11 for 11: No. 7 Twitter bonuses for UFC fighters

December 24, 2011

Where would the world of sports, and sports reporting without twitter? The UFC has been on the cutting edge of social media at made twitter a requirement for its fighters.

Starting in June, the UFC announced quarterly bonuses for fighters using twitter. As part of its Fighter Summit held in May, the UFC held a workshop for fighters on utilizing twitter. The first quarterly bonuses came out in November with fighters receiving $5,000 each. The UFC intends to expend $240,000 in annual twitter bonuses.

While the UFC promotes its fighters to use twitter to promote the UFC, there are pitfalls to twitter usage. Forrest Griffin, a winner of one of the twitter bonuses, was criticized for a tweet he sent about rape. Griffin quickly apologized and donated money to a rape crisis center. Dana White defended Griffin in explaining away the tweet.

In contrast to Griffin, Miguel Torres was fired for a tweet in which he referenced a line from FX’s “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

And, as always ,Dana White is very active and outspoken on twitter. The phenomenon of twitter continues to help and hurt UFC stars (as well as other sports stars) as there is no filter and the user must self-edit their thoughts lest they get caught in PR problems like Griffin and Torres. We will see if fighters change their twitter usage in 2012 or will they continue to push the envelope to gain more followers.

MMAterial Facts (12/23/11) : Holiday Season Edition

December 23, 2011

Welcome to this week’s edition of MMAterial Facts, where we feature articles from around the MMA community.

This week’s MMAterial Facts:

Courtesy of Strikeforce

– AP Athlete of Year Voting Snub Shows How Far Mainstream — Not MMA — Has to Go (MMA Fighting)

“Earlier this week, The Associated Press, which provides sports news to millions of readers around the world, named its male and female athletes of the year for 2011. Not a single mixed martial artist was named on a single ballot. It’s not as if non-traditional, non-stick & ball sports were not represented. Among those who received votes were sprinter Usain Bolt, surfer Kelly Slater and marathon swimmer Diana Nyad. “

– Randy Couture: Yeah, Title IX has really crippled wrestling programs badly (Fight Opinion)

“There are two groups of people who would like to see some very different visions for the future of fighting. One is hoping for a renaissance of Catch-as-Catch-Can… and the other has a more futuristic view of where the fight business should be heading.

First, the fine group of humans who are interested in catch wrestling. As you can see up above, I highly recommend Jake Shannon’s book on Scientific Wrestling. He and many others are doing their best to emphasize the importance of Catch on the sport of MMA. Randy Couture did an interview with Eddie Goldman last Friday talking about this very issue in relation to his new book called The Last Round w/ Sara Levin (who worked for USA Wrestling). Book ordering/background information can be found on Amazon & Facebook.

Interview with debuting UFC flyweight Ian McCall (MMA Mania)

“The self-destructiveness, how have you been able to overcome that?

Ian McCall: It seems like jail and rehab will teach you how to do it. It’s just the kind of thing where you grow out of it. I just finally one day was like, “Okay, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough fun. I’ve partied enough in my life. This is kind of over with,” and from there, that was before me and my wife got together and she got pregnant and it was the kind of thing where I did it on my own and we and my wife reconnected because we’d dated on and off for five years and one day we started hanging out again and surprise, now I’ve got two dogs and a baby and a wife (laughs).”

– Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Lansberg II Fallout: Sonnen Is ‘Done’ with Anderson Silva (MMA Convert)

“The bottom line is, I’m done with the guy,” the 34-year-old Sonnen said in an excerpt released prior to the show by TSN. “He and I have no business. . . . He’s so far over the hill and past his prime it’s not worth talking about.

“I’m going to become the No. 1 contender on January 28th, but despite what you may think, I am not going to use that voucher to fight Anderson Silva. I’ll be looking at Dos Santos, Jones and possibly St-Pierre.

“I will take that voucher to (UFC president) Dana White and I will pick one of those guys. My time with Anderson is done.”

– Alistair Oveeem is in UFC Undisputed 3 and you have less than four weeks to unlock him (MiddleEasy)

“Ubereem could also come with me to Venice Beach sometime next summer and we can take our shirts off and toss a frisbee on the beach like heterosexual men. Ronda Rousey could judge us on our frisbee throwing techniques and at the end of the day, we could grub down on all the horse meat tacos we want. That’s my only New Year’s Resolution. If that doesn’t go down next year, then at least I’ll know that I’ve unlocked Alistair Overeem in UFC Undisputed 3 simply by liking THQ’s official UFC Undisputed Facebook page — and you can too if you check out the very limited promotion. We’ve even included a video of the first footage of Ubereem within the game for your viewing pleasures..”

– Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller Staying Positive And Pushing Onward (FightLine)

“Dana White was right,” Miller wrote in a recent blog post on his personal website. “He made some disparaging comments about my performance, and I agree with him. I displayed the worst of everything that night in the Octagon. I was tense in round one and I locked up after that. I didn’t perform to my potential, and I take full responsibility for it. That wasn’t a UFC caliber performance, and I’m not happy about it- I won’t, however, write a worthless diatribe on myself, because that is not constructive. I elect instead to take this misstep and make something positive out of it.”

– MMA Video Tribute: The 25 Most Brutal Finishes of 2011 (Cage Potato)

“With a little help from the Potato Nation, we spent the last couple days gathering videos of the nastiest, ugliest, most-painful looking knockouts and submissions from this year. Finding 25 of them was the easy part. (Damn, MMA fighters. You seemed especially angry this year. Problems at home?) Putting them in order was a little more challenging. Obviously, Frank Mir snapping Nogueira’s arm at UFC 140 was the people’s choice for #1. But how do you rank a head-kick knockout against a spinning-backfist knockout, when they both leave their victims zombie’d on the mat with their eyes open and their arms in the air?”

– Gift Giving: Shopping for Fighters (Five Ounces of Pain)

“It’s the holiday season and after fighting off crazed moms who just have to get that last bottle of Justin Bieber shampoo, I finally finished my MMA Christmas shopping. I couldn’t find a gift for everyone but I think I did well and hopefully all the fighters and MMA personalities appreciate all the thought and money I put into their gifts.

Lets have a look under the tree and see what we have, shall we?”

– Urijah Faber Shaves Head in Support of Sister (Video) (5thRound)

“Exactly four Fridays ago, Urijah Faber’s (Pictured) 19-year-old sister, Michaella Tastad, was involved in a horrific car accident. It was the morning after she had celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with her family.

Faber’s sister suffered a collapsed lung, spleen damage and received life-threatening head trauma that forced physicians to medically induce a coma at Sutter Roseville Medical Center in Sacramento, California.”

– Satoshi Ishii trains at Black House for the fight with Fedor Emelianenko (LowKick)

“In less than two weeks, 2008 Beijing Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo, Satoshi Ishii, will step inside the ring at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, for the biggest fight of his young Mixed Martial Arts career, against “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko. Ishii will be the eighth Japanese fighter to square off against Emelianenko, looking to become the first to defeat him.

The fight will headline the traditionally stacked DREAM’s New Year’s Eve fight card (Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011), which will feature blockbuster JMMA names such as Shinya Aoki, Katsunori Kikuno, Satoru Kitaoka, Hiroyuki Takaya, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and many others.”

– Top 10 Biggest MMA Upsets in 2011 (TheFightNerd)

“Everyone loves to see the underdog win, especially because they never expect it. In MMA, unpredictability is a constant variable that truly makes it one of the most exciting sports out there. Sometimes, it’s not even the underdog, but rather the fighter that most thought had zero chance at all to win, let alone survive the fight.

As this year wraps up, it’s time to look back and see who were the biggest underdogs that shattered expectations and, even if just for one night, made a name for themselves and proved everyone wrong. This is not a list of amazing comebacks in a fight, rather the matches that should have gone one way, and ended up entirely different. So, let’s jump into the top ten biggest MMA upsets from 2011!”

– The 2011 Last-Minute Gift List for Your MMA Fan (BleacherReport.com/MMA)

“This list is the top 10 gifts for the 2011 holiday season!

Do you have a special MMA fan in you life? Are you an MMA fan that is just looking for an excuse to buy more MMA stuff? Well, for the next 10 items, please think of yourself in the third person and shop as if you were shopping for someone else!”

11 for 11: No. 8 The state of MMA sponsorships

December 23, 2011

With the purchase of Strikeforce by Zuffa, sponsors felt the squeeze as Strikeforce imposed the same fee (or tax) as the UFC does with its sponsors.

Strikeforce imposed the sponsor fee starting with June’s Strikeforce event. The fee also applied to Strikeforce Challengers’ sponsors.  As a result, sponsors such as Ranger Up, CageHero and VXRSI are no longer sponsoring fighters in Strikeforce.

While some do not dispute the imposition of the fee, it severed relationships some fighters had with brands since they fought at small MMA promotions. For the sponsors unable to pay the $35,000 to $50,000 fee to have its logo on a fighters’ shorts, it meant revamping its marketing strategy.

Also this year, the state of sponsors in MMA was examined as many sponsors questioned the return on investment.

Recently, clothing brand Respect Your Universe (RYU) became the UFC’s newest sponsor and signed welterweight Jon Fitch. Despite RYU, some have been critical about the UFC’s lack of obtaining new sponsorships. It will be interesting to see how many new sponsors sign on in 2012. With the Fox deal, Zuffa should be able to take advantage of the momentum.

Fuel TV Planning UFC Marathon On New Years, Spike Eager to Monetize UFC Library

December 23, 2011

Fuel TV will officially kick off the new year by airing a 24-hour marathon of UFC programming on New Years Day, which will feature five show premieres. This will also officially kickoff the partnership between Fuel TV and the UFC, which Fuel claims will air more UFC programming than any network ever.

FUEL TV (http://www.fuel.tv), FOX Sports Media Group’s dynamic entertainment and sports network for males, officially kicks off the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) on FUEL TV January 1 with a 24-hour marathon of UFC programming featuring five show premieres. In 2012, FUEL TV telecasts more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming, with more than 100 hours of live fights, weigh-ins, preliminary bouts, and pre- and post-fight shows. In the New Year, FUEL TV offers more UFC programming than any network has ever offered.

“We’re beyond excited for the monster launch of the UFC on FUEL TV and can’t wait for the ball to drop on New Year’s so we can finally unveil all this incredible programming,” says George Greenberg, FUEL TV Executive Vice President and General Manager. “On January 1, FUEL TV becomes the number-one television destination for UFC fans. We’re going to deliver amazing live fights, FOX-style pre- and post-fight shows with expert commentary, insightful news shows with exclusive material and powerful documentaries that followers of the UFC have never seen before.”

“We’re excited that FUEL TV will become the ultimate destination for UFC programming in 2012,” says Dana White, UFC President. “We knew when we made the partnership with the FOX Sports Media Group that FUEL TV would allow us to put on more programming than every other network. If you’re a fan of the UFC, you’ve got to have FUEL TV.”

In addition to five shows premiering on January 1, FUEL TV launches “UFC Tonight,” the official news and information show of the UFC hosted by Todd Harris, on Tuesday, January 3 at 10:00 PM ET. The first Live UFC Weigh-in (UFC RIO™: ALDO vs. MENDES) is Friday, January 13 at 1:00 PM ET, followed by the first Post-Fight Show on Saturday, January 14 at 1:00AM ET. FUEL TV features the first Preliminary Bouts for UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER on Friday, January 20 at 6:00 PM ET.

 LIVE UFC Programs on FUEL TV in January:

January 13, 1:00 PM ET
Live UFC Weigh-in: UFC RIO™: ALDO vs. MENDES
UFC’s biggest and baddest stars weigh-in and face-off live before a night of epic battles inside the Octagon.

January 14, 1:00 AM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Post-Fight Show – UFC RIO™: ALDO vs. MENDES
Jay Glazer and today’s top MMA analysts recap the night’s bouts, serve up exclusive fighter interviews, and talk about ‘what’s next’ for the winners and losers after the big fight in this one-hour show.

 January 19, 5:00 PM ET
Live UFC Weigh-in: UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER
UFC’s biggest and baddest stars weigh-in and face-off Live before a night of epic battles inside the Octagon®.

January 20, 6:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Preliminary Bouts – UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER
Witness the next generation of UFC stars rise as FUEL TV kicks off a night of unforgettable action, featuring three hours of MMA’s hungriest and most promising fighters. If you want to see the battles that make up-and-coming fighters into household names, you don’t want to miss the prelims on FUEL TV.

January 20, 11:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Post-Fight Show – UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER

 January 27, 5:00 PM ET
Live UFC Weigh-in: UFC on FOX

January 28, 5:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Preliminary Bouts – UFC on FOX

 January 28, 10:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Post-Fight Show – UFC on FOX

January 31, 9:00 PM ET
Countdown to UFC® 143: DIAZ vs. CONDIT

NOTE: Fuel TV’s New Year UFC marathon will repeat the above mentioned programing (8 hours block) for the entire day.


Payout Perspective:

This will be a great way for Fuel TV to kickoff the New Years and celebrate the recently signed TV deal with the UFC. Fuel TV is a network who’s sole purpose is to draw young males by airing entertainment and sports programming geared towards that demographic.  A deal with the UFC stands to benefit Fuel TV greatly, as it hopes to increase it’s reach from the 36 million homes that was previously estimated before signing the TV deal with the UFC.  Since then, Dana White claims that the channel has increased it’s reach by 11% and that now 38 million homes have access to the channel. Yahoo Sports reports:

“I think that was part of Fox’s strategy in signing the UFC. They’ve gone up 11 percent since we signed the deal with Fox, and they’re in 38 million homes.”

While White is confident that more cable and satellite providers will add Fuel, it won’t hurt for fans to call and politely ask for it.

“I think it’s already happening. The announcements that we made have people [expletive] at their cable companies since we made the announcement.”

Besides being in about 62 million homes less than Spike TV, Fuel and FOX are banking on the UFC’s popularity and their hardcore loyal fanbase to make the switch from Spike and increase the channel’s reach and low ratings.  That task will not be an easy one in 2012, as Spike TV will still own the UFC’s library which prevents Fuel TV from airing any UFC programming that has already aired on Spike TV until the deal ends in 2013.  Even more daunting, Spike TV plans to use UFC programming to counter-program future UFC on FOX, FX, and Fuel TV events by featuring fighters that those platforms will already be promoting for those events. Spike retaining the UFC library throughout next year only makes it that much harder for Fuel TV gain traction with UFC fans, who most consider the UFC to be synonymous with Spike. Until the library rights are given back to the UFC, it will give a number of MMA fans many reasons to delay the inevitable transition to the FOX platforms to catch live UFC programming outside of PPV events.

Just last week, Spike TV announced “Ultimate Fridays”, which will feature the best of TUF to directly counter-program the new seasons of TUF on FX.  It also previously announced that they would counter-program UFC on FOX 2, which they also did for UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs Dos Santos – the UFC’s network debut on FOX. According to Spike, the programming they put around the FOX event on Spike TV did very well rating’s wise, averaging around 800k-900k viewers.

All things considered, business is business for the Viacom owned network. Spike TV President Kevin Kay said it best in a recent interview with Sherdog:

“The deal [is] there’s a tail-end year of the library, and we pay for it. And we pay a good price for it. So we have to use it, and we’d be foolish not to use it…That’s our job. Our job is to use this library and monetize it.”

Lesnar signs with Everlast

December 22, 2011

Brock Lesnar has signed on with Everlast to an exclusive, multi-year equipment contract with the UFC Heavyweight. Lesnar will use Everlast equipment and be a pitchman for Everlast products.

In addition, Everlast will become the sponsor of Lesnar’s private gym, the DeathClutch Gym, in Minnesota. Primarily known as a boxing manufacturer for most of its history, the Lesnar signing shows a level of commitment to get into the UFC.

(photo via PR Newswire)

Some may recall that earlier this year, Everlast signed Jon Jones to a similar deal.

Payout Perspective:

In addition to the Jones signing, Everlast entered into a contract with Bellator in March 2010 to be its exclusive equipment provider. The Lesnar move offers Everlast much more exposure as Lesnar is the PPV king of the UFC. Its hit or miss on how good a pitchman Lesnar might be but his identifiable physique and presence should make for good photo ads. The endorsement deal shows an aggressive marketing strategy by Everlast to sign two of the top UFC draws for its brand.

11 for 11: No. 9 UFC’s big shows in Toronto and Rio

December 22, 2011

UFC 129 in Toronto was the company’s first stadium show which set records for attendance, gate and bonuses. The bonuses were the biggest ($129,000) in recent memory. It also held the first of two UFC Expos held this year. In the end, the UFC had a substantial impact on the economy in Toronto.

The card featured the showdown between GSP vs. Jake Shields, Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick and Randy Couture (in his final match) vs. Lyoto Machida.

UFC 129 was the biggest PPV buy of this year (excluding UFC 141) with 800,000 buys. We will see how it does in January for UFC 142 as Aldo headlines the card.

UFC 134 in Rio De Jineiro, Brazil was a return for the company. The show was a sellout and similar to Toronto, the crowd was hot during the entire show. Anderson Silva headlined the show by defeating Yushin Okami. Notably, the UFC promoted that it would air the prelims on a digital screen in the Little Brazil section of Times Square to watch the prelims. Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Irene, this promotion was thwarted.

Silva scored major sponsors for UFC 134 including a soccer club, Burger King and Nike. He also starred in a Budweiser commercial that aired in Brazil.

Bonuses were huge as well with every category winner getting $100,000.

Unlike 129, UFC 134 did not score as well with PPV as it only garnered 335,000 buys.

The UFC’s return to Toronto this December did not garner as much fanfare as 129 but received a nice PPV number of 480,000 buys worldwide.

These two shows paved the way for international expansion for the UFC. 129’s stadium show displayed the type of draw and economic impact it could have over an area when it comes to town and its Rio show spawned UFC 142 and the first international TUF.

11 for 11: No. 10 Zuffa sues New York

December 21, 2011

For years, the UFC tried to lobby and legislate and now its time to litigate. Prior to its lawsuit, it presented an economic impact study, educated the concerned that MMA is safe and brought its top fighters to the state to rally supporters. Facing a roadblock, Zuffa decided to file suit against the state Attorney General and District Attorney of New York.

The crux of the lawsuit argues that MMA should receive First Amendment protection and that the New York MMA Professional Ban on the sport is unconstitutional. At this point, the defendants have until January to file its Answer to the Complaint.

Only speculation, but its likely that New York will attempt to dismiss Zuffa’s lawsuit. If this occurs, what would Zuffa do next? We should see in 2012.

Fitch signs deal with RYU

December 21, 2011

The UFC’s newest sponsor, Respect Your Universe, Inc. (RYU), has signed its first UFC star as it has entered into a deal with welterweight Jon Fitch. The Portland-based brand will sponsor Fitch at UFC 141 in his match with Johny Hendricks.

Via RYU press release:

“We are all very excited to have Jon join the RYU team as our first Mixed Martial Arts athlete,” commented John Wood, President of RYU.  “Jon embodies the spirit and essence of respect, honor, strength and nature; the pillars of RYU. We look forward to working with Jon and his team in the continuing growth of RYU.”

Recently, RYU announced it was UFC’s newest sponsor as UFC 141 would be its first event with the brand’s presence. The sponsorship deals come in lieu of its first full line of clothing this spring, tagged “Built for Athletes, Suited for Style.”

Payout Perspective:

RYU follows in line of most UFC brands that also sponsor its fighters. We shall see how the RYU brand determines how it picks and chooses its fighters. Fitch is a calculated “get” as he could be a top welterweight depending on how he comes back from his shoulder injury. RYU stresses that it uses recycled and organic material in its clothing. It may fit in with Fitch’s lifestyle considering his vegan diet although that may be assuming too much.

“Ultimate Fridays” to run opposite TUF-Bellator

December 20, 2011

Spike TV announced that it would air episodes from the past 14 episodes of The Ultimate Fighter on Fridays. The programming move runs opposite FX’s “The Ultimate Fighter” and Bellator on MTV2.

Via Spike TV press release:

Spike TV, the recognized home of mixed martial arts on television, has announced a new three-hour programming block debuting on Friday, March 2 (9:00 PM – Midnight, ET/PT) featuring the greatest episodes from the 14 seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter.” From Rashad Evans to Matt Serra, from Forrest Griffin to Kimbo Slice, “The Ultimate Fighter Fridays” on Spike TV will showcase all the incredible knockouts, unbelievable submissions, and tense drama from the seven years of the hit Spike series. The network will air special-themed editions of “The Ultimate Fighter Fridays” with input from fans via Facebook and Twitter. Details will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

I originally thought that Bellator moving to Friday night was a smart move because it could own Friday night. I was wrong as TUF will be on FX on Friday night and now Spike TV will air reruns of past TUFs. An interesting question posed by some is whether airing TUF on Friday would impact Bellator ratings.

John Morgan of MMA Junkie tweeted that a Spike TV executive stated the network chose Friday night because, “Spike has to monetize the library the UFC prefers we keep and run.” An obvious jab at the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

Spike TV’s programming decision will definitely impact both Bellator and TUF. Although reruns, many people will want to see the early seasons which include Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Rich Franklin and Randy Couture.The move appears to be a direct counter to TUF on FX rather than Bellator on MTV2 in the continued bad breakup between the two.This spring will be full of MMA Fridays and it will be interesting to see who will win the ratings war.

11 for 11: No. 11 ProElite reemerges in 2011

December 20, 2011

In the next two weeks MMA Payout will be bringing you the top 11 MMA business stories of 2011. Sure, you will dispute our rankings but its a nice review of what’s happened over a very active 2011 in the MMA business.

11. ProElite reemerges for two events in 2011

Entertainment company Stratus Media Group acquired a 95% stake in Pro Elite in June which started the wheels toward the company’s first card in August. MMA Payout had a two part exclusive with VP of Fight Operations T. Jay Thompson. In addition to Thompson, ex-Strikeforce exec Rich Chou was an important acquisition for the company.

The debut card, Pro Elite 1, held the same day as UFC Rio on August 27th was streamed live on Sherdog. It was held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The card featured Andre Arlovlski, Reagan Penn and Kendall Grove.

In October, it announced a multi-fight, multi-year TV deal with HD Net. Pro Elite 2: Big Guns, was held on November 5th in Moline, Illinois.Its next card is scheduled for January 21, 2012 at the same location as PE1.

It will be interesting to see how ProElite does with its third event and how it will expand in 2012.

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