Battle of the Network Stars returns to ABC with Rousey as a team captain

May 30, 2017 reports that Ronda Rousey will be one of the permanent captains for the revival of the Battle of the Network stars.  Retired NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware will serve as the other captain.

The original show aired on ABC from 1976-1988 and pitted stars from each of the three big networks at the time: ABC, NBC and CBS performing in athletic competitions which included a dunk tank, obstacle course and tug of war.  Legendary announcer, Howard Cosell, served as the show’s original commentator.  Mike Greenberg and Joe Tessitore will serve as co-hosts for this reboot.

There will be two significant changes to this Battle than the one from yesteryear.  First, this will be a ten-episode series running weekly with its debut starting June 29th.  The original aired once or twice per year.  Secondly, the networks will not be segregated.  Instead, as the Vulture article points out, the teams will be based on the actor’s characters (e.g, cops vs. TV sitcoms, TV moms and dads vs. TV kids).

Payout Perspective:

I was a big fan of the original show and while it will be billed as an athletic competition, it always had comedic elements to it.  The remake will be interesting to see how it plays for this generation.  Rousey as captain will help draw appeal from a broad range of demos and this likely helps her propel a career outside of fighting.

3 UFC fighters on ESPN World Fame List

May 30, 2017

Anderson Silva, Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey have landed on ESPN’s top 100 list of most famous sports stars.  The second-edition of the list is based on endorsements, social media and google search popularity.

The UFC Lightweight champion comes in at number 25.  The article lists McGregor as having $4 million in endorsements.  This might be more considering he just signed a deal with Beats By Dre.

The former women’s Bantamweight champion comes in at number 16.  She has double the endorsement dollars than McGregor with $8 million.  Rousey is ranked higher than the likes of Serena Williams and Tom Brady.

Silva comes in at 39 and has as many endorsement dollars as Rousey with $8 million.  This is likely due to the popularity with Brazilian fans.

As for boxers, Manny Pacquiao (59 – $2.5M endorsements) and Canelo Alvarez (89 – $1.5M in endorsements)

Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, NBA player LeBron James and Lionel Messi are the top 3 on the ESPN lists which ranked the most popular sports stars based on endorsements and social media followers.

Payout Perspectrive:

Despite losing her one fight last year, Rousey moved up on this list.  So did McGregor.  Silva was unranked last year but jumped up to 39.  Pacquiao and Alvarez dropped down on the list.  No Floyd Mayweather here since he rarely does endorsements.  What the list shows for MMA (and boxing for that matter) is that the most popular stars of the sport are leaving.  Rousey should be retired and the same is likely true for Silva.  McGregor is chasing Mayweather and if he fights Floyd, it will be hard to get him back into the Octagon to fight for less money.  The list shows that the UFC must look to build new stars to take over for the most famous right now.

As for boxing, the decrease in Alvarez’s ranking is odd considering he is heading into a huge year and is the only one of the combat sports stars on this list that has a certain future in his sport beyond this year.  One might expect someone like Anthony Joshua appearing high on this list next year.

Beats By Dre signs Conor McGregor

May 29, 2017

Beats By Dre has signed Conor McGregor to an endorsement deal.  McGregor joins the list of athletes that the headphone company is signing.

You might recall that McGregor was one of several athletes that was featured in a Beats By Dre commercial in December.  His partnership with the company is now official.

In addition to Beats By Dre, McGregor has sponsorship deals with Reebok, Monster Energy and Bud Light.  The company is deepening its relationship with mainstream athletes and McGregor is considered one of these athletes.

Payout Perspective:

The deal should be beneficial to both sides.  If the Mayweather fight happens, Beats wins with the anticipated exposure from the fight.  McGregor gets another sponsor deal to add to his list of blue chip brands.  It also reflects the belief that McGregor is a mainstream star that most would recognize.

Nate Diaz is selling wine

May 5, 2017

Nate Diaz says he has a lot going on outside of fighting and maybe he does.  According to his latest social media post, he is promoting wine in Northern California.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani on Wednesday, Diaz talked extensively about what he is up which includes working with marijuana businesses and apparently, wine.

@tysonrip79 Coolest wine billboard ever✔️ Big thanks to @natediaz209 @concretewineco @rippeyfamilyvineyards @vinturewineco @reignwine #natediaz #lodivintners #lodi #tank209 #209 @lodi_wine photo cred: @fotopimp

A post shared by natediaz209 (@natediaz209) on

MMA Junkie confirmed the billboard is real with the fighter’s publicist Zach Rosenfeld.  Rosenfeld is the son of longtime public relations exec Stan Rosenfeld.  Zach joined his father’s firm to start a sports practice.

In the interview this past Wednesday, Diaz stated that he turned down a fight with Tony Ferguson for this July at UFC 213.  He also stated that the UFC has extended his fight contract with the company due to the fact he has been inactive.

Payout Perspective:

While the billboard is odd, Diaz is expanding outside of the Octagon which is a good move and a look toward a life where he no longer needs to fight to earn money.  Notably, his brother Nick has a Bobblehead Night this Sunday at the minor league, Stockton Ports game.  On July 14th, Nate will have his own Bobblehead Night with the team.  So, it does seem that there is a strategy to focus on his local notoriety and perhaps expand later on.  We shall see if Diaz steps back into the Octagon anytime soon.

Conor McGregor named to Time’s list of “100 Most Influential People”

April 20, 2017

Conor McGregor has made Time magazine’s of 100 “Most Influential People” in the world.  Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote the profile for Time.

The former Governor of California’s writeup on Conor is here.

Previously, Time Magazine picked Ronda Rousey on a list of those “30 People Under 30 Changing the World.”

Payout Perspective:

McGregor’s brazen interviews and outlandish lifestyle coupled with his success in the Octagon has made him one of the top names in combat sports and someone that people not following the sport knows.  He has single-handedly talked himself into a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.  Moreover, he’s talked himself into possibly one of the biggest paydays in combat sports.

ARod purchases UFC GYM in Florida, rights to open more

March 21, 2017

Former major league baseball player Alex Rodriguez has purchased a UFC GYM in Kendall, Florida and has acquired the development rights for the creation of more UFC-branded gyms in Miami-Dade County.

Rodriguez, the former Seattle Mariner/Texas Ranger and New York Yankees shortstop/third base man, takes over the only UFC gym in Miami-Dade County.  Technically, the UFC GYMs will be owned by A-ROD Corp. which has Rodriguez as CEO.  There are six UFC GYM locations in Florida and more than 100 fitness centers in the US and Canada according to a report in the Miami Herald.

The UFC Gyms are franchises and anyone with the financial strength and business acumen to open a franchise can apply to open one.  According to the UFC Gym Franchise page, the franchises will look at areas “where there are 100,000 people within a five-mile radius and with a median household income of $50,000-$75,000.

Rodriguez owns gyms in Mexico which are on the high-end and cater to professionals.  The UFC GYM offers affordable memberships starting at $49 per month.

Payout Perspective:

Don’t look for ARod to be leading a cardio kickboxing class at the UFC Gym.  The acquisition is an investment opportunity for Arod and he carved out the region for UFC GYMs.  The fitness industry has shown an increase with it reaching an all-time high in 2015.  Perhaps ARod will follow in the footsteps of Peyton Manning, who owns over 30 Papa John’s Pizza places in the Denver area and accumulate businesses a source of passive income.

Rousey to guest star on NBC series

February 22, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Ronda Rousey will be back on television guest starring on the NBC crime-drama series “Blindspot.”

Rousey will play a female prison inmate.  The backstory of her role here:

Rousey will be playing DEVON PENBERTHY: a female prison inmate who grew up in a working-class family from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and is serving time for transporting weapons across state lines. She is a tough, athletic woman who knows how to fight and handle a weapon.

Payout Perspective:

Maybe we are seeing Rousey’s next career taking shape.  Despite losing this past December, her Hollywood agency is still seeking opportunities for her outside of the Octagon.  It will be interesting to see whether or not her last two fights and her shunning the spotlight will negatively impact her persona as she moves away from fighting.

UFC 208: Will you buy it?

February 10, 2017

UFC 208 will be the third time that the company has held a show in the state of New York since it legalized professional MMA last fall.  Are fans interested in this PPV?

In the main event, Holly Holm takes on Germaine de Randamie for the new UFC women’s featherweight title.

Also, Anderson Silva returns to action taking on Derek Brunson.

UFC 208 will be the second time a UFC card was headlined by women without Ronda Rousey as one of the main eventers.  The other, UFC 200, featured Amanda Nunes and Miesha Tate.  Of course, that was by necessity with Jon Jones being pulled from that event.

One must surmise the UFC had hoped for another title fight (possibly Diaz-Conor III) to headline this card with Holm as a strong semi-main.  With McGregor taking a prolonged paternity leave and Nate Diaz trying out boxing since he claims the UFC put him on ice, fans get the matchup for a new title.

Perhaps this slot was to be for Cris “Cyborg” Justino.  But, she was flagged by USADA.

So, it comes down to Holly Holm.  While Germaine de Randamie might be a promising fighter, she has only 2 fights since 2015.

Holm is on a 2-fight losing streak which included losing the title to Miesha Tate in March and then dropping a decision to Valentina Shevchenko in late July.

However, the latter fight, which aired on Fox, scored the highest rating for a summer show since the company has been on Fox.

Her main event loss to Shevchenko peaked at over 4.6 million viewers with the broadcast averaging near 3 million viewers.  Holm defeated Ronda Rousey in November 2015 to tear down the former undefeated champ’s mystique and essentially end her career.

But, is her appeal enough to draw on PPV?

Anderson Silva’s drawing power is now past its prime and marketing efforts are behind the Holm-de Randamie fight.

There are signs that this event will not draw.  There is no sponsor for the Embedded series, which have been lackluster to say the most.  UFC 208 is not trending online and the peak viewership of the weigh-ins on YouTube was comparable to that of UFC 206.  The event featuring Jose Aldo and Max Holloway drew 150,000 buys and was the lowest rate for 2016.

It appears that UFC 208 will be on par with UFC 206 as its truly a card for the hardcore UFC fans.

Coker invites Streep to Bellator 170

January 8, 2017

Jumping on the possibility of receiving mainstream possibility from an off-hand remark made by Meryl Streep during her acceptance speech at The Golden Globes Sunday night, Scott Coker sent out an invitation for her to attend Bellator’s event on January 21st.

Streep, making a statement with her speech on immigration, made a flippant remark that if the new administration were to curb foreigners from American we would be left with the “NFL and mixed martial arts.”  She added that football and MMA were not the arts.

Coker sent out a statement via twitter soon after her comments made it to social media:

Payout Perspective:

Kudos for Streep for naming the sport and not the “UFC” when referring to the sport.  For those that took her comments as a biting criticism of MMA, you are too sensitive.  As for Coker’s comments, it’s a chance at mainstream PR and an added talking point for Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz to promote.  It’s unlikely Streep will attend the event in Inglewood on January 21 but it was a chance to get the name and event in the news.

McGregor in latest Beats By Dre Ad

December 11, 2016

Conor McGregor is featured in the latest Beats headphones commercial.  The UFC lightweight champion is featured along with other athletes including LeBron James and Serena Williams with the companies new Be Heard campaign.

Footage of McGregor is used in the commercial as he is interspersed in the athlete montage.

Payout Perspective:

Although the UFC’s headphone sponsor is Monster Headphones, McGregor appears in the Beats commercial.  McGregor’s appeal and notoriety is shown by the fact he is included in this ad which was shown this past Sunday during NFL football games.

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