Olympic Wrestling Makes Final 3

May 31, 2013

SB Nation’s Luke Thomas reported via twitter that Olympic Wrestling was selected by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board as one of three sports that may be included in the 2020 Olympic Games.  Baseball/Softball and Squash were the other two.

In September, the full 100 member IOC will vote on which sport to include in the 2020 games. The announcement on Wednesday brought cheers from the members of Olympic Wrestling supporters in attendance.

Payout Perspective:

The “Save Wrestling” movement was touted by many MMA fighters and received support from the UFC.  Former Olympic Gold Medalist and current pro-wrestler Kurt Angle picked up the cause as well.  The movement to save wrestling was picked up via many platforms including social media.  Still, its not certain whether all of the lobbying will help the efforts.  We will see if the efforts to “modernize” the sport will appeal to the IOC and help get it back into the Olympics.

Pretorian Hard Sports No Longer Approved UFC Sponsor

May 31, 2013

The UFC decided MMA equipment company Pretorian Hard Sports will no longer be an approved sponsor of the UFC.  John Morgan of MMA Junkie revealed the news via his twitter this week.  A memo was circulated to agents of fighters but no reason was given for the sudden development.

logo-pretorian

The move comes as a surprise of sorts for those of us not in tune with the brand or the UFC’s motives.  It has sponsored many of the Brazilian fighters as well as fighters at the top of cards.  In addition, it had signage in the Octagon at many UFC events.  With the steady diet of cards in Brazil, one would have believed that the company would be one of the mainstays for the UFC.

In January of last year, MMA Junkie featured the brand in a nice writeup as it was talking about global expansion.  The MMA equipment company was an idea of businessman Ruy Drever.  The company expanded within Brazil and looked to do so globally.  He also took pride in the company’s commitment to social good as the company was involved in numerous community projects.  Last year, it had 170 employees and 170% revenue growth in 2011.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, its web site still has it as a UFC Official Sponsor.  We will follow this story as it continues but this move is surprising considering the position of the brand and its heavy involvement in sponsoring UFC fighters in addition to being an official sponsor.  Whether its a financial issue, a strategic issue or a personality issue between companies, the announcement hurts fighters that received sponsor money from the brand.  Its not clear whether the company will sponsor athletes outside of the UFC but time will tell.

UFC brokers new TV deal

May 30, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC has a new television deal with Televisa Networks which will give it an exclusive distribution agreement to air UFC programming in 20 Spanish speaking countries in Latin America.

A subscription channel with UFC content will be available later in the year. Additionally, Four events will be shown live on free to air networks in Mexico and Latin America.

Via MMA Junkie:

“The launch of the UFC Channel will be a game changer for our sport and its fans throughout Latin America,” UFC co-owner and co-founder Lorenzo Fertitta stated. “We are giving millions of fans across the region complete access to all our live events and programming for the first time.”

Payout Perspective:

The deal is part of the globalization plan by the UFC.  The deal will help promote the sport and garner more fans and attract them to generate more revenue for the company through its subscription based channel.  The UFC will likely bolster the profile of Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez in order to attract fans.  This will be interesting to see how Cain does and what the UFC will do to market him.  Another mention in the article is the addition of another weight division, the 115 lb strawweights which would be popular with the Mexican fighters.

 

WWE-Warner Bros. team for Flintstones movie

May 30, 2013

Variety reports that the WWE and Warner Bros. have teamed to produce a WWE-themed Flintstones cartoon movie.  The movie will go straight to home video but will be released in early 2015 featuring WWE superstars in Flintstone-like roles.

Vince McMahon, John Cena and C.M. Punk are some of the characters that will be featured in the film which will be produced by Warner Bros. Animation and WWE Studios.  WWE will work the promotional end by talking it up on its multitude of shows on TV and online.  Warner Bros. will be distributing the movie.

The Flintstones is the second cartoon to be given a WWE twist as “Scooby Doo” featuring WWE Superstars will be distributed sometime before Wrestlemania 30 in March 2014.

Payout Perspective:

The article touches on The Rock ripping John Cena for wearing brightly colored clothes and calling him “Fruity Pebbles.”  The WWE used this to develop a partnership with Post Cereals and Cena was on the cereal box of Fruity Pebbles.  It shows the resourcefulness of the WWE and its ability to connect with brands and forging partnerships.  For the WWE, the inroads with a family friendly sponsor (Post Cereals) assisted it to pitch this collaboration with Warner Bros.  It allows the company to reach out to a kid-centric, family demographic it desires and it could also bolster a film division that continues to lag behind the rest of WWE business.  For Warner Bros., it sees the WWE as infusing a fresh look into an aging brand (i.e. The Flintstones).

UFC 160 Prelims: 1.3 million

May 29, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that the UFC 160 Prelims on FX this past Saturday drew an average of 1.3 million viewers. The ratings are in line with the FX average.

The Prelims featured Mike Pyle win a split decision over Rick Story.  It also saw Dennis Bermudez take a win from Max Holloway.

Notably, the Prelims went up against the NBA and NHL on Saturday.  The Grizzlies-Spurs game scored 4.9 million viewers although it is down from last year’s Game 3s by 30%.  The Rangers-Bruins game did 1.58 million viewers according to SBJ’s John Ourand.

Payout Perspective:

A good rating if you factor in the competition on Saturday night from the NBA and NHL.  UFC 159 (Jones-Sonnen main event) did slightly better at 1.38 million and UFC 158 (GSP-Diaz main event) did 1.58 million.

New York MMA Bill “unlikely” this year

May 29, 2013

The NY Daily News reports a scandal within the New York Assembly may spell the doom for MMA legislation in the state this year.  The crux of the latest obstacle is the handling of a sexual harassment issue by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Women’s groups are reportedly upset with Assembly Speaker Silver for his  handling of sexual harassment complaints made against Brooklyn Democrat Vito Lopez.  Lopez resigned from the Assembly after investigations accused him of inappropriate conduct with 8 female staffers.

The investigations revealed that Silver brokered secret settlements with two of the women instead of referring their complaints to an ethics committee per the Assembly rules.  As a result of this misstep, it is believed that an MMA bill will be collateral damage.

A source told the Daily News that “it’s unlikely,” that legislation legalizing MMA would happen this year. This is due in part to the political fallout that may occur.  Pushing to legalize MMA could further alienate female assembly members as well as bring a spotlight to Assembly Speaker’s Silver’s secret settlements.

Payout Perspective:

Bad news for Zuffa as it appears that legislation will stall again in New York.  There may be concern that with pushing a bill for MMA at this point, it would stir more fervent opposition than tacit support.  While women’s groups may have opposed an MMA bill already, the cover up by Assembly Speaker Silver makes his support of such a bill more scrutinized.  Moreover, its likely that one could see the Culinary Union step in and join forces with women’s groups to combat efforts for MMA legalization in the state.  We should see within the next week or so what transpires with the MMA bill.

Tate replaces Zingano as TUF coach opposite Rousey

May 28, 2013

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Miesha Tate will replace an injured Cat Zingano to coach opposite Ronda Rousey on the next edition of The Ultimate Fighter. The announcement on Tuesday came as a surprise to Rousey as she was unaware Zingano was injured.

Tate appeared as the replacement coach as filming of the next season of TUF began. Apparently it was a closely held secret that Zingano would be replaced. The pairing is likely the matchup the UFC had wanted prior to Rousey-Zingano based on Tate’s rivalry with Rousey.

The coaching spot comes with odd timing as Tate is schedule to fight Liz Carmouche at UFC on Fox 8 in Seattle this July. Could we see Tate being pulled to preserve her for Rousey in the next couple days?

Payout Perspective:

Many are skeptical with the timing of the replacement. But based on Zingano’s twitter feed, the injury looks substantial.

The question of why didn’t they just put the two (Tate-Rousey) together as coaches instead having a stipulation for the Tate-Zingano match? Yes, one might argue that Tate was winning that fight but Zingano pulled it out. So now it looks a little suspicious that despite a loss she’ll get a title shot.

Putting how we got here behind us, the show should now be a certified train wreck in the most positive sense (think Rashad-Rampage). The combustible hate-hate relationship of Tate-Rousey and the male-female fighters living in the same house should get enough storylines and press that FS1 needs to get its network up and running.

Cain, JDS and Hunt top UFC 160 payroll

May 28, 2013

MMA Junkie reports the salaries for UFC 160 held this past Saturday in Las Vegas.  Not surprising, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos topped the list with Mark Hunt getting a huge bump in pay.

The total payroll as disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission totaled $1,533,000.

Via MMA Junkie:

Champ Cain Velasquez: $400,000 (no bonus)
def. Antonio Silva: $75,000

Junior dos Santos: $240,000 (includes $120,000 win bonus)
def. Mark Hunt: $160,000

Glover Teixeira: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. James Te Huna: $30,000

T.J. Grant: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Gray Maynard: $45,000

Donald Cerrone: $82,000 (includes $41,000 win bonus)
def. K.J. Noons: $41,000

Mike Pyle: $84,000 (includes $42,000 win bonus)
def. Rick Story: $27,000

Dennis Bermudez: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Max Holloway: $14,000

Robert Whittaker: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Colton Smith: $15,000

Khabib Nurmagomedov: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Abel Trujillo: $8,000

Stephen Thompson: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Nah-Shon Burrell: $9,000

George Roop: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)
def. Brian Bowles: $19,000

Jeremy Stephens: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Estevan Payan: $10,000

Payout Perspective:

Mark Hunt’s last officially released payout was $6,000 to show and $6,000 to win.  Thus, a huge bump in pay to receive $160,000 (no win bonus if he won).  Maybe it makes up for the lack of sponsors.  Velasquez gets a nice raise as well as his last payday he received a base of $100K with $100K to win at UFC 155.  The $400K flat (no win bonus) puts him with Jon Jones as the highest paid UFC fighters in terms of base salary (this does not include PPV points or discretionary bonuses).  Despite making $240K ($120K/$120K), JDS saw a pay decrease from his $400K at UFC 155.

Also, we should note that Khabib Nurmagomedov was docked 20% of his purse for not making weight.

Wrestlemania 29 PPV buy rate lower than last year

May 27, 2013

Figure Four Online reported over the weekend that the WWE has officially released its first Wrestlemania 29 buy rate.  The worldwide buy rate for this year’s annual event was 1,048,000 which is lower than Wrestlemania 28.

The Wrestlemania 28 PPV buy rate was lowered a couple times from an initial 1.3M buys down to somewhere between 1.1 and 1.2M PPV buys.  The WWE appeared cautious when it mentioned PPV buys at its First Quarter earnings call which led one to speculate whether the buy rate did not meet expectations.

Payout Perspective:

This year’s PPV buy rate is likely an accurate buy rate and won’t be calibrated up and down too much as what occurred last year.  This year the WWE bumped up its PPV $5 to $69.99 (for HD), $64.99 (non-HD).  Could the price point be the reason for the less than expected buy rates.  Or, was it the card featuring a rehash of last year’s main event, or maybe a combination?  The WWE still had a stellar live attendance/gate with 80K plus attending for a gate over $11M.  But, it believed that with the event being in the New York area (technically New Jersey), the company would do a better number than last year.

UFC 160: Payout Perpective

May 26, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 160 at The MGM Grand where Cain Velasquez made quick work of Bigfoot Silva.

UFC-160-poster

Same time this year

364 days before Saturday Bigfoot Silva wore the crimson mask and bloodied the Octagon canvas at the hands of Cain.  This time, the canvas was already bloody from previous fights but the result was similar.  Cain owned Bigfoot.  This time it was a 1-2 that floored the giant and he could not withstand the rain of punches.  A good stoppage despite Bigfoot’s protest.

As most thought the result would be the same, it was quicker work this time around.  Cain now gets someone else he owned in their last fight: Junior dos Santos.  But, the rubber match is warranted considering JDS’s performance Saturday.

Hunt for Gold ends with spinning heel kick

Two weeks in a row a spinning heel kick gave UFC fans a highlight reel KO.  This time, already way ahead on the cards, JDS decided to try to finish Mark Hunt.  It gained a lot of respect from the crowd that was deeply behind the underdog.  Hunt ate a huge looping right to his ear in the first but got up like it was nothing.  JDS wore Hunt down and the kick in the third showed Hunt’s fatigue.

JDS gets the trilogy and fans will wonder which fight will they see: the first or second fight.  

TJ Grant crashes Lightweight Title Picture

Its why they have the fight.  TJ Grant wasn’t supposed to win and get the next shot at Benson Henderson.  But, when Dana White made the promise that the fight would determine the next challenger for Bendo, Grant had a shot and did it in impressive fashion.  

Attendance and Gate

As reported at the post-fight press conference, the unofficial attendance was 11,089 for $2.942 million.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission will announce the official attendance and gate.

According to Dave Meltzer on the Wrestling Observer podcast, the attendance was relatively low based on the initial sales.  He reported that casinos did not purchase as many tickets as in the past.  

Bonuses

JDS, Hunt, TJ Grant and Glover Texeira won the bonuses for FOTN, KO and Submission of the Night.  According to Dana White, Mike Tyson influenced him to award the KO of the night to Grant instead of JDS.  Each received $50,000.

Sponsorships

Prestone, which had signage in the octagon for the TUF series was the newest presence inside the Octagon.  MetroPCS, UFCFit.com, Harley Davidson, TapouT, Dodge, UltimatePoker.com and Bud Light in the center of the Octagon.  Also Affliction returned to the Octagon.  

Mark Hunt did not have any sponsors.  He came to the ring without a walkout shirt and just UFC shorts.  It could be due to the fact that it was unknown if he would get a visa into the country.  There is speculation that his reps were trying to get sponsors on the day of the weigh-in.  However, the fighters have until Thursday night to turn in their fight shorts for review by the UFC.  Its unfortunate that Hunt did not have existing relationships with sponsors to have just in case he received a visa.  

A lot of negative reaction on twitter for the “infomercial” on online poker.  It was forced, odd and a blatant plug for the site.  The comparison of MMA and poker was atrocious.  But, it is an official sponsor and owned by the Fertittas.  Coupled by the fact the PPV was short on time makes it acceptable as it did not take away from any fights.  Still, carving out any time to promote the poker site seems out of place.  

Junior dos Santos had new Nike gear and his performance had Nike execs breathing a sigh of relief considering his last fight wearing the Swoosh was with Cain.  JDS was sponsored by TNT energy drink, a Brazilian energy drink.  You may recall it being the center of the Octagon for UFC on Fox 8.  Its web site also list Jose Aldo has an endorser.

A lot of bumpers for the UFC App which is trying to catch-up to the Bellator and WWE Apps.  

In addition to the Online Poker plug, there was a plug for the city of Las Vegas featuring Dana White and Ronda Rousey.  

Cain’s one flaw: social media

Is Cain using his twitter the wrong way?  His twitter timeline is littered with sponsors.  Cain even plugged Harley Davidson in his post-fight Octagon interview.  Usually there is a healthy bit of insight on the fighter’s life, fighter/fan interaction as well as the sponsor plug.  

Here’s a sampling of Cain’s twitter feed:

 

 

 

While Cain’s use of twitter is not wrong (one need only took to Nate Diaz among others for examples), its not engaging and its an overt commercial for his sponsors.  Yes, social media campaigns are based on receiving celebrity endorsements but Cain’s is straight copy.  If there’s a flaw with Velasquez its his marketability and we’re not talking about his “Brown Pride” tattoo either.  But, we’ll leave that for another post.

Post-Fight Headlines

UFC 160 has some intriguing post-fight headlines.  First, when and where will they hold JDS-Cain III.  While Vegas is always the old standby, the possibility of Mexico or Brazil are definite possibilities.  The UFC is looking to hold an event in Mexico by the end of this year and what a better way to make a splash into a new market.

TJ Grant-Benson Henderson for the TV Title Lightweight Title is rumored be on the Boston card for UFC on Fox Sports 1: 1.  There is also the possibility its on an event in the fall.

Glover Texeira continues his ascent in the Light Heavyweight division with a first round sub over a very good James Te Huna.  Texeira could be a fight or two away from Jon Jones.

Donald Cerrone v. Josh Thomson?  I’ll set the DVR.

Odds and Ends

– With the NHL and NBA Playoffs running opposite UFC 160 Prelims on FX, it will be interesting to see its ratings.

– Unless you were on Facebook/YouTube, you probably missed the fight that caused all that blood on the canvas.  There was no way to try the clean the mat between fights like it does when the UFC is on Fox?

– After the initial controversy with the UFC rankings, are we starting to accept them in looking at title contenders and matchups?

– At the post-fight press conference, it was announced that Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin were going into the UFC Hall of Fame.  I understand their first match being a “Hall of Fame” type moment but I can see arguing against either one having a HOF career.  Bonnar is the most suspect here especially since he was caught taking PEDs his last fight.  What type of message does that send?

– George Roop doesn’t look healthy at 135.  Yet, he keeps winning so we’ll likely see more of him at this weight.  

– Will Bloody Elbow use the shot of Cerrone showing Noons his elbow on its front page from hereon out?

Bloody Elbow 1Bloody Elbow 2

– It seemed like Mike Tyson received more camera time than anyone this weekend.  He looked like he was genuinely having a good time and each fighter was appreciative that he was there.  Its good to see that he’s turned his life around.

Conclusion

The attendance and gate seem to infer that UFC 160 might not draw as well as past Heavyweight cards featuring main events.  However, based on the previous PPV history of Cain and JDS, we’re probably looking at a buy rate of around 550-575K. 

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