MMAterial Facts (03/24/10): ESPN Boosts MMA Coverage, DirecTV/Versus Settlement Details

March 24, 2010

  • ESPN ‘MMA Live’ graduates to television on ESPN2
  • Dana White looking to build a giant family entertainment complex in Vegas
  • UFC on Versus 1: Vera vs. Jones” draws 1.24 million viewers for live broadcast
  • Monte Cox Joins KOTC, HDNet, and Lake of the Torches Casino Partnership
  • The Launch of M-1 Global Japan, Evgeni Kogan Interview

ESPN ‘MMA Live’ graduates to television on ESPN2

MMAmania.com has learned that host Jon Anik along with analysts Franklin McNeil and Kenny Florian will soon bring their mixed martial arts news, highlights and analysis to the world’s biggest sports network on ESPN2.  (MMAMania)

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Georges St. Pierre, Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar scheduled for ESPN SportsCenter

UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre and heavyweight contender Frank Mir will be appearing live on SportsCenter this Thursday (March 25) on ESPN. “Rush” is expected at 10:15 a.m. ET while Mir will be stopping by a little later at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Later in the week, UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar will return to SportsCenter on Friday (March 26) at 10:15 a.m. to discuss his pending return to MMA. (MMAMania)

Dana White looking to build a giant family entertainment complex in Vegas

“I’m gonna build a bad-ass, nice, clean place up in Summerlin where people can take their kids and have a blast on the weekends,” he told me.

White’s complex would offer entertainment diversity on the level of a chain called Dave & Buster’s, which some Las Vegans know for its California locations. Dave & Buster’s combines a restaurant with scores of interactive games, from boxing to NASCAR simulators, video games, Skee-Ball, billiards and other indoor activities.  (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

UFC on Versus draws 1.24 million viewers, Details On Versus/DirecTV Settlement

The UFC’s first-ever event on Versus, “UFC on Versus 1: Vera vs. Jones,” held this past Sunday in Broomfield, Colo., drew 1.24 million viewers, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed.

UFC on Versus 1 marked the first event on the cable channel available to the 18 million homes serviced by DirecTV after a six-and-a-half-month service interruption due to a dispute over carrier fees.

The ratings included a 1.66 rating in the males 18-34 demographic, as well as a 1.21 figure in the persons 18-49 category. (MMAJunkie)

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Mixed martial arts fans helped to get Versus back in DirecTV’s lineup

“I know the fans were upset about WEC fights not being on the air, and I can only imagine that the volume multiplied by a number I can’t even guess with the fans knowing this UFC fight [with Jones] wasn’t going to be on, either,” UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta said.

Fertitta admitted that he got into the ear of the DirecTV officials, and his company has given millions of dollars to DirecTV via monthly UFC pay-per-view cards. Fertitta said he told the DirecTV officials “it’d be nice” to have Versus accessible to the 25 million satellite customers in the U.S. and Latin America.  (LA Times)

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MMAPayout Note: Though DirecTV and Versus reached on a settlement and Versus was able to stay in its previous tier (non-premium), the deal wasn’t all favorable for Versus.  The new agreement reached placed Versus in the Channel 600 range, instead of its former Channel 300 range.  It may not seem like much, but the prime channels for DirecTV are in the 200′s, so the 600′s are quite a distance away and may detract future channel surfers from ever stumbling on to MMA on Versus.  Not to mention the confusion this ordeal created by taking away the channel from DirecTV customers for months and then placing it back on a different channel.

Monte Cox Joins KOTC, HDNet, and Lake of the Torches Casino Partnership

Lac du Flambeau’s Lake of the Torches Resort Casino just added more star power to its already successful mixed martial arts events. The casino, along with host promotion King of the Cage, has announced the affiliation of KOTC and high-profile promoter and fighter manager, Monte Cox, for the casino’s events.

Monte Cox is regarded as “The Godfather” of MMA and is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the sport today and in the sport’s history. Over the past 14 years no one has promoted more MMA events (nearly 600) or managed more UFC champions (seven) than Cox.

“King of the Cage has done a great job promoting events in the Midwest and at Lake of the Torches specifically,” Cox said. “I think it is, without a doubt, the top event in the state. Now, we will use our contacts, fighters and promotional team to bring the current and future stars of the sport to the area.”

King of the Cage President Terry Trebilcock and Cox have been long-time friends and have often looked for opportunities to join forces. “Terry and I started in MMA about the same time and we’ve known each other for a long time. There’s a lot of mutual respect and we’ve often talked about working together on projects,” Cox said. “I’m excited about this and I know with the two of us behind it great things will follow.”  (PRESS RELEASE)

The Launch of M-1 Global Japan, Evgeni Kogan Interview

A press conference was held today in Tokyo. The theme of the event was “aiming at the globalization of MMA.” The press conference was to announce a small show on 4/16 at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo called “M-1 Selection ASIA EDITION 2010 Japan.” Heading up M-1 Global Japan is former AtoZ Japanese pro-wrestling women’s wrestling ring announcer Mr. Tsuruga (he’s in the middle of the photo linked above). There will be M-1 events throughout Asia (including South Korea). (FightOpinion)

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MMA Nation Interview Recap: Evgeni Kogan Talks Fedor Emelianenko and M-1 Global’s Goals

Kogan made it clear that M-1 does not currently have the level of brand recognition in America that they would like but that they do plan on continuing to attempt to make the connection with the sport’s fanbase.  Also important to M-1 is developing an understanding that they are not simply a “management company” but are a full fledged fight promotion putting on events in multiple continents this year.  Kogan also admitted that in part the lack of narrative control by M-1 during the Fedor/UFC negotiations led to the issues with understanding the company and that they plan to work more with the media and fans going forward.  (BloodyElbow)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I want to take The Ultimate Fighter all over the world. We’re working on the Middle East right now. That will probably happen the soonest. I want one in the UK and then one for all of Europe. …That has been in the works for a while and that isn’t an easy one to pull off.”  (Dana White on Globalizing TUF, MMACanada)

QUICK HITS

  • Wanderlei Silva vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama set for UFC 116 in Las Vegas (MMAJunkie)
  • Showtime offers free preview weekend, Strikeforce Challengers VII included (MMAJunkie)
  • Dana White promises UFC return to Dublin in 2010 (MMAJunkie)
  • Bellator adds “TUF 7″ alum Luke Zachrich for season-two middleweight tourney (MMAJunkie)
  • Four amateur contests round-out Strikeforce Challengers VII’s 11-bout fight card (MMAJunkie)
  • Dana White expects UFC’s return to German TV, not ruling out live event in interim (MMAJunkie)
  • UFC Makes Big Splash in New York City (MMAFighting)
  • White Unsure of Direction, Purpose for Toney (MMAFighting)
  • UFC 111 Presser Notes: White on Toney Deal, Upcoming Shows & More (Sherdog)
  • Hendo Grades Early Strikeforce, CBS Efforts; Calls Counter-Programming ‘Childish’ (Sherdog)
  • K.J. NOONS HAD BROKEN FOOT DURING TO DIDA WIN (MMAWeekly)
  • FEDOR CONFIRMED FOR JUNE RETURN AGAINST WERDUM (MMAWeekly)
  • White vlog: Trapped in Toronto (Cage Writer)
  • ADCC champ Braulio Estima set for MMA debut against Rick Hawn at Shine Fights (FiveOuncesOfPain)
  • News Roundup: Marshall, Gugerty, Another Bellator Signing (Heavy)

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Vault (Eddie Alvarez) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (03/26/10)
  • InsideMMA (Wanderlei Silva, Joe Soto, Shane Carwin) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (03/26/10)
  • 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)
  • HDNet Fights Presents DREAM.13 at 11 PM ET on HDNet (03/27/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 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)

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