Varner and Miller to participate in The Spartan Race

August 23, 2012

UFC fighters Jamie Varner and Jim Miller are participating in the Spartan Race, an extreme obstacle course race held all over the world.  Varner and Miller will promote the event as well as take part in the race.

More extreme than a 5k and a Mud Run, the Spartan Race includes grueling obstacles in over 3 miles.  The obstacle course makes the participants crawl, climb and carry throughout the course.

Miller and Varner will actively train for the race and post their workouts through their social media channels.  Miller is set to participate in the New Jersey Spartan Race in early September while Varner has yet to commit to a race.  Rest assured, Varner will participate based on his recent ink.

Payout Perspective:

A glimpse at its web site and the Spartan Race makes the Diaz Brothers doing triathlons seem tame.  According to the press release, the hope is to cross-promote the UFC and the Spartan Race.  Certainly, the demographics seem to mesh and the fact that Varner and Miller are willing to participate in the event shows the commitment each has to the event.  The Spartan Race should show how they will apply their MMA training to the obstacle course.

UFC 151 Cancelled, White blames Jones

August 23, 2012

Dana White announced at a press conference today that UFC 151 has been cancelled due to an injury to Dan Henderson.  The bigger news were the comments White had for Jon Jones and Greg Jackson after it was revealed that Chael Sonnen indicated he would step in to fight Jones but the Light Heavyweight champ declined.

White was upset due to the fact Jones turned down the Sonnen fight and that he had to cancel the entire card.  He also had some choice remarks for Jones’ trainer Jackson.  Jones is assigned to fight Lyoto Machida in Toronto at UFC 152.  The irony of the rematch is that their first fight occurred last December in Toronto.

A portion of the headline of a UFC press release delivered after today’s press conference read, “Champ Jones Refuses New Opponent.”

Payout Perspective:

Who lost out more today:  Dana White? Jon Jones’ popularity? Greg Jackson? Nike?  It’s a definite loss for the company from an economic perspective and a blow to the company’s reputation.  However, it’s better to have 151 cancelled than to have a water-down card with a makeshift main event (assuming Jones would no longer be fighting).

Will the remarks by White which essentially blames Jones for the cancellation, hurt Nike’s relationship with new sponsor Nike?  Was this fair for White to call out Jones and Greg Jackson?  Should Henderson take any blame here?  Should Jones have taken the fight?

Jones is one of the top stars in the company, and one of the only possible mainstream crossovers that  could act as a bridge to an expanded audience.  But, White sees Jones refusal as an act of insubordination and we see how he deals with it.

Aside from the cancellation and the subsequent finger pointing, one has to bring up the injury issue once again.  Why are fighters getting hurt so close to big fights?  It happened to Mark Munoz earlier this year and Dan Henderson now.  Certainly there are other examples of fighters pulling out close to their fights.  It’s unfortunate all around.

McGee featured on ESPN

August 22, 2012

ESPN told the story of UFC fighter Court McGee in his battle with addictoin.  The Tom Rinaldi piece focused on McGee’s struggles with drugs and alcohol.

While many may have heard his story from his time on The Ultimate Fighter and his subsequent fights in the UFC, the story was dramatized for affect for the ESPN piece.  Entitled, “Dead Man Fighting,” the piece interviews McGee and his family.  Its gripping as McGee’s father talks about giving up on his son as the family kicked McGee out of their house due to his constant drug abuse.  McGee also goes into detail about his overdose in which his heart stopped for 8 minutes.

Payout Perspective:

Overall, good exposure for the UFC although the story focuses mainly on McGee’s fight with addiction.  It’s a dramatic feature about McGee with a positive ending.  The feature shows the backstory of a UFC fighter and dispels negative perceptions the non-UFC fans may have about the people that participate in the sport.

“Strikeforce: Rousey-Kaufman” ratings: 529,000 viewer average

August 21, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that this past Saturday’s Showtime event featuring Ronda Rousey defending her title averaged 529,000 viewers.  The main event saw a bump to 676,000 viewers to watch Rousey armbar Sarah Kaufman in less than a minute.

Via MMA Junkie:

The viewership numbers include the both the live broadcast, which is distributed to Showtime’s East-coast viewers, as well as the same-day replay, which represents the tape-delayed broadcast to Strikeforce’s West-coast subscribers.

Showtime officials said that when a Sunday-morning replay of the event is considered, a total of nearly 900,000 viewers watched the event.

Payout Perspective:

Will women’s MMA carry Strikeforce on Showtime – or just Ronda Rousey? The ratings are a sign that the Rousey hype help propel the card to the best ratings in 2012 for the network.  The numbers are better than the 2011 Strikeforce “Arena Series” on Showtime too.  With Cyborg entering the picture a la pro-wrestling style, we could see bigger ratings when that fight is booked.

Spike TV and K-1 announce partnership for 2012-2013

August 20, 2012

Spike TV and K-1 announced a multi-platform partnership for 2012 and 2013.  The partnership begins September 8th with the K-1 World Grand Prix Championships from Los Angeles airing on

Via Spike TV press release:’s 2012 coverage will include unprecedented access to K-1 events, from live streaming of the weigh-ins the day before the bouts, to locker room interviews, to live coverage of every fight on the card, including all the prelims. The four K-1 events in 2012 include:

September 8 – Los Angeles – U.S. Grand Prix Championship

October 14 – Tokyo, Japan – World Grand Prix Final

December 8 – Athens, Greece – MAX Final

December 26 – New York – World Grand Prix Final

The addition of K-1 to Spike TV’s lineup next year further establishes the network as the premier television destination for combat sports. Spike TV will debut Bellator Fighting Championships in January 2013 with a weekly live fight card featuring some of the best rising stars in the mixed martial arts world. K-1 is the largest kickboxing promotion in history. Since 1993, K-1 has presented professional live martial arts events in 38 countries, featuring the best and most accomplished athletes in the sport.

Payout Perspective:

With Bellator and TNA Wrestling, the addition of K-1 adds variety to Spike TV’s combat sports genre.  Spike definitely is providing content for its target demo of young males and it is not letting the end of its UFC library rights end its combat sports programming.  While it does not replace UFC programming (in terms of North America name branding and talent), it could spark some interest from combat sport fans.  The viewership of K-1 will depend on the quality of fights put on by the kickboxing organization. The online streaming has been a success with fans as many have adapted to Bellator airing its undercard on the site.  We will see how many check K-1 out this September.  On another note, I wonder how many fighters that tried out for K-1 will be on the LA card on September 8th?

“Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman” payouts

August 20, 2012

MMA Junkie reports the salaries for this past Saturday’s Strikeforce event.  Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza topped the list with Ronda Rousey only receiving $40,000 for her armbar victory over Sarah Kaufman.

The salaries were released by the California State Athletic Commission.

Via MMA Junkie:

Ronda Rousey: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus) def. Sarah Kaufman: $17,000

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: $94,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus) def. Derek Brunson: $13,000

Tarec Saffiedine: $35,000 (includes $17,500 win bonus) def. Roger Bowling: $10,000

Anthony Smith: $6,000 (includes $3,000 win bonus) def. Lumumba Sayers: $7,000

Ovince St. Preux: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus) def. T.J. Cook: $3,000

Miesha Tate: $38,000 (includes $19,000 win bonus) def. Julie Kedzie: $5,000

Adian Amagov: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus) def. Keith Berry: $2,000

Germaine de Randamie: $15,000 (includes $7,500 win bonus) def. Hiroko Yamanaka: $8,000

Bobby Green: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus) def. Matt Ricehouse: $5,000

Payout Perspective:

A $20,000 base for Rousey is an actual raise from her last fight against Miesha Tate.  Rousey made $15K (with a $17K win bonus for a total of $32K) against Tate this past March.  For the amount of promotion that went behind Rousey, it’s incredible to think that she only made $40,000 in salary (this excludes sponsor money and locker room bonus).  If Dana White warms to women’s MMA we will see if that means appropriate wages for its top of the card fighters like Rousey.

The Pro Wrestling Post: Union whispers arise after wrestler’s twitter rant

August 19, 2012

The U word (“union”) came up again in the WWE as a mid-card wrestler stood up for what he thought was unfair pay.  What happens when a WWE wrestler gets in trouble with management?

In the case of mid-card wrestler, JTG (real name Jayson Paul), he sent out a tweet expressing his frustration with his current place in the company roster and the recent pay he received for Wrestlemania.  JTG cited the fact that no one wants to speak up because of the fear of losing their place.

According to The Wrestling Observer (subscription required), JTG was paid only $500 per night for his work on a tour of Central and South America.  While the profits from the tour were not as expected, the payout for the undercard wrestlers could have been more.  More recently, Wrestlemania 28 bonuses were only $2,000 for undercard talent despite the WWE’s claim it was one of the biggest revenue generating shows in its history.  Granted, JTG was not on the show but did work the Wrestlemania week events.

As a result of his tweets expressing discontent with his payment, he was embarrassed on television by getting beat handily and Michael Cole (WWE announcer) mockingly referred to his tweets.

Payout Take:  It’s the WWE’s method of discipline for insubordination.  But, the WWE did address the issue by amending its bonuses for the Central and South America shows. The Observer reports there was talk of a union after the Wrestlemania payouts but, as the Observer noted, would be unlikely considering the need for a unified locker room if there would be a change for a union.  It’s likely that the top guys would not want a union while most of the undercard guys would fear losing their job as a result. Obviously, this is the same concern in the UFC regarding unionizing.  The top of the card guys getting PPV cuts and top pay would not want to rock the boat to help out the guys getting $6,000 for a fight.  And for the guys getting $6K a night, most are just happy to get an opportunity to fight in the UFC to make an argument about pay.

This story may be over with the WWE’s make good for the international tour but this is a reoccurring theme with the state of the combat sports independent contractor. 

Judge dismisses two counts in Zuffa’s lawsuit in New York

August 17, 2012

The Honorable Kimba Wood of the New York District Court for the Southern District ruled in favor of the state of New York (District Attorney and A.G.) and dismissed two of Zuffa’s counts in its lawsuit against the state.   Zuffa still has 5 counts remaining

In a 16 page opinion issued today, Judge Wood ruled in favor of the defendants as it dismissed the two counts of Equal Protection and Due Process violations.  Some background on the legal case is here and here.

Order on Zuffa’s Motion to Dismiss

In its decision the Court held that the 1997 law passed by New York had a rational basis at the time and now.  Despite the evolution of MMA it would not evaluate the law based on changed circumstances.  Even if it did, the Court stated that the MMA law was still rationally related to its intended purpose.

The Court had some interesting footnotes in its Opinion.  Notably in footnote 7 of the Opinion, the Court, for purposes of the Opinion, took as fact that MMA is “materially safer activity than football” based upon the information.

Also, in footnote 9 of the Opinion, the Court states it would not address Zuffa’s vagueness claim which was not before it at the time on the issue of Amateur MMA.   But, the Court later on states that despite the legislature limiting the MMA law to professional MMA, it does not “undermine the law’s rational basis.”

Payout Perspective:

The ruling today is a blow to the Zuffa legal team.  While there are 5 counts remaining, the Opinion does not necessarily give Zuffa hope that the rest of the claims will survive a further attack (i.e., dispositive motion dismissing the case in its entirety).  Moreover, the fact that in the Conclusion of the Opinion the Court indicates that the legislature would be the proper place to seek amendment to the 1997 does not lend much confidence on how the legal battle will go.

MMA Payout will have more on this in the coming days.

UFC 150 PPV buys: Initial domestic numbers at 190K buys

August 16, 2012

The Wrestling Observer (subscription required) reports that preliminary numbers of UFC 150 are 190,000 domestic PPV buys.  The ratings, if correct, are the lowest in some time for a show held in the United States.

UFC 147 in June was held in Brazil and garnered only 140,000 PPV buys.  But UFC 150 featured a title fight between Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar as well as a co-main event featuring local product Donald Cerrone versus Melvin Guillard.

The Wrestling Observer notes the DirecTV issue may have come into play considering some may have been shut out for the live event.  The reason may have centered on how you ordered the PPV.  If you ordered it through your remote control, it was unlikely you had a problem.  However, if you ordered online,  you may have had issues.  This may be due to the updating of its system.  This may also be the reason why some had no issues at all ordering DirecTV.  The purpose of ordering via online is that you have the advantage of watching the PPV in multiple rooms.

Payout Perspective:

If the numbers hold true, the overall event has to be considered a disappointment.  From the prelim ratings, to the attendance and gate and now the buy rate reflect a card that the consumer had little interest in.  Undoubtedly,   one might argue the DirecTV issues may have affected the number but even 200K PPV buys cannot be what the UFC had wanted to see especially with a rematch between Henderson and Edgar.

Henderson-Diaz headline UFC on Fox 5

August 15, 2012

The USA Today reports that the UFC is planning to have Benson Henderson defend his lightweight title against Nate Diaz on December 8th at UFC on Fox 5.  In addition, it appears that BJ Penn will return against Rory MacDonald and Shogun Rua will take on Alexsander Gustafsson.

At this point, only early season college and NBA pro basketball and the Army-Navy game would oppose this card on December 8th.  Thus, this card has the potential for many fringe viewers to take a look at the UFC.

Although no location has been set the speculation is that Seattle’s Key Arena will be the location of the event.  In a press conference earlier this year, Dana White indicated Seattle was on the list of places it would go in 2012 but did not give specifics.  With every other date spoken for except UFC on Fox 5, Seattle seems like the location.  It would make sense considering Benson Henderson grew up in Federal Way, Washington – just 30 minutes outside of Seattle.

Payout Perspective:

If you have been waiting for a good card, this is one of the better ones just from the announcement of the 3 fights.  As everyone is thinking in their head, let’s hope everyone remains healthy.

But from the business perspective, it appears that the UFC wants to make sure the network gets a great card as it closes out the first year of its business relationship.  The backdrop of what should be a sold out arena and having a hometown champion make a defense against one of the hottest fighters in the division should lend to the spectacle of the event.

Not to mention the return of the legendary BJ Penn.  Also, the Rua-Gustafsson adds some flavor to the early part of the main card.  Folks that saw UFC on Fox 4 should remember Rua and viewers will be introduced to the young up and coming light heavyweight.

Does this card hurt its PPV cards, notably its end of the year card?  Maybe.  However, I think there must be a good faith showing to Fox that the UFC can deliver a good number for the network.  The card should also should shed some light on the question of whether the lighter weight divisions can carry a show.  Yes, you do have light heavyweights in the co-main event, but 2 of the top 3 cards are lightweights.

From another perspective, the strength of this card could help future viewership of PPV cards which is the intended Zuffa strategy.  Strong free tv cards will have fans wanting more and purchasing its PPV.  Right now, that hasn’t happened.  As MMA Supremacy points out, another reason for this card is to strengthen ratings so the product becomes attractive to potential sponsors and alleviates the concerns of current ones.

By the way, If you think I’m advocating for Seattle to get this card, you are right.  Location aside, the card looks great on paper…now let’s hope no one gets hurt.


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