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Mirko fighting in America?

By Zach Arnold | July 20, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

The last 24 hours, MMA boards have been buzzing about comments that Mirko Cro Cop reportedly made in an interview regarding his future in fighting (specifically where he will fight). Read his comments here. In short, he said the following (I cleaned up the grammar):

JL: You have mentioned on many occasions that you would love to fight in America.

Mirko: I will fight there soon, maybe even this year in October. However, not in PRIDE or UFC but in another organization that has just started. Their offer is excellent and I’ll very likely accept it.

My thoughts: Given that Mirko does not fight for a low salary, it’s likely that the league that made an offer to him is the WFA. Mirko fights for no less than 6-digits USD, so it’s going to cost big money to bring him to America to fight. With that stated, this comment indicates a lot about the future of PRIDE. Ken Imai manages Mirko’s business in Japan, and Imai is no dummy. He is close to Sakakibara (PRIDE’s boss) and the fact that Mirko is looking to fight outside of PRIDE can be read many ways (specifically — the money is drying up fast). You can also read into Mirko’s comments that K-1 likely isn’t interested in bringing him back, which means that he has to start looking elsewhere for more options. The WFA might be his new home.

Update: Duke in the comments section indicates that the new suitor might be StrikeForce, which is promoted by Scott Coker… who is aligned with K-1. That would be a convenient marriage for K-1 — to keep Mirko away from PRIDE and be able to keep him away from PRIDE’s American plans by using a proxy group.

Topics: All Topics, Media, MMA, PRIDE, WFA, Zach Arnold | 14 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

14 Responses to “Mirko fighting in America?”

  1. Stephan says:

    Very exciting…and as you point out a very bad sign for Pride. I have been burying my head in the sand about Pride…but it is really starting to look real bad.

    They must be losing more than the stated 15% from Fuji TV, this is starting to look like an exodus now…

    There have also been many rumours about Fedor coming over, I would love to see Fedor clean up the UFC HW division…possibly in one night!!!

  2. Lynchman says:

    Yeah, this does not sound good for Pride. The funny thing is that there will be fans that will deny Pride is in trouble until the very end.

    I can’t help but wonder how far into debt the WFA is willing to go? The first event is not selling well at all. While I have no idea how much they need to do to break even, I am guessing it will not happen on this event.

    So now they will spend even more on fighters? I admire their intent, but question the game plan. Unless there is a tv package in the works, it will be tough going.

  3. Zach Arnold says:

    [Unless there is a tv package in the works, it will be tough going.]

    At this point, TV has to be the end-game. If you want to survive in the MMA business in America, it will have to be on television – perhaps a deal with Showtime is in the works, which would be interesting because Showtime is part of the Viacom family. The same Viacom family that, if I’m not mistaken, Spike TV is a part of.

  4. Actually, Viacom split its network holdings last year. Showtime is part of the CBS Corporation, while Spike is with Viacom (basically all the basic cable networks, plus Paramount). The two entities are traded separately on the NYSE.

  5. Zach Arnold says:

    Very interesting that Showtime is part of the CBS Corp. (which was marketed to shareholders as a “value play” versus the “new” Viacom marketed to shareholders for growth potential).

    I’m still not convinced that getting a deal with Showtime would bring WFA to the promise land, but it would financially ease a lot of the pain.

  6. Lynchman says:

    I might be wrong, but I don’t think Showtime paid for that special. I think it was more of a paid spot for the WFA. If it had been something Showtime purchased, the WFA would not be able air it on their website.

  7. Zach Arnold says:

    Lynchman – I think it’s inevitable that WFA will try to get some sort of deal to get their big shows on Showtime. The PPV market seems to be oversaturated and having fresh MMA programming on a pay-channel like Showtime will only bring in new subscribers. Pay-based channels always are in need of finding ways to increase subscription base numbers, and MMA could be very well be that product to do it. It would be mutually beneficial for both WFA & Showtime to make a big deal.

  8. Lynchman says:

    I agree that WFA/Showtime could be a great combo. I really don’t see the WFA ppv doing much more than Pride has done, so Showtime won’t have to pay that much to make it worthwhile for the WFA.

  9. Dukes says:

    Not so fast. The MMA world is in for a big suprise when they see who has landed Mirko – and it ain’t the WFA. This comes from an oddsmaker in Southern Cali who is salivating on this fight.

    Hint: They hold the record for the largest MMA gate in the USA.
    Hint: They have money.
    Hint: They have has PrideFC athletes on their card before.

    Guess who?!

  10. Erin says:

    Now, I’d definitly hike my butt to San Jose on a workday in rush hour traffic to see a Mirko fight.

  11. Lynchman says:

    If Strikeforce is indeed bringing him in, I am surprised. Overeem did not draw a crowd reaction, or pull heavy walkup business.

    Mirko will cost them a hell of a lot more than Overeem did. I would kill to see him live, but I can’t see them pulling in enough extra people to cover his costs.

  12. Mr.Roadblock says:

    An interesting thing about Showtime is that they often offer the boxing matches they air on PPV for $9.95 if you’re not a Showtime subscriber. This could be a great way for WFA (or another promotion) to get exposure. Then when they have a big event, maybe 3 or 4 a year, put it on PPV exclusively for $30+.

  13. […] A few interesting notes: Recall when Mirko, a couple of weeks ago, stated that he was considering working in America in October but not for PRIDE or UFC? Jeff Thaler says Phil Baroni, who was supposed to work the UFC show in November (tentatively headlined by Vanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell), is off that card. It’ll be interesting to see who fights and who doesn’t fight on the PRIDE show. […]

  14. […] The most interesting note in all of this story is that the Croatian report does indeed name the WFA as the promotion that made a big-money offer for Mirko to work in America in October. The rumors right now suggest that WFA is going to run their October show in Las Vegas, meaning Las Vegas in one month will have shows from WFA, PRIDE, and UFC. PRIDE, right now, looks to be the big loser in all of this. […]


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