Arianny Celeste’s revealing Bud Light commercial

June 17, 2011

The latest UFC Bud Light commercial has UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste promoting Bud Light Lime. Bud Light’s YouTube channel features Celeste rolling in a field of limes.

Celeste suggestively talks about “butterfly guards” and “peruvian neckties” and at the end of the commercial she asks for a Bud Light Lime.

Payout Perspective:

This commercial obviously caters to the UFC target demographic of young males. Due to the nature of the video, Bud Light has placed it on its YouTube page. Fans will definitely check out the video on the Bud Light channel. Its likely that a watered down version of the commercial gets on television. As of tonight, it has over 193,000 views after being uploaded on June 14th.

This commercial and the Dana White/Jon Jones commercial are good signs of the committed business partnership between the UFC and Bud Light. Certainly Dana White hopes that more corporate sponsors become more comfortable in working with the UFC.

Details Emerge Involving “Affliction Trilogy” Cancellation and UFC/Affliction Deal in 2009

June 16, 2011

The Affliction vs M-1/Fedor Litigation has provided some great insight on the behind-the-scenes dealings throughout the lifespan of the Affliction/M-1 partnership, which includes the cancellation of the Trilogy event and a last minute deal between Affliction and the UFC.

On June 7, 2011, a 55-page decision document was released, depicting in great detail as to what lead Affliction into dropping its MMA promotional aspirations and concurrently signing a deal with the UFC to get back in their good graces after being banned by the promotion in 2008.

 

Here are some of the tidbits disclosed in the decision:

– As of March 2008, Fedor had an oral agreement with M-1 that “obliged him to fight for M-1 for a two-year period in exchange for $2 million per bout, as well as a $1.5 million signing bonus”.  Fedor also has an 8.5% interest in the company.

– In early 2008, Affliction’s Todd Beard informed M-1 that they were going to form an MMA promotion company after their relationship with the UFC had deteriorated.

– On April 14, 2008, Affliction and M-1 agreed that Fedor Emelianenko would be paid a $300k purse which was reported pay, and received an additional $1.2M consulting fee via M-1 Global, which totaled to a $1.5M purse after re-negotiating an earlier contract which did not include the Consulting Agreement (which was set up after considering some financials regarding taxes).

– Vadim Finkelstein invested $1 Million to open Affliction stores in Russia to make Affliction happy in order to form an Affliction/M-1 Global business, which they were also hoping to team up with Japanese promotion DREAM to run some co-promotional events in Japan, but Affliction was worried about the costs of such venture.

– On December 8, 2008, M-1 and Affliction clothing agreed on a $1 Million sponsorship deal that would heavily feature Affliction on the M-1 Challenge broadcasts for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

– M-1 contends that each M-1 Challenge event costs around $250K US Dollars, which includes expenses such as venues, visa fees, travel expenses, stage, refs, and production. Affliction paid the first installment of $500K, never paid the rest ($500K). Affliction claims contract calls for 30 “unique” one-hour episodes of M-1 Challenge and only 27 were provided.

– M-1 claims that Affliction had growing concern, noting that Affliction’s Beard probably that the UFC was ready to sign with Fedor on any terms M-1 wanted, but M-1 held back trying to grow a “competitive promotion” with Affliction, using Fedor as the “trump card”.

– On May 13, 2009, the Trilogy event set for August 1st was presented, with Fedor fighting Josh Barnett.

– On July 9, 2009, Affliction began discussions with the UFC regarding a potential sponsorship deal.

– M-1 used their personal contacts to broadcast the Trilogy event on national TV in Russia, Channel One.

– On July 13, 2009, Affliction’s Bassiri met with UFC’s Lawrence Epstein, UFC’s general counsel, and discussed the possibility that the UFC would assume responsibility of the Trilogy event and postpone the event to September 19, 2009 in Dallas. Affliction wanted to leave the MMA promotion business and re-establish a relationship with the UFC.  … MMAPayout: If you recall, this is around the time Zuffa insider’s were prematurely announcing a Fedor vs Lesnar main-event in Dallas for September, since part of the deal involved Affliction’s belief that they had a good enough relationship with Fedor that either he would follow them to the UFC, or would honor the one fight that was left in their contract. No one in Affliction informed M-1 of the meetings they were having with the UFC.

– After M-1 found out that Josh Barnett failed a drug test on July 21, 2009 from the CSAC, both parties started looking for a suitable replacement for the Trilogy event on August 1st.  Affliction’s Tom Atencio presented M-1 with Brett Rogers, Roy Nelson, and Alistair Overeem as possible opponents for the Trilogy main event.

– Tom Atencio offered Brett Rogers $500k to fight Fedor on July 22, 2009, but Strikeforce – who Rogers was currently signed with – refused.  Strikeforce eventually gave Rogers permission to Rogers to be able to take the fight on July 23, but by that day, Affliction canceled the Trilogy event and on that same day announced a deal with the UFC.

– The agreement between Affliction and the UFC  is detailed as follows:

“Paragraph 1 of the UFC/Affliction agreement provided: “[E]xcept for any rights that [Affliction] has with respect to Fedor Emelianenko (‘Fedor’) and conditioned upon [Affliction] . . . assign[ing] the agreements between [Affliction] and the [Affliction] Fighters to the UFC, the UFC agrees to assume [Affliction]’s responsibility for payment of the entire purse of the Affliction Trilogy Event which [Affliction] represents is not in excess of $741,000 purse and $370,000 win bonus. . . .”  Paragraph 2 stated that “[w]ith respect to Fedor, in the event the UFC is able to come to an agreement with Fedor on terms and conditions satisfactory to the UFC, the UFC shall assume responsibility for payments of Fedor’s purse for the Affliction Trilogy event or cause Fedor to release [Affliction] from its agreement with Fedor.”  Paragraph 6 required that Affliction Promotions cancel the Trilogy event.”

– On July 23, 2009, M-1 didn’t know about the cancellation of the event until after it arrived to Los Angeles with 30 fans from Russia.  Fedor was studying some footage on Vitor Belfort and Brett Rogers on the flight to LAX. … MMAPayout: On June 22, Atencio accused Dana White of tampering and trying to sign Vitor Belfort to a UFC contract to face Anderson Silva. White appeared on a TUF 9 Finale promo on Spike TV making the reference.

Court Denies Summary Judgment Motions in Affliction M-1/Fedor Litigation

June 16, 2011

On June 7, 2011, Judge Margaret M. Morrow denied the parties cross-motions for summary judgment in the Affliction v. M-1/Fedor litigation. I have previously posted about the litigation — most recently here.

The 55 page decision is a VERY interesting read especially with respect to the facts surrounding the “Trilogy” non-event — in particular the discussions and ultimate agreement between Affliction and the UFC.

Below are some of the interesting points — note the chronology.

As set forth in the Court’s decision, at a “July 13, 2009 meeting, Bassiri and Lawrence Epstein, UFC’s general counsel, discussed the possibility that UFC would assume responsibility for the Trilogy show and postpone it to September 19, 2009, in Dallas. Bassiri told Epstein that Affliction Promotions wanted to leave the MMA promotion business and re-establish its relationship with the UFC.”

According to the decision, “[o]n July 21, 2009, M-1 learned from Affliction that the California State Athletic Commission would not renew Josh Barnett’s license because he had tested positive for the use of steroids.”

Then, “[o]n July 22, 2009, Atencio offered [Brett] Rogers $500,000 to replace Barnett as Emelianenko’s opponent at the August 1, 2009 Trilogy event,” but “Strikeforce, with whom Rogers then had a promotional contract, was not willing to release him from his contract to fight in the Trilogy event, however.”

“[O]n July 23, 2009, Strikeforce released Rogers to fight in the event. By that time, however, Affliction Promotions had decided to cancel Trilogy. At 4:00 p.m. that day, Affliction concluded a deal with UFC.”

As set forth in the decision, that agreement provided, in part, as follows:

Paragraph 1 of the UFC/Affliction agreement provided: “[E]xcept for any rights that [Affliction] has with respect to Fedor Emelianenko (‘Fedor’) and conditioned upon [Affliction] . . . assign[ing] the agreements between [Affliction] and the [Affliction] Fighters to the UFC, the UFC agrees to assume [Affliction]’s responsibility for payment of the entire purse of the Affliction Trilogy Event which [Affliction] represents is not in excess of $741,000 purse and $370,000 win bonus. . . .” Paragraph 2 stated that “[w]ith respect to Fedor, in the event the UFC is able to come to an agreement with Fedor on terms and conditions satisfactory to the UFC, the UFC shall assume responsibility for payments of Fedor’s purse for the Affliction Trilogy event or cause Fedor to release [Affliction] from its agreement with Fedor.” Paragraph
6 required that Affliction Promotions cancel the Trilogy event.

According to the decision, “[p]rior to the time M-1 learned of the cancellation, it had put Emelianenko on his scheduled flight to Los Angeles, and given him footage of both Rogers and Vitor Belfort so that he could study the fighters while in flight. Emelianenko did not learn that Trilogy had been cancelled until he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport with thirty fans from Russia.”

Here is the decision:
Affliction SJ Decision

 

Fight Lawyer

Justin Klein is an attorney at Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry. He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website. He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training. Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.

DISCLAIMER

The information in this post and on my site consists of my opinion only, i.e., it is not the opinion of my employer or anybody else. In addition, and because this is my opinion, it is not intended to be (and is not) legal advice or an advertisement for legal services. This post provides general information only. Although I encourage interested parties to contact me on the subjects discussed in the articles, the reader should not consider information on this site to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship. I disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post. Any e-mail sent to me will not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not use this site or my site to send me e-mail containing confidential or sensitive information.

Ochocinco signs TapouT deal

June 15, 2011

MMA Mania reports that NFL star Chad Ochocinco has signed a deal with Tapout to sport its mouthguards and wristbands. The deal is a part of Tapout’s expansion outside MMA.

Via Tapout press release (h/t MMA Mania):

“Ochocinco is the perfect athlete to represent the TapouT brand and its energy and intensity,” said Chris Circo, CEO of Battle Sports Science. “Fans absolutely adore Chad’s rule-breaking enthusiasm and passionate devotion to sports. This is evident in the relationship he maintains with his over 2 million Twitter followers.”

Produced by Battle Sports Science, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, the TapouT Mouthguard is an innovative mouth protection system so advanced that it rivals the safety and performance of custom-molded
mouthguards that cost hundreds of dollars – yet the TapouT Mouthguard is available for a fraction of the cost.

Not only will Ochocinco be protecting his mouth in style with the mouthguard, he’ll also be sporting the new
TapouT RealG Bands and the TapouT RealG Sweatbands. The bands provide unmatched durability and style
with real magnetic technology embedded in a dual layer medical grade silicone.

The mouthguard will be based on the former Chad Johnson’s gold grill.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how successful Tapout’s venture outside of MMA will be. As SB Nation reports, it has produced a documentary on the late Evan Tanner which will make its premiere this weekend at the LA Film Festival. A return to television could be next. Ochocinco becomes the first “big name” sports star outside of MMA to represent TapouT. This can only help the brand seek inroads into the NFL and other professional sports. With a huge twitter following, Ochocinco can reach more people than TapouT could with an ad. A positive mention of TapouT to his fans on Twitter would reach more people than if TapouT stayed within its core MMA audience.

For Ochocinco, the deal fits within his own brand and image. He is one of the more outspoken personalities in the NFL. And if a strike is avoided, he will be sporting a gold TapouT mouthpiece  that will be captured by a national audience each Sunday.

UFC 131 Prelims: 1.6 million viewers

June 14, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Saturday night’s UFC 131 Prelims on Spike TV scored a strong average of 1.6 million viewers.

Via MMA Junkie:

The one-hour broadcast peaked with nearly 1.8 million viewers, and overall, scored a 1.0 household rating an average audience of 1.6 million viewers, tying it for third place all-time.

Saturday night’s fights rank as the third highest prelims broadcast since the UFC began airing the prelims prior to its PPVs.

Payout Perspective:

Good ratings for an overall, underrated fight card. The highlight of the broadcast was Sam Stout’s knockout of Yves Edwards. Interesting that the prelims had strong ratings while the estimated PPV buy rate is predicted to be low. Its also interesting that moving up the start times does not appear to have hurt viewership. A good sign that fans are making an effort in finding out when and what time the fights are happening.

White defends MMA in NY op-ed

June 13, 2011

Dana White made one last plea for the legalization of MMA in New York with an op-ed piece in today’s New York Daily News. While White hopes for a full NY Assembly vote, the current bill to legalize MMA is not expected to be passed.

White argued to overturn the ban in the New York Daily News:

It’s long past time to overturn that prohibition. It’s a safe and respectable sport that’s every bit as legitimate as boxing or professional football.

White stressed how different the sport has become since it was banned in the 1990s. He also addressed the issue of concussions – a topic that is becoming increasingly important when discussing safety in other sports such as football. In addition, he stressed the economic benefit the sport would have on New York.

One thing that the op-ed did not touch on that the Fight Lawyer picked up on was that there are unsanctioned, underground fights occurring in New York and legalizing MMA could curb these type of bouts. ESPN had a piece on this not too long ago.

Payout Perspective:

White’s op-ed piece is a nice bit of public relations for the UFC. It was plainspoken and laid out the arguments for the legalization of the sport. It did not point fingers or badmouth any person or group for blocking the legalization of MMA. Other commissioners of sports leagues (e.g., Roger Goodell) have used op-eds to get their points across about issues in their respective sports. This shows that the UFC is strategizing like a mainstream sports league. While the MMA bill may not go through this legislative session in New York, it is laying groundwork for its eventual passage.

UFC 131: Payout Perspective

June 12, 2011

Welcome to another edition of UFC 131’s Payout Perspective. This time the UFC made its way north to the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In the main event Junior dos Santos retained his #1 contender spot by pummeling Shane Carwin.

JDS beats Carwin, Cain next

Junior dos Santos soundly defeated Shane Carwin to retain his number 1 contender spot and is set for Heavyweight Champ Cain Velasquez. Carwin was battered and bloodied in the first and had no answer for JDS. Even with the loss, Carwin should remain in the top tier of the division considering the status of Brock Lesnar. Bare in mind, Carwin, coming off of an injury, stepped in for Lesnar and was slated to fight Jon Olav Einemo – a more of a warm up fight compared to JDS.

JDS vs. Cain this fall. It should be good.

K-Flo defeats Nunes, Aldo next?

Give it up to Kenny Florian for 1) dropping over 30lbs to fights at Featherweight and 2) wearing a Boston Bruins jersey in Canuck country at the weigh-ins. And yes, an impressive victory over Diego Nunes.

It was less than a year ago that Dana White labeled Florian as someone that “chokes in the big fights.” That was after a loss to Gray Maynard. Now, K-Flo appears to be the next in line for Jose Aldo.

Munoz defeats Maia

30-27? Probably the most perplexing score of the night.  I thought the judges had monitors to help them. Despite an improved standup game and an almost submission in round 2, Mark Munoz defeated Damian Maia.  The win propels Munoz into a potential #1 contender match with Brian Stann.

Attendance and Gate

Although it did not do as well as last year’s appearance in Vancouver the UFC had a solid attendance of 14,685 for a gate of $2.8 million (h/t MMA Junkie). UFC 115 last June had 17,669 fans in attendance for a gate of over $4.2 million.

Notably, UFC 115 had 550K buys. That was with a main event of Franklin-Liddell. Two popular fighters in the UFC. Ironically, you may recall that the card initially was Liddell-Ortiz III but had to be scrapped due to an injury to Ortiz.

Bonuses

MMA Fighting reports the bonuses for UFC 131. Each fighter received $70K.

Knockout of the Night: Sam Stout.  Stout’s left hook flush on Yves Edwards’ chin could be the KO of the year.

Submission fo the Night: Chris Weidman. Its rare to see a standing guillotine choke but Weidman saw the opening an executed it perfectly.

Fight of the Night: Dave Herman and Jon Olav Einemo. A back and forth fight with Herman looking in trouble numerous times before getting the KO.

Sponsorhips

The Octagon had Bud Light in the center and the mats and ringposts had MMA Elite, Xyience, MusclePharm, Jobbi.com, Tapout and the new UFC Peronal Trainer game coming out later this month. Dodge sponsored the Tale of the Tape.

Buy My Shorts.com – I noticed this at the weigh-ins with Dave Herman wearing the logo on the front of his shorts. At first, I thought it was Herman’s way of asking for a sponsor. But, its actually a web site that appears to sell fight worn shorts.

Xyience – Mark Munoz and Krzysztof Soszynski were new sponsored athletes of the company. Munoz was also sponsored by Toyo Tires.

In addition to having the center of the Octagon, Shane Carwin was sponsored by Bud Light. Although not on his shorts, Carwin had a commercial spot for UFC-banned sponsor, sports drink Good4U the day before during Inside MMA on HDNet. It wasn’t the best comeback fight for Carwin, but he had a tough opponent. As we stated, Carwin is still near the top of the Heavyweight title picture and his sponsors will stick with him.

Hockey over MMA

The Vancouver Sun noted that while the UFC is usually the top draw in each city it goes to, it would not be the top sports story in Vancouver due to the Stanley Cup Final. As a result, ticket sales were slow and it was not a sellout with many hockey-crazed fans opting to spend their sports dollars on the Canucks. Compared to last year’s event where the tickets sold out in 30 minutes, the ticket sales were disappointing. The UFC put a positive spin on the situation recognizing the fact that while Canada is fond of MMA, it loves Hockey.

Post-UFC 131 Headlines

JDS vs. Cain: This should be a very entertaining fight between the division’s top two fighters. Odds appear to favor the challenger although it is early.

Munoz one fight away from title shot? Dana White was noncommital about Munoz next fight or whether the next fight would be a #1 contender fight. Many believe a showdown with Brian Stann will determine the next challenger to the Middleweight crown.

Florian impressive at 145. A lot of questions surrounded the weight cut, but Florian did not look emaciated in his new weight division. As a result, he is in line for a title shot against Jose Aldo. This fight should be booked as it would highlight the lighter weight division. Florian is a known name for UFC fans dating back to TUF 1 and it would garner recognition for the Featherweight division.

PPV Buy Estimates

Estimates pre-event for UFC 131 had many believing that it would garner somewhere between 300K-450K buys according to a poll on the Wrestling Observer (subscription required). In comparison, UFC 130 is estimated to have had between 300K -325K buys (h/t Wrestling Observer) . Last year’s Vancouver event, UFC 115, garnered 550K PPV buys. We note that all three of these had retooled main events. UFC 131 probably suffers the most from the change in the main event due to the loss of Brock Lesnar. While Carwin is a capable replacement, he does not have the appeal as Lesnar.

Odds and Ends

-This was the first event where fans could watch fights on YouTube. Now, fans can watch on Facebook and YouTube online before switching over to SpikeTV and then the PPV.

-Michihiro Omigawa will receive his win bonus according to Dana White’s twitter. In a fight on Facebook, Omigawa lost a controversial decision to Darren Elkins.

-Donald Cerrone affixed SafeAuto Insurance logos on each side of his cowboy hat. Talk about sponsor placement.

-The weigh-ins were held at the most picturesque place its ever been held.  A good call for the UFC to have them outside overlooking the water.

-Speaking of the weigh-ins, Joe Rogan wore a Canuck shirt and Diego Nunes a jersey to get the fans behind them. Kenny Florian, in a move done by most heels, wore a Boston Bruins jersey. Not without precedent, he wore a Celtic jersey last year in Boston.

-June is now 1 for 2 for retaining #1 contender spots. JDS retained his. Anthony Pettis lost his.

Mainstream takes notice of UFC’s use of social media

June 11, 2011

ESPN ran an article earlier this week about the UFC’s social media presence and its recent incentive programs for fighters to utilize Twitter as a means to publicize themselves. The UFC ranks second only to the NBA among sports leagues in social media presence.

According to ESPN, the UFC has more than 5.8 million followers on Twitter and Facebook. The number does not include individual fighters’ accounts or White’s Twitter followers which is north of 1.46 million followers.

White goes on in the ESPN piece explaining that social media is not only used by the UFC to disseminate information to a target audience but to interact with the audience. The Fighter Summit held last month which unveiled the Twitter incentive program also had a social media education course to assist fighters with using Twitter.  One would hope that White  attended himself considering some of his Tweets to unsupportive UFC fans. Then again, last week it was reported White was in a twitter altercation with a fan during the TUF Finale.

In addition to its Twitter usage, the UFC’s use of its Facebook fan page to stream prelim fights is another innovation which the UFC hopes will result in future profits. As reported in the Sports Business Journal (subscription required), the UFC  looks to increase its PPV revenue via online streaming. As we’ve seen since the initial article came out a couple weeks ago, the UFC is now streaming on its YouTube channel and later this year will stream via XBox Live. Also, streaming via the Internet will help the UFC reach countries like India and China.

Payout Perspective:

The ESPN article retells what most MMA fans know about the UFC. It has used new media to promote fights and fighters. The new Twitter program is innovative and it will be interesting to see how the UFC will award its bonuses. Twitter has its pros and cons. Take the UFC head for example. When White uses Twitter for things like #Hunt4UFC and announces upcoming fights (GSP vs. Diaz), its great PR and engages the fans. When he goes after fighters, media and fans that criticize him, its not good. Moreover, it destroys what the UFC is trying to create – fan engagement.

The UFC’s use of its Facebook page shows the forward thinking of the company as it tries to position itself for a move to increase its PPV profit. Certainly, Facebook is a way for the UFC to reach India and China and create an online viewership. If its able to convert fans to use YouTube, Facebook, XBox Live or its own UFC.tv web site instead of cable operators, it will be able to eliminate splitting fees with the likes of DirecTV and Comcast.

UFC shares stage with NHL

June 10, 2011

The Vancouver Sun reports on the UFC having to play second fiddle with the NHL this weekend. With the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final and playing Friday night, the city is preoccupied with its hockey team.

In addition to sharing the city, UFC 131 took a huge hit when PPV king Brock Lesnar had to pull out with another bout of diverticulitis. As a result, ticket sales for the event have been sluggish.

While last year’s Vancouver event featuring Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin sold out in 30 minutes, this year’s show is not a sellout as of yesterday.

However, secondary market ticket prices for Game 5 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final have dropped dramatically according to a tweet from CNBC’s Darren Rovell. Rovell later opined in a tweet that it may be due to the fact that Vancouver fans are not used to the exorbitant prices of the seondary market.

Payout Perspective:

The sluggish ticket sales for UFC 131 are not surprising considering Brock Lesnar having to pull out of the main event and a less than notable undercard. Certainly, the Canucks in the Stanley Cup has pre-occupied the city, and rightfully so. With the series tied 2-2, tonight’s game is crucial for Vancouver. The local press for the event may have been less than last year due to hockey since making the Final is much less frequent than the UFC returning to the city. Despite not being the only game in town, I don’t see it hurting a return to Vancouver. And, while ticket sales have been slow, I expect UFC 131 to sell out.

WWE Tough Enough Finale ratings: 2.86 million viewers

June 10, 2011

The season finale of WWE’s Tough Enough scored 2.86 million viewers according to Television By Numbers. It received a 1.0 rating for Adults 18-49.

In the end, TE contestant Andy ousted the more polished Luke to win the TE contract. The ending was drawn out way too much as it segued into WWE’s Raw.

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
Episode 9 – 2.437
Episode 10 – 2.860

Payout Perspective:

Solid ratings for the rebirth of the reality series. The last episode was the second highest of the season although it went up against the Stanley Cup Final. Of course, the Stanley Cup was shown on Versus and not on NBC. Still, very good ratings.

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