GSP out of UFC 143 with knee injury

December 7, 2011

Dana White announced via twitter that Georges St. Pierre will be out for 10 months with a knee injury. As a result, Carlos Condit steps in to face Nick Diaz for the interim Welterweight title for the Super Bowl Weekend card February 4th.

Condit was slated to fight GSP at UFC 137 and then was bumped from the card when GSP went down with an injury. After Diaz defeated BJ Penn, Diaz was awarded the title shot at GSP instead of Condit.

Payout Perspective:

The injury is a tough blow for the UFC as the Super Bowl weekend show is a big draw due to the amount of traffic in Vegas for the weekend. Condit-Diaz is a tough main event to sell as many casual viewers do not know Condit and Diaz is not the best at selling a fight. The rest of the card for UFC 143 is devoid of major names which is a problem. A part of this is due to the second Fox card on January 28th. But, without one of the UFC’s biggest stars (GSP), the UFC will have to scramble to make this card appealing.

In addition, the GSP injury hurts his marketability as the UFC moves to Fox. Certainly GSP is one of the company’s top draws and it looks like he won’t see the Octagon until the fall of 2012. Its definitely disappointing for GSP and puts the UFC in a position to market behind others in the Welterweight division.

The only bright spot here is that Condit gets his shot at the title. Hopefully, the UFC will give him a nice push in front of the February 5th card.

Jones vs. Machida set for UFC 140

October 6, 2011

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will defend his title next against former champ Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 on December 10th. Dana White announced the fight via twitter.

The fight comes as news spread that Rashard Evans injured his hand in training. Once again, Evans is shelved and misses out on another title shot. For his part, Evans understood the decision and took the news with grace despite the likely frustration.UFC 140 will be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In the co-main event, Frank Mir will face Big Nog in a rematch from 2008 in which Mir won the interim Heavyweight championship. Also, Tito Ortiz will face Little Nog on the same card.

Payout Perspective:

Its a little disappointing that we will not see Jones vs. Evans considering the genuine bad blood and intense staredown in the Octagon at UFC 135. It seems soon for Jones to defend his title again but Jones does not seem worried about it. The UFC needed a big title match-up considering the great fans in Canada. Mir vs. Noguiera just isn’t a top draw main event. Machida was the best opponent available although you may argue that Shogun Rua could have received a rematch after Rua KO’d Forrest Griffin in Rio. It will be interesting to see if Machida is a big enough name for the casual MMA fan. Also, we will see if Jones will improve as a PPV draw.

Diaz rebooked for UFC 137 against B.J. Penn

September 9, 2011

In a headscratcher, MMA Junkie reports that the UFC has rebooked Nick Diaz to fight against B.J. Penn as the co-main event for UFC 137.

This match was made after Diaz skipped out on his media obligations for UFC 137 and was replaced by Carlos Condit to fight GSP for the title. It was claimed that Diaz had missed several flights to the UFC pressers and could not be found. Diaz’s coach, Cesar Gracie, even added to the drama by calling White at the Vegas press conference stating Diaz was nowhere to be found. The pic of White at the dais on the phone was a nice “photo-op” as well. Gracie expressed dismay at Diaz’s failure to show. Yet, White was not committal on if Diaz was cut from the UFC altogether.

With Diaz’s reappearance in his YouTube video, the UFC promoted the video (via twitter) and murmurs of a shocking opponent for B.J. Penn began to stir. White announced the matchup on his twitter account.

Payout Perspective:

Why?

While Diaz-Penn should be an entertaining fight the booking  for this card does not make sense. Why didn’t the UFC just fine Diaz for no-showing the press conferences instead of retooling the card? There is the issue that perhaps Diaz no-shows the fight and UFC 137 is a failure. Yet, here he is back on the same card with the same concern, and perhaps more, that he no-shows the fight.

If Diaz wins, doesn’t it mean that he should receive a shot at GSP? What happens then? For Diaz, its a career cluster. He had a title shot and now he doesn’t and has a chance of not getting it if he loses. Basically, he’s in an Anthony Pettis situation but Diaz did this to himself.

For the UFC, Nick Diaz has been an additional financial expense it was not planning on considering the $15,000 in plane tickets it spent on Diaz and the probable extra monetary compensation it gave Penn to take the Diaz fight. If you read into Penn’s tweet about being offered a “deal” he couldn’t refuse its likely Penn was given more money to take on Diaz last minute. Also, will Diaz be paid the same for the Penn fight as he would for GSP?

In pro-wrestling speak, this is known as a “work” or “swerve,” as we were sold on one matchup and given another. How soon did the UFC know it was doing this? There were many signs via twitter and internet that something was going to happen even after Diaz-GSP was called off. The disdain for Diaz not attending a press conference and one day later promoting him again seems a little weird.

Overeem out of Strikeforce HW Grand Prix

July 20, 2011

News came out Monday that Alistair Overeem was removed from Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix set to continue in September. Overeem, appearing on the MMA Hour this week, acknowledged that he was scheduled to fight Bigfoot Silva on September 10th, but thought that the date was too soon.

He tells MMA Fighting that he was promised a date in October or November and planned his training accordingly. Then, he was told September.  He also stated that he was threatened with being cut from the tournament if he didn’t agree to the September fight date with Bigfoot Silva. Zuffa later announced Overeem’s removal from the card and announced Daniel Cormier as his replacement.

Payout Perspective:

The latest lineup change may be the final nail in the coffin for the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix. While the initial buzz for a HW Grand Prix was positive, the execution behind the tournament has been a disaster. Strikeforce intended this to begin and end in 2011 and include the top HW in its division. But, logistics with attempting to hold a show in Japan, the trouble in licensing Josh Barnett, the purchase of Strikeforce and the delay between cards have prevented any positive momentum for the tournament. Bigfoot Silva’s upset of Fedor and now Overeem’s removal makes the grand prix less appealing to fight fans. One might have speculated that the tourney was set so we would see a Fedor-Overeem final.

It appears that with the purchase of Zuffa, the tournament has less appeal. The only thing that would regain fan interest would be if the winner would receive a shot at the UFC champion. However, its unlikely that this would happen. Its too bad for Overeem. He could be a big star for Zuffa. However, his first fight with Fabricio Werdum was disappointing.

Davis out, Evans waits again

July 13, 2011

The injury bug continues as Ariel Helwani reported that Phil Davis is out of his main event matchup with Rashard Evans for UFC 133. Davis was a replacement for Jon Jones and now Evans must await another opponent.

Lyoto Machida, rumored to have been offered the fight is reported to have turned down the Evans rematch. Tito Ortiz, coming off his stunning upset of Ryan Bader has turned down this fight as well. Evans, who has not fought since Memorial Day 2010, awaits a yet to be announced opponent.

Six of the past nine UFC main events have been changed due to injury.

MMA Fighting analyzes the situation:

Think about how long it’s been since Evans fought Jackson. The UFC has had 27 events since UFC 114. Jackson is far from the most active of UFC fighters, but he’s already fought twice since then. Chuck Liddell has fought more recently than Evans. Jon Jones has gone from not even in the mix for a light heavyweight title fight to becoming the light heavyweight champion in the time since Evans last fought.

Payout Perspective:

The old adage of patience being a virtue has not helped Evans. After waiting for Shogun Rua to recover from injury, he sustains an injury and watches Jon Jones capture the Light Heavyweight title. Then, comes news that Jones is injured and Evans must take Davis in lieu of a title shot. With Davis out, Evans opponent is uncertain and so is his fight choices.

From the UFC standpoint, injury replacements is a part of the business. Yet, the ever-changing main events are difficult to promote/create buzz. Evans is (or was) a top-notch draw and it will be interesting to see how UFC 133 will be handled.  What’s interesting is that if Ortiz would have taken the fight, the buzz would have been more on Ortiz than on Evans since Ortiz now has some momentum. With Machida reportedly declining the fight, it will be interesting to see who will Evans fight

Sonnen-Stann set for Showdown in Houston

July 6, 2011

Heavy.com reports that Chael Sonnen is set to return to the UFC Octagon against Brian Stann at UFC 136 in Houston. The middleweight bout could decide the next in line to challencge for the middleweight title.

Although Sonnen has had issues with the state athletic commissions in Nevada and California, it is expected that Sonnen will have no problem getting cleared by the athletic commission in Texas.

The UFC will hold its second Fan Expo of the year at UFC 136. The fan festival and trade show will be held the weekend of the event.

Payout Perspective:

A very smart booking decision here as it pits a fan favorite in Stann with the return of the controversial Sonnen. For his part, Sonnen is a master of self-promotion and fans listen when he grabs a microphone. Whether you like him or not, he is someone that will draw interest and putting him on a card the same weekend as the Fan Expo is a good idea. The bout is set to be a co-main event with Jose Aldo defending his title against Kenny Florian rumored to be another main event. Initially, I had expected Cain Velasquez to defend his title on this card but perhaps this was too soon for the heavyweight champ. With Sonnen on the card, expect a lot of talk…and a lot of interest.

Marquardt dismissed from UFC on eve of main event

June 25, 2011

The UFC abruptly fired Nate Marquardt the day before he was to fight in the main event of UFC on Versus 4 on Sunday night. The reason for the dismissal is unknown although a definitive word should be released prior to the event.

Via MMA Fighting:

“Not only is he out of this fight and out of the main event on Versus, he will no longer be with the UFC,” White said.

Rick Story, a late fill-in, will now fight Charles Brenneman. And the fight has been demoted with the Pat Barry-Cheick Kongo fight being elevated to the main event. This is disappointing for Story since he was hoping that a win over Marquardt would build his resume with hopes of facing the GSP-Diaz winner.  A win over Brenneman is not the win Story wanted.

Payout Perspective:

The firing of Marquardt comes with many questions but little answers. Issues with making weight were dismissed as a reason which leads one to believe there are bigger reasons. A longtime vet of the UFC (and former contender) usually receives a better farewell. Was it a quick trigger considering White’s disappointment with Marquardt after his loss to Yushin Okami? One might recall that Marquardt’s performance lead to White’s criticism of Greg Jackson fighters.

From a PR perspective, it would help if the reason for the dismissal was made known. The fact that no reason was given allows the media to go wild with speculation. While the UFC is one of the top organizations in social media, something of this magnitude should have been addressed immediately before (or after) the weigh-ins via press conference. A simple tweet does not help.

The news makes the ratings between the Nate Marquardt marathon on Spike TV and the UFC on Versus 4 live event much closer. The Barry-Kongo feature bout is not that intriguing a fight considering its between two mid-card fighters nowhere close to fighting for the title.

It will also be interesting to see how fans react to the news. The Marquardt firing may hurt attendance as well as television ratings for the event.

GSP vs. Nick Diaz this year?

May 21, 2011

MMA Weekly reports that a Champion versus Champion match is in the works featuring Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz. The match-up may be announced as soon as next week.

The fight was rumored as soon as GSP dispatched Jake Shields at UFC 129. Talks likely accelerated when Jeff Lacy announced that he had signed on to fight Nick Diaz later this year. In order to appease Diaz, the UFC likely had to set up this fight so that Diaz would not go through with the boxing match.

Via MMA Weekly:

Nick Diaz is likely to face St-Pierre for his next UFC welterweight title defense in 2011, with all signs pointing towards a December showdown in Montreal.

Payout Perspective:

This potential match-up has huge implications in and out of the Octagon. Even without knowing the rest of the card, the event would do great business in Montreal. With the potential of fighting in front of his hometown crowd for the second year in a row, Diaz will be another heel to oppose GSP. Unlike Josh Koscheck, Diaz poses more of a danger with his BJJ skills. Of course, this could have been said of Jake Shields. Yet, it is still a compelling match-up.

If this fight happens, will this equate to a unification of the titles? Does a cross-promotional fight open the door for more fights featuring UFC vs. Strikeforce. Moreover, does this mean the beginning of the end for Strikeforce?

Silva set for showdown with Okami in Rio

April 13, 2011

USA Today reports that Yushin Okami will get his title shot against UFC middleweight Anderson Silva in Rio. The title fight will main event the much-anticipated event in Brazil in August.

Via USA Today:

Oddsmakers will favor Silva, but Okami employs a wrestling-based grinder’s approach, which has been the champion’s achilles heel in the past. Chael Sonnen came within two minutes of beating the middleweight champion last year by peppering him from the top after takedowns each round. Dan Henderson used the same approach to win the first round of his March 2008 bout with Silva before succumbing in the second.

Payout Perspective:

This was the best spot for this matchup as the UFC follows up on giving Okami his long-awaited title shot. The UFC does not have to worry about the draw (or lack thereof) of this matchup as it comes secondary to the fact that the UFC is returning to Rio. Not only will Silva draw fans, the anticipated return of Royce Gracie to the Octagon should be an attraction.

The UFC could leverage the fact that Okami trained with Chael Sonnen at Team Quest as potential fodder for publicity leading up to the August matchup. Certainly Sonnen will be a willing volunteer to talk about the matchup and even be a part of a UFC Primetime or Countdown show.

 

UFC 126: Payout Perspective

February 8, 2011

Welcome to another addition of Payout Perspective. Today we look at UFC 126 held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Super Bowl weekend show featured a trio of fights: the much-anticipated Anderson Silva facing Vito Belfort, Forrest Griffin taking on Rich Franklin and Jon “Bones” Jones faced Ryan Bader.

Silva KOs Belfort

After an intense weigh-in face off where both fighters had to be restrained, the fight ended abruptly as Silva’s front kick to Belfort’s chin stunned “The Phenom.” A couple shots on the ground by Silva ended the evening in the first round. Although he credits Steven Seagal for teaching him the kick, the Spider is still pretty good.

Next up for Silva is a potential superfight with GSP. Certainly everyone, except Yushin Okami, would like to see it next. As we’ve talked about, a GSP-Silva fight could surpass 1.6 million PPV buys. The anticipated fight should have an international appeal and it will be interesting where the UFC will have the fight. Look for this fight to happen in December.

Griffin beats Franklin

In a fight between fan favorites, Forrest Griffin fought off the Octagon rust to beat Rich Franklin. In the post-fight interview,  Joe Rogan helped Griffin “push product” as Griffin put it, by plugging Griffin’s two books. Unfortunately for Griffin, MMA Junkie reports that he is out until August with a foot injury unless he is cleared by a doctor. It will be interesting what Franklin will do next. He is still a quality fighter but his future may not be in the Light Heavyweight division. If Anderson Silva decides to leave the middleweight division, I could see Franklin moving back in.

 Jones submits Bader, earns title shot

Jon Jones submitted Ryan Bader in the second round and leapfrogged into a title match versus Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. With Rashard Evans out with a knee injury, and Rampage Jackson not ready for the shot, the UFC decided to give it to Jones. The announcement came via Rogan in the post-match interview. A good ploy by the UFC as you got to see Jones’ reaction as he first heard he was getting the shot. Even though Jones is getting the shot on relative short notice, Rua cannot be happy with the matchup especially since he will be facing a Pro-Jones crowd in New Jersey. Only Matt Serra had it worse for a title defense.

The Rua-Jones fight should bolster ticket sales and PPV buys. Not only is Jones’ popularity at a high, the native New Yorker will get home field advantage in Newark, New Jersey.  Obviously, the UFC is playing up the local ties and hopes that the event shows the folks in New York what its missing.

 Fighter Payouts

Via MMA Junkie:

Champ Anderson Silva: $200,000 (includes no win bonus)
def. Vitor Belfort: $275,000

Forrest Griffin: $275,000 ($150,000 win bonus)
def. Rich Franklin: $75,000

Jon Jones: $140,000 ($70,000 win bonus)
def. Ryan Bader: $20,000

Jake Ellenberger: $32,000 ($16,000 win bonus)
def. Carlos Eduardo Rocha: $8,000

Miguel Torres: $56,000 ($28,000 win bonus)
def. Antonio Banuelos: $9,000

Donald Cerrone: $36,000 ($18,000 win bonus)
def. Paul Kelly: $19,000

Chad Mendes: $19,000 ($9,500 win bonus)
def. Michihiro Omigawa: $8,000

Demetrious Johnson: $10,000 ($5,000 win bonus)
def. Norifumi Yamamoto: $15,000

Paul Taylor: $36,000 ($18,000 win bonus)
def. Gabe Ruediger: $8,000

Kyle Kingsbury: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus)
def. Ricardo Romero: $10,000

Mike Pierce: $28,000 ($14,000 win bonus)
def. Kenny Robertson: $6,000

As always, the payouts are not inclusive as certain fighters receive “locker room bonuses” from the UFC and paid from their individual sponsors.

It’s interesting to see that Jon Jones gets paid like a top star. His base was only $5K less than the more-established Rich Franklin. It looks like the base salaries has increased from a $3,000 minimum to $6,000 minimum.

Bonuses – each fighter received a $75K bonus

Paul Kelly versus Donald Cerrone – Fight of the Night

Jon Jones – Submission of the Night

Anderson Silva – Knockout of the Night

No complaints on any of the fighter bonuses. I have been a proponent of giving the benefit of the doubt to a lower-tier fighter for Sub or KO of the night but both Jones and Silva deserved their bonuses.

Attendance and Gate

Saturday’s “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” event drew a reported 10,893 attendees and generated a live gate of $3.6 million. This did not include an additional $45,100 in revenue generated by the 1,046 attendees who viewed the fight via closed-circuit broadcast. (h/t MMA Junkie)

Sponsorship Watch

Xbox 360 – Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson was sponsored by the Microsoft video game console maker. Johnson’s gym in Kirkland (recently featured on Inside MMA) is 15 minutes from the Microsoft campus in Washington. Not sure if this was the tie-in to get him sponsored, but it’s a theory. Not only did Johnson use his twitter to ask his followers to demand that his fight be televised, he used it to promote Xbox 360’s  Twitter and Facebook page.

Xyience – The energy drink of the UFC was in full force with signage on the mat and on every bottle of water used by the fighters. It also sponsored an Ultimate Access Sweepstakes where two fans could win the VIP treatment at UFC 129 in Toronto which includes meeting Jon Jones. A great form of brand activation.

Tapout – A new fashion statement coming to the ring replacing the regular fight shirt – the track suit top. Not a lot of design and it looked great.

Form Athletics /K-Swiss – Jon Jones signed a multi-year deal with K-Swiss which promised a Jon Jones shoe. Jones wore the K-Swiss tubes at the weigh-ins. Also, Jones will have a signature line of clothing with Form Athletics. It probably includes this hoodie.

MusclePharm – Despite its past troubles, it sponsored three fighters (two in one fight – Ellenberger v. Rocha) including Anderson Silva.

Speaking of Silva, he reportedly made $100K from Brazilian brand Bonanno for wearing it during the fight. In addition, Silva signed with Brazilian sports marketing agency, 9ine. Although relatively new, the agency is owned by WPP, an established, worldwide advertising firm.

Facebook and Twitter

The UFC utilized its Facebook page to live stream another fight. It first used its page at UFC Fight for the Troops 2. This time, Demetrious Johnson faced Kid Yamamoto. Johnson had campaigned, via his twitter, to have his fight televised. And behold, he gets the opportunity to have fans see his fight via Facebook. Johnson also forged a nice sponsorship deal with Xbox 360.

The UFC also introduced a fight game on Facebook: UFC Fight Nation.

Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva made waves on Twitter as both were trending prior to weigh-ins. The fight was especially popular in Brazil. After his big KO, Silva remained trending in twitterverse hours after the fight.

UFC 126 Prelims: 2 million viewers

MMA Junkie reports that Saturday night’s UFC 126 prelims hit 2 million viewers. It earned a 1.2 household rating including a 1.7 for M18-49. It was the highest-rated program in its timeslot among M18-49 and 18-34. It was an all-time high for “UFC Prelims” broadcasts.

HD Net at the UFC Weigh-Ins

HD Net’s Inside the MMA held its weekly show at the UFC weigh-ins. Bas Rutten and Kenny Rice were joined by Mike Goldberg. The show provided insight and did a good job in hyping the fights as the fighters got on the scales. It was surreal to see Joe Rogan host the UFC weigh-ins on one channel and then flip to Inside the MMA and see his PPV broadcast partner on HD Net. I think the HD Net broadcast adds value to the weigh-ins but it cannot go up against the live feed hosted by Joe Rogan. It will be interesting to see what the UFC decides to do.

UFC offers new experience via UFC.tv

The UFC introduced a new technology on UFC.tv which includes control of audio and video, multiple camera angles and interaction with other fans. No news yet on how many people took advantage of it but we will keep you updated.

Storylines Post-UFC 126

“Superfight in the making” – Silva v. GSP: Jake Shields is the only man to stop this from happening.

“Next big thing” – Jones gets title shot on 6 weeks notice: At 23, is he ready to hold down the Light Heavyweight Division?

“Rashad Evans moving?” If Jon Jones wins, Evans stated that he will never fight his teammate and move divisions.

Odds and ends

Look for the UFC to do something more with 3-D. With its new technology initiatives, it’s coming soon.

In its pre-main event fight analysis, the UFC used mini-Belfort and Silva to go over the keys to victory. Pretty interesting.

Aaron Rodgers thanked Dana White via tweet for the Championship belt he had on the podium after the Super Bowl.

If you were wondering where Silva got the mask at the weigh-ins, Sherdog has the info. Before Silva donned the mask, there was Shaq.

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