UFC Primetime to air on Fox October 30th

August 31, 2011

UFC Primetime will support Fox’s NFL single game lineup this fall. In a press release sent out today, Fox announced that the UFC would air its one hour special Sunday night October 30th.

Also, Barclay’s Premier League soccer and a BCS college football championship special will complement weekends in which only one NFL game will be shown on the network. Thus, the NFL will serve as a lead-in to these specials.

Via Television By Numbers:

On Sunday, Oct. 30, in anticipation of the UFC’s landmark live primetime FOX debut in November, FOX Sports offers UFC PRIMETIME, an intense, one-hour, behind-the-scenes look at the fighters’ preparation leading up to the Nov. 12 main event.  FOX Sports recently announced a multi-year, multi-platform rights agreement that features programming on several FOX networks including FX and FUEL TV.  Featured programming includes live fights, pre and post shows, countdown shows, and a variety of UFC-produced original programs.

Payout Perspective:

The one hour UFC Primetime will make the decision to pick the fights for the UFC on Fox debut November 12th even huger. The UFC will need fighters that are personable, preferably a big name, that the casual viewer would want to see more of.  It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the UFC does to change the look and feel of Primetime. An hour is a lot of time and I am not sure if a general audience will be held watching ji jitsu practice. Still, this is a big opportunity for the UFC to get out in front of the carryover audience from the NFL.

Payout Film Review: Warrior

August 31, 2011

I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview of the new mixed martial arts movie, “Warrior,” opening on September 9th. Warrior has everything MMA fans are used to: a high school teacher turned MMA star, a war veteran-turned-fighter, a stoic Russian MMA machine, a mohawked brawler, a seedy manager, a famed trainer and an underdog story.

The story centers around the Conlon family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eldest brother Brendan is a physics teacher with a wife and two daughters trying to make ends meet. When the bank tells him that it will foreclose on his home in 90 days he turns to fighting in a quasi-toughman contest to earn quick dollars. He is suspended from his job after its learned what he is doing and he must turn to MMA fights full time. Despite his wife’s apprehension, the former UFC fighter convinces her that he is cherry-picking against less skilled fighters and it will be easy money. He regroups with his old MMA coach and is thrown in with a younger, stronger training camp. Brendan eventually adopts and when an opportunity presents itself, he finds himself in a two day MMA tournament in Atlantic City with the winner getting $5 million.

Younger brother Tommy is an Iraq war veteran holding onto a secret from his tour of duty. Looking to rekindle his past as a champion amateur wrestler, Tommy works out a boxing gym where he discovers a group training for the same big tournament in Atlantic City. After Tommy delivers a severe beatdown to the gym’s toughest fighter, he is noticed by an MMA manager who pulls strings to gets him into the tournament. In order to train, Tommy seeks help from his recovering alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) despite his disdain for his father who tore their family apart when he was a kid.

With both brothers making the tournament, there is the prospect that they could meet. Unlike the Klitschko brothers, the Conlon brothers are willing to fight as Tommy feels that Brendan betrayed him as when their father and mother split up, Brendan stayed in Pittsburgh with his father and girlfriend (and eventual wife) instead of moving with him and his mother west.

Similar to “The Fighter” and “The Wrestler,” the combat sport serves as the backdrop for the story’s plot. Warrior is more “The Fighter” than “The Wrestler” as the sport serves as the vehicle for the story.

Fighters Erik Apple, Anthony Johnson and Nate Marquardt make cameos as opponents in the tournament. Kurt Angle plays the movie’s version of Fedor which is ironic since he is a U.S. Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and his pro wrestling character plays up American patriotism.

The movie does a great job in explaining the sport of MMA without hitting the audience in the face with it. Although Warrior embellishes the rules of MMA, the fight scenes are fairly true. Not only do the action sequences feature stand-up game but also show jiu jitsu. Warrior will play well with non-MMA fans as it does not try to shove the sport down the audience’s throat. The movie is subtle in letting the non-MMA fan know that the sport is more than physicality and its participants and fans are intelligent. Brendan, the high school teacher, teaches physics. Also, the school principal is a closet fan who secretly backs Brendan’s moonlighting although its frowned upon by the school.

Tommy (played by Tom Hardy) looks more like pro wrestler Bill Goldberg (trap muscles and all) as he enters the cage, disposes of an opponent and then leaves without any celebration or the referee raising his hand in victory. Nick Nolte is excellent as the fallible alcoholic father trying to make amends after a lifetime of screwups. Brendan (played by Joel Edgerton) is the most complex character of the three as his primary goal is to provide for his family by any means. Yet, he does not know how to deal with Tommy or his father.

In prelude to the premier, MMA Weekly reported that Insight Editions and Lionsgate Films released a coffee table book, “The Men of Warrior.” The book features images and stills of the MMA fighters participating in the movie including Nate Marquardt and Erik Apple. Hopefully we will see more marketing behind the film as its opening approaches. Its not just a mixed martial arts film and hopefully people will not dismiss it because of any negative stereotypes.

Regardless of whether you are a fan of mixed martial arts, “Warrior” is one of the better films of 2011.

UFC 134 Prelims: 1.3 million viewers

August 31, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC 134 Prelims airing on Spike TV scored an average of 1.3 million viewers. In spite of power outages and a hurricane on the East Coast of the United States, the viewership remained solid.

Via MMA Junkie:

UFC 134 took place Aug. 27 at Rio de Janeiro’s HSBC Arena. It was the UFC’s first event in Brazil since 1998. Spike TV’s “UFC Prelims” special followed a preliminary-card stream on Facebook and preceded the night’s pay-per-view main card, which saw Silva defend his middleweight title with a one-sided beatdown of Yushin Okami.

To make up to those that missed the prelims, Spike is re-airing the show on Thursday preceded by an Anderson Silva marathon featuring some of his greatest hits.

Payout Perspective:

Good numbers despite power outages which could bode well for the PPV buy rate. The move to re-air the prelims is a good move by Spike TV which will use the replay as a lead-in to TNA Wrestling. The Anderson Silva marathon also serves as another ratings boost for Spike TV as it will take advantage of the UFC library before it officially leaves for Fox.

Bellator to air broadcasts in high definition

August 30, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator will air its fifth season in HD via premium cable station EPIX. The station is offered through Viacom but is not available with other cable providers.

Via MMA Junkie:

The premium cable station, which is available in approximately 30 million U.S. homes, is Viacom-owned and a joint venture with sister divisions Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) and Lionsgate.

The high-definition simulcasts begin Sept. 10 with Bellator 49, which kicks off the organization’s 12-week fifth season.

EPIX, which launched in 2008 and primarily airs films, provides a solution for some TV viewers, though the channel isn’t available through carriers such as DirecTV, Comcast and Cablevision.

Payout Perspective:

This move somewhat addresses the complaint by viewers that Bellator shows only air in standard definition on MTV2. It seems like a minor issue as the quality of fights/fighters should be more important, however if the organization wants to be perceived on par with the UFC getting into HD is vital. The presentation of the show will be important to the casual viewer and it could provide a boost in ratings. The one drawback with the deal is that EPIX is not available with every cable provider so not everyone will be able to see Bellator in HD.

SoCal Promoter expresses interest in Spike TV opening

August 29, 2011

Who will replace the UFC when it leaves for the Fox Family? Fight Club OC promoter Roy Englebrecht recently announced that he will be pursuing Spike TV in pitching his company to replace the UFC on the channel.

Via Fight Club OC:

In all due respect to Bellator and Bjorn Rebney, ProElite, and Shark Fights, my company is also interested in approaching Spike TV with our Fight Club OC concept, should Spike TV want to continue in the mixed martial arts business after their relationship with the UFC ends. The UFC on Spike TV has done more to make MMA more mainstream than any other promotion ever created, and while no entity can replace the UFC on Spike TV, any promoter worth his salt would like the challenge of trying.

What Roy Englebrecht Promotions and our Fight Club OC concept has going for us is that we have created a new fight promotions business model that has not lost money on one single show that we have promoted over the past six years, certainly a rarity outside of the UFC.

One only has to visit our www.fightcluboc.com website to see how we do our business and the fact that we have sold out all four Fight Club OC shows in 2011.

We have already registered the Fight Club name in a large number of US markets so to be able to deliver a new Fight Club series to Spike TV from across the nation would not be difficult.

We are currently working on a presentation to deliver to Spike TV executives in the near future.

UFC 134 Rio – Payout Perspective

August 28, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This time we take a look at UFC 134 held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the HSBC arena. In the main event, Anderson Silva knocked out Yushin Okami in the second round.

First round KOs in the featured bouts

The most surprising thing of the evening was the fact that the top three featured fights ended in First Round KOs.

Spider silences Thunder
In a rematch of Anderson Silva’s last loss, the Spider stalked Okami and delivered a devastating kick to the back of the head at the end of the first round and ended him in the second. Okami’s training with Chael Sonnen was no help as Silva had his way with Okami.

Another impressive performance by Silva. It will be interesting to see who he fights next. Will it be the winner of Sonnen-Stann? Will it be Dan Henderson? Or will it be GSP as MMA Weekly reports?

Big Nog over Schaub
The crowd reaction to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s KO of Brendan Schaub was electric. If you had to say a fighter’s performance was carried by the crowd, this would have been the fight. Big Nog looked in great shape and although he was caught a couple times, he hit the “Hybrid” with some great shots.

The fight also gave us the line of the night: “I saw some Coca Cola fly into the Octagon.” Kenny Florian describing the scene after Big Nog knocked out Brendan Schaub.

Rua gets revenge over Griffin
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua ousted Forrest Griffin in the first round and avenged a loss to Griffin at UFC 76. Griffin did not look interested in the match and seemingly had no answer after he was knocked down by Rua. The broadcasting team mentioned that Griffin’s wife was due with their first child in a matter of days. Figure Four Online noted that Griffin’s wife went into labor last night/this morning and Griffin left immediately to be with his wife. Perhaps, Griffin gets a pass here he definitely did not look good.

Attendance and gate

The attendance and gate were not announced although the UFC indicated that the tickets for the 14,000 seat arena were sold out in less than an hour. The event was definitely a success.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC handed out $100,000 bonuses for Knockout of the Night and Fight of the Night. Since there were no submissions, no bonus was awarded.

Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera – KO of the Night
Ross Pearson vs. Edson Barboza – Fight of the Night

The craziness of the first round of Miller-Poulhares could have been a runner up for FOTN honors.

Sponsorship Watch

In addition to sponsors Burger King, Edge Shaving Gel and Bud Light there were new additions for this special event. Manguinhos Refinaria, was shown in the Octagon as well as on Big Nog’s shorts. Upcoming movie Shark Night 3D and the city of Rio were sponsors in the Octagon too. Probiotica, a nutritional supplement company, also made an appearance. Bony Acai, a sponsor mainstay with many of the Brazilian fighters, notably the Noguiera brothers, became the official Acai of the UFC.

Intelgralmedica was another prime sponsor which was specific to this card.

Clothing sponsor Praetorian was a dominant sponsor among UFC fighters during the night. Also, Bad Boy seemed to have a resurgence as Shogun Rua and Erick Silva wore Bad Boy Club in their knockout victories.

Anderson Silva raked in major sponsors Nike, Burger King, soccer team Corinthians Paulista and Budweiser. He also sported MusclePharm on his fight shorts. The big sponsors were a testament to what the UFC broadcast team described as “Rock Star” status Silva has in Brazil.

Odds and ends

-Dana White stated that UFC 134 was seen by 30 million people in Brazil. This should compensate for some of the issues on the east coast. It would be interesting to know how Zuffa came to this number.

-White cleared up his comments about ESPN hating UFC earlier this week by stating that the issue was resolved. It may have hurt that friend of the UFC Jim Rome was on vacation all of last week which prevented White or any other fighter appearing on Rome’s show.

-Was it odd that the UFC goes back to the land where BJJ originated and there were no submissions? Furthermore, most match-ups were standup battles and there were few instances where fights were taken to the ground.

-Stanislov Nedkov was the only non-Brazilian to win a fight where a Brazilian competed. Yves Jabouin win also meant that no Americans won at UFC 134.

-Thoughts on Kenny Florian’s job filling in for Joe Rogan? I thought he did a decent job. While the analysis of fights was good, he did have some rough spots.For instance, Florian mentioned Anderson Silva’s “big sponsors” several times during the match as if he was told to do so (and maybe he was). It was similar to Rogan’s talk of Diamond MMA whenever someone gets hit with a low blow. Florian did have a hard assignment in working in Octagon interviews with interpreters.  With Rogan going back to “Fear Factor,” we could see Florian time to time on the call opposite Mike Goldberg.

-Does it hurt English-speaking viewership that most of the key players in UFC 134 do not speak English? Sounds like a silly question, but Silva, Okami, Rua and many of the lower card fighters need the use of an interpreter to speak English. UFC 134 provided a rare time where the crowd understood many of the non-English speaking fighters.

Conclusion

With the threat of a Hurricane and outages on the east coast of the United States, the overall buy rate for this event will suffer. It would be interesting to know the crowd that showed up in “Little Brazil” to watch the UFC Prelims. As a way to make up for this, should the UFC offer some of these fights on Facebook or for free on its web page?

This is the second straight PPV where the UFC needed to fill an hour due to KOs in its scheduled fights. The fact that the UFC must show either Facebook fights or Spike Prelim fights is understandable especially for UFC 134 where the fans were rabid for all fights. However, doesn’t it seem like you should get more for your money? After all, 1) the filler fights were shown for free earlier in the evening; and 2) the fights were not deemed PPV worthy. How should the UFC address this? Could they show main events from past PPVs? For instance, wouldn’t folks want to see Silva vs. Henderson from UFC 82.

The great success of UFC 134 has White, et al. talking about returning in 2012 with a stadium show. Not only did the UFC gain new sponsors, the press and crowd proved the popularity of the UFC in Brazil. This bodes well for the continued globalization of the sport.

Zuffa and Ubisoft settle lawsuit over video game packaging

August 27, 2011

Zuffa announced this past week that it has settled its lawsuit with video game maker Ubisoft. The lawsuit arose out of Zuffa’s claim that Ubisoft’s “Fighter’s Uncaged” video game use of “ULTIMATE FIGHTING” in promoting its game.

The Fight Lawyer has the background here.

Via the UFC:

Zuffa and Ubisoft jointly announce the resolution of an ongoing disagreement between the companies. Ubisoft released for sale to the public a mixed martial arts video game involving street fighting entitled “Fighters Uncaged.”

On the packaging of the video game, text on the back cover invited players to “Become the ULTIMATE FIGHTING weapon!” Zuffa approached Ubisoft regarding the game and the use of “ULTIMATE FIGHTING” on the back cover.

Zuffa owns all right, title and interest in and to the federally registered “ULTIMATE FIGHTING” trademark referenced in registration numbers 2,925,669-2,941,044; 2,706,754 and 3,004,865. Zuffa and Ubisoft note that the companies have no association or business relationship of any kind.

To resolve this disagreement between Zuffa and Ubisoft, Ubisoft has ceased selling the “Fighters Uncaged” video game with the use of “ULTIMATE FIGHTING” on the back cover, and has changed the packaging of “Fighters Uncaged” such that “ULTIMATE FIGHTING” does not appear anywhere on the packaging.

Payout Perspective:

Here’s another case of the need to protect the mark of a company. As we recently saw with TapouT’s cease and desist notice, Zuffa believed that Ubisoft’s use of ULTIMATE FIGHTING infringed its trademark and needed to address the issue. Despite the need to incur legal fees, Zuffa accomplished its goal of protecting its mark by having Ubisoft change the way it sold its video game.

UFC airs 134 prelims in “Little Brazil”

August 26, 2011

The UFC announced earlier this week that it will air Saturday’s 134 prelims on the digital sign above the Doubletree Hotel in the “Little Brazil” neighborhood of Times Square. This is the first time the UFC has shown its fights in Times Square. UFC 134 prelims will air from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

The Doubletree Hotel is located at 1568 Broadway in New York City.

Via UFC web site:

After celebrating in the streets of Times Square, fans and interested viewers are encouraged to finish watching the fight at neighboring bars in Little Brazil such as Bowlmor Times Square (W 44th between 7th and 8th Aves.).

Payout Perspective:

This is good publicity on the heels of a big month for the UFC. Its a good tie in to the UFC Rio event and filtering fight fans to local bars that will air the PPV is another tactic to get fans to watch. Certainly, this is a way to inflate the viewership numbers for later promotion. However, the weather and threat of a hurricane in New York may dampen the crowd and the video/photo op the UFC wants.  It will be interesting to see what type of response it receives. The UFC may revisit a grand showing like this November 12th when it debuts on Fox.

Monster and Coors Light to Sponsor ProElite August 27 Hawaii Event

August 26, 2011

Just a couple of days before hosting their first MMA event since 2008, ProElite announced they have added Monster Energy and Coors Light as sponsors for Saturday’s event taking place in the Blaisdell Arena in Hawaii.

ProElite, Inc. (PELE.PK) today announces that Monster, Inc. and Coors Light have signed on as presenting sponsors for the Hawaii fight.

“Having two major companies as presenting sponsors of our first fight is a significant step forward with the newly rebranded ProElite,” commented Billy Kelly, President and COO of ProElite. “I’m excited at the prospect of future sponsor support for all our fights going forward.”

ProElite will host its pre-fight open press conference today at 2pm HST in the Kahili Room at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel. The weigh-in, which is open to the public, will be held tomorrow at 2pm HST also in the Kahili Room.

Saturday’s fight will stream live on Sherdog.com from Neal S. Blaisdell Arena. Tickets are on sale at ticketmaster.com and at the arena box office.

***

NOTE: During the press conference, Stratus Media CEO Paul Feller stated in an interview with BJPenn.com that ProElite has been a wonderful acquisition. We have turned ProElite from being a “We have taken stock from $0.02 cent to $0.60 cents and still growing.” Link: PELE

 

Payout Perspective:

Back in July when MMAPayout interviewed ProElite’s VP of Fight Operations T. Jay Thompson, he mentioned that they weren’t expecting any major sponsors for the August 27 event in Hawaii.  One month later, Stratus Media and ProElite announce that Monster Energy Drink and Coors Light will be sponsoring the event.  Needless to say that getting these type of sponsors for a show that won’t even be televised and is scheduled to stream on Sherdog.com after UFC 134 is over is pretty remarkable.  It’s also a very good sign for the company.

Since Stratus Media officially took over the majority stake in ProElite earlier this year, it has always made it a point to state that they will be using their partnerships and connections within the entertainment and events industry to cross-promote and assist ProElite.  Assisting ProElite in getting “big name” sponsors will put them in a position where they are one step closer to being TV ready, which they hope to accomplish by the second show. Regardless, building up their roster to accommodate the amount of shows targeted for 2012 will be an ongoing process and an uphill battle the group will face, but if this Saturday’s card is any indication, the great mix of known veterans, prospects, and regional draws is a proven formula to steer them on the right course.

UFC 134 Rio – Silva vs Okami : Payout Storylines

August 26, 2011

MMAPayout will be taking a look at the storylines heading into UFC 134 Rio: Silva vs. Okami, which will be held at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Jainero, Brazil on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

UFC’s 2012 return to Brazil could be hosted by 100,000-seat venue

On Tuesday, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta met with local officials to discuss a possible show at the Convention Center of Manaus (one of many “sambadromes” located throughout the country), an outdoor venue that can hold up to 100,000 fans. The city’s metro area includes more than two million residents.

“Our expectation is that Manaus will set a new attendance record with 100,000 people watching the show,” Feritta said. (MMAJunkie)

 

UFC 134 prelims to air in Times Square’s “Little Brazil”

Two fights from this weekend’s UFC 134 event in Brazil will air in Times Square in New York City, officials today announced.

The two fights, which are part of Spike TV’s “UFC Prelims” broadcast, will air on the digital sign above The Doubletree Hotel in the “Little Brazil” area of the iconic intersection.
(MMAJunkie)

 

Nike, Burger King, Brazil soccer club announce sponsorships with Silva

Sherdog reports that Anderson Silva will be sponsored by Nike and Brazilian soccer club, Corinthians Paulista, at UFC 134 in Rio. The two new sponsors add to the Spider’s total for the big event in Brazil on August 27th. (MMAPayout)

 

Sonnen: UFC 134 trip to support Okami canceled due to sponsor intervention, police threat

A source with knowledge of the situation told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Praetorian, a Brazil-based MMA brand, threatened to pull the Japanese fighter’s sponsorship if Sonnen attended.

“There’s a line of people that want to kick his ass,” the source said…. And that could be the least of problems for the expert trash-talker. Sonnen said friends in the country forwarded him a local-media report in which a police chief threatened to arrest him on sight if he showed. The official cited a law that makes disparaging the national identity a crime.

“You don’t have freedom of speech in Brazil; put it like that,” Sonnen told MMAjunkie.com after a workout at Team Quest Tualatin.  (MMAJunkie)

 

Dana White: Anderson Silva wants “big fights,” but FOX headliner not happening

“It’s not true,” he said. “I saw that rumor too. … If he goes out and wins in 13 seconds, he’s not (being) considered for the FOX show.” (MMAJunkie)

 

Fertitta talks UFC Rio, Silva vs Henderson on FOX: “Anderson just needs a win”

– No, we underestimated how popular it was here. If we could do it again, we would do it in a big soccer stadium, you know? But when we put the tickets on sale, we really didn’t know. But it’s been amazing the amount of support, it’s unbelievable.

– We’re working on that, we’re really close to get something done. We think it’s gonna be very successful – a Brazilian Ultimate Fighter, all Brazilian fighters. (Tatame)

 

White claims ESPN hates the UFC

ESPN always hated us and now they hate us more now that we are on FOX. They canceled my int next week for UFC Rio Fuk ESPN… (MMAPayout)

NOTE: F4WOnline states that ESPN made the decision to cancel sending one of their reporters from MMA Live (Franklin McNeil) to Brazil to cover UFC 134 in response to White’s comments. White has since stated that both parties have resolved their issues.

 

Fox Sports Radio to simulcast UFC on Fox

The ESPN “car wash” was yanked after the Fox deal was announced, but the issues with ESPN have been resolved. The car wash is the media tour within ESPN where White would have been on multiple ESPN shows in one day to promote UFC 134. White stated that 40 million Brazilian fans will watch UFC 134. (MMAPayout)

 

UFC 134: Extra tickets sold in 18 minutes

It took only 18 minutes to UFC 134 ‘Rio’ tickets be sold out. Promotion provided this Tuesday a new charge of 272 extra tickets due to seat configuration changes and after some returned entrances… (Portal Do Vale Tudo)

 

Lorenzo Fertitta discussing the impending UFC boom in Brazil

ARIEL HELWANI: “Any kind of ideas as to what kind of economic impact in terms of tourism and all that stuff that [UFC 134] will have on the city of Rio?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “We think it’s going to be similar to Toronto. Toronto was between a $40-50 million dollar economic impact. I mean, who knows? It may even be more. We’ve got a ton of people traveling from the U.S., from Europe, of course from inside Brazil, the majority of the people coming to Rio are from Sao Paulo. So, we’re filling the hotel rooms, we’re filling the restaurants. You can just kind of feel the buzz around town already.” (Fight Opinion)

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