MMA Uncensored Live Debuts Tonight on Spike TV

February 23, 2012

MMA Uncensored Live is set to make its long-awaited debut tonight on Spike TV, where it will focus on UFC 144 and the demise of one of MMA’s greatest promotions, PRIDE Fighting Championships, with former PRIDE champion Dan Henderson as the honorary first guest of the show.

Spike’s Press Release:

Coming to you from the heart of New York City in Times Square, MMA Uncensored Live will feature debate and discussion, interviews, in-depth features, highlights and interaction with the viewers through Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.

We’re gearing up for a premiere on Thursday, February 23 at 11/10c, right after IMPACT WRESTLING. What’s more, we have three fine gentlemen to help you navigate all the news, opinion, interview and rumors we can fit into a half an hour. Let’s meet them now.

Craig Carton – Host
Craig currently co-hosts one of the most popular morning sports radio shows in the country, WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” alongside NFL great Boomer Esiason. He’s been in the sports broadcasting game for over twenty years, having started at WGR Buffalo in 1991. Since then, Carton has worked in sports strongholds like Cleveland, Philadelphia and Denver, and has brought his irreverent energy to sports fans across the country through syndicated radio networks.
We’re happy to have Craig back, as he also used to host Weekend Pre-Game on Spike.

Mike Straka – Fight Expert
Mike is a familiar face to any fan of MMA, considering he was the first mainstream media broadcaster to cover the sport. He’s the host of “The MMA Experience” on Fight Now TV, as well as “TapouT Radio” on SiriusXM Sports, and was the host of HDNet’s Fighting Words With Mike Straka.

Prior to that, Mike served as vice president and executive producer of FOX News Digital, as well as a FOX News Channel on-air personality. He’s the author of two books, most recently 2011’s “Fighting Words”, published by Triumph Sports.

Nate Quarry – Fight Expert
Nate “Rock” Quarry is no stranger to Spike audiences. The founding member of Team Quest was Team Couture’s first pick during the first season of Spike’s “The Ultimate Fighter”. He followed up his tenure on TUF with three UFC wins before being stopped in his quest for the Middleweight Title by then champion Rich Franklin.

Nate won four of his last six fights, including a fight of the night win over Tim Credeur in September of 2009.

We’re excited to have these guys on board, and can’t wait for February 23, when we kick off “MMA Uncensored Live” at 11/10c! We’ll see you there.

***

Spike TV announced this morning that one of the true legends of mixed martial arts, Dan Henderson, will be the first guest on the new primetime magazine show “Spike’s MMA Uncensored Live”. “Hendo” is a former Strikeforce and PRIDE champion, and most recently defeated Shogun Rua in an all-time classic at UFC 139.

The premiere “MMA Uncensored Live” will also take a look at the rich history of mixed martial arts in Japan as the UFC descends on Saitama for UFC 144. The show will explore the roots of modern MMA, the sport’s meteoric rise, and how the corrupt business practices led to its downfall in Japan.

The panel will then breakdown UFC 144, which features a light heavyweight match between Ryan Bader and Japanese favorite Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, as well as a lightweight championship match between Frankie Edgar and challenger Benson Henderson.

Spike’s MMA Uncensored Live – Preview Cut
Get More: Spike’s MMA Uncensored Live – Preview Cut

 

Payout Perspective:

MMA Uncensored Live’s debut will focus tonight on the demise of PRIDE and their dealings with the Yakuza, where corrupt practices eventually brought down the biggest MMA promotion at the time. The project was lead by long-time Japanese MMA reporter Daniel Herbertson, whose work was aided by the years of coverage provided by Zach Arnold of FightOpinion.com. Dan Henderson as the honorary first guest is a great choice for the show, as I’m sure he will be able to tell his own stories regarding PRIDE and Japan as a former PRIDE champion.

Another interesting storyline here is that initially, Spike TV announced the name of the show as “MMAJunkie Live”, where MMAjunkie.com would be involved in producing the show.  In the last month or so, Spike TV changed the name to MMA Uncensored Live and MMAJunkie’s affiliation with the show was no more. MMAJunkie made the official announcement yesterday via Twitter:

 

There was some talk a few weeks ago that not only will MMA Uncensored Live focus on covering MMA, but they would heavily feature the Viacom owned MMA promotion, Bellator Fighting Championships, to condition the Spike TV MMA fanbase to the product. UFC programming will cease to air on Spike after 2012. The plan is for Viacom to move Bellator from MTV2 to Spike TV in 2013. MMAPayout sources inform us that “creative differences” was the official reason for the split between MMAJunkie/Spike.

Spike TV to air “I am Bruce Lee”

February 23, 2012

Spike TV will be airing the documentary “I am Bruce Lee” on Wednesday, March 7th. In addition to the showing, Jon Jones, Dana White, Cung Le and Stephan Bonnar will be featured speaking about the influence Lee had on their lives and careers.

Via Spike TV press release:

A wide array of luminaries from the worlds of sports and entertainment are featured in the documentary, offering their perspective on Lee and his impact on their lives, careers and belief systems.  Among those featured are Los Angeles Lakers superstar and five time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s “Fighter of the Decade” in the 2000s Manny Pacquiao, Academy Award nominated actor Mickey Rourke, Emmy Award winning actor Ed O’Neill, actress and MMA fighter Gina Carano, multiplatinum recording artist Taboo (Black Eyed Peas), UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, and UFC President Dana White, who calls Lee the “Father of Mixed Martial Arts.”  Other interviews featured in the film include celebrated writer and director Reginald Hudlin, professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez, boxer Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini, MMA fighters Cung Le and Stephan Bonnar.

 

The documentary will air March 7th at 9pm PT/ET.

Payout Perspective:

A good get for Spike TV. From what I hear the documentary is very good and will draw many viewers to the network. The inclusion of UFC stars commenting on the documentary also keeps the lines blurred as to Spike’s partnership with the UFC. We shall see if Spike continues to seek out programming like the Bruce Lee documentary to continue to feed into its target demographic.

Dana White goes after Mayweather

February 22, 2012

UFC head Dana White went after boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. during his “Presidential Address” on Tuesday night’s edition of “UFC Tonight” on Fuel TV. White called Mayweather ‘racist’ for his twitter comments related to Jeremy Lin.

Here’s the video which was sent out in a release last night:

Mayweather’s manager, Leonard Ellerbe, responded to White’s comments (via Yahoo! Sports):

“He needs to shut the [expletive] up and mind his own business, stay in his own lane and keep on taking advantage of the UFC fighters, while underpaying them,” Ellerbe told Yahoo! Sports after learning of White’s rant. “If he keeps on running his mouth, we may decide to give a free seminar to all of the UFC fighters on how the pay-per-view revenue should be distributed. This is typical Dana, who is always prone to ignorant outbursts. He should be the last person to try to judge someone else.”

White responded to these comments by telling Ellerbe to mind his own business and that, “We’re (Zuffa) building a sport while you guys are destroying one. ”

Payout Perspective:

Before we get into the substance of the comments, I think its notable to point out that the comments were made as part of UFC Tonight on Fuel TV. The “Presidential Address” was sent out to media to promote the show. Its an interesting way to take advantage of White’s vlog/twitter rants. Certainly, he’s opinionated and his Mayweather comments have received attention.

As for the comments, White is a longtime boxing fan and was speaking his mind on the situation. Whether or not you agree with the comments, so was Mayweather. In fact, Mayweather’s twitter comments about Lin have propelled him back into the spotlight during a quiet time before his fight with Miguel Cotto May 5th. So, perhaps both White and Mayweather are one in the same. Both are receiving notoriety for being themselves.

Marquardt returns to Zuffa

February 21, 2012

MMA Fighting reports that Nate Marquardt has returned to fight under the Zuffa banner with Strikeforce. The welterweight’s signing ends an exile that began last June when he was dismissed on the eve of his main event against Rick Story.

Post-UFC Marquardt signed with UK promotion BAMMA but never fought for the company. His last fight was a win in the UFC last March. Adding Marquardt to the Strikeforce roster provides some notoriety and depth to the company’s welterweight division.

Marquardt’s return was announced on Fuel TV’s “UFC Tonight.”

Payout Perspective:

Marquardt’s dismissal was due to elevated testosterone levels claimed to be related to hormone replacement therapy. While Marquardt’s departure from the UFC was somewhat messy, his return to Zuffa is beneficial for both. For Strikeforce, it provides the roster with a notable figure that can spark the welterweight division. For Marquardt, its a second chance with Zuffa and leaves open the possibility of returning to the UFC. The one issue that may hinder Marquardt is the potential stigma that he was terminated from the UFC due to PED use. Marquardt has not had a fight since last March so no one knows how he will be when he returns.

Jones, Cruz to participate in upcoming NASCAR events

February 20, 2012

Jon Jones and Dominick Cruz will make appearances at NASCAR events in the next two weeks to promote the UFC. Jones will be the “Honorary Race Official” this Sunday and Cruz will be the “Honorary Pace Car Driver” on March 4th.

It was announced Monday that Jones would serve as the Honorary Race Official for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 this Sunday. Jones will participate in pre-race festivities and promote his upcoming fight at UFC 145 in April. (H/t: MMA Mania)

It was announced earlier this month by MMA Weekly that Dominick Cruz would be the honorary pace car driver at the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix on March 4th. The race will be shown on Fox. Cruz will debut as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter on FX 5 days later, March 9th.

Payout Perspective:

Anderson Silva also participated in a NASCAR event in Phoenix last November. At UFC on Fox 2 in January we saw Kevin Harvick make an appearance to promote the Daytona 500. With Fox Sports partnering with both sports properties, we will see more of the synergy. It would be interesting to see if this helps both sports garner fans and viewership. In my opinion, I think that the cross promotion helps the UFC more than NASCAR. But then again, I am more of a UFC fan than one of NASCAR.

UFC hard sell for advertisers while on Versus

February 20, 2012

The Sports Business Journal reported on the drop in ratings of NBC Sports Network as it rolled out its new name and brand last month. The article also comments on the fact that NBC found it difficult finding advertisers for the UFC when it was on the network.

For those that don’t know, NBC Sports Network was known as Versus prior to its re-branding at the start of the year. The SBJ article (subscription required) stated that NBC had a hard time finding advertisers for the UFC. Yet, UFC programming averaged 124,000 viewers on Versus. These ratings doubled the average for the channel. The article also states that the loss of the UFC has hurt NBC Sports Network ratings. Still, NBC described the UFC as “off brand,” a show that brought ratings but the network had a hard time finding a way to monetize it.

Payout Perspective:

While the UFC portion of the NBC Sports Network article was a small example compared to the overall theme of the article which was the slow start for the network, its an interesting take of the pull of the UFC. Its also an example of the obstacles the UFC still faces in trying to appeal to mainstream advertisers. We will see in the coming year if the UFC has problems on Fox, FX or Fuel with retaining and obtaining mainstream advertisers.

Can boxing make a comeback? More thoughts

February 19, 2012

Does boxing need pro wrestling hype to sell itself? Saturday night heavyweight fighter David Haye crashed a post-fight press conference and challenged heavyweight Dereck Chisora.

To bolster the spectacle, Chisora inevitably asked Haye to say something to his face and a fight ensued. While the video is not the best, punches were exchanged and Chisora threatened to shoot Haye after the melee subsided. For those not following the story, Chisora lost earlier in the night to heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko. Chisora had slapped Klitschko at the weigh-ins and then spat in the face of Klitschko prior to the fight. Unfortunately, for all of the antics, Chisora did nothing of note against Klitschko in the ring.

While the outside the ring hype garnered some press, it does little for the sport. Showtime actually had a good card on Saturday but a post-fight press conference brawl is more interesting to the casual sports fan.

Last week, we opined about the future of the boxing business and whether it would ever return to network television. Do antics like Chisora and Haye spark interest in seeing these two fight in the ring? In the UFC, we’ve seen out of Octagon confrontations to sell fights. Chael Sonnen is a prime example of this with his quasi-pro wrestling rants (e.g. UFC 136). There’s also Anderson Silva putting on a Jabbawockeez mask and getting into the face of Vitor Belfort last year at weigh-ins.

The problem is that most people are not aware of Chisora or Haye as they are British boxers that have fought exclusively in Europe. Thus, North American fans wouldn’t know these guys unless they are hardcore boxing fans and/or follow boxing in Europe. The fact is that there are few Heavyweight fighters from the United States that can challenge the Klitschkos.

But the issue with Saturday night’s brawl might not be that there was a brawl. It might be the fact that the Heavyweight champion of the world defended his belt in Germany and that the fight could only be seen online at Epix for those of us in North America. Or, if you were in Manhattan, the jumbo screen in Times Square. In fact, Alexander Povetkin and Vitali Klitschko, other claimants to a heavyweight title, also will fight overseas and on Epix.  The Klitschkos are as popular in Germany as Jeremy Lin is to New York (there, I’ve satisfied the Lin requirement). So, its hard to argue that they fight anywhere else.

If boxing is going to make a comeback, it needs to develop a heavyweight division that is visible to North America. Being on HBO or Showtime would help as well. It appears that the Klitschko brothers have disappeared from the boxing landscape due to the fact they aren’t on one of the two big networks for fights. There are successful regional promotions, like Fight Club OC, that have maintained a steady fan base while promoting good fights. NBC Sports Network’s quarterly fight program could help if its willing to develop its fighters and back stories.

Getting back to the brawl. Its a spectacle but it doesn’t seem like much traction can be made of it. This probably was not a coordinated stunt since threatening to shoot someone is probably frowned upon.

We promise to be back with more MMA talk this week as we ramp up to the UFC’s visit to Japan this Saturday.

HBO grabs Mayweather-Cotto

February 19, 2012

ESPN reports that HBO has secured the rights to the Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto fight on May 5th. Despite a challenge from rival Showtime, HBO PPV will have the fight.

The rights acquisition was the first major move by former Showtime sports head Ken Hersman after Ross Greenburg left the post amidst the premium channel’s first loss of a Manny Pacquiao fight to Showtime. The fight will likely include its standard 24/7 lead-up to the big fight as well as additional marketing and cross-promotional opportunities with Time Warner’s other properties.

Payout Perspective:

It appears that HBO has stepped up its game since losing the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. Despite whether or not you like Floyd Mayweather, he is a boxing draw and made for promotional shows like HBO’s well-done “24/7” series. Showtime had an exceptional show last night but it was overshadowed by the Haye-Chisora brawl (more on this later). Unfortunately for Showtime, its first big fight in 2012, Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto, was put off due to an injury to Berto. As for Mayweather-Cotto, you can expect some definite hype based upon the success of Cotto since his loss to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather being Floyd Mayweather. Certainly, 24/7 will be much more attractive considering Mayweather going to jail, Manny Pacquiao and his recent comments about Jeremy Lin.

WrestleMania goes to Met Life Stadium in 2013

February 18, 2012

The AP reports that WrestleMania will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The WWE confirmed the reports at a press conference this past Thursday.

Via WWE press release:

Governor Christie was joined by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, New York Football Giants President and CEO John Mara, New York Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson, NYC & Company CEO, George Fertitta and WWE’s Senior Vice President of Special Events John Saboor to make the announcement at a press conference held earlier today. WWE Superstars John Cena®, Triple H®, Sheamus®, Mark Henry®, Brie and Nikki Bella™ and special guest Dwayne “The Rock®” Johnson were also on hand at MetLife Stadium for the historic announcement.

The Rock announced that he would be at the NY/NJ WrestleMania although its not known whether he’d be performing or just participating in another way. His appearance can help with the early promotion for the event.

Payout Perspective:

Even before this year’s Wrestlemania in Miami, the WWE has announced WrestleMania XXIX. Its a little surprising considering its held past Wrestlemanias at Madison Square Garden. But, the stadium venue falls in line with the company’s annual biggest event. Its a good acquisition for Met Life Stadium and a dress rehearsal for the Super Bowl which it will host in 2014. Despite what some may think of professional wrestling, the competition to host a Wrestlemania is as tough as it is to get a Super Bowl.

The positive economic impact it has for a city is noticeable as many fans travel to the city of the Wrestlemania and its a significant boost in tourism. The WWE has taken advantage of the event by promoting a week full of events to draw its fans to the host city. According to the WWE press release, “WrestleMania has generated more than $200 million in cumulative economic impact for its past four host regions.”

Last year, WrestleMania was held in Atlanta where it was reported it made a positive $62 million economic impact in the region. Likely, Miami will eclipse this number and next year’s WM in New York/New Jersey should be even more considering the attraction of visiting New York as well as the other activities that one could do in the area.

Zuffa responds to New York’s motion to dismiss

February 17, 2012

Zuffa filed its response to New York’s motions to dismiss its Equal Protection and Due Process causes of action in its Complaint. It also argued that the Court should consider the changed circumstances in determining the MMA ban in New York state.

As you may recall, New York filed a motion to dismiss on two causes of action in Zuffa’s Complaint and indicated that it may file a further motion to dismiss the rest of the lawsuit.

Zuffa’s 39 page response is broken into two sections. The first section addresses the issue of whether a court may look into a changed circumstance when conducting rational basis scrutiny under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. Zuffa provides the court with a plethora of cases which have courts looking into changed circumstances while asserting that there are no rulings to the contrary.

The second section of the response brief contends that there are issues of fact with both its Equal Protection and Due Process claims  to survive the motion to dismiss.

(H/t: Fight Lawyer)

Payout Perspective:

As you may recall, the Court requested briefing on the following issue:

Defendants will submit a limited motion to dismiss addressing only the issue of whether due process and equal protection analysis requires the Court to determine whether there was a rational basis for the law at issue only at the time it was passed, or whether the Court must determine whether there is a rational basis for the law at present (in other words, whether the Court should take into account a change in factual circumstances that makes the law no longer rational, even if it had a rational basis at the time of passage). Defendants’ motion is due 1/27/12. Plaintiffs’ reply is due 2/17/12.Defendants’ response is due 3/2/12. (js) Modified on 1/9/2012 (tro). (Entered: 01/06/2012)

Essentially, will a court look at the changing circumstances that occurs over the course of time when considering if a law has a rational purpose.

Zuffa contends that the defendants should have briefed the court on the issue above instead of New York’s “full blown” motions to dismiss. Zuffa has an argument if you look at the “addressing only the issue” language in the first sentence of the court order. However, its likely that the court will rule on New York’s motions.

Zuffa, as most parties do in a brief, argue the differences in the opposition’s cited cases in its brief. Here, it argues that the cases cited by New York do not address the specific issue at hand: whether courts take into consideration changed circumstances when conducting a rational basis analysis under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clause.

In the second part of the response briefing, Zuffa identifies facts that should have its causes of action survive a motion to dismiss. Much of this has been detailed in the Complaint.

New York’s Reply Brief is due March 2nd. We will keep you posted and have more in the coming days.

« Previous PageNext Page »