered young prospects in MMA and were all matched up in competitive matches coming into the event.  A good number of fans considered this one of the better Strikeforce Challenger events.
  4. Showtime Advertising  Free Preview Weekend – Showtime and Strikeforce did a great job at letting MMA fans know that this weekend everyone would get the chance to watch the Strikeforce Challengers event along with the Super 6 Boxing tournament bout between Dirrell and Abraham event for free.  The free Showtime weekend exposed a good amount of combat sport fans to tune in on Friday, which was almost treated as the appetizer to a great combat sports weekend.  Through the free weekend promotion, Showtime’s reach jumped from around 12-18 million homes to 54 million.

Numbers in Perspective:

Now, there is no denying the fact that the 316,000 viewers had a lot to do with the free weekend preview, but lets take a closer look.  The Challengers 6 event, which was headlined by Kaufman vs Hashi for the 135 lbs Women’s Strikeforce belt, and which did not benefit from a free-preview weekend garnered 150K viewers, peaking at 189K.  These numbers were substantially higher than the usual numbers Challenger events get, which are estimated to be around 100K viewers. For the sake of contrast, lets take a look at other Strikeforce ratings:

  • Strikeforce Challengers 7 – 316K viewers
  • Strikeforce: Lawler vs Shields – 275K viewers
  • Strikeforce: Le vs Smith – 341K viewers

Here are the ratings for the weekend, which pinned the UFC, HBO Boxing, and Showtime Boxing head to head:

  • UFC 111 Prelim’s on Spike – 1.2 Million viewers
  • Showtime Boxing (Dirrell vs Abraham) – 736K viewers
  • HBO Boxing (Maidana vs Cayo) – 650K Viewers

After comparing these numbers, its obvious to see that Showtime benefited greatly due to the free-preview by getting good ratings for the Strikeforce Challengers show on Friday and the Super Six boxing bout on Saturday, beating out HBO boxing .  One thing we will keep our eyes on is the Strikeforce viewership numbers, which appear to be rising ever since the November 7th Strikeforce: Fedor vs Rogers CBS event.  In their latest big Showtime event, Strikeforce Miami (Diaz, Walker, Lashley) garnered 517K viewers, which just finished behind Kimbo vs Tank (522K viewers) and the MMA ratings leader event at Showtime, Gina Carano vs Cyborg Santos (576K viewers).

UFC 115: "Good to Go" in Vancouver

March 31, 2010

TeamRadio in Canada is reporting that the UFC and Vancouver Athletic Commission have settled their differences and UFC 115 should be “good to go” now in Vancouver.

The UFC has sorted out its issues with the city of Vancouver, clearing the way for a show in June.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the on-again, off-again card will take place June 12 at GM Place.

A three hour meeting was held last night between the Vancouver Athletic Commission and Mr. Hammel, the Assistant Director of Vancouver’s Licensing and Animal Conrol Division.  The meeting was described as one where some big hurdles were cleared but still far from being out of the woods.  Vancouver MMA proponent Paul Lazenby reported details of last night’s meeting:

The VAC’s actions have cut through enough red tape to keep our hopes alive for now, with the next step being a meeting of City Council on April 6, at which the city will decide whether or not to allow the UFC to come to Vancouver in the wake of the VAC’s passed motions, approval of Zuffa’s promotional application and agreement to the date and place of the event. Mr. Tweedale stated after the meeting that: “Given the conditions and procedures for combat sports events as required by the Commission, as endorsed at last night’s meeting, the June UFC event should be going ahead–absent deliberate interference.”

The Canadian Press now also confirms the news:

With insurance a major sticking point, the UFC played hardball and the MMA juggernaut appears to have won the day.

There was talk Monday of moving the show to Cincinnati. That was followed by the UFC giving city officials 24 hours to sort out the issue or else, according to a source.

As mentioned above, a major sticking point was insurance money,  with the city reportedly seeking up to $12 million in insurance for the event.  One of the motions passed in last nights meeting was reducing the cost of insurance for combat sport events and combat athletes:

… the level of insurance needed for combat sport events at $5 million, and then set the level of individual insurance needed by combat athletes at $100 000 (and not even that is required of athletes covered by BC Medical). It was also established that matters of financial security would be the sole responsibility of the VAC.

Though it appears all hurdles have been cleared, the Vancouver City Council will still need to meet on April 6 to vote on whether to allow the UFC to come to Vancouver with regards to the new motions passed in last night’s meeting.

Payout Perspective:

UFC 115 will bring a good amount of revenue to the city of Vancouver and to the UFC.  Though there were a good amount of hurdles to overcome in order to host UFC 115 in Vancouver, in the end, both parties will benefit greatly through the latest VAC motions passed and the City’s willingness to allow MMA to be regulated and hosted.  I don’t think we are out of the woods yet, as there are still a good amount of MMA opponents in Vancouver, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Punishment Athletics on TUF 11

March 31, 2010

Spike TV has filmed a number of trailers – including the five minute teaser of tonight’s debut episode – which feature Tito’s team adorned in Punishment Athletics gear. It’s also now being reported that the brand will be running 30 second commercial spots in select areas during the TUF 11 broadcast.

Payout Perspective:

Tito Ortiz established Punishment Athletics in 1999 as a way to leverage his in-cage reputation into an additional revenue stream – one he didn’t necessarily need to get punched in the face for. When he had his falling out with Dana and the UFC, the brand was not surprisingly banned from the octagon, but it has since been reinstated.

The appearance of Punishment Athletics on TUF 111 is interesting, because it’s the first time the UFC has allowed any sort of branded gear on the series other than Tapout gear. Why is this happening now?  I’m inclined to think it was something Tito really wanted and a concession made on behalf of the UFC to get the contract signed. The two parties buried the hatchet and this was a show of good faith by the UFC.

The normal 30 second spot isn’t cheap, but the fact these spots will be shown just in specific markets makes it sound like affiliate time. What that means is that each MSO (like Comast for example) gets one spot per hour during the programs air time to advertise whatever it wishes (or sell that space to whomever). Often times these spots are reasonably affordable and especially so where MMA/wrestling is concerned.

I do not think, however, that Zuffa has bought into Punishment. Why would they? It’s not exactly a popular or even promising brand. This despite the similarities in some of the design (perhaps more a sign of Punishment’s lack of creativity than any Zuffa/UFC influence).

Bellator Season 2 Commercial and Previews

March 31, 2010

Bellator recently released a season 2 commercial along with featherweight tournament previews to jump start their April 8th debut on Fox Sports Net.

Bellator Season 2 FSN Commercial:

Featherweight Preview Pt. 1:

Featherweight Preview Pt. 2:

Featherweight Preview Pt. 3:

Payout Perspective:

With bout one week away until the start of its new season, Bellator’s marketing machine is ramping up their promotional efforts to generate hype for its season 2 FSN debut on April 8th.

Bellator has been making waves in the MMA landscape in the last six months with talent acquisition (Askren, Hornbuckle, Konrad, Huerta), business deals (Everlast, Madison Square Garden, Engine Entertainment) and has put together what looks to be four solid tournaments filled with prospects and rising MMA stars. The organization has also done a really good job of keeping itself in the media in its off-season, considering it hasn’t had an event since October of last year.

In the videos above, Bellator does a fairly good job of introducing their fighters to the audience by not only focusing on their MMA and athletic achievements, but also focusing on the fighters as unique individuals.  These promos generate fan interaction before the tournaments even start, which will make it more likely for fans to tune in.  If one thing is certain about the upcoming season, it’s that Bellator has effectively utilized their off-season to create buzz while at the same time being able to grow their promotion with fighter acquisitions and business savvy moves.

UFC Undisputed 2010 Starting Marketing Push

March 31, 2010

THQ and UFC have officially kicked off their final marketing push for UFC Undisputed 2010 which will be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms on May 25th and on PSP later in 2010.

The companies used every media and fan event during UFC 111 fight week to push the game demo, and supplemented all that new press with video and picture content on the web. Just about every major gaming website is profiling the game with previews, hands-on, and other information.

THQ has also just announced that the game is now available for pre-order at all major retailers (including UFC.com).

Here’s a look at the latest combat tutorial that features producer Neven Dravinski and former TUF coach (and UFC Undisputed character) Mark Laimon:

Payout Perspective:

It’s worth emphasizing again just how important this video game is to building the UFC’s brand and exposure. Not only does all this video game press double as UFC press, but the game is a very important teaching tool that allows potential fans to get acquainted with the sport and its personalities.

You can also bet this game will play an integral role in the UFC 116: Lesnar-Carwin push that the UFC where the UFC will be looking to break last year’s UFC 100 PPV record.

MMAterial Facts (03/30/10): UFC 115 Vancouver Update, UFC Backs Off EA MMA Fighter Threats

March 30, 2010

  • UFC exec Marc Ratner not giving up on UFC 115 in Vancouver just yet
  • Strikeforce Challengers VII draws 4,963 attendees for $109K gate, Ratings Up 111 Percent
  • Dana White Backs Off Threat To Ban EA MMA Fighters
  • Strikeforce Readies for a Fight
  • Liddell/Couture 4 Planned For UFC 116 on July 3

UFC exec Marc Ratner not giving up on UFC 115 in Vancouver just yet

Amid reports the UFC’s first trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has been moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, due to legal issues with the Vancouver City Council, Ratner told MMAjunkie.com  (www.mmajunkie.com) the promotion will make a final decision regarding the June 12 event within 24 hours.

“We’re certainly working hand in hand with the mayor’s office and the city council, and hopefully we have what they want,” Ratner said. “The fight is still going forward as we speak.”

However, UFC president Dana White today told Rogers Sportsnet that the promotion can’t wait any longer to announce the event and is in the process of moving it to the U.S.  (MMAJunkie)

***

MMAPayout Note: A meeting is being held tonight between UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner and the Vancouver city council regarding UFC 115.  The fate of UFC 115 may be determined after tonight’s meeting.

Strikeforce Challengers VII draws 4,963 attendees for $109K gate, Ratings Up 111 Percent

Strikeforce’s most recent Challengers Series card, headlined by a heavyweight fight between undefeated Lavar “Big” Johnson and Hawaiian Lolohea Mahe, drew 4,963 attendees to the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., for a live gate of $109,222.  (MMAJunkie)

***

This past weekend’s Strikeforce Challengers 7 event, which featured notable prospects such as Lavar Johnson and Miesha Tate, drew a 1.0 rating and a total average audience of 316,000 viewers on Showtime, MMAjunkie.com confirmed with an industry source.

Compared to February’s Strikeforce Challengers 6 event, which averaged just 150,000 viewers, ratings for the March 26 event were up a staggering 111 percent.  (MMAJunkie)

Dana White Backs Off Threat To Ban EA MMA Fighters

White revealed that he is backing off his earlier threats to ban any fighter who appears in EA’s game to be a part of UFC. “Nah, some people have crossed over,” he told Kotaku, “But believe me this is still going to continue to be a battle. …they’re the me-toos. The UFC game is the original game.  (Kotaku)

Strikeforce Readies for a Fight

With the competition between Strikeforce and the Ultimate Fighting Championship heating up, the open workouts on March 17 at Legends gym in Hollywood were a chance for Strikeforce to promote its upcoming Nashville card.  The media turnout was huge, and with good reason, because the show has some truly incredible matchups that fans have been wanting to see for ages.  (Skinnie Magazine)

Liddell/Couture 4 Planned For UFC 116 on July 3

A fourth bout between UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture is currently being planned for UFC 116 on July 3.

A source close to the promotion informed Heavy.com of the news on Tuesday afternoon.

The bout would serve as the co-main event of the blockbuster card that is expected to be headlined by a UFC heavyweight title bout between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin.  (Heavy)

QUICK HITS

  • UFC’s Toney Signing Shrewd on Many Levels (Sherdog)
  • The Day After: GSP Reflects on Title Defense (Sherdog)
  • UFC 111’s “UFC Prelims” broadcast draws 1.2 million viewers, ratings dip (MMAJunkie)
  • Bellator confirms Hector Lombard vs. Paulo Filho non-title “super fight” for Bellator 18 (MMAJunkie)
  • Strikeforce Challengers 7 fighter salaries: Headliner Lavar Johnson leads paydays (MMAJunkie)
  • “TUF 11” coach Chuck Liddell on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” tonight (MMAJunkie)
  • King Mo Has No Time for Haters (MMAFighting)
  • Lesnar Favorite in Early Line Against Carwin (MMAFighting)
  • STRIKEFORCE CHALLENGERS 7 FIGHTER SALARIES (MMAWeekly)
  • ROY NELSON HOPES TO STACK UP TO STEFAN STRUVE (MMAWeekly)
  • UFN 21 weigh-in: Fighters want extra pounds with double weigh-in (Cage Writer)
  • Falaniko Vitale vs. Murilo “Ninja” Rua scratched from Shine Fights “Worlds Collide” (FiveOuncesOfPain)
  • “UFC Fight Night 21” Official Weigh-In Results (Heavy)

TV LISTINGS

  • 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)
  • InsideMMA (Bjorn Rebney, John Howard, C.B. Dollaway) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (04/02/10)
  • HDNet Fights: K-1 World MAX 2010 Japan GP at 11:30 PM ET on HDNet (04/02/10)
  • HDNet Fights: K-1 World GP 2010 at 4 AM ET on HDNet (04/03/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • UFN 21 : Florian vs Gomi at 8 PM ET on Spike (03/31/10)
  • The Ultimate Fighter 11 Debut after UFN 21 on Spike (03/31/10)
  • HDNet Fights: K-1 World MAX 2010 Japan GP at 11:30 PM ET on HDNet (04/02/10)
  • HDNet Fights: K-1 World GP 2010 at 4 AM ET on HDNet (04/03/10)
  • UFC 112 : Silva vs Maia at 10 PM ET on PPV (04/10/10)
  • HDNet Fights: KOTC Bad Boys Too at 10 PM ET on HDNet (04/16/10)
  • Strikeforce Nashville: Henderson vs Shields at 11 PM ET/PT on CBS (04/17/10)
  • WEC 48: Aldo vs Faber at 10 PM ET on PPV (04/24/10)
  • HDNet Fights: MFC Vindication at 10 PM ET on HDNet (05/07/10)
  • UFC 113 : Machida vs Shogun 2 at 10 PM ET on PPV (05/08/10)
  • Strikeforce St. Louis: Overeem vs Rogers at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime (05/15/10)
  • UFC 114 : Rampage vs Evans at 10 PM ET on PPV (05/29/10)

Ratner Still "Bullish" on Vancouver

March 30, 2010

Mark Ratner has told the Canadian Press that despite the rumors to the contrary, he’s still very bullish on the UFC in Vancouver on June 12th for UFC 115.

“The demise of the fight has been greatly exaggerated,” Marc Ratner told The Canadian Press from Las Vegas on Tuesday. “And we are still working on it.

 

“We’re working with the mayor, with the city council, trying to come to an agreement and I still feel strongly, as I’ve been saying over and over again, I’m still bullish on June 12 as the date.”

Payout Perspective:

Ratner is ultimately the best source of information, because he’s the man in charge of regulation at the UFC – he’s the one knocking down barriers for the sport and the company. However, he’s been reluctant to comment on the Vancouver issue recently and that’s more or less the standard operating procedure of Zuffa as a whole. It’s not surprising that he hasn’t said “we are” or “we aren’t” having problems.

If the issue had been totally resolved, it’s likely the UFC would have announced the event already.

Most sources close to the situation are willing to admit there is a bit of a hang up, and people that said the UFC was a no-go in Vancouver seemed to have gotten part of the story right as they did inquire about Cincinnati. The newest word on the block is now saying there’s been an emergency closed door meeting called this evening to discuss the matter – tonight (or at least this week) is apparently make or break for the June date.

Dream 14 in South Korea Shelved

March 30, 2010

Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie is reporting that Dream has postponed its scheduled April date in South Korea, what would have been Dream 14, due to the lack of a credible main event.

DREAM.14 has been canceled and may be rescheduled this fall.

 

Multiple sources have informed MMAjunkie.com that the event, set for April 24 at Jangchung Gym in Seoul, South Korea, has been scratched due to the absence of a TV broadcast deal in Asia.

 

According to Korea-based MMA Web site MFight (via Japanese MMA Web siteNightmareofBattle.com), several of the event’s proposed headliners – including Hong Man Choi and Denis Kang – were unable to participate in the event. With no bankable stars to sell the fight, DREAM’s promotion company, Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG), pulled the plug.

Payout Perspective:

The cancellation isn’t necessarily a reflection of Dream as a whole, but rather Dream’s current brand equity in South Korea. The promotion has yet to build enough of a reputation that it can sell with its existing crop of stars and without the reliance on known Korean commodities.

Bloodyelbow made an interesting observation the other day, commenting that the UFC’s acquisition of Yoshihiro Akiyama is perhaps more valuable in what it takes away from the competition than what it actually gives them inside the cage.

Although I’ve openly been critical of the slow pace at which the UFC is giving fights to Akiyama, I have to admit the signing is definitely a win for the UFC if only for defensive purposes. By signing Akiyama, they robbed DREAM of one of the biggest stars of Japanese and South Korean mma.

 

And when they weaken Japan’s biggest promotion, it means they prevent the re-emergence of a true international rival like PRIDE who was able to out compete them for a number of top fighters for many years — Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua, the Nogueira brothers, Takanori Gomi and especially Fedor Emelianenko.

That would seem to the case right now – as certainly Akiyama would be the perfect main event attraction for Dream – but if the UFC ever does move forward with an event in Japan or Korea, Akiyama will play a significant role in that pursuit as well.

UFC 111 Prelims: 1.2 million viewers

March 30, 2010

Spike TV has announced that the UFC 111 Prelims featuring Matt Brown vs. Ricardo Almeida and Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham generated a 0.9 rating for an average audience of 1.2 million. The broadcast scored fairly well in the 18-34 and 18-49 demos, as usual, with a 1.1 and 1.2 respectively.

Payout Perspective:

Unfortunately for Spike and the UFC, this broadcast was the lowest rated prelim show yet: 

Event HH 18-34 18-49 Viewers
103 1 1.5 1.3 1,400,000
104 1.1 1.3 1.3 1,400,000
106 1 1.2 1.1 1,300,000
108 1 1.4 1.3 1,500,000
109 1.2 1.6 1.6 1,700,000
111 0.9 1.1 1.2 1,200,000

 
But, if you look at the ratings and compare them to the PPV buyrates of the corresponding event, there’s really no correlation. UFC 109 did approximately 285,000 buys, but a series high 1.7 million viewers. UFC 111 is likely to have the highest buyrate with the lowest average.

New GSP Under Armour Commercial

March 30, 2010

Under Armour recently released a new Georges St-Pierre commercial trailer to coincide with his title defense at UFC 111 against Dan Hardy. Take a look below:


Payout Perspective:

Mission Skincare, Gatorade, and Under Armour all understand the importance of timing: GSP’s popularity is spiking right now and this is the way to leverage that awareness in a way that also builds their own products.

The commercial itself is well done – doesn’t come as a shock. It’ll be interesting to see how/if they chop it up to make a real 30 second spot for Spike or CBS events; it would even be useful for non-MMA television.

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