White responds to Spike TV’s UFC programming

June 30, 2011

Dana White responded to Spike TV’s curious UFC programming. Spike TV debuted UFC Countdown 132: Faber vs. Cruz at 1:12pmET/10:12amPT on Wednesday.

Via MMA Junkie:

With an all-too-apparent lack of warm and fuzzy feelings between the UFC’s broadcast partner – a likely byproduct of heavy rumors that the promotion is flying the coop after its deal with Spike TV expires this year – White was asked for his take on a game of hardball apparently in play

Has Spike TV started a war?

“They might have,” White said. “We’ll see. It is what it is. So, I owe you one, Spike.”

Payout Perspective:

Spike TV usually airs UFC’s Countdown show in primetime so that a healthy portion of its audience has a chance to see the show. Instead, one of the many Star Wars sequel/prequels were shown during Wednesday night primetime. The Countdown show aired in the morning on the west coast and early afternoon in the east. This move coupled with the Nate Marquardt counterprogramming is a definite sign that Spike TV is making a statment to the UFC.  White is seemingly restraining his comments against Spike since the UFC is in the middle of negotiating a new deal. It’s interesting that White seems to be blaming Spike’s programming choices on the WSJ article claiming that the UFC was in talks to purchase a stake in the G4 network.  

It will be interesting to see how the Spike-UFC relationship will continue (or deteriorate) the rest of the year. Also, will White show restraint not to publicly lash out at Spike for its choice placement of UFC programming.

HBO and Showtime vie for Pacquiao fight

June 30, 2011

Bad Left Hook reports on the bidding war taking place to air the November 12th Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight. Pacquiao’s legal counsel is requesting that Pacquiao have a say in choosing the network.

HBO has made a proposal to Bob Arum and Top Rank which Arum says is a blockbuster. Arum will now field Showtime’s proposal for the fight.

According to Bad Left Hook, HBO will win the battle:

HBO is rolling out the red carpet for the Mayweather vs Ortiz fight on September 17, and have the available money and resources to lock down the other “big event” fight this fall, which is of course the Pacquiao fight. HBO was stung by losing Pacquiao’s last fight to Showtime earlier this year, a move that stunned most in and around boxing, as Showtime had not put on a major PPV boxing event in years. The experiment was a success, but in the end it could simply result in HBO upping the ante and knocking Showtime back down a peg.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting who will win the bidding war. Bad Left Hook speculates that the bidding war could see Showtime throwing in a network TV fight on CBS in the future. HBO will be using all of the resources of Time Warner to promote the fight if it lands it. Arum estimated that the proposals would be around $15 million. While Pacquiao’s counsel has requested to have a say in the negotiations, its unlikely that Pacquiao’s input will block any potential deal.

Bellator 46: 185,000 viewers

June 29, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that the Summer Series of Bellator on MTV2 received an average of 185,000 viewers.

Via MMA Junkie:

The event marked a steep decline from the promotion’s record ratings at Bellator 44 and Bellator 45 to close season four but fell right in line with the season’s other nine events, which each averaged 184,222 viewers.

In addition, Sherdog.com’s Mike Whitman reports that MTV2 posted its highest-rated quarter in the channel’s history thanks to Bellator programming. MTV2 increased its viewership by 14 percent overall and Bellator boosted the Saturday time slot by 11 percent.

Payout Perspective:

Although the numbers are not as high as its initial debut, they are a decent start. The landscape of MMA has changed since March and with Zuffa’s purchase of Strikeforce, Bellator is the de facto number 2 organization in MMA. Bellator has helped increase MTV2 ratings by 11 percent in its Saturday night timeslot. While one may argue that the increase could be due to the fact that MTV2 did not have a viable program in the time slot, the numbers increase show that people are starting to tune in to the show.

Marquardt addresses cause for medical suspension, UFC termination

June 28, 2011

The MMA Hour interviewed Nate Marquardt three days after being fired by the UFC when he was scratched from the main event of UFC on Versus 4 for undisclosed reasons. Marquardt explained on Tuesday that he had high levels of testosterone causing the Pennsylvania state athletic commission to suspend him.

Marquardt was recommended Hormone Replacement Therapy for low testosterone levels which caused the high levels of testosterone.

Via MMA Fighting:

Looking back, Marquardt, who cried at two different points of the interview, regrets several actions that may or may not have contributed to the problem. One thing he pointed out was that several years ago, he regularly took androstenediol, a popular supplement that was sold over-the-counter at nutrition shops until being reclassified as a steroid in 2005 and banned. Marquardt said he took the supplement for several years and wonders if it could have compromised his system and led to low testosterone production.

Payout Perspective:

It is interesting that Marquardt’s team waited three days before announcing this information. While I understand that the MMA Hour is the best forum to address these issues, there could have been another sit down interview or press conference after it was announced that he was terminated. At that point, it would make sense to get his story out prior to internet rumors. On another note, the fact that Marquardt’s camp contends they did not know he was fired until they read it on twitter is unprofessional on the part of the UFC. Marquardt is a veteran of the UFC and despite the allegations, should have been told personally.

Despite the way he was discarded, the appearance on Tuesday’s show may be an act of contrition. From all accounts Marquardt was genuinely sorry and owned up to his mistakes. Unlike Chael Sonnen, he did not attack the commission or provide an excuse. Yet, he was fired. Perhaps this self-humiliation is penance for which the UFC will grant mercy in hopes of coming back in the future.

Spike TV re-broadcast draws more viewers than Versus live event

June 28, 2011

MMA Weekly reports that Spike TV’s re-broadcast of UFC Fight Night 22 scored better ratings than UFC on Versus 4. Spike TV scored an average of 793,000 viewers while Versus received 744,000 viewers.

The numbers for this past Sunday’s event on Versus were up from the UFC’s March event on Versus. UFC on Versus 3 received 681,000 viewers. On the other hand, Spike TV ran its marathon of programming culminating with Nate Marquardt battling Rousimar Palhares. Ironically, that fight ended in a little controversy as Palhares claimed Marquardt had grease on his leg to avoid a submission.

Payout Perspective:

It looks like Spike counter-programming worked. While some may not believe Spike’s Sunday schedule was “counter” programming Versus’ fights, the numbers read otherwise. The Nate Marquardt scratch as well as other fight juggling prior to Saturday’s weigh-ins contributed to the lack of star power and interesting matchups. While the card was still entertaining, Spike beat Versus in ratings with a rerun of an event originally airing on Spike. For the casual viewer, the UFC is synonymous with Spike TV. This may be an issue when the UFC looks for a new television home later this year. If the casual viewer were flipping through channels on Sunday and they came across the UFC on Spike, it may stop on that channel without realizing that Versus had the live card.

Clinch Gear signs NFL player Hawk

June 28, 2011

Green Bay Packer linebacker AJ Hawk has signed a deal with MMA brand Clinch Gear. Hawk multiyear deal will have the former Buckeye endorse Clinchgear’s training gear.

Via Clinchgear’s press release:

Hawk will represent Clinch Gear’s growing line of performance training apparel, which includes the world’s leading Performance Training Shorts as well as technical compression and loose-fit Performance Shirts, compression shorts and compression briefs. Clinch Gear will also introduce A.J. Hawk signature products in 2012. The match was made by Conor Sammartin of Priority Sports & Entertainment.

Payout Perspective:

First Chad Ochocinco signed with Tapout and now A.J. Hawk signs with Clinch Gear. Ironically. as I wrote this ESPN was interviewing Clay Mathews about his offseason MMA training. Its interesting to see how much football players enjoy MMA. And as a result, MMA brands are taking advantage of the opportunity to expand its audience through these endorsements.

ProElite Targets August Return, Hires Former Employees

June 28, 2011

ProElite announced just a few days ago that they were targeting Q3 of this year for their MMA debut under the new management. It seems now that the wheels are beginning to turn to make an event in August come to fruition.

MMAWeekly is now confirming that they are aiming for an August event, meanwhile hiring former ProElite employees T. Jay Thompson and Rich Chou, who previously served as the Strikeforce match-maker before being let go by Zuffa after they purchased the promotion.

According to sources speaking to MMAWeekly.com on Monday, former ICON owner T. Jay Thompson and former Strikeforce matchmaker Rich Chou have been brought on board to run the show at Pro Elite.

Additionally, the promotion has targeted a late August date for their return to action, and they are currently scouting locations for the show.

Sources have also indicated that former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski is one of a handful of fighters that have been in negotiations to fight for the organization when they return later this year.


Payout Perspective:

It appears that ProElite started talking to fighters during the past few months, but has greatly increased their activity in the last two weeks. MMAWeekly mentions Andrei Arlovski as one of those fighters who could be a participant of the planned August event.  Sources tell MMAPayout that other fighters have gone on record and stated that they would be interested in fighting for the promotion as well.

MMAPayout has been tracking ProElite’s activity since they last held a show under the previous management group.  Their activity in the MMA market has picked up drastically since Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa, trying to capitalize on the current market conditions when networks like Showtime, Spike TV, Fox, and HDNet among others are/could be looking for MMA programming real soon.

With the additions of  Thompson and Chou, expect more fight announcements and rumors to be reported by the MMA media in the next few weeks. It is believed that ProElite may be targeting Showtime’s TV spot if the UFC cuts ties with the cable network by the end of the year.


UFC on Versus 4 Payout Perspective

June 27, 2011

Welcome to a mini-version of Payout Perspective as we take a look at UFC on Versus 4 held at the Consol Energy Center. After Nate Marquardt was scratched from the main event, Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry gave one of the more entertaining fights of the year.

Marquardt terminated, reason not disclosed

The biggest storyline going into and coming out of the night was Nate Marquardt. Dana White was purposefully vague when addressing the issue on the pre-fight show on Versus. Marquardt won’t address the issue until Tuesday. This seems way too long to wait to comment on the reasons for his termination from the UFC. From a public relations and personal reputation standpoint, you’d want to get your story out there to the media as soon as possible. Instead, he is waiting three days. What is more interesting is that Marquardt will be giving an exclusive interview with MMAFighting.com.

Kongo KOs Barry

In a thrilling fight, Cheick Kongo came back from almost being knocked out and knocked out Pat Barry in the first round. Barry almost stopped Kongo after a shot floored him and Dan Miragliotta almost jumped in to call the fight. Fortunately for Kongo, he was able to rally and end Barry.

Story book ending for Brenneman

Fighting in front of his hometown fans, Charles Brenneman scored an upset over the up and coming Rick Story. Bad luck for Story who was riding a wave of momentum going into fight Nate Marquardt. After Marquardt’s withdrawal, Brenneman, who was to have fought in a prelim card filled in.

Unexpectedly, convenience store sponsor Sheetz, received good television time as Brenneman’s hand was raised wearing a Sheetz t-shirt at the end of the fight. The back of the shirt also had a nice tag line: “Spaniard Beat-Downs Made to Order”

Attendance and gate

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC’s Pittsburgh debut drew 7,792 fans for a gate of $562,000. The event ranked 3rd out of Versus events in terms of attendance. Even though there was a prediction of over 7,000, the empty seats were noticeable on television when the camera scanned the crowd.

In leading up to the UFC’s debut in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Business Times (h/t robnashville) ran a story about how the event could bring in an estimated $3 million for local Pittsburgh businesses. The article mentions that hotels had been sold out in the area for the weekend. One thing to note is that it was the same weekend as the Boston Red Sox visiting the Pirates in inter-league play. It was also the weekend of Anthrocon, a “furry” convention. So, it would be hard to attribute all of the tourism revenue coming from the UFC as there were other attractions this past weekend.

Bonuses via MMA Fighting:

KO of the night: Cheick Kongo

Submission of the night: Joe Lauzon’s kimura

Fight of the night: Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz

Each fighter received $50K each.

Odds and ends

Is anyone else noticing that some of the refs are trying to put themselves over with catchphrases or signals to the camera? Perhaps they should just pay attention to the fights.

What’s next for Rick Story? All of his work in getting to be a contender were washed away after his loss. How much does he fall down? And, how much can you attribute to having to fight a guy he did not prepare for?

Despite the Nate Marquardt controversy, the card was entertaining and better than what it looked like on paper. No one could have expected such a wild fight between Kongo and Barry. Also, the Story-Brenneman fight gave viewers an upset.

Marquardt dismissed from UFC on eve of main event

June 25, 2011

The UFC abruptly fired Nate Marquardt the day before he was to fight in the main event of UFC on Versus 4 on Sunday night. The reason for the dismissal is unknown although a definitive word should be released prior to the event.

Via MMA Fighting:

“Not only is he out of this fight and out of the main event on Versus, he will no longer be with the UFC,” White said.

Rick Story, a late fill-in, will now fight Charles Brenneman. And the fight has been demoted with the Pat Barry-Cheick Kongo fight being elevated to the main event. This is disappointing for Story since he was hoping that a win over Marquardt would build his resume with hopes of facing the GSP-Diaz winner.  A win over Brenneman is not the win Story wanted.

Payout Perspective:

The firing of Marquardt comes with many questions but little answers. Issues with making weight were dismissed as a reason which leads one to believe there are bigger reasons. A longtime vet of the UFC (and former contender) usually receives a better farewell. Was it a quick trigger considering White’s disappointment with Marquardt after his loss to Yushin Okami? One might recall that Marquardt’s performance lead to White’s criticism of Greg Jackson fighters.

From a PR perspective, it would help if the reason for the dismissal was made known. The fact that no reason was given allows the media to go wild with speculation. While the UFC is one of the top organizations in social media, something of this magnitude should have been addressed immediately before (or after) the weigh-ins via press conference. A simple tweet does not help.

The news makes the ratings between the Nate Marquardt marathon on Spike TV and the UFC on Versus 4 live event much closer. The Barry-Kongo feature bout is not that intriguing a fight considering its between two mid-card fighters nowhere close to fighting for the title.

It will also be interesting to see how fans react to the news. The Marquardt firing may hurt attendance as well as television ratings for the event.

Golden Boy promises huge promo push for Mayweather return

June 24, 2011

Bad Left Hook reports on the promised promotional push for the September Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight. This will be Mayweather’s return to the ring after over a year away.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer promises a huge push promoting the return of Mayweather. The fight will be carried on HBO PPV.

Via Bad Left Hook (courtesy of Boxing Scene):

In the coming weeks, there are going to be a lot of these promotional elements in play that are going to be announced. The promotion is going to be running from pretty much now until the night of the fight. …. You’re going to have announcements of different promotional tools being used, many of them new to the sport of boxing. It’s going to be interesting for fight fans, sports fans and the general public to really be part of that experience going into the fight.

Golden Boy hopes that HBO and Time Warner will go all out in promoting the September bout. It is banking on the fans tuning in to see the return of Mayweather. Ortiz is a young, Mexican American fighter that is coming off an exciting fight with contender Andre Berto.

Via Bad Left Hook:

The push begins Tuesday in New York with the first of just two media events on a mini-tour to hype the fight. The second date will be in Los Angeles, but otherwise it looks like the press tour is being scrapped in large part to focus on other forms of promotion.

Payout Perspective:
It will be interesting to see the type of promotional tools used for this fight. Scrapping a media tour seems counter to making a big push to promote the fight.  But, Golden Boy definitely hopes to surpass the PPV buys from the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. And it will look for HBO and Time Warner to give it an assist in putting together a huge promotional runup to the fight. The fight has intrigue as Ortiz is a definite threat to defeat Mayweather. That being said, most hope that Mayweather defeats Ortiz which would (hopefully) mean a fight with Pacquiao in 2012.

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