Dana White: FOX reason why Gustafsson is fighting on Fight Pass for Americans

March 10, 2014

Before the Ultimate Fight Night 37 London card, Dana White held one of his infamous pre-fight scrums where he tried to clear up some of the misconceptions regarding Fight Pass, including why Alexander Gustafsson ended up fighting on Fight Pass after a huge fight against Jon Jones on PPV last year.

Link: TheMMAReport, Abbey Subhan (YouTube)

Dana White addressing Fight Pass to the UK MMA media:

“First of all, the fight is being distributed to 350 million possible viewers [lists all countries available]. In the UK, the entire card will be on BT Sport and the main event for the first time ever here will be on Channel 5, open TV to everybody… The Americans have to pay for it on Fight Pass.  So the reason that this happened is, we added 10 more fights, we went to FOX and try to see if FOX would pick up these 10 more fights, and they didn’t.  So that’s why we put these on Fight Pass. They create their budgets at the beginning of the year and it wasn’t in their budget to pick up these fights. You know, not to say they don’t pick them up later, or whatever could happen with the deal, but that’s what happened. So, it’s either no one gets to see them or you put them on Fight Pass.  So, I hope that clears up some of the questions about Fight Pass… and anybody else and the rest of the world and countries I didn’t call, that I didn’t say a minute ago, they get it on Fight Pass too. Which of course all these people in other countries are pumped to pay for it on Fight Pass, whereas the Americans who are used to getting these fights for free, some of them are a little twisted, but whatever, what are you going to do.”

 

Payout Perspective:

These pre-fight scrums have historically produced some of the more interesting tidbits and have shed some light into what goes on behind the scenes of their business.  This was no different as Dana White specifically mentions that their mainstream television network partner, FOX, chose not to pickup these extra 10 UFC events, hence why UFN 37 and some more future fights will end up on Fight Pass instead of one of the FOX sport networks for American MMA fans.  That decision alone will cost avid UFC fans 10$ a month, or an extra $120 a year in addition to the already existing cost of UFC PPVs (13 PPVs in 2014).  If you add up the cost of Fight Pass and PPV events, the total cost of being an American MMA fan (not including your cable bill or attending live events) is around $900 dollars.  As a contrast, NFL, MLB, and NBA let their fans subscribe to season subscription packages that only cost around $200-250 dollars, which is only about 25% of the cost of an American MMA fan in 2014. In fact, just buying 4 UFC PPV events would exceed the entire season’s cost of all major sports.

The other part of White’s statement that sticks out is the difference in the relationship between UFC and FOX compared to UFC’s  previous relationship with Spike TV.  FOX picked up the UFC as a sports property to be aired on their sport networks.  Other sports have a fixed number of events that never change. You make a deal for a number of events and that’s what you air.  FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 have to balance all their sport properties, and lets face it, the more mainstream sports such as NASCAR, MLB, and even NCAA Basketball will get priority on FS1.  The UFC was able to add events on a whim in the past and Spike TV was more than happy to do it as they didn’t air any other sports or conflicting programming that would also give them good ratings.

This is not the case now that the UFC is on a sports network.  It’s also the reason why something that doesn’t have full promotional support, such as TUF Nations, is getting bounced around between FS1 and FS2 and has bottomed out at below 100,000 viewers.  The next season of TUF on Fox Sports 1 will be crucial for the UFC to see if they can regain the momentum picked up last season.  With the addition of Fight Pass, their current product is currently scattered between FOX, FS1, FS2, PPV, and Fight Pass (subscription), which has been argued as a necessity for UFC international expansion to be a success. But at the same time, it also leaves a portion of its American fan base, as Dana White put it, a bit “twisted”. UFC and FOX failed to come into an event agreement for 2014 that other networks around the world were able to make, and because of that, American fans are left to foot the bill.

Ronda Rousey’s Impact on UFC 170

February 22, 2014

UFC 170 was supposed to feature Ronda Rousey versus Sara McMann, Rashad Evans versus Daniel Cormier, and Gilbert Melendez versus Khabib Nurmagomedov. Three really great fights many fans were looking forward to since the announcement was made during the UFC 168 post-fight press conference. A lot has changed since then.

ufc-170-poster-Melendez

About a month after the announcement, we started to get some displeasure between the UFC and Melendez about signing a new contract.  The UFC quickly mentioned that Melendez vs Nurmagomedov was never official despite being on the UFC 170 poster.  Considering that Melendez eventually signed with Bellator and is now waiting to see if the UFC will match their offer, we now know what happened with that bout.  Just a few weeks later, Rashad Evans abruptly announced that he was being pulled out of his fight against Cormier due to a leg injury with only two weeks left until the event. That announcement created a mad scramble for the UFC to find an opponent for Cormier, which led to booking unknown Pat Cummins in the co-main event against Cormier.  That left us with only one fight in tact since the original announcement, Rousey vs McMann.

It’s rare to see someone with only two UFC fights being put in the position that Ronda Rousey is in for UFC 170, but considering the huge success of UFC 168, it left the UFC with no other options.  Rousey was always going to be the mainstream attraction for UFC 170.  But after Melendez and Evans pulled out of the card, there is no denying that the success of the event will be solely on Rousey’s shoulders, which is even more daunting considering the short turn-round and the lack of time to promote the event as UFC 168 and UFC 157 had. UFC 168 had 500K+ Google Hot Searches though it ended up with 2M+ due to Anderson Silva’s gruesome leg break. Rousey’s UFC debut for UFC 157 ended up with 200K+ searches, which is a better comparable than UFC 168. As the UFC 170 event begins, Ronda Rousey already has 100K+ searches without any other UFC search in near sight. UFC 169 only had 100K+ total searches for the event, which is a remarkable comparison.

With that being said, UFC 157 did an estimated 450,000 PPV buys with a ton of casual media attention as the UFC heavily promoted the debut of women in the promotion.  UFC 170 won’t have that benefit, but it does have the momentum UFC 168 created with MMA and casual fans.  If you look at the numbers and the lack of stars on the UFC 170 card, anything above 400,000 buys would have to see as a major win for the UFC and would make Rousey one of it’s biggest draws.  300,000 – 400,000 would be deemed acceptable and anything below 300,000 would be considered a disappointment.

With Rousey already having a couple of movies lined up in 2014, the UFC is trying to get the most out of their newest main-stream star by declaring a few days ago that they are planning to have her fight three times this year in addition to her movie responsibilities, which would be an incredible feat without burning out.  With the recent talk of Cyborg dropping Tito Ortiz as her manager, potentially dropping to 135 lbs and possibly facing Rousey this year, it would likely be the UFC’s biggest fight in 2014 when you consider the loss of Georges St. Pierre (on leave/retired) and Anderson Silva (broken leg/39 years old), two of their biggest stars and PPV draws.

UFC PPV 2013 Review + Updates

December 31, 2013

Now that thirteen UFC PPV’s are in the books for 2013, we can start to analyze UFC’s performance this year in terms of their most important revenue stream, PPV purchases.

UFC-Logo-500px

Although PPV buys were estimated throughout the year, many are quietly adjusted and made more accurate throughout the year. Here is an updated list, which you can also find in our Blue Book Pay-Per-View section.

UFC PPV Buys 2013

Event

PPV Buy Rate

Main Event

UFC 168

????

Weidman-Silva II

UFC167

630,000

GSP-Hendricks

UFC 166

330,000

Velasquez-JDS III

UFC 165

310,000

Jones-Gus

UFC 164

270,000

Henderson-Pettis

UFC 163

180,000

Aldo-Zombie

UFC 162

550,000

Silva-Weidman I

UFC 161

140,000

Evans-Hendo

UFC 160

380,000

Cain-Bigfoot II

UFC 159

530,000

Jones-Sonnen

UFC 158

950,000

GSP-Diaz

UFC 157

450,000

Rousey-Carmouche

UFC 156

330,000

Aldo-Edgar

- Total: 5.05M*, Average: 420K*

 

UFC Fighter PPV Average Buys 2013

Fighter (main event)

PPV Buy Rate Average

Georges St. Pierre

790,000

Andeson Silva*

550,000**

Ronda Rousey*

450,000**

Jon Jones

420,000

Cain Velasquez

355,000

Jose Aldo

255,000

* Excludes UFC 168
** Only 1 event used in average

 

Payout Perspective:

Some of the big updates to the list include the final number for UFC 167, which can now be listed at 630K PPV buys, which falls to one of the lowest PPV numbers GSP has pulled in quite some time but still ranks second in 2013 (excluding UFC 168).  The second number to look at is UFC 165: Jones vs Gustafsson.  This PPV number has now dropped to 310K, which is the lowest PPV buy number Jones has ever done as a champion.  UFC 159: Jones vs Sonnen also suffers a slight drop from 550K to 530K buys.  Last but not least, is UFC 161′s buyrate of 140K, which ties UFC 147: Frankling vs Wandy II, which is the lowest UFC PPV Zuffa has promoted in the last 10 or so years. On the positive side, UFC 163: Aldo vs Zombie gets a small boost from 170K to 180K PPV buys.

In terms of PPV draws for 2013, GSP is once again the PPV king, followed by Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey, and Jon Jones.  Cain Velasquez and Jose Aldo come in near the bottom.  Its also important to note that the UFC will be without GSP and Anderson Silva for at least most of 2014, so it is going to be a trying year with many obstacles to overcome.

Reference:  MMA Payout’s Blue Book &  Dave Meltzer (The Wrestling Observer).

PTI claims Boxing dead

September 14, 2013

Want to raise passion among combat sport fans? Advise the world the death of a sport.

This happened with ESPN Pardon The Interruption recently as Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, the Stadler and Waldorf of the network talking heads decried that boxing was dead.  Certainly, a part of this proclamation was to ignite a fire.  It certainly drew the ire of ESPN’s own boxing writer Dan Rafael.  On Friday, the two pondered whether a Mayweather win or a Canelo win would be good for the sport.

The two questioned that if Canelo won it would provide an immediate rematch with Mayweather which would regain boxing’s momentum as more people would get to know Canelo (and get behind the 23 year old) for an inevitable Cinco de Mayo redux.  A Mayweather win would mean that the 36 year old would continue the Money train and handpick another fighter for the third of six fights on his Showtime contract.  Its a sign of dominance of a sport that is rarely seen.

Personally, I like Kornheiser and Wilbon despite not agreeing with everything they might opine.  Certainly, they aren’t fans of MMA, but I respect their opinions with the exception of Wilbon’s rudderless following of NBA protocol during its season.

But the PTI guys suggest that the sport is dead because its their belief that “The One” is just that – the one.  There are no longer multiple big fights in a year.  There is just a singular event that gets the fight fans revved up for a night.  Moreover, there aren’t too many household names in boxing.  Perhaps the introduction of a new name like Canelo will get more fans to take notice.

But, Kornheiser and Wilbon may be wrong.  According to a survey in May, boxing is still popular among 30-44 year olds as well as the Spanish/Hispanic demographic.  This is due to the fact that the older generation grew up with boxing on free television.  As for the Spanish/Hispanic demographic, boxing stars of that ethnicity are more prevalent.  Juan Manuel Marquez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. are prime examples.  One need only think of Chavez, Jr and the Argentine Sergio Martinez fight from last year to recognize the nationalistic pride for country within the sport.

This year, the undercard of “The One” will feature Danny Garcia versus another Argentine Lucas Matthysse in a matchup that may have fight fans in their seats a little earlier than normal.

But if you are thinking about reasons why the sport is dying you may look to issues such a pay.  While many boxers are compensated better than many MMA fighters, the problem of pay is an issue not just limited to MMA.  Thus, fixes within the sport must be addressed.

The issue of corruption has always been a theme simmering under the surface of the sport.  The Muhammad Ali Act was put into place to protect fighters.  However, few fighters have taken advantage of the protections of the act and no fighters have prevailed in a lawsuit under the Act.  The expense of litigation is one of the main factors that fighters do not utilize the Act.  A recent law article in the Sports Lawyers Journal proposed that the Act be modified to allow the fighters to arbitrate their issues with promoters which would be less expensive and potentially promote more fighters to speak up if they feel wronged.

Then, there are the issues of performance enhancing drugs, the alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies and the Golden Boy-Top Rank feud which will refuse to put together fights.  There’s a lot to clean up.  But, no sport is perfect.  Of course, no one is suggesting other sports are dead.

Payout Perspective:

Boxing is not dead.  But, will most of us be able to see it should be the question.  Last year, it returned to network television on both NBC and CBS and did well ratings-wise.  NBC Sports Network’s quarterly showings of boxing events have had decent showings as well.  On the other hand, FS1’s Golden Boy offerings have not done well in the ratings although it may be too soon to tell.  The recent signing of boxers by Showtime has developed a rivalry with HBO.  The issue for consumers is whether its worth spending money on the premium channels to watch the fights the networks provide.  If you are not fans of “Homeland” or “Boardwalk Empire”, would you really want to spend an extra $30 on your cable bill just to see boxing?

Saturday’s PPV event will remind the sporting world that boxing is a spectacle and if more people were exposed to its fighters, it might regain the recognition it once had.

UFC 164: Payout Perspective

September 2, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we go to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and take a look at UFC 164 where the lightweight title changed hands.

Stain remains for Bendo as Showtime subs Henderson

In a sudden, decisive and anti-climactic way, Benson Henderson’s title reign ended Saturday as Anthony Pettis made Bendo submit to an armbar in the first round.  Henderson, a newly minted jiu jitsu black belt appeared to use a technique known as the “can opener” while in Pettis’ guard (a move used by GSP as well) to improve position and open guard. The problem is that the technique is susceptible to an armbar.

Pettis wins the lightweight title and might have a shot at Jose Aldo in his next fight dependent on the status of his knee.  A bad spot for Henderson here.  With the decisive loss, Henderson will have to wait for Pettis to lose the title and/or win a couple fights in a row in decisive fashion.  For a guy that defended the belt three times and having to had defend it a fourth time in Pettis’ hometown, and then told he wouldn’t get a rematch, it has to be deflating.

UFC_164_Bendo_vs_Pettis

War Master KOs Mir

Both guys have reasons to hate them.  In this battle, Barnett was able to land a knee which took Mir down.  While the stoppage may have been premature, Mir did not look like someone that could have made a comeback.  It will be interesting to see where the UFC puts Barnett next.  He could be a contender, but he did just fight a past his prime Mir. As some have suggested, a Mir-Overeem matchup seems just right for so many reasons.

Mendes takes care of The Carpenter

Chad Mendes solidified his position as next in line for the Featherweight title as he knocked out Clay Guida.  Prior to the stoppage, Guida had never been stopped in his career.

Its his fourth straight stoppage since being stopped himself by Jose Aldo in January 2012.  Depending on whether Aldo fights Pettis, Mendes should get the next shot at Aldo.  If not, Ricardo Lamas or Cub Swanson seem ready for him.

Rothwell stops The Truth

Ben Rothwell decided to do a “Clay Guida” like impression in the final round of his fight with Brandon Vera and overwhelmed Vera causing him to cover himself waiting for the ref to stop the fight.  Rothwell used his post-Octagon interview time to thank the fans and then call out Travis Browne.  For the second straight fight, Vera was in a position where he waited for the ref stoppage (Shogun Rua stopped Vera last August in similar fashion).

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

As we reported earlier, attendance was 9,178 for a gate of $907,116.  It was decisively better for a previous visit to the Bradley Center for a UFC on Versus 5 card.

Bonuses of $50K each were given to Anthony Pettis (Sub), Chad Mendes (KO) and Hyung Gim Lin and Pascal Krauss (FOTN).  Arguably, Lin could have been a double recipient for KO.  Magnus Cedenblad could have had the Sub of the Night as well for his quick work on the prelim card.

UFC Countdown

The Countdown show featured The Showtime Kick…of course.  Aside from hearing about the history of the fight that shut down the WEC, the feature on Josh Barnett and Frank Mir was excellent.  It reminded people that both these guys held the UFC title at one point.

Sponsorships

The Octagon sponsors included TapouT, UltimatePoker.net, Dodge, MetroPCS, MusclePharm, the latest video game from Assassin’s Creed, Harley Davidson and Bud Light in the center.  The Discovery Channel’s Ahmish Mafia also sponsored the PPV which I do not quite understand.

UFC 164 was sponsored/presented by Harley Davidson which presented its Hometown Throwdown promotion for the 110th Anniversary of the company.  It had a special “110” logo on the Octagon mat to commemorate the occasion. Also, Harley Davidsons graced the stage during the weigh-ins and Arianny and Brittany wore the branded colors of Harley Davidson. There were also Harley Davidson events which included UFC fighters doing autograph signings as part of the brand activation.

Pettis’ sponsors included Hayabusa, Headrush, Corn Nuts and Toyo Tires.  Henderson was sponsored by Dethrone which also came out with Dethrone “toothpicks”. Phoenix International Speedway, Musclepharm and Training Mask were the ex-champs other sponsors.  FighterxFashion has Henderson’s fight shorts here which depicts the fact he now has a jiu jitsu black belt.

Hayabusa had a cadre of fighters wearing its shorts including Pettis.

Frank Mir was sponsored by the UFC and also wore out the UFC sponsored Monster Headphones to the ring.  He also had big logos for Midway, which appears to be some sort of exercise equipment.

Best walkout shirt of the night was Josh Barnett’s which was drawn by Kiyoshi Nakazawa.

Post-UFC 164 Headlines

Who is next for Pettis?  It was made clear that Benson Henderson would not get a rematch.  It appears that Pettis may want to go after Jose Aldo which begs the questions of whether the UFC wants a “superfight” between two of its division champions which it could market and sell for the possibility of a high PPV number.  Or, does the UFC make Pettis defend against TJ Grant.  While he’s earned the shot, Grant is not really known and would not elevate Pettis in terms of PPV star.  While Pettis is not a PPV draw yet, he has the entertaining style, good looks and great backstory to be a guy people would want to follow (one might recall his “World of Jenks” episode) He is a marketable fighter and one would think the UFC needs to capitalize on this.

Truth departure likely delayed.  The UFC has been kind to Brandon Vera.  He was cut but that was rescinded when it was discovered that Thiago Silva tested positive for a banned substance.  The announcement that the UFC wants to head to the Philippines in 2014 means that Vera is likely to stay in the UFC to help promote the visit as well as fight.  Aside from this, there is no reason why Vera should stay.

Odds and Ends

-Since its debut on FS1, it appears that the UFC is putting up Vegas Odds in the introductory fighter graphic.  An interesting move.  Does this encourage people to gamble?

-Pettis’ chain he wore post-fight was a nice touch.

-Somewhere Brian Stann was likely smiling.  Vera had called out Brian Stann for questioning Phil Davis’ win over Lyoto Machida.

-Sure Barnett has had a checkered past, but how can you not like a guy that almost suplexed Joe Rogan in his post-Octagon interview.

-Doesn’t Tim Elliott look like the WWE’s Daniel Bryan?

-Dethrone trotted out Benson Henderson toothpicks (via FighterxFashion) so you too can learn this disgusting habit.

ben-henderson-toothpicks

Conclusion

It was an entertaining card which had a very intriguing rematch in the main event.  But was that enough?  The start of college football season and the three day weekend may contribute to a lower PPV buy rate.  In addition, the lack of a true PPV star will limit the amount of buys.  One might expect around 300,000 buys for this event.

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. 

Alvarez talks about legal case with Bellator

May 9, 2013

After tweeting his displeasure for his legal troubles, Eddie Alvarez made his appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday to give his side of the story in the Bellator battle.  He also made an appearance on MMA Junkie radio Tuesday pleading his case.

Although he said he didn’t know too much about law when talking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Alvarez gave a legal update on his case.  To be fair, Alvarez correctly stated that the case was in the discovery phase.

The MMA Hour interview came after tweeting about Bellator and how Bjorn Rebney was a “grunt” and that Viacom and Spike are “idiots.”

But the bulk of the interview on The MMA Hour dealt with the legal case and a rehashing of the contract matching issue which the Court denied in Alvarez’s motion for a preliminary injunction in January.  A favorable ruling would have allowed Alvarez to negotiate a contract with the UFC and leave Bellator behind.  However, the Court decided that the factual issue of whether or not Bellator matched the terms of the UFC contract would be determined at a later date.  Alvarez stated on MMA Junkie radio that he didn’t expect the Court to grant the Preliminary Injunction.

On MMA Junkie Radio, Alvarez indicated that he talked with Bellator in New Mexico in an effort to settle the case but stated that he could not reveal the substance of the communications.  Legally speaking, the settlement discussions are confidential and governed by certain evidentiary rules.

Alvarez claimed that Bellator changed words in his original contract which included an addendum which waived a renegotiation period and allowed an exclusive negotiating period with Zuffa.  However, Alvarez claims that a term in the addendum was changed from “all terms” in to “material terms.”  The documents do not appear to be in the legal filings in the case.  Alvarez indicated he would post the documents on twitter which shows the different terms.  However, as of the time of this writing, the documents have not been posted.

Payout Perspective:

Alvarez stated his case well but the issues he argues doesn’t do anything other than the possibility of getting him into more legal troubles.  The “matching” issue was already decided by the Court at the Preliminary Injunction in that there would be no decision on the matching issue.  Its definitely the Court punting on a key issue in the matter but there is a legal basis for waiting to hear the information provided in the discovery process.  However, in the Court PI opinion, it did cite that the Court “must apply a common-sense interpretation to the word “match.”  This was in reference to the issue of whether Bellator had to match the Zuffa contract verbatim.

But, why go after Viacom?  It may not know anything about MMA, but it is investing money into the sport.  Without Fox and Viacom investing in MMA, it would not be as popular as it is today.  Certainly, I do feel for Alvarez to a certain extent as he’s been put in a tough position.  He no longer wants to work for his employer but his employer is pulling him back in.  Perhaps he didn’t know that he’d be in this position when he signed his contract with Bellator or didn’t think that Bellator would put up such a fight.

Regardless of whether or not Alvarez is telling the truth, talking (and tweeting) is a risky move especially in contentious litigation.  There is the potential for further claims and using tweets and Alvarez’s interviews as evidence in the future.

UFC explains reinstatement of Mitrione

April 29, 2013

The UFC has provided an official statement on the reinstatement of Matt Mitrione.  It came a day after the UFC announced his return to the Octagon in July.

The UFC issued a statement indicating that Mitrione received a “significant monetary penalty.”  Still, the timing of the fight announcement and communication concerning the lifting of the suspension seemed out of order and lessened the credibility of the UFC Code of Conduct.

MMA Fighting explained the reasons for the initial suspension:

Letting these comments go without any company reaction would not only give more ammunition to the company’s political enemies, but also undo work they had done with organizations who they were friendly with. Only a few hours after the show aired, the UFC issued a statement.

Here’s a portion of the UFC statement on Mittrione after lifting the suspension via (MMA Fighting):

“The organization finds Mr. Mitrione’s comments offensive and wholly unacceptable and–as a direct result of this significant breach of the UFC’s code of conduct–Mr. Mitrione’s UFC contract has been suspended and the incident is being investigated.”

Dana White also weighed in on the situation and explained the reason for the fine as opposed to suspending him.  He also indicated that Mitrione apologized privately but did not make him make a do a public apology.  However, Mitrione apologized and chose to issue a public statement (via Bloody Elbow).

Payout Perspective:

As MMA Fighting points out, it appears that the swift suspension was just to investigate what happened rather than it being punitive.  Once the UFC determined what happened, a fine was levied and the suspension was lifted.  The question is whether it could have just put Mitrione on leave and investigate the matter and then announce the suspension.  The reason being is that a suspension and then touting the UFC Code of Conduct weakens the implied bite of a suspension under a Code of Conduct violation.  Yes, Mitrione was disciplined and it appears that he was genuinely sorry for his comments but the timing and handling appears as mangled as Jon Jones’ toe.

What was the gain in announcing Mitrione’s fight prior to the announcement of the reasons for reinstatement?  It could have announced the fine, and then do the announcement.  It does sound nit-picking but it would be a reflection to the fighters how the UFC will handle such situations.

The PR of Chael Sonnen

April 27, 2013

For MMA fans the thought of professional wrestling is beyond comparison with the real sport of the UFC.  Yet, if you want to see pro wrestling in MMA, you need only look to Chael Sonnen.

Anderson Silva you absolutely suck.” – Chael Sonnen post-fight Octagon interview at UFC 136.

In my opinion, the best start to a promo in UFC History with GSP’s admonishment of Matt Hughes: “I’m not impressed by your performance,” coming in second. Sonnen liberally uses old school pro wrestling microphone techniques to add a unique spin to get his point across.

While we may scoff at Sonnen’s antics, his brash, trash-talk has grabbed himself headlines and main events.  How is it that Sonnen was on the short list of fighters sought to replace an injured Dan Henderson at UFC 151?  At that time, Sonnen was competing in the Middleweight division.  He was chosen (after Lyoto Machida) because the UFC knew he was reliable to sell the fight.

When Jones passed on taking the match with Sonnen, UFC 151 was off and Jones and Greg Jackson took the brunt of the blame for the cancellation.  Sonnen took to social media to call out Jones and rail on the champ.  Seeing this as an opportunity, the UFC put Jones and Sonnen together as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter.  Hoping for the social media beef to continue on television, the adversaries actually became friends on the show.  As a result, the ratings did not do as well as expected. Thus, no momentum was gained from the show to the fight.  Yet, Sonnen has picked up the banter for UFC 159.

Sonnen has done the media rounds from The Jim Rome Show to ESPN. He’s bragged, he’s boasted, he claims to be making $10 million in the Jon Jones fight.  Is it because of the delivery that no one seems to challenge Sonnen on his proclamations?

He’s helped promote this fight despite receiving little assistance from the champion.  But then again, does the one man sound-bite need a partner?

Sonnen’s unabashed mouth has paid dividends for his career.  He will eventually become a full-time talking head for the UFC…and will be the best at doing that job.  He looks the part on the set of UFC Tonight of television anchorman.  He’s composed, articulate and even if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, it sounds like he does.

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While there have been claims that Sonnen may use inferences of race in promoting himself to subtly remind people that he is white and his opponent is not, it is hard to verify the truth or falsity of the claim.  Old school pro wrestling is known for racial insensitivities (YouTube any wrestling promotion in the 1970s-80s…90s…) and you will find the divide between good and bad may be based just on that.  We’re not saying this may be the cause for the inferences of race, but its a possibility.  But, the defense or the accusations of race baiting are set aside here. The purpose is to address the promotion ability of Sonnen.

In the end, will Sonnen sell pay per views as he claims he will?  Let’s take a look from when he first had the chance to get an extended amount of time in front of a microphone – his fight at UFC 117 with Anderson Silva.

UFC 117: Sonnen-Silva I – 600,000 PPV Buys

UFC 136:  Sonnen-Stann – 225,000 PPV Buys

UFC 148:  Sonnen-Silva II – 925,000 PPV Buys

This does not include Sonnen’s fight with Michael Bisping at UFC on Fox 2 in January 2012.  Still, Sonnen sold UFC 117 almost all by himself.  He put the heat on Silva and almost pulled off the upset. I suggest watching the documentary “Like Water” to see that fight from Silva’s perspective.  Silva did assist in providing some heat to the rematch at 148.  Yet, Sonnen was still the center of attention.

However, UFC 136 seemed like an anomaly.   It marked the return of Sonnen from suspension.  It was headlined by Maynard-Edgar and Aldo-Florian yet only received 225,000 buys. UFC 159 should do well because of Sonnen’s constant sell for the fight and Jones’ ability to fight.

Do people tire of Sonnen’s gimmick?  Yes.  Will people stop watching him because of it?  Probably not.  Sonnen’s tactics in promoting fights are questionable but one thing is certain, he makes his presence known and tries his best to make you take notice.

Mitrione suspended for Fallon Fox comments

April 8, 2013

Coming off of a First Round TKO Saturday, Matt Mitrione was feeling good as he returned to The MMA Hour for his “Mitrione Minute.”  However, his “jokes” and then commentary on transgender fighter Fallon Fox got him suspended by the UFC.

The UFC suspended Mitrione from his UFC contract based upon a violation of the Code of Conduct included in each fighter’s contract.

Mitrione’s controversial comments came after a Lloyd Irvin “rape joke” which he actually had written down.  Mitrone is a regular guest on Ariel Helwani’s show and a part of his schtick is jokes or thoughts he’s written down.  Mitrione called Fox a “disgusting freak” and referred to her as “he”.

Mitrone stated that Fox is someone that wants to beat on women.  He analogized Fallon Fox beating women to the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation.

Zuffa acted swiftly by suspending Mitrione and calling for an investigation:

“The UFC was appalled by the transphobic comments made by heavyweight Matt Mitrione today in an interview on the ‘MMA Hour.’

“The organization finds Mr. Mitrione’s comments offensive and wholly unacceptable and — as a direct result of this significant breach of the UFC’s code of conduct – Mr. Mitrione’s UFC contract has been suspended and the incident is being investigated.

“The UFC is a friend and ally of the LGBT community, and expects and requires all 450 of its athletes to treat others with dignity and respect.”

Payout Perspective:

According to a Bleacher Report (via Bloody Elbow) article, the UFC Code of Conduct may include a financial penalty and community service.  The community service may include working in the community for which the fighter made disparaging comments.  This may mean Mitrione working with a transgender organization.  Although less publicized as a violation of the Code of Conduct, you might recall tweets made by Forrest Griffin about rape and then Griffin appearing and making a donation at a women’s shelter.

For the UFC, Mitrione’s comments go beyond Fox.  His comments may offend a whole community of people that may be fans of the UFC.  If the UFC did not respond, it could have faced a storm of bad publicity.  Moreover, the silence could be seen as an endorsement of Mitrone’s comments.

Maybe the “Mitrione Minute” on The MMA Hour should have been more like 45 seconds.  Mitrone usually is off color and uncensored on the show but for him to have a great fight and then do something so foolish just to put himself over was unnecessary.  What was ironic is that he said he was going to do whatever the UFC wanted him to do with respect to who he would fight next.  Now, he’s going to have to hope the UFC lets him fight in the organization again.

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