The Striking Truth

June 7, 2010

Bobby Razak and Steven Wong are at it again with another excellent forthcoming documentary on mixed martial arts entitled The Striking Truth – be sure to check out the trailer below:

The Striking Truth Trailer from Bobby Razak on Vimeo.

Payout Perspective:

Kudos to Razak, Wong, and Tapout Films for putting together yet another film about MMA. These are the types of pointed and professional documentaries the sport needs to draw in the casual fan. I can’t wait to see the final product.

I’d be interested to see Bobby and co. put together a nice 30 for 30 documentary for ESPN; I’m sure it would be something that turns a lot of heads and another building block that MMA can use to jump the chasm, so to speak.

The Future of MMA: Children in the Sport

February 23, 2010

Bobby Razak, the filmmaker behind the Legalize MMA documentaries and various Tapout short films, has released another interesting film about MMA, only this time he looks at the sport from the perspective of two children participants.

The Future of MMA By Bobby Razak from Bobby Razak on Vimeo.

Payout Perspective:

I’m not a film critic, but in my eyes Razak is a talented filmmaker and an asset to the sport of MMA. The latest offering is an interesting look at the growth of grassroots MMA and a glimpse of the types of born-fighters we can expect to enter the sport in ten years. However, the film and some of its content do raise some questions about the participation of children in the sport.

I’m not a pediatrician, either, but I do wonder what kind of physical toll the sport of MMA might take on the young, undeveloped brains and bodies of children. Is it safe? If so, where do we draw the line? What are the limitations?

I ask not because I don’t necessarily know the answers – my slightly educated opinion tends to believe that rolling, wrestling, and limited muay thai training is perfectly fine for children. I ask because I think this is something the sport of MMA really needs to think about and have an answer for.

MMA isn’t just about the live events anymore – it’s now truly becoming a lifestyle. It’s the way we talk, the way we dress, the activities we undertake, the music we listen to, and the people we spend our time with. The more this lifestyle is perpetuated – with things like UFC Gyms, the ubiquity of Tapout and Affliction clothing, etc – the more we’re going to see participation from those of all ages.

Someone is going to inevitably call MMA on the participation of children, and the sport needs to be ready to answer that call unequivocally.

Note: Give Tapout a pass for the near eye-rolling amount of product placement. The company has done a lot for the sport of MMA, and they likely funded the entire production. It should get some promo out of the film.

Don Frye in AT&T Commercial

January 14, 2010

Don Frye announced a few weeks ago that he intended to quit MMA in favor of pursuing a career in acting, and now we’re seeing the fruits of the UFC and Pride veteran’s labor with AT&T’s “One Step Ahead” movie/commercial.

Frye also recently made an appearance in the Johnny Depp headlined “Public Enemies,” and has two movies in post-production per IMDB.com.

Payout Perspective:

It’s great to see that Frye has transitioned from MMA into his second career of sorts. He’ll probably never win an Oscar, but he plays the tough guy and silent CIA agent role pretty well.

A career and livelihood beyond the cage is increasingly becoming a more important focus for fighters in today’s era of the sport. The money is now there that many of them do not have to work second jobs to pay the rent, but what happens when the fight checks stop coming in the mail? Will these fighters have the skills to pick-up and continue living the same lifestyle, or must they make other preparations?

It’s an interesting question that shouldn’t just be dropped on the lap of the promotions. Many will argue – and perhaps rightfully so – that the UFC or Strikeforce need to provide pensions and other forms of benefits, but the fighters, too, have a responsibility to look out for themselves. That first means seeking help and asking for advice, and then having the discipline and foresight to follow through on that advice.

The MMA money train doesn’t run forever, and fighters need to be prepared.

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The commercial is interesting not only because of Frye’s involvement – in which he plays a CIA type agent running around looking for this AT&T user with GPS – but also the way AT&T uses of Facebook to customize the web movie to each individual user.

It’s clever, but also a little invasive – the web movie requires that you log into your Facebook account through the website and share your information, pictures, and contacts with its database. Some will call it brilliant marketing and customer data mining…others will be concerned about the privacy issues.

In any case, this is one of the ways in which companies are trying to use social networking to find better information on their consumer. The MMA community as a whole might want to take notice; with a traditionally younger, more tech-savvy consumer, it could apply some of these techniques in its own marketing strategies.

Carano Still Not Ready to Return

December 15, 2009

Steven Marrocco of MMAWeekly.com writes that Gina Carano is still missing in action when it comes to Strikeforce and MMA:

The face of women’s MMA may not be back until summer 2010, according to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker.

 

Gina Carano, 27, is currently shooting a starring role in the Stephen Soderbergh-helmed film “Knockout.” She reportedly plays a fighter who’s hired by the government to become a spy.

 

When asked for an update on when Carano would return to the Strikeforce cage, Coker said, “that’s a good question.”

 

“Her agent and I have been in dialogue,” he added. “We had talked about having her fight again, but not fighting on Dec. 19. She’s going to acting classes, I heard, and doing a lot of weapons training, doing what they do.”

 

The Strikeforce executive has followed this route before. The promotion’s other crossover star, Cung Le, relinquished his middleweight title in September when a blossoming movie career overtook his fighting responsibilities. Le will return to the cage on Dec. 19 after a 21-month absence.

 

Coker said he wanted to meet with Carano before making any decisions on how to manage the situation.

 

“I’d like to sit down with her face-to-face probably in the next 30 days or so, and sit down and see where her head’s at,” he said. “By all means, we would love to have her back, and we would love to have her fight again. I think in her heart she’s still a fighter.”

Payout Perspective:

Coker and Strikeforce are likely seeking to put Carano and Fedor on the same fight card in order to further boost the exposure that the Russian gets in North America. The next CBS card is rumoured to be taking place sometime in April, which would ostensibly rule out the participation of Carano. However, the timing might be right to get Carano back on a summer CBS card that could also feature a Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship Bout (one that would hopefully involve Fedor).

"The Expendables" Trailer

October 14, 2009

Randy Couture’s next hollywood movie “The Expendables” saw the release of its first trailer yesterday. The film also stars Sylvester Stallone, Jonathon Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, and smaller appearances from the likes of Dolph Lundgren and Steve Austin.

Release date: Summer 2010

Payout Perspective:

Not much of Couture in that trailer, which leads me to wonder how big of a role he received in the overall movie.

Still, the fact that an MMA star is able to cross-over and work in the film industry bodes well for the entire sport. Couture is bound to generate interest for the UFC via his participation in the movie – especially in the promotional run-up to its release date. He’s also paving the way for other fighters to make the transition, and secure a paycheck without getting smacked in the face (for real).

MMAPayout.com Interview with Cung Le

September 22, 2009

MMAPayout.com recently sat down with former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le to discuss a variety of topics including vacating the Strikeforce title, MMA fighters transitioning to the entertainment field, and Le’s numerous side projects.

KP: I guess we’ll start with the obvious question that I’m sure you’ve answered more than a few times now: why was vacating the belt the right move? I ask in part, because the answer is the perfect segue to the bulk of our interview today.

CL: It was the right move, because I haven’t been able to defend my title, and it’s been over a year and a half now. I’ve been busy with films, so I felt like the promoter putting up the interim belt was because he was awaiting my return soon. But I felt that since I’ve been gone so long and I’m not ready to do a five rounder, I needed to take a step back and vacate the belt so the top fighters in Strikeforce could have a shot.

KP: If you do come back, how many fights will you have left on the contract with Strikeforce?

CL: I’ll have four fights left.

KP: There seem to be a lot of guys moving from MMA into entertainment. What would you say is the main motivation there: fame, fortune, experience, or something else?

CL: Well, I wouldn’t say that there are a lot of guys moving into movies. I think that there’s a really small handful from Rampage to Randy, and now Gina and myself. It’s only a really small group like that, that are able to take part in studio films like Warner Bros or the other big studios.

I feel like it’s a good thing for the sport – it generates a lot more awareness. It gets a lot more MMA fans, or non-MMA people who don’t pay attention to MMA, to look at the names in MMA.

KP: The latest incident between Rampage Jackson and the UFC has raised some interesting questions in regards to how promotions should go about handling promoting fighters in the future – the success of a fighter is highly correlated to the promotional push he receives.

Where do you draw the line between completing your obligations to a promoter, but also at the same time looking out for your best interests and taking those opportunities as they come?

CL: The line for me – I can’t speak on Rampage’s part – is that I’ve always had an open line of communication with my promoter, Scott Coker. When we sit down and talk, we’re very strategic about how it needs to happen on both ends to make it a win-win situation.

On my end, I need to live up to the part where if I’m not competing, I’m always promoting Strikeforce in the best way that I can. In interviews, any radio, and any kind of media that I get outside of MMA, I always make sure to push Strikeforce in every way that I can. It’s always Strikeforce MW Champion Cung Le starring in Pandorum alongside Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster, or Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, Cung Le, starring in Fighting with Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard, etc. It may not be fair to the fans, but it’s fair to the promotion.

I know I also have an obligation to the fans, but I think that every time I’ve stepped in the cage, I’ve come to fight and put on a good show. I think most of the fans understand that, “hey, I’d be doing the same thing too if I had the opportunity to not get punched in the face, but still get paid.”

A lot of people don’t realize that I’m doing studio films that get released in theatres; whether they’re limited releases or full releases like Fighting and Pandorum. Also, when we go to DVD, I can expect to get a royalty cheque every three months in the mail.

KP: So, just to give the fans some idea of the film environment context: how many fights would you need to take in order to balance out what you might make on your next film?

CL: Basically it depends on the part. I think the best thing to say would be that I’m one to two movies away from making seven figures. You could say that my next project, I’m expecting to make three times as much for 8-10 weeks of film work as I would for one fight.

At the same time, I’ve got millions and millions of dollars behind the project and behind my name. It reflects back upon me, but also back upon Strikeforce because I’m the middleweight champion.

 You know, at one point I was training to fight while doing the movies, but now that the roles are getting bigger I no longer have the time to film during the day and train at night. I hardly have enough time in the morning to get prepared on set and make sure I’m ready to film; and when I’m done, I’m exhausted. I’m on the set for nearly 14 hours a day – it’s not just acting, but stunts and A-unit and B-unit and it really doubles your work.

It’s really demanding and there isn’t time to train, so I just try to stay in shape and feel good about myself and do the best I can on the movie set.

 KP: Speaking from your experience, then, can an MMA fighter do both? Can an MMA fighter do a movie for ten weeks and then flip right back into the training? Can they do it consistently?

CL: Only the most disciplined fighter can do that, and I was able to do that in the beginning – do a project while training to fight.

But, now that I’m at the higher level of fighting, I have to make sure that my camp is at the highest level. Likewise in the films, I’m now getting larger roles that prevent me from training, and it comes to the point where I can only do one or the other.

 I can’t do both at the same time like I used to – those fights are a little out of reach now, especially because the fights are getting really tough.

KP: What would be your advice for any fighters – like Rampage or any marketable fighter – looking to get into the film business? Do you have any advice that might help them?

CL: The first thing is that you make sure you take your acting classes – you’re only as good as your acting. They might cast you, but getting cast doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do all the things that they ask of you. I would have never got Pandorum had I not gone through some pretty intensive classes to really prepare for the role.

Also make sure that you have an open line of communication with your promoter. You need to be able to parlay communication into something that’s going to work for both the promoter and yourself.

KP: Mind telling us about your new movie, Pandorum?

Yeah! I play the role of an agriculturalist on this ship. Basically this ship has 60,000 that they have recruited from different countries, and everyone is specialized in something, for the purpose of rebuilding another planet. It’s almost like Noah’s Arc, but it’s not like Star Trek where you can just jump to another system – it takes time to get from one solar system to another.

Over this period, everyone is staying in a sleep chamber to preserve their youth, so that when they get on this planet they’re able to re-start mankind. But, along the way people wake up and find that things aren’t going the way they should.

KP: When does it come out?

CL: It’ll be out on September 25th.

KP: I also understand you’ve got a deal with Round5 MMA to make a figurine, right?

CL: I’ve actually got two of them, and they’re both already out. The limited edition you can find on CungLe.com, and the other one can be found at Toys ‘R Us or KB Toys.

KP: You’re the consummate professional and a great self-promoter. Thanks for taking the time to speak with MMAPayout.com and we’re all looking forward to the day when you return to the cage!

CL: Thanks. I will be back!

MMA Stardom: The By-Products

September 9, 2009

While it has yet to be officially announced, Rampage Jackson vs. Rashad Evans has been scrapped from the UFC 107 fight card slated for December 12th in Memphis, Tennessee. The highly anticipated grudge match between Jackson and Evans has been pushed back on the ostensible account of Jackson’s involvement with the new A-Team movie.

Yesterday, Rashad Evans confirmed with Sherdog radio that the bout was indeed postponed (summary provided by MMA Junkie):

“It’s definitely off for the 12th,” Evans said. “It’s just disappointing because as a fighter you get your mind wrapped around when you’re going to have to fight. Then you kind of just gear up toward it and put everything in place for that time. You take care of a lot of things you need to take care of so when you’re in camp you don’t have to worry about it. To find out its not going to be happening when you want it to happen is always a little bit of a letdown.”

While multiple outlets have reported on the potential for Jackson to take on the role of B.A. Baracus in a feature version of “The A-Team,” Evans said until recently he believed it wasn’t going to happen.

“I heard a little bit about it at the last UFC, 102, and (UFC president) Dana (White) said he was working to resolve the issue, and he was pretty confident that he was going to have some kind of resolution by the end of the week,” Evans said. “But then things must have took a turn for the worse and it wasn’t going to be resolved. The end result was him definitely pulling out.”

While White made his feelings on the subject obvious at a pre-UFC 102 press conference, Evans echoed the sentiments that fighters should stick to what they do best.

“I would stick with my obligations to do the fight (if I was in the same situation),” Evans said. “I know that he has an amazing opportunity to do this acting role, but then at the same time, at the end of the day he’s still going to be just a fighter. He’s not going to be an actor.”

Payout Perspective:

The business issue is really not that the fight was postponed. Rampage vs. Rashad will more than likely happen in early 2010, and should Rampage agree to that fight in a timely matter, it may even allow the UFC to begin promoting the event while TUF 10 is still running (i.e., the UFC may not even skip a beat).

The much larger, big picture issue here is that of the UFC’s new found problem: dealing with the consequences and by-products of its own success. Gone are the days where just making money, changing the sport’s public perception, and seeking legalization were the hot-button topics. Now the UFC must learn to deal with its own popularity and that of its fighters, lest it become a victim of its own success.

Last month MMAPayout.com discussed why fighting ability was the most critical ingredient necessary to build an MMA star. But what happens when that star is born? How does an organization like the UFC ensure it receives an adequate return on the time, money, and promotional effort that it has invested in a fighter?

It starts with assessing each individual: why do they fight and what do they want from their career?

In the case of Rampage Jackson, it’s never really been about the fighting – it’s been about the money. He may like to fight, but he’d probably be doing something else if he weren’t getting paid. That suggests that fighting isn’t the only thing on his priority list – other money making opportunities are on his radar – and therefore his commitment level to the organization isn’t going to be tremendously high.

Is there anything wrong with that? Not every fighter is going to be cut from the same cloth as Georges St. Pierre; not every fighter is going to fight just for the sake of competition. Some fighters fight for money, some fight for fame, some fight for women, and some fight for a combination of all of those things. It may be fly in the face of the traditional martial arts mantra, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

Rampage now has an opportunity to seek some non-MMA related income that doesn’t depend on him getting punched in the face. It’s not just the initial movie salary, either, but the future royalties that will come to him if the movie is any sort of success. The prospect of Rampage gaining more fans and improving his draw as an MMA fighter is also there. The only risk, of course, is that Rampage takes his focus off of fighting that it’s a detriment to his in-cage fighting ability – at that point he risks not just his place in the UFC, but also his main source of income.

Many are going to argue – just like Dana White and Rashad Evans have – that Rampage should stick to what he does best. I’m inclined to agree, because if money is ultimately what’s most important for Rampage, his best, long term shot probably lies with the UFC. Although, it’s easy to see that White and Evans have personal/business motivations that have biased their take on the subject.

White and the UFC are slowly realizing that a by-product of their growing popularity is the new non-MMA related opportunity for their fighters; whether it be commercials, cameos, or full out television and movie appearances. Their MMA fighters are increasingly becoming sought-after MMA personalities, and pulled in various different directions.

As a result, the UFC has to be even more selective in terms of whom it invests a ton of time, money, promotional effort into. That isn’t to say that the UFC should have never pushed Jackson in the first place – with his talent and personality they were absolutely right to. It says that the UFC, if given the choice needs to evaluate the commitment levels of its fighters. Specifically, it also means finding a way to secure the participation of their fighters in events that they’ve invested heavily.

MMAPayout.com colleague David Wolf suggested that the UFC might need to create some sort of guarantee – either by veto or contractual obligation – and I agree. The fans are going to be upset, and claim that the UFC already has too much power, but it’s simply good business to protect your investment. It’s also quite fair to add a little insurance into a contract like the Ultimate Fighter series, “if you agree to particpate, you’re agreeing to a fight at this time and date.”

However, as the UFC continues to grow, the problem of success might also become part of the solution. Event related revenues are up substantially and when revenues are up, fight-related income also rises for participants. The more money the UFC can pay its fighters, the less-inclined men like Rampage will be to take non-MMA related endeavors in order to make additional money.

Rashad Evans: Thespian (Video)

March 21, 2009

Rashad On The Set of Death Warrior(Pics)

March 18, 2009

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For More pics and other exclusive content go over to http://www.movieset.com/deathwarrior. The site will be streaming Georges St Pierre during his scenes on Friday.

Check Out Rashad, Jardine, and GSP Filming Movie

March 16, 2009

MovieSet is streaming live video from the set of Death Warrior!

Death Warrior is about a gritty MMA fighter who is forced into a twisted, underground gambling ring in which he must fight to the death with other fighters. In a desperate race against time, he is forced into a series of increasingly violent life and death matches while simultaneously piecing together the puzzle which leads him to uncover the identity of the promoter and the ultimate showdown, in which there can only be one Death Warrior

MMA fans can catch some of MMA’s biggest stars like Georges St-Pierre, Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans and Hector Echavarria live on set in L.A. Today, Rashad Evans is working and Keith Jardine and George St-Pierre are coming up on March 17th and 20th.

Death Warrior’s Bill Cocoran and Hector Echavarria talk about the ethics of Mixed Martial Arts fighting as a sport, and the reasons for its growing popularity.

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