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.

chaelsonnen081310

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.

Wandy Fools Around on Monday

April 2, 2013

Quite a stir was caused on Monday when Wanderlei Silva tweeted that he had been contacted by the UFC about filling in to fight Gegard Mousasi at UFC on Fuel TV 9.  While many picked up on it as true, Silva was playing an April Fool’s Day prank.

As many reported and confirmed on Tuesday, Alexsander Gustafsson had an injury and was required to pull out of the fight.  No opponent was announced by the UFC until Dana White named Gustafsson’s training partner as the new opponent.

Before confirmation of the injury, Silva took to twitter stating that he was going to fight Mousasi.  Even Mousasi tweeted that he was not sure if he had an opponent on Monday.   Silva revealed that it was all a part of April Fool’s Day.

H/T via Cagewriter

Payout Perspective:

The power of social media.  Without it, Silva probably would not have caused such a stir.  Silva made a statement, followers took the statement as true and others picked up on it.  It shows how people consume their news and its a cautionary tale for media (including us) to ensure what we report is true.  Even looking through MMA tweets about Silva possibly fighting on Saturday there was little verification on whether the report was true.  Further, there was no mention that it was April 1st…and the possibility that the story might be a hoax.  What Silva’s ruse did amounted to was a stealth PR campaign to get some attention.  Its something that happens on twitter all the time.

A recent post on StiffJab outlines the problem through the example of false reports of boxer LaMont Peterson failing a drug test.  There is a need to be first, get page views and followers.  Many times the sacrifice comes with a cost.  While Silva’s “prank” was relatively harmless, it did highlight an issue with social media and reporting.

Zuffa Copyright Claim Correct Action Under DMCA

March 28, 2013

Can Zuffa have YouTube take down a video of Nick Diaz being told by a UFC official that the Quebec Athletic Commission would grant the fighters a 0.9 pound allowance of the mandatory 170 pound weight limit?  Short Answer:  Yes.

The UFC’s decision to take down the video of UFC Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs and Assistant General Counsel (what a title) Michael Mersch  has sparked controversy as many have questioned whether its legal.  It is.

Bloody Elbow took issue with the UFC making a copyright claim:

The video was of a conversation, the UFC does not own a copyright on conversations that take place in the stadium seats. Nor does it own a copyright on anything actually shown in the video. The video doesn’t even show something like the Octagon which the UFC could try to make some sort of (wrong) claim that violated their copyright. It is strictly a conversation in the stadium seats.

But the issue is not the substance of the video but where the video was taken.  It was taken backstage at the weigh-ins.  In order to get there, one must obtain access from the UFC.  And while we do not have definitive information on this, it’s likely that the UFC made each person sign something and/or wear a pass to get to the back.  We also assume that the UFC limits its liability as well as has language which states that it owns rights to videos, images, sounds, etc. for those entering the backstage area.  Its not a public area although we might think it is.  Certainly, we all would want to hang out before weigh-ins if we could.  But we cannot.  Why?  We don’t have the necessary access.  

If we may infer from the UFC fighter contracts, the UFC has contemplated the control of pre and post-bout access.  One can look to the Eddie Alvarez contract which was produced in the Bellator litigation to take note that pre and post bout happenings are covered by the UFC.

 The Alvarez Promotional and Ancillary Rights Agreement is a section entitled, Ancillary Rights.  The section provides an exhaustive list of rights that the fighter agrees to grant Zuffa.  Among the rights is Section 2.3(b) which states:

2.3.  The Rights include the following:

 b.  All media, including, but not limited to, motion picture, radio, television (which term whenever referred to herein shall include, without limitation, live or delayed, interactive, home or theater, over-the-air broadcast, pay, pay-per-view, satellite, closed circuit, cable, subscription, Video On Demand, Near Video On Demand, Subscription Video On Demand, multi-point, master antenna, or other), telephone, wireless, computer, CD-ROM, DVD, any and all Internet applications (including,without limitation, netcasting, podcasting, direct download, streamed webcasting, internet channels (e.g., Youtube) or any other form of digital media download or web syndication), films and tapes for exhibition in any and all media and all gauges, including but not limited to video and audio cassettes and disks, home video and computer games, arcade video games, hand-held versions of video games, video slot machines, photographs (including raw footage, out-takes and negatives), merchandising and program rights, in connection with or based upon the UFC brand, the Bouts or activities pertaining to the Bouts, including but not limited to, training, interviews, press conferences, weigh-ins and behind-the-scenes footage for the Bouts (the “Pre-Bout Events”), post-fight interviews and press conferences (the “Post Bout Events”) and any parts thereof on a commercial, sustaining, theatrical or other basis, and by any and all means, methods and devices whatsoever, now existing or hereafter devised. (our emphasis)

An interesting note about the Ancillary Rights that Zuffa will retain from the fighter.  It lasts in perpetuity – even after the fighter dies.  Yes, its repetitive but emphasizes that Zuffa owns the rights forever.

Based on this particular language, it means that someone like Nick Diaz probably signed over his rights to any “Pre-Bout Events” such as a “behind-the-scenes footage.”  Even if the video was shot by someone else, it still features a UFC official and Diaz talking backstage at a UFC weigh-in.  Thus, the UFC could make the copyright claim.

There are steps that an individual can do to reclaim their video.  The first is to send a counter-notification.  

Via YouTube re counter-notification:

A counter notification is a legal request for YouTube to reinstate a video that has been removed for alleged copyright infringement. The process may only be pursued in instances where the upload was removed or disabled as a result of a mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled, such fair use. It should not be pursued under any other circumstances.

Bloody Elbow via MMA Junkie’s Stephen Marocco states that the person that uploaded the video has filed a counter-notification.  

If the video does reappear as a result of the counter-notification, the UFC could file suit.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the center of this copyright claim controversy as all of the claims to take down videos online are based on this law.  It is used by media companies to protect its intellectual property.  It can be a confusing law as to what rights an individual may have to upload videos to sites like YouTube.  

This issue of a spectator’s rights at a sporting event came up with NASCAR this past February.  NASCAR has flipped on its stance on the reasons for taking down spectator videos of the crash but the fact remains that NASCAR had licensed its rights to the images.  Poynter.org has an interesting recap of the NASCAR event as well as arguing whether NASCAR had a legit claim to take down a video of the crash.  One of the arguments made is that facts cannot be copyrighted.  One of the commenters (with a legal background) noted a case, NBA v. Motorola, which found in favor of a pager service that would provide live scores and stats of NBA games.  The Court held that while the official recordings of the NBA may be protected by copyright law, actual athletic events are not copyrightable.  The commenter believed that the holding in the case was premised on the logic that the NBA could assert protections over its official recordings, but not over every recording in the arena.  

Certainly this rationale goes against the UFC’s copyright claim here and our argument that it is valid.  But the contractual issue probably would hold the day here.  If Diaz and other contracted UFC fighters in the video signed Zuffa fight contracts, they likely signed over their Ancillary Rights as well.  Thus, the UFC would have a strong case to stake its claim to have YouTube take down the video.

Chris Camozzi takes stand against lowball fight sponsor offers

March 23, 2013

Chris Camozzi made some headlines pre-UFC 158 with a blog post which outlined a pattern of low offers made by sponsors.  Camozzi called out the fighters and managers that take low offers which lower the standard for everyone.

Camozzi wrote that despite UFC 158 being a big card it did not mean a windfall when it comes to sponsorship.  His blog post, found on his web page, did not request the UFC do something about the lowball sponsors offers or the sponsors to cease its tactics but the fighters to turn down such low offers.  As an example, he cited that a couple years ago a walkout shirt could make $10K if a fighter appeared on the main card of a PPV.  He stated that for UFC 158 he was offered $3K.

In the same post, Camozzi indicated that he is against a union as that is a “lazy” way for allowing another to set a baseline.  He called for up and coming fighters not to take low offers from sponsors.  He states that he turned down more money at UFC 158 to make the point.  He also reminded fighters that the sponsors paid between 5 and 7 figures for “permission” from the UFC to have ads displayed on fighters and its the sponsors that need the fighters not the other way around.

Payout Perspective:

Camozzi’s post is interesting as he’s requesting other fighters to “leave money on the table” in order to take a stand.  This sounds good but for the present conditions in the UFC, it’s a hard proposition to follow.  In a crowded fighter roster, one loss could spell the end of your UFC career.  From an up and coming fighter’s perspective, if you do not capitalize now, you may never have that chance.  If you are a manager, one would hope you are trying to get as many sponsors as you can for your fighter.  But, if you are on the prelims, one can imagine it being harder to find sponsors.  So, if posed with an offer that is less, do you take it or turn it down waiting for a better offer?  An offer that may never come.

Camozzi does make a point.  At times, the UFC will be making more money from its sponsor fee than the fighters will from the sponsors.  Sponsors need fighters to advertise their brand and fighters should be compensated accordingly.

One of the problems is that UFC production has cut walkouts which curbs the amount of time a walkout shirt is seen on television.  On FX, Fuel and Fox shows, some fights are cut to where the fight banner is barely seen and the fighter doesn’t have his shirt on.  From this perspective, the amount of time seen by a viewing audience has gone down.

It will be interesting to see if anyone takes Camozzi’s call for fighter solidarity on this issue.  It would be a hard thing to do for a young fighter with an uncertain future.  But, Camozzi is bringing up issues that will affect a fighter’s future.

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