FEG Announces Partnership with PUJI Capital

July 19, 2010

Daniel Herbertson of MMA Fighting is reporting that FEG has reached an agreement with Chinese investment bank PUJI Capital that plans for PUJI to raise nearly $230 million in funds for the beleaguered organization’s newest international expansion plans.

Tanikawa stated that changes should start from 2011 and that Japanese events will continue with K-1 on Fuji TV and DREAM and K-1 MAX on TBS. PUJI will not be involved with the day to day operations regarding the actual promotions but will instead be in charge of fund raising and leading the global expansion and have forecast that they will gather 20 billion yen ($230 million).

Payout Perspective:

This is not an announcement of an immediate capital injection; FEG has not yet secured the $230 million in funding. PUJI Capital is forecasting that it will be able to raise $230 million for FEG, but that is anything but a foregone conclusion.

Normally, you don’t make an announcement like this unless you’re sure you can get the money, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this announcement is more of a PR stunt than anything else. The news has been well-received by the entire MMA community – many of whom long for the “glory” days of Pride and more competition in a landscape dominated by the UFC – and FEG is definitely looking to generate some renewed interest in its fight brands to help it raise new money.

However, FEG has yet to prove that it can manage its assets with any sort of fiscal responsibility. I’m skeptical that PUJI can raise $230 million in the first place, but further question the notion that more money, and an ambitious international expansion plan, is going to solve FEG’s current problems.

If FEG does manage to raise significant funds, it should focus on its home market, first: establishing a strong foundation in Japan with a solid fan base and predictable revenue streams. Yet, rebuilding Japanese MMA is also a tall order. Many believe that much of the success MMA has had in the country is linked to professional wrestling (cross-over and freak show fights were the real draws on many nights); with pro wrestling on the decline, it may be difficult to bring MMA back to where it once was.

If, and only if, FEG can establish a strong fan base, with a solid fight product and firm financial footing, can it look to expand beyond Japan and into other markets. The Asian-Pacific is the most logical destination (Korea, China, Australia); likewise, South America (Brazil) remains relatively untapped. But I’m not sure how much success they, or anyone else, will have in Africa at this point.

This is definitely something to keep an eye on. The MMA fan in me wants to get excited, but FEG and Dream/K-1 still have a long way to go.

Couture on Cover of New UFC Magazine

July 16, 2010

UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture will grace the cover of the UFC Magazine’s next release in August. The issue coincides with Couture’s heavyweight tilt against boxing legend James Toney at UFC 118 on August 28th in Boston, MA.

Randy Couure on the cover of August's UFC Magazine

Payout Perspective:

The last we heard regarding the magazine is that subscriptions and ad interest were increasing. This was a few months ago, so the situation may have changed. However, I doubt that in a way given the UFC’s latest hot streak and the use of draws like Liddell, Rampage and Couture on issues.

UFC Partners with Getty Images

July 16, 2010

The UFC has announced a partnership with the worldwide leader in sports photography, Getty Images, that allows the curator to distribute UFC imagery captured by photographers and become licensor of the entire UFC image archive.

Through this partnership with UFC, Getty Images will manage the distribution and licensing of UFC’s rich archive of pivotal moments in mixed martial arts to service media customers, marketing partners and other third-party outlets.  Additionally, Getty Images will curate one of the most significant collections of UFC imagery as its team of award-winning photographers capture the sport’s defining moments throughout the year.  This collection includes premier events such as the most recent UFC 116 heavyweight title fight between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, plus the upcoming Aug. 7th UFC  117 event featuring the return of the world’s greatest pound- for-pound fighter Anderson Silva, UFC middleweight champion vs. Chael Sonnen, number one middleweight contender.

Payout Perspective:

I like this move, because it leaves the UFC free to continue doing what it does best – marketing and hosting fight events – without having to worry about money left on the table. It’s the continuation of a 2+ year effort to start diversifying revenue streams and capitalizing on ancillary opportunities that started with an increased emphasis on DVD sales, improved clothing distribution, and the entire toys/collectibles/video game movement.

Interestingly, I thought we might see that 70-30 ratio of  event to non-event-related revenue start to even out a little more, but the latest update on Zuffa’s credit status indicates that no such movement has occurred. This is not because the UFC has failed to increase non-event-related revenue over the last few years, but because the UFC’s event-related revenues have increased at a pace that matches the increase of non-event-related revenues (e.g., gains from the sale of the video game were matched by new PPV sales records, etc.).

The PPV Gap: Title vs. Non-Title

July 15, 2010

MMAPayout.com has updated its latest numbers on PPV trends, and there remains a significant gap of just over 200,000 buys between PPVs with title events and those without.

I’m not sure this comes as a surprise to anyone; it’s pretty intuitive and it’s something we’ve commented on numerous times before. However, you may be interested to know that the gap has closed slightly. Again these are rough estimates that we’ve tabulated through the help of Dave Meltzer and various cable company sources.

UFC 57-UFC 100

Title events: 596,000
Non-title events: 347,000
Difference: 249,000

UFC 57-UFC 115

Title events: 603,000
Non-title events: 395,000
Difference: 208,000

Payout Perspective:

I’ve got a few thoughts regarding the above numbers:

1.) I think these numbers stress the importance of asset management for the UFC and Joe Silva. There’s always going to be a temptation to load up fight cards, but it’s always prudent to be conservative. I also tend to think this provides an opportunity for Joe to do what he did with UFC 116: make some great match-ups, showcase some of the younger, less-heralded fighters in the company, and wow the audience.

2.) I suspect the gap decreased, because of the series of events that unfolded last summer. The UFC had a tremendous first two quarters and built a great deal of momentum which it then used with some of the leaner cards in the Fall to draw a better result than it maybe should have. In January and February we saw a return to a more realistic series of results in the consecutive absence of title belts on the line.

3.) I expect this gap to widen once again. If you include the expected buyrate from UFC 116 (1.0-1.2 million) the title event average goes up immediately. Then consider the next few months: UFC 117 has a title fight (Silva vs. Sonnen) and a great main card; UFC 118 has a title fight (Edgar vs. Penn) plus Couture vs. Toney and is the UFC’s debut in one of the nation’s biggest media hubs; UFC 119 does not have a title, but should still fare decently with Mir-Nog II; and, then UFC 121 will feature Brock defending his title again.

4.) In my estimation, we’re probably headed for a gap of 300,000 buys in the next year: a 700k average for title fights and 400k for non-title bouts.

MMAterial Facts 07/14/10: UFC 116 Numbers, Bellator on AFN

July 14, 2010

UFC 116 officially draws 12,740 attendees for $4.05 million live gate
– American Forces Network to broadcast Bellator to 1 million military personnel
– Strikeforce to bring MMA special to Toyota Center
– Lance Palmer, Mark Ellis Sign With MMA Agencies
– MusclePharm Set to Launch GNC Athlete Tour

UFC 116 officially draws 12,740 attendees for $4.05 million live gate

July’s “UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin” event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas officially drew 12,740 spectators for a $4,053,990 live gate. … Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer today emailed the official figures to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).

Of the 12,740 fans in the arena, 9,218 purchased tickets and 3,522 were issued complimentary admission. Additionally, 2,194 tickets went unsold. (MMAJunkie)


Note: It appears that this event is trending to break 1 million buys, but fall short of UFC 100 and UFC 114: Rampage vs Evans.  If that trending pattern holds, it would make it the third most purchased event in UFC history. (F4WOnline)

American Forces Network to broadcast Bellator to 1 million military personnel

Bellator Fighting Championships will expand its reach to the more than 1 million brave American service men and women, as well as Department of Defense and other US government civilians and their families stationed overseas through a new alliance with the American Forces Network.

Beginning this fall, all military personnel, Department of Defense civilian employees and their families stationed in 175 countries and territories overseas from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — and aboard 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea — will be able to watch all of Bellator Seasons 2 and 3 in their entirety via satellite broadcast.

The 24 Bellator broadcasts will air for 24 consecutive weeks every Monday night at 9 p.m. “viewer time overseas” with Bellator Season 2 running from Sept. 6th to Nov. 22 and Bellator Season 3 running from Nov. 29th to Feb. 14th.

Rights to air the broadcasts are being provided to the American Forces Network by Bellator free of charge. (PRESS RELEASE)

Strikeforce to bring MMA special to Toyota Center

Mixed martial arts will be on display when the Strikeforce promotion visits the Toyota Center on Aug. 21.

The card, announced in a press conference Tuesday, will be broadcast by Showtime Television and start at 9 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday.

It’s been three years since Houston was last in the mixed martial arts spotlight. Ultimate Fighting Championship, the top promotion in MMA, brought its UFC 69 pay-per-view event to the Toyota Center in April 2007.  (The Houston Chronicle)

Lance Palmer, Mark Ellis Sign With MMA Agencies

Up and coming mixed martial arts prospect Lance Palmer has a new agency to call home. The former Ohio State University wrestler has signed on with MMA agency MMA Incorporated today for an exclusive management and marketing deal.

Palmer, who has yet to make his professional debut in the sport, was a four-time All American wrestler as a Buckeye. In  2010, he earned the title of Big Ten Champion and was also a finalist in the NCAA Division 1 National Championship that year. He competed in the 149 pound weight class.  (Heavy)

MusclePharm Set to Launch GNC Athlete Tour

MusclePharm® Corporation (OTCBB:MSLP), a fast-growing nutritional supplement company with a proprietary formulation used in eight performance products, announced plans to launch an innovative General Nutrition Centers (GNC) Athlete Tour starting this month.

The athlete tour dates will run from July through December 2010 and will feature some of the biggest names from the NFL, UFC and WEC. The athletes will be signing autographs at each GNC appearance, promoting the MusclePharm brand in the process. (The Financial Post)


Strikeforce Houston Poster


  • Bob Sapp pulled off July 18’s “Impact FC,” threatens legal action (MMAJunkie)
  • UFC announcer Bruce Buffer cashes in 2010 World Series of Poker (MMAJunkie)
  • With Strikeforce title on line, Kennedy says “Jacare” is just his next biggest fight (MMAJunkie)
  • Film Room: How Werdum Submitted Fedor (Sherdog)
  • Bellator Confirms Lombard-Goodman for Aug. 12 (Sherdog)
  • UFC 116 Drugs Tests Clean (Sherdog)
  • King Mo Promises to Show New Skills in First Title Defense (Sherdog)
  • Rich Clementi Targeted for Bellator 28 (MMAFighting)
  • For Leben, Most of UFC 116 Victory Is a Blur (MMAFighting)
  • Is Cain able to take Lesnar’s title? (Yahoo! Sports)
  • UK: Impact FC Confirmed to air on Primetime (Fighters Only)
  • Scott Coker Talks Shields, Bautista, Lashley, Fedor And More (Heavy)
  • Keith Jardine vs. Trevor Prangley Set For Shark Fights 13 (Heavy)


  • HDNet Fights Vault: Dynamite 2009  at 8:00 PM ET on HDNet (07/16/10)
  • Fighting Words with Mike Straka (Ken Shamrock) at 8:30 PM ET on HDNet (07/16/10)
  • Inside MMA (Matyushenko and Ellengerger) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (07/16/10)
  • HDNet Fights: DREAM.15 Replay at 10 PM ET on HDNet (07/16/10)


  • Strikeforce Challengers: Del Rosario vs Mahe at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime(07/23/10)
  • HDNet Fights: K-1 World Max 2010 Final 10 PM ET on HDNet (07/23/10)
  • HDNet Fights: K-1 World GP 2010 at 10 PM ET on HDNet (07/23/10)
  • UFC on Versus 2 : Jones vs Matyushenko at 10 PM ET on Versus (08/01/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Riggs vs Taylor 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime (08/13/10)
  • HDNet Fights: KOTC: Imminent Danger at 9 PM ET on HDNet (08/13/10)
  • UFC 117 : Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen at 10 PM ET on PPV (08/18/10)
  • WEC 50: Cruz vs Benavidez at 9 PM ET on Versus (08/18/10)
  • Strikeforce: King Mo vs Rafael Feijao at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime (08/26/10)
  • HDNet Fights: Sengoku Raiden Championships 14 on HDNet (08/27/10)
  • UFC 118: Edgar vs Penn 2 at 10 PM ET on PPV (08/28/10)

Hispanic Interest in MMA Growing

July 14, 2010

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer talks about the dim prospect of the Lesnar-Velasquez title fight happening in Mexico (now scheduled for October in Anaheim, CA), but mentions the UFC’s exploding popularity in the country.

White spoke of wanting to do a show in Mexico City, but didn’t know if the timing would work out for this fight. With no date on the horizon, it’s unlikely. UFC has exploded in popularity in Mexico over the past year, as the top fighters are now well known in that country when 13 months ago none but Lesnar, through his pro wrestling stardom, had any real name value. It remains well behind boxing and pro wrestling in popularity, that have been staples in that culture for decades. But because boxing and pro wrestling are so popular, it would appear to be a market that would take to UFC.

Payout Perspective:

I’d really be interested to see where Meltzer is getting his numbers from, but I’m inclined to believe him. I’ve run some stats through Simmons Research and the UFC’s popularity amongst American Hispanics is exploding.

  • The total number of Hispanic people interested in the UFC is up 50% since 2007, which is the largest increase of any professional sport in North America (including Wrestling).
  • Hispanics now make up roughly 15% of the UFC fan base in the US (up from 11% in 2007). Only the WWE has a greater proportion of Hispanic support.
  • The number of avid Hispanic UFC fans has increased by over 110% since 2007, which is again the largest increase of any professional sport in North America. The WWE enjoyed the next greatest increase (roughly 85%).
  • Not surprisingly, Hispanics now make up roughly 25% of the UFC’s avid fan base in the US (a number up from 14% in 2007).
  • Hispanic people are now 10% more likely to be a fan of the UFC than the average person, which is a sizable shift from just a few years ago when members of the group were 13% less likely to be a fan than the average member of the population.
  • Furthermore, Hispanic males aged 18-34 are 222% more like to be an avid fan of the UFC than a member of the average population, which is by far higher than any professional sports league (again with the exception of the WWE that sits in second).

It should be noted that Hispanic interest in sports as a whole is increasing. However, these numbers show a significant trend in growth that not only match the UFC’s general growth but exceed it.

Note: I’m working on a feature that details the growth of the UFC demographic over the last 3-4 years via Simmons Research. Hopefully I can share that with everyone in the next few weeks. Much of what I’ve always hypothesized is evident in the numbers (such as growth in the older demographics), but they do appear to contradict Dana White’s statements that the UFC demo is nearly 44% female. More to come!

Interview with AMP Energy’s Pat Santangelo

July 14, 2010

AMP Energy unveiled its Hometown Takedown contest in May to the delight of MMA fans throughout the United States. MMAPayout covered the activation piece shortly thereafter, but today we’re providing a follow-up in the form of an exclusive interview with AMP Energy’s Pat Santangelo.

Why did AMP decide to become a WEC sponsor and what is it trying to achieve with the sponsorship?

Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest-growing, most entertaining sports in the world, and nobody delivers it better than the WEC. The fighters and the fans bring incredible passion and energy to the sport, and that’s where we come in. We believe that AMP Energy fits nicely with the controlled, focused, high-energy aspect of MMA, and we want to be a part of growing the sport and providing unprecedented access to the fighters and the sport.  AMP Energy wants to engage MMA fans and our consumers through our partnerships with our fighters – Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Chad Mendes – and our promotions, like “Hometown Takedown”.

How does Hometown Takedown help AMP achieve its goals with the WEC sponsorship?

Hometown Takedown is all about unprecedented authority for the fans. AMP Energy is providing the platform for what we believe is the first time a major sports league is giving its fans the ability to decide where an event takes place. We believe that engaging MMA fans and our consumers is the right way to build credibility and connections.

What is AMP doing to promote the contest?

We are doing some traditional marketing, including airing a commercial featuring Faber, Benavidez and Mendes on Versus, Spike, and MTV, as well as several in-store promotions at Hess and Maverik. But we’re also taking some new approaches to get the word out and drive votes. We’ve engaged more than 20 fighters from the WEC and asked them to talk about Hometown Takedown on their Facebook and Twitter pages. This allows us to deliver on the true value of the promo and bring top-notch MMA activation to local markets.  We want to make sure that even if you’re not a big fan of MMA, you know about Hometown Takedown and that you’ve voted for your area at least one time.

How has the contest fared in terms of the response it’s generated through registration, voting and overall buzz on the internet? Have those results met your initial expectations?

We are very happy with the consumer engagement and overall buzz that we have generated with Hometown Takedown. The online chatter has been positive and we’ve enjoyed watching MMA and AMP Energy fans talk about bringing a fight to their area and what they are willing to do to get their area to win. We passed our goals for total number of votes in the first month of the two-month campaign – so Hometown Takedown has already exceeded our expectations and we still have more than half of a month to go.

You mentioned the commercial featuring Faber, Benavidez and Medes. How important are those fighters to AMP’s overall activation strategy?

Faber, Benavidez and Mendes are extremely important to the Hometown Takedown activation strategy. Those three guys are the face of Hometown Takedown and superstars of the WEC, and they have been awesome to work with. They are a big reason that we’ve had such great voting numbers and they’ve been incredibly helpful in promoting the contest.

In addition to promoting Hometown Takedown, Faber, Benavidez, and Mendes are a perfect fit for AMP Energy.  They are very well rounded individuals that are successful both inside and outside the cage.  AMP Energy is all about delivering dialled-in energy that provides the energy that is needed to get you going and keep you going.  So, the fit is naturally there.

Do you envision their role increasing in the next few years as MMA and the WEC continue to grow?

Again, those guys have been great partners. All three of them have been eager to help promote the WEC and AMP Energy, and we look forward to continuing the relationship with them. As the sport grows and as they, hopefully, become household names, we’ll continue to look for new and entertaining ways to work with them.

What else is AMP doing to activate around the WEC sponsorship? Is there more to the WEC activation plan (or Hometown Takedown) that we’ve yet to see?

We’re tossing around a few ideas. Again, we’re looking for new ways to engage MMA fans and AMP Energy consumers, to help grow the sport and to provide access to the action that you can’t get in any other league. We are talking to those hardcore MMA fans to find out from them what they’d like to see and what they think needs to be done to grow the sport. And we’ll continue to work with our partners at the WEC to make sure that we’re moving forward together.

Lastly, any predictions for WEC 50: Cruz vs. Benavidez?

Both fighters are very talented and dynamic.  The fight will certainly be an entertaining fight with a lot of heart shown from both fighters.  Obviously, we are biased, and believe Benavidez will win.

Social Media Following: UFC and Other Pro Sports

July 13, 2010

Sergio Non and Haley Blum of USA Today take a quick look at how the UFC stacks up to other professional sports leagues based on Facebook and Twitter.

Fighting Stances took a look at the number of fans for the official Facebook pages of several sports entities:

Sports entity Facebook followers
NBA 3,180,826
UFC 2,269,450
Vancouver 2010 Olympics 1,209,379
WWE 757,845
NASCAR 702,701
NHL 574,112
NFL 508,906

Payout Perspective:

We’ve talked at length about the UFC’s willingness to experiment with social media as one of its keys to success over the last few years. Nobody really could have predicted that Facebook or Twitter would have taken off, but the UFC was smart enough to approach each with an open mind and has walked right into two very effective promotional mechanisms.

I’m not as sold on Facebook as I am on Twitter. The fact that the NBA or UFC have 2 million+ followers means little when you consider that few of those fans actually check those pages on a daily basis. It’s useful, no doubt, but the level of interaction it requires to be effective means that a company has to devote more effort/resources to creating something truly worthwhile for the consumer. Twitter, on the other hand, is potentially a very simple and effective tool if a company or celebrity can craft messages that are relevant/interesting to a fan base, because those messages are received and viewed multiple times per day.

There are also some really interesting on-site promotions that a company can run with Twitter that really help to boost the fan experience and push avidity forward. It will be interesting to see if the UFC begins to push its use of the medium even further; it’s mastered the information releases and off-site contests, but I think there’s still a host of things the promotion can do.

Golden Boy Coming to Brooklyn

July 12, 2010

Don Muret of the Sports Business Journal is reporting that Golden Boy has signed a deal with with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to host a series of fight events at the new Barclay’s Arena slated to open in 2012.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment has signed a three-year deal with Golden Boy Promotions to book 12 fight events annually at Barclays Center, the New Jersey Nets’ new arena targeted to open in mid-2012.

The two groups formed the partnership to develop young Brooklyn boxers and build a relationship between those athletes and the public, said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. Together, they have committed to showcasing a wide range of talent, stretching from amateur bouts to championship fights televised on HBO and Showtime.

The key to making the partnership a success is scheduling boxing matches with greater regularity in New York and on the East Coast in general, a region that’s been hit-and-miss for securing signature fights, according to Schaefer.

“There may be two to three per year at Madison Square Garden, but it’s sporadic,” Schaefer said. “We are taking a systematic approach in building a base in Brooklyn. The talent is there.”

The Brooklyn deal is loosely modeled after what Golden Boy has done in Los Angeles at three facilities owned and operated by AEG, the largest shareholder in Golden Boy outside of principal owner Oscar De La Hoya.

Payout Perspective:

The biggest boxing fight in the last ten years may not happen, because the sport’s two most popular fighters cannot set their differences aside for more than a day in order to eliminate the few remaining small obstacles that stand in the way of a bout agreement. Talk about symbolism.

The would-be Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight is exactly what’s wrong with boxing. There’s no unity within the industry – just a bunch of self-interested individuals looking to get their cut. If it’s not Floyd or Manny looking out for what’s best for them, it’s the promoters swapping television exposure for higher guaranteed rights fees or creating their own governing council to create a new title belt. It’s ridiculous.

Yet, I still believe there’s reason for hope. We may be seeing an overall lack of interest in the sport currently, but men like Mayweather and Pacquiao have proven that a good boxing fight will still sell. It’s simply a matter of rebuilding the sport to a point where it’s able to generate talent, give them television exposure, and then tell their story.

I see this deal with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment as part of the evolution of boxing. This deal is one small part of an overall strategy that will help to revitalize boxing in a key market through the sound development of talent and consistent promotion of that talent (and the sport).

The sport may have made many mistakes in the past – or have been comprised of a “bunch of dummies” as Dana White would say – but I think that’s slowly changing.

Davies, Reilly Talk Legalizing MMA

July 12, 2010

British sports journalist Gareth Davies of the London Telegraph takes on New York Assemblyman Bob Reilly in a BBC debate over the moral and legal consequences of mixed martial arts competitions.

Payout Perspective:

I think it bears repeating that it’s not enough to just call Bob Reilly ignorant and dismiss him. He’s got the ear of many people in New York and has proven to be an influential member of the Assembly, especially where MMA is concerned.

Reilly is a shining of example of where MMA’s effort to seek legalization needs to be taken to the next level. It’s not about shoving this $15-20 million economic windfall down New York’s throat, but instead sitting down with these people and addressing their concerns. That’s why it’s important to get Reilly and others like him to an event. These staunch opponents need to see the sport with their own eyes and have someone available to answer their questions openly and honestly.

In Reilly’s case, perhaps he’s already been extended numerous invitations by the UFC or even attended an event, but the way he speaks about the sport leads me to believe he’s yet to see an event for himself (or even watch but more than a highlight clip on the internet).

If Reilly truly is the rational, honest and good intentioned man that he claims to be, he’ll do everything in his power to educate himself about the sport on the whole – not just what he perceives to be bad, but all parts of the sport. That means watching an event, interacting with the crowd, and engaging in more due diligence than simple informal polls or “people come up to me on the street” non-sense.

I don’t expect he’ll do a complete 180 and start attending UFC events on the regular, but maybe he gains a better understanding of the sport that limits the extent of his now endless hyperbole or comes to see the sport as this generation’s version of his beloved boxing.

There’s no guarantee that either of those outcomes happen, but at least the MMA community will have done everything in its power to educate and convince a prominent opponent of its worth.

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