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Ariel Helwani: Off-the-record, a few people in Strikeforce were smiling after Fedor lost

By Zach Arnold | February 18, 2011

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A good interview on Press Row this week for Sherdog between Jordan Breen and Ariel Helwani. Worth your time to listen to. The discussion was Strikeforce-centric and gave a good feeling about what it’s like to be at an SF event, to cover it, and how the operation works.

I got three passages for you from the radio interview here that I want to focus on. The first passage deals with internal Strikeforce reaction to Fedor losing last Saturday night.

JORDAN BREEN: “Ben (Fowlkes) offered the idea that maybe it’s actually better if Alistair Overeem wins. He’s a bit younger, a bit more dedicated to the cause of fighting and fighting actively, he’s certainly got an appeal, an aesthetic and cosmetic appeal that’s very easy to sell as if you see Alistair Overeem his physique screams, ‘yeah, of course, this guy’s the best heavyweight fighter in the world, just look at him!’ It seems so apparently and so self-referential that maybe’s the guy that they should be putting concentrated efforts behind. Naturally, he needs to beat Fabricio Werdum in April for that to happen. But, do you think there’s a real sense of joy and relief from Scott Coker and company that maybe they can go full-speed ahead on Alistair Overeem and maybe put the nightmarish dealings with M-1 behind them?”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Like I said, I don’t think that they will admit this to us on the record at least but, trust me, I’m not going to call anyone out but I spoke to a few people in Strikeforce who, when I said ‘what does this mean?’, a smile instantly appeared on their face. I mean, I’m not saying that they’re rooting for Fedor, obviously not, but let’s be honest, I mean, everyone knows that it’s very hard to deal with M-1. So, now, April 9th it’s not an M-1 Global & Strikeforce event. That’s just a Strikeforce event. This one had to be an M-1 Global event because Fedor was on the card. April 9th isn’t. … So, just think of that. Whatever their deal is with M-1 Global and, you know, they have to share part of the profits and all that stuff. They don’t have to do that any more. And now, fine, you know, Fedor’s going to come back and he’s going to fight, but I just think it opens up a lot of, imagine if they are going to do PPV for the second round. Well, now, Fedor’s not part of the PPV show. He still might be on the card, you know, that could switch things up, but I think it just opens a lot of things up for Strikeforce. They can deal with their own brand, they can make the decisions that they want, they can promote it how they want, they don’t have to deal with any politics behind the scenes, and we all know that it’s been hard to deal with M-1 Global. Everyone from Dana White to Scott Coker and anyone else will tell you that. Now they’re in the clear and they can do whatever they want.”

Perhaps some in Strikeforce were happy, but listening to Scott Coker’s answers this week on various media platforms indicates to me that he may not exactly be in that camp. Plus, M-1 now has a TV deal with Showtime.

The second passage is a transition from the first (talking about Fedor losing). With Fedor’s loss, how does it alter the company’s plans to go onto PPV?

JORDAN BREEN: “So at this point in time, do you think that, like, how far do you see them away from being on a PPV? What do you think would be an appropriate timeline and setup for them to get on PPV? Is the return of Gina Carano good enough or interesting enough to make it without a Fedor/Overeem fight on the immediate horizon? Is there something they can make do with to break into PPV?”

ARIEL HELWANI: “I thought, you know, Scott Coker said on Bloomberg last week that by Fall 2011 they hope to be in the PPV business and obviously that was before Saturday night. I think what happened on Saturday night definitely delays things. I was going to say kind of delays things, it definitely does. I definitely think that, as you mentioned, Overeem vs. Fedor that’s a PPV main event. Would they get 500,000 buys? I don’t think so. Would they get 200,000? Maybe, and I think that would be a success. I mean, let’s not forget, the UFC name on its own, in my opinion, gets around 200,000-250,000 buys. You know, even their worse show will get that much just because people think, ‘oh, it’s a UFC show, we know what we’re getting.’ Strikeforce isn’t a known PPV brand just yet. So, that kind of delays things for them. So, now you have to see how the tournament plays out. If things where it’s a match that everyone wants to see, you know, I don’t know if Overeem vs. Barnett is really a PPV fight that people will actually pay $30 or $40 for but if things play out and you can sell the tournament and its been some epic fights along the way, I think you can do that.

“As for Gina, I actually thought that the return of Gina Carano could definitely help. I mean, I was trying to think of what their first PPV could be. And I was like, OK, Fedor vs. Overeem and then, you know, let’s say Barnett vs. Kharitonov or Arlovski, the return of Gina vs. fighter X, doesn’t have to be Cyborg, and you throw in like Herschel Walker versus Kimbo Slice or Batista and I know hardcore MMA fans would hate that but I think you would get a lot of mainstream attention for that stuff. I think that’s a PPV card they could probably sell. Now, things changed a little bit. Plus, I thought the reaction to Gina Carano was very mediocre. I mean, the fans they kind of met it with indifference and I think part of was because of her interview on Showtime. She almost seemed like she didn’t really want to be there. I thought they dropped the ball on that greatly because they needed her to come out and be like ‘I’m back, I’m ready to prove that I’m the best, blah blah blah’ and then they needed to bring out her opponent and I think it should probably be Julia Budd if you look at their history and their 145 pound division is kind of weak and then she says, “I beat you once, I’ll beat you again,’ etc. etc. I think they dropped the ball. So, now I think you need to have her win on Showtime, build her up, and then maybe build towards the Cyborg rematch because Cyborg doesn’t even have any, you know, real contenders lined up for her now. I mean, Amanda Nunes, I don’t think she’s really just yet. So, I definitely think that now things have been delayed and maybe 2011 isn’t the time to go into PPV.”

I’ll close out this post by bringing up one final passage from the interview that made me angry. On this site, I’ve pointed out before that fighters who participated on the Strikeforce card(s) in St. Louis reportedly sold tickets to get booked. That would be sleazy and a joke. This is something you would expect from a rinky-dink, low-importance, rank-amateur operation that is running a fly-by-night independent show and has no money to pay fighters. And, yet, as you will see in this quote from Ariel, the practice of having undercard fighters sell tickets is apparently alive and well.

(Read the end of the post for an update on this passage.)

It’s completely inexcusable. For all the talk about UFC not treating their talent right in negotiations, one thing you can never say about UFC is that they have their undercard fighters physically sell tickets in order to get booked. Fighters fight and sell tickets, proverbially speaking. It shouldn’t be their job to be Ticketmaster because you’re too lazy to do your job of actually promoting fighters and acting like a carny who doesn’t want to do the right thing. My opinion, of course.

This point about undercard fighters having to physically sell tickets in order to get booked was brought up as part of a conversation about the way Strikeforce/Showtime handles the booking of undercard fights.

ARIEL HELWANI: “I will give them credit for, you know, coming up with this model where, OK, you bring the big names to town and then you have all the undercard guys sell a good portion of the tickets. I mean, I was talking to Cholish, I spoke to Gian Villante. I mean, those guys sold, you know, between them maybe 500-600 tickets and how many undercard fights where there? Six I believe, 12 fighters? So those guys are doing their work and, you know, that helps Strikeforce and, you know, you saw those articles that came out last week about their profits. So, you know, I like to think that, OK, it makes sense from a business perspective, but it’s a very, it’s very much a present way of thinking where you’re not thinking long-term, you’re not building towards the future, and then you get stuck in six or seven months when you don’t have a contender for a Cris Cyborg because you’re not putting, you know, solid 145 talent on your undercard to build up these people…”

To close out the interview, Ariel was asked what Strikeforce needs to improve or focus more on in order to keep momentum going. His suggestions: doing a better job with social media and with standard public relations, fixing their approach to booking female MMA fights and treating it with the same respect as the men, sending Strikeforce/Showtime staff members to go to UFC events to take a look at why UFC is #1 at what they do, and improve on the production for live events. Ariel stated that Showtime largely treats production for live events as what looks best on TV and not necessarily what gives fans the best live experience at events. As far as the ‘new’ production set-up that was used at the Izod Center event, Ariel claims that he was told that this set-up would only be used on Heavyweight tournament shows.

Addendum

Jim Genia clarifies the situation regarding fighters and tickets here.

I have no problem with a promotion like Strikeforce having an undercard based on big-ticket sellers. But one thing should be made clear (which I don’t think is clear from the article): for this New Jersey event, fighters didn’t have to “buy” their way onto the card with the promise of selling large amounts of tickets (as is implied). They were, however, welcomed onto the card based on their local appeal. As an example, one undercard fighter was booked who was mistakenly thought to be a local draw, but to the dismay of some, it was later revealed that he was an out-of-towner with zero New Jersey presence. He still fought on the card, though.

From what’s implied in the article, that out-of-towner would have had to have promised to mondo tickets to fight. That wasn’t the case.

Leland Roling:

This was actually revealed by Villante in Helwani’s interview. Helwani flat out asked him if he was required to do so, and Villante said no… teammates at his camp simply wanted to support him along with family members, etc.

If a fighter is selling tickets by having friends and family come to support the promotion and those tickets aren’t in the form of a salary or bonus payment, then there is nothing wrong with that at all. However, if tickets are used as ‘currency’ then obviously that would be not such a good thing.

I posted what our site commenters had to say in order to clarify the passage. I wanted to do this because if the passage was misinterpreted, that’s my fault 100% and it goes on me. No excuses. I owe the promotion a public apology for such a mischaracterization.

Topics: M-1, MMA, Media, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 74 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

74 Responses to “Ariel Helwani: Off-the-record, a few people in Strikeforce were smiling after Fedor lost”

  1. The thing about the undercards doesn’t bother me. I know the argument is that “they aren’t building up contenders!” but the reality is that having guys go from unaired undercard fights to being “contenders” never happens in the UFC either. Besides, Strikeforce has their outlet to give guys developmental fights and everyone knows it.

    I also think, as I’ve thought all along, that there is a gross misunderstanding by a lot of the MMA community as to what is important here to Strikeforce and Showtime. The live TV is the most important thing. In general, Strikeforce is getting as much or more money from Showtime than the live gate. Ergo, you focus on that audience. The fact that “Strikeforce succeeds in spite of themselves”, which has been the argument put forth lord knows how many times, displays this sort of willful ignorance to me.

    • Wolverine says:

      Never happens? What about Jon Jones, Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, Frankie Edgar, Cain Velasquez to name a few.

      • And just as often those guys don’t go anywhere. Look, let me rephrase this – there are other promoters out there who can give fighters developmental fights. Strikeforce was, before Showtime, one of those promoters and gave Cain Velasquez one of those fights. The reality is that Strikeforce works on a much smaller budget and that it is basically a static one. They know what they are getting paid in advance for TV. The live gate may fluctuate but really, that’s just their profit.

        Their job, STRIKEFORCE’S JOB, is to take the money Showtime allocates to them and to give Showtime the best show possible for that money. Period. It is not to build up theoretical contenders on unaired preliminary fights Showtime does not want. Is that clear? Showtime does understand that Strikeforce consistently needs new competitors, and so they have a cheaper show with Strikeforce set up to present new faces and give them fights against lower levels of competition. Its not impossible to figure out or understand.

        What’s really funny is that we have lots of people demanding Strikeforce ostensibly do what Affliction was laughed at for (Remember Meltzer’s remarks regarding the booking of Ben Rothwell on the undercard for the failed third show?).

        • Zach Arnold says:

          I think you’re misreading the temperature of those who are vocal about Strikeforce.

          It isn’t the fact that they are making money on Showtime, it’s the economic model they are using. There is legitimate fan concern that if Showtime decides one day to give up on them that Strikeforce won’t be in a position to be self-reliant to run their own operation (like UFC). You can argue whether that’s a silly notion or not, but that’s a large part of the mentality at play.

          And remember, it’s not as if it is this horribly flimsy argument, either. K-1 thought that (when PRIDE died) an economic model primarily based on TV revenue and not having to build employee infrastructure to run shows nationally was the right play. It was… for a while, until things turned sour and all of a sudden, their office found themselves in a position where they had to try to recruit their own sponsors and actually do live event promoting, something they aren’t equipped to do. Strikeforce is in the same position right now with only 13 office employees. Right now, everything is sweet as candy. However, if Showtime pulls the plug, the bubble gets popped.

          (Which is why I included the PPV passage part of that interview in the post.)

          Who’s saying that actually spending five minutes to book consistent undercards is somehow the equivalent of being a raging money mark league like Affliction? The only thing sillier is making fighters for the world’s #2 MMA promotion have to sell tickets physically in order to get booked.

        • Wolverine says:

          I don’t think anybody wants Strikeforce to pay Rothwell-level fighters 250k. However, they could really use their undercards or challengers show spots better. What’s the upside of having Nick Gonzalez vs Dave Douglas fight at 150 lbs or Erick Apple vs Ryan Larsen televised on Showtime. None of these guys is going anywhere. For the same amount of money they could find two undefeated prospects and match them against each other with the winner moving forward.

        • There is legitimate fan concern that if Showtime decides one day to give up on them that Strikeforce won’t be in a position to be self-reliant to run their own operation (like UFC). You can argue whether that’s a silly notion or not, but that’s a large part of the mentality at play.

          Zach, Strikeforce is no longer a purely regional promoter with national distribution through Yahoo webcasts. Strikeforce’s events are intended first, second, and third for Showtime because its Showtime that is bankrolling the whole venture right now. Its no different than talking about an MMA promotion that is depending on casino money to fund them. Casino’s don’t make money selling ads or tickets to shows like MFC. They make money off the fact that it draws people to the hotels and the tables.

          Strikeforce is no different in that respect. Its not a pure question of “supply and demand”. If Showtime left tomorrow, Strikeforce would probably default and that would be the end. Maybe they’d release a bunch of their expensive fighters and regroup to holding club shows. Who knows? But they wouldn’t be trying to go it alone and lose oodles of money running Dan Henderson/Feijao type cards.

          There is a gross misunderstanding here. There is no intention to ever run Strikeforce as a high level MMA promotion without Showtime. Period.

          Who’s saying that actually spending five minutes to book consistent undercards is somehow the equivalent of being a raging money mark league like Affliction?

          Again: The money that Showtime pays to Strikeforce, which is a lot of their revenue, is intended to be budgeted towards televised fights. These are the fights Showtime wants. Nothing else matters to Showtime, and ergo, nothing else matters to Strikeforce. If Strikeforce wants to give guys developmental fights, they have Strikeforce Challengers cards that Showtime will green light even if the fighters suck.

        • What undefeated prospects are going to have their managers let them potentially take losses for $500 or $1000? Honestly.

        • K-1 thought that (when PRIDE died) an economic model primarily based on TV revenue and not having to build employee infrastructure to run shows nationally was the right play.

          Actually, I feel it necessary to reply to this point in particular. Zach, honestly – does K-1 exist at all, much less operate for almost 20 years without TBS? How about PRIDE and FujiTV? Given that PPV isn’t a realistic plan for income in Japan, how were they going to survive, much less plan to succeed wildly, without TV money in that market?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          You build no home grown talent…. You don’t have interesting title fights in the future. Strikeforce has already had to rely on Japanese companies to produce their contenders. Those companies are going away. What do you think happens from there?

          Fans can only watch Melendez and Souza fight lopsided fights so many times before they lose interest.

          And right now, that is what there model is becoming. A place that doesn’t build up enough relevent talent to make them interesting enough for the future.

          What are they going to do? Buy Bellator when they go out of business to get new title challenger? Those investors are going to sell to the highest bidder no matter how much Rebney hates White. And Strikeforce won’t outbid ten to even get another 1 or 2 more rounds of challengers for their belts.

          It’s not going to look pretty as the MMA landscape shrinks. And building undercard fights for the future will be even MORE essential at that point.

          Alan….. You have zero vision for the future

        • Strikeforce has already had to rely on Japanese companies to produce their contenders. Those companies are going away. What do you think happens from there?

          You’re right. They had DREAM produce their #1 contender match for them. Man, what a horrible call! Making someone else take the financial hit. Stupid Strikeforce!

          Fans can only watch Melendez and Souza fight lopsided fights so many times before they lose interest.

          Its clearly hurting GSP and Anderson’s appeal to beat up guys well below their level, isn’t it?

          What are they going to do? Buy Bellator when they go out of business to get new title challenger?

          Who says that all or any of Bellator’s contracts can be transferred? The UFC is going to be releasing half of their currently signed lightweights this year because they don’t want to increase their dates. Maybe there’s a prospect in the bunch with a loss who turns his career around. Who knows? Is that not enough looking into the future.

          It’s not going to look pretty as the MMA landscape shrinks.

          Its not shrinking. Its changing. There are more fighters than ever needing more places to fight. If there are fewer “big money promotions” for them to get paydays and the UFC doesn’t work hard to expand its roster dramatically, that leaves a lot of guys on the outside looking in, needing work.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          More trolling on your part. Let’s compare title challengers….

          Belfort and Shields are respectable title challengers. Lawler and Cyborg are not.

          And what dies it matter who the UFC releases. You are missing the point.

          SF has been putting on title fights by bringing in champions from other organizations. Those won’t exist soon. Which means they won’t e able to bring in guys instantly for a quick fix. And they can’t build up talent themselves. We had seen it. The fighters who have started in Strikeforce as prospects havent done anything in terms of drawing power outside of a gimmick in Cung Le.

          Not to mention the wild card…. Which is that Scott Coker doesn’t own his whole company…..

        • The Strikeforce titles don’t matter. How many times have I said that over the last 4-5 years?

          And what dies it matter who the UFC releases. You are missing the point.

          Almost anyone who loses is going to get cut right now. They’re dropping guys who’ve had only one fight, or in some cases, have gone 2-0 or 3-0 prior to losing. Instead, they are keeping fighters like Mike Brown and giving fights to Anthony Perosh, Mark Hunt, and Brian Ebersole. And that’s just the next card. Those guys they’re aren’t all going to be crap forever.

          SF has been putting on title fights by bringing in champions from other organizations.

          By the time Nick Diaz fights Daley and maybe Mayhem Miller, he could looking at fights with Tyron Woodley. This is a broken record argument.

          Not to mention the wild card…. Which is that Scott Coker doesn’t own his whole company…..

          Oooh! The WILD CARD. What the hell is this supposed to infer? That the parent company of Strikeforce will look to offload it cheap for no good reason?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Its already effecting them. They have no challengers anybody cares about for 2 champions. It’s only going to get worse.

          So it’s stupid for you to say it’s just going to go around in circles when two divisions already have shown signs of this problem. And as things get worse with other promotions are are only going to are it happen in more of their divisions.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “Not to mention the wild card… Which is that Scott Coker doesn’t own his whole company…”

          LOL. Talk about grasping at straws…what does that even mean?

          That a promoter you’ve spent your entire time on this site calling incompetent and clueless being replaced? Well in your world that’s a huge net benefit.

          That they’ll sell to someone who’s interested in investing in the promotion, and if they’re investing in the promotion, would be willing to spend money to make money?

          Whatever, why do I even take what you say at all seriously? You blather on like some authority on topics and issues you don’t have the slightest idea about and blindly stick to them based on little other than your personal opinion.

          Case in point, you’re the clueless idiot that spouted off to everyone about how the UFC would never (99% of the time!) release figures for peak ratings all day long – which proved stupid people were for talking about the “peak numbers” for Strikeforce’s ratings and how they weren’t really that good! But when presented bulletproof evidence that not only do they release “peak numbers”, they in fact release them for EVERY televised event…you ran off never to be heard from again on the topic.

        • Jason Harris says:

          Alan, if you really can’t see the difference between pulling some guy nobody has ever heard of to challenge your stars and having a well known name like Vitor Belfort challenge a champion, then I can’t say much to you.

          Strikeforce not trying to build up their own talent is a valid concern. They’ve done well running with guys who got well known in UFC, PRIDE and DREAM, but that well is almost dry. If that well dries up, and they don’t put any effort into promoting their own talent, they’re going to have a problem. People aren’t going to tune in to watch LadyCyborg fight some random chick, or anyone else. Heavyweight they’re doing fine, but in their other divisions they are in a bad way.

          If you think they can prop up lightweight by getting a bunch of UFC cast offs, who would watch that? “Oh sweet, Jamie Varner is going to challenge Gilbert Melendez!” Not exactly a recipe for huge ratings. Even their stars aren’t that big of a draw on their own, so if you start putting them in squash matches vs guys nobody knows it’s going to get ugly quick.

        • I forgot about Anderson’s fights against well respected legends like Damian Maia and Thales Leites. Not to mention how incredibly impressive he looked in those fights. The crowds loved it.

          If you think they can prop up lightweight by getting a bunch of UFC cast offs, who would watch that?

          As I said, they’re gonna cut about 30 lightweights from their roster. If you think they’re all going to be gawdawful and have no future solely because the UFC didn’t keep them, that’s your call I suppose. But right now they aren’t rushing to sign young talent nor retain anyone who loses, regardless of how good they are. Given that Strikeforce is making a middling long time welterweight fringe contender into their “legit” welterweight title challenger, I don’t think its impossible to think that someone will elevate themselves from the din and end up making themselves into an opponent for Melendez.

  2. Wolverine says:

    M-1 shows on Showtime premium cable boggle my mind. Sure these shows are sometimes fun, but the level of competition is worse than on most regional shows in US like Ring of Combat, Tachi Palace or MFC.

    It shows how really desperate Showtime was to keep Fedor, even after two losses in a row.

    • The M-1 deal was the worst kept secret of the last few months. Sherdog reported that they had a 4 event deal for 2011 like, 2 months ago (back during negotiations) and that everyone just wouldn’t talk about it.

      • Wolverine says:

        I can’t reply to your post about Strikeforce, so I’ll write it here. I think Strikeforce can pay a little bit more than 1k to televised bout fighters. They got 7-0 Roger Bowling for 3.5 + 3.5 k.

        • If you don’t even pay the undercard fighters (and generally that is farmed out to outside promoters, and so they don’t), paying 8-10 guys at 3-5K apiece is somewhere between $24K-$50K that you aren’t spending each show, every show. That’s assuming that’s all you pay for guys on unaired undercards. The UFC pays guys a lot more than that, plus bonuses.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Dear Scott Coker,

    Even though your company is struggling to find enough card space for all of your talent that you obviously signed just to be relevent, we are sorry to inform you that 4 cards that could have been yours are now being used by M-1. Sorry if it makes you feel like we don’t care much about your business.

    Sincerely,
    Showtime

    ************

    Making fighters on a PROFESSIONAL show sell tickets is garbage. You find the real Strikeforce nuthuggers when they defend that practice. What a horrible practice….

    Back to M-1 on Showtime…. I just don’t understand the Showtime executives on this one. Why increase the number of promoters you are working with when the sport is set up in a way that makes it pointless to do so. M-1 has no talent outside of Fedor. There is nothing they bring to the table.

    How do you expect Coker to last and thrive in that sort of environment? And before somebody brings up boxing using different promoters on HBO or SHO…. It’s a different ball of wax. The way their business is set up makes sense for that. In MMA where there are organizations it makes zero sense.

    So SHO is making things more difficult for themselves in the long run when there is basically no upside to it.

    • Your hero mmalogic now seems to vehemently disagree with you here after he read the ratings for Strikeforce. Now he sees Showtime paying them more money when their contract is reupped and states that they are “in a position no non-UFC organization has ever been in before”. If he won’t even back up your musings with completely hilarious analyzing, man, you are in trouble.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        And yet you completely ignore my comments on the way Showtime is treating the sport.

        Show me where mmalogic saidStrikeforce would get more money…. Just curious….

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Do you not know how to read? They might get more. They might get the same deal. He ne’er said for certain they were getting more money.

          And I find it funny that now you are quoting him when you think it benefits yourself.

          His point has very little to do with mine. His is about what position SF is in to re-up their contract.

          My point is that Showtime is not creating an environment for them to thrice. If anything they are hindering them. Which doesn’t go well for the future.

          And to mmalogic’s point, which is a valid one…. Is that when the UFc grows it gives organizations under them more of a fighting shot of sticking around because the basement has increased. But when the UFc is doing more business…. It still means the biggest paydays are out of reach for SF fighters based on their model….

        • And what a reversal it is to go from “the contract will be over and Strikeforce is done” to “they are pretty much guaranteed a new deal worth as much or more”.

          He never once says that the biggest paydays are out of reach for Strikeforce’s model. He can’t because he knows if the funding for Strikeforce increases, they can offer high level fighters larger guaranteed money contracts than the UFC will offer.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Even if there funding doubles…. It’s what? The revenues the UFC gets from their Top PPV each year….

          And they can compete? Sure they can!!

          In the past when I said they wouldn’t get renewed by SHO it was based on their ratings. Those have changed for exactly ONE non-freakshow event. Let’s see how it lasts….

          It’s like me saying Ben Rothwell is not currently a Top 10 fighter and then he beats Frank Mir. And then you chime in saying: “See, he is Top 10, you were wrong”.

          You think of have this set in stone opinion based. Which isn’t the truth at all. I typically view things based on history. History has recently changed which means that should also change the future. But those things have to happen first.

          Your a little off today. I think you didn’t get your morning caffeine or something.

          So hisself…. By te end if 2012….. How is the MMA landscape going to look. For somebody bashes everybody elses opinions we sure don’t get a lot of yours.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And while I wait for your predictions let me give you mine….

          By the end of 2011, the only major MMA organizations left will be the UFC and Strikeforce. Bellator will be gone. JMMA will basically be gone. Most of the top talent will go to the UFC. A few will go to SF.

          2012 is going to look ugly for Strikeforce. At this point they are likely to get a new TV which will give the fanbase a false hope of them doing good. But they won’t have any other organization to pull talent from whig means 90%+ of the star creating process will be right intheir own laps.

          We will see less interesting cards because of this along with harder negotiating tactics by Zuffa excuse at this point they only have one competitor and it will be even easier to zero in on SF.

          By the end of 2012, SF will be on life support. They might make money, but viewership will be down due to a lack of good fights.

          The little guy either has a revenue source to make it to the giants level (which they don’t) or they eventually die off without it. That’s the history of business. Why would MMA be any different?

        • Even if there funding doubles…. It’s what? The revenues the UFC gets from their Top PPV each year….

          Did I say that the UFC would fall behind SF in terms of revenue? No. I specifically mentioned fighter pay because that has been essentially static during the UFC’s growth. It doesn’t make a difference in terms of how much money the UFC makes when it comes to retaining fighters if they don’t plan on spending it.

          In the past when I said they wouldn’t get renewed by SHO it was based on their ratings.

          You are essentially the only person who now believes this. Short of a massive and sudden collapse, Showtime is not dropping Strikeforce. It was obvious before. So obvious now that even internet astroturfers aren’t denying it.

          How is the MMA landscape going to look.

          Is this a question to me? The UFC will be the dominant promotion. If they are smart they will have increased their pay to such a level by the end of this year that even a new Showtime contract and potential PPV success won’t matter in terms of the promotion being able to retain talent. If not, they will be cheap and argue that they don’t need any of their stars, their stars need them. And those who will free and able to go will not immediately resign, leading to some really bizarre, nearly destructive matchmaking and booking for unaired undercard fights with top contenders, just like it was back at the start of 2008.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          UFC pay has stayed static? Now I know you are just trolling.

          The top guys were making lower 6 figures when TUf started. Now Leanar has made $3 Million a fight. Even the released pay has constantly gone up with more fighters getting PPV bonuses then ever before.

          Stop your trolling man.

        • If you want my worst case scenario for the sport, here it is:

          - Bellator keeps being funded.

          - Showtime PPV for the first half of the year and the Chavez Jr. card being slated for CBS are successes. This leads CBS to bring back Strikeforce (which will probably happen anyways) and also changes the viewpoint that Showtime PPV isn’t a viable alternative to HBO.

          - Showtime gets a new big money contract with Showtime expanding the amount of per show money they receive, plus a similar or larger sum for CBS programs. Also, they cut a deal to run an expanded Challengers series weekly/biweekly during the college football off season for the newly rebranded CBS Sports Network.

          - UFC resigns to Spike, blames issues with NBC and Comcast not giving them the control and money they wanted over programming. Has a clause for more programming on Versus and all PPVs will have live prelims shown.

          - With Showtime feeling their oats and willing to enter a bidding war, the UFC decides to let Showtime decide to enter the PPV field against them, thinking that they’ll perish like Affliction did and overspend themselves into oblivion. As contracts come up, they aren’t willing to renegotiate for upper echelon fighters.

          - Lesnar retires.

          - GSP loses to Anderson Silva.

          - The UFC begins self destructive matchmaking of stars who may be on the verge of departing. Some lose, some win. The guys that lose do so to fighters who do not become stars and were simply there to give them an unmarketable loss, but they in turn get paid as if they were for having done Zuffa’s dirty work. Those fighters who actually leave for Strikeforce are able to turn in performances that at least break even or sometimes run at a small loss that Showtime is willing to write off. The sport is effectively split and will continue to be until Showtime leaves the sport or the Ferittas sell the UFC to a private investment company like Blackstone or Apollo Management.

          Not that anyone cares to read that, but the point that I’m making is that I really don’t care nor want to see Strikeforce be a monster success and money maker for Showtime. I think from a fan perspective it is more than likely to lead to bad things, split lineages, a glut of “recognized titles”, and dream matches that never take place.

        • How much more is Lesnar making than Chuck Liddell did in 2007 per fight? Then compare that to the UFC’s revenues. These guys are making peanuts compared to what the UFC actually takes home. Its just that no one at this moment has the money and the stage to offer more.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          You show me the numbers…. I’d like to see it. Ou are the one saying the numbers are static. They aren’t. Both commission reports and strong articles are proving they are not.

          Static basically means no change. And now you are changing that to percentage of growth increase. Which one is it?

        • If fighter pay grows 25% and general revenue grows 500%, fighter pay has gone up but remained stagnant compared to the increase in revenue. Chuck Liddell made a guaranteed half million at UFC 88. At UFC 126, Anderson Silva (who sold more PPVs) made only $200K in guaranteed money. With the vast increase in UFC revenue over the last few years, the argument that fighter pay can’t rise because the UFC is paying off its early debts is out the window. They’ll probably make as much money off UFC 129 as they lost in the pre TUF year.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          So now you are pushing it up to UFc 88 salaries?

          Your all over the place here.

          From 2005 to now, UFC pay has increased every year. Both in reported pay to bonuses to PPV bonuses.

          When is the last time you have heard a UFC who wasn’t at the bottom of their pay scale complain about money? Almost never anymore. You use to. But not anymore? Why the change? Perhaps because pay went up which can be proved by multiple sources.

          One Strikeforce champion has already jumped ship for more money. Another complains about being poor.

          If you are going to complain about pay, start with Strikeforce. The UFC pay is not stagnet. It’s going up with increase in revenues. That’s not stagnant. That’s GROWTH.

        • OK. Chuck made the same in guaranteed money at UFC 66 as Rampage did at UFC 114. All these years later, all that additional income to the UFC: No significant change in guaranteed money. Go figure.

        • Besides, UFC fighters rarely if ever publicly demand more money, even if that is the crux of the issue like it was with Rampage and his decision to leave the post TUF fight. Now he’s fighting Matt Hammill because, apparently, “he doesn’t feel like fighting Rampage again”. What dude making huge money doesn’t feel like fighting?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          One fighter on a fixed contract doesn’t prove your point.

          Pay has gone up every year for the UFC. Every year. Admit it. You are wrong here.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “One Strikeforce champion has already jumped ship for more money. Another complains about being poor.”

          I find this to be hilarious because you were all over them for how Shields was a ratings killer and killing them because they had to televise his fights to be legitimate, and they all went 5 rounds.

          Then the UFC insanely overpays him in order to bring him in to fight GSP and it’s a huge loss! Let’s not lose sight of the fact that if GSP smokes him there’s a decent chance they’ll either cut him (because he can barely beat Martin Kampmann and would be getting $150k to fight Paulo Thiago) or they’ll keep him and pay him and continue to insanely overpay a midcarder. You’d castrate Coker if he did something like that.

          You think a ton of guys will be chomping at the bit to immediately jump ship from a sure thing to get the one “payday” if they see that happen to Shields?

          Diaz is getting 150k a fight and apparently a share of the gate for fights in CA…do you think UFC is going to pay him more? See Shields above. What you’re suggesting would mean that the UFC would pull an Affliction and sign a bunch of guys to huge deals to try to hurt their competitor…they aren’t blowing up their salary structure for guys like Diaz and Melendez.

        • Liddell or Rampage are on “fixed contracts”? Based on? Dude, they are the elite guys. I’m not talking about undercard fighters making more because that’s an irrelevant talking point to this discussion.

    • Heh, the fact that you think M-1 has nobody interesting is laughable. The only issue is that M-1 is completely unmarketable in the United States, and four events isn’t going to do M-1 a damn thing in the market. That’s the real issue.

      Talent-wise, M-1 has a few guys who could be very good down the road.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        How long has M-1 been around? How many fighters have they really pushed to the big time? And I’m not asking for a list of fighters who they used who made it big eventually. I’m asking who have they created themselves.

        I’ve seen M-1 cards before. They look horrible.

        They can’t even put on their own event with their biggest fighter. Is any more proof needed to show how 2nd rate they are?

  4. jim genia says:

    I have no problem with a promotion like Strikeforce having an undercard based on big-ticket sellers. But one thing should be made clear (which I don’t think is clear from the article): for this New Jersey event, fighters didn’t have to “buy” their way onto the card with the promise of selling large amounts of tickets (as is implied). They were, however, welcomed onto the card based on their local appeal. As an example, one undercard fighter was booked who was mistakenly thought to be a local draw, but to the dismay of some, it was later revealed that he was an out-of-towner with zero New Jersey presence. He still fought on the card, though.

    From what’s implied in the article, that out-of-towner would have had to have promised to mondo tickets to fight. That wasn’t the case.

    • So were the tickets then essentially a bonus incentive to guys who were interested in being on the card? Oh, the horror! LOL.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      The idea that a fighter on a major level should sell physical tickets, bonus or as a salary, is crazy.

      I didn’t take his quote out of context, FWIW.

      I don’t mind the fact that you book local fighters with appeal, but book the best ones possible and book fighters that you might actually decide to use in the future.

    • This was actually revealed by Villante in Helwani’s interview. Helwani flat out asked him if he was required to do so, and Villante said no… teammates at his camp simply wanted to support him along with family members, etc.

      • mr. roadblock says:

        I took what Mauro said about ticket sales to be an attempt at making a joke because both guys had a local following at the event.

        I think he said, “You have to sell tickets to make it on the undercard.” After mentioning how both guys had a lot of fans there.

        He was making the joke, IMO, because that is a common practice at smaller boxing and especially pro wrestling shows.

        Just a goofy, inside baseball, joke that most people didn’t get.

  5. Zach Arnold says:

    Alan wrote:

    Actually, I feel it necessary to reply to this point in particular. Zach, honestly – does K-1 exist at all, much less operate for almost 20 years without TBS? How about PRIDE and FujiTV? Given that PPV isn’t a realistic plan for income in Japan, how were they going to survive, much less plan to succeed wildly, without TV money in that market?

    K-1 was doing well at both the live gate and for TV ratings in the 90s. They ran Domes just like New Japan. Their problem is once they started running cards and people said, screw it, I’ll watch it on TV but not go to the house shows. At that point, no matter what political connections Ishii had and no matter how strong a TV platform he had, he didn’t have the horses in place nor the experience to promote live events first. He was a TV-only play. Remember, his foreign house shows were managed by Ken Imai. Once Imai left to go to PRIDE, then the foreign shows were no longer big attractions. (There was always the occasional show from Simon Rutz and It’s Showtime but no longer the Coker/Imai connection.)

    • That’s not really answering what I’m asking Zach. Do K-1 or PRIDE ever come to exist in the first place without TV backing? Forget the fact that they eventually ran into issues when TV deals ended or were cut out from under them. That is secondary. They can’t end if they don’t exist, and in the case of K-1, they not only existed from 1993-2010, they ran numerous sold out dome shows and the like.

      The bigger question then is “why did people stop going to K-1 events?” And that brings us to discussing the Maeda era of freakshows, Sapp, and everything that followed. But even then, you’re talking about a period of time that lasted 10 years. You can’t go blaming the lack of a TV provider for why they are gone. Its as if K-1 is blameless in their inability to get people to watch their events.

  6. mr. roadblock says:

    I said months ago that Showtime was going to look beyond SF for programming. And I got flamed on this board for it.

    For the past several events the mics have said ‘SHO’ with that side pointing to the camera and the ‘S-logo’ pointing to the side.

    The announcers have talked about fights being Showtime fights and Nick Diaz said, “I fight for Showtime”.

    I don’t think fights on Showtime are in danger of going anywhere. But I think Scott Coker is in real danger of getting himself kicked to the curb.

    Don’t be surprised to see Gary Shaw promotions running Showtime MMA again anytime soon.

  7. Joe says:

    Regarding the lukewarm response to Gina Carano, I think it’s just another example of Strikeforce not understanding the nuances of marketing its fighters. Gina’s appeal isn’t because she’s a rockstar, juggarnaut, movie star type of figure. She’s a supporting actor, somebody who pops up and makes you happy to see her in the show. The average fan’s response to the prospect of Gina Carano returning isn’t going to be “holy shit! this is awesome!” It’s way more likely to be something like, “Hey alright I remember that girl, I wonder what happened to her. When’s she fighting?”

    • The Gaijin says:

      “Gina’s appeal isn’t because she’s a rockstar, juggarnaut, movie star type of figure. She’s a supporting actor, somebody who pops up and makes you happy to see her in the show.”

      LOL, ok…

      Her headlining show was, until last weekend, the highest rated Strikeforce show ever on Showtime and her fights on CBS were the biggest ratings/viewer gainers.

      • Joe says:

        My point was not that she doesn’t have appeal, it’s that her appeal doesn’t come from the “special announcement!!!!” zone. People like watching her fight, but that’s not the same thing as people going apeshit over the prospect of watching her fight. There’s a big difference in that, and it’s crucial to how you present her to fight fans in such a way that they remain holding a favorable impression of her.

  8. nottheface says:

    Zach,

    I feel the need to point out to you and the other commentators here that Strikeforce does indeed air all of their prelims fights, they are called Challenger cards. Strikeforce and Showtime split up an event onto two cards – Champion and Challenger – so that a) all (or at least most) of their fighters they are paying add to the broadcast or are promoted for future broadcasts b) cut costs by using local fighters who are cheaper (both pay and travel) and who can help sell tickets. None of their fighters are really being forgotten or buried. For a promotion that has to worry so much about the bottom line it is a clever tactic with a much better cost-reward ratio.

  9. robthom says:

    One thing Strikeforce should start doing now that they are catching some wind under their sails is start to give preferential treatment/promotion to exclusive fighters instead of allowing their resources to be used to push fighters with other alliances and agendas.

    Sure, you can sign guys like Fed, alistair or barnett to do some freelance/part-time fighting whenever they feel like getting around to it.
    (Or getting licensed).

    But dont spend inordinate amounts of effort pushing guys with questionable loyalties or a flatout competing agenda.

    Its just…

    asinine…

    Like roadblock mentions above, this business model seems destined to eventually make Coker and Strikeforce potentially dispensable if Coker ever becomes difficult or unagreeable.

    Showtime could decide that they would prefer to replace him with a more coercive option (M1) or a more traditional one (boxing/Shaw).

    And with that threat over his head the loss of control will snowball until Coker’s only choice is doing whatever he’s told by showtime just to hopefully keep his job.

    Unless Coker has also planned an alternative “out” for leverage against that scenario.
    But if he was thinking that far ahead would he have done many of the things that he’s doing?

  10. Joseph says:

    FYI, MMAPayout broke the news about the M-1 and Showtime deal back in September as they did for the actual deal yesterday.
    http://mmapayout.com/2011/02/m-1-challenge-returns-to-u-s-showtime-debut-expected/

    Also a great write-up on the Fedor vs Silva event
    http://mmapayout.com/2011/02/strikeforce-fedor-vs-silva-payout-perspective/

  11. Jonathan says:

    I have to think that on some level Zach purposely writes biased posts to stir up controversy. He alluded to that fact in the previous post, about how it went over like a “turd in soup” i believe he said.

    I think this is just a play for page views.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I have to think that on some level Zach purposely writes biased posts to stir up controversy. He alluded to that fact in the previous post, about how it went over like a “turd in soup” i believe he said.

      I think this is just a play for page views.

      You’re beclowning yourself and misrepresenting my statements.

      I said that the UFC 127 Aussie card went over ‘like a turd in a punch bowl’ because people weren’t so hot about it. That had nothing to do with page views. (And, as you probably could tell with the Jorge Rivera post, it was dripping with sarcasm.)

      The site is called Fight Opinion. Articles are a mixture of news and opinion. How hard is this for you to understand?

      • Jonathan says:

        I understand that this site is called Fight Opinion, and the Opinion represented here are yours. There is nothing wrong with that…this is after all..your website.

        I just seem to notice that you seem to post alot of inflammatory remarks that you know will get a rise (response) out of the hardcore viewers of this site. I see that you continually do this about Strikeforce, and I just feel that you post stuff about similar topics to have generate interest in your web page and starts these little thread wars between Alan and the others like 45 Huddle.

        Call me a clown if you like, but I am just calling them how I see them.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          I just seem to notice that you seem to post alot of inflammatory remarks that you know will get a rise (response) out of the hardcore viewers of this site. I see that you continually do this about Strikeforce, and I just feel that you post stuff about similar topics to have generate interest in your web page and starts these little thread wars between Alan and the others like 45 Huddle.

          First off, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the many years as a writer, it’s that you can never predict what people will be interested in commenting on. There’s times where I’ve spent 5 minutes writing an article and it gets 100 comments and there’s times where I’ve spent 4 hours and get 3 comments. Other than posting cheesecake photos, there’s never a sure-fire formula on what draws interest and what doesn’t. So, on that front I don’t make a concerted effort to try to make any calculations.

          I do post my own thoughts and call it like I see it, but I’ve been doing that since I was writing in the 90s. I’m largely the same person today that I was back then as far as personality and attitude goes. The same things you accuse me of re: Strikeforce is what I’ve been accused of in the past with other organizations like PRIDE when they were around.

          If anything, I’ve been writing less of my opinion and more highlighting the opinions of others (through transcripts or interviews).

    • Paradoxx says:

      Someone spends way too much time at Bloody Elbow

      • robthom says:

        Bloody elbow isn’t very good.

        But its also better that a lot of horrible sites that have popped up in the MMA space these days.

        Or that have degraded badly.

        I’ve finally been forced to replace MMA.tv with Bloody Elbow as my second tier daily news and rumors source.

        (And Sherdog isn’t half so interesting anymore without Rossen IMO.)

  12. EJ says:

    I think Ariel’s comments really reflect what’s going on with SF and why people like myself question what they are doing.

    There are smart people who probably recognize that getting into the Fedor business was a mistake and are glad to be rid of him. Sadly Coker and Showtime are not which is why they will force him to come back and pay him even more money if neccesary.

    Sorry to burst this little myth about Fedor now becoming a draw but the reason for the ratings bump is simple and something that hasn’t been touched upon in reports. The last Fedor show had the UFC counterprogram against it and it hurt their numbers. Now without any UFC coutnerprogramming the numbers for Fedor’s fight go up, that’s not a coincidence that’s the power of the UFC.

    The guy is done if Coker had any guts or control of his company, he would listen to the people who get that. But he won’t he’ll continue to try and be under the delusion that Fedor is worth all the money and problems he brings.

  13. white ninja says:

    It might all just be a massive coincidence, but Fedor has been the kiss of death to every single promotion he has fought in (cant blame him for RINGs… but hey, they went out of business with Fed as champ anyway and so started the trend

    The lack of loyalty, commitment and double dealing and shoddy business moves shown by Fedor’s management destroyed a number of promotions and one off events – whether it was Pride and Affliction or Bodog, Yarrenoka and Inoki Bom Ba Ye – events around Fedor have always led to the promotion’s demise. Fedor truly is the last Emperor

    Coker is just the latest who will bite the dust chasing the Fedor dream – ironically, and maybe Vadim knows something everybody else doesnt, Fedor has never fought in a M1 promotion and probably never will

  14. ECWCock says:

    White ninja, you are correct in your points, but in the future, pleas use this: “.”

  15. edub says:

    No longer left hook like Joe frazier.

    Now left hook like Nonito Donaire.

    The man’s speed and timing seem to just keep getting better. After the first exchange there was no question it was only a matter of time.

    • mr. roadblock says:

      Unbelievable left hook. Absolutely staggering.

      Donaire is getting way better. Phenomenal athlete. Montiel is no slouch and Donaire completely blew him away. Wow.

      • Montiel isn’t just not a slouch. He came in top 10 P4P. He got dismissed like he was garbage. That was remarkable. And the thing is – no one has even challenged Donaire in years. If Montiel couldn’t, no one is currently at 118.

        • edub says:

          With his amatuer background I think Mares could give him troubles (however I still think he would KO him), but with the way Uncle Bob has been talking I think the next time we see Donaire is at 122.

      • edub says:

        He’s got a little bit of that pacman factor going for him, where his power and speed seem to be getting better each weight class.

        You would never of guessed which fighter fought at the higher weight for longer going into the fight.

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