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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
UFC news my guys fight Saturday agains Musasi!!! What you think? UFC just contact me about Saturday,UFC acabeu de me ligar o que acha?
— Wanderlei Silva (@wandfc) April 1, 2013
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
March 16, 2013
Most media and fans think pre-fight press/teleconferences are pretty boring with media asking formulated questions and the fighters answering with formulaic answers. This goes out the window with Nick Diaz.
Diaz went on a verbal tirade last week at the teleconference at no one and everyone at the same time. While he expressed disdain for GSP, he also claimed he respected where the champ was at in his career. He also lobbied for change in the sport which would make the sport more entertaining.
At this week’s press conference, Diaz told us who sold “wolf tickets” and inferred that GSP was taking steroids. Stuff like that could get you sued (ask Floyd Mayweather).
Nick Diaz is a person that has a hard time articulating his opinions but it seems like (most) everyone understands. Diaz is the real Stone Cold Steve Austin from WWE fame. Yes, Austin was based on real feelings of the man playing the character, but Diaz is real. At both press happenings for this event, he’s brought up the differences in classes; his working class/poverty-stricken background versus GSP’s affluent upbringing. To be honest, I’m not sure GSP’s childhood can be characterized as affluent. Yet, it works for Diaz as its not the fuel you put in the tank but how you use it.
Diaz is loyal to his Stockton roots. He’s proud of where he’s from and revealing how he’s seen his friends shot is a personal tragedy that goes beyond the UFC. Again, it’s what fuels him but not the issue at hand.
As for Diaz’s media relations style, it works. The controversial comments had many trying to find Diaz’s pressers online. It would be inadvisable to most athletes to use expletives and infer your opponents use steroids, but that’s him. For someone to adopt this to get attention would be foolish.
Diaz does his own thing which includes not appearing at mandatory appearances. Of course its unprofessional but “no-showing” events is something that occurs with professional athletes in other sports. Diaz is unrefined and genuine and that’s an attribute that makes him popular. It is also could be the problem.
Diaz is a fighter. He’s a tortured soul that finds the world always turning its back on him. But, he uses this to make him successful. Many people empathize with Diaz’s plight. His working class roots are seen by many and its one of the reasons why he has so many fans. Also, his “do my own thing” attitude also ingratiates him to many wishing they could do the same to their employer. Its what made Stone Cold such a popular figure in pro wrestling.
Its undeniable that Diaz has gotten under GSP’s skin for the simple fact that he’s pushed GSP over the edge personally. In the end, if Diaz wins Saturday, his world is going to change and he will be asked (read: forced) to play “the game.” The irony of the situation is that with a win, Diaz’s hard work and dedication to being a martial artist will mean he will become “the man”; which means the money and fame that should come with it. It would be an interesting next chapter in the life of Diaz.
February 25, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 157 from The Honda Center in Anaheim, California. In the main event, Ronda Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche in the first ever women’s bout in the UFC.
Rousey submits Carmouche, UFC wins
Saturday night’s title fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche could not have gone better unless it had gone 5 rounds…or even 2. But, Rousey’s trademark armbar with just seconds left in the first round left the crowd and many fans satisfied with the main event.
The fight legitimized women’s MMA. Rousey did what she does (i.e., armbar) and Carmouche showed that she was not a tomato can. In the end, the UFC ended up winning as it showed that the women could put on a show. It took a risk in putting this as the main event and the women came through. Now the only issue is where it goes from here.
Machida wins, the fans do not
This fight complemented the main event because it was not an entertaining fight. If Rousey-Carmouche were not on top of the card it would have been this fight. Fortunate for everyone, the UFC went with the women. With that said, it was a tactical fight that was slow paced. Whether it was Machida’s in and out or Henderson’s constant measuring of the Dragon, the fight lacked any excitement.
Machida will get another shot at Jon Jones but after watching this fight, I’m not sure if that excites anyone.
Faber chokes out Menjivar
The details of jiu jitsu. If you have the fight on DVR, during the finish watch how Urijah Faber uses his non-choking arm to peel back the forehead of Ivan Menjivar which exposed his neck despite Menjivar’s attempts to tuck his chin. With the neck exposed, Faber slid in his arm and coupled with the body triangle Menjivar was forced to tap. The peel back of the arm is what Carmouche was unable to do with Rousey when the two were in a similar position.
An impressive win for Faber as he looked fresh and reminiscent of his time in the WEC. However, the rub is that he’s in a place where he’s better than the mid-card but not good enough to claim a title. We’ll see what the UFC does with Faber.
Attendance and Gate
Announced at the post-fight press conference, the Honda Center was sold out with 15,525 for a gate of $1.4 million. There was no confirmation on paid attendance versus comps.
As we detailed here, it was the highest attended event at The Honda Center which included UFC 121: Velasquez versus Lesnar. It also bested the two Affliction events held at The Honda Center although Affliction: Banned earned more ($2.1M gate per MMA Payout’s Blue Book).
It seems as though Anaheim is the “go to” venue outside of Vegas. This venue worked for this event. The Honda Center is down the road from Rousey’s home in the LA area and up the road from Carmouche’s in San Diego. Most fans could travel easily up or down Interstate 5 to support their fighters. Southern California is a hub for MMA and is more progressive than most areas of the country. Sure, it’s in Orange County but it’s in Anaheim, not Newport Beach.
As reported previously, the bonuses were $50,000 each and were awarded below:
Fight of the Night: Dennis Bermudez v. Matt Grice
Submission of the Night: Kenny Robertson
KO of the Night: Robbie Lawler
Promotion of the Fight
Rousey was on every media outlet imaginable: ESPN, SI, The Jim Rome Show, Time and HBO Sports to name a few. The UFC stated that this event received the most media attention ever and Rousey has received more media than Brock Lesnar. The Rousey media blitz drew support from mainstream notables that gave their support via twitter.
— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) February 24, 2013
Congratulations Mohr Stories veteran @rondarousey . Amazing fight. Brilliant finish.
— Jay Mohr (@jaymohr37) February 24, 2013
Who all is watching Rouzey vs Carmouche?!?! Major night for women!!! Lets entertain the world!!! Who you going for? #fb
— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) February 24, 2013
The UFC pitched gay media to focus on the Liz Carmouche her story. The UFC did a good job in marketing Carmouche as a pioneer for the gay community without exploiting her sexual orientation. It also stressed the fact that she was a U.S. Marine.
With Danica Patrick competing at the Daytona 500, media were eager to jump on the women’s weekend. Realistically, it’s hard to blame the media focus: it is historical, out of the ordinary and an easy lead that would get readers/page views.
The 3 part UFC Primetimes were especially good this time around. It had more meat to it for the obvious reasons. Both fighters had compelling stories that drew you in. It’s what the Primetimes are supposed to do. It seemed more like the good HBO 24/7s especially the last 5 mins of the first and third episodes. Good narration and great writing made the shows.
The night’s sponsors in the Octagon included Xyience, MetroPCS, UltimatePoker.com, Toyo Tires, Dodge Dart, TapouT, new sponsor Head and Shoulders and Bud Light in the center. Corn Nuts also sponsored the corner cam.
Rousey was sponsored by the UFC as she donned the UFC-Monster headphones and wore UFC sponsored gear although I believe that Lululemon Athletic made the fight gear. Will double check on that. She also had a Xyience patch on her shorts.
In addition to inside the Octagon, Rousey also has deal with Fuji gis.
Carmouche had several sponsors including VA Home Mortgage (which sponsored several fighters on the card), Salesforce and Torque.
Henderson had his Twitter and Facebook handles on his shorts in addition to Clinchgear.
Machida was sponsored by official UFC sponsors Bony Acai and Head and Shoulders in addition to Venum,
Kenny Robertson won submission of the night and also gets the award for best sponsor: Mason Funeral Home. A funeral home sponsoring a UFC fighter? Everyone dies so it is in the UFC demo.
Josh Koscheck and Lyoto Machida are still sponsored by Lugz. I didn’t know that the company was still around. But, these two have had long-term sponsor deals with the company.
Post-UFC 157 Headlines
What’s next for women’s MMA – It was a good debut for the women in the UFC. It was an exciting, competitive match and no blood. There was the concern of Rousey almost losing her top but the UFC avoided that issue. So, what’s next? Rousey will be a draw the next time she fights. But, the bigger issue is what happens when other women fight. The UFC would not be able to get as much buzz for another women’s fight if Rousey is not in it. We’ll see how the UFC uses women’s MMA to complement the male card.
Machida next for Jones – Is anyone excited to see this rematch? Perhaps the UFC hoped for Henderson to win here to get a redo for UFC 151. I’d rather see Alexander Gustafsson get the shot.
Odds and ends
– Kenny Robertson will be teaching class on Monday at his “day” job.
– I was sitting on the tweet that Henderson was going to knock the head off of Machida’s shoulders all night. It didn’t happen.
– I wonder if there was a proposition bet on whether Carmouche would have gotten out of the 1st round. If so, that would have been exciting.
– It’s obvious that the UFC has a working relationship with Invicta as Carmouche’s coach wore the shirt and the logo was seen during the UFC Primetimes. Zuffa wouldn’t let this happen unless there was a business relationship. If women’s MMA starts to take off could we see another Zuffa purchase? More likely I could see the UFC using Invicta like a farm system and call up fighters to fight on a UFC card.
With all of the great media attention the UFC received for Saturday’s event, it will be interesting to see how much of the media attention will convert to PPV buys. It reached out to more media than usual in getting attention for this event. Rousey and Carmouche have been great ambassadors for women’s MMA. But, I think it will boil down to whether the casual viewer can stomach the possibility of seeing a woman busted open and bleeding like Joe Lauzon at UFC 155. Or, can they watch an arm be broken right in front of their eyes. These are questions that seem silly but will really determine whether women’s MMA can succeed with the UFC.
With that being said, a low to mediocre PPV buy rate would be disappointing considering the amount of public relations and press buzz the UFC received for this bout. Yet, how many new viewers can be added for this event? Would the backstory of Rousey and the novelty of the women’s fight be enough to convert non-UFC followers to pay for the PPV. Last year’s PPV average hovered around 450,000 buys. If UFC 157 hit the average it would be a success.
February 22, 2013
UFC 157 will go down as a historical night for the company regardless of the PPV buys. For the first time the UFC has put its faith in women behind Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche. While we all know about Rousey, Carmouche is a compelling story that complements the company’s first foray into women’s MMA.
The UFC is making a calculated risk by reaching beyond its normal demographics of young males in order to grab some mainstream appeal. Dana White has made a 180 degree reversal from his original stance that women would never fight in the UFC. Rousey was the perfect fighter to be the first woman signed to a UFC contract. Under the radar from the Rousey media storm is the fact that Liz Carmouche is also a pioneer in the sport. Not only is Carmouche participating in the first women’s fight in the UFC, she is openly gay.
The UFC marketed Carmouche’s sexual orientation smartly. It has promoted the accomplishment while not exploiting it. The UFC Primetimes have detailed Carmouche and coming out as gay even detailing how she met her girlfriend. In its pre-fight press, the UFC targeted gay media outlets to garner coverage for this demographic.
“I think the UFC is not shy about promoting her sexual orientation,” said Jim Buzinski of Outsports.com “Having an openly gay fighter is great in terms of showing that gays and lesbians are everywhere, even in the octagon.”
“The UFC’s inclusion of Liz is fantastic for two reasons,” stated Aaron McQuade of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), “First, it introduces their [UFC] fans to an openly gay fighter who’s considered one of the best in the world. Second, it shows their [UFC] fans that the world of mixed martial arts is open and accepting of all people, no matter who they are.“
The outreach to gay media should get the interest of some readers that may make an impulse buy of the PPV based on their support of a gay fighter. It might also help that it will be the first time women fight in the male-dominated UFC. With respect to Carmouche, she has been steadfast in being comfortable in who she is and what she stands for in the eyes of others. For those fans of Carmouche, she calls her followers “Lizbos,” an obvious play on words.
White’s opinionated stance on issues helped with the UFC marketing Carmouche. At the recent media scrum for the event, White respected Carmouche for coming out while stating he could care less about her sexual orientation. White’s comments imply that he doesn’t care whether Carmouche were gay, straight, bisexual or all of the above. When asked how would it be if a male fighter were to come out, White stated that the UFC would not treat them any different. I tend to agree with this comment although it would be clear that the UFC would likely market this individual (as it is doing with Carmouche) to the gay community.
White’s stance on the subject can be seen as a progressive look on societal changes. It can also be seen as taking advantage of a situation its been presented. His policy change on women’s MMA likely stems from the popularity of Rousey, Zuffa’s acquisition of Strikeforce and a need to inject some life into its flat PPV business.
Carmouche’s background is relevant because its rare in sports that an athlete comes out. We need only look to the NFL to see that even in the most popular sport in the United States, its players may not embrace an openly gay athlete. Earlier this month, San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver made anti-gay comments during the week preceding the Super Bowl. Interesting for Culliver when he plays for a team that actively markets toward the gay community.
For the UFC’s part, there has not been a backlash about Carmouche or homosexuals in the lead up to the fight this Saturday. Of course, it’s likely that opponents of homosexual athletes participating in MMA have kept quiet to avoid the ire of White.
Despite the UFC marketing of Carmouche, the fact that Carmouche is openly gay seems to be an afterthought in this fight as Rousey has been the center of attention. Carmouche is articulate, a role model for women and is good for the sport of women’s MMA. The only problem is that her best fight was a loss to Marloes Coenen. Ironically, Dan Henderson main evented that night. Carmouche is the overwhelming underdog here. Still, with the shocking KO of King Mo in Bellator, this sport doesn’t have gimme fights.
February 4, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 156 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Aldo sends Edgar to third straight loss
Thud. The leg kicks of Jose Aldo last night were reminiscent of those he delivered to Urijah Faber at WEC 48 which (IMO) was his coming out party. To Frankie Edgar’s credit, he was able to deal with most of those with an effective counter. Aldo’s cardio issues were evident in rounds 4 and 5. But, he had done enough to stop Edgar.
For Aldo, the first couple rounds showed his dominance that he had in the WEC. He was quicker, had the counter and snuck in the devastating kicks to Edgar’s legs. Will Dana White take the request of Anthony Pettis and give Showtime a shot to fight Jose Aldo. What about Ricardo Lamas? The guy who beat the guy (Erik Koch) that was supposed to fight Aldo for the title shot. What about the Featherweight rankings?
For Edgar, its his third loss in a row. The dip to Featherweight now looks like a waste unless he’s willing to take a couple fights before getting another shot at Aldo. For Edgar’s benefit, a couple fights to get back some confidence would help. Losing three straight decisions has to be hard on him.
Bigfoot Silva KOs Overeem
And that’s why haters are going to hate. Alistair Overeem wore a shirt to the weigh-ins saying, “Haters Going to Hate.” The end result was a reason why people hate. A classic case of underestimating your opponent. Overeem had the first two rounds with ease although a couple shots at the end of the second round gave Bigfoot some momentum. And then, Bigfoot laid hands on Overeem and that was all she wrote with Silva talking smack over a prone Overeem.
Overeem’s loss messes up the UFC’s hope for a Cain-Overeem fight. For Silva, a Velasquez fight will not happen although JDS might be a good matchup to see which heavyweight gets back into the title picture.
Attendance and gate
MMA Junkie reports that the attendance for UFC as released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission was 10,275 for a gate of $2.437 million.
The Bonuses drew some eyebrows as it was only $50K per bonus as opposed to $60-65K which had been the standard in 2012.
The bonuses were as follows:
Fight of the Night: Aldo-Edgar
KO of the Night: Bigfoot Silva
Submission of the Night: Bobby Green
Interested that they did not give sub of the night to Dustin Kimura with a Rear Naked Choke for the sheer fun of announcing Kimura won with a Rear Naked Choke.
Promotion of the Fight
The UFC decided to promote Frankie Edgar’s move down to Featherweight as the main sell point for the PPV and touting Edgar-Aldo as a “Superfight.” Certainly, the battle of a past and present champion has some juice but the UFC also had a Heavyweight battle between the returning Alistair Overeem and Bigfoot Silva. It also had Rashad Evans, a proven PPV draw go up against a veteran in Little Nog. We also know that Frankie Edgar is not a PPV draw. And, at this point, neither is Aldo.
Notwithstanding what we know now, (that Overeem may be overrated and that while Evans brings a big event feel walking to the Octagon,he showed little in it on Saturday), it gave the lighter weight class the top bill. Strategically, the UFC could be giving its lighter weight classes the opportunity to show what it could do. With Aldo out, the Featherweight title has not been defended since last January. Marketing the PPV around Edgar-Aldo will be a test to see where the fan base is with respect the lighter weight classes.
The octagon featured UltimatePoker.com, Xyience, MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, the movie Dead Man Down, MusclePharm, Tapout and Bud Light in the center. Dodge also sponsored stats during the PPV as well.
Dead Man Down had the corners of the Octagon. One had to wonder if there was hope that a fighter would be knocked out in one of those corners. In fact, Overeem went down up against the Dead Man Down signage. How appropriate.
Based on his wearing his headphones after the fight, Jose Aldo is sponsored by a headphone maker although I could not make out the brand.
Rashad Evans had top level sponsors as always. Notable sponsors included Jaco, Corn Nuts and Bony Acai. The last two are official UFC sponsors.
Little Nog signed a deal with Venum prior to UFC 156. He also was sponsored by Bony Acai.
It appears that the UFC was sponsoring Frankie Edgar last night. He had the UFC brand on his shorts and in a prominent spot on his fight banner. He was also sponsored by FeartheFighter, Alienware, MicroTech, Wild Wing, Virtustream and Gaspari Nutrition.
Buy My Autographs.com was the most intriguing fight sponsor of the night. The website, established in 2012, offers signed MMA memorabilia.
F3 Nutrition was a sponsor with big name fighters (Overeem and Rashad) wearing its logo that did not do so well with their outcomes.
Post-UFC 156 Headlines
Aldo versus ? – We will see if Aldo will take on Anthony Pettis for the Featherweight crown. Pettis just introduced himself to the nation on Fox last month and will have to wait for a lightweight shot after Bendo-Gil fight on Apri 20th. What better way to stay busy than a title fight? It would be an interesting scenario for the UFC to consider.
Cain’s next challenger – The UFC had hoped that Overeem would have beat Silva to get it to Cain versus Overeem in a big matchup that it could set for this summer. Now, we will see what is in store for the Heavyweight Champion.
Odds and ends
It was a good night for Brazilian fighters. A lot of Brazilian sponsors on many fighters tonight as well.
Fitch/Maia was a fight that went unnoticed by the media hype for this card but was intriguing from a tactical standpoint. It was not a fight for people liking standup but for those grappling folks, it was outstanding control by Maia over Fitch. Maia could be close to a welterweight title shot soon.
Evans and Little Nog had the best walk in music of the night but the worst fight of the night. In the words of Joe Rogan, “That was not an entertaining fight.” To complement that fight, at the end they showed Wilmer Valderrama and JWow. It was as if the UFC wanted to make sure you knew that fight sucked.
Silva was very thoughtful in his post-fight interview when he said knocking out Overeem was the biggest in his career since it was the UFC. Obviously, he was thinking his Fedor knockout as bigger but since it was in Strikeforce and he is now in the UFC, why insult your employer.
Would you check a kick from Jose Aldo?
As I alluded to earlier, this PPV will test to see whether the lighter weight classes can carry a PPV. It will also test again whether Frankie Edgar can be a PPV attraction. Last week’s Dodson-Johnson main event on Fox scored 5.2 million viewers. Did the commercials featuring a closeup of Edgar’s face do enough to draw people to buy the PPV? Aldo has been out for a while and is still relatively unknown. But there may have been enough buzz for it to get to 500,000 PPV buys.
October 25, 2012
MMA Fighting reports on Dana White’s interview with Sports Illustrated on Tuesday where he indicated that women’s MMA will be heading to the UFC. The reason for the move is due to Strikeforce Women’s Champ Ronda Rousey.
White was an opponent of women’s MMA in the UFC and affirmed his position when Zuffa purchased Strikeforce. However, it appears that White has changed course based upon the popularity of Rousey.
White indicated that there is no time frame for this and Rousey’s manager stated that she still has three fights left on her Strikeforce contract.
With the addition of events in 2013, its plausible to argue that the UFC will need attractive fights to fill its cards. Rousey is a hot commodity in MMA as she has built an impressive resume in a short timeframe. And she’s finished her opponents with an armbar – her signature move. Moreover, and most importantly, she is an outgoing, attractive female that is a good ambassador for the sport. But, the question will be whether viewers will be interested in Rousey. And if so, will they be interested in women’s MMA as a whole.
While many MMA enthusiasts are fine with the blood and bruising involved in a men’s match, how many casual viewers will be fine seeing a women busted open? Sure, MMA purists will point to the fact that its sport and if you don’t like it don’t watch it. But, the point of including Rousey in the UFC is that you want to attract viewers.
Will the decision to bring in women’s MMA help the UFC? Or, does it mean that Strikeforce is on its way out? While we can argue the overarching question of whether women’s MMA would appeal to an audience, the more practical question is whether the move means the demise of Strikeforce?
The argument that Strikeforce may be on life support is buttressed by the fact it has cancelled its last two events due to injuries to its main events. It has pointed to 2013 as its next event but nothing has been made official. Moving Rousey, and women’s MMA to the UFC would be a sign that the organization could be sunsetting in the near future. Without Rousey, there is no women’s MMA in Strikeforce.
If Rousey headlines or co-main event’s a UFC card, would it speak to the advancement of gender equality in MMA or the popularity of one? Invicta FC has shown that there is an audience for women’s MMA. Rousey drew the biggest ratings for Strikeforce on Showtime this year. And she has shown a penchant for promoting fights. It will be interesting to see how UFC and Fox handles the issue if and when it happens.