Objective/ Analysis: EliteXC and IFL Co-promotion?

May 30, 2008

OBJECTIVE:

Five Ounces of Pain’s Sam Caplan is reporting that Kimbo Slice’s next opponent could be the International Fight League’s heavyweight champion, Roy “Big Country Nelson.”

According to Caplan, IFL CEO Jay Larkin has said that informal talks have begun. Pending the outcome of Slice’s fight this weekend, more formal talks could begin as early as Monday.
Larkin and EliteXC President Gary Shaw were 20-year colleagues at ShoTime, where the two worked together on boxing promotions and helped create ShoBox.

ANALYSIS:
From an industry stand-point, this would be a much needed co-promotional event and would benefit both organizations as they look to find new opponents for their top stars.
Slice and Nelson are question marks in the MMA world. Hardcore fans say they are waiting for Slice to fight a major opponent, and many underestimate Nelson because of his less than athletic physique.
IFL Vice President of Fighter Operations Bas Rutten knows these men rather well, as he has seen the majority of Nelson’s fights while color commentating for the IFL, and is training Slice.
Earlier today, Bas Rutten told MMAPayout that it would make for a great matchup.
“Nelson is a great all around, hits hard, great wrestling, submissions and ground and pound,” said Rutten. And despite Nelson’s shape and size Rutten says, “he is well conditioned and in great shape.”
While Slice’s meteoric rise has attracted the scorn of others in the business, Rutten says he’s a monster in the making.
“I think his hands are better than 80 % of the MMA guys out there, his take down defense is good and on the ground he’s getting better and better. People saying he’s not good on the ground is absolutely nuts, how on earth do they know this?”
Slice’s next test comes against James “The Colussus” Thompson this Saturday night on EliteXC’s CBS debut, but most fight analysts are saying that “test” isn’ the right word and expect a dominant performance, if not first round KO, from Slice. Nelson has himself proved to be quite the KO artist and is coming off of an impressive first round TKO (strikes) victory over Ultimate Fighter finalist Brad Imes.

MMA fans who consider a “boxing-style slugfest with the occasional takedown attempt” to be their favorite style of fight, would enjoy a Nelson/ Slice throwndown.
The IFL website has also linked to the Caplan article and says this would be the “first-ever co-promotional event in the history of American Mixed Martial Arts.” While I am purely speculating, since the article says first co-promotional “event” instead of “fight” it leads me to believe that we may be looking at a full card of EliteXC and IFL fights, because the IFL has already held a co-promotional fight when Tim Kennedy fought Jason “Mayhem” Miller on HDNet Fights.

ESPN: MMA Live, 2nd Edition

May 27, 2008

ESPN.com published the second edition of its online mixed martial arts news show, MMA Live, this past Thursday. Though the show briefly touched on the three International Fight League championship bouts from Mohegan Sun and the results from the Sengoku event, it mainly focused on UFC oriented news.

As MMAPayout.com previously reported, the UFC lobbied for the show to be exclusively about the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and excluding the larger MMA world. The true test of the show’s willingness to digress in coverage from the industry giant, UFC, will come this week when they will be tasked with recapping UFC 84 and previewing the network debut of EliteXC on CBS.

Many non-UFC entities within the sport have expressed their delight that the world’s largest sports network is testing the waters on an MMA show that could potentially transition to television. Given overwhelming dominance of ESPN in sports news, the network is effectively creating a spotlight in the dark tunnel of MMA, where the competition is cast in the shadows of the UFC.

By powering up that spotlight, and potentially shining it on the lesser known promotions, ESPN is quickly becoming a major player in the world of MMA.

IFL Quarterly Report: First Quarter 08

May 21, 2008

View the Entire Quarterly report Here.

Analysis: It was a bit hard to judge how they did 07 vs 08, since they only put on one event in the first quarter of 08 vs four in 07. The company recorded a loss of $2.3 million for the Qtr, which would seem to be an improvement over 07 but the lack of events helped keep the losses lower. Live event costs have been a main driver of deficits for the company. Running a full slate of events would have generated a loss somewhere in the neighborhood of about $5 million in my estimation. Over the past year they have been able to pare down live event costs (some 300k to 400k on a per show basis) to some degree but the generally anemic box office receipt numbers don’t come anywhere close to making the company solvent in this respect.

Television: The 10-Q did shed some light on the new television agreement the IFL has with HDNet and the renegotiated contract with FSN. The deal with HDNet calls for the TV company to air three events in exchange for covering “some production costs.” No explicit figure is mentioned, but it seems the IFL is able to deflect some of these costs and gets finished product it can then repackage and sell to FSN and internationally. HDNet is seemingly shouldering a sizable portion of the cost of televising the event, mainly due to the cost of broadcasting in High Definition and specialized equipment needed to do so. This would be a much better TV situation for the IFL, whose production costs for the MyNetworkTv shows out-stripped their license fee. The FSN deal has been amended and 9 one hour shows were added for which they will receive $20,000 per show.

Future Capital requirements: “Based upon management’s current forecast of future revenues and expenses, we believe our cash resources will likely be sufficient to fund operations into the third quarter of 2008.” At that time they will need to have successfully partnered with another company or they would need to seek another round of funding.

IFL Makes Executive Cuts

May 19, 2008

According to Carson’s Corner, it was announced at the 5/16 IFL Mohegan Sun show that Keith Evans, IFL VP of Operations, and Lisa Faircloth, IFL Director of Events, have been let go by the company. Evans and Faircloth had been with the IFL since it’s inception. Evans and Faircloth were both former Zuffa employees, with Evans being at the center of a lawsuit between Zuffa and the IFL. Zuffa claimed Evans took trade secrets with him when joining the IFL. Evans and Faircloth were head-quartered out of the IFL Las Vegas office, which will probably also be eliminated by virtue of the IFL’s seeming decision to no longer work the Las Vegas area as a market.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Robert Joyner’s first contribution to MMAPayout.com. Robert has an MBA from East Carolina and is a devoted MMA fan. It is my pleasure to have him as a contributor to the website. You may contact him at: robnashville@gmail.com.

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