White talks Philippines TUF, possible international grand prix

May 31, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Dana White reaffirmed the fact that the Philippines will be the location for the first international The Ultimate Fighter. Its unlikely that Spike TV would air the international TUF, but White intimated that the shows could be shown online.

White stated that the UFC was “not quite there” in delivering an international version of the reality series. He also hit on a broader plan for international expansion. A plan may be in the works for an international grand prix.

Via MMA Junkie:

White is a huge fan of the grand prix tournaments of the now-defunct PRIDE, which the UFC purchased in 2007, and he’s taken quite a liking to soccer since the 2010 FIFA World Cup, even going so far as to issue a joking ban to the vuvuzelas that filled South African arenas to the annoyance of many.

An international “TUF” tournament could not only crown the best up-and-comer from beyond U.S. borders, but perhaps heighten interest from fans that want to cheer on their respective countries.

No date has been set for the Philippines TUF. The UFC originally planned an event in the Philippines after visits from Chuck Liddell and Brandon Vera. Most recently GSP visited the Philippines and each time a UFC star has visited, they have been met by massive crowds.

Payout Perspective:

An international TUF would not only facilitate the global expansion of the UFC but possibly revitalize the reality series franchise. After suffering from disappointing ratings even with its top PPV draw starring, there seems to be a need to retool the series. White offers up a potential twist to the TUF franchise. An MMA World Cup could be a unique twist to the reality series that could garner support from MMA fans all over the world. The obvious hurdle would be finding a place for the show. Perhaps UFC.tv could carry the series?  TUF US vs. UK series did well in the ratings and having fighters representing their countries may be the twist the series needs to regain its footing.

FORM, Toyo and MMA Warehouse introduce “Go Time with Showtime” promotion

May 30, 2011

Form Athletics has teamed up with Toyo Tires and MMA Warehouse in promoting Anthony “Showtime” Pettis in preparation for his UFC debut this Saturday against Clay Guida. “Go Time with Showtime” offers weekly prizes to fans that offer well-wishes to Pettis via twitter.

Via FORM Athletics press release:

The promotion, aptly called Go Time with Showtime, offers fans the chance to win weekly prizes and a grand prize package simply by sending a special good luck Tweet to Pettis (@showtimepettis), FORM Athletics (@formathletics) and Toyo Tires (@toyotires).

FORM Athletics and Toyo Tires followers who pledge their twitter support for Pettis will be entered for the chance to win weekly prize packages featuring limited edition Toyo Tires x FORM Athletics x Pettis t-shirts, hats and workout towels. One grand prize winner will be chosen on June 2nd and kitted out with a Go Time with Showtime pack including: Pettis signed FORM Athletics walkout fight shorts x Pettis t-shirt and a set of Toyo Proxes 4 tires. Tweets must include @showtimepettis, @formathletics, @toyotires and #GoTime.

For more information, check here. No purchase is necessary.

In addition, MMA Warehouse is offering fans who spend $50 or more on Form Athletics gear through its web site will receive a limited edition Form Athletics/Toyo Tires t-shirt as a gift while supplies last.

Payout Perspective:

This is a unique way to promote Pettis’ debut as well as his sponsors. Its also a way to bolster the twitter presence of each while pumping up Pettis for his debut. Its a good way to take advantage of social media. For fans, the level of effort to enter is minimal considering all you need to do is have a twitter account and send a message.

 

UFC 130: Payout Perspective

May 30, 2011

Welcome to another Payout Perspective. This time we look at UFC 130 held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event, Quentin “Rampage” Jackson was too much for Matt Hamill.

Rampage dominates Hamill

Not the most impressive main event, but Rampage Jackson dominated Matt Hamill in positioning himself for a title shot against Jon Jones. However, Jackson’s hand may prevent him from getting the shot. With mediocre buzz for this matchup, it seemed like Matt Hamill was not ready to step up in class in the division and in hindsight it looks like he was the recipient of this match by default, not merit. Once it was determined that Hamill could not take Rampage down, the outcome was elementary.

Jackson is a guy that can turn his appeal on and off. He had talked about retiring He was good on the Craig Ferguson show, bad on the MMA Hour and gave an entertaining excuse for his appearance with Ariel Helwani  here. It will be interesting to see how he’d do against Jon Jones if and/orwhen that fight happens.

Mir defeats Nelson

The real winner of this match may be Mike Dolce of the Dolce Diet. Roy Nelson appeared more out of shape than ever before in all of his fights in the UFC. Frank Mir looked better than he did in his match with Cro Cop at UFC 119 but that does not say a lot. It was reported that Mike Dolce may meet with Roy Nelson to assess fitness and diet. A smart idea.

Stann, Story and Browne impress

The other three fights on the PPV were better than the last two. Perhaps the most impressive was Brian Stann with an impressive stoppage of Jorge Santiago. Fueled by the fact he was fighting Memorial Day weekend, Stann looks like he is ready to compete in the upper tier of the division.

Similarly, Rick Story controlled Thiago Alves and won a unanimous decision. Story is now looking for Jon Fitch.

Quietly but consistently Travis Browne is moving up the ranks in the Heavyweight division. With an impressive KO of Stefan Struve, Browne remains undefeated in his pro career.

Attendance and gate

According to MMA Junkie, the event drew 12,816 fans for a gate of $2.57 million. The number of comps were not revealed. The average ticket price for the event was $200.53. The number of empty seats were noticeable from the PPV. Ironically, the numbers rival those from UFC 125: Edgar vs. Maynard from January 1, 2011 where 125 drew 12,874 for a $2,174,780. One might recall that nearly half of those in attendance at 125 did not pay.

The attendance and gate do not compare to last year’s Memorial Day card between Rampage and Rashard Evans. That show garnered 14,996 fans for a $3.985 million gate. It also received over a million PPV buys. Something this card will fall well short of.

Bonuses

Via MMA Junkie:

KO of the Night – Travis Browne

Submission of the Night – Gleison Tibau with his RNC submission of Rafaello Oliveira. Originally on Facebook, Tibau’s submission was shown as a filler at the end of the PPV.

Fight of the Night – Stann vs. Santiago

Each of the fighters received $70K for their efforts. Stann could have received a double bonus for his KO although Browne’s was impressive.

Twitter

With the news that the UFC will be offering bonuses for fighters using their twitter accounts, the UFC included each fighter’s twitter handle with their name and birthplace on their walkouts.

Sponsorships

XBox 360 continues with its sponsorship of “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson. It was the sole sponsor of Johnson in his fight during the UFC Prelims on Spike TV. XBox 360 also demo’d the new UFC Personal Trainer for the XBox (also available on other video consoles) earlier in the week at a local Fry’s in Las Vegas.

Safe Auto Insurance continues to add fighters to its list with the addition of Matt Hamill as he wore the SA hat walking in the main event. Travis Browne continued with his sponsorship of Safe Auto.

Boost Mobile was on the mat (along with the usual sponsors) at UFC 130. This is due in part to Rampage Jackson’s involvement as a spokesperson.

Rampage also signed an exclusive deal earlier this spring to wear MMA Elite clothing.

A promo for UFC 131 during the PPV has the event presented by the UFC’s newest game: the UFC Personal Trainer.

The elevation Training Mask is starting to make its way onto more fighter shorts.

Dodge continued with its sponsorship of the Facebook fights on the UFC fan page.

Post-UFC 130 Headlines

Will Rampage get the next shot at Jon Jones? – If Rampage’s hand is injured, we could see the winner of Phil Davis-Rashard Evans getting the shot. Or, we can see Lyoto Machida get the shot.

Stann continues to impress – Brian Stann’s rise in the middleweight division continues. Perhaps he was inspired by Memorial Day weekend or he is on a roll but he looks like someone that could be in line for a title shot in 2012.

Fedor vs. Henderson – Did anyone else the official announcement of this match on the same day as a PPV seemed odd?

Ends

Originally this card looked liked this:

Edgar vs. Maynard II

Rampage vs. Thiago Silva

Mir vs. Nelson

Arguably, this card would have been more intriguing than the one that took place Saturday night. Rampage-Silva would have been my pick as the fight to watch. The two guys can mean mug and fans would be treated to a slugfest. Going off of the classic draw on New Year’s night, many would have liked to see the Edgar-Maynard rematch. Finally, Mir-Nelson looked good on paper.  Obviously, things outside of the UFC’s power caused for the retooling of the card. It also had to reshoot an “In the Moment” starring Rampage Jackson (which wasn’t too bad). While there were some interesting fights for MMA fans (Stann-Santiago, Torres-Johnson), it lacked the attraction for the casual viewer. Thus, its likely the buy rate for the PPV would be under 500K. Compared to last year’s Memorial Day show which drew 1 million PPV buys, this will have to be a disappointment.

UPDATED 5/31/11

UFC Salaries via MMA Weekly:

Notably, Roy Nelson only made $15K for his fight with Frank Mir. He made the same in his fight with dos Santos at UFC 117. Brian Stann’s ($46K) made 3x more. Low man on the salary list was prelim fighter Chris Cariaso who made $4,000. Mir and Jackson topped the list at $250K.
MAIN CARD:
Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson: $250,000 (no win bonus) def. Matt Hamill: $32,000
Frank Mir: $250,000 (includes $125,000 win bonus) def. Roy Nelson: $15,000
Travis Browne: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) def. Stefan Struve: $21,000
Rick Story: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus) def. Thiago Alves: $33,000
Brian Stann: $46,000 (includes $23,000 win bonus) def. Jorge Santiago: $36,000

PRELMINARY CARD:
Demetrious Johnson: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus) def. Miguel Torres: $30,000
Tim Boetsch: $36,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus) def. Kendall Grove: $28,000
Gleison Tibau: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus) def. Rafaello Oliveira: $10,000
Michael McDonald: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus) def. Chris Cariaso: $4,000
Renan Barao: $10,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus) def. Cole Escovedo: $6,000

WWE Tough Enough ratings remain solid: 2.5 million viewers

May 30, 2011

Last week’s episode of Tough Enough drew 2.562 million viewers according to Television by Numbers. Once again it drew a 0.9 rating for adults 18-49.

The Rock made a guest appearance on last week’s show adding some spark heading into this week’s finale.

Payout Perspective:

The series has consistently drawn solid ratings since its debut the day after Wrestlemania.  The ratings have remained solid despite competition this spring from the NBA and NHL.

Episode 1 – 3.33 million viewers
Episode 2 – 2.785
Episode 3 – 2.196
Episode 4 – 2.452
Episode 5 – 2.438
Episode 6 – 2.471
Episode 7 – 2.112
Episode 8 – 2.562

(via Television By Numbers)

The reincarnated series is sure to be picked up again for a second season. Its a good complement to WWE’s Raw and seems to fit in with the company’s new business strategy. It would also be a good fit for the possibility of a WWE network in the future.

UFC eyes next television deal

May 28, 2011

The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) features an interesting piece on the UFC and the importance of its next television deal. With all of its successes, the SBJ states that nothing will be more important than its next tv deal as its contract with Spike TV ends after this year.

The article brings up positive poll numbers which shows an uptick in the UFC (and MMA) fan base. Importantly, for the UFC is that males, especially young males, are overwhelming fans of the sport. This makes it attractive for mainstream companies to seek out partnerships with the UFC (e.g., Edge Shaving Gel). The article highlights that the UFC is pitching sponsors with an eye toward the belief that the UFC can help Fortune 100 companies sell products, and thus the UFC will cross over into mainstream consciousness.

 Here are few more takeaways from the article:

-The UFC made $400 million in revenue last year.

-Canada has the most fans, more than the US.

-Statistics find that almost 80% of the UFC fan base is male and half of those are in the 18-34 demo making it a prime target audience for mainstream sponsors.

-A typical PPV sale draws an average of 8.8 viewers per household.

-The UFC is in about 5,500 bars in North America.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting piece on the state of the UFC and the potential for more growth. While no potential landing spots are discussed regarding television deals, MMA Payout has gone through some of its scenarios here and here. Media rights fees are on the rise due in part to network competition to land sports to fill out its schedule and the UFC is growing in popularity as a sport. These two factors should make the UFC draw huge bids from multiple networks for the opportunity to air UFC programming.

Gamblers favor MMA over boxing

May 28, 2011

Cagewriter (via the Las Vegas Sun) reports on the rise of gambling on the UFC and how it has surpassed boxing in terms of  the choice for gamblers on combat sports.

Notwithstanding the Pacquiao factor, most gamblers wanting to bet on fights favor the UFC rather than a boxing card.  According to Mike Colbert of Cantor Gaming, the sports book director for several casinos, states that a typical UFC event brings in “four times the number of bets as an average boxing card.”

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting trend for the business of gambling. It may have been expected considering the UFC’s home base is in Vegas and many of its events are held in Vegas. Yet, the fact that it has surpassed boxing as a favorite among gamblers seems to add more legitimacy to the sport. Certainly gamblers will pay more attention to the sport: its nuances, the fighters, the fighting style, etc. While their end goal is to win money, it also means that people will be drawn to it.

An interesting point taken in the article is the fact that gamblers are interested in the whole card whereas in boxing most people just bet on the main event.

Bisping vs. Miller next TUF coaches

May 27, 2011

Dana White announced on the Underground that next season’s TUF coaches will be Michael Bisping and Jason Miller. The hope is that Bisping and Miller’s personalities will add some punch to the reality series.

Coming to the conclusion of a disappointing TUF season which saw a decrease in ratings, little drama and Brock Lesnar pulling out of his fight with Junior dos Santos due to a reoccurrence of divericulitis, the UFC is trying to breathe life back into TUF. White has critiqued the poor ratings citing the fact that they had to do away with the initial Elimination Fights to get into the house as a factor for the poor ratings.

Payout Perspective:

These are two very good choices for next season. While the UFC initially wanted Chael Sonnen to be a coach on TUF, Miller is an excellent substitute. Bisping is a good choice from the standpoint that he is a fiery competitor and mixed it up when he was a coach during season 9 of TUF opposite Dan Henderson. Furthermore, Bisping-Henderson provided good ratings for TUF. Its a good spot for Miller. Although he has not fought in the UFC since signing this year, he is one that can create good (or watchable) television (ask CBS about the Nashville incident). He’s also hosted Bully Beatdown on MTV2 so he’s not new to what it takes to create good reality television.

The other news for next season’s TUF is that it will feature featherweights and bantamweights. This should give some added intrigue to how next season will play out. How will fans react to the smaller weight divisions?

UFC launches Octagon Nation tour

May 27, 2011

The UFC announced the start of the Octagon Nation tour set to tour the U.S. this summer. The tour will travel via an 18 wheel truck and visit many of the summer festivals as well as many of the major U.S. cities.

Via UFC press release:

Utilizing a new, fully-customized 18-wheeler truck and two Octagon-sized tents containing the UFC’s ultimate fan experience, the UFC® Octagon Nation Tour will be present at this summer’s top events, including the Bonnaroo Music Festival, Summer X Games and the Quicksilver Pro.

It will also hit major cities such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C.  The Octagon Nation will make a special stop at Times Square, where special activities and surprise fighters will be making appearances to celebrate UFC’s visit to the intersection of the world.

The tour, which kicked off in April prior to UFC’s first-ever event in Toronto, features autograph signings with top UFC stars, a UFC Xbox station, and a pop-up retail store where fans can purchase the latest UFC merchandise. In addition, fans have the opportunity to visit an exhibition truck dedicated to showcasing rare UFC memorabilia such as Royce Gracie’s autographed Gi and Georges St-Pierre’s fight shorts.

What’s more, UFC® Octagon Nation Tourhosts physical fitness tests for fans (weigh-in, high jump, pull-up bar and a punch strength station) where each visitor receives a fight card with their results which can be instantly shared on their Facebook page. Participants achieving top results will be posted to UFC.com/tour following each stop, making UFC® Octagon Nation Tourone of the most interactive of its kind.

Payout Perspective:

A great promotional tour for the summer. Barnstorming the country and hitting many of the major summer festivals is a great grassroots way to promote the UFC and some of its products (i.e., UFC’s new fitness game). As always for the UFC, the tour will include a social media component with participants who do fitness tests having the ability to post results such as punch strength, vertical jump and pull ups on Facebook.

Some of the dates, according to the press release, are listed below:

MAY

Thurs   5/26     Las Vegas, NV           Preview of UFC Personal Trainer at Fry’s Electronics

Fri        5/27     Las Vegas, NV           UFC 130 at MGM Grand Garden Arena

Sat       5/28     Las Vegas, NV           UFC 130 at MGM Grand Garden Arena

Sun      5/29     Las Vegas, NV           Miller’s Ale House

JUNE

Wed    6/1       Phoenix, AZ                Tilted Kilt

Fri        6/3       Las Vegas, NV           Weigh in @ Palms

Sat       6/4       Las Vegas, NV           TUF 13 Finale – Buffalo Wild Wings

Thu      6/9       Chattanooga, TN        Bonnaroo

Fri        6/10     Chattanooga, TN        Bonnaroo

Sat       6/11     Chattanooga, TN        Bonnaroo

Sun      6/12     Chattanooga, TN        Bonnaroo

Sat       6/18     Waldorf, MD              Country ThrowDown Tour

Mon     6/20     Washington DC          Marine Week

Tue      6/21     Baltimore, MD            Marine Week

Sat       6/25     New York, NY           Times Square

Sun      6/26     Pittsburgh, PA            UFC Fight Night Arena Tailgate

Thu      6/30     Las Vegas, NV           Vans Warped Tour

*All dates and stops subject to change*

 

 

TUF 13 Episode 9: 1 million viewers

May 26, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that this week’s TUF reached an tied this season’s low in ratings with 1 million viewers. Episode 9 scored an overall household rating of 0.9, as well as 1.0 among men 18-49 and a 0.9 among men 18-34.

Episode 9 ties for the lowest ratings of the season as Episode 7 also had a lowly 1 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Unfortunately this was one of the better shows of the season with two good fights and finally some drama within the house. Yet, it appears that the consistent disappointing ratings (as well as Brock Lesnar pulling out of UFC 131) have viewers tailing off in following TUF. This, on a night where Spike TV showed UFC 130’s Countdown show and Rampage Jackson’s “In the Moment”.  It will be interesting to see the ratings for those programs.

Fuel TV Expands Television Deal With Shark Fights

May 25, 2011

Fuel TV and Shark Fights announced today an expanded television agreement that adds six more events in 2011, starting with the Shark Fights 15 next month.

 

FUEL TV (www.fuel.tv), Fox Sports Media Group’s dynamic entertainment and sports network for young males, and Texas-based mixed martial arts promotion company Shark Fights announces an expanded television agreement that adds six upcoming Shark Fights events in 2011, starting with Shark Fights 15 next month. Each fight event airs as a two-part series, creating a total of 12 hours of original Shark Fights mixed martial arts programming for FUEL TV’s Friday Fight Night programming block.

Shark Fights 15 features marquee fighters including UFC veteran Chris Camozzi, Strikeforce veteran Joey Villasenor, and many more. FUEL TV airs the event in prime time on June 17 and June 24 at 10:00PM ET/PT. The remaining events and air dates are to be announced. As part of its original agreement with the promoter, FUEL TV aired Shark Fights 13 on consecutive Fridays in April.

“We’re excited to have Shark Fights as part of our regular line up of fight programming on FUEL TV’s Friday Fight Nights,” says George Greenberg, FUEL TV GM. “These are great matches with exciting fighters who are putting it all on the line every time they enter the ring.”

“Everyone at Shark Fights is thrilled that our FUEL TV network debut was so well received,” says Shark Fight Promotions Executive Wes Nolen. “Now, with the launch of FUEL TV’s Friday Fight Night, Shark Fights fans have a destination for our programming. We’re all thrilled to be part of the growth of MMA on FUEL TV, and it’s truly an honor to be aligned with the FOX Sports Media Group family.”

Shark Fights is produced for FUEL TV by Bud Brutsman and his team at BCII. Brutsman and BCII are responsible for producing all the early King of the Cage pay-per-view programs, as well as bringing the first Pride Fighting Championships programming to the U.S. on DVD.

“By combining the production quality that BCII will provide with the effort and focus that FUEL TV is putting into Friday Fight Night, we have no doubt that FUEL TV and the Fox Sports family will take Shark Fights to the next level and put it on par with the best MMA promotions in the country,” says Nolen.

FUEL TV’s Friday Fight Night features epic “must see” fights every Friday night at 10:00PM ET/PT. For more information on Shark Fight Promotions, please log on to www.sharkfights.com. For more information on FUEL TV, please visit www.fuel.tv.

 

Payout Perspective:

Back on April 1st, Shark Fights and Fuel TV announced a TV deal that landed the Texas based promotion on Fuel TV’s newly created programming block “Friday Fight Night” series.  Today, they announced an expanded deal that airs future Shark Fights events as a two-part series, starting with Shark Fights 15. If you recall, there have been some recent shake-ups with Shark Fights, as previous president and matchmaker, Brent Medley, stepped down nearly one month after signing the TV deal with Fuel TV.

According to MMAPayout sources, Strikeforce MMA veteran and BMX rider Erik Apple will be hosting the events on Fuel TV, who is a great choice for the network and the audience it targets.

Shark Fights and Fuel TV appear to be building on their relationship, and it will be interesting to see if Shark Fights can grow the coveted MMA demographic on the network and be able to build their fanbase on the network, a similar scenario Bellator went through this year with MTV 2.

The lineup for Shark Fights 15 televised event is as follows:

Main Event:
Chris Camozzi (14-4) vs. Joey Villasenor (27-8)

Co-Main Event:
Jeremy May (9-7) vs. Dave Branch (8-2)

Undercard:
Fredrico Lopez (4-3) vs. Bobby Huron (4-1)
Kyle Bracey (8-1) vs. Artenas Young (4-2)
Timothy Snyder (12-7) vs. Frank Gomez (9-3)
Eric McElroy (3-6) vs. Lionel Lanham (2-0)

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