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Monday news round-up

By Zach Arnold | November 13, 2006

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Lots of various rumors, stories, and news items of interest to everyone. Including Fedor news.

Video of Werdum vs. Aleksander from the 2H2H event.

The top story is a report on Boxing Talk claiming that Showtime is going to work with JD Penn (of Rumble on the Rock fame) to produce MMA events on the network. This is very big news. (Special thanks to Clint Larsen). I’ve attached the official press release from Showtime at the end of this post.

Update: The WFA has canceled their 12/9 Las Vegas PPV event.

  1. Ivan Trembow reports that the final episode of this season’s The Ultimate Fighter did a 1.0 rating. This has not been a good year for the concept. Mike Sloan at Sherdog has further thoughts about the future of TUF. He’s pessimistic on many levels in regards to this reality show format surviving.
  2. Jeff Haney reports that UFC internally is expecting a million PPV buys in America for the Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell 12/30 Las Vegas event. An interesting side note regarding the UFC show is that immediately after it ends in Vegas, both the K-1 Osaka Dome & PRIDE Saitama Super Arena events will be starting in Japan. It will be 12/31 there already by the time Ortiz/Liddell is finished.
  3. Neil Davidson of Canadian Press has a very interesting article on Georges St. Pierre’s upcoming fight in Sacramento this weekend against Matt Hughes. The Record Online (NY) has an article on Matt Serra’s win in UFC on Saturday night.
  4. The most intriguing story coming out of Japan (as discussed in this Japanese posting) is the apparent triangulation happening between BoDog, MFC, and HERO’s to get Emelianenko Fedor to work for them in 2007 (and to get out of PRIDE). I’ve discussed BoDog’s attempt to get Fedor in a past article on this site. It is realistic in a couple of senses. First, Maeda (who is with HERO’s) is the man who first brought Fedor to Japan through RINGS. Second, MFC is owned/operated by Fedor’s top manager, Vadim Finkelstein. Fedor, in the past, has a history of following his manager’s advice (see: Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003) and going where he is directed to fight. With BoDog’s big cash resources and HERO’s smelling blood in the water with PRIDE right now, there seems to be a trend of all of PRIDE’s rivals to gang up together and go for the kill. The alluded Japanese posting at the top of this paragraph mentions that Fedor vs. Rulon Gardner would be the tentative plan for the 2/24 Las Vegas show (if Fedor vs. Mirko doesn’t happen).

    Gryphon notes an interview that Fedor’s other manager (in Holland), Apy Echteld, did in a recent Japanese magazine. Some interesting additional details.

Now here is the Showtime press release regarding their move into MMA:

SHOWTIME TO TELEVISE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS EVENTS
New MMA Organization Pro Elite, Inc. Goes Head-to-Head with Ultimate Fighting Championship

NEW YORK (November 13, 2006) – In a landmark deal for premium television, Showtime Networks Inc. has partnered with Pro Elite, Inc. to televise live mixed martial arts (MMA) events on SHOWTIME beginning in 2007, it was announced today by Ken Hershman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks.

The first event will air live on SHOWTIME on February 10, 2007, with additional events airing on the premium television network through 2009. All MMA events on SHOWTIME will be televised in high-definition.

Pro Elite, Inc. is headed by an impressive team of successful entertainment producers, event promoters and new media/internet visionaries. CEO and entertainment executive, Douglas DeLuca (Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Man Show), and the President of the live event division, Gary Shaw, will promote the televised events with Rumble World Entertainment’s President and CEO Jay Dee Penn , a black-belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a veteran promoter in the field of mixed martial arts.

Mixed martial arts is a sport evolved from a number of ancient combat disciplines including Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Wrestling and Kickboxing. A competition unlike any other, world-class athletes engage in hand-to-hand combat in a ring—both caged and traditional—and must adapt their fighting style to fit their opponent. The wide variety of styles and techniques make every event an unpredictable and exciting spectacle.

The intense nature of the contests and the theatrical elements that accompany the live experience have made MMA one of the fastest growing spectator sports in the U.S. In the past three years, the genre has seen exponential growth in popularity, particularly from the coveted male 18-34 demographic. MMA is sanctioned as a sport in more than 20 states with others expected to soon follow.

“Having seen the great success of Ultimate Fighting Championship on basic cable and pay-per-view, we knew that this programming held great potential for Showtime,” said Hershman. “MMA is a global phenomenon that is impossible to ignore. This will be the perfect complement to our boxing franchise and we are proud to be the first premium network to embrace it. We can’t wait to deliver these action-packed events to our subscribers.”

“I’ve been in and around the boxing business for a long time,” said Shaw, who will oversee Pro Elite’s live event promotions. “The energy and the excitement that mixed martial arts events generate throughout the country and on television are astounding. Personally, and on behalf of Pro Elite, I am thrilled to be entering this sport with the exceptional team of professionals at Showtime.”

DeLuca has an extremely diverse background encompassing over sixteen years of experience producing feature films, television series and special events around the world including ABC’s hit †late night program Jimmy Kimmel Live and hit reality show The Mole. Shaw, in addition to his role at Pro Elite, is also the president and CEO of Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, one of the country’s leading boxing promotion companies. Formerly, Shaw was the Chief Inspector for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Commission and a member of the commission’s board, and the Chief Operating Officer of Main Events, another boxing promotional company.

“MMA is the sport for a new generation,” added DeLuca. “The participants in MMA are some of the most dedicated and skilled athletes in the world. Our aim is to shape and nurture the core values of extreme martial arts and deliver it on multiple platforms to the fans and the athletes alike. Partnering with Showtime, a true leader in televised boxing is an ideal situation for Pro Elite and all of MMA. Together, we will help this sport flourish and grow.”

“Rumble World Entertainment is a family owned and operated business,” said Penn, a lifelong martial artist. “And we’ve seen our events and MMA in general grow like wildfire over the past few years. Our team has been committed to identifying and partnering with the right company and television network to turn our dream into a reality. Today, we have truly realized that dream.”

Chairman of the Board for Pro Elite, David Marshall, who is also Founder and Vice Chairman of Youbet.com (NASDAQ: UBET), one of the largest providers of technology and pari-mutuel horse racing content for sports enthusiasts through Internet and telephone wagering platforms, and also one of the largest broadcasters of live audio and video on the Internet, stated: “Mixed martial arts is not only the fastest growing spectator sport in the world, but also has perhaps the most passionate fans. This unique partnership with Showtime will revolutionize the sport by providing fans with enormous interactive benefits while creating the leading destination for Mixed Martial Arts on television.”

Showtime Networks Inc.

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIMEÆ, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIXÆ, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIMEÆ TOO™, SHOWTIMEÆ SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREMEÆ, SHOWTIME BEYONDÆ, SHOWTIME NEXTÆ, SHOWTIME WOMENÆ, SHOWTIME FAMILYZONEÆ and TMC XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HDÆ, THE MOVIE CHANNEL HD™, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND™ and THE MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND™. SNI is also an owner and manager of SUNDANCE CHANNEL, a venture of NBC Universal, Robert Redford and SNI. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and †entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIMEÆ PPV.

Pro Elite, Inc. (www.proeliteinc.com)
Pro Elite, Inc. is an entertainment and media company dedicated to producing world-class sports events and specialized Internet content. Pro Elite Inc. is creating a leading Internet destination for sports fans, athletes, and dojos to foster the growth of the core principles of competition – Pride, Spirit, and Sportsmanship.

Rumble World Entertainment

Rumble World Entertainment (RWE), a Hawaii-based entertainment company, has a long history of staging MMA events. With a committed staff of MMA-industry insiders, RWE has taken its live MMA series, Rumble on the Rock, from a small Hilo-based show to a globally recognized brand in just three years. RWE, which premiered Rumble on the Rock in Dec. 2002, has distributed events in 90 countries including Japan and U.S. pay-per-view as well as released a number of events on DVD.

Topics: All Topics, HERO's, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, Zach Arnold | 25 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

25 Responses to “Monday news round-up”

  1. JOSH says:

    OMG please please please GOD DO NOT let it be Fedor vs Gardner…PLEASE!!!

  2. Luxury Liner says:

    Why? Fedor vs Gardner would be a helluva lot better than Fedor vs Yoshida. Rulon has better standup and Fedor would have an extreemly difficult time bringing him down. Although I still think E would take this by brutal destruction.

  3. Mr. Roadblock says:

    The Showtime story is huge if true. Rumble on the Rock has done some very good shows in the past. Are they still affiliated with K-1? Could there be a K-1/Rumble on the Rock fusion that ends up on Showtime in High Def?

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    Roadblock – the story is indeed true. And the big question now is the K-1 connection.

    The obvious implications: WFA, which had been airing preview shows on Showtime, is now on the outside looking in. JD did a smart move by going to Gary Shaw and getting the boxing tie-in. Also, BJ Penn was reportedly scheduled to be a coach on the next season of TUF. Will that change now with this news? Third, will K-1 integrate with Penn to make their move into America through this platform? If they can bring Lesnar and Angle to the table, the answer might be yes.

    And if that’s the case, this is a big dilemma for both PRIDE & UFC.

  5. I’m surprised that people haven’t been keeping a closer eye on HERO’S as a risk to PRIDE, at least in Japan. Word has it that many of PRIDE’s contracts are coming to an end in the next 6 months, so this is where you’ll really be seeing if the sharks are going to frenzy and snap up available fighters.

    On a fight fan level, I’m not happy about the idea of Fedor fighting outside PRIDE … right now PRIDE is where the top heavyweights are, and I want to see him fighting the best. I am also not too happy with the idea of Bodog getting heavily involved in any serious kind of MMA organization. I don’t like Calvin Ayre, and I don’t trust anyone who can’t even put a foot on US soil because the FBI would arrest him.

    We’ll see if Showtime is willing to give this new fight organization the push it needs to get a toe hold in North America, or if they’ll treat it like a redheaded stepchild a la Fox Sportsnet with the IFL.

  6. The Gaijin says:

    K-1 could make a HUGE splash in the US if this somehow comes to fruition. Having the Penn influence from ROTR coupled with Showtime and their roster of recognizable names would clearly grab some mainstream attention.

    As for Pride, I think that would be big for them if they can convince Gardner to fight Fedor in their main event. Then I think we’ll see truly how many of the casual fight fans they can attract, given Zach’s contention that Pride’s gate at the initial show was a large majority of hardcore mma fans.

  7. JThue says:

    This is mind-boggling. Both the potential Bodog/HERO’s tie-up and Pro Elite MMA on SHOWTIME. 2007… This is really gonna be one hell of a year to be an MMA enthusiast. Good, bad, pretty and ugly.

  8. Zach Arnold says:

    As for Pride, I think that would be big for them if they can convince Gardner to fight Fedor in their main event. Then I think we’ll see truly how many of the casual fight fans they can attract, given Zach’s contention that Pride’s gate at the initial show was a large majority of hardcore mma fans.

    I’m really not sure if Gardner is going to attract a lot of mainstream media attention if he fights Fedor. I believe that Angle or even Lesnar would draw more attention, to be perfectly honest.

  9. muhr says:

    Why are BoDog and MFC are no longer partnered.

  10. Zach Arnold says:

    Why are BoDog and MFC are no longer partnered.

    No one said that at all. *scatches head*

  11. KOP The Tame says:

    Am I the only one who is upset with this news? More factons in the sport is a bad thing. Less chance for top talent to compete against each other.

  12. Zach Arnold says:

    Am I the only one who is upset with this news? More factons in the sport is a bad thing. Less chance for top talent to compete against each other.

    It’s turning into boxing. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. The course of the industry, with the heavy boxing influence, will make sure of it.

    There was a chance of this business emulating pro-wrestling (i.e. becoming more regional, more territorial), but that’s not happening. There is so much money now at stake at the very top level that the grass roots marketing and campaign is all but being bystepped.

    In a way, I think it helps the IFL. If the IFL can localize or regionalize their business, they could fill the big gap that is about to be left behind by all the other players who see dreams of going national immediately and ignoring regional competition.

  13. KOP The Tame says:

    It is sad that it is turning into boxing. Pride, K-1, & UFC each having events is bad enough. Adding more is making it worse. While the UFC isn’t perfect, they still added a lot of organization to the sport. And it has been much needed.

    My biggest hope is that HBO signs the UFC and they continue to be the biggest organization in North America.

  14. Psygone says:

    I agree that more promotions isn’t a good thing however I don’t see the boxing comparison, the relationships between Promotion/Sanctioning (as in giving out belts) is still quite different between the two sports.

  15. Mr. Roadblock says:

    MMA for all intents and purposes is boxing right now with all of the various groups competing at the top level. The Promotions are emulating HBO and Showtime in their exclusive contracts and the boxing promoters/managers who’s guys won’t fight various other guys’ fighters.

    For us longtime fans of MMA we’ve already seen this phase of the sport from 1995-1999 where a ton of groups sprang up seemingly overnight and everyone was having a Champion crowning PPV. A ton of forgetable fights along with some classics and a ton of forgotten champions. Everyone from back then except UFC, Pride and King of the Cage is out of business or at least off PPV.

    I think you eventually will see a 1960s to late 1970s Pro Wrestling model take place in the MMA minor leagues eventually. Where you have a number of strong regional MMA promotions that are filled with up and comers with cards headlined by some older names who have fallen on hard times or had a bad stretch of luck in the big time.

    The fan base will simply not support UFC, Pride, K1, Rumble on the Rock, IFL, Bodog, and WFA at the same time. Most (probably all but 3 of those groups) are going to fail or be forced to merge. My hope is that they get out of the market before either 1. corrupting MMA by watering it down and driving fans away or 2. burning the new found fan base by over exposing MMA or eating up too much of peoples’ money.

  16. Mr. Roadblock says:

    But, I think the promotion that runs on Showtime will be able to stay around and stay prominent for a long time. Gary Shaw knows what he is doing and Showtime only costs $7 per month.

  17. Lynchman says:

    Anyone want to bet that second WFA ppv will never happen? Unless they are able to put together the Pruder/Angle match they have been talking about, I think this is the end of the road.

    I can’t see TNA agreeing to the Angle/Pruder bout anyway. If Angle were to lose, his rep would take a major hit.

  18. Kevin says:

    Looks like the WFA is already in some trouble. Rampage should of signed with the UFC. He would of been pretty well known by now, thanks to Spike and the UFC’s aggressive marketing… and the fact that he beat Chuck. I bet he will be wishing he had in a couple of months. I know the fans missed out.

  19. JThue says:

    Second WFA show looks just fine and dandy, so not sure why one would be worried about that going down. WFA next year though…

    Which brings me to the issue over too many promotions: I think everyone who has a try is a good thing. Because for now, MMA is not big enough, and won’t be in the next couple of years at least, to where it could experience the same problem that boxing has. There’s simply not enough room, enough money to keep that many promotions/promoters afloat. With everyone throwing what they have at the wall now, I also expect to see a natural process of death and survival over the next year or two, where, in the end, there will only be room for two or three promotions in the US on the same scale where we will in 2007 find UFC – – – – – IFL, PRIDE, WFA, Strikeforce, Bodog/MFC, World Fighter, Pro Elite and HERO*s. Some will die, others will downscale to farmer-status(type KOTC, WEC), and a couple of promotions will stand out as the elite, with plenty of name fighters to go around. I really do believe this will have time to evolve BEFORE(if) MMA takes over as the number one fighting sport, so at the end of the day I think every new promotion that desperately tries to get in on this right now is only good for MMA.

  20. JThue says:

    Right, I totally missed the WFA news, sorry Lynch. That really sounds bad as freaking hell. Dammit, I was looking forward to Heath – Rizzo.

  21. Psygone says:

    In Boxing promoters don’t had out belts to the best fighters in there stable. I am sure they want to, which is probably why Gary Shaw wants in on MMA.

  22. muhr says:

    “No one said that at all. *scatches head*”

    My mistake, your putting a comma between BoDog and MFC gave me the impression that they were no longer together.

  23. David says:

    This is great for the fighters, because competition leads to bigger paydays. I for one am happy that another mma organization will (hopefully) be getting some major play in America, and at the same time I am hoping that Pride can regroup financially so that K1 doesn’t become the biggest fight promotion in the world…

  24. JOSH says:

    Whats wrong with K-1? and Liner the Fedor/Yoshida match is possible for the NYE show…if u had a choice between Fedor/Mirko or Fedor/Gardner for the LV show….which one would u want?

  25. […] On October 25th, I wrote an intriguing post about the possibility of Emelianenko Fedor signing to fight for the BodogFight group in Russia. Read the link first to catch up on all the politics involved. Then read this carefully to get a complete understanding. […]

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