Bonnier Corp. to publish UFC Magazine

November 11, 2011

The UFC has chosen publisher Bonnier Corp. to produce its official UFC Magazine. The first issue published by Bonnier will be available in the early part of 2012.

Via UFC press release:

Bonnier Corp. and the Ultimate Fighting Championship® have announced an agreement for Bonnier to begin producing the mixed martial arts organization’s official magazine. Launched in 2009, UFC Magazine quickly established itself as the premier source covering the sport and lifestyle of the UFC®. This winter, the first issue of UFC Magazine published under Bonnier will be available and include a 2012 annual preview of the fastest-growing sports organization in the world. Hitting newsstands Dec. 27, UFC Magazine will continue to be led by Editor-in-Chief Seth Kelly and Publisher Larry Menkes.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this new agreement with Bonnier,” said Bryan Johnston, chief marketing officer for the UFC. “Our past partnership with Bonnier’s TransWorld titles have been such a success, it makes perfect sense to extend the relationship out through its parent company based in Stockholm, Sweden. The team at Bonnier is on par with our mission to grow this sport and they understand our commitment to social media and technology. With the ability to reach readers in 17 countries, Bonnier will help grow the UFC’s global distribution by utilizing its successful Mag+ tablet platform and long-standing history in publishing.”

Bonnier has become an industry pioneer for its approach to emerging digital platforms. Bonnier was one of the first to launch a magazine title on the iPad with Popular Science in April 2010 and has followed that up with aggressive R&D innovations.

“From my first introduction to Dana White and the UFC over two years ago, I was impressed by his passion for their sport and his company’s media prowess,” said TransWorld Media Group Publisher Liam Ferguson. “This partnership will leverage the strengths of our respective organizations to better serve our shared target demographic of young male enthusiasts, aged 16-34. I’m flattered that the UFC has chosen TransWorld, and our parent company Bonnier, as their partner to grow their print and digital magazine subscribers globally.”

Bonnier tapped Kelly, the editor who launched UFC Magazine for American Media, to return to his role as editor-in-chief. Kelly has left his position as editorial director at American Media to join Bonnier. He previously oversaw the editorial departments at UFC Magazine, Men’s Fitnessand Muscle & Fitness.

“UFC Magazine is a very special project for me and I’m very happy to return to the title,” Kelly said. “Bonnier’s position within the industry and publishing capabilities will allow us to execute our plans for improving the print product and expand to online. I can’t wait to fire up the tablet edition in 2012. And yes, to all the fans out there, we’re going to have subscriptions.”

Menkes, former publisher of UFC Magazine and Men’s Fitness, has also returned to the magazine as publisher. He has more than 13 years of media experience under his belt with top companies such as American Media, Dennis Publishing, Primedia and Mediavest.

UFC Magazine is the only official print property covering the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The magazine offers exclusive access to UFC athletes and covers all facets of the fastest-growing sport in the world. In addition to connecting fans with the their favorite UFC athletes, the editorial content presents a wide array of lifestyle coverage, from fitness and training to consumer goods, entertainment and travel, all viewed through the lens of the UFC. What’s more, UFC Magazine will now boast online featured content at www.ufc.com.

Its appeal isn’t only to the fight fan either. UFC Magazine is consumed by readers across multiple demographics, while 37 percent of its readers are women.

Payout Perspective:

The move should help with the international reach of the UFC Magazine. It also makes sense for the partnership considering Bonnier’s versatility with new media and the UFC’s willingness to try new forms of media. While the move is for the print property, one could see the relationship extending to other platforms such as the iPad and other tablet platforms.

Lesnar book out May 24th

February 18, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Brock Lesnar’s autobiography is due out May 24th. The former UFC champ and current TUF coach wrote the book with Paul Heyman.

Via MMA Junkie:

Although notoriously closed-guarded and rarely one to seek out publicity, Lesnar promises to speak openly about his pro-sports career and life outside of competition.

The 208-page title retails for $25.99. The book follows recent releases from the likes of Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Randy Couture and Brian Stann.

Payout Perspective:

Lesnar’s contribution to the literary community will be interesting since it is being co-written by Paul Heyman. How much of Heyman’s creative stamp on this book may determine its success. The book could be interesting if it delves into the decisions to get into wrestling, the NFL, the UFC and his recent near-death experience. But, based on Lesnar’s seclusion from all, I don’t think we’ll get any of it. By the way, I remember when autobiographies occurred at the end of careers, after having experienced a lifetime of worthy experiences. Not saying Lesnar hasn’t had some worthy stories, but the book seems untimely. And its only 208 pages.

Hopefully, the marketing for this book will be better than this. Let’s hope Paul E has his hand in the marketing.

New Magazine Focuses on MMA Fitness

February 9, 2011

Fighters Only magazine has introduced a new fitness publication called, Train Hard Fight Easy (THFE), which will focus on MMA fitness and nutrition.

According to Fighters Only:

In addition to expert editorial discussing MMA-related health, nutrition and conditioning THFE also features blow-by-blow fighting techniques. Taking readers through their fight secrets and appearing in their own picture editorials every issue are the THFEfight camp: MMA legend Wanderlei Silva and his long-term coach Rafael Cordeiro; BJJ guru Renzo Gracie; Greg Jackson, the most successful trainer in MMA today; plus esteemed wrestling coach Kenny Johnson and his close friend UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes.

The first issue details the training habits of Georges St. Pierre. The magazine is also available via Fighters Only’s iPad app on iTunes.

Payout Perspective:

Considering the amount of MMA gyms, “cardio kickboxing” classes and workout videos (e.g., RUSHFIT) populating the workout landscape now, it is easy to see a fitness periodical dedicated to MMA. With GSP as its cover guy for the first issue, you can expect booming sales.

 Regardless of the cover, the popularity of MMA has many people trying it out themselves. From a workout perspective, many people are into the “Men’s Health-type” information on what to eat to have a body like GSP and less like Fedor. A magazine focusing on how MMA athletes eat and train should have the eye of many wannabe fighters and people just interested in getting in shape.

Brock Lesnar cuts promo for upcoming book

January 6, 2011

Brock Lesnar reappeared to MMA fans this week as he released a promotional video for his upcoming book. The video looks homemade, unscripted and not thought through.

Here it is via MMA Mania:


Payout Perspective:

My initial thought was that this was a spoof. A wierd way to promo Lesnar as he returns to the UFC to fight Frank Mir or coach TUF. But, no, it appears to be a legitimate promo for his autobiography coming out later this year. I was under the impression that Paul Heyman was assisting in writing the book. If so, I would have hoped that Heyman would have helped with the promotional efforts. Certainly, Heyman could have done something better to sell this book. Lesnar doesn’t have the book with him or at least some sort of cover art to show people that an actual book is forthcoming.

For all of the promos he cut in the WWE and his post-match speeches after Mir II and Carwin I, it’s surprising to see Lesnar look so uncomfortable and at a loss for words.

Fighters Only Announces 2010 World MMA Awards

August 12, 2010

Fighters Only has officially announced the third annual World MMA Awards is set for December 1, 2010 at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las Vegas, NV (USA) – Fighters Only, the world’s biggest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) magazine, announces the launch of its 3rd annual awards today. Devised to celebrate success and achievement within the MMA industry, the World Mixed Martial Arts Awards gives fans across the globe the chance to cast their vote on which athletes, brands, and industry professionals have made the greatest impact on the sport in the last 12 months. Voting will take place across 20 different award categories including Fighter of the Year, Knockout of the Year, and Best Lifestyle Apparel.

 

“The anticipation for the 2010 awards has been a little overwhelming,” says Rob Hewitt, President and CEO of Fighters Only. “I couldn’t be more thrilled by the potential of this year’s event. Last year’s ceremony opened many people’s eyes: ‘seeing is believing’ so more and more people want to get behind the awards. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s supported us in making the World MMA Awards a landmark occasion in the industry’s calendar, and appeal to the fans to let their voices be heard. ”

 

2009’s incredibly successful event saw a who’s who of MMA walk up the red carpet. The Fighters Only World MMA Awards is set to return even bigger and better with a live ceremony held on Wednesday December 1st 2010 in the exclusive Pearl Concert Theatre inside the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. This black-tie event will be sponsored by Bodybuilding.com, the global leader in online sports nutrition.

Payout Perspective:

Fighters Only has really been the only group to gain any sort of traction and recognition for its annual award ceremony among both the fans and industry people. This has largely been facilitated through the buy-in at Zuffa; a veritable who’s who in the MMA community attended last year’s event, including Dana White, Georges St-Pierre and more.

Perhaps the only criticism laid against Fighters Only is that they’ve pandered too much to Zuffa fights; last year’s awards were dubbed the “Zuffa Awards” by hardcore cynics. However, it’s difficult to fault Fighters Only when the nominees and awards are fan-voted, and upwards of 80% of the MMA we watch on television comes from the UFC or WEC.

Couture on Cover of New UFC Magazine

July 16, 2010

UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture will grace the cover of the UFC Magazine’s next release in August. The issue coincides with Couture’s heavyweight tilt against boxing legend James Toney at UFC 118 on August 28th in Boston, MA.

Randy Couure on the cover of August's UFC Magazine

Payout Perspective:

The last we heard regarding the magazine is that subscriptions and ad interest were increasing. This was a few months ago, so the situation may have changed. However, I doubt that in a way given the UFC’s latest hot streak and the use of draws like Liddell, Rampage and Couture on issues.

UFC Partners with Getty Images

July 16, 2010

The UFC has announced a partnership with the worldwide leader in sports photography, Getty Images, that allows the curator to distribute UFC imagery captured by photographers and become licensor of the entire UFC image archive.

Through this partnership with UFC, Getty Images will manage the distribution and licensing of UFC’s rich archive of pivotal moments in mixed martial arts to service media customers, marketing partners and other third-party outlets.  Additionally, Getty Images will curate one of the most significant collections of UFC imagery as its team of award-winning photographers capture the sport’s defining moments throughout the year.  This collection includes premier events such as the most recent UFC 116 heavyweight title fight between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, plus the upcoming Aug. 7th UFC  117 event featuring the return of the world’s greatest pound- for-pound fighter Anderson Silva, UFC middleweight champion vs. Chael Sonnen, number one middleweight contender.

Payout Perspective:

I like this move, because it leaves the UFC free to continue doing what it does best – marketing and hosting fight events – without having to worry about money left on the table. It’s the continuation of a 2+ year effort to start diversifying revenue streams and capitalizing on ancillary opportunities that started with an increased emphasis on DVD sales, improved clothing distribution, and the entire toys/collectibles/video game movement.

Interestingly, I thought we might see that 70-30 ratio of  event to non-event-related revenue start to even out a little more, but the latest update on Zuffa’s credit status indicates that no such movement has occurred. This is not because the UFC has failed to increase non-event-related revenue over the last few years, but because the UFC’s event-related revenues have increased at a pace that matches the increase of non-event-related revenues (e.g., gains from the sale of the video game were matched by new PPV sales records, etc.).

SBJ: Fight Issue, June 14th

May 25, 2010

Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal has announced it will be producing a special in-depth issue on the fight business that will be released on Monday, June 14th.

I’ll have coverage of some of the articles here, but I encourage everyone to check them out and pick up a subscription; very much worth the money!

BJ Penn's Book "Why I Fight" Finds Early Success, Surrounded By Controversy

April 21, 2010

BJ Penn may have returned from UFC 112 as a former champ, but  that has not deterred any of his fans from lining up in book stores to purchase his latest release “Why I Fight: The Belt Is Just an Accessory”.  Penn landed in Southern California this week  to promote his book and initial reports suggest that the sales have been doing quite well.  Here is a fans account of the book signing from user cagefightonacid on BloodyElbow:

BJ Penn finished his book tour signing in Torrance, California yesterday (Monday, April 19, 7pm). I got there about 3 hours early and ended up about 300th in line. BJ showed up about 10 minutes early and stayed until every single person got their book signed and picture taken (probably around midnight). He came off as really humble, was super nice and kept thanking all the fans personally.

BJ Penn Book Signing in Torrance, CA

Sports Illustrated writer Josh Gross was also on scene, and expressed his experience on-line:

Amazing fan response @bjpenndotcom‘s book signing in Torrance. 600 copies sold out hours ago. http://tweetphoto.com/19165179 … Could’ve sold 2000 books. People are buying copies from other stores and bringing them in. Line out the door. Pretty impressive.

While Penn’s book has had early success, it has not come without controversy.  Josh Gross reported in a recent SI column that UFC President Dana White was not too thrilled about Penn’s book release since it was being published without the UFC’s approval. The book was co-authored by 36-year-old freelance writer David Weintraub, who took most of the heat from Zuffa and allegedly lost his job in the process.  Josh Gross reports on the issue:

White told SI.com that after he became aware of the book, he approached Penn and Penn family lawyer, Gary Levitt, with a question: “Why would you put out a book that is 90 percent not true?” …

“I’m very happy I wrote the book but I’m also very disappointed the UFC decided to force my employer to cut me loose,” said Weintraub, who alleged UFC executive vice president of operations and production Craig Borsari told Exit 9 Films that Weintraub was “no longer welcome to work for the UFC.”

David Weintraub has allegedly issued a statement on the Sherdog forums:

I do not really post much on public forums, but a lot of people I know mentioned to me that people were discussing BJ’s new book, and even giving him a hard time about having not read the book. So now I’m posting.

BJ and I discussed his life for hundreds of hours, starting when I lived in Hilo for many weeks in 2009, to multiple phone discussions, skype chats, and countless texts/emails, etc. As the two of us put this book together, going over it as we went along, large parts of it were exchanged between myself, and Penn. When a final manuscript was put together, BJ went through it again, removing and adding parts he did/didn’t want in the text. I have physical copies of these papers with his handwriting all over it. This is how it works.

I want to clear a few things up about these books, which I’m sure most of you already know. It’s rare the subject of the book will ever actually type/write large portions of the book. Sometimes a subject will write up notes, and the co-author and subject will go over them together, but this is why you have a co-author in the first place.

In other words, BJ Penn without question read his own book, and more than once. He created this book. There is the semantic argument he “never read the book”, and yes, that’s true, when referring to the actual physical book itself. Under that standard, I’ve also never read the book. But obviously, we both read the text which became a book.

BJ responded to a Dana White text to him about the book, after White flipped out over it, and suggested he didn’t “read the book.” He wrote that because he was actually worried something ended up in the book he didn’t sign off on. It truly concerned him at first. BJ couldn’t understand what White was so livid about it, that he was replying as if he needed to go back and find out what it was. After realizing White was just being his caustic self, and being comfortable with everything in the book, he just blew off Dana’s comment. In fact, he has no desire to really address it because he thinks anyone who believes for a second he didn’t read his own book is ridiculous. I’m realizing quickly how many people like to dump on BJ (and support).

The part that really bothers ME when I hear stories like this one is how easily people will echo the words of UFC President Dana White after he makes such a statement. The UFC is not promoting the book in any way, and White has obviously done his best to discredit the book itself. For fans to take his words to heart, to actually believe them, is shocking. However, I imagine it’s much more of a small loud minority than the majority of interested people who actually do. I would think fans would support fighters over company presidents, but hey, that’s just me.

In the end I’m hopeful people enjoy the book. It’s as honest a book from a MMA fighter as you’re going to read, even if you disagree with the opinion of Penn. This book is not my opinion in any way, even if I lost my job doing freelance work with the UFC because of it. It’s BJ Penn’s book, and love him, or hate him, I can assure you it’s an honest assessment and perspective of his life.

Finally, people have commented that fighters and athletes shouldn’t be writing biographies while they’re still relevant. I don’t completely disagree with this line of reasoning, but with MMA/UFC, a fighter’s shelf life is short. If Dan Severin wrote a book right now I wonder how many people would buy it, or if the companies he fought for would promote it. I doubt it. I don’t think Kobe Bryant should be writing a book now, but his situation is completely different than a MMA fighter, to use an example.

Because of the nature of MMA, especially when you think about the contentious relationship fighters have with organizations, writing these books is important now. It’s not the same in baseball, football, and other large sports, as it is for MMA. Fighters don’t have a large voice, especially in the UFC. The organization will always do whatever they can to be bigger than the fighters. Dana White himself has said, “no fighter will ever be bigger than the UFC.” With this being the case, you cannot fault fighters who are trying to be heard now, during a time when media will actually pay attention to them.

I am doing a radio show today in New Jersey at 4pm Eastern. It’s not MMA based, but mostly news based. However, if anyone has questions regarding this book I would certainly be willing to answer some of them, and would entertain MMA questions about anything. Having spent over 6 years with UFC, I certainly believe I can answer some.

Hope those of you who read the book enjoy it. After all, it cost me my job!!!

Thanks,

David Weintraub

Here is an excerpt from BJ Penn’s book, which BloodyElbow quoted:

“K-1 was offering me $187,500 per fight – five times what the UFC was offering – and I was still willing to stay with them for one-third of that amount. This was when the relationship took a turn for the worse, and my view of White changed drastically. From that point on, I knew when it came to money, we couldn’t trust him to treat us right. Did I like him at the dinner table? Sure. But at the negotiating table? Not at all. The pressure to perform and safeguard other people’s money had changed him, even though he was constantly bragging to anyone willing to listen about how ‘big this thing was going to be.’ Things between us would never be the same.

When it was finally official I was going to fight in Japan, White called me up and told me his true feelings. ‘You mother******! You’re ******* done! You’ll never fight in the UFC again! You’re finished. You’re scorched earth, mother******. Scorched earth. Don’t call me crying saying you want to come back because you’re ******* done!’ And on and on and on, like a true professional – even going so far as to tell me I would never see my face again in a UFC video, promotion, or anything else. He also planned on removing my fight with Hughes from the UFC 46 DVD so no one would even know who I was. ‘It doesn’t have to be this way,’ I told him. ‘You know it wouldn’t take that much to make this work.’ But he just kept yelling.

UPDATE: BJ Penn’s “Why I Fight” book is now on the New York Times bestsellers list (BJPENN.COM)

Payout Perspective:

The controversy surrounding BJ Penn’s book will only help boost his sales, perhaps to the ire of the UFC.  Word is getting around that Penn wrote a candid take on his experiences with Dana White and the UFC, which would explain why Zuffa may be upset.  Either way, this book is filled with great stories and juicy tidbits of how not only BJ Penn as a fighter has grown and evolved over the years, but MMA as well.  The great stories,  insight, and juicy tidbits will make this a great read for most fans and should make this tour a success venture for BJ Penn.

Fighters Only Inks Time Warner Deal

April 19, 2010

Fighters Only Magazine has announced the signing of a new distribution deal with Time Warner that will help expand the magazine’s presence throughout its UK and North American markets.

New York, NY (USA) – Fighters Only Magazine, the world’s biggest Mixed Martial Arts magazine, is set to dramatically expand its readership by signing an exclusive distribution deal with media powerhouse Time Warner. The partnership will allow Fighters Only to be represented at retail by a major force within the publishing industry. Time Warner Retail currently handles such titles as People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Time Magazine.

 

“We have found our home in Time Warner, alongside some of the biggest and best known magazines in the world” said Rob Hewitt President and CEO. “Fighters Only will benefit greatly from a powerful partner who will be able to fast track our publication into the hands of MMA fans everywhere by making sure it is seen and available for sale where others are not. Gone are the days we when had to batter down doors of retailers to get them to accept our product and its subject matter. This partnership is arguably one of the defining moments of our company’s history to date and will give us the ability to spread the word of MMA to a far greater audience.”

 

Dale Oehler, Senior Vice President of Time Warner Retail said, “Fighters Only is a quality publication of the highest standards and MMA is a sport on the ascendancy. Time Warner Retail is both proud and excited to enter into the combat sports arena with a company so dedicated to its product and more so the sport it represents. The passion of the Publisher has been infectious, so much so that our whole team are now fans of MMA! ”

Payout Perspective:

This is obviously great news for Fighters Only Magazine, especially after there was some concern earlier this year that MMA magazines were facing increasing financial pressure as the result of the slow decline of the print media industry (e.g., MMA Ultd). Not the case with Fighters Only.

The magazine held a very popular awards show in Las Vegas last year and just launched domestic versions of the magazine in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and South Africa last year.

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