Strikeforce Heavyweight GP Delay – Reasons, Ramifications and Aiming to Capitalize

March 3, 2011

Strikeforce confirmed this week what Sherdog reported a week ago,which was the postponement to the second leg of the Heavyweight Grand Prix, which was originally scheduled to take place on April 9. A few days ago, Josh Gross of ESPN then confirmed that the HW GP would indeed be postponed and continue in Dallas, TX on June 18.

 

As a result of the move, the April 9th HW GP bouts were replaced by Nick Diaz vs Paul Daley and Gilbert Melendez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri. The Strikeforce press release states the following:

NEW YORK (March 2, 2011) – The STRIKEFORCE World Grand Prix — Heavyweight Tournament will continue on Saturday, June 18 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, LIVE on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).

The date originally reserved for continuation of the three-stage, single-elimination tournament comprised of eight of the world’s top heavyweights, April 9, will now feature a terrific STRIKEFORCE World Championship Doubleheader from Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif., formerly the San Diego Sports Arena.

In the second event of the tournament, STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight World Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem (34-11, 1 NC) will face the only man to tap out MMA legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1) and the heavy-handed Brett “The Grim” Rogers (11-2) will take on former UFC World Champion Josh Barnett (29-5).

“STRIKEFORCE is coming off a record presale and impressive attendance for the kickoff of the Grand Prix at IZOD Center in New Jersey that also drew a record viewership on SHOWTIME for live MMA,” said STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker.  “To build on the tremendous momentum from New Jersey we needed the proper time to promote an event of this magnitude, which is why we have decided to continue the Tournament on June 18 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, a venue that has been identified as one of the premier sports and entertainment venues in the U.S.”

Coker continued: “We have a great relationship with the Texas State Athletic Commission, who, along with the American Airlines Center, is enthused to host the Grand Prix.”

STRIKEFORCE Welterweight World Champion Nick Diaz (24-1, 1 NC) will defend his title in a highly anticipated grudge match against the brawling Paul “Semtex” Daley (26-9-2) in the April 9 main event.  Gilbert Melendez (18-2) will make the second defense of his STRIKEFORCE Lightweight World Title against the powerful Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-6-2).  Also on the April 9 card is a bitter showdown between current DREAM Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi and Mike Kyle.

“We are fortunate to replace the April 9 date with a tremendous World Championship Doubleheader featuring the eagerly awaited showdown between Nick and Paul and the sensational matchup between Gilbert and Tatsuya,” Coker said.  “This is a fight everyone has been waiting for and I’d like to thank DREAM for allowing Tatsuya to come to the U.S. to take on our Lightweight World Champion.”


PAYOUT PERSPECTIVE:

The news of the postponement has definitely raised a cloud of doubt among MMA fans in terms of Strikeforce’s ability to pull off the HW Grand Prix without any further hiccups.  We will take a look at what delaying the second leg of the HW GP means, the reasoning behind the move, and how they are trying to capitalize from the event.

Reasons Behind Delay:

* Talks to host the event in Japan did not materialize. Booking a venue (Saitama Super Arena) for the April 9 date was a big issue, as well as locking down logistics, gaining sponsors, promoting the event, and finding supporters in Japan in such a short amount of time after the 2/12 event.

* Once the April 9 date could not be booked in Japan, Strikeforce began to look for major markets in the U.S. that could possibly host the event. A problem encountered was that many of the states and venues they were looking into were booked on Saturday night, either by NBA or NHL.  Only a few were found that worked with all the parties involved, but they also happened to be in California. The Oracle Arena in Oakland and the San Diego Sports Arena were the two leading venues, though both were out of the question to host the HW GP second leg due to the Josh Barnett licensing issues with the California State Athletic Commission, which Strikeforce want’s Josh Barnett to resolve in case he advances to the semi-finals and final rounds of the GP.

* Finding enough time to promote and capitalize on the HW GP.  With the limited resources Strikeforce has in hand, concentrating on the HW GP while also having to plan for Challenger events and the big Columbus event which coincides with the Arnold Sports Festival provided logistics hurdles. They are looking into properly promoting not only the second leg of the HW GP, but also all the shows in between.  They won’t be able to free resources up until May as  Showtime and CBS will be heavily involved in promoting the Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley fight, so May will be a chance for Strikeforce to catch their breath.  On the positive end, all signs point to Strikeforce being promoted on the huge platform, so it could pay off big for them heading into the latter half of the year.

* There was a rumor floating around that Alistair Overeem wanted to fight in May or June, and that April 9th was too soon to put up a full training camp.  He has fought frequently for FEG in the past 5 months, taking home the belt in the K-1 World Grand Prix as well as defeating Todd Duffee in the NYE card to become the DREAM Interim HW Champion.  Overeem made the following statements to MMAFightingt back in November of last year:

“I will be ready for Strikeforce as soon as I would say April, May, June,” Overeem said Monday on MMAFighting.com’s The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.


After his December fight(s) in Japan, Overeem says he will take a vacation in January and would need two to four months after to properly prepare for his return.

MMAPayout was able to reach both parties, who subsequently denied the rumors.  Golden Glory team stated the following  “Alistair has been training hard lately and is always ready to fight! Doesn’t matter if it was April or June, he will be ready as ever…”

 

The Cons:

* Long layoff hurts momentum created by the hugely successful first leg of the HW GP held in February 12  and headlined with Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.

* Fighters who fought on the 2/12 event will go 7 months without a fight, fighters who were told they were fighting on 4/9 have a 2 month delay in the middle of training camps. There are already rumbles that Antonio Silva does not want to wait around that long and that his management want’s a fight in between. Alex Davis told ESPN.com “For us it sucks. I gotta keep him in action. What I’ll try to see if they’ll let him fight in Japan. He’s in the tournament so it wouldn’t make any sense to have him fight in Strikeforce. We can’t just wait this long.” The obvious issue here is that if you let Silva or any other fighter fight outside of the promotion and they lose or get injured, it would not be very good for the tournament, which is not a very good position for either side.

* Jeopardizes the scheduling of the entire tournament to conclude in 2011, since the margin of error (bad luck/injuries) is now slim, as the semifinals are tentatively scheduled for September and the finals around early December. Strikeforce did previously mention that if there was an injury, they were willing to give the fighter a 2 month window to see if he could heal to avoid using a replacement for minor injuries.  If any of those situations occur, the event may have slipped into 2011 regardless of this 2 month delay.

* As a promotion who is still working out the kinks in transitioning into a worldwide promotion, having these scheduling issues and hiccups only fuel those within the MMA community who already think Strikeforce is not yet capable of properly handling hurdles that are presented to them.  The two month delay has raised concerns from a number of fans, but if the rest of the GP can go smoothly, I think it will be easily forgotten, though smooth sailing is hardly a given when it comes to MMA or tournaments.

 

The Pros:

* The key here with the extra time is to use it wisely and promote the second leg of the HW GP. Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Brett Rogers, and Josh Barnett (making his Strikeforce debut) are all relatively unknown in the U.S. still, so using this time wisely to promote the fighters and the idea of a tournament is a must here.  Although it’s not a positive for the fighters, Strikeforce and Showtime now have more time to promote the next event and cash in on the extra attention from it.  It also doesn’t hurt that the event takes place in Texas, where Gina Carano is from and where big attractions like Herschel Walker can be used to gain publicity.

*April 9th was originally planned as a Japan show, which has now moved to San Diego in what appears to be a Strikeforce vs DREAM event, which should excite fans the closer we get to the event. The event is rumored to have Diaz vs Daley, Melendez vs Kawajiri, Mousasi vs Kyle, Aoki, and Takaya as possible participants.  In fact, it looks like many of the same fighters which were going to participate in the 4/9 event in Japan are still on the card in San Diego.  Sources say that Strikeforce pretty much had Strikeforce done, but due to lack of time and logistics (venue), were not able to pull it off, essentially moving the event to San Diego.  Not only is Strikeforce getting DREAM fighters for the event, but NightmareOfBattle is also reporting that DREAM will also support Strikeforce with the event in terms of “production”.   The event will be billed as a DREAM vs STRIKEFORCE event and DREAM is hoping that they can continue the relationship in 2011, having fighters from both promotions participating in Japan and the U.S. The report also states that DREAM will be focusing on the Bantamweight division and will look forward to crowning champs for each division.

* Although Overeem vs Werdum and Barnett vs Rogers was pushed out, Nick Diaz vs Paul Daley was pushed in to be the main event.  Paul Daley is coming off another impressive first round stoppage, this time over DEEP WW champ Yuya Shurai on BAMMA 5, an event held in the UK.  Daley’s popularity has grown so much as of late, that his fight against Shurai – which aired late Saturday night in the UK on Syfy and streamed live in the US in the afternoon –  resulted in Paul Daley being a top Twitter trend in both markets, which is remarkable. Capitalizing on the buzz Paul Daley has at the moment is key for Strikeforce, and they have done that with booking Diaz vs Daley as the main event of the 4/9 card.  The only worry now is that they have to sell that fight and promote it, which shouldn’t be too hard to do with those guys.  It will also be the date Strikeforce gets their LW champ, Gilbert Melendez, back from injury.

 

Aiming to Capitalize On the HW GP:

* In terms of business, sources within the industry have said that the Fedor vs Silva event has opened up financial opportunities for Strikeforce that were not there before, so stretching out the GP may not necessarily be such a bad thing for them business wise.  It also means more mainstream interest and coverage from otherwise unwilling outlets.  The key here is for Strikeforce to draw mainstream attention to the in between HW GP events and use the GP to boost up the brand.

* The HW GP has opened up PPV for Strikeforce in several non-domestic markets.  Sources within the industry have pointed out that sponsors and other groups are seeking to work with Strikeforce in part to the the HW GP, especially if it could mean a future spot on a PPV or CBS event for the final rounds.  According to NightmareOfBattle, the famous Japanese Magazine “Kamipro” is reporting PPV success for Strikeforce in Japan, to the point where the April 9 event will also be a highly anticipated event in Japan.

“According to authorized people it looks like the amount sold for the SKY PerfecTV! televised PPV of Fedor vs. Bigfoot was quite good. I’m anticipating a Kawajiri vs. Melendez PPV as well!!”

 

In addition to Japan, Strikeforce has also partnered with UK PPV provider Primetime, which now appears to be a budding partnership.

 

Looking at the April 9 card, the key participants are Paul Daley, Kawajiri, Aoki, and Takaya guys who will be used to bump the PPV sales both in the UK and in Japan.  Roger Gracie is also rumored to potentially land on the event, who lives in London.

Other countries with no TV deals (i.e. Australia) can also purchase Strikeforce HW GP events via PPV.  Latin America saw the Fedor vs Silva event via HBO Plus, which did extremely well and was a top Twitter trend for most of the day in Brazil due to the buzz the event created. The Latin American market has opened up for Strikeforce mainly due to the Canal Space TV deal, which has been vital in penetrating the market and exposing the brand to numerous countries in the region in the past year.

Though holding PPV’s is not ideal for a promotion who is still trying to grow the brand, slowly phasing it in when no other television options are available will give them some sort of non-domestic revenue and a good study in venturing into the sparingly used only for special events  PPV business.

* Ultimately, the goal for Strikeforce will be to hold an event on CBS and then plan a PPV around the HW GP finals or semi-finals.  At the time, they hope to cash in on what they are slowly building with the GP this year.  Ratings, attendance, gate, merchandising sales, and interest in the product are all significantly higher in 2011 in the first 3 months than what it was for the latter part of 2010 for the promotion.

 

HDNet to Televise FEG’s “Dynamite!! 2010” NYE Event Live

November 20, 2010

HDNet Fights CEO Andrew Simon that the Japanese MMA blockbuster NYE event, “Dynamite!! 2010” will air live in the U.S. on HDNet.

MMAJunkie and HDNet report:

HDNet Fights CEO Andrew Simon confirmed the plans with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com)… The event takes place Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Currently, officials have announced only one fight for the card: a featherweight title bout and grand-prix-finale rematch between champion Bibiano Fernandes and Hiroyuki Takaya. However, as MMAjunkie.com recently reported, the show could feature an MMA-rules bout between DREAM champ Gegard Mousasi and K-1 kickboxing legend Jerome Le Banner, and many other notables are rumored for the show.


Payout Perspective:

HDNet subscribers will once again be treated to another NYE combat extravaganza as the network will continue to televise the Japanese end-of-the-year combat festivities this year.

FEG’s rival promotion, Sengoku Raiden Championship who also has a U.S. TV deal with HDNet, is also expected to host their own NYE event, “Soul of Fight” they day before FEG’s Dynamite event, which is part of a end-of-the-year martial-arts festival which will also host fights ranging from kickboxing, MMA, grappling, and other martial arts and combat disciplines. Arrangements to air the MMA portion of the event in some form on HDNet is currently in discussion.

DREAM 16 Japan Ratings

October 1, 2010

DREAM 16 was placed on network prime time (Tokyo Broadcasting System) once again on 9/25/10 as part of the network’s  MMA/Boxing doubleheader titled “The Martial Arts Festival of Autumn”.

The event did a 11.9 rating, peaking at 18.1 for the Satoshi Ishii vs. Minowaman fight.  The event was aired after a boxing title bout between Japanese WBA title holder Kaiki Kameda and challenger Takefumi Sakata, which pulled in a 14.8 rating.

For the time slot, DREAM on TBS finished in 4th place behind shows televised on Fuji TV, TV Asahi, and Nippon TV.  The event was the number 1 rated sports program for the week, placing  ahead of Sumo which did a 10.9 earlier in the week.  DREAM finished second in ratings trailing only the boxing bout aired just before it as part of the fight festival double header.

Payout Perspective:

The rating number DREAM 16 pulled, considering the number boxing pulled in before it, has to be considered an okay result, though it was clearly not a success and also not a failure.  Typically for Japanese events on network prime time, they expect you to get above a 10.0 rating to not be considered a failure and around a 20.0 to be considered a huge success.  DREAM 16 and the boxing bout both drew 11.9 and 14.8 ratings, which is a decline from the previous fight festival on NYE but gives them another shot to make a huge impression on 2010’s NYE Dynamite!! event.

Satoshi Ishii is currently seen by TBS and FEG as a ratings attraction, and is the reason the network scrambled to get him on the event on short notice. Ishii along with Sakuraba, were the two fighters the televised event was built around and whose fights were shown in their entirety. The  network scrambled to get the Japanese star (2008 Japanese Olympic Judo Gold Medalist) on the event after a few key DREAM fighters (“Kid” Yamamoto and DREAM FW champ Fabiano Fernandes) were not able to be secured for the event.  Ishii was coming into this televised event off the NYE Dynamite!! event back in 2009, were they pulled a 16.7 peak rating during the Ishii vs Yoshida and Masato vs Souwer portion of the event, the most FEG had seen on TBS since 2006.  It is expected that TBS and FEG are now in talks to secure Ishii for the 2010 NYE Dynamite!! event.

EA Sports “Ultimate Gaming Makeover”

July 21, 2010

EA Sports and Sony have partnered with Great Clips to produce a very unique sweepstakes entitled the Ultimate Gaming Makeover where MMA fans and patrons of the hair salon franchise can enter to win a 52″ Sony Bravia, Sony PS3, EA MMA the video game, and more.

Payout Perspective:

There’s a certain lack of image fit between MMA and the art of hair styling that makes these companies unlikely partners, but image fit isn’t always a necessary component of a successful partnership. Sometimes all that’s needed is a shared target market. In the case of EA Sports, Sony, and Great Clips, that market is males aged 18-49.

Great Clips isn’t a fancy salon that pushes techno music, cutting edge hair styles and charges customers $50+ per visit. It’s a simple meat and potatoes type of place that charges $15 for a quick hair cut designed for the young person or working professional that doesn’t really care or doesn’t really have time to care about their hair. That fits in pretty well with the MMA demo.

The salon I visited had so many advertisements posted that it would have been near impossible to miss, especially for any gamer that has an image of the EA Sports logo seared into their memory. If that holds throughout the rest of the Great Clips locations in North America (2800 in total), it’ll prove to be pretty valuable exposure for EA MMA. The fact that EA and Great Clips allow an individual to enter the contest via text message is also a smart move; give people something to do while they’re at the salon for 15 minutes and don’t let them forget by the time they get home.

Moreover, the structure of the contest leads me to believe the exchange was probably of an in-kind nature. Sony contributed the prizes, EA contributed the game and likely some advertising, and Great Clips benefits from an association with both. The cost:benefit ratio is probably pretty solid.

Kudos to the teams at EA and Sony for putting this together.

Note: I do want to mention the interesting word play in the advertisements. I doubt it’s any coincidence that the name of a contest featuring an MMA product is called the “Ultimate…” something. It’s a subtle jab at the UFC, but legal nonetheless.

FEG Announces Partnership with PUJI Capital

July 19, 2010

Daniel Herbertson of MMA Fighting is reporting that FEG has reached an agreement with Chinese investment bank PUJI Capital that plans for PUJI to raise nearly $230 million in funds for the beleaguered organization’s newest international expansion plans.

Tanikawa stated that changes should start from 2011 and that Japanese events will continue with K-1 on Fuji TV and DREAM and K-1 MAX on TBS. PUJI will not be involved with the day to day operations regarding the actual promotions but will instead be in charge of fund raising and leading the global expansion and have forecast that they will gather 20 billion yen ($230 million).

Payout Perspective:

This is not an announcement of an immediate capital injection; FEG has not yet secured the $230 million in funding. PUJI Capital is forecasting that it will be able to raise $230 million for FEG, but that is anything but a foregone conclusion.

Normally, you don’t make an announcement like this unless you’re sure you can get the money, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this announcement is more of a PR stunt than anything else. The news has been well-received by the entire MMA community – many of whom long for the “glory” days of Pride and more competition in a landscape dominated by the UFC – and FEG is definitely looking to generate some renewed interest in its fight brands to help it raise new money.

However, FEG has yet to prove that it can manage its assets with any sort of fiscal responsibility. I’m skeptical that PUJI can raise $230 million in the first place, but further question the notion that more money, and an ambitious international expansion plan, is going to solve FEG’s current problems.

If FEG does manage to raise significant funds, it should focus on its home market, first: establishing a strong foundation in Japan with a solid fan base and predictable revenue streams. Yet, rebuilding Japanese MMA is also a tall order. Many believe that much of the success MMA has had in the country is linked to professional wrestling (cross-over and freak show fights were the real draws on many nights); with pro wrestling on the decline, it may be difficult to bring MMA back to where it once was.

If, and only if, FEG can establish a strong fan base, with a solid fight product and firm financial footing, can it look to expand beyond Japan and into other markets. The Asian-Pacific is the most logical destination (Korea, China, Australia); likewise, South America (Brazil) remains relatively untapped. But I’m not sure how much success they, or anyone else, will have in Africa at this point.

This is definitely something to keep an eye on. The MMA fan in me wants to get excited, but FEG and Dream/K-1 still have a long way to go.

Dream 14 in South Korea Shelved

March 30, 2010

Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie is reporting that Dream has postponed its scheduled April date in South Korea, what would have been Dream 14, due to the lack of a credible main event.

DREAM.14 has been canceled and may be rescheduled this fall.

 

Multiple sources have informed MMAjunkie.com that the event, set for April 24 at Jangchung Gym in Seoul, South Korea, has been scratched due to the absence of a TV broadcast deal in Asia.

 

According to Korea-based MMA Web site MFight (via Japanese MMA Web siteNightmareofBattle.com), several of the event’s proposed headliners – including Hong Man Choi and Denis Kang – were unable to participate in the event. With no bankable stars to sell the fight, DREAM’s promotion company, Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG), pulled the plug.

Payout Perspective:

The cancellation isn’t necessarily a reflection of Dream as a whole, but rather Dream’s current brand equity in South Korea. The promotion has yet to build enough of a reputation that it can sell with its existing crop of stars and without the reliance on known Korean commodities.

Bloodyelbow made an interesting observation the other day, commenting that the UFC’s acquisition of Yoshihiro Akiyama is perhaps more valuable in what it takes away from the competition than what it actually gives them inside the cage.

Although I’ve openly been critical of the slow pace at which the UFC is giving fights to Akiyama, I have to admit the signing is definitely a win for the UFC if only for defensive purposes. By signing Akiyama, they robbed DREAM of one of the biggest stars of Japanese and South Korean mma.

 

And when they weaken Japan’s biggest promotion, it means they prevent the re-emergence of a true international rival like PRIDE who was able to out compete them for a number of top fighters for many years — Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua, the Nogueira brothers, Takanori Gomi and especially Fedor Emelianenko.

That would seem to the case right now – as certainly Akiyama would be the perfect main event attraction for Dream – but if the UFC ever does move forward with an event in Japan or Korea, Akiyama will play a significant role in that pursuit as well.

EA MMA Adds Three More

March 23, 2010

EA Sports has announced the addition of three new fighters to what is already a large fight roster for its up-coming EA MMA title set for release sometime in 2010 (the speculation being August 2010).

Dream 13 participants Joachim Hansen and Josh Barnett have signed on with the video game maker, as well as current UFC fighter Vladimir Matyushenko.

Payout Perspective:

The signing of Matyushenko might come as a surprise to some as he currently fights for the UFC; Dana White is on record saying that he would never sign or employ someone affiliated with the EA MMA game.

While Randy Couture, for the longest time, appeared to be the exception to the rule, White and the UFC have slowly backed away from their position in recent months by expressing public interest in current Strikeforce fighters like Gegard Mousasi, Jake Shields, and of course Fedor Emelianenko.

The initial position of the UFC in this matter was flawed and unsustainable in the long-term. There’s an undeniable level of talent in Strikeforce – at least 5-10 guys that would draw interest from the UFC on the open market – and it would have been impossible for the UFC to justify ignoring any of those fighters in the future just because they took an easy (and well-deserved) paycheck.

The UFC prides itself on having the best talent and putting on the best fights, but it simply wouldn’t have been able to continue with that practice under such strict talent requirements.

Coker Talks Strikeforce-Dream Alliance

March 15, 2010

John Morgan of MMAJunkie has written a short, interesting piece on the challenges of the alliance between North America’s Strikeforce and Japan’s Dream.

Things didn’t go so well for the Japanese promotion at January’s “Strikeforce: Miami” event. DREAM sent over welterweight Marius Zaromskis, who was promptly drubbed by Nick Diaz.

 

DREAM will get a second shot at respect in April when lightweight Shinya Aoki faces Gilbert Melendez.

 

Coker said even he was a bit amazed that DREAM would be so willing to send over Aoki, the organization’s lightweight title holder and widely regarded as one of the best fighters in the world.

 

“I feel very content,” Coker said. “Aoki-Gibert, that’s a fight that I thought 60-40 was not going to happen, even though I was pitching for it and pulling for it, because there’s just so many things that can break down. I’m very appreciative to DREAM for honoring their word and sending Aoki to come over and compete against Gilbert.”

Payout Perspective:

The announcement of the Strikeforce-Dream alliance was lauded by many for setting an example of co-operation in the sport, but at the same time also viewed with a great deal of skepticism. It’s one thing to announce intent to co-promote and another entirely to commit roster members for the benefit of another promotion. Seeing Zaromskis and Manhoef on the last Strikeforce card has likely quelled that skepticism.

The real question now is, is this co-promotional agreement sustainable in the long-term? The short-term benefit is obvious – and maybe that’s all this really is; that would be okay, too – but is Dream going to continue sending its fighters over to North America if Aoki is drubbed just the same way that Zaromskis was?

The reason people were skeptical in the first place is that co-promoting is risky. The value of a fighter depends upon his drawing ability, which is inherently influenced by things like the quality of his last fight or the reputation he’s managed to build (that could be harmed with a devastating loss in a foreign promotion).

Something to consider.

Josh Barnett Signs with Dream

March 2, 2010

Damon Martin of MMAWeekly reports that former UFC heavyweight champion and Pride contender Josh Barnett has signed with Japanese promotion Dream and is looking to return to fighting on March 22nd.

Former UFC, Pride and Affliction fighter, Josh Barnett, has found a new home in Japan as the heavyweight stand-out has signed with Dream and will likely make his promotional debut at their March 22 show later this month.

 

The signing was confirmed by sources close to the situation to MMAWeekly.com late Monday evening, and the promotion is expected to announce Barnett’s addition in the coming days.

Payout Perspective:

We’ve seen a lot of fighter movement in the heavyweight division lately; talent is being scooped up left, right, and center as seemingly more and more players enter the market. It’s surprising in a way, because the UFC has and continues to be so dominant, while its competition has struggled in places. Nonetheless, with Barnett, Arlovski, and even the likes of Konrad off the market, additional heavyweight talent is at a premium.

Barnett failed to show for his latest hearing with the California State Athletic Commission on February 22nd, which was scheduled to sort out the issue of his second positive test for steroids. It’s unlikely that any American commission would have granted him license to fight, and therefore Japan was really his only option.

There’s now renewed talk of a match-up against Fedor, but the financial and legal implications of the fight will likely prevent it from happening; that being that Fedor stands to make more money fighting in Strikeforce under a co-promotional agreement, while Barnett cannot fight in US because of his test. The more likely scenario, if there’s to be a super fight at all, is that we see Barnett face Overeem in a Dream-promoted contest later this year.

MMAterial Facts (02/01/10) : Strikeforce Miami Edition

February 1, 2010

Strikeforce Miami Post-Fight News and Notes

  • More Info On Problematic EA/Strikeforce Stream: A lot of questions were asked on Saturday as to what happened and who to blame for the bad EA/Strikeforce stream.  According to Sam Strayer via Josh Gross,  the executive producer of  iBN Sports (who was responsible for streaming the Strikeforce Jay Hieron vs Joe Riggs fight on Saturday):  “We had a huge influx of fans… The show went well for most. …Some with lower bandwidth had trouble due to high quality of stream. They are looking into a re-air.” Though many fans were obviously disappointed by the stream quality (or in most cases lack thereof) , there were apparently a few fans who were blessed with enough bandwidth to watch the fight.  Not focusing on only the negative, Strayer commented on the amazing turnout for the stream,   “Great night tonight. iBN Stream had some technical issues out of the venue… what an amazing turnout for the stream. Unbelievable numbers… All the fans can watch it again soon… We will keep you posted!!!” We will keep an eye on when EA/Strikeforce/iBN  plan to make the fight available again for viewing.
  • Paydays Put Into Perspective: Wes Sims (22-13), who lost to Bobby Lashley (5-0) by TKO in the first round on Saturday night, was estimated to make $30,000  (Josh Gross).  Hershel Walker (1-0), who won his debut against Greg Nagy (1-2), was estimated to make six figures, which he will donate to charity (MMAJunkie).  The way this is shaping, taking into consideration that Lashley, Diaz, Zaromskis, Manhoef, Lawler, and Cyborg will also make some good pay days, the pay scale for this event should be one of the highest in Strikeforce’s short MMA history.
  • Attendance Put Into Perspective: According to Josh Gross over at Sports Illustrated, 8,156 MMA fans packed the BankAtlantic Center on Saturday night.  To put the number in perspective, Elite XC’s CBS event “Heat”, which featured hometown product and current “MMA Viewership King” Kimbo Slice against Seth Petruzelli, drew 9,414 (7,723 paid) fans for a live gate of $826,433.  If Strikeforce Miami can draw similar numbers, which they are currently positioned to do, it will meet the gate and revenue expectations coming into this weekend.
  • Herschel Walker Brought In The Viewers and Media Attention: Some are still questioning whether or not it was a good move by Strikeforce to promote Herschel Walker the way they did and put him on the main card this weekend over the likes of arguably more deserving fighters Joe Riggs and Jay Hieron.  Let me just say that absolutely no one on the card came even close to garnering the amount of attention that Hershel Walker received for this event. Walker got heavy attention over at ESPN (Front Page Top Headlines, Top 10 Plays, ESPN Radio, PTI, MMA Live, etc), news papers and publications across the nation, most notably (Atlanta, Texas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, DC, and Florida), became a trending topic on Twitter, Front page of CNN, and a slew more nation wide.  In what has to be considered good news for Strikeforce, ESPN and ESPN News showed the MMA tab on their “Scores Bar” followed by  “Strikeforce:” and the results from all main card bouts plus Hieron vs Riggs.  The promotion and amount of eyeballs that Herschel Walker drew for this event had to be deemed a huge success for Strikeforce.  Strong ratings are expected for this event, and the booking of Walker by Strikeforce and Showtime was no mistake.  EliteXC had also been interested in using Walker before they folded, and it comes to no surprise that some of the biggest viewership numbers for MMA on Showtime and CBS come from the Southern states.  Another strategic move by all parties was holding this event the day before the Pro Bowl in Florida.  The booking of Walker got a  good number of NFL affiliates, players, and fans to buy tickets for this event and Showtime’s ties to the NFL (“Inside The NFL”) most likely lead to NY Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan’s infamous interview, which is still getting headlines.  Not to mention that EA Sports, who hosts the Madden Bowl on Super Bowl Week, was also on scene to promote the Madden franchise, sponsor fighters, and promote their upcoming EA Sports MMA game.  The scheduling and timing of the event was well crafted and was a good display of synergy between EA, Strikeforce, and Showtime to use the NFL’s fan base as potential draws to the event.  Now, they just need to work on better execution.
  • What’s Next For Strikeforce Miami Participants: Scott Coker has already confirmed  interest in putting together Cyborg vs Erin Toughill (145 Lbs Title), Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce LW Champ) vs Shinya Aoki (DREAM LW Champ), Nick Diaz vs Mach Sakurai/Jay Hieron (WW Title), and Bobby Lashley vs Brett Rogers in the near future (MMAFighting).  The April CBS show is already in the plans and Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, Jake Shields, Dan Henderson, Gegard Mousasi, King Mo, Brett Rogers, and Bobby Lashley have all been rumored for the event.  Frank Shamrock vs Pat Miletich is also being rumored at the moment for a May Strikeforce event (FiveOuncesOfPain).  There has also been a great deal of talk that Nick Diaz or Robbie Lawler will be jumping ship to the UFC.  I don’t expect that to be happening anytime soon, since both have multiple fights left in their Strikeforce contracts.
  • Strikeforce Fighter Announcements:  Scott Coker implied (previously mentioned by Gegard Mousasi’s manager) that DREAM would be hosting LHW and HW GP’s for 2010, which would free up the lighter weight fighters from DREAM for Strikeforce to use.  Coker has already shown interest in getting Aoki, Kawajiri, Sakurai, Hansen, and JZ in Strikeforce.  Another big announcement was the Women’s 135 lbs and 145 lbs tournaments which are rumored to start around June this year.  Both tournaments will take place within 2 events (1 fight on the first event, 2 fights on the second to crown the winner) and will consist of 8 participants. Strikeforce promises to get the best female fighters around the world in order to create true contenders for Cyborg Santos and for the winner of Sarah Kaufman vs Takayo Hashi, which is for the 135 lbs title bout  set to take place in the February 26th Strikeforce Challengers card. (Sherdog)
  • Strikeforce Announces TV Deals: Distributor Shine International has completed a host of deals for its Strikeforce brand internationally, selling more than 70 hours of mixed martial arts programming in Europe, Australia and Latin America. Virgin Media Television-owned Bravo in the UK, Turner in Latin America, FX in Portugal, Ukraine’s Megasport, Seven Network in Australia and Dahlia TV in Italy have all purchased Strikeforce’s library of TV programming (MMAPayout) .  Channel Seven is one of Australia’s biggest networks, and the UK fans were buzzing this weekend after watching the Strikeforce Miami event on Bravo.
  • UPDATE: Looks like MMAJunkie is reporting that Strikeforce Miami drew 517K viewers, which is a 52% ratings increase over the previous Strikeforce event on Showtime (Strikeforce Evolution) and finishes in second place behind Strikeforce: Carano vs Cyborg who drew 576K viewers and beat Strikeforce: Kimbo vs Tank, which drew 511K.  This is along the range I predicted above, and has to be considered a success for Strikeforce and Showtime, despite Spike TV counter-programming the event with UFC 107, which drew 2.2 million viewers.

QUICK HITS

  • UFC to Offer Spanish PPV Broadcasts (MMAPayout’s Perspective)
  • Strikeforce Miami: Payout Perspective (MMAPayout’s Perspective)
  • Diaz shares spotlight with Walker at Strikeforce: Miami (Sports Illustrated)
  • Diaz bludgeons Zaromskis; Walker wins (ESPN)
  • Despite debut MMA win, NFL great Herschel Walker not a lock for a second fight (MMAJunkie)
  • New York Jets coach Rex Ryan issues apology after “Strikeforce: Miami” bird-flipping (MMAJunkie)
  • Coker Says Aoki, Sakurai, Toughill Will Get Title Shots (MMAFighting)
  • Coker Eyeing Melendez-Aoki, Women’s Tourneys in 2010 (Sherdog)
  • Strikeforce Post-Mortem: Punches in Bunches, Football’s Revenge, and More (Sherdog)
  • Tim Kennedy latest addition to “EA Sports MMA” videogame roster (MMAJunkie)
  • King Of The Cage Is Coming To HDNet on February 12 (HDNet)
  • Despite initial one-sided affair, Strikeforce’s Robbie Lawler said he stuck to game plan (MMAJunkie)
  • Free agent Jay Hieron still not guaranteed title shot with new Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz (MMAJunkie)
  • Bellator adds DREAM vet Joe Warren to season-two featherweight tourney (MMAJunkie)
  • Shine Fights signs Abu Dhabi champ Braulio Estima to multi-fight deal (MMAJunkie)
  • Weekend Rundown: Yamaguchi Captures KOTC Crown (Sherdog)
  • Overeem’s Trainer Likes Chances vs. Fedor (MMAFighting)
  • On Mend, Tyson Griffin Could Be In Vancouver (MMAWeekly)
  • Freestyle Cage Fighting 39 Results (MMARising)

IMAGE OF THE DAY

All Elbows: Robbie Lawler vs Melvin Manhoef

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (2005 World GP Finals)  at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/05/10)
  • InsideMMA (Brendan Schaub, Matt Mitrione, & Dermontti Dawson) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/05/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents “Furious Finishes III” at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/05/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/05/10)
  • UFC 109 at 10 PM ET on PPV (02/06/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • UFC 109: Couture vs Coleman at 10 PM ET on PPV (02/06/10)
  • HDNet Fights: King of the Cage – Vengeance at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • UFC 110: Nogueira vs Velazquez at 10 PM ET on PPV (02/20/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Prangley vs  Amoussou at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)
  • WEC 47: Bowles vs Cruz on at 10 PM ET on Versus (03/06/10)

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