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.

7 Responses to “MMAPayout: Detailed Report From E3 & Strikeforce Los Angeles (Pt. 2)”

  1. joseph on June 24th, 2010 9:19 PM

    Thanks for the write up Jose… reall good job.

  2. mmaguru on June 25th, 2010 10:14 AM

    Really enjoy reading these new pieces, bring on part 3!

    Interesting that there were so many stars at the event. MMA is definitely mainstream, reminds me of boxing of yester-year.

    Biggest POP for Hendo? This guy is big business. Really unfortunate for Strikeforce he’s a few years past his prime and that he lost to Shields. What the MMA landscape would look like now if Hendo did finish Shields in the first round on that storied night on CBS. Instead we got what we got!

  3. Jose Mendoza on June 25th, 2010 11:35 AM

    mmaguru:

    I was surprised that Hendo got the loudest POP. Walker was shown first, now people were either caught off guard or weren’t sure who he was because there wasn’t much. They then switched over to Hendo and the crowd definitely reacted to him strongly towards him.

    I would say that if an event was held in Southern California, putting Hendo on the card instead of Walker is a better bet. Walker’s presence is better serve where he is popular, which is the south.

  4. mmaguru on June 26th, 2010 10:10 AM

    True, but than again, Walker gets good mainstream media attention so it`s a win win no matter where they have him fight.

  5. Jose Mendoza on June 26th, 2010 4:09 PM

    mmaguru:

    Correct, in terms of mainstream media attention, it’s not even close, Herschel would dominate.

  6. alex on July 6th, 2010 2:54 PM

    I was there, hendo seemed great with the fans, Hersh walked right by me with Goldberg and a few other people, seemed friendly

    strikeforce put on a great show, KJ noons was amazing, Cyborg impressed…

    they need to work on their t-shirts and such…not even a stand to be seen

  7. Jose Mendoza on July 6th, 2010 3:15 PM

    Alex:

    There actually was a stand…. I have a picture to prove it, though it was quite small.
    I am debating doing a part 3 to the write up, and that was part of my topic. =)

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