May 22, 2013
MMA Fighting reports ratings for UFC on FX 8 were down from last event’s high as Saturday’s event from Brazil scored 1.3 million viewers. The 1.3M figure is on average with ratings for UFC on FX shows.
Saturday’s main event on FX saw Vitor Belfort KO Luke Rockhold with a highlight reel reverse head kick.
In addition, the Prelims on Fuel TV received 156,000 viewers for a 0.35 rating. It was down from January’s UFC on FX 7 Prelims on Fuel TV. But, it was up from the 132,000 viewer average.
Average numbers for a card that did not have too many popular fighters known to many in the United States. The event is the last of its kind on FX as the bulk of UFC programming moves to the new Fox Sports 1 network in August.
May 21, 2013
The UFC announced that Nate Diaz was fined $20,000 and suspended three months for his anti-gay tweet in reference to Bryan Caraway. The UFC announced that the fine would be donated to charity.
Diaz’s manager, Mike Kogan, went on The MMA Hour to defend Diaz’s choice of words. Kogan’s defense made news as it was featured on Deadspin. Despite what most saw as a losing battle, Kogan said Diaz felt no remorse for the comment. Kogan felt the same. The logic was the fact they believe the word Diaz tweeted was not a homophobic slur.
(H/t: MMA Fighting)
Anyone else think Cesar Gracie could do as good as job as Kogan with this damage control? While I understand Kogan’s need to defend his client, there is no use in remaining unrepentant about what happened. It only makes it look worse. Diaz made only $15,000 for the Josh Thomson fight at was fined $20,000. A $5,000 loss. All of this happened after switching managers.
May 21, 2013
MMA Mania reports that the UFC has established a web site to address the Culinary Union’s consistent attacks against the organization. “The Truth About Culinary 226” aims to expose the Union’s issues on this web site owned and operated by Zuffa.
The web site reveals public waste allegedly caused by 226 and attempts to address the history between Culinary 226 and Zuffa.
Via “The Truth About Culinary 226”:
The Culinary Union has targeted Station Casinos because the company refuses to agree to a “card check” process whereby the Culinary Union may become the representative of its employees without being elected as such through a secret ballot election. Rather than simply following the secret ballot election process that U.S. federal law provides, the Culinary Union’s management has instead waged a dishonest campaign to pressure Station Casinos to capitulate to its demands. As part of that campaign, the Culinary Union has been engaging in harassment tactics that target all of the business interests of the Fertittas, including Station Casinos and the UFC.
Bad PR or Zuffa rightfully going on the offensive? The web site tells the Zuffa side of the story with the constant attacks made by the Culinary Union in light of the continued inability for MMA to become legalized in New York. Zuffa is up front of what it is doing as it states it owns the web site on the front page. I am not clear how the web site will sway public opinion but it cannot hurt its efforts for legalizing MMA in New York if it is truthful about its allegations.
May 21, 2013
Microsoft headquarters today hosted the much anticipated Xbox One reveal, which showcased key EA Sports franchises such as Madden, NBA Live, FIFA, and the newest addition EA Sports UFC.
The video was to show off EA Sports new engine, Ignite, developed for the next generation Xbox console. Though there was no actual gameplay footage, it was a sneak peak of what can be expected in the future. The UFC portion focused on UFC LHW Champion Jon Jones and UFC LW/FW contender Anthony Pettis performing the “Showtime Kick” on current UFC LW Champion Ben Henderson.
Not much was “revealed” for the EA Sports UFC game other than it will be available next year for the Xbox One, but to be included with great franchises such as Madden, FIFA and NBA Live is a pretty big deal for the UFC. In terms of development, it seems that they are still in the early stages, but we will keep an eye on E3 and see if more information about the game will become available.
May 20, 2013
One day before Microsoft is set to debut the next generation XBOX console, EA Sports announces that it will also release EA UFC news on the same day.
The assumption here is that the first official news coming out of EA Sports regarding the UFC title will take place during Microsoft’s press conference tomorrow, which will unveil the next generation XBOX console.
During a recent EA press conference, it was announced that EA Sports UFC would not be released until after this fiscal year, which ends after April 2014. That would mean that tomorrow’s announcement could confirm that EA Sports UFC will first be officially available on the XBOX’s new console. Also confirmed for tomorrow’s event is EA Sports FIFA franchise.
It is expected that various EA Sports titles will have a major role during tomorrow’s conference, which will be used to boast XBOX’s vast on launch titles as well as developer support, something both Sony and Nintendo have been struggling with as of late. There are even rumors of exclusivity talks among the two brands with certain titles, but just mere talk up to now.
Mircrosoft’s new generation console, is expected to have some presence in next month’s E3 event in Los Angeles.
May 20, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that John Cholish retired after his match with Gleison Tibau at UFC on FX 8. Despite leaving the UFC active roster, Cholish lobbied for the undercard fighters that they receive more pay.
Cholish, a Cornell grad, is going back to his day job at a commodities trading firm on Wall Street. While Cholish’s future is solid, he spoke out for other fighters that live from fight to fight from the UFC and lobbied for better pay.
Cholish indicated that he may not break even regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s fight. His last reported fight purse was
$4,000 $6,000 to show and $4,000 $6,000 to win at UFC 140 (plus a $5K bonus per his interview on The MMA Hour on 5/20/13). The low pay makes it hard to turn a profit for fighting considering the costs of training.
Cholish pointed out an often ignored financial detail for fighters when looking at fighter payouts- paying for a support staff. While coaches and training partners receive certain privileges for working with a fighter, the fighter must still compensate them for their time. It’s interesting to note that Cholish was sponsored by MusclePharm and Alienware, two of the UFC’s official sponsors, yet still stated that he may not break even from Saturday’s fight.
Cholish could not give a solution to the fighter pay issue outside of a fighter’s union. As we’ve discussed on prior occasions, it’s unlikely that a fighter’s union would occur under the Zuffa banner. Since Zuffa is a private company, it does not reveal a lot of its finances which would hurt undercard fighters in terms of negotiating fight pay. Moreover, taking a look at the released pay scales, most of the undercard fighters are slated in at a certain range and then are brought up in lockstep in terms of show and win bonuses. The allure of fighting for the UFC (and its insurance) does help initially with fighting for less but Cholish points out that many fighters not on the main card are barely breaking even with costs and expenses after a fight. Most are not as fortunate as Cholish and must cobble together other gigs while waiting for their next shot to fight on a UFC card.
May 18, 2013
Fight of the Night: Lucas Martins and Jeremy Larsen
Submission of the Night: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
KO of the Night: Vitor Belfort
Attendance was announced at 7,642 for the arena which has a 15,000 person capacity and usually houses volleyball and futsal.
No surprises with the bonuses for submission or KO. The crowd was into the fights the whole night and had the Fight of the Night (Martins/Larsen) to cheer for from the beginning as it was during the Facebook prelims.
May 17, 2013
UFC announced the launch of UFC Fit as the organization’s first ever in-home fitness and nutrition program. The program was developed by Mike Dolce of the famed “Dolce Diet.”
Via UFC press release:
Developed with renowned strength and conditioning coach Mike Dolce, UFC FIT is a lifestyle program based on the same methods the world’s greatest athletes use to prepare for the OctagonTM.
A celebrated training coach and former mixed martial artist, Dolce has earned his reputation as the greatest conditioning and nutrition expert in the sport, helping top contenders including Johny Hendricks, Gray Maynard, Michael Bisping and Thiago Alves prepare for competition. Now, for the first time, Mike Dolce shares the knowledge and techniques that have turned athletes into champions in this in-home training program.
UFC president Dana White said: “What makes UFC FIT different from every other workout is Mike Dolce. The UFC doesn’t cut corners or do anything halfway, so when we decided to create UFC FIT, we knew we had to work with Mike. He’s someone we respect, someone we believe in and someone we know gets results. To compete in the UFC, you have to be proficient in five Olympic sports including boxing, wrestling, taekwondo and judo on top of having world class strength and cardio. And Mike Dolce take these guys level to another level – just imagine what he can do for you.”
UFC FIT includes:
• 12 dynamic workout DVDs
• Plus 3-Day Shred, a jumpstart to weight loss
• 12-week Workout Tracker
• 132-page Lifestyle & Nutrition Manual, complete with training tips, a grocery list, meal plans and healthy, delicious recipes
• And for when you are on the go, Xyience® Ulti-Bar™ and Ulti-Meal™ Replacement Protein Shake, created exclusively for UFC FIT
UFC FIT is available now at UFCFIT.com. Additional merchandise is also available including an official UFC FIT Octagon® Mat, water bottle and fitness apparel.
First GSP Fit, then the UFC Personal Trainer, now this. A tacit endorsement of Dolce’s methods by the UFC. From the press release it looks like it also utilizes Xyience, a UFC official sponsor, in this program. This home fitness product falls in line with the current craze of at home workout regimens. We’ll see how sales will be for this product.
May 17, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that Nate Diaz has been suspended pending an investigation for a tweet in which he made a gay slur. Diaz sent the tweet in defense of Pat Healy as he had been stripped of bonuses for testing positive for marijuana use.
Diaz used the slur to refer to Brian Caraway, the UFC fighter that received the submission of the night bonus after the UFC stripped Healy of the bonus. Incidentally, it was Caraway that lobbied Dana White for the raise in bonuses for UFC 159.
We all remember that the UFC suspended Matt Mitrione for statements that he made on The MMA Hour in relation to Fallon Fox. The suspension was short-lived as Mitrione was scheduled a fight after only two weeks of discipline.
Diaz is coming off his second loss in a row as he suffered the first TKO of his career against Josh Thomson. MMA Junkie reports Diaz’s manager, Mike Kogan, advised Diaz not to delete the offensive tweet and that people look up the offending word in the dictionary. He explained that the word is slang in Northern California.
This probably violates the UFC’s Code of Conduct. Maybe the UFC should have another Fighter Summit to refresh its fighters on what is appropriate to tweet or say to the media. Even if Diaz believed the name calling to be benign and not a slur against homosexuals, but more of dissing Caraway (something seemingly explained by Kogan), he should have called him something else. With Kogan supporting Diaz’s stance and choice of words, it will be interesting to see what happens next. Certainly, the standard way to address issues like this is to apologize for the choice of words. Here, we are asked to refer to a dictionary. We will see how this works.
May 16, 2013
The Ultimate Fighting Championship video game franchise made its debut towards the end of what many of its fans now refer to as the “Dark Ages” for Mixed Martial Arts. The successful venture occurred just a few months before current owners, Zuffa LLC, purchased the MMA promotion from the near bankrupt Semaphore Entertainment Group.
During this time, the struggling MMA promotion was still sporting a black-eye from politicians and mainstream media who labeled it “human cockfighting”. This was a time before “cage fighting” was fully regulated, sanctioned, or accepted throughout the country. Due to the circumstances, not much was expected from the UFC’s initial foray into the video gaming world.
The self titled release was first made available on a console that many critics and fans now say was ahead of its time, the Sega Dreamcast. The UFC poster-boy and brand ambassador at the time, Tito Ortiz, was a no-brainer as its first cover athlete. The game was first developed by Anchor Inc. for the Dreamcast and released on August 29, 2000. A follow up release was then developed by Opus for the Sony PlayStation (PSX) on November 13, just a few months later. The game was even ported to the Game Boy Color on November 27, just weeks after the PSX release by Fluid Studios. All three versions were published by Crave Entertainment.
To the surprise of many, the game was well received by fans and critics. Popular video game outlet IGN gave it score of “9.1 – Amazing” and was awarded the “Editors Choice” tag. Metacritic, who takes the scores from all major outlets and computes an average score, scored it an 88 out of 100. The game on it’s own merit proved to be a success, but it did more than just provide good game-play to video game fans. Due to word-of-mouth and rave reviews, it served as a tool to introduce the UFC and MMA product to an untapped market. It was the first step the UFC had taken towards trickling into the mainstream, where they could reach young teens and commence the process of converting the non-MMA fan. The video-game playing teen demographic back in the early 2000′s eventually evolved into a sizable portion of what has become key to the UFC’s growth over the years, the elusive male 18-34 demographic.
Much of the success the first UFC video game obtained can be attributed to one key decision… or stroke of luck, depending on who you ask. SEG made the decision to license their product to Crave Entertainment and selected a relatively small Japanese video game development start-up, Anchor Inc.
- The Anchor Inc. Era
Anchor Inc. is a Japanese video game development & CG animation production studio, founded on October 1996. The small development group, which has employed a staff of anywhere between 25-50 throughout the years, was founded by Masahiro Onoguchi and his brother Kohichi Onoguchi. Before starting Anchor Inc, Masahiro Onoguchi worked at Namco, one of the most prestigious Japanese game development studios. While at Namco, he worked on classic fighting games such as Tekken and Soul Calibur. After leaving Namco, Onoguchi worked for a small company, DreamFactory, which was founded by some of the people from Namco and Sega. His strong relationship with the group led to providing animation and support for the Virtua Fighter game series, an original 3-D fighter title released for Sega consoles.
Anchor Inc’s first release was Fighter’s Destiny for the N64, which was produced in cooperation with Namco. Their next release would be their first full-fledged in-house release. The title of that game was “Ultimate Fighting Championship” and was set to release on the Sega Dreamcast on August 2000. Anchor Inc. would go on to release some of the best MMA & WWE games ever developed for that era, though they never made another UFC game after their initial full release.
- THQ Crosses Path With the UFC
With the amount of success and popularity the Japanese MMA promotion PRIDE had amounted in recent years, game publisher THQ decided to acquire the PRIDE video game license from Dream Stage Entertainment. The next step in THQ’s MMA venture was to find a developer to work on the game. Ironically, because of the success the first UFC title had achieved, THQ reached out to Anchor Inc. to develop their PRIDE game a few months after Ultimate Fighting Championship was released. As you can imagine, Anchor Inc was more than thrilled to take on the 2-year project, which involved creating the PRIDE video game engine from scratch.
“Yes. With UFC for the Dreamcast, Anchor was given more attention outside of Japan. When we got the Pride project, we were excited because Pride is very well known in Japan. We got the feeling that we’d be recognized as the Pride developers. UFC was a popular overseas event at the time of our developing the game, so we didn’t really know about the fighters or the skills. But Pride is held in Japan, so we know the fighters, events, etc. We’re more attached to Pride than we were to UFC.”
When “PRIDE FC: Fighting Championships” was ready to release, it had much hype from gaming and MMA enthusiasts. The game walked away with IGN’s PS2 simulation and fighting game award of E3 in 2002 and only created more hype to the much anticipated Anchor Inc follow-up. After it was released in February 2003, the game got many positive reviews but the lack of a few game-play options drew some minor critiques. IGN gave it a score of “8.0 – Great” while Metacritic scored it a 77 out of 100. In the end, the game became a classic, just like the previous Anchor Inc release.
- The Crave Entertainment Era
Crave Entertainment will forever be known as the first video game publisher to release a UFC game, but it released many games for multiple consoles for over a decade. Crave was founded in 1997 by Nima Taghavi and was based out of Newport Beach, California. After the successful release of “Ultimate Fighting Championship”, Crave quickly began to work on a sequel. Since Anchor Inc was busy working on their PRIDE FC video game, Crave partnered with another Japanese developer, DreamFactory, for the release of “UFC Tapout”. Interestingly enough, DreamFactory was the company Onoguchi worked for before founding Anchor Inc after leaving Namco.
UFC Tapout was released for the XBOX on February 2002. The game received some high scores though there were some mixed reviews from the critics. GameSpot gave Tapout a score of “8.3 – Great”, though Metacritic computed a score of 77 out of 100, which was a similar score the PRIDE FC game received one year later. The game eventually became the official Xbox Magazine 2002 Editors Choice Award winner. Though the game had some flaws from the original Dreamcast title, the release by DreamFactory was another success for Crave.
The next step for Crave was to release a PS2 version of the game, which they titled “UFC Throwdown”. This time around, Crave teamed up with Genki, Capcom Production Studio 3 for the release. The reviews were not as pleasant as previous releases and Metacritic computed a score of 68 out of 100 for the game.
After the PS2 release, Crave focused on the Tapout sequel for the XBOX.
“Tapout 2 will feature a completely overhauled core game engine. ‘With the changes in the engine, an enhanced AI, upgraded career mode, and new fighting moves, we’re practically putting the gamer right in the middle of The Octagon,’ said Rob Sandberg, senior producer at Crave Entertainment. ‘Tapout 2 will look and play noticeably different from any previous version, and I think fighting game fans will be very impressed.”
By the time “Tapout 2″ was released for the XBOX on March 2003, Crave Entertainment had lost the UFC video game license. The game ended up being published by TDK Mediactive, though it was still developed by DreamFactory. Metacritic computed a score of 66 out of 100, continuing it’s ratings slide from the first two games it had released.
Crave continued to release games for multiple gaming consoles after the partnership with the UFC ended. It was eventually acquired by Handleman Corporation in 2005 for $95M. Four years later in 2009, it was sold to Fillpoint for only $8.1M due to Handleman’s bankruptcy proceedings. As has become the fate for many video game companies that went through the recession, Crave Entertainment eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
- The Post Anchor Inc Era
After Tapout 2 was released by TDK Mediactive for the XBOX in 2003, TDK did not retain the UFC video game license. This time around, UFC partnered with video game publisher Global Star and previously used development group “Opus” for the PS2 follow-up to “Throwdown”. The game once again received mixed reviews and Metacritic computed it’s lowest score to date, 54 out of 100 for a UFC game. As it turns out, this would end up being the last video game release for the UFC before going on a 6 year hiatus.
Many fans and critics pin-point losing Anchor Inc. studios to THQ and the PRIDE FC game as the culprits for the downward slide of the UFC video game franchise. As it turns out, not only was PRIDE stealing some of the UFC’s best fighters at the time, it also took an essential component of what made the UFC’s first release such a big hit, the small video game development group Anchor Inc.
Anchor Inc’s Onoguchi said the following about the UFC games that were developed after their departure:
“Not fun at all. I want to be honest. First, I don’t like the gameplay at all. And it seems that they put in more modes and features to cover up the lack of gameplay.”
Video game critics shared a similar view:
“Overall, UFC: Tapout 2 has some strengths, but they’re the same strengths that the previous Tapout game had. The game doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre, and the game’s AI flaws make it a very dull single-player experience. Even devout fans of the sport would be better off with the previous Tapout game, or, if they own a PlayStation 2, THQ’s Pride FC.”
The next UFC game would not be released until 2009, by none other than THQ… which we will continue in part 2 of this series.
Tapout (XBOX – 2002)
Throwdown (PS2, GC – 2002)
Tapout 2 (XBOX – 2003)
Sudden Impact (PS2 – 2003)
NOTE 1: Throwdown, Tapout 2, and Sudden Impact cover art features the late UFC Hall of Famer Charles Lewis, Jr., aka “The Mask” from the “TapouT” clothing brand. He is also also an unlockable fighter along with Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta.
NOTE 2: Before there was Ronda Rousey or even Gina Carano, there was Erica Montoya. The UFC was so close to featuring Montoya as the first female fighter in the UFC, that she was put into the UFC Sudden Impact video game as a fighter, which released in 2003. In fact, the UFC was strongly considering a bout between Erica Montoya and Shelby Walker for UFC 51 in 2005, but the match never materialized.