Strikeforce Fedor vs Werdum: Payout Perspective

June 30, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at Fedor’s Strikeforce debut on Showtime, titled “Fedor vs Werdum”, which took place in the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA.  The event featured 4 fights (1 title fight): Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum, Cung Le vs. Scott Smith, Cris Cyborg (champ) vs Jan Finney at 145 lbs, and Josh Thomson vs. Pat Healy.

Strikeforce Fedor vs Werdum Reaction (AllElbows)

Fedor loses for first time in nearly a decade

I will provide a quote from Kelsey’s previous post “Fedor Loss Not the End of the World”:

He lost. He’s not the invincible machine that everyone thought. He’s human.

Is that not the beauty of this sport? Mixed martial arts has a way of mimicking the trials and tribulations of life in a manner that few sporting events can. The moment that Fedor decided to become more aggressive is the moment that he became perilously vulnerable. How often is that not the case in real life?

Forget the hyperbole you’re hearing. This is not the end of the world. Fedor lost, but losses happen – to everyone – in life and in sport. It’s the ability of someone to bounce back that really matters, and Fedor will have his opportunity.

That is why I’m inclined to think the situation is still very workable for Strikeforce. There was obviously interest in Fedor fighting Overeem, but there’s now probably even greater interest in Fedor fighting Werdum in an immediate rematch. Why? The fans will want to see whether Fedor’s loss was an aberration or a true representation of his fighting ability.

The key for Strikeforce here is to turn this situation into a positive.  Before Fedor vs Werdum took place, everyone assumed that Werdum was nothing but a speed-bump to a potential mega-fight between Fedor and Alistair Overeem.  Since Fedor lost, those plans have gone out the window, Werdum vs Overeem is the match-up that makes sense.

Well, not so fast.  Everyone is talking about how shocking it was to see Fedor lose his first fight in a decade, specially in the manner that it did.  The buzz around this weekends event is high and people want to see the rematch to see if it was a “fluke”.  Instead of having just one fight to look forward to, it’s Strikeforce’s job now to market this rematch between Fedor and Werdum as “the most anticipated rematch in the history of MMA”.  Putting on this fight on PPV or on CBS and having the winner face the Strikeforce Champ (in a perfect world scenario) is obviously the way to go here.

Fedor’s Fall Return?

I will again provide a quote from Kelsey:

The question is not, will Fedor be back or will the fans be interested, but what will Strikeforce do to leverage Fedor’s next, and potentially last, fight to improve the organization? The company cannot afford to have this fight accomplish nothing; to have this fight become another one-off that leads to zero gain in terms of awareness, interest, and product consumption. If Strikeforce is going to leverage Fedor in any way, the preparation has to start now.

The first step is to address the Strikeforce roster. The company has been working to sign some really great talent, but none of them have really been given the opportunity to fight on the big stage. If Fedor is gone after this next fight (worst case scenario), then who fills the void? The organization can’t ride UFC and Pride retreads into the limelight.

An obvious solution is to devote more time to showcasing homegrown or emerging talent. The forthcoming middleweight tournament is a perfect avenue to do so, but what beyond that is my question. There needs to be some sort of matchmaking structure and hierarchy that pushes these young guys up the ladder and into more prominent roles within each division.

Strikeforce has the roster to create stars, the problem is their inability to do so through Showtime and CBS so far.  By default, Fabricio Werdum will now and forever be known as the first guy to really defeat Fedor.  Strikeforce has to make a strong push using this angle for the rematch.  Fedor’s sell will be quite easy, and should capture everyone’s attention.  Will the greatest HW of all time be able to regain his old form or are his prime years behind him?  That angle should be good enough to have a successful show whether they have it on CBS or on PPV, that is as long is they also add some buzz creators on there like a Gina or Walker.

Another great boost for a fall event is the release of EA Sports MMA.  The release of the game should give an added boost to the brand and it’s fighters.  Creating buzz between both events and synergy for a big fall event.  The UFC has done this twice now with the release of UFC Undisputed 2009 last year and around the Rashad Evans vs Rampage Jackson fight this year, both considered very successful shows.

What to make of the Strikeforce HW division

If Strikeforce plays their cards right, they can take Overeem (Strikeforce Champ),  Werdum (who now has victories against Overeem and Fedor), and Fedor (waiting to avenge his loss and be crown the best HW in MMA again) and build these fighters up to have huge fights amongst each other.  What about the rest of the HW division you ask? Well, take a look at this.  Antonio Silva lost a heart breaker to Werdum, so one more solid victory can definitely put him on the driver seat for a title match.

Recently signed HW Sergei Kharitonov has victories over both Overeem and Werdum (you couldn’t write a better storyline for an instant contender), and others like Arlovski and Brett Rogers have some recognition but need to be built back up.  While the top of the division unfolds, HW prospects like Daniel Cormier, Shane Del Rosario and Lavar Johnson should use this time to further develop into future contenders.  The wild card in the division are the likes of Bobby Lashley and Herschel Walker, who will give whatever event they participate in a boost of interest to the casual fan and mainstream.

Questions that still linger

Quoting Kelsey again:

The other problem is PR. I’ve harped on it before, and I’ll do it again: there’s no consistent information flow between the organization and the fan base. The information gaps might be excusable if Strikeforce were only running four shows a year, but it’s running at least one show per month. Where is the content? This absolutely HAS to change. Strikeforce needs to be communicating with its fans, telling stories and driving interest in its product.

The Challengers Series is just sitting there for all intents and purposes. With the exception of last week, the series has yet to really gain any sort of traction with the fans, the media, or even Strikeforce itself. The organization should be using these monthly events as a way to develop a consistent relationship with the fans.

I think a lot of the dissatisfaction towards Strikeforce has been their lack of consistency and communication to both the media and fans.  There needs to be some sort of medium other than fight night for fans to care about the fighters and promotion.  UFC does a great job at doing this through Spike TV programming (TUF, Unleashed, Prime Time specials, etc) and social media, utilizing it for updates and one-on-one interaction with fans using websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Giving the fans and media a sense of acknowledgment and importance really goes a long way to creating a dedicated fan-base, which will ultimately drive up the brand and success.

***

Sponsorship watch

Strikeforce Fedor vs Werdum Cung Le Celebrates (AllElbows)

It was a really interesting night on the sponsorship side, specifically compared to their Strikeforce Los Angeles show.

EA Sports MMA and GoDaddy.com continued to be major sponsors to Strikeforce along with now veterans Full Tilt Poker and Rockstar Energy Drinks.  The new kids on the block were Clinch Gear and GameFly (who purchased commercial slots in the Nashville CBS show earlier this year) on the mat.

If you recall from Kelsey’s post, Tapout was supposed to sponsor Fedor for the event but the deal was nixed last minute due to pressure being placed by the UFC to ban them from the Octogon if they went ahead with the sponsor.  Needless to say, Fedor and M-1 were not to pleased with the situation, but Clinch Gear picked up where Tapout left off and sponsored Fedor for the event.  Due to this last minute ordeal, Clinch Gear’s role in the event increased significantly.  A source at the event told met that Clinch Gear did a great job selling their gear because it seemed like every other fan was sporting a Fedor shirt that night.

As I pointed back in the Strikeforce Los Angeles write-up, BestBuy appeared to be a local sponsor on the mat tied to the EA Sports MMA logo.  BestBuy was indeed gone from this event.  On the other hand, GameFly had big role as a sponsor, where it’s logo could be seen on the mat and on the cage.  It appears that more sponsors are starting to jump on Strikeforce, which can only be a positive for their future events and possibly their return to CBS.

Channing Tatum Sporting Cage Hero wear in Cung Le

Another big winner in the event was Cage Hero, which heavily sponsored Cung Le and his corner as you can see in the picture above (Channing Tatum).  It also had heavy advertisement on MMAJunkie heading into the fight.  Cage Hero also sponsors Strikeforce MW prospect Luke Rockhold, who is expected to make his return in August in the upcoming Houston event.

As I mentioned before, BlowOutCards.com was another winner in the show.  They sponsored Jan Finney in her 145 lbs fight against Strikeforce champion Cris Cyborg, who incredibly made it to the second round after taking an incredible amount of punishment in the first.  Great display of heart and courage by her, though many felt the fight should have been stopped in the first round.

Celebrity watch

Strikeforce Fedor vs Werdum Celebrities (AllElbows)

It has been an interesting trend to monitor, but more and more celebrities are starting to attend Strikeforce events.  When I attended Strikeforce in Los Angeles, I was shocked at how many celebrities were in attendance, but I assumed it had more to do with the event itself being in Los Angeles. Needless to say I wasn’t expecting that in San Jose, and I was completely wrong. Actors Channing Tatum, Micky Rourke, Forest Whitaker and many other professional athletes were reported to be in attendance.  This is something interesting to keep an eye out on for future events.

Actor Forest Whitaker was so caught up in the moment of Werdum beating Fedor, that he was spotted celebrating with Werdum’s entourage backstage (picture above).

Ratings, Gate, and Attendance

The reported attendance for the event was 12,698 total (11, 757 paid, 941 in luxury boxes) with a gate of $1,066,739.00.  If our numbers are correct, this would be their second gate ever over 1 million dollars, which is always a good sign.  That attendance number is the sixth biggest attendance and second biggest gate in Strikeforce history.

The ratings are still being sorted at the moment, but MMAJunkie is reporting that the ratings are up 56% from the last Showtime televised event and garnered the third-highest rated Strikeforce event on Showtime.

Early estimates for this past weekend’s historic “Strikeforce and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum” co-promoted event put the average Showtime viewership at approximately 550,000 viewers when including DVR and on-demand figures.

As is typical for mixed martial arts broadcasts, the viewership increased throughout the broadcast, and the ratings peaked during the main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum with a 2.1 household rating and more than 700,000 viewers when factoring in DVR and on-demand data.

Contrary to those numbers, SpikeTV has a press release which states that the Strikeforce show garnered a 1.38HH rating with an average viewership of 412K while drawing a 1.39 in M18-34 and 1.2 in M18-49.

Since the SpikeTV release, Dave Meltzer has reported updated ratings for the event, which he states as doing a 1.5 HH rating with a viewership of 492k. The main event peaked at a 2.1 HH and garnered 700K viewers. The show itself did a 1.48 in Males 18-34 and 1.08 in Males 35-49.

Fighter Payouts

Fabricio Werdum: $100,000
def. Fedor Emelianenko: $400,000

Cung Le: $100,000
def. Scott Smith: $55,000

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos: $35,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus and $5,000 champion bonus)
def. Jan Finney: $6,000

Josh Thomson: $60,000
def. Pat Healy: $8,000

Chris Cope: $3,000 ($1,000 win bonus)
def. Ron Keslar: $1,500

Bret Bergmark: $3,000 ($1,500 win bonus)
def. Vagner Rocha: $2,500

Yancey Medeiros: $8,000 ($4,000 win bonus)
def. Gareth Joseph: $2,000

Bobby Stack: $2,800 ($1,500 win bonus)
def. Derrick Burnsed: $2,000

Total: $789,000.

HT: MMAJunkie

Event Notes:

  • Josh Gross: Fabricio Werdum signed a three-fight extension with Strikeforce prior to the Fedor fight, so he’s not going anywhere for a while.
  • ESPN: Fabricio Werdum makes ESPN‘s Ford Cross-Sport Power Rankings, ranked #3 in poll.  Reason given by ESPN: “He beat a guy who hasn’t lost since 2000. Enough said.””
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?page=cspr/

Fedor vs. Werdum: 412,000 Viewers

June 29, 2010

SpikeTV has distributed another ratings comparison press release in the wake of last weekend’s Strikeforce on Showtime head-to-head with the replay of UFC 113. The release states that Strikeforce garnered a 1.38HH rating with an average viewership of 412,000 viewers while also drawing a 1.39 in M18-34 and 1.2 in M18-49.

By comparison, the UFC 113 replay drew a 1.1HH rating on an average audience of 1.5 million people and drew a 1.2 in M18-34 and 1.3 in M18-49.

Payout Perspective:

If completely accurate, the 412,000 viewers will be the third highest rated Strikeforce on Showtime event ever:

1.) Carano vs. Cyborg (576,000)
2.) Strikeforce: Miami (517,000)
3.) Fedor vs. Werdum (412,000)

I think many people expected this show to be Strikeforce’s highest draw to date, but it’s still a pretty good result and I’d expect the next fight to generate even better ratings. The fact that Fedor lost has surprised so many people that he’s probably even more popular now than he was prior to the fight (or if he’d won).

AB Inbev Reviewing Sponsorship Roster

June 29, 2010

This week’s IEG Sponsorship Report brings interesting news of an on-going audit at AB Inbev designed to analyze and evaluate over 300 sponsorship agreements the company currently has with different sports properties throughout the world.

The goal of the audit is to align AB-InBev brands with the new global sponsorship strategy that will be implemented through Q2 and Q3 this year. While not revealed in detail, the sponsorship strategy indicates AB-InBev will shift its approach in many ways, including the following:

  • Focus on more activation, but with fewer properties
  • Move towards vertical inventory ownership
  • Set brand engagement as the main objective
  • Develop a more consistent set of evaluation metrics

Payout Perspective:

AB Inbev isn’t cutting its sports marketing and sponsorship spending, so much as it’s revising where and how it allocates that money across its current slew of sports properties. I’d expect that more than a few properties will not be renewed as a result, which begs the question: will the UFC be one of them?

The three-year UFC-Bud Light deal was officially announced in February of 2008, but I don’t think it expires until May or June of 2011. Any decision by AB-InBev to renew will depend on more than a couple of things: 1.) how well the current agreement has achieved its objectives, 2.) 1.) what it sees as the future growth potential of the sport and how that might help it achieve new sponsorship objectives and 3.) the UFC’s asking price (and other contractual requirements, such as guaranteed activation spending) for a renewal.

Honestly, I’m not sure it’s a huge deal for the UFC either way. If AB-InBev renews, it likely means the company is going to commit more resources to activating the UFC sponsorship. It would be great to have the world’s largest sports sponsor promoting the UFC and MMA. However, if the contract is not renewed, there are a host of other potential suitors that could pick up the category (and they would likely do more with it than AB-InBev has in the past).

Spike to Broadcast UFC 116 Weigh-Ins

June 28, 2010

The UFC and Spike TV have officially announced that the UFC 116 weigh-ins will be broadcast live on Friday, July 2nd at 7PM ET/4 PM PT from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

New York, NY, June 28, 2010 – Spike TV will telecast live coverage of the weigh-ins for the highly-anticipated “UFC 116 Lesnar-Carwin” fight card on Friday, July 2 at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT. The main event features a showdown between the top two heavyweight mixed martial artists in the world, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and interim heavyweight titlist Shane Carwin.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting approach for both the UFC and Spike. It’s not exactly riveting programming, but it’s another opportunity for the UFC to promote the fight on live television (and in a good time slot). The time slot becomes even more significant when you consider that it’s just one day before the fight and perhaps the last chance the UFC has to communicate with the consumer.

Lesnar and Carwin are obviously the primary attractions here — there’s something about their sheer size that fans just cannot get enough of — but I wonder if there’s the same appeal for every UFC event. I don’t think so.

At any rate, if the UFC and Spike can generate something in the range of 400k-600k for the weigh-in, I’d consider it a success and expect it to continue. It’s not like this costs them a ton to produce anyway. We’ll see.

Fedor Loss Not the End of the World

June 28, 2010

He lost. He’s not the invincible machine that everyone thought. He’s human.

Is that not the beauty of this sport? Mixed martial arts has a way of mimicking the trials and tribulations of life in a manner that few sporting events can. The moment that Fedor decided to become more aggressive is the moment that he became perilously vulnerable. How often is that not the case in real life?

Forget the hyperbole you’re hearing. This is not the end of the world. Fedor lost, but losses happen – to everyone – in life and in sport. It’s the ability of someone to bounce back that really matters, and Fedor will have his opportunity.

That is why I’m inclined to think the situation is still very workable for Strikeforce. There was obviously interest in Fedor fighting Overeem, but there’s now probably even greater interest in Fedor fighting Werdum in an immediate rematch. Why? The fans will want to see whether Fedor’s loss was an aberration or a true representation of his fighting ability.

And this is different than a Chuck Liddell fall from grace. It’s not as if Fedor has lost his chin or reflexes – he got caught. That fact may even endear him to fans in a way that a victory over Werdum could not have accomplished. He’s human after all, and that’s something fans can obviously associate with.

Fedor’s return

The question is not, will Fedor be back or will the fans be interested, but what will Strikeforce do to leverage Fedor’s next, and potentially last, fight to improve the organization? The company cannot afford to have this fight accomplish nothing; to have this fight become another one-off that leads to zero gain in terms of awareness, interest, and product consumption. If Strikeforce is going to leverage Fedor in any way, the preparation has to start now.

The first step is to address the Strikeforce roster. The company has been working to sign some really great talent, but none of them have really been given the opportunity to fight on the big stage. If Fedor is gone after this next fight (worst case scenario), then who fills the void? The organization can’t ride UFC and Pride retreads into the limelight.

An obvious solution is to devote more time to showcasing homegrown or emerging talent. The forthcoming middleweight tournament is a perfect avenue to do so, but what beyond that is my question. There needs to be some sort of matchmaking structure and hierarchy that pushes these young guys up the ladder and into more prominent roles within each division.

The other problem is PR. I’ve harped on it before, and I’ll do it again: there’s no consistent information flow between the organization and the fan base. The information gaps might be excusable if Strikeforce were only running four shows a year, but it’s running at least one show per month. Where is the content? This absolutely HAS to change. Strikeforce needs to be communicating with its fans, telling stories and driving interest in its product.

The Challengers Series is just sitting there for all intents and purposes. With the exception of last week, the series has yet to really gain any sort of traction with the fans, the media, or even Strikeforce itself. The organization should be using these monthly events as a way to develop a consistent relationship with the fans.

And if Strikeforce can structure its matchmaking and improve its PR, it may be able to leverage the presence of Fedor, its relationship with Electronic Arts, and the release of its video game to build some awareness and interest in earnest. It’ll be able to use the Fedor fight to shine some light on all of the great things actually going on within the organization. This instead of just having the fight seem like a one-off for fans that won’t pay attention to the organization until the next time Fedor is in the cage.

UFC still lingering

It appeared that all hope of Fedor signing with the UFC had been eliminated after a report surfaced last week alleging that the UFC blocked Tapout from sponsoring the Russian, but this loss does change things slightly. Instead of Fedor not needing the UFC, it’s now the UFC that doesn’t necessarily need Fedor.

The loss won’t change any of the resentment or animosity that has built up between the two factions, but time can heal certain wounds once some of the egos have been removed from the equation. Fedor will still carry a hefty price tag due to his extreme following among the hardcore ranks, but the UFC may still look to sign him once the dust settles in the next few months.

Like I said the other day: nothing in this business is ever quite as it seems.

Fedor Tapout Shirt Nixed

June 26, 2010

Pedro Carassco of BJPenn.com is reporting that Tapout has nixed a potential signature t-shirt deal with Fedor Emelianenko for his fight against Fabricio Werdum allegedly because the UFC threatened the popular MMA clothing line with a lifetime ban from its Octagon if it went through with the deal.

Initially, Fedor Emelianenko, the number one heavyweight fighter in the world, secured a deal to sport the always growing and ever popular “TapOut” clothing line at this weekend’s Strikeforce events.

However, during my time here in San Jose, while spending time with very legitimate sources close to the situation, I was advised that certain parties within the UFC halted TapOuts participation in the event and threatened a UFC lifetime ban, if Emelianenko came out wearing their line.

Payout Perspective:

I want to emphasize that this is still just an allegation. If there’s only one thing you ever learn about the MMA business it’s this: nothing is ever completely as it seems.

However, with that said, I’m inclined to think these allegations are somewhat true based on what we’ve seen from the UFC in previous situations. If you recall, the UFC banned long-time BJ Penn supporter, RVCA, from the octagon last year when it sponsored Fedor against Brett Rogers. RVCA later dropped Fedor and was allowed to return to the octagon.

Thus, it wouldn’t surprise me if the UFC gave Tapout some sort of warning (nor does it surprise me that BJ Penn’s website is the one breaking the story…).

——-

Why does this make sense for the UFC? I suppose the rationale is two-fold:

1.) Tapout, the world’s premier MMA clothing company, would add credibility to Fedor and Strikeforce through the t-shirt deal.

This is significant when you consider the larger context of the decision. The heavyweight division has always been very important to combat sports, and it bothers the UFC that they do not have the undisputed best heavyweight in the world. The Tapout deal would lend further credibility to Fedor and Strikeforce – although it’s unclear how much – at a time when the UFC is preparing to showcase its own best heavyweights in Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin next week.

Moreover, it’s been widely speculated that a potential Strikeforce PPV hinges on this fight. Here we enter territory where Strikeforce could actually be considered a direct competitor to the UFC.

2.) If Fedor doesn’t want to play ball and make his money in the UFC, then the UFC will make it hard for Fedor to play ball and make his money elsewhere.

This isn’t a move designed to bring Fedor back to the bargaining table. It’s a demonstration of the same “with us or against us” mentality that the company has always demonstrated in its business practices. If Fedor doesn’t want to play ball with the UFC – which assuredly drives Dana and Lorenzo crazy – then the UFC is going to do everything in its power to ensure Fedor cannot associate with anything closely related to the UFC, in order to benefit for himself.

I’m not sure I agree with the logic, but I can see the UFC’s side of the argument. I can also try to put myself in Dana White’s shoes as he’s assuredly endured some frustration in dealing with the numerous talking heads and flip-flopping position of M-1 Global and Fedor Emelianenko.

——-

There are obviously multiple other perspectives, here.

  • The Fedor/Strikeforce contingent is likely angry, because it misses out on sponsorship money, the credibility it would add to the brand, and marketing channels that Tapout has at its disposal.
  • Tapout is disappointed, because the t-shirt would have sold well amongst the hardcore crowd. I’m sure, depending on what actually happened (i.e., the nature of the UFC coercion), the company might also feel one half obligated and the other half betrayed. Tapout has stuck with the UFC through thick and thin, but it’s also been a mutually beneficial partnership: Tapout has built its brand largely on the back of the UFC, but has also helped to support the UFC and its fighters in the leaner years.
  • The fighters will probably see this as a UFC power move that’s taking money away from one of their own. I can almost guarantee that the decision hasn’t earned the UFC any extra good will amongst the ranks, which is potentially a dangerous long-term consequence of this move.
  • The fans are likely to see this entire thing from the perspective of Fedor and Strikeforce. In general, the MMA fan base has traditionally been very pro-fighter and pro-competition. It’s understandable, but sometimes the sentiment, while good intentioned, is misguided and uninformed (e.g., the reaction to disclosed payout releases or the entire fighter pay discussion as a whole).

——-

What are the long-term consequences of this decision? The UFC may have done more harm than good with this decision:

1.) The absence of the Tapout shirt may deprive Fedor of some money and Strikeforce of some additional publicity, but it’s not going to thwart them from staging a PPV in the Fall (if Fedor wins).

Moreover, the additional press given to both parties as a result of the UFC’s alleged pressure might outweigh whatever press Fedor and Strikeforce might have received from Tapout anyway. The theory here being that fans would have seen Fedor in a Tapout shirt and thought, “oh that’s cool (but not out of the ordinary for an MMA fighter to wear Tapout)” and that would have been the end of it. A few t-shirts sold, some money made, and everyone moves on. Not so…

2.) The UFC’s apparent involvement isn’t going to thrill the fighters. If you’re a fighter, you understand the sacrifices that other fighters need to make in order to earn a living in the sport. When somebody interferes with a fighter’s ability to earn a living, the natural reaction is one of disdain and resentment – regardless of whether the fighter is in your organization or not. Sometimes its a rational reaction, sometimes its not, but it’s a reaction the UFC may feel the brunt of in the future.

Strikeforce Fedor vs Werdum Buildup: Xbox 360, HDNet, MLB

June 25, 2010

The build up to Saturday’s Strikeforce event featuring the HW match-up between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum has had a strong late push.  We will explore some of the new ventures Strikeforce and Showtime took to promote this event.

Xbox 360 Advertisement:

Advertisements for the upcoming June 26 Strikeforce event could be found on the main dash board of Xbox Live.  Showtime  purchased this ad space to not only give Xbox Live users the ability to download a free Xbox Theme and Gamer Pics to use with their avatars, but also to watch the Fedor vs Rogers CBS bout from late last year to build some buzz for the fight on Saturday..

Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum Advertisement on Xbox 360

HDNet Airing Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum Weigh-Ins & Re-play of “The Last Emperor: Fedor”

HDNet is airing a great night of MMA on Friday night which consists of the weigh-ins, which will be a special edition of Inside MMA at 8 ET, HDNet Fights Vault featuring Fedor at 9ET, The Last Emperor: Fedor at 9:30 ET, and capping off the night with Sengoku 13 at 10 ET, which includes the much talked about Sandro vs Kanehara main event.

HDNet Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum Weigh-Ins

HDNet

ESPN MMA Live Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum Preview:

Scott Smith Throws Out First Pitch of Oakland A’s vs Cincinnati Reds Game:

Scott Smith threw out the first pitch of the Oakland A’s vs. Cincinnati Reds game at the Coliseum Stadium in Oakland.

Strikeforce

International Markets:

Brazil:  HBO Plus will air Strikeforce Fedor vs. Werdum live this Saturday, 10pm Brazilian time.  There is good buzz in Brasil as one of their own in Fabricio Werdum will try to defeat arguably the best Heavyweight in all of MMA.  Also on this card is another hometown hero in Cris Cyborg, who will try to retain her belt against Jan Finney.  Talking to Brazilian MMA fans, not many know any other promotion in the US outside of the UFC, so it will be their second time (Fedor vs Rogers) experiencing Strikeforce this Saturday.

Russia: NTV-Plus will be airing Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum as a PPV.  This is different than the last time M-1 c0-promoted the event with Strikeforce and CBS, which aired on one of Russias most popular channels, Channel One.

Japan: Strikeforce and M-1 announced the creation of “MMA Channel” to air MMA video via the internet for the Japanese market. Tele Planning International Inc (TPI) has been contracted as the marketing company. Last year Fedor vs Rogers was streamed live free of charge. Despite the lack of advertising, the stream attracted over 50,000 viewers. TPI announced that they will stream the Fedor vs Werdum card live, and it will be the world’s first true HD internet stream. The cost will be 1,000 yen (~US$10.90).

Strikeforce vs Werdum Japanese MMA Channel

New Sponsors:

Blowout Cards is looking to make a splash on Saturday night, promoting their Topps UFC Tradingcards and other card collectible items.  They will be sponsoring Jan Finney in her title match against Cris Cyborg.  You can also see other sponsors that Finney was able to get for her fight on Saturday below:

BlowoutCards Sponsor of Strikeforce Fedor vs Werdum

UFC 115 Payouts

June 25, 2010

The disclosed payouts have been released by the Vancouver Athletic Commission for UFC 115 and Chuck Liddell leads the way in purse with $500,000 for his show fee. In total, over $1.2 million was paid out in disclosed money.

Courtesy of MMAWeekly.com:

MAIN CARD FIGHTERS:

-Rich Franklin: $140,000 (includes $70,000 win bonus) def. Chuck Liddell: $500,000

-Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus) def. Pat Barry: $11,000

-Martin Kampmann: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus) def. Paulo Thiago: $18,000

-Ben Rothwell: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus) def. Gilbert Yvel: $30,000

-Carlos Condit: $52,000 (includes $26,000 win bonus) def. Rory MacDonald: $8,000

PRELIMINARY CARD (SPIKE TV) FIGHTERS:

-Evan Dunham: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus) def. Tyson Griffin: $28,000

-Matt Wiman: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus) def. Mac Danzig: $24,000

PRELIMINARY CARD (NON-TELEVISED) FIGHTERS:

-Mario Miranda: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus) def. David Loiseau: $12,000

-James Wilks: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus) def. Peter Sobotta: $4,000

-Claude Patrick: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus) def. Ricardo Funch: $5,000

-Mike Pyle: $38,000 (includes $19,000 win bonus) def. Jesse Lennox: $7,000

UFC 115 DISCLOSED FIGHTER PAYROLL: $1,285,000

Payout Perspective:

I don’t have my own database in front of me, but this payout is probably within the top 15 in UFC history.

It has been noted that two fighters account for nearly 50% disclosed salary; and somehow that makes these payouts less substantial (relative to the payouts we’ve seen historically), but I don’t buy that argument.

There’s never going to be a fair distribution of the fighter pay, nor should there: you earn according to your skill level AND ability to put butts in the seats. Unfortunately, there’s often more weight given to a fighter’s ability to draw, but that’s the nature of the business. This is a business after all.

There was some good discussion in the TUF 11 payout thread talking about how the lower level fighters are now earning more money. Despite what you see from Sobottta or Funch, this is generally still the case. The average minimum payout has increased greatly over the last few years.

Does it need to come up further? Probably.

Will it? Sure. It will come in time – baby steps.

Top Rank’s Todd DuBoef Poised to Lead Boxing

June 25, 2010

Thomas Hauser of SecondsOut Boxing News has written a great article on Top Rank President, Todd DuBoef, in which he discusses DuBoef’s start in the business, rise to power, and some of the things that set him apart from other boxing promoters.

The article is quite lengthy, so I’ll just post a snippet here. To give you some context, in this part of the article Hauser and DuBoef are talking about expanding the business of boxing and the need to increase exposure on television.

“The current economic model is about appealing to a handful of television executives, not fans,” DuBoef elaborates. “And the lack of vision, the lack of knowledge, and the behavior of some of these executives is very disappointing to me. Maybe I was naïve, but I expected more. Once upon a time, I assumed that the people who bought fights for the networks understood the business. Many of them don’t. And I thought that they’d be guided by a desire for the best content because that’s the best way to sell their product and serve their subscribers. But that’s not necessarily the way they operate. Let’s be honest. Most of these guys are in the job-preservation business. Bob gets angry when he talks about it. I say, the television networks are what they are, just like the world sanctioning bodies are what they are. They’re part of our world, and we’ll deal with it.”

Payout Perspective:

DuBoef seems to have the kind of approach necessary to lead a potential boxing comeback. He’s patient and calm, but necessarily aggressive at the right moments of opportunity. More importantly, he possesses a great working knowledge of the sport, but also understands how to speak to the board room. That’s important. The television deals, sponsorship agreements, and licensing opportunities that will expand the sport of boxing hinge on the ability of people like DuBoef to bridge the gap between the sport and the business world.

——

Another piece of the article that caught my eye was the following:

“Todd is a showman,” HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg acknowledges. “There’s no doubt that he has elevated the big-event feeling for boxing to a new level. For Pacquiao-Clottey, we gave him what we usually allocate for sound and lighting and told him that, if he wanted to spend more, he could supplement it out of Top Rank’s pocket. With the big screen and sound and blue-lit lighting, he made the event feel like a mini-Super Bowl.”

I think it’s important to remember that there’s a fine line in sport between sport and entertainment. No property can rely solely on the on-field, in-ring, or in-cage product: the entire show has to be an experience.

Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money, and you certainly can’t always measure the success of an investment based upon the short-term ROI (or even the ROI at all). The benefits of some investments take years to pay off (and aren’t always quantifiable when they do pay off). But when they do pay off, you’ll see it in a big way.

That’s why I can’t criticize the UFC, for example, for putting a card together in Vancouver when it likely could have made more in the short-term with another venue. As it stands, the show did well on PPV and at the gate, which should help it off-set the cost of the ridiculous insurance premium the UFC had to pay. However, the real payoff will come down the road when MMA finally gets sanctioned in the Provinces of British Columbia and Ontario (or even nationally).

MMAPayout: Detailed Report From E3 & Strikeforce Los Angeles (Pt. 2)

June 24, 2010

As 6 PM dawned upon E3 attendees,  LA Convention Center workers switched off the power to all gaming platforms and commenced to pry the controllers away from the gamers.  Sadly, we all knew it was time to go.  Slowly the crowd filed out, eventually making their way towards the Nokia Theater area where Strikeforce conveniently started their event one hour later. As I approached the Nokia Theater, there was an eye-catching display that read “Strikeforce – Tonight!”, just above a small gathering of fans and fighters, socializing and taking pictures with a few notable fighters like Dan Henderson and Yves Edwards.


The crowd for Wednesday night’s Strikeforce event was not the typical MMA crowd to say the least, but I was expecting that going into the event.  Let’s just say there was no lack of star power that night. Here is the list of attendees for the event:

MMA Stars: Dan Henderson, Frank Shamrock, Fabricio Werdum, Cris “Cyborg” Santos, King Mo Lawal, Gilbert Melendez, Mayhem Miller, Urijah Faber, Josh Barnett, Matt Hughes, Yves Edwards, Jens Pulver, Shane Del Rosario, Tyron Woodley, and Dan Hardy.  Recognizable MMA figures like Eddie Bravo, Tom Atencio, and Jeremy Lappen were also in attendance.

NFL Stars: Herschel Walker, Tony Gonzales, and Willie McGinnest were all there.  At the event, there were a few MMA folks talking about Herschel Walker making his return to Strikeforce around August, which at the moment means he may fight in the Strikeforce Houston event, which makes a ton of sense.  Herschel Walker has a huge following in the south, but Texas is definitely a second home to him due to his NFL days as a former Dallas Cowboy.

Celebrities: Britney Skye and friends. Yes… who earlier in the day was trying to score Strikeforce tickets for her and her friends on social websites like Twitter.  I was also sitting next to a few ex-pro athletes sprinkled throughout the crowd.  There were even rumblings that some of the Boston Celtics were in attendance for the Strikeforce card, just a day before they played Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center against the Lakers.

Pro Wrestlers: They were in full force that night, apparently ditching a THQ and WWE party that was being thrown that day to attend this event, according to Dave Meltzer.  Bill Goldberg, Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller, Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Dave Batista all took in the event.  Batista, who at the time was rumored to have spoken with Scott Coker about fighting for Strikeforce, but sources say that they were just introducing themselves and “chit-chatting”.  In the ever changing landscape of MMA, TMZ recently reported that the conversations between Batista and Strikeforce have progressed, and scheduling and money are the only two issues holding up a deal.  Dave Batista was a pretty big star in the wrestling world, and some say he was making roughly 2 million dollars a year.  Not only that is that a major hurdle, but he has TV and movie roles lined up, which really affects his scheduling and most likely provide better pay than what MMA is offering him.  The book is still open on this and we will monitor it closely.

Observations Throughout the Night:


MMA Crowd: In terms of the MMA crowd, a good portion of them were supporters of  Babalu Sobral, Conor Heun, Hugo Sandoval, and Marcus Kowal, whose fights really got every one’s adrenaline pumping throughout the event.  Dan Henderson was definitely the star of the show, as fans stopped him whenever they could to take a picture with him.  When they showed him on the giant TVs, the crowd gave the biggest pop to Hendo, even compared to Herschel Walker, which I found interesting.  The fights that really went over well with the crowd were Sandoval vs Kowal, Noons vs Heun, and Cyborg vs Zaromskis.  The crowd gave all these fights a round of applause, and really erupted when Cyborg celebrated his brutal victory over Zaromskis on top of the cage.


MMA Venue: It was definitely an interesting setup, and most attendees who I spoke to said that they loved it.  It definitely felt like we were watching an upscale show.  Those same people I spoke to  said they hoped another MMA event would be held at the Nokia Theater, and would definitely return to catch it.  Now, there were some negatives with this type of setup, specifically regarding your view depending on where you were sitting since the cage was elevated on stage.  Some of this was alleviated by the looking to your left or right and catching some of the action on the big screens, where we were getting the Showtime broadcast feed minus the announcers.


Sponsors: The two new noticeable additions to the Strikeforce cage were the additions of GoDaddy and Best Buy.  Best Buy on the mat was tied to EA Sports MMA, which read “Pre-Order Now at” followed by the Best Buy logo.  I am assuming EA had something to do with this addition, as this is the first time I can recall seeing Best Buy in an MMA mat. Best Buy, who makes 50 billion dollars a year in revenue,  is fairly popular in the Los Angeles area, though it will be interesting to see if they stay as sponsors when Strikeforce ventures into other markets.

Contrary to Best Buy, GoDaddy was a much more noticeable addition to the list of Strikeforce sponsors.  If you recall, GoDaddy.com first jumped into the MMA scene when it announced itself as a major sponsor of the infamous Affliction Trilogy event, which was abruptly canceled at the very last possible moment.  Oddly enough, Tom Atencio (who was the Affliction Trilogy promoter at the time) was present at this Strikeforce event to witness GoDaddy.com venture into MMA once again. Here is GoDaddy’s reason as to why they wanted to jump into MMA market last time:

”The sport is exploding in terms of its growth. Its fans are fiercely loyal, the competition is exciting and the audience is Internet-savvy,” GoDaddy founder and CEO Bob Parsons said in a prepared statement. “This sport has a loud attitude. It’s right up our alley.”

The Internet giant, known for pulling publicity stunts, has sponsored athletes or events in other sports, including IndyCar, Nascar, PokerStars and the LPGA.

Though GoDaddy wasn’t quite able to debut as a sponsor with Affliction, they took full advantage of sponsoring the Strikeforce Los Angeles event.  The Strikeforce cage had GoDaddy.com logos on the mat and on the cage and a Strikeforce representative told me that they would most likely change their website to GoDaddy servers fairly soon due to this budding partnership.  In between rounds and fights, the two jumbo TVs alternated between playing the EA Sports MMA commercial and multiple GoDaddy.com commercials, like the ones shown below:

Without a doubt the big sponsor of the day was EA, who most likely had a big part in putting this MMA event together to coincide with E3.  Strikeforce and EA Sports MMA were hand in hand in both E3 and Strikeforce Live events.  In fact, after the E3 show was over, all EA Sports MMA personnel were treated to great seats to catch the Strikeforce event.  EA Sports MMA flyers were being handed out at E3 and during the MMA event, like the one seen below, among others.

Competitors: Before and after the Strikeforce event took place, there was a good sized THQ truck, attached with a large screen on its side, constantly playing Undisputed 2010 commercials as it slowly made its way around the block.  After the event was over, the whole Nokia Theater perimeter was surrounded by THQ employees, sporting THQ shirts and passing out flyers like the one shown below.   Interestingly enough, as I looked at the flyer I couldn’t help but catch the ever-so popular Best Buy logo, but this time attached to the UFC and THQ flyers and not the Strikeforce cage.  Best Buy definitely made a big investment through MMA video games that night.

As the event came to an end, it was finally time to head home, but not before picking up a few goodies and announcements made throughout the night, which I will share in part 3 of this writeup.

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