Strikeforce Houston Payout Perspective

August 27, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at the Showtime event headlined by newly crowned LHW Champ King Mo, as he makes his first title defense against Brazilian top prospect Rafael “Feijao”.

The event took place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas and featured 4 fights (2 title fights): “King” Mo Lawal vs. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, [LHW Title]  Tim Kennedy vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza [Vacant MW Title], KJ Noons vs Jorge Gurgel, and Bobby Lashley vs Chad Griggs.  On the Sherdog streamed portion of the undercard, André Galvão took on fellow Brazilian veteran Jorge Patino and recently crowned KOTC HW Champ Daniel Cormier took on Jason Riley.

Payouts and Gate



MMAJunkie reports that Strikeforce: Houston achieved an attendance of 8,635 which would have to be considered a successful first trip for Strikeforce into the Lone Star State.  The attendance number stands as second most attended event for Strikeorce this year.

– 11,757 spectators, “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum” (June)
– 8,635 spectators, “Strikeforce: Houston” (August)
– 8,196 spectators, “Strikeforce: Nashville  (April)
– 8,136 spectators, “Strikeforce St. Louis: Heavy Artillery” (May)
– 7,010 spectators, “Strikeforce: Miami” (January)
– 5,259 spectators, “Strikeforce: Los Angeles” (June)


MMAJunkie reports that Strikeforce: Houston averaged 367,000 viewers with a 1.18 rating on Showtime last Saturday night, but peaked at nearly half a million viewers (470,000) with a 1.48 rating for the main event between Lawal and Feijao.  The numbers are very good for an event that didn’t feature any big names like Fedor or Herschel  Walker, but a key number to observe here is the peak number, which means more for Showtime because of the correlation between how many current and new subscribers are watching Strikeforce, which differs from the UFC, WEC, Bellator, and other promotions with TV deals (non-subscription channels) which are ad and rating dependent.

MMAJunkie points out where they fair, in terms of average viewers, compared to the other “Arena Series” Strikeforce events:

– 517,000 viewers, “Strikeforce: Miami” (January)
– 412,000 viewers, “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum” (June)
– 367,000 viewers, “Strikeforce: Houston” (August)
– 308,000 viewers, “Strikeforce St. Louis: Heavy Artillery” (May)
– 164,000 viewers, “Strikeforce: Los Angeles” (June)

Storylines Coming Out of Event

There were 4 major story lines coming out of the event this past weekend.

1) Three of Strikeforce’s Most Marketable Fighters Lose (King Mo, Tim Kennedy, Bobby Lashley)

  • Many are stating that Saturday night was not a good night for Strikeforce as 3 of their most marketable fighters lost their fight.  Then again, this is nothing new to Strikeforce having just recently seen Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson, Gina Carano, Frank Shamrock, and Cung Le all lose within the past year.  What one has to take away from this is that new stars have to be developed and marketed in order to able to jump right in when a star falters.  A perfect example is the popularity Cris Cyborg and Miesha Tate have garnered after the “face of women’s MMA” Gina Carano lost and took a leave from MMA to try her hand in Hollywood.  This is a sport and no one can control who will win or lose, but having good matchups and developing your young or unknown talent will definitely soften the blow and keep the flow of the promotion going.

2) Bad Officiating Marred Yet Another Strikeforce Event

  • Josh Gross from Sports Illustrated does a great job at pointing out the poor officiating that was on display that night.

Referees are allowed to intervene at any point they want in a fight. They’re also allowed to restart bouts where they’ve been broken — usually when a fighter is the mount he or she is given the courtesy of reclaiming it.

Not tonight. Not according to Schorle, whose poor choice directly influenced the outcome of the fight.

  • Josh also points out the punch KJ Noons landed at the end of the first round and the knee at the end of the fight.

Noons last attack appeared to be a knee to the head while Gurgel (13-6) was down and after the referee had moved in to stop the bout, though replays in the arena were inconclusive and neither fighter said they knew for sure if or where it landed.

Gurgel refused to assign any blame to Noons, pointing instead at the referee.

3) The O2 Can Controversy

  • As rumors started swirling among the MMA media after some websites pointed out that both KJ Noons and King Mo used canned Oxygen, fans quickly started to use the words “cheaters” and pointing the blame at the fighters, but Mike Chiappetta of MMAFighting did a great job of getting the full story:

“Is there controversy about this?” Guerrero asked when reached by phone Monday morning. “The fighters didn’t use anything against the rules. When it’s something that’s not overtly prohibited or limited, it’s usually left up to the doctors at ringside, and we make the call on the spot. I think that’s what happened here.”

  • Nick Lembo, the legal counsel for the New Jersey Athletic commission also commented on the matter:

In New Jersey, it is not allowed, but not because of the boost it could give athletes.

“We wouldn’t have a problem with the oxygen per se but the canister could contain most any type of vaporized substance in addition to oxygen that could include banned substances and it would be impossible to ascertain such at that point in time,” said Nick Lembo, the legal counsel for the New Jersey state athletic control board.

4) King Mo Out For At Least 9 Months Due to Knee Surgery

  • Loretta Hunt from was the first to report on the matter:

Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal  will undergo knee surgery to replace both his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee, which could sideline the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion for nine months, said his manager Ryan Parsons.

Sponsor, Promotion and Marketing Watch

– As the norm, we always want more marketing and promotion from most every Strikeforce event, and its a topic that they juggle everyday regarding their budget, resources, and strategic planning for each event, but I did see something that I thought was great, and that was the intro video to Strikeforce Houston on Showtime.  It was one of the better done videos that I have seen by Showtime other than perhaps the CBS Strikeforce Nashville intro.  At the moment, they shoot it and edit it 1 week out before the event and release it a day or 2 before, but they really need to release this 2-4 weeks before the event takes place.  It would be a great promotional tool to get everyone pumped up for the event.

– All the usual sponsors where there for this event: FullTilt Poker, Rockstar, GoDaddy, ClinchGear, etc.  As we like to point out here on MMAPayout, we always like to see more synergy between big sponsors and the promotions.  We got a little taste of that from this time around, as they held a giveaway for lucky fans to win 2 tickets to the Strikeforce Houston event.  We definitely want to see more of this from all of Strikeforce’s partners and sponsors.

– KJ Noons throws out first pitch at Houston Astros game.

– KJ Noons, Bobby Lashley, King Mo, and Tim Kennedy paid a visit to Houston’s Fisher House, VA Medical Center in Houston.

Twitter : Good news for Strikeforce here, as the key words “#Strikeforce” and “#Jacare” were top trends during the evening of the Strikeforce Houston event.

That would make it 3 out of the last 4 events that have trended on Twitter for Strikeforce, with the latest having “#Strikeforce”, “#Sarah” and  “#Slam” trending from the Strikeforce Challengers event from Tacoma Washington, where Sarah Kaufman emphatically defeated Roxanne Modafferi by way of a slam, which made the “ESPN Top 10 plays of the weekend”.  The Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum event also trended due to the shocking loss of HW great Fedor Emelianenko.

10 Responses to “Strikeforce Houston Payout Perspective”

  1. Diego on August 27th, 2010 7:26 AM

    One thing I would like to see from SF is to push fights instead of fighters. The fight posters have fighters, but don’t always have their opponents on them. In this sport where it’s become cliche to say “anything can happen” you have to hedge your bets and make sure you are paying due attention to the opponents – if for nothing more than to legitimize the fight.

    Ignoring opponents who are brought in to lose is a time honored tradition in boxing, so I see Showtime’s fingerprints all over this. The people at Showtime need to understand that this isn’t boxing, and they are going to have to adapt their production model.

    If Lashley lost, but SF had been positioned to fully capture the benefit that Griggs will now accrue this wouldn’t be a tragedy. But since Griggs wasn’t really mentioned very much in the lead in to the fight and was treated as a can for Lashley to crush, now SF have lost one of their marquee fighters and gain very little from it.

    As for Mo and Kennedy, both are still marketable fighters, but at least SF has long standing relationships with their victors – both Jacare and Feijao will make good champions, and interesting fight matchups (Feijao v. Mousasi anyone? Or Diaz v. Jacare at 185?)

    And of course, the undercard situation still leaves a lot to be desired. Cormier has literally been circling the globe kicking ass in the past 4 weeks, and his fight gets buried on a stream at Sherdog. It was a 2 minute fight, they could have shown it at some point during the broadcast. I know that’s Showtime’s fault, but still, SF need to pressure their partners to get them to do the right thing. Cormier v. Griggs would be a great fight for both, but the opportunity to set up a good backstory is gone.

  2. Diego on August 27th, 2010 7:27 AM

    Still, overall a very solid card with good fights from fighters I care about and lots of questions both answered and raised. What else can a fan ask for?

  3. Machiel Van on August 27th, 2010 8:07 AM


    There was a 5th storyline from this event: no PED or drug testing was carried out by the Texas State Athletic Comm… or whatever it’s called for ANY of the fighters on the card.

  4. Machiel Van on August 27th, 2010 8:15 AM

    @ Diego: “Ignoring opponents who are brought in to lose is a time honored tradition in boxing, so I see Showtime’s fingerprints all over this.”

    Couldn’t agree more. There are many things about the way Showtime/CBS presents Strikeforce events that REEKS of Showtime boxing, which is very bad (if only Strikeforce could’ve got a deal with HBO…). A lot of people think that Showtime/CBS runs Strikeforce, which I do not think is true, but they absolutely have a misguided influence on the matchmaking, production, and the overall experience of the consumer. This will not change, and to quote Paul Heyman, “It’s the Showtime/CBS vision for MMA, not a mixed martial arts vision for MMA.” So true.

  5. Machiel Van on August 27th, 2010 8:21 AM

    By the way thanks for the writeup Jose.

  6. fred on August 27th, 2010 10:48 AM

    showtime boxing has no mismatches that hbo boxing

  7. Jose Mendoza on August 27th, 2010 1:00 PM

    Machiel Van:

    You are correct, but that falls along the Texas Athletic Commission, so the officiating, the O2 Can controversy, and the no drug testing can all be attributed to that. I mean, all we can really do here is blame them but they are notorious for being terrible already, not sure what they can do to improve. Just look at Antonio Margarito getting a boxing license right away without even a hearing just a few days after California denied him one.

    No problem about the write-up, I am glad readers are looking forward to these. Also, sorry it took so long this week but there was a ton of stories coming out of the event. In addition to that, we still don’t have the payouts and the gate for the event yet.

  8. Jose Mendoza on August 27th, 2010 3:02 PM


    Hey guys, updated with some Twitter trends.

  9. mmaanalyst on August 28th, 2010 7:02 AM

    King Mo, Tim Kennedy is not tv rating hero. Who know Tim Kennedy? He have only story. no one know that he is ranger.

    King Mo???? everybody know his gimmick and boring fight style. Feijao have exciting fight style. Put up him on CBS with Musasi, Dan henderson. He will knock out, or be knock out.

  10. Diego on August 31st, 2010 11:13 AM


    I love Feijao, I think a fight between him and Hedno or Mousasi will be fireworks. I realize that SF had a lot of promotional muscle behind King Mo, but honestly I don’t think that SF lose on this one. Having Feijao win is just as good for them; he’s a great fighter.

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