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« | Home | »

Monday morning media quarterback

By Zach Arnold | February 25, 2007

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Today’s top story obviously is Rulon Gardner and two others surviving a small plane crash. More details here.

Bloomberg news reports that the Fertitta Brothers have been successful in making a bid to take Stations Casino private (it was a publicly traded company).

The majority of Japanese fight fans did not see PRIDE 33 on TV. Some were lucky enough to watch it on SkyPerfecTV PPV on the dish, but most didn’t. A large chunk of Japan’s fight fans will read about an event that took place in a foreign land. Therefore, whatever storylines the media tells them to focus on is what they will focus on.

I took a lot of heat for my Fight Opinion Weekly article on what I termed disastrous fight results at PRIDE 33. I wrote the article with the Japanese marketplace in mind, not the American marketplace. Japan is where PRIDE still has to make their bread and butter, after all. Most of the reaction from non-Japanese fans to the article was in disagreement.

Take a look at how the broadsheets in Japan covered PRIDE 33 and compare it to what I wrote about in my Sunday article.

Sankei Sports (part of the FujiSankei conglomeration that includes Fuji TV, the network that used to own the rights to PRIDE TV) — PRIDE story covered in third place behind K-1 coverage of new fighter tryouts aka K-1 JAPAN TRYOUTS (including a former Chiba Lotte Marines baseball player). The PRIDE story headline — Henderson, TKO win to conquer two weight classes for the first time ever. Summary review (paraphrasing): PRIDE 33 “THE SECOND COMING” (13,180 fans). Challenger Dan Henderson beat champion Vanderlei Silva in R3 in 2’08 with a left hook to win by TKO. Toger with the Welterweight crown, a two weight-class conquest was accomplished. This a revenge fight from December of 2000, Heavyweight champion Emelianenko Fedor surfaces as a potential next opponent. The speed of Henderson is different, as Silva was 100 kg or more in weight. … “Three weight class championship” declaration was stated, aiming for the Heavyweight crown (93+ kg).

Sports Nippon — K-1 JAPAN TRYOUTS got two lead stories, then two stories on PRIDE 33. Top story is — Gomi, American debut fight tap defeat. Summary review (paraphrasing): Takanori Gomi drank defeat at PRIDE 33. A complete revival happened at the Man Festival, but in his American debut fight he stalled in the late part of round one and was saved by the bell. It was an easy tapout with Diaz’s feet choke in round two. A loss for Gomi a year later. The first fight in the American ring was a disgrace. Gomi suffered an ‘engine stall’ in the middle of round one suddenly, as Diaz threw lefts and rights. The expression of agony is shown and his feet staggered. The target of fighting in UFC was in view and Diaz was a tough target, but Gomi lost to another jiu-jitsu fighter (like he did with Aurelio). Training against jiu-jitsu fighters is a pressing need. Second story — Silva loses championship with 40 degree C temperature.

Yomiuri (Hochi) Sports — no coverage.

Nikkan Sports — K-1 JAPAN TRYOUTS top billing, two PRIDE 33 stories in middle of coverage. First item — Gomi’s shocking, disgraceful loss (KO)! Dark clouds for UFC participation. Summary (paraphasing) — Gomi fought Nick Diaz in a non-title fight and had a disadvantage against a long reach. He was defeated in round two with a foot choke and a re-match is coming in April and/or May. Gomi had planned to fight in round two in July by seeding in the tournament. Now, dark clouds are shrouded for Gomi’s UFC participation. It was an unprecedented event. After losing, Gomi had ‘no comment.’ Gomi was scheduled to enter into the UFC mat this Spring fighting as a PRIDE representative, but it cannot be done after losing to Diaz. There are a lot of problems for Gomi’s return fight in the United States. Henderson performs heroic deed of first-ever two weight-class championships. After the fight, Henderson said that he didn’t feel any pain in his right hand (despite a possible fracture).

Daily Sports — K-1 JAPAN TRYOUTS top billing, multiple sub-stories on PRIDE 33. Silva’s loss took top billing. The story talked about Silva’s long title reign as Middleweight champion and that even with the loss, he is still “Mister PRIDE.” The Gomi article was more clear-cut, calling his loss disappointing and halting his ‘world advancement’ on the MMA stage.

Looking through Technorati and other blog search engines, the reaction to PRIDE 33 is about the same as the reaction that the PRIDE 10/21/2006 event (Fedor vs. Coleman) received. In other words, sparse but those who saw the event were enthusiastic. Interestingly enough, I saw a few MySpace comments where the PRIDE show was praised but the same posters were looking forward to UFC next week. Lots of money being spent right now on MMA for sure. Here are some pictures someone posted on their MySpace from the PRIDE 33 event. A couple more links:

Lemuel Jopio: PRIDE 33 – a setback?

JohnG Blog: PRIDE 33 – a night of upsets

Onto today’s headlines.

Thought I’d throw this out there – Police raid Yamaguchi-gumi HQ over shooting death of rival gangster

K-1 4/4 Yokohama Arena World MAX card:

Now, the newspaper and digital media links.

  1. C-Objectively: PRIDE 33 event review
  2. Fight Report: PRIDE 33 Jam-packed with action and drama!
  3. MMA HQ: PRIDE 33: The Second Coming recap
  4. UFC HP: The ‘old’ Hughes comes back Saturday against Chris Lytle
  5. UFC Mania: PRIDE 33 was nuts
  6. The Houston Chronicle: Urijah Faber new face of featherweights
  7. MyFox Twin Cities: Ultimate fighting war
  8. The Manchester Evening News: UFC Ultimate Fighters to clash at Arena
  9. The Long Beach Press-Telegram: Rich Franklin ready to make return
  10. Clickpress PR: Mark Bocek defeats John Mahlow at King of the Cage in Quebec

Topics: All Topics, Japan, K-1, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 32 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

32 Responses to “Monday morning media quarterback”

  1. Xenos says:

    Buakaw vs Andy Ologun?

    Unless there is some deal for Buakaw to take it easy, or if Buakaw feels bad for Ologun and eases up, this is sanctioned homicide.

  2. Jordan Breen says:

    Andy Ologun is a prodigy. Look for him to hit a modified Shining Wizard on Buakaw for the KO.

    Also, Gago Drago is facing Rosario Presti on the card, and Jordan Tai, Virgil Kalakoda and SHINOBU are all scheduled to participate.

    And, FEG, stop putting Kozo in the ring.

  3. ukiro says:

    Ouch, Buakaw will kill Ologun, no matter how surprisingly talanted he has turned out to be. Occasionally Buakaw just rides a fight out to decision for fun (which I will never understand the reasoning behind – he certainly doesn’t need it for experience/training), but if he decides to whip Ologun right from the start, this will be very nasty.

    Regarding the heat about how the Pride 33 results may hurt the organisation, the Silva & Gomi defeats are indeed hurting them a lot in Japan, I don’t see how anyone can deny that. Diaz and Hendo are not exactly draws of the same caliber, at least not right now. Diet Nog’s loss is less devastating as Pride haven’t used him much lately anyway. However, these setbacks need to be weighed against the new potential that this spawned – Sokoudjou is still very unproven, but should also stir up a lot of interest due to his explosive performance. He could be a bit of a draw on at least one card (his next).

    Hansen is back on track after the Aoki loss and will be a big draw in the lightweight tournament, both in Japan and outside.

    Trigg isn’t too exciting to watch, but there will be a lot of amusing MMAth involving him, especially if he loses his next fight. But can he be marketed in Japan? I have some doubt.

    James Lee totally ran over Travis Wiuff. It could be a fluke (starting with that uppercut), but he was completely superior in this fight, which makes me want to see him a lot more. Hard to tell how marketable Lee is though.

    Sakurai will now become even bigger in Japan, so I expect him to headline a japanese card soon. His very elegant and relaxed style should sell well in other markets too.

    Kharitonov… I find him so unexciting I don’t even have a comment.

    Shoguns bomb drop knockout into Overeems guard was pure beauty – Not even Fedor would have done that more beautifully. Expect Shogun to rise as the heir of Wanderlei. I think he’s very, very marketable in Japan.

  4. Xenos says:

    Here’s an interesting tidbit: Josh Gross just said on the Beatdown that the theme for Pride 34 is “Kamikaze”.

  5. Armen says:

    Zach’s talked a lot about how badly PRIDE 33 will be received in Japan. We haven’t talked as much about the American audience though. For someone who is not familiar with PRIDE matchup history, this was probably an incredible event to watch. This is completely unscientific and could entirely be trolling by PRIDE fans but take a look at some of the comments on the UFC Mania article linked to in this post. If those posts are really from UFC fans new to watching PRIDE, my guess is this show was a positive for PRIDE in the US market.

    The only question is, how many people did the show really reach over here?

  6. CapnHulk says:

    That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?

  7. ukiro says:

    Even if this show got less than 100,000 buys in the US, which it probably did, it was a very entertaining show and will get people talking, which is exactly how growth is achieved. People who saw this will tell their friends it was awesome, and if Pride can deliver more entertaining shows (unlike the torturous snoozefest that was the last Bushido, for example), they can grow exponentially via word of mouth. But it’s a tough road ahead for Pride in the US, as they can’t afford a single so-so event at this critical stage. Once they’ve established a good legacy of US events, if that ever happens, a disappointing show will be less devastating. But now every event is a battle for survival in the north american market and a single bad show could very well kill the brand.

  8. Zach Arnold says:

    If I wasn’t into MMA hardcore and wasn’t online writing a lot, I would have never known that PRIDE existed as an organization based on casual TV viewing habits like most American MMA fans (who watch ESPN, the news networks, etc.) Outside of perhaps the ‘barkers’ (ads on the TV Guide channel), PRIDE’s presence on US TV is next to non-existant right now. Until that is addressed, money will continue to be lost.

  9. Armen says:

    Somebody must be watching the poorly promoted shows on FSN, no? Have rating numbers for that show ever been put out or discovered?

  10. Zach Arnold says:

    They draw anywhere in the 0.3-0.4 range, which is 30% higher than usual for FSN programming. But again, FSN doesn’t air shows in all markets at the same time. So it’s nearly impossible to catch programming there consistently. And some markets (like Chicago) have Comcast Sportsnet instead or don’t have FSN.

  11. The Gaijin says:

    Does this mean Silva will move up to HW and allow Shogun to fight at LHW? Or do they do the UFC thing and hype up the rubber match immediately??

    And is there any word on whether the “Silva was in the hospital and fighting with a 1000 degree fever” talk is legit or not?? Hopefully it was b/c he did not look like himself out there…weird how he looks so dominant in one fight (Fujita) and then so human in one after.

  12. JThue says:

    Zach: How exactly do those Japanese headlines tell a tale of PRIDE being dead in Japan(“There is no turning back to Japan now for PRIDE”)? The only image that appears to have been hurt is that of Gomi – and even that is angled as a(nother) Gomi-letdown, as opposed to a PRIDE-letdown. Gomi fighting in UFC this year would have been a far bigger disaster for the company.

    Silva’s loss remains a non-issue damage-wise, and as expected no one is having a seizure over RogNog either(one COULD even angle it as proving PRIDE right in not booking Silva vs. RogNog, but of course that wasn’t their motivation). Misaki loosing may be exactly what PRIDE wanted/needed, given his lack of marketability and “tainted” GP win on the most boring Bushido ever.

    I really had no other major issues with the FOWeekly article. It was tabloided as usual, and some arguments(like mixing in videos made for the US PPV as relevant to the JP reception) were off the mark, but overall it was an interesting read that should be taken for exactly what it said it was.

  13. Ivan Trembow says:

    The Gaijin— I don’t know if he had a 1,000 degree fever, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal did report in their post-event review that Silva had strep throat and that he was hospitalized the night before the event (Friday night). That still doesn’t change the fact that he lost, though.

  14. The Gaijin says:

    Well I realize it wasnt quite 1000 degrees (lol) but I just wasnt sure if this was Baghdad Bob Saki doing damage control or if it was legit.

    The only reason I asked was b/c that might explain why he looked pretty lethargic and not usual buzzsaw “Axe Murderer” that he usually is….I’m sure people would love to say its “Cro Cop” related but I really don’t buy it.

    I dont want to take anything away from Hendo, he’s a warrior and world class fighter but if its true about Silva it just shows what a company man and warrior he is to be stepping in there in terrible condition like that. I’ll pull no punches the guy’s my fav. fighter and I hated to see him lose, but if that’s what it takes to send him back to the drawing board and reemerge as the elite fighter he’s been over the past half-plus decade, while giving Shogun a chance to shine – im all for it.

  15. DarthMolen says:

    Well, I am a hardcore fan and I still couldn’t find it.

    I will be bringing this up on my radio show but here goes:

    I talked with a commercial vendor (sports bar) and he called his rep and they told him the event was $1800 for a license. UFC events are only $500.

    The way you are going to introduce casuals to the sport is by getting it in front of eyeballs and sports bars are one avenue. You aren’t going to get it on at sports bars for $1800 a pop. I’m sorry.

    The guy apologized and said that there was no way he could recoup the costs at that price.

    I then turned on the DISH looking for the live event and nothing there.

    Needless to say, I had to youtube my PRIDE experience. I was sad.

  16. DarthMolen says:

    PRIDE gets aired on FSN Southwest at 10-11 on Sunday’s if anybody is interested.

  17. Tomer Chen says:

    I talked with a commercial vendor (sports bar) and he called his rep and they told him the event was $1800 for a license. UFC events are only $500.

    The way you are going to introduce casuals to the sport is by getting it in front of eyeballs and sports bars are one avenue. You aren’t going to get it on at sports bars for $1800 a pop. I’m sorry.

    I agree. The sports bar I go to charges $20 to see the UFC PPVs, which means the breakeven point would be 25 customers (which they usually get closer to 60, which means that they make a $700 profit on the PPV plus drinks and food ordered by a good amount of the customers). Even with the 60 customers going to watch the PRIDE PPV, they’d be $600 short (as the breakeven is 90 customers for the PRIDE PPV). Having to sell a less recognized product to at least 65 more customers (90 – 25) is really not a very good marketing tool for PRIDE, although I’m guessing that they are blowing tons of money on production (as well as salaries) and are carrying over the costs to the vendors. Still, it’s not going to attract much Sports Bar interest if they charge $1,800 a shot.

  18. Royal B. says:

    Does this mean we can now call Rulon “Mr. Pogo”?

  19. Armen says:

    I am not sure why PRIDE is pricing themselves out of the market like they have been in the US. I understand that you don’t want to undervalue your product by going bargain-basement on people but there is no reason to outprice the UFC or even match them dollar-for-dollar.

    I think if they are convinced they have a superior fight show product to sell to people (and I think I might agree), then they should be willing to take a bit of a hit in the incoming dollars for a handful of shows to help build up the audience that would “inevitably” come after seeing shows of such a higher caliber.

    I guess I am wanting them to take the strategy that the Korean car manufacturer’s took on in this country, albeit on an accelerated timeline since they don’t have the quality problems the Koreans had at first. Hyundai started out as by undercutting their competitors’ cars by HUGE amounts but now, it only does so by a little bit because it has brought the quality of its products to the point where some reviewers think their car has better fit and finish than a Toyota. But they spent that time slowly building up a loyal customer base and establishing mindshare in the market. I feel that PRIDE should take a similar approach since like Zach said, they are essentially unknown to the casual fan and not-yet-fans alike.

  20. badape says:

    I just thought of this: Zach Arnold is like a nascar fan that can’t accept Toyota is sponsoring a car, and that Toyota is number 2 in American sales.

    He doesn’t like it when the Japanese do something better, and he prays his little slander crusades against Pride will make them go away.

    A good ol boy, in distress.

  21. The Gaijin says:

    I think the big thing in reaching the casual fan is flat out free tv exposure, in both Japan and the US. TUF proved that if you can sell the public on a brand and build up stars by giving them the face time on the tv – thats where you’re money is gonna be made.

    PRIDE has put on two very exciting shows in the US now, but that’s just not going to cut it these days…even with word of mouth you need to be making the big splash and start to build some brand recognition and loyalty. Quite frankly unless they find a big money backer (i.e. Fishman) who understands the US market, they’ve proven to be so utterly retarded at marketing here that they’ll only be successful in spite of themselves. I dont know whether they think its early 2000’s Japan where their name alone will do hot business without announcing any definitive cards until the last minute or what it is…but if they can’t start building some type of base of such a hotly received show – last one to leave turn out the lights.

  22. badape,

    I think you misunderstand. What a lot of posting on FO over the weekend has tried to get across is this: Pride is dying in Japan without mainstream TV exposure and the recently unearthed mafia attachment. Zach on a crusade? Hardly.

    Pride’s core product is exceptional. That is not the problem. The problem is that product is not being marketed in the U.S. as well as it needs to be, and DSE is bleeding money the whole time.

  23. JThue says:

    Sheesh, Zach Arnold is nationalistic now? The man who has totally devoted his time for years and years to report on and atempt to understand the Japanese industry? So I guess it’s all been a mascarade from the start then? The creation of Puroresu Power was just the beginning of the ploy to eventually drag all things Japanese through the dirt? Come on, badape.

  24. sprewell rimz says:

    when he actually can speak AND read Japanese himself, I’ll put more stock into what he has to say. until then, he’s not much more than a goof who can use Google translator.

  25. The Gaijin says:

    While you may not agree with everything he has to say on the Japanese scene – he’s hardly a “goof with a Google translator”.

    He knows the scene in Japan from the pro wrestling perspective and since there’s a great deal of crossover between the industries, I’d say he’s at least someone with a credible opinion. Whether he’s somewhat slanted towards feeling one way or another is another question…but he was bang on about their nosedive wrt the yakuza involvement even though he took a TON of heat for being anti-Japan.

    While I feel he might be a bit overblown in his perception that this event, that is being very well received in the US from a fan standpoint, is a death knell in Japan…he’s certainly not just blowing smoke out his ass.

  26. sprewell rimz says:

    Dave Meltzer > Zach Arnold. I read Zach for entertainment (which he’s good at), but he’s hardly credible with me. he sensationalizes everything before getting all the information he needs, and often makes himself look stupid. he lacks a lot of journalistic integrity.

  27. mose says:

    So, what does it mean when Meltzer says the same things Zach does?

  28. Mulberry Tree says:

    Sprewell Rimz is the most hated poster on deathvalleydriver’s MMA board, which itself is pretty much filled with assholes and dumbshits. Half his posts there are declarations of his undying hatred for Zach Arnold, which is probably why so many people have set their accounts to ignore him. He just started watching MMA. Nobody should take him very seriously.

  29. Jordan Breen says:

    Al Yu is using my theory of MMAos, and I’m not getting royalties? Get fucked.

    “Occasionally Buakaw just rides a fight out to decision for fun (which I will never understand the reasoning behind – he certainly doesn’t need it for experience/training).”

    You know, it can be incredibly hard to finish a world class guy in 9 minutes. Moreover, Buakaw has just recently began to adapt his style to a more high impact, fast finish-oriented mentality, which suits K-1 rules. He’s KO’d the majority of his opponents then, and not being able to KO SHINOBU in less than ten minutes is nothing to be ashamed of.

  30. JOSH says:

    AGreed BPP from teh start was a force to be reckoned with in K-1 MAX, now that he has gotten use to the differences between Muay Thai and K-1 MAX, he is almost unstoppable. There is a reason why MASATO is contemplating retirement and BPP is one of the reasons.

  31. Zach Arnold says:

    I just thought of this: Zach Arnold is like a nascar fan that can’t accept Toyota is sponsoring a car, and that Toyota is number 2 in American sales.

    He doesn’t like it when the Japanese do something better, and he prays his little slander crusades against Pride will make them go away.

    A good ol boy, in distress.

    You’re right. All those years I spent putting over Japanese professional wrestling in the 1990s was just one big scam. Really. I never enjoyed any of it. I never thought Giant Baba was one of the best bookers in the industry for his clean finishes. Nope. Never really believed in a Japanese fight product. No-siree. I’m just an uneducated hick, aren’t I?

    And this gem from Sprewell Rimz:

    when he actually can speak AND read Japanese himself, I’ll put more stock into what he has to say. until then, he’s not much more than a goof who can use Google translator.

    You do know that online translators weren’t in function in the mid-90s, right? And you do realize that most of them really aren’t great in AI (artificial intelligence) for translating Japanese?

    I’ll go make sure to tell my old Japanese friends all about this new knowledge that has surfaced that I know nothing on Japan. 🙂

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