Apex Sports Agency Acquires One Fighting Championship North American Brand Rights

May 3, 2012

Apex Sports Agency (ASA) today announced that a partnership with top Asian fight organization ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) has been agreed to. With this pact, ASA will now exclusively handle all North American sponsorship and media negotiations for ONE FC.

 ONE FC is one of the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions. They recently consummated an unprecedented ten-year deal with ESPN STAR Sports, the number one leader in sports content, which will bring ONE FC content to 500 million homes across 24 countries in Asia. Now, ONE FC and ASA have joined forces.

 CEO and Owner of ONE Fighting Championship Mr. Victor Cui said, “ONE Fighting Championship has completely changed the game for the sport of MMA in Asia, a region that has been the birthplace and home to martial arts for the last 5,000 years. This is a result of the synergistic efforts and outstanding support from our partners. We are the biggest and best MMA organization in Asia because we work with only the best fighters, promotions, gyms, sponsors, and media companies. I am happy to be working with another world-class agency in ASA as we expand our reach to work with new sponsors and partners.”

 “Though less than a year old, ONE FC has done some amazing things already in the sport of MMA,” explained ASA CEO Jason Chambers. “They have a huge reach…it’s unreal to see what they are accomplishing. With the growth they’re experiencing, it’s only natural that they want to expand their presence here in North America. ASA can help ONE FC achieve that, and that is our goal.”

ONE Fighting Championship is Asia’s largest mixed martial arts event. While ONE FC is dedicated to featuring the best Asian fighters in the world, the promotion also aims to reach the North American fight faithful as well. Events thus far have featured well-known fighters such as Phil Baroni, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Melvin Manhoef, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Andy Wang, and Rolles Gracie, while also introducing talented combatants such as Zorobabel Moreira, Ole Laursen, Fabricio Monteiro, and rising star Eduard Folayang.

ASA has quickly garnered a strong reputation in the MMA world, working with stars on the rise such as UFC fighters Chris Clements, Clifford Starks, Carlo Prater, and Matt Lucas, as well as established fighters like Karo Parisyan, Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm, Drew Fickett, Jorge Gurgel, and Zoila Gurgel. However, ASA is more than just another management firm. The company offers a wide array of services, including brand-building. The partnership with ONE FC came about as a result, and proves that ASA is a company to keep an eye on.

Payout Perspective:

Though less than a year old, you have to be impressed with the moves One FC has made so far.  From signing a TV deal with ESPN STAR Sports to now slowly creeping into the North American market, it appears that all the right moves are being made.  The Japanese and Asian MMA scene has yet to recover to the levels of when PRIDE Fighting Championship ruled the region. Since the  purchase and dismantling of the Japanese promotion years ago by Zuffa, several promotions have tried to fill it’s void (Sengoku, DREAM, etc0 but none have been able to do so.

One FC took an interesting approach and focused on developing Asian talent and concentrating on the Asian market before further expanding.  The signing with ASA is just another step in the direction of growth for the budding promotion who is based out of Singapore.

Edgar picks new manager

March 10, 2011

MMA Weekly reports that UFC Lightweight champ Frankie Edgar has signed on with Dominance MMA headed by Ali Abdel-Aziz. Abdel-Aziz and Edgar’s wife will handle The Answer’s management going forward.

In February, Edgar split ways with agent Shari Spencer. Spencer had managed Edgar and Georges St. Pierre. But, GSP split with Spencer in January and Edgar followed suit.

Via MMA Weekly:

Abdel-Aziz manages several other prominent fighters including Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida, Rafael “Sapo” Natal, as well as several Gracie fighters including Igor, Gregor and Rolles Gracie.

Edgar is a mainstay at the main Renzo Gracie academy in New York City, while also training at Ricardo Almeida’s gym in New Jersey.

Payout Perspective:

Obviously, Abdel-Aziz’s relationship with the Renzo Gracie Academy helped him with signing Edgar. Also, having Edgar’s wife included in the management team could have been a factor.  This is similar to GSP’s hiring of new manager Rodolphe Beaulieu, who is a longtime friend of the welterweight champ. It is interesting to see the trend of having family/close friends assist in the business side of managing their career. There are obvious pluses and minuses in having family/friends involved business. We will see how this will play out.

Analyzing the WEC & UFC Merger: Its Effect On the MMA Landscape

November 18, 2010

Last week, the UFC announced they would be absorbing the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion under the parent Zuffa banner, taking on new Lightweight fighters and adding the Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions to the promotion.

WEC Faber vs Pulver Banner

The WEC released the following statement detailing the merger:

“As the UFC continues to evolve and grow globally, we want to be able to give fans title fights in every weight division,” said White. “This is a big day for the sport and the athletes who will have the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage in the world.”

The two new divisions feature WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo who will now be recognized as the reigning UFC featherweight champion, and WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. White confirmed that the winner of the Dec. 16 lightweight title fight between WEC champion Ben Henderson and top contender Anthony Pettis live on VERSUS will take on the winner of the UFC 125 main event title bout between champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. This upcoming fight will serve as a UFC lightweight title unification bout to be held next year.

White also stated the UFC is expanding its presence on the VERSUS Network in 2011, and will increase its number of UFC events from two to four per year. Versus is scheduled to air the two remaining live WEC events in 2010 on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16. The Nov. 11 event in Las Vegas will feature “The California Kid” Urijah Faber’s debut at bantamweight as he takes on Takeya Mizugaki, while the Dec. 16 event in Glendale, Ariz. will feature Henderson-Pettis and a bantamweight title clash between Dominick Cruz and challenger Scott Jorgensen with the winner becoming the new UFC bantamweight champion

“We have a great relationship with the VERSUS network, and we look forward to working with them to give UFC fans even more free fights in 2011,” said White.

Last week, Strikeforce Lightweight fighter Josh Thomson sparked a hot debate between MMA fans and bloggers, stating that the only reason the merger was taking place was because the WEC failed as a promotion:

“They made it sound so great that a company went under. The simple fact of the matter was that the WEC failed and they put it with the UFC to carry it.”


PAYOUT PERSPECTIVE :

MMAPayout has covered the potential merger between the WEC and UFC for quite some time, since speculation of the merger has been rumored and hinted by fighters in the past couple of years. During the process, we have raised quite a few questions in terms of what this means for the UFC and for the WEC. We will explore the merger in more detail and analyze how the move will impact the MMA landscape.

ZUFFA ACQUIRES WEC AND SETS HIGH EXPECTATIONS

World Extreme Cagefighting, which was started by Scott Adams and Reed Harris in 2001, signed a deal with HDNet and joined their lineup in early 2004. Shortly after Zuffa purchased the WEC in December of 2006, Zuffa chose not to re-sign with HDNet and instead opted to sign with the newly revamped Versus Network (formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network).  This was around the same time when Zuffa also purchased the WFA (which brought over fighters such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rob McCullough,  Heath Herring,  Lyoto Machida, and Urijah Faber).  Around the same time, Zuffa also purchased the Japanese promotion PRIDE, a move which proved to severely impact the future sate of the Japanese MMA scene and helped catapult the budding American organization into the next level.

The UFC’s initial intentions with the WEC were not known, but amidst heavy conversations with HBO to air MMA, the newly acquired promotion was rumored to be airing events on HBO since the UFC had a TV deal with Spike TV.  Regardless of where the WEC would land, at the time, the acquisitions the UFC were taking on not only benefited their own roster and brand, but it also impeded potential threats at the time (PRIDE, IFL, EliteXC) from getting TV deals from networks ready to jump on the MMA bandwagon.  MMAWeekly reported the details back in 2006:

The Observer reports that the UFC is buying the WEC for many reasons, one of which is to serve as a venue in which to groom up-and-coming talent, and another is so that they can attempt to secure a high-profile national television deal for the WEC in a strategic maneuver to impede the chances of other MMA promotions (specifically the IFL or Pride) to secure a national TV deal in the United States.

There are only so many TV deals available for an MMA company in the United States. If a TV deal could be secured for the WEC, Zuffa would have the UFC on Spike TV, perhaps the UFC on HBO at some point, and the WEC on another network besides HDNet.

If the UFC were able to secure a deal for the WEC, this would leave any other MMA company with very limited options in terms of securing their own TV deals, with no possibility of signing with Spike TV, HBO (assuming that the UFC is able to secure some sort of deal with the premium network), Showtime (because of their agreement with Pro Elite, Inc.), and the network that would sign the WEC.


Shortly after the WEC acquisition in 2006, MMAWeekly interviewed Kit Cope, who have his impressions as to what the fans could expect from the WEC acquisition:

According to Cope, “Apparently, the plan is to throw some superstars in the WEC… build the WEC up a little bit and kind of have a parallel [organization] with the WEC, so you can someday have an undisputed champion holding both the belts [WEC & UFC]. That’s my take on it.”


John Alessio gave his opinion a year later in an interview with ADCombat, reported back in late 2007, by BloodyElbow:

KM: If your contract is with WEC and you are on deck with UFC can you clarify the connection? I thought WEC were running independently.

JA: My contract is with Zuffa. I am considered a WEC fighter and they don’t like to cross paths like that, they are trying to build it up. What I was told is eventually the idea is build them up to where they are even with each other and have title unifications and stuff like that. We are still a year, maybe two years away.

After the acquisitions took place, it was clear to see that Zuffa  would use the recently purchased assets like the WFA and PRIDE not only to grow their two brands (WEC and UFC), but also to make it more difficult for current and future competitors from ever gaining any momentum in the North American marketplace.  The WEC held three events under the Zuffa banner before making their Versus debut with WEC 28 on June  3rd, 2007 from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where Urijah Faber headlined the event against Chance Farrar.

To put the current WEC ratings on Versus in perspective, WEC 28 in 2007 drew 416,000 viewers on a network that at the time was in less households than they are now.  The last two WEC events on Versus  at press time were reported to have garnered 570,000 (WEC 52) and 486,000 (WEC 51) viewers.  The chart below describes the viewership history


ZUFFA MAKES STRATEGIC CHANGES TO THE WEC

On December 2008, in order to differentiate the WEC product from the UFC (which at the time found itself competing against the UFC brand and causing confusion among MMA fans),  Zuffa dissolved the WEC Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, and later on the Welterweight divisions and merged them to the UFC roster, making the WEC the home of the lighter weight classes.  This move was indeed a strategic move to differentiate both products in the same marketplace, as Zuffa was starting to realize that the UFC brand power was affecting the WEC brand as a competing brand within the same umbrella, preventing the WEC from gaining any traction with the mainstream MMA fans or UFC only fans.


DECISION TO MERGE WEC WAS MADE MONTHS BEFORE ANNOUNCEMENT

At this point, it was only a matter of time until the UFC and WEC were merged considering that the UFC started to televise their own events on Versus, only waiting on the WEC TV deal to expire in order to make the announcement. Not only did ratings start to dip after WEC 34, but the DirecTV carriage dispute on August of 2009 really hurt the brand, where millions of DirecTV fans were lost as the network went dark until March 15th, several weeks later.  Since then, the ratings on Versus dipped to some of their lowest ratings ever and only supported the claim that the promotion would not be able to last much longer.

Although the WEC served it’s purpose of preventing other MMA organizations to get TV deals (it was believed that the IFL was in negotiations to put on live MMA events on Versus) , the platform was also creating a ceiling for potential stars such as Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, and Jose Aldo.  The fact that the consensus among MMA fans was that the WEC hosted some of the most exciting shows in all of MMA for years, yet was not able to get better viewership and traction among MMA fans only shows the lack of brand strength both the WEC and Versus have.  It also shows how incredibly difficult it is for any MMA promotion outside of the UFC to be successful within the same MMA market.

Although the WEC was not able to meet the lofty expectations the UFC had for the promotion when it first acquired it, it will be vital for UFC’s future plans of increasing their brand presence world wide, tapping new markets, and trying to land a coveted TV deal. In the next few years, the UFC has ambitious plans to host events all around the world, specifically trying to build bridges to markets such as Brazil, China, and India in the near future.  At the same time, they don’t want to lower the quality of their events, so adding WEC fighters to events that would have little to no star power makes a ton of sense for them in that regard.


POSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE

The UFC will be televising events on Spike TV and on Versus until the end of 2011, at that point, it is believed that the UFC will be looking to join a bigger television platform and possibly even creating their own channel.  By keeping deals with both Spike TV and Versus, he UFC maintains leverage and is well positioned to negotiate future TV deals it chooses to pursue, one being that Versus is owned by Comcast and is in the middle of acquiring NBC Universal.

A UFC event on NBC would be huge for all parties and it’s something we will definitely keep our eyes on, though it is safe to say that this is far from a done deal at this point.  We will examine the television landscape in a future MMA writeup.


WEC MILESTONES

- In January of 2008, WEC announced that they signed a deal with AMP Energy Drink to become its official energy drink.  This business move by the WEC was important for a few reasons.  One, it was able to attract a major sponsor who was not tied to their big brother the UFC.  Second, AMP Energy would now sponsor fighters under the promotion, which was much needed since the fighter pay under the WEC could not match the UFC’s pay scale.  Having two promotions under the same banner gave Zuffa the flexibility of signing separate TV deals (Spike TV and Versus), and in this case, was able to gain more sponsors and sponsorship money under the Zuffa banner which would otherwise be competing with other sponsors in the same market and be less likely to sign with the UFC. The WEC also announced a sponsorship deal with MusclePharm, which like AMP Energy, became huge sponsors and supporters of the promotion and fighters.

- In June 1st of 2008, WEC 34 aired on Versus and set the all time record for viewership for an MMA event, drawing 1.5 million viewers.  Since WEC 34, 18 WEC events and 2 UFC events have aired on Versus, and none have been able to top the viewership WEC 34 drew, thanks to the great marketing push by the UFC  and how likable Urijah Faber and Jens Pulver are. Jens Pulver had just previously been featured on TUF and had fought BJ Penn in a major UFC event before making his WEC debut.  In retrospect, this event will most likely be considered the peak of the promotion’s existence.

- In April 2010, the WEC held its first PPV event under the Zuffa banner, headlined by Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo.  The event was estimated to have done 150,000-200,000 PPV buys, which would make it the most successful PPV by an MMA organization other than the UFC in North America. The previous leader was the Affliction Banned event, which was said to have done  around 100,000 to 120,000 PPV buys.  Though the event was claimed a success internally, Dana White had previously made some statements that if the PPV fell short of 180,000 PPV buys, it would be considered “terrible”, probably taking into account that the UFC PPV floor baseline is 300K PPV buys. MMAJunkie had the interview with Dana White:

White said it would be “terrible” if Saturday’s pay-per-view buy rate did not double the numbers of April 3′s boxing match between Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr., which reportedly drew 90,000 buys.

Though Dana White’s assessment may have fallen short, most MMA analyst and insiders agree that the WEC PPV was a success, though the feat wasn’t an easy one for the UFC to pull off and it did little to help the WEC brand since it was stripped from the event. In order to make the PPV a success, the UFC had to jump through quite a few hoops to make it work.  One strategic move, which clearly foreshadowed the future of the WEC, was to completely remove the WEC brand and production crew from the WEC PPV event since the plan was to televise some of the prelims on Spike TV.  Reed Harris was also left behind the scene as Dana White became the sole promoter for the event, which essentially made it a UFC PPV event using WEC fighters but without a promotional brand.


PROS & CONS TO THE MERGER

Merger PROS:

MMAPayout’s Kelsey Philpott wrote a great write-up exploring the benefits of the merger, which include :

- A return on Assets

- More Title Belts

- More Fighters, More Growth

- Television Appeal

- Attention for the Lighter Weights

- No More Consumer Confusion With Multiple Brands

- More Monetary Opportunities for Fighters

Merger CONS:

- The UFC now only has two TV deals that expire at the end of  the 2011 calendar year, which will put pressure on the promotion to strike a TV deal relatively soon or be forced to sign short extensions with either network again until a deal the UFC is comfortable with can be reached.

- The exciting WEC events are now gone where the spotlight was placed on the smaller weight classes.  In fact, the WEC fighters will now have to move on to a bigger cage which will give them more room to add to their fight strategy, not to mention the pressure of fighting in UFC events who are not afraid to cut fighters after a string of losses.  Smaller cages have always been said to create fast paced and exciting fights, so we will see how the WEC fighters transition to the bigger cage and into the spotlight.

- We can expect a good number of fighters to be cut within the first half of 2011.  With the UFC roster increasing now to around 270 fighters after the merger, we can expect around 20-40 fighters to be cut in the next 6-8 months.  Previously, the UFC has stated that it likes to keep its roster size to around 200 fighters.  With the added divisions, it is unsure if they will increase the preferred roster size to accommodate the new weight classes. The UFC has a set amount of PPV’s, which is maxed out for 2011, and a fixed number of Versus events (4), so there only way to adding more events would be to produce more fight night like events and give them away to the fans for free on Versus or Spike TV, which would be a plus but is not written in stone and was only presented as an option.  In 2010, the UFC ran 24 shows while the WEC ran 8, so we can expect that the UFC will add a few more shows in 2011 to accommodate the fighters it now has under its banner.

-  The amount of MMA content we get from Zuffa on Versus drops from 10 televised events (8 WEC and 2 UFC) to 4 events.  Losing six events where the lighter fighters would have been showcased will hurt those fighters that don’t yet have the star appeal to be showcased on UFC events.  In fact, we can estimate that about two to three 135lbs/145lbs will be used for each event, though we can expect the majority to be on prelims and not on the televised portion of the event unless they are stars like Aldo, Faber, or Torres, who will benefit greatly from the move. The UFC will have to add more shows to keep all their fighters busy.

-  Since the LW divisions overlap between the WEC and the UFC, we can expect a high number of lightweights to be cut in the next few months. This will crate a high influx of UFC vets filling other regional promotions.  I expect promotions like the MFC, Bellator, Shine Fights, and in cases where it makes sense Strikeforce to benefit greatly here.  We can already see fighters such as Patrick Cote, Gabriel Gonzaga, Rolles Gracie, Gilbert Yvel, Efrain Escudero, and other notable UFC fighters start to sign with other promotions.

- With every merger, I am sure we can expect an assessment on positions that overlap. Although, the UFC has said that they will take in every WEC employee, that is rarely the case.  Insiders have said that WEC match-maker Sean Shelby will still handle the match making among the lighter weight classes while Joe Silva continues to concentrate on the original UFC weight classes, though for figures like Reed Harris, it is unknown what his role will be in the UFC.  The WEC production crew and announcing team will be another group that will take hits, unless they start assigning different production crews for international events, which is a complex situation to manage. The fighters are the other party that will be worried about cuts from HW all the way down to BW’s, specially if we take into account the plans of adding a 125 lbs class as well.

- Overlapping personnel is not the only concern.  One question that is still up in the air is what happens to major WEC sponsors such as AMP Energy and MusclePharm? The UFC already has official sponsors such as BSN and Xyience, which the UFC brass heavily protects.  That was evident recently when GOOD4U Drinks was banned from the UFC, which upset UFC notable HW Shane Carwin and a few other fighters such as Patrick Cote and Matt Hamill, who were scheduled to be sponsored by the company for UFC 121 before the ban.

Sponsors

March 25, 2010

Compiled from published reports and sponsor submissions.

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AFFLICTION – Paul Buentello, Randy Couture, Paul Daley, Frankie Edgar, Gabriel Gonzaga, Alexander Gustafsson, Chris Horodecki, Toby Imada, Quinton Jackson, Rodrigo Nogueira, Rogerio Nogueira, Scott Smith, Georges St-Pierre, Sam Stout

ALCHEMIST – Nate Marquardt, Jorge Rivera, Brendan Schaub, Stefan Struve

ALIENWARE - Pat Berry, Matt Mitrione, Jens Pulver, Amir Sadollah

AMERICAN FIGHTER – Alan Belcher, Rich Franklin, Matt Hamill, Keith Jardine, Sean Sherk, Jeremy Stephens, Kyle Watson

AMP ENERGY DRINK – Joseph Benavidez, Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, WEC

BAD BOY – Yoshihiro Akiyama, Junior Dos Santos, Roger Huerta, Demian Maia, Mauricio Rua, Murillo Rua, Paulo Thiago, Mario Yamasaki

BLOWOUT CARDS - Thiago Alves, Travis Browne, Chris Camozzi, Dominick Cruz, Cyrill Diabate, Spencer Fisher, Dennis Hallman, John Hathaway, Jon Madsen, Ben Saunders, Sean McCorkle, Kamal Shalorus, Paul Taylor

BLUE PLANET - George Sotiropoulos

BODYBUILDING.COM – Brett Cooper, Dennis Hallman, Bao Quach, Mauricio Rua, Ben Saunders

BONY ACAI - Junior dos Santos, Lyoto Machida, Rodrigo Nogeuira, Rogerio Nogueira, Anderson Silva

BOOST MOBILE - Quinton Jackson, UFC

BUD LIGHT – Shane Carwin, Efrain Escudero, Rashad Evans, UFC, WEC

BURGER KING – UFC

BSN – Forrest Griffin, Anthony Johnson, UFC, Cain Velasquez

CENTURY MMA – Johny Hendricks, Shane Roller, UFC

CHAMPION NUTRITION – Thiago Alves, Mike Brown, Brad Pickett

CLINCH GEAR – Brian Baker, Paul Bradley, Nathan Coy, Fedor Emelianenko, Jared Hess, Dan Henderson, Dave Jansen, Toby Imada, Cung Le, Ryan McGivern, Gegard Mousasi, Bao Quach, Wilson Reis, Tarec Saffiedine, Eddie Sanchez, Strikeforce, Marcus Sursa, Carey Vanier, Joe Warren, Richie Whitson, Tyron Woodley

CONQUEST – Javier Vasquez

CSC MEMORABILIA - Chris Camozzi

DEAD GAME - Ricardo Almeida, Thiago Alves, Frankie Edgar, Renzo Gracie, Ryan Jensen, Jim Miller, Seth Petruzelli,

DEATH CLUTCH – Cole Konrad, Brock Lesnar, Jon Madsen, Chris Tushscherer

DETHRONE – Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jose Aldo, Ricardo Almeida, Ben Askren, Pat Audinwood, Antonio Banuelos,  Mac Danzig, Phil Davis, Nate Diaz, Efrain Escudero, Jon Fitch, Melvin Guillard, Gerald Harris, Ben Henderson, Josh Koscheck, Gilbert Melendez, Daniel Roberts, George Sotiropoulos, Joe Stevenson, Mike Swick, Cain Velasquez

DIRTY BOXING – Randy Couture, Matt Lindland

DOLLAMUR - Matt Hughes, Rick Story

DPMS - Matt Brown, Shane Carwin, Gabriel Gonzaga, Matt Hughes

DRAKO - Stephan Bonnar, Rory MacDonald, Kurt Pellegrino, Ricardo Romero

DYMATIZE NUTRITION - Brock Lesnar

ECKO UNLIMITED – Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, Dustin Hazelett, Matt Hughes, Claude Patrick, Kurt Pellegrino, Shane Roller, Miguel Torres

EDGE SHAVE GEL - UFC

ELECTRONIC ARTS – Shinya Aoki, Mo Lawal, Gegard Mousasi, Ronaldo Souza, Strikeforce, UFC

ENGAGE - Tyler Toner

EVERLAST - Ben Askren, Bellator, Randy Couture, Dan Hornbuckle, Hector Lombard, Gray Maynard

FAIRTEX – Jeff Curran, Thomas Denny, Urijah Faber, Royce Gracie, Clay Guida, James Irvin, Rory Markham, Tim McKenzie, Gilbert Melendez, Mark Munoz, Alex Serdyukov, Scott Smith, Tim Sylvia, Joey Villasenor

FIGHT FUEL - Daniel Roberts

FIGHT! MAGAZINE - Stephan Bonnar, Tom Lawlor, Rory MacDonald, Jim Miller, Kurt Pellegrino, Ricardo Romero, Paul Sass, Paul Taylor

FIGHT SHOP – Ross Pearson

FIGHTERS ONLY - Bart Palaszewski,

FORM ATHLETICS - Urijah Faber, Scott Jorgensen, Mark Munoz, Anthony Pettis

FULL TILT POKER – Nick Diaz, Mo Lawal, Gegard Mousasi, Alistair Overeem, Marlon Sandro, Ronaldo Souza, Strikeforce

HARLEY DAVIDSON – Fabricio Camoes (San Diego Dealership), UFC, WEC

HAYABUSA – Yoshihiro Akiyama, Ricardo Almeida, Pat Audinwood, Pat Berry, Jason Brilz, Paul Buentello, Chris Camozzi, Shane Carwin, Marcus Davis, Darren Elkins, Terry Etim, Gabriel Gonzaga, Renzo Gracie, John Hathaway, Dustin Hazelett, Martin Kampmann, Denis Kang, Rory MacDonald, Court McGee, Dan Miller, Jim Miller, Frank Mir, Matt Mitrione, Takeya Mizugaki, Mark Munoz, Roy Nelson, Anthony Njokuani, Rousimar Palhares, Claude Patrick, Ross Pearson, Kurt Pellegrino, Mike Pyle, Nate Quarry, Shane Roller, Ben Rothwell, Mike Russow, Amir Sadollah, Paul Sass, Ben Saunders, Matt Serra, Chael Sonnen, Krzyzstof Soszynski, Jeremy Stephens, Stefan Struve, Paul Taylor, Miguel Torres, James Wilks

HEADRUSH - Stephan Bonnar, Matt Brown, Travis Browne, Dan Hardy, Jon Fitch, Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Jensen, Dan Lauzon, Chris Lytle, Rory MacDonald, Dan Miller, Roy Nelson, Bart Palaszewski, Claude Patrick, Kurt Pellegrino, Seth Petruzelli, Ricardo Romero, Jake Shields, Sean Sherk, Sam Stout

HEAVY HANDS - Matt Brown, Paul Daley, Mac Danzig, Spencer Fisher, Jeremy Stephens

HITMAN – Shayna Baszler, Brian Bowles, Brett Cooper, Darren Elkins, Scott Jorgensen, Martin Kampmann, Eric Lawson, Jason MacDonald, Melvin Manhoef, Matt Mitrione, Josh Neer, Cyborg Santos, Rick Story

ISLAND SUPPLEMENTS - Bart Palaszewski

GAMMA LABS – Pat Audinwood, Brian Baker, Pat Bennett, David Branch, Charlie Brenneman, Matt Brown, LC Davis, Rafael dos Anjos, Evan Dunham, Gabriel Gonzaga, Melvin Guillard, Jared Hess, Rob McCullough, Anthony Njokuani, Eddie Sanchez, Carey Vanier

GATORADE – Georges St-Pierre

GRAPPLER’S QUEST - Kurt Pellegrino

JACK’S LINKS - Brock Lesnar

JACO – Ricardo Almeida, Mark Bocek, Bendy Casimir, L.C. Davis, Cyrill Diabate, Rashad Evans, Joachim Hansen, Clay Guida, Lyoto Machida, Anthony Njokuani, Rodrigo Nogueira, Phillipe Nover, Brad Pickett, George Roop, Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Krzyzstof Soszynski, George Sotiropoulos, Brian Stann, Sam Stout, Frank Trigg, Brandon Vera

JIMMY JOHN’S - Brock Lesnar

JITZ - Brian Baker

KILL-IT – Rafael Assuncao, Karen Darabedyan, Dave Jansen, Kamal Shalorus

KIMURAWEAR -  Beau Baker, Kyle Baker, Nick Catone, Nick Denis, TJ Grant, Dan Hornbuckle, Thales Leites, Lucio Linhares, Cory MacDonald, Jeff Monson, Derrick Noble, Wilson Reis, Jessie Riggleman, Marlon Sandro, Thiago Tavares, Fabricio Werdum

LEXANI - Jon Fitch, James Irvin, Scott Jorgensen, Tom Lawlor, Gilbert Melendez, Mark Munoz, Roy Nelson, Scott Smith, Chael Sonnen

METAL MULLISHA – Dominick Cruz, Dan Henderson, Georgi Karakhanyan, Gilbert Melendez

MICRO TECH - Ryan Bader, Frankie Edgar, Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Cain Velasquez

MMA AUTHENTICS (incl. Cagefighter, MMA Elite, etc.) - Jose Aldo, Matt Brown, Mark Coleman, Daniel Cormier, Evan Dunham, Urijah Faber, Tyson Griffin, Dan Hardy, Paul Kelly, Josh Koscheck, Mike Goldberg, Mo Lawal, Gray Maynard, Dan Miller, BJ Penn, Kevin Randleman

MMA OVERLOAD – Eddie Alvarez, Jason Brilz, Mike Brown, Fabricio Camoes, Pat Curran, Joe Doerksen, Tomasz Drawl, Shannon Gugerty, Jared Hess, Cole Konrad, Chris Leben, Waylon Lowe, Ryan McGivern, Matt Mitrione, Brad Pickett, Daniel Roberts, Marcus Sursa, Carey Vanier, Rodney Wallace, Joe Warren

MMA STOP - Rafael dos Anjos

MMA WAREHOUSE – Patrick Cote, Marcus Davis, Terry Etim, Kenny Florian, Jared Hamman, Jon Jones, Demian Maia, Dan Miller, Jim Miller, Kurt Pellegrino, Nate Quarry, Ben Rothwell, Ben Saunders, Stefan Struve, Matt Wiman

MUSCLEPHARM – Michael Bisping, Rashad Evans, Clay Guida, Greg Jackson’s MMA, Cheick Kongo, Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Wolfslair MMA Academy

MTX AUDIO - Chris Camozzi, Shane Carwin, Santino DeFranco, Efrain Escudero, Edgar Garcia, Ben Henderson, Ryan Kelly, Eliot Marshall, Danny Martinez, Mike Pyle

NUTRABOLICS - Frank Mir, Mauricio Rua,

NUVASIVE - Nate Quarry

ON THE MAT - Gleison Tibau

ONE MORE ROUND – Kenny Florian, Melvin Guillard, Rampage Jackson, Jake Shields

ORIGINAL GRAPPLER - Georgi Karakhanyan, Cub Swanson, Rani Yahya

PERFORMANCE MMA – Steve Carl, Shane Carwin, Sarah Kaufman, Duane Ludwig, Eliot Marhsall, Chad Mendes, Anthony Njokuani, Wilson Reis, Mike Russow, Noah Thomas, Tyler Toner

PUNISHMENT ATHLETICS – Tito Ortiz

RBP - Jon Fitch, Gilbert Melendez, Roy Nelson, Ben Rothwell, Jake Shields, Jeremy Stephens

REEBOK - Dong Hyun Kim

REVGEAR – Roxy Balboa, Brian Bowles, Mike Budnik, L.C. Davis, Ryan Ford, Manny Gamburyan, Zac George, Ricardo Lamas, Tamdan McCrory, Gegard Mousasi, Bruno Paulista, Bart Palaszewski, Nam Phan, Bao Quach, Cristiane Santos, Renato Sobral, Javier Vasquez, Fabricio Werdum

ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK - Gilbert Melendez, Alistair Overeem, Scott Smith, Ronaldo Souza, Strikeforce

RSCL - Takanori Gomi

RVCA – Vitor Belfort, BJ Penn

SACRAMENTO KINGS - Urijah Faber, Diego Sanchez

SAFE AUTO INSURANCE - Stephan Bonnar, Travis Browne, Patrick Cote

SILVER STAR – Bruce Buffer, Patrick Cote, Rob Emerson, Rashad Evans, Urijah Faber, Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Clay Guida, Matt Hamill, Melvin Guillard, Jon Jones, Jerome LeBanner, Lyoto Machida, Rodrigo Nogueira, Manny Pacquiao, Diego Sanchez, Anderson Silva, Thiago Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Frank Trigg

SINISTER – Fabricio Camoes, Rafael dos Anjos, Andre Galvao, Chase Gormley, Toby Imada, Eric Lawson, Chuck Liddell, Jens Pulver, Marlon Sandro, Anderson Silva

SEVEN DEUCE INC. – Mamed Khalidov, Takeya Mizugaki

SPENCER’S - Brock Lesnar

SPRAWL – Ricardo Almeida, Phil Baroni, Jason Brilz, Matt Brown, Josh Burkman, Evan Dunham, Jon Fitch, Gabriel Gonzaga, Forrest Griffin, Dustin Hazelett, Josh Koscheck, Joe Lauzon, Tom Lawlor, Thales Leites, Jesse Lennox, Jason MacDonald, Rob McCullough, Ross Pearson, Nate Quarry, Jorge Rivera, Ricardo Romero, Amir Sadollah, Diego Sanchez, Eric Schaefer, Jake Shields, Joe Stevenson, Mike Swick, Thiago Tavares, Brandon Visher, James Wilks, Matt Wiman, Yoshiyuki Yoshida

SUFFER - Frank Mir

TAPOUT - Thiago Alves, Shinya Aoki, Ryan Bader, Antonio Banuelos, Pat Berry, Michael Bisping, Mark Bocek, Stephan Bonnar, Justin Bucholz, Jason Brilz, Mike Brown, Luis Cane, Danny Castillo, Donald Cerrone, Pat Curran, Phil Davis, Demi Deeds, Tomasz Drawl, Todd Duffee, Jon Fitch, Kenny Florian, Renzo Gracie, Tyson Griffin, Kendall Grove, Shannon Gugerty, Jared Hamman, Dan Hardy, John Hathaway, Dan Henderson, Johny Hendricks, Dan Hornbuckle, John Howard, Rampage Jackson, Keith Jardine, Cheick Kongo, Bobby Lashley, Robbie Lawler, Chis Leben, Waylon Lowe, Chris Lytle, Rory Markham, Nate Marquardt, Court McGee, Anthony Morrison, Gegard Mousasi, Roy Nelson, Alistair Overeem, Bart Palaszewski, Seth Petruzelli, Mike Pierce, Jens Pulver, Ben Rothwell, Mike Russow, Amir Sadollah, Alessio Sakara, Diego Saraiva, Ben Saunders, Jake Shields, Alexander Shlemenko, Denis Siver, Kimbo Slice, Chael Sonnen, Deividas Taurosevicius, Gleison Tibau, UFC, Joey Villasenor, Herschel Walker, Rodney Wallace, WEC, Gilbert Yvel

TCB - Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jose Aldo, Ben Askren, Antonio Banuelos, Stephan Bonnar, Carlos Condit, Marcus Davis, Evan Dunham, Terry Etim, Spencer Fisher, Jon Fitch, Ricard Funch, Ben Henderson,Martin Kampmann, Josh Koscheck, Tom Lawlor, Cung Le, Chuck Liddell, Rory MacDonald, Dan Miller, Anthony Njokuani, Kurt Pellegrino, Mike Pyle, Nate Quarry, Daniel Roberts, Ricardo Romero, Sam Stout

TEQUILA CAZADORES - UFC

THEOPENMAT.COM - Justin Pennington

THE GUN STORE - Yoshihiro Akiyama, Chris Camozzi, Carlos Condit, Dan Hardy, Ben Henderson, Jon Madsen, Court McGee, Sam Stout

THROWDOWN - Rob Broughton, LC Davis, Manny Gamburyan, Dan Lauzon, James Wilks

TOKYO FIVE - Ricardo Almeida, Rafael Assuncao, Eddie Alvarez, David Branch, Charlie Brenneman, Luis Cane, Joe Doerksen, Ricardo Funch, Gabriel Gonzaga, Renzo Gracie, Rolles Gracie, Jesse Lennox, Phillipe Nover, Ross Pearson, Bas Rutten, Matt Serra, Stefan Struve, Deividas Taurosevicius, Andre Winner

TOYO TIRES – Brian Bowles, Joachim Hansen, Scott Jorgensen, Scott Smith, Chael Sonnen, Krzyzstof Soszynski, Miguel Torres, Brandon Vera

TOPPS - Bart Palaszewski, Brendan Schaub, Jake Shields

TRI COASTA - Demetrious Johnson, Joe Lauzon,Tom Lawler, Brad Pickett, Chan Sung Jung

TRX - Dan Miller, Diego Sanchez, Stefan Struve, Paul Taylor

UAS - Donald Cerrone, BJ Penn, Wilson Reis, Stefan Struve

ULTIMATE BET - Bellator

UNDER ARMOUR – Georges St-Pierre

UNITED STATES MARINES - UFC

WARRIOR INTERNATIONAL – Houston Alexander, David Branch, Shane Carwin, Rich Clementi, Patrick Cote, Mac Danzig, Matt Grice, Tyson Griffin, Tim Hague, Josh Haynes, Ed Herman, Heath Herring, Brad Imes, James Irvin, Jaime Jara, Brock Larson, Chris Leben, Brock Lesnar, Doug Marshall, Drew McFedries, Tim McKenzie, Chad Mendes, Jeff Monson, Mark Munoz, Tom Murphy, Rogerio Nogueira, Rousimar Palhares, Erik Paulson, Kurt Pelligrino, Jens Pulver, Ben Rothwell, Brendan Schaub, Fabiano Scherner, Thiago Silva, Joe Stevenson, Gleison Tibau, Tyler Toner, Erin Toughhill, Victor Valenzuela, Travis Wiuff

VENUM – Karl Amoussou, Michael Bisping, Rob Broughton, Frankie Edgar, Terry Etim, Xavier Foupa-Pokam, Matt Hamill, Jon Jones, Denis Kang, Cheick Kongo, Jerome LeBanner, Jeff Monson, Nate Quarry, Sean Sherk, Jeremy Stephens, Kurt Warburton

XTREME COUTURE – Gina Carano, Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Tyson Griffin, John Gunderson, Johnny Hendricks, Jay Heiron, Georgi Karakhanyan, Amir Sadollah, Erin Toughill, Frank Trigg

XYIENCE – Dan Hardy, Jon Jones, Matt Serra, Stitch Duran, Wanderlei Silva, UFC

MMAterial Facts (02/12/10)

February 12, 2010

  • Mousasi Leaves M-1 Global
  • UFC Announces Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia for UFC 112 Middleweight Title
  • McMahon: WWE Network Expected To Launch in Mid 2011
  • MusclePharm jumps at promotional opportunity
  • Booyaa: King of the Cage Is Making Moves

Mousasi Leaves M-1 Global

Gegard Mousasi has left his management team with M-1 Global, the fighter told Sherdog.com via e-mail on Friday. M-1 Global also confirmed on Friday that the fighter and organization would no longer be working together.

“After careful consideration, I have decided that it is in my best interest to part ways with M-1 Global,” Mousasi wrote in the e-mail. “During the time I spent under their wing, M-1 Global, as a promoter and management company, allowed me to achieve many great things. I appreciate all they have done for me.”

“The business relationship with M-1 Global is over,” said company representative Apy Echteld. “It was a business decision, but not a personal one and there are no hard feelings.”

Echteld said he would continue to work with Mousasi apart from M-1, although Echteld will be staying with the organization. Echteld added that Emelianenko had expressed his hopes to train with Mousasi again in the future.  (Sherdog)

***

After M-1 exec nixes Mousasi’s “lifetime security” offer, Strikeforce champ takes career reigns

Mousasi’s longtime manager, Apy Echteld, on Friday told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the decision to leave was made when an M-1 executive elected not to sign a long-term management proposal that would have given the Dutch-Armenian fighter “lifetime security” – a deal similar to one held by Fedor Emelianenko.

Echteld, who spoke via telephone from Amsterdam, declined to name the executive who had rejected the offer. Echteld also said he was the only party holding a management agreement with Mousasi.

“Basically, what M-1 could provide for him was not what Gegard and me had in mind,” Echteld said.

A separate source with knowledge of the situation said Sergei Matvienko – son of the mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia, and a major M-1 backer – may have been the executive who turned away the proposed deal.

In a January interview with MMAjunkie.com, Mousasi said he is a free agent after the August and November fights and was looking for the best career options.

However, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation said Mousasi signed a long-term contract that could tie him to the San Jose, Calif.-based promotion for as many as seven fights.   (MMAJunkie) …  (MMA Payout’s Perspective)


UFC Announces Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia for UFC 112 Middleweight Title

Following a hard-fought three round win over Dan Miller at UFC 109 that showed him to be more than just a submission expert, Demian Maia will jump right back into training camp for the biggest fight of his career – an April 10th meeting with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 112 at Ferrari World on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

Maia replaces countryman Vitor Belfort, who underwent emergency surgery on his left shoulder earlier this week to fix a chronic injury that got worse in his training camp for Silva.

“It’s always tough when a top fighter like Vitor Belfort has to pull out of a big title fight, but we have found a high quality replacement,” said UFC President Dana White. “Top contender Chael Sonnen was not available due to injuries sustained in his fight with Nate Marquardt, so top six middleweight Demian Maia will step in to fight for the title. Maia is an Abu Dhabi grappling champion, a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, and he is 12-1 in MMA and coming off a win over Dan Miller at UFC 109. Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia will be a matchup between MMA’s best striker and MMA’s best grappler.”  (UFC) …  (MMA Payout’s Perspective)

NOTE: Heavy’s Jeremy Botter was the first to report this potential match-up before UFC made their official announcement.

McMahon: WWE Network Expected To Launch in Mid 2011

World Wrestling Entertainment is looking to jump into the cable network ring with a proposed network that the pro grappling outfit expects to launch in the next 18 months, according to WWE chairman Vince McMahon.
McMahon, speaking Thursday morning during the company’s 2009 fourth-quarter earnings call, said it has been doing “a great deal of due diligence” toward creating a WWE cable network that would presumably offer live and library content.

“I would hope a year-and-a-half from now we would be up and running,” McMahon said. “We think there is a tremendous opportunity for us out there and quite frankly if things happen as we hope they will happen it will be a really big game changer for the WWE.”

The proposed network would not infringe on the WWE’s current cable and broadcast shows, including USA Network’s WWE Monday Night Raw and MyNetworkTV’s SmackDown , but instead could be used as a marketing tool for those shows.

“We are unique in that what’s good for the WWE is good for all our television partners as far as promotion and things of that nature,” he said. “The new network could tie in and be adjacent to some of those shows and quite frankly our own network can enhance Raw and SmackDown. It would really be a win-win across the board for our television partners, as well as for us.”   (Multichannel News)

MusclePharm jumps at promotional opportunity

Cory Gregory, vice president for MusclePharm, said that’s precisely the reason his sports nutrition company eyed the MMA world as a potential giant market.

Gregory, who also owns the Old School Gym in Pataskala with good friend Dustin Myers, and MusclePharm became the official sports nutrition company of World Extreme Cagefighting in January, making March’s Arnold a major event for the company.

The WEC, owned by the same company as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, hosts an event at Nationwide Arena on March 6 in Columbus and hopes to attract as many as 12,000 fans.

“Ten years ago, I was handing programs out at the Arnold to get a free ticket,” Gregory said. “To go from that to being the main sponsor at the big (WEC) event, it’s just awesome.”

MusclePharm had been sponsoring fighters in the UFC and WEC — including Torres, a former bantamweight (135 pounds) champion — before the WEC asked if they would be interested in becoming a key sponsor along the lines of Bud Light, Harley-Davidson and Tapout.

Seeing the continued growth of MMA — not to mention the numerous hours the UFC and WEC are on cable television each week — Gregory, a Pataskala resident, and the company jumped at the chance. MusclePharm has exploded with growth as a result of the decision.  (Newark Advocate)

Booyaa: King of the Cage Is Making Moves

After 12 years and more than 300 live shows in the U.S., Canada, and abroad, King of the Cage is hitting the big time. On Feb. 12, the California-based MMA show will make its live national broadcast debut on HDNet, the first in a monthly series produced by reality television mastermind Mark Burnett. And to think it all started with some scribbles in a high school kids notebook.

“When I was a junior in high school, I took an ‘Intro to Business’ class that basically had us develop our own businesses as an assignment,” said Terry Trebilcock, president of King of the Cage (KOTC). “I didn’t know if it was going to be boxing, martial arts or some type of sporting event, but I basically laid out my plans in 11th grade for what would eventually become KOTC.”

“I was training a few times a week at various gyms. I trained with Joe Stevenson when he was 14-years-old, and Karo Parisyan when he was 15-years-old,” said the promoter. “And to see how advanced they were at that age, I figured [that fight promotion] was more of an opening for me than fighting was!”

In 1998, Trebilcock called Howard Zelener, an attorney he had befriended on the links in 1992. “Terry told me about his [KOTC] idea and he showed me a video of some brutal fight in Brazil to show me what he was hoping to do,” said Zelener. “I was a little stunned, but Terry assured me, ‘This is the next big sport in America.’”

That “brutal fight” that Trebilcock had used to make his point was a bout between Kevin Randleman vs. Tom Erikson from the year before. Trebilcock’s enthusiasm won the attorney over and together they formed King of the Cage.

“Our first event was held in 1999 on a tennis court, which was at a former-chicken-ranch-turned-12-step-recovery-program-camp,” the promoter said with a laugh. “Javi Vazquez, Karo Parisyan and Joe Stevenson all had their first pro fights on that card.” His partner fondly remembers witnessing the development of another MMA powerhouse at that first KOTC event as well.

“The TapouT guys were at the fights too,” said Zelener. “It was the first event where they sold T-shirts out of the trunk of their car…I think they made just enough to fill up their gas tank to get home.”   (Fight! Magazine)

QUICK HITS

  • Injured Belfort Out at Least Four Months (MMAFighting)
  • Rampage Jackson in Nike Olympics Ad (MMAFighting) …  (MMA Payout’s Perspective)
  • West Virginia State Legislature Considers Mixed Martial Arts Bills (WVNS)
  • Couture vs Franklin Possible for August (Sherdog)
  • French striker Cyrille Diabate signs UFC deal, meets Luiz Cane at UFC 114 (MMAJunkie)
  • Bellator Fighting Championships announces Canadian broadcast deal (MMAJunkie)
  • Report: Heavyweight Rolles Gracie released from UFC following debut loss (MMAJunkie)
  • Belfort Discusses Surgery, Return (Sherdog)
  • Will Sonnen have to make a choice – Silva or politics? (Cage Writer)
  • JUSTIN BUCHHOLZ LATEST FIGHTER RELEASED FROM UFC (MMAWeekly)
  • Exclusive: Bobby Lashley, Full Time Mixed Martial Artist (Heavy)
  • Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro: I am dropping to 185 pounds (FiveOuncesOfPain)
  • MMA has its own race issues to address (ESPN)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

When the media talks about athletes, it’s always the white athletes that are hard workers and blue-collar, and the black athletes are explosive and athletic. Now, anytime you start saying things like ‘racist’ or ‘racism’ in a sport where a high percentage of your fans are white, you’re going to lose a lot of people. (Phil Davis, UFC Prospect)

IMAGE OF THE DAY

UFC 112 Poster

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Maeda & Teixeira, 2008) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • InsideMMA (Randy Couture, Mike Swick, & Bobby Lashley) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents King of the Cage – Vengeance at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/12/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 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)

MMAterial Facts (02/11/10)

February 11, 2010

  • UFC and Kerasotes Sign Theatre Agreement
  • Dana White reaches 1 M Twitter followers
  • UFC announces Montreal card
  • UFC fighters looking forward to virtual selves
  • Heart of a warrior

UFC and Kerasotes Sign Theatre Agreement

NCM Fathom and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) are partnering for the first Event in a series of 4 UFC Events that will be showcased in theatres throughout 2010. The first Event will feature George St-Pierre vs. Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy in the ultimate welterweight fight as well as the heavyweight championship fight between titleholder Frank Mir and his opponent Shane Carwin. Two world titles will be on the line in this one night event LIVE from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (MMA Payout’s Perspective)


Dana White reaches 1 M Twitter followers

As if the battle of Hall of Famers at UFC 109, legalization of the sport in Wisconsin and the first-ever show in Australia at UFC 110 weren’t milestones enough for the Ultimate Fighting Championship®, February also set records on Twitter.

Dana White, UFC president, reached 1,000,000 followers on his Twitter account, @danawhite, on Tuesday, February 9th. Fewer than 250 of Twitter’s millions of users have broken the one-million mark. White’s inclusion in that elite list is testament to the meteoric rise of UFC.

“I love Twitter because I get to talk directly to UFC fans,” said White. “Their support is awesome and has made the sport what it is today.”

Like many big-name celebrities and brands, White uses his Twitter account to break news and promote events. But White has pioneered innovative uses of Twitter that truly bridge the gap between social interaction and digital marketing. White made national news last year after a series of Tweets promising free tickets to fans drew large crowds in cities from New York to LA.  (UFC)

UFC announces Montreal card

Canadians Patrick (The Predator) Cote, Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout, Jonathan (The Road Warrior) Goulet and T.J. Grant will be fighting on friendly turf May 8 when the UFC returns to Canada for UFC 113.

The main event of the mixed martial arts card at Montreal’s Bell Centre features a rematch between light-heavyweight champion Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida and Mauricio (Shogun) Rua. In another key matchup, English welterweight Paul (Semtex) Daley takes on Josh Koscheck.

Other fights include Kimbo Slice versus Matt Mitrione and Tim Credeur versus Tom Lawlor.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the bouts to The Canadian Press on Thursday.

UFC 83, in April 2008, was the UFC’s fastest sellout. The crowd of 20,011 was the organization’s largest, as well as the biggest MMA crowd ever in North America. The Montreal attendance erased the previous record of 19,049, set at UFC 68 on March 3, 2007, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The pre-sale for UFC 83 exceeded 13,000 in the first 24 hours and the remaining tickets sold out within one minute of the public sale.

UFC 97, in April 2009, also sold out.

UFC 110, set for later this month in Sydney, Australia, recently became the second-fastest sellout in the organization’s 16-year history. The UFC says all 16,500 tickets for the Feb. 21 show at the Acer Arena were gone within hours of going on sale.

White expects another raucous evening in Montreal.

“I think it’s going to rock, I think it’s going to kick ass like it always does,” White said. “You can always count on Canada.

“Maybe not for health care,” he added mischievously with a chuckle, referring to a recent rant by UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. “But definitely for ticket sales.”  (The Globe and Mail)

UFC fighters looking forward to virtual selves

In the world of mixed martial arts, the UFC has dominated the competition, and the UFC line of video games is similarly putting a chokehold on the MMA gaming market.

After the success of UFC 2009 Undisputed (an 84 average score on metacritic.com and the Best Individual Sports Game award at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards), UFC and THQ have teamed up again for UFC Undisputed 2010.

“THQ loved the idea, they were passionate about it,” UFC President Dana White said of the first game. “Things couldn’t have worked out better.”

Recently, the two companies offered guests at Mix Lounge at Mandalay Bay a sneak peak at their newest joint venture, unveiling the cover for UFC Undisputed 2010, which features Brock Lesnar. The game is slated for a May 25 release.

The fighters who attended the preview party had their chances to weigh in on the new version. Efrain Escudero, winner of Season Eight of The Ultimate Fighter, said the first game ended up bringing him good luck.

“For the last game, they made me a very good boxer and then I started being a good boxer in the Octagon,” Escudero said, “so maybe they’ll improve my takedown defense this year.”

The Ultimate Fighter Season Seven winner Amir Sadollah admitted he spends a lot of time with the original Undisputed title.

“It’s most of my Friday nights,” he said.

Heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga noted that the improved graphics this year might not always be for the best.

“I got lucky when they made my first avatar because I was really in shape. I hope that they don’t change it for my new avatar,” Gonzaga said as he patted his stomach.  (Las Vegas Sun)

Heart of a warrior

Nearly three years after graduating from Park High School as the Wolfpack wrestling program’s career-wins record holder, Pat Schilling is still taking down opponents — as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter.

Schilling — a two-time All-State wrestler and Park’s all-time leader with 131 career wins — will look to become a champion of another kind as he fights for the Brutaal MMA amateur title belt on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

Schilling, 21, has been training and fighting MMA for eight months at the highly regarded Ambition Training Academy in Eagan — also the training facility for Minnesota native Brett Rogers, who is ranked as the No. 5 heavyweight in the world by Sherdog, a Web site devoted to MMA.

Schilling, who fights at the featherweight level — 145 pounds and under — is currently 6-0 as an amateur. His foremost goal is to win the upcoming amateur championship belt. But, ultimately, he wants to turn professional and be on a similar level to Rogers.

“I want to be the best in the world,” Schilling said. “Brett’s last fight was a main event on national television, prime time on CBS with millions of people watching. I want that for me too.

But, I’m just going to take it one fight at a time. I trust my coach, Mike Reilly, with everything. I trust he’s going me the opponents I need, the game plan and the training I need to improve.”  (South Washington County Bulletin)

***

Indianapolis fighter braced for ultimate challenge

Mixed martial arts competitor Chris Lytle can’t remember all the specifics from the dozens of fights he has had over his 12-year career.

Right now, the only match on the Indianapolis native’s mind is his Feb. 20 welterweight bout against Brian Foster in Sydney on a high-profile Ultimate Fighting Championship card. But the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist has a lot more on his mind outside the octagon. He’s a member of the Indianapolis Fire Department and a father of four.

“Trying to distribute my time between training for fights, working for the fire department and spending time with my family is the most difficult thing because they require a lot of time, as well,” Lytle said. “Those are pretty much the three things I do. That’s about it.”

With his average earnings for a fight ranging from $20,000-$80,000, Lytle’s income is enough to allow his wife to stay home and care for his 6-, 8-, 12- and 14-year old children. Six weeks before a fight, though, when it comes time for two-a-day training sessions and more intense work in the gym, he is forced to miss time with his family.

“That’s definitely the hardest part, but I always have in the back of my head that I’m really doing my fighting for them,” Lytle, 35, said. “If I can make a lot of money doing this, it’s going to open a lot of doors for them down the road. That’s my main motivation.” (Indy Star)

QUICK HITS

  • Shoulder injury forces Vitor Belfort out of UFC 112 title fight with Anderson Silva (MMAJunkie)
  • Rolles Gracie Also Released by the UFC (MMAPayout Confirmed Report)
  • Station Casinos files bankruptcy on its Green Valley Ranch Resort venture  (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
  • Fistic Medicine: Dementia Pugilistica & MMA (Sherdog) … [MMA Payout's Perspective]
  • Sonnen Victory Tour Continues With Political Appearance on Fox News (MMAFighting)
  • Beltran: I Feel a Little Bad for Rolles Gracie (MMAFighting)
  • All UFC 109 Drug Tests Come Back Clean (MMAFighting)
  • EA Sports fighter Ken Shamrock says rival videogame could turn industry “on its head” (MMAJunkie)
  • Jason High gets four-fight UFC deal, meets Charlie Brenneman at UFC Fight Night 21 (MMAJunkie)
  • Sasaki, Not Sakuraba, for Filho (Sherdog)
  • Yamaguchi Stuns Tsuji at Valkyrie 4 (Sherdog)
  • Action Sports Hub Corner Man Sponsors Erin Toughill (Market Wire)
  • Will Sonnen have to make a choice – Silva or politics? (Cage Writer)
  • GERALD HARRIS DRAWS MARIO MIRANDA ON MAR 31 UFC (MMAWeekly)
  • Exclusive: Miguel Torres WEC 47 Blog 1 (Heavy)
  • Velasquez talks training for Nogueira (ESPN)

QUOTES OF THE DAY

Mark Coleman was officially released by UFC, making him the first guy ever to main event and then get cut within the next week. The decision was made because of his performance in the Randy Couture fight, with the feeling he was too old and slow to be competitive at the UFC level. Others cut coming off UFC 109 were Frank Trigg, Rolles Gracie, which was expected, Phillipe Nover, the former “next Anderson Silva” and Tim Hague. Not that losing Hague is any kind of a great loss even though he’s always good for a Canadian babyface pop in prelims in Las Vegas. He did have a sloppy looking match that the crowd for them most part didn’t like. But he got cut …  in a fight that virtually every fan who saw it knew he really won. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for the fact UFC contracts don’t allow them to cut people after winning, they could have easily cut both he and Chris Tuchscherer after that fight. (Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer)

***

I think the end result is the right call, but the process is a credibility hit for UFC in regards to them promoting Coleman in the main event slot. It’s also a hit to Keith Kizer (Nevada State Athletic Commission) because the commission, on paper, is the one calling the shots in licensing fighters over a certain age. Coleman was always a tough call on that front. I don’t blame Mark Coleman one bit for fighting — you make as much money as you can before you retire in this business. (Zach Arnold, Fight Opinion)

VIDEO OF THE DAY

  • MMA Live 2-11-10: MMA Live recaps UFC 109. Randy Couture emerges from the battle of Hall of Famers and Chael Sonnen becomes the No. 1 middleweight contender. Also, the UFC 110 preview gets underway, as the MMA leader readies for its first show in Australia.

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Maeda & Teixeira, 2008)  at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • InsideMMA (Randy Couture, Mike Swick, & Bobby Lashley) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents King of the Cage – Vengeance  at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/12/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 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)

MMAterial Facts (02/08/10)

February 8, 2010

  • UFC 109 UFC 109 Fighter Salaries: Couture Nabs $250,000
  • UFC Undisputed 2010 Video Game Details, Images
  • Ultimate Fighting Championship showing its age in Las Vegas
  • How San Jose became a mixed martial arts hotbed
  • Middle East could be focus of first international edition of “The Ultimate Fighter”

UFC 109 UFC 109 Fighter Salaries: Couture Nabs $250,000

MAIN EVENT FIGHTERS

-Randy Couture: $250,000 (no win bonus) def. Mark Coleman: $60,000
-Chael Sonnen: $64,000 (includes $32,000 win bonus) def. Nate Marquardt: $45,000

MAIN CARD FIGHTERS

-Paulo Thiago: $30,000 ($15,000 win bonus) def. Mike Swick: $43,000
-Demian Maia: $62,000 ($31,000 win bonus) def. Dan Miller: $15,000
-Matt Serra: $150,000 ($75,000 win bonus) def. Frank Trigg: $30,000

PRELIMINARY CARD FIGHTERS

-Mac Danzig: $40,000 ($20,000 win bonus) def. Justin Buchholz: $8,000
-Melvin Guillard: $28,000 ($14,000 win bonus) def. Ronys Torres: $4,000
-Rob Emerson: $24,000 ($12,000 win bonus) def. Phillipe Nover: $10,000
-Phil Davis: $10,000 ($5,000 win bonus) def. Brian Stann: $17,000
-Chris Tuchscherer: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus) def. Tim Hague: $7,000
-Joey Beltran: $12,000 ($6,000 win bonus) def. Rolles Gracie: $15,000

UFC 109 DISCLOSED FIGHTER PAYROLL: $944,000

UFC 109 AWARDS & BONUSES
(Each fighter was awarded $60,000 per award, which is in addition to his disclosed salary.)

Fight of the Night:
-Chael Sonnen and Nate Marquardt

Knockout of the Night:
-Matt Serra

Submission of the Night:
-Paulo Thiago     (MMAWeekly) …  [MMA Payout's Perspective]


UFC Undisputed 2010 Video Game Details, Images

THQ Inc. and Zuffa, LLC on Monday announced the first game play details surrounding UFC Undisputed 2010, the follow-up to the critically and commercially acclaimed debut video game based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Poised to deliver intelligent and intuitive combat, increased fighter customization, robust career progression, challenging new game play modes and explosive online offerings, UFC Undisputed 2010 is currently in development for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation3 computer entertainment system and PSP (PlayStationPortable) system. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 system versions are scheduled for release on May 25, 2010, while the PSP system version is scheduled for release later this year.

“UFC Undisputed 2010 will deliver the most advanced and superior virtual MMA action based on the world’s most prominent and respected organization in mixed martial arts, Ultimate Fighting Championship,” said Brian Coleman, Vice President of Global Brand Management, THQ. “Through enriched game play and extensive new options, players will understand and appreciate what it takes to be a real UFC fighter.”

“Brock Lesnar’s intensity and relentless commitment to the sport of mixed martial arts, as well as to the UFC, make him a perfect candidate to be the cover athlete for UFC Undisputed 2010,” said UFC president Dana White. “You want to be a fighter? Videogamers and fight fans around the world need to step up to Brock’s level when they enter the virtual Octagon in UFC Undisputed 2010!”  (MMAWeekly) … [MMA Payout's Perspective]

Ultimate Fighting Championship showing its age in Las Vegas

For the third consecutive Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Las Vegas, one question dominates: So, when is Brock Lesnar fighting again?

The UFC will stage a third straight title-less Vegas main event Saturday night when veteran light-heavyweights Randy Couture and Mark Coleman lead the card of UFC 109 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

“There’s great fights on this card . . . me and Mark are a couple of old wrestlers banging heads, two active Hall of Famers,” Couture said.

Yet, in the final card before UFC’s biggest names — Silva, welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and heavyweight champ Lesnar — finally start returning to action after injury- and health-related absences, pitting the 46-year-old Couture (17-10) against the 45-year-old Coleman (16-9) is not creating the buzz usually associated with UFC’s high-energy shows.

From the high of UFC 100 in July, when the organization claimed a live gate of about $5 million, MMA interest tailed off to the Jan. 2 card at MGM Grand, when the live gate tally was $1.9 million, with 8,004 tickets sold and 5,314 reported as comps to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

And now, Couture-Coleman.  (LA Times)

How San Jose became a mixed martial arts hotbed

The nondescript gym is tucked away in a San Jose strip mall, book-ended by a Big Lots and a fabrics store. Shoppers, pushing carts on the sidewalk, glance curiously through the windows at the muscular men tossing each other around inside.

“And they look at us like we’re from another planet, if we run out to our cars with our shirts off to grab something,” said Josh Thomson, one of the mixed-martial arts fighters who train at the American Kickboxing Academy.

Welcome to an unlikely epicenter of the MMA boom.

The facility has become a top camp with a who’s who of fighters including up-and-coming heavyweight Cain Velasquez. But just as a fight gym seems out of place in a shopping center, so is San Jose an improbable hotbed for an edgy sport that once was disparaged by Sen. John McCain as “human cockfighting” and wasn’t even allowed in California until 2006.

Strikeforce, which promotes fights that appear on CBS and Showtime, is based here. Its MMA events — which meld elements of boxing, wrestling and martial arts disciplines into a flurry of violence — draw thousands at HP Pavilion.

Some of San Jose’s MMA fixtures, like Mendez, are homegrown. Vietnamese-American fighter Cung Le grew up here. And Scott Coker, who has built scrappy underdog Strikeforce into a rival of industry giant Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a Gunderson High grad.

But any discussion of San Jose as an MMA destination begins with the arrival of Frank Shamrock, one of the sport’s pioneers.

There was an anything-goes sense of mayhem to “cage fighting” back in 1997 when Shamrock moved here from the small northeast California town of Susanville. He was “chasing a girl,” and the only other person he knew in town was Mendez.

“I asked if he minded if I come over and wrestled on his mats,” recalled Shamrock, who now runs two local gyms. “I guess it helped spawn a movement because San Jose has become the biggest producer of mixed-martial arts fighters in the industry.” (Mercury News)

Middle East could be focus of first international edition of “The Ultimate Fighter”

But really, the Middle East could be the first of the “TUF” international editions?

“Yup,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) over the weekend. “There are a thousand years of heat over there that we can do.”

Flash Entertainment, an event company and wholly owned subsidiary of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, recently purchased a 10 percent minority stake in Zuffa LLC, the UFC’s parent company. That opened the door for UFC 112, which takes place at Concert Arena at the Ferrari World theme park on Yas Island, and will also help fund the UFC’s continued international expansion.

White didn’t go into details about the Middle East edition of “TUF,” and its not known if it would extend beyond the UAE, but in November, he told MMAjunkie.com that UFC officials are working on distribution and production deals to bring UFC programming worldwide.

He said “TUF” has to be the foundation of those offerings, whether they’re through traditional television partnerships or online broadcast deals.

“How do we plug this whole thing in with television and how to watch it everywhere?” White pondered. “We’re trying to figure that whole thing out and build that now. But the groundwork for this thing is ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ and we’ve been working it very hard, and we’re making it happen. ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is going to be all over the world. That’s the goal.”   (MMAJunkie)

QUICK HITS

  • Warrior ethos emphasized in UFC partnership (Marine Corps Times)
  • Season-one semifinalist Wilson Reis enters Bellator’s season-two 145-pound tourney (MMAJunkie)
  • UFC 109 medical suspensions: Sonnen, Maia, Danzig and Guillard suspended (MMAJunkie)
  • Hidehiko Yoshida to Retire on Inaugural ASTRA Card (MMAFighting)
  • Chuck Liddell ‘Strong and Healthy’ Preparing for Tito Ortiz (MMAFighting)
  • MMAjunkie.com poll results: How much would you pay for a WEC pay-per-view?  (MMAJunkie)
  • Mixed martial arts appears to be nothing more than an act of bullying (BC Local News)
  • The Case for WEC on Pay Per View (Heavy)
  • UFC 109 Post-Mortem: Falling Hammer, Sonnen, More (Sherdog)
  • Couture Chokes Out Coleman at UFC 109  (Sherdog)
  • PVT Mag Profiles Belfort, Kyra Gracie & ‘Pele’ (Sherdog)
  • Analysts: THQ Turnaround Underway, Proving Time Ahead (Gamasutra)

VIDEO OF THE DAY

  • UFC 110 Promo:  This summer’s biggest event: UFC 110 from Sydney!

IMAGE OF THE DAY

UFC Undisputed 2010 Screen Capture

UFC Undisputed 2010: Paulo Thiago vs Mike Swick

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Maeda & Teixeira, 2008)  at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • InsideMMA (Randy Couture, Mike Swick, & Bobby Lashley) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents King of the Cage – Vengeance  at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/12/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/12/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 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)

UFC 109: Payout Perspective

February 7, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at UFC 109: Relentless, which was held on Saturday, February 6th (Superbowl Weekend) from the Mandalay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event featured a heavyweight clash between Hall of Famers Randy Couture and Mark Coleman, in addition to a middleweight contender bout between Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen.

UFC 109 by the Numbers

Attendance & Gate

In the post-fight press conference, Dana White announced the attendance for the event as 10,687 which generated $2.27 million in gate revenue.

Disclosed Payouts

Randy Couture $250,000 def. Mark Coleman $60,000
Chael Sonnen $64,000 ($32,000 show/win) def. Nate Marquardt $45,000
Paulo Thiago $30,000 ($15,000 show/win) def. Mike Swick $43,000
Demian Maia $62,000 ($31,000 show/win) def. Dan Miller $15,000
Matt Serra $150,000 ($75,000 show/win) def. Frank Trigg $30,000
Mac Danzig $40,000 ($20,000 show/win) def. Justin Buchholz $8,000
Melvin Guillard: $28,000 ($14,000 show/win) def. Ronys Torres $4,000
Rob Emerson: $24,000 ($12,000 show/win) def. Phillipe Nover $10,000
Phil Davis: $10,000 ($5,000 show/win) def. Brian Stann $17,000
Chris Tuchscherer: $20,000 ($10,000 show/win) def. Tim Hague $7000
Joey Beltran: $12,000 ($6,000 show/win) def. Rolles Gracie $15,000

Total Disclosed Payouts: $944,000

Disclosed Bonuses

Fight of the Night: Chael Sonnen vs. Nate Marquardt ($60,000)
Knockout of the Night: Matt Serra ($60,000)
Submission of the Night: Paulo Thiago ($60,000)

Total Disclosed Bonuses: $240,000

PPV Buyrate Prediction

UFC 109 was thought by many to be a candidate for the UFC’s lowest PPV total of the year, but a great deal of the indicators we’re seeing suggest that it will likely garner a higher buyrate than UFC 108′s 300,000.

Interestingly, Spike scheduled the debut of Countdown to UFC 109 following last weekend’s UFC 107 replay that countered Strikeforce: Miami on Showtime. The Countdown capitalized on UFC 107′s massive lead-in to draw 881,000 viewers, which is the 2nd highest reported viewership for a Countdown show (4th highest when you include last year’s UFC 94 Primetime shows). Moreover, the reported gate revenue for the event was $2.27 million, which is generally correlated with a buyrate above the baseline of 300,000.

The regression predicts the following:

  • Countdown to UFC 109 (881,000 viewers): 869,000
  • UFC 109 gate receipts ($2.27 million): 438,000

The UFC 107 replay lead-in really boosted the Countdown to 109 viewership, which wouldn’t have been nearly as high without it. The Countdown replay shown later in the week experienced a steep drop off with 323,000 viewers. If you take 323k figure the prediction is 200k, which is probably too low. So, the Countdown numbers really make it tough to sound out a prediction.

Randy Couture’s popularity continues to increase with every fight, but the UFC’s attempt to sell this as legend’s bout largely failed. The organization doesn’t have the momentum it had when Couture fought Nogueira in August, either (a fight that did 435,000 buys). Thus, while that exposure from the UFC 107 lead-in to the Countdown program should help, the ceiling for this fight is likely to be the gate predicted buyrate of 438,000. The low end is probably the UFC’s base of 300,000.

Greg Saks of Tapology uses internet buzz statistics to predict the popularity of a PPV, and estimates 315,000. Seems perfectly reasonable.

Business Story Lines:

Couture victorious, enters contenders picture at light heavyweight:

Randy Couture didn’t prove much in beating a clearly over-the-hill Mark Coleman, but the win is his second in a row at 205lbs. and likely enough for the UFC to give him a serious contender at the weight class. You can never discount Couture, and if he were to win his next fight it would likely provide the UFC with all the incentive it would need to give him a big money title shot against whomever happens to be the champion at the time.

Couture-Coleman underwhelms the casual crowd:

Dana White suggested at the post-fight presser that Mark Coleman’s match against Randy Couture was likely his last in the UFC, and given what we all witnessed, the UFC really has no choice. Coleman looked awful. Even despite the post-fight chirping with Tito Ortiz, there’s really no way the UFC could sell its organization as featuring the best fighters in the world when Coleman is so clearly not.

I brought several of my MBA cohort to the bar – as I often do to get their thoughts/ideas and expose them to the sport – and they made it clear that watching two 40 somethings in the main event was a farce. I can’t help but think that impression was largely representative of most casual fans that don’t have the perspective of history to understand how much these two men have done for the sport.

Yes, the UFC likely profited from this event in the short-term, but you have to wonder if the main event didn’t turn off more people than it recruited. MMA is trying to sell itself as a sport which requires tremendous athleticism, skill, and discipline, but the casual fan would not have received that message by watching Mark Coleman moving stiff and upright, with his hands down, taking jab after jab without offering anything in return.

The injury situation didn’t help the UFC – hopefully we’re through the last of that cursed period – but perhaps the answer is to simply cut an event when it looks like there won’t be enough talent available to provide a card commensurate with the level that fans have come to expect and casual fans have come to hear about.

Sonnen dominant, likely the next challenger at 185lbs:

The flamboyant Sonnen likely wasn’t in the title picture, even with a win over Marquardt, until he started trash talking just about every fighter in the UFC in the lead up to his bout with Marquardt. Then he came out on Saturday and absolutely dominated Marquardt with his wrestling, which provides the UFC with the justification to throw him in against the winner of Silva-Belfort.

Most are going to view Sonnen as the middlweight version of Dan Hardy; an opponent without much of a chance, but the mic skills necessary to sell his place in a title fight. The difference between Sonnen and Hardy is that Sonnen is more outlandish, while Hardy is more playful. Sonnen is the type of guy that most people love to hate; and if he manages to trash talk Silva like he started to last week, many are going to tune in just in the hopes of seeing him get his ass kicked (minus those in my adopted state of Oregon, of course).

This could be an excellent way to further showcase the tremendous skills of a guy like Silva – provided he gets by Belfort in April. While fans like a good, evenly matched barn burner, they also like seeing a dominant champion dismantle an opponent using his tremendous skills (Silva-Griffin for example).

This fight could really do big business for the UFC if they promote it strongly enough.

UFC 109 the biggest experiential sporting event this weekend? Maybe:

Sports marketing guru Joe Favorito writes in the Huffington Post:

This weekend there will be an event with lots of buzz, a sellout crowd, fans from all over the world tuning in, passionate supporters of the athletes buying up thousands of dollars in merchandise and brands looking to engage a core base of loyalists who spend money to support and activate against their brands. And then there will also be the Super Bowl in Miami.

 

The event we are referring to is UFC 109, which will take place at the Mandalay Events Center Saturday night in Las Vegas, and has become a great alternative for those who love football, but may love Mixed Martial Arts just as much or even more.

 

While there is still more than a little contention over how “hot” professional Mixed Martial Arts is as a sport, one thing is for sure, the UFC as an experiential brand, is certainly very hot and very active for the men’s demo. That will be in full view again Saturday, both in Vegas on one of the biggest wagering weekends of the year and for all those who will but Saturday night’s Pay-per-view. The event will feature a number of rising stars on the undercard, but will cap off the night with two of the UFC’s biggest veteran draws, Randy Couture and Mark Coleman, meeting in the main bout. So what’s the buzz all about?

 

The experiential brand the UFC has created for professional fighting is what is the base of the draw. The pay per view and attendance, carefully crafted by UFC head Dana White and his team, is fueled by the free cable TV model with Spike TV and their “Ultimate Fighter” cornerstone show, as well as their World Extreme Cage Fighting cards on VERSUS. Those platforms create the UFC promotional tool for their athletes. The UFC branding is consistent, and unlike many sports, they know how to speak right to their core fan and keep him and her motivated and engaged. When the UFC show goes on the road from their Las Vegas stronghold, they are able to pull in the casual fan to come and see what the excitement is all about. That’s how the experience and the spectacle works, and how it will make Las Vegas a huge hub of activity this weekend. From UFC-branded poker events to club after parties, the fan will be interested, engaged and immersed in the UFC lifestyle all weekend long. At least until Sunday night’s Super Bowl kickoff.

Prospect Watch:

UFC 109 saw the participation of some highly touted prospects in Phil Davis, Phillipe Nover, and Rolles Gracie, but only Davis was able to secure a victory. Davis demonstrated a ton of potential in defeating Brian Stann via unanimous decision – good wrestling, power and athleticism – but his technique still needs work as he swung wildly at times. Rolles Gracie, the first Gracie to fight in the octagon since Royce, was touted because of his name, but looked terribly sloppy in his debut. There ‘s a reason this fight was the first of the night, and if Rolles is going to stay in the UFC his game will have to improve dramatically in just about every aspect: footwork, striking, take downs, etc.

Sponsorship Watch:

Musclepharm and Silver Star continued to dominate the sponsorship scene at UFC 109 with prominent sponsorships on many fighters. Musclepharm, in particular, was really visible, but the company must ensure that it’s logo (“MP”) is linked to Musclepharm and what the company does. Musclepharm’s investment in sponsorship must go beyond individual fighters, and involve other forms of activation so that they can round out the message and really identify with that target UFC audience.

MMAPayout.com had an interesting conversation with some readers over Twitter regarding the t-shirt Nate Marquardt wore to the cage. The problem with the MMA t-shirt market right now is that there exists an abundance of imitation. Tapout and Affliction no longer own the skulls and bones image, because everyone is doing it; an Affliction shirt could just as easily be a Silver Star, Throwdown, or Dethrone t-shirt these days.

What that means for t-shirt companies is that they must become more creative when designing signature walk-out t-shirts, because they have to find a way to differentiate themselves from other brands. It must be a distinct design with prominent logo displays – especially on the front of the shirt (the camera rarely follows the fighter to the cage, it leads him to the cage). Tapout has one of the most recognizable logos in the industry, but it was far from visible (especially in a dark arena and confounded by the Ed Hardy like glitsy graphic adds).

These companies are paying big money to support these fighters, but also to promote their brand and influence purchasing behavior. Yet, the consumer can’t be influenced to buy the product if he’s confused about which brand the fighter is wearing.

MMAterial Facts (01/22/10)

January 22, 2010

  • UFC launches personal fitness business: UFC Gym
  • Q&A with Brian Diamond (Spike TV Executive)
  • Bellator’s Plan: Talent, Efficiency & YouTube
  • Bellator CEO hoping for another ‘magical’ season

UFC launches personal fitness business: UFC Gym

With more than 3,500 people signed up, the company’s first UFC Gym will open for business Saturday in Concord, Calif., and a 40,000-square-foot facility will open in June in Rosemead, with enrollment starting next month.

“We plan to shake up the fitness industry,” UFC President Dana White said.

White, former UFC champion Chuck Liddell and fighters Anthony Johnson, Jon Fitch and Cain Velasquez are expected to attend Saturday’s 10 a.m. opening in Concord.

The fitness center is intended to be a family-oriented operation, including a kid’s gym, that will provide introductory MMA training to members, with a fitness regimen employed in the world of MMA: Muay Thai kickboxing, jiu jitsu and self-defense

A company spokeswoman said there are plans to have as many as 10 UFC gyms opened in 2010. (LA Times)

Q&A with Brian Diamond (Spike TV Executive)

SI.com: The cards scheduled for Versus in 2010, what is your take on that?

Diamond: It’s always been common knowledge for us and for them that they had the ability to do this. For us, it only makes the sport bigger by being out in a different universe. It was kind of interesting because our universe is a little bit bigger, but you know what, the more people seeing the sport the better.

SI.com: That Versus card is very well put together. By it being on Versus, Spike doesn’t have access to Jon Jones versus Brandon Vera. That doesn’t concern you in any way?

Diamond: No. No. We’ve got plenty of fights to show on the air between what we’re doing, what we’ve done. It’s all good.

SI.com: Is the audience still the same?

Diamond: It’s still young men, but you know what’s really interesting is it’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for five years. The guys that were 18-34 are now 23-39, so they’re growing and there’s a new audience coming in behind them. I think that’s adding to the volume. And you’ve got new people coming in because they see Kimbo, Chuck or Tito. And then you’ve got The Ultimate Fighter with guys like Kenny Florian who were starting out on TUF 1 and he’s a veteran fighter in the UFC now. There’s all these different streams of consciousness and things happening at the same time that are just lifting the sport up, and up and up. As a sports fan I was introduced to mixed martial arts doing this, and I just think it’s a tremendous sport. The other level of success you see is in local communities with gyms and training centers and camps opening up. I live in New Jersey and you’ve got the Millers up north and (Kurt) Pellegrino and (Frankie) Edgar down south. It’s just going from strength to strength.  (Sports Illustrated)

Bellator’s Plan: Talent, Efficiency & YouTube

“We put our money into two areas of our business. One of them is our fighters and the other is production,” Rebney said of the long-term financial viability of Bellator.

He isn’t afraid to point out where others have failed.

“All of the superfluous expenses that the EliteXCs and the IFLs spent millions upon millions of dollars on, and they’re public record, is something we’re just not doing,” Rebney said. “The reality is that the expenditures of those organizations were foolhardy at best, and we’re keeping it cheap where it needs to be cheap.”

The commitment to fiscal responsibility in Bellator is so great that, according to Rebney, Bellator’s offices cost a 10th of what EliteXC’s offices cost and even executive employees fly coach to save a few extra bucks on the bottom line.

Throw in the trio of television deals that Bellator has secured with Fox Sports Net, Telemundo and NBC, and you have to start wondering if a few years from now we’ll all be talking about the stranglehold Bellator has on young talent in the sport. (Sherdog)

Bellator CEO hoping for another ‘magical’ season

“Overall, I’m most excited that there will be an awful lot of competitive fights. We’re going to have an awful lot of that,” Rebney told Cagewriter. “Every guy that we’ve announced so far are guys that I think, I would actually stay home from dinner out with friends because I wouldn’t want to miss the fight. That’s what we were shooting for. It wasn’t about getting names that people recognized, but bringing world-class fighters into the game that would be magical to watch and would make great fights and would could conceivably become big-time names.”

The other big move that Bellator made in their off-season was signing a deal with Fox Sports, NBC and Telemundo, which guarantees that Bellator fights will be available to 12 times the viewers than with their previous deal with ESPN Deportes.

“When we finalized that 12-show run with ESPN, I had to ask, how do we go from being a very cool promotion that reaches a Spanish-language audience only to a promotion that you can see every week on multiple distribution platforms that reach a bigger audience? How could we make it so that I would never go on a blog or message board again and read, ‘Bellator’s cool but I can’t see it.’ This will ensure that we’ll be around for the long haul and ensure that a lot of people will see us, week in and week out.”

“Right now, we’re finalizing agreements for the almost three-quarters of the venues for the entire 24-show run. So, you’ll see fighter announcements for the next week and a half, and then you’ll start seeing venue announcements after that. We want to be out there three, four months in advance. We’re going to some really cool places, too. We’ll be in a lot of different locations, too, which is cool because a lot of different people will get a chance to be a part of the Bellator experience.” (CageWriter)

QUICK HITS

  • TUF 11 Goes Into Production in Vegas (MMAWeekly)
  • UFC on Versus 1 Fight Card (MMAFighting)
  • Strikeforce headliner Marius Zaromskis ready for Nick Diaz now, Jay Hieron later (MMAJunkie)
  • Strikeforce’s Coker not shying away from Pride comparisons (USA Today)
  • Tonight’s ‘Inside MMA’ on HDNet Brings Together Some of MMA’s Heaviest Hitters (PRNewswire)
  • “Strikeforce Challengers VI” tickets on sale today, start at $30 (MMAJunkie)
  • Cristiane Santos: I only train with men. I usually hurt the women (5OzsOfPain)
  • Bobby Lashley vs. Wes Sims Officially Booked for Strikeforce: Miami (MMAFighting)
  • Herschel Walker’s effort at mixed martial arts is no joke (USA Today)
  • Rolles Gracie: Keeping The Family Legacy Alive At UFC 109 (Heavy)
  • Spike TV features Brock Lesnar in “UFC Unleashed” episodes tonight (MMAJunkie)
  • Titles Aside, Jay Hieron Focused on Joe Riggs (MMAWeekly)
  • Strikeforce signs middleweight Joey Villasenor to four-fight deal (MMAJunkie)
  • UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva at heavyweight? Manager says it’s possible (MMAJunkie)
  • Anderson Would Welcome St. Pierre (Sherdog)
  • Quinton “Rampage” Jackson Rear Ended In OC Car Accident (TMZ)
  • Buffer, Sherdog at LA Fit Expo This Weekend (Sherdog)
  • Seven opponents turn down bout with Erin Toughill, January 30 FCF bout scratched (5OzsOfPain)

VIDEO OF THE DAY

  • MMA Live (01/21/10) – It’s all about Brock Lesnar. MMA Live analyzes Lesnar’s SportsCenter exclusive. Also, why is there a new date for UFC 113? And Strikeforce welterweight contender Jay Hieron stops by to discuss his upcoming bout with Joe Riggs.

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Asian GP 2008) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (01/22/10)
  • InsideMMA (Ed Soares, Jose Aldo, Jon Fitch, & Randy Couture) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (01/22/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents Best of 2009 K-1 World MAX at 10 PM ET on HDNet (01/22/10)
  • Best of Pride FC  (Frye vs Thompson, Pulver vs Sakurai) at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (01/22/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Strikeforce Miami: Diaz vs Zaromskis at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime (01/30/10)
  • FCF 39: Women’s 135 lbs Grand Prix: Opening Round on TBD (01/30/10)
  • KOTC: Toryumon from Okinawa, Japan on PPV (01/30/10)

MMAterial Facts (01/19/10)

January 19, 2010

  • Lesnar’s likely return tops busy UFC agenda
  • Truesport Alliances, Ltd. Opens TapouT Training Centers in Gatineau, Quebec and Boston, Mass.
  • Martial arts athletes to visit area in fight against drug usage
  • MotoUSA Heads to Big Apple for New York IMS
  • NY Governor Introduces MMA Bill with State Budget Proposal

Lesnar’s likely return tops busy UFC agenda

Lesnar is scheduled to appear on ESPN on Wednesday morning to discuss his situation with diverticulitis, which forced him to cancel a Nov. 21 title defense, hospitalized him for two weeks, and has kept him on the sidelines ever since.

Lesnar will likely announce his return, possibly with a time frame. In the past week, two of Lesnar’s coaches – Greg Nelson and Marty Morgan – have said Lesnar would be returning, hinting it would be soon but saying they couldn’t confirm when. Others close to the situation have noted it has not been an easy decision for Lesnar to make; without having major surgery, there is a risk of another painful attack.

…The issue was whether he would need, or it would be advisable, to get surgery on his intestine, which would keep him out of action for more than a year. Such a lengthy absence would force him to vacate the heavyweight championship.

Another change made is in arguably UFC’s biggest fight on the books at this point: the Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans match built on the last season of “The Ultimate Fighter” with the two as rival coaches. The match will likely take place at UFC 114 on May 29 in Las Vegas instead of the originally announced UFC 113 show on May 1 in Montreal. UFC president Dana White said in a text message Tuesday morning that Jackson vs. Evans will most likely take place in Vegas… (Yahoo! Sports)

Truesport Alliances, Ltd. Opens TapouT Training Centers in Gatineau, Quebec and Boston, Massachusetts

Truesport Alliances, Ltd. (OTCBB: SEWE) is officially opening the doors of the new TapouT Training Center in Gatineau, Quebec and Boston, Massachusetts.

Truesport Alliances, Ltd. has cultivated an unparalleled client base consisting of the top MMA brands, including TapouT, the premier mixed martial arts apparel, gear and lifestyle brand. With the MMA culture quickly becoming a standard in sports excellence, TapouT Training Centers will offer a full complement of MMA training and classes open to the public.

The TapouT Training Centers will be the third and fourth stand alone fitness facilities of its kind to be built by the company, whose brand has become synonymous with the attitude and prominence of mixed martial arts. TapouT’s distinctive, authentic logo graces everything from clothing, accessories, and gear, to nutrition products and a magazine, as it does within the training center…(CNN Money)

Martial arts athletes to visit area in fight against drug usage

Three professional mixed martial arts athletes will be in the area today and Thursday to encourage young adults to stay away from drugs, establish goals in life and continue their education so they can become productive citizens and successful professionals.

The athletes were brought to the area through the efforts of Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III and his cousin, Mark Gross, a Coal Township native who now lives in North Carolina, “Crazy Bob” Cook, a former undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter who also serves as a trainer, coach and fight team manager at the renowned American Kick Boxing Academy in San Jose, Calif.

Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, UFC competitors from Fort Wayne, Ind., and Josh Koscheck of Waynesburg, respectively, will be appearing at 9 p.m. today at Sees’ M.A.T.S., located at the former Magic River Skateland on Route 15 , Danville.

The athletes also will address students at Shamokin Area Middle/High School at 1 p.m. Thursday, and will participate in a special ceremony that will honor them as “honorary police officers” at the Coal Township Board of Commissioners meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday. After the meeting, the trio will head to Brewser’s SportsGrille to continue spreading their message of eradicating drugs through education, hard work and setting an example for others… (Newsitem)

MotoUSA Heads to Big Apple for New York IMS

From the cruiser domain, Harley-Davidson is scheduled to make an announcement, Victory will be unveiling a limited edition motorcycle, and Star Motorcycles is breaking wraps on a Performance Machine Star Raider. For custom motorcycle fans, the Bikes & Beats Ultimate Builder Competition presented by TapouT will attract plenty of East Coast talent to the show, and Hardcore Choppers is set to debut its Datasol Speedster “iBike.” Hardcore will also have other customs on hand like its ‘P-40 Warhawk’ Special Edition Speedster and the ‘Bat Bike.’ Just look for the ‘Hardcore Hotties’ and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

To add to the show’s entertainment value, UFC fighters Roy Nelson, Jens Pulver and Rolles Gracie will be on hand to meet fans at the TapouT Champions Area this Friday night. If racing is more your cup of tea, Marlboro Ducati rider and former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden will be at the Ducati display Friday at 7 p.m., and AMA Drag Racing champion Rickey Gadson is scheduled to be at the Kawasaki booth… (Motorcycle USA)

NY Governor Introduces MMA Bill with State Budget Proposal

Jake Encarnacao of Sherdog.com reports that New York Governor David Paterson has unveiled his state budget proposal for the up-coming fiscal calendar and it includes a bill that would effectively re-instate MMA in New York…

The gate tax is really quite high, which suggests this push to legalize the sport is more of a money grab than a recognition of MMA’s legitimacy. Moreover, the difference in tax levels between New York and neighboring states may provide smaller promoters – those which do not benefit from the status appeal of hosting a show in the Big Apple, for example – with the incentive to take their shows to states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or even Rhode Island… (MMAPayout Perspective)

QUICK HITS

  • UFC Primetime: GSP vs. Hardy (MMAPayout Perspective)
  • Werdum vs. Fedor “99% confirmed” in April (Tatame Magazine)
  • Ambriz out as Lashley opponent, officials at “square one” on replacement (MMAJunkie)
  • Overlooked and Overshadowed, Greg Nagy Ready for Herschel Walker (MMAFighting)
  • AKA Teammates Insist Herschel Walker Is Ready for MMA Debut (MMAFighting)
  • UFC: Exclusive Paul Daley earns new six-fight deal and faces US wrestler Koscheck (Telegraph)
  • Coenen: I can go strike-for-strike with women’s champ ‘Cyborg’ Santos (USA Today)
  • WEC fighter urges fans to aid Haiti survivors (Las Vegas Sun)
  • Remembering Bob Shamrock (ESPN)
  • After title loss, Diego Sanchez returning to UFC’s welterweight division (MMAJunkie)
  • UFC signs Rick Story to new four-fight deal (MMAJunkie)
  • MMA fighters teach Marines skills for combat (Marine Corps times)
  • Source: Ninja Rua fighting for DREAM in March (Fighters Only Magazine)
  • Nam Phan in Title Fight, Eyeing Return to Japan (MMAWeekly)

VIDEO OF THE DAY

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Asian GP 2008) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (01/22/10)
  • InsideMMA (Ed Soares, Jose Aldo, Jon Fitch, & Randy Couture) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (01/22/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents Best of 2009 K-1 World MAX at 10 PM ET on HDNet (01/22/10)
  • Best of Pride FC  at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (01/22/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Strikeforce Miami: Diaz vs Zaromskis at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime (01/30/10)
  • FCF 39: Women’s 135 lbs Grand Prix: Opening Round on TBD (01/30/10)
  • KOTC: Toryumon from Okinawa, Japan on PPV (01/30/10)

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