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Trouble for UFC sponsors

By Zach Arnold | June 4, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

If you’ve followed the MMA scene on the Internet for the last couple of years, you’ve heard all the gossip and innuendo about the trouble that Xyience, UFC’s primary sponsor, allegedly has been in. Well, today, another shoe dropped as Amp’d Mobile filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The New York Times has more on the story.

I point this story out because one of the knocks against UFC in the American corporate media (primarily from CNBC’s Darren Rovell) is that UFC (and MMA in general) has not been able to attract the major blue-chip sponsors. This was also a claim that insiders leveled against PRIDE (which had many non-traditional or non-blue chip companies sponsoring their events). What made the criticism against PRIDE in terms of sponsors interesting is that Japan is home to the world’s largest ad agency, Dentsu. Plus, PRIDE had many free-to-air television events on Fuji TV.

The two other major sponsors currently for UFC are Toyo Tires and Mickey’s malt liquor.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 17 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

17 Responses to “Trouble for UFC sponsors”

  1. I’m flattered to have the link to my story here, but it’s a little more than gossip and innuendo about Xyience. I admit that some of the material is from anonymous sources and hard to take lots of “stock” in (pun intended), but I’ve done my best to corroborate evidence through multiple, inside, high-level company sources and also do fact checking through official court documents. I started out with only gossip to work with, but it has snowballed into a full-fledged expose of a corrupt company run by a criminal mastermind. What’s troubling is I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. Believe me, if anything I’d written was mere gossip and innuendo and not cemented by factual information I’ve received, Xyience would have sued me for slander a long time ago. One principle I’ve always believed in is: Fact is stranger than fiction!

  2. klown says:

    Does ‘blue chip’ mean ‘big, established, respected’?

  3. torgo says:

    Does this mean no more Clarity, the amped mobile dog? No more

  4. doem says:

    more a result of the recalcitrance of big advertisers IMO
    Budweiser will paste its image on a boxing promotion nobody will see, but all the UFC can get with 1 million ppv is a Mickey’s advert.?

  5. white ninja says:

    i suppose all this means xyience is not “blue chip”

    in PRIDE’s heyday, Dentsu and FujiTV, were able to bring a lot of TV advertising $$ to the sponsor table. however, the major sources of money were from yakuza and Korean related companies, the so-called consumer finance companies (or loan sharks) and pachinko.

    Even these companies got scared off when Shukan Gendai went directly after them with a questionaire asking them about their knowledge about DSE’s yakuza owners. The sponsors of course complained to Dentsu and the buck got passed to Fuji TV, who then suddenly and without notice (even to its own producer, Kiyohara), terminated its involvement with PRIDE

    Blue chip sponsors can be a double edged sword if you have deep dark secrets – the roots of PRIDE’s decline can be found in the event leadnig up to Morishita’s death and the takeover of his shares in DSE by Sakakibara/Ishizaka and their inability to understand big business

  6. The Gaijin says:

    The biggest problem with PRIDE was that they lost there #1 revenue generating unit and with that went the business. They foolishly tried to play the “pride card” and continue to try to operate in the same fashion they did when they knew full well that they no longer possessed their golden goose in the form of FujiTV and its advertising dollars.

    Japanese MMA is NOT the PPV driven industry that UFC has in North America. Had this yakuza scandal not been broken and some network execs get caught with their pants around their ankles, PRIDE would probably be still selling out Saitama Super Arena today.

  7. white ninja says:

    you’re right. but their loss of their tv contract was self-inflicted because dse used yakuza to damage ntv’s inoki show back in 2003 which is what shukan gendai was writing about and which directly led to their downfall

    nobody cared about dse’s alleged yakuza ownership when it was only available on ppv, but when it started to get on fuji tv at reasonable hours and became a mass product, then the flow of money from publicly owner companies like Fuji tv directly into the supposed yakuza’s -dse owners- pockets became a big problem

  8. Zach Arnold says:

    Here’s the money question – has Ishizaka (the alleged virtual owner of DSE) returned to Japan? It’s mysterious how quiet things are in regards to Kawamata’s police complaint and whatever is happening at Tokyo Metro.

  9. sebastian says:

    Does the IFL have the most high-profile sponsors in the world of American MMA?

  10. FIGHTSTALKER says:

    […] Trouble For UFC Sponsors […]

  11. KennyP says:

    The IFL’s sponsors are all-but-irrelevant because they aren’t spending much if any real money to sponsor the IFL. Most companies will allow its logos to be displayed when the advertising is (almost) free and there is little downside. When the advertising starts costing big $$$, few of those companies stick around.

    The IFL sponsor lineup reminds me of (present day) ChampCar. The sidepods show companies like McDonald’s, Gulfstream, and CDW. But McDonald’s is mostly a deal with (car owner) Paul Newman to serve his salad dressings and support his foundation. Gulfstream is a deal involving a team owners new private jet. And CDW is a (relatively) small cash figure and significant $$$ of free product. While having those companies in the sport is a good thing, to the casual observer it appears that the sponsors are far more invested in the sport than they actually are. (That’s not to single out ChampCar, other racing series have several similar situations; but those others also have multiple “real” sponsors as well.)

  12. Dave says:

    It’s not as though I’d eat any of the crap they portray as food, but I’d consider Burger King to be “blue chip”. Granted I havent noticed any of their logos on a PPV event thus far, but it’s all over the TUF show.

  13. […] I wrote a post about the situation with sponsors in the UFC. The primary focus was to point out that two of the […]

  14. R. Justice says:

    For the record,

    I know several people at Xyience and the company and its employees are good people. Rich Bergeron is on a personal vendetta against “FORMER,” CEO Russell Pike. Even though Pike is NO longer in charge of the company Bergeron still slams Xyience for its founder. Let it be known that one of Bergeron’s main “characters,” in his “stories,” MARK NEIBER, is a convict that had associations with Xyience only through his former wife, President and CEO of Launch Marketing. She was the only one responsible for placement of Xyience products into GNC.

    Furthermore, Bergeron has stated that he has no communication with Neiber but clearly by reading his “blogs,” it is evident that he has DIRECT communication with this felon.


    This is a headline from his latest blog… FYI… pretty curious how a 1.2 million dollar lawsuit was said to “have,” been in discussion for settlement of a little more than $20,000. WOW seems like a major drop for someone who was so wronged. Wait, Oh YA, he lost all rights when his former wife’s annulment was granted which left his without his claim to her business.

    Rich Bergeron and his site are a sham and an injustice to the MMA scene. I thought that legitimate writers where supposed to be non bias? Well folks just read the latest blog and it is clear that Bergeron is on an agenda. One more fact for everyone, His partner, Mark Neiber, is due back in court to face extortion charges… alleged crimes that he committed against Xyience, Pike and his former wife… He also has two additional warrants out in Vegas and in Southern California. Bergeron seems to have some real reliable sources out there!

    Here is a list of current police reports on Bergeron’s “main,” source…

    Mark A. Neiber Police Reports

    Report Date Report Information

    09/10/05 Maui County Police Dept. Dist Report # 05-80999
    Tel # 808-244-6400
    Abuse of Family Victim:
    Perpetrator: Mark Neiber-Arrested

    04/20/06 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Report # LLV060420001732
    Tel # 702-229-3111

    06/02/06 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Report # LLV060619002673
    Tel # 702-229-3111
    Stolen Property: Passport.

    06/19/06 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Report # LLV060619002901
    Tel # 702-229-3111
    Harassment, Death Threats.

    06/20/06 Palm Springs, CA Police Dept. Report # D617100-33
    Tel # 760-902-5807 Contact: Officer Don Dougherty
    Assault on 02/17/06.

    06/23/06 City of San Diego, CA Police Dept. Report # 06037071
    Tel # 619-531-2231 Contact: Officer Harvey #4594
    Domestic Violence, Death Threats. Alleged

    10/30/06 City of Corona, CA Police Dept. Report # 06-15375
    Tel # 951-736-2334 Contact: Officer Caliva # 001504
    Death Threats, Stalking.

    11/01/06 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event # LLV061101-1694
    Tel # 702-229-4451, 3581

    11/04/06 Palm Desert, CA Sheriff’s Dept. Report # S030822
    Tel # 760-836-1600

    11/22/06 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event #LLV061122002407
    Tel # 702-229-4451
    Violation of Temporary Restraining Order.

    12/04/06 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event # LLV061204001550
    Tel # 702-229-4451
    Threat against a person

    01/12/07 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event # LLV070112001847
    Tel # 702-229-3111
    Violation of Temporary restraining Order.

    01/17/07 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event # LLV0701171430
    Death Tretas, Violation of TPO.

    01/23/07 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event #LLV070123002562
    Extortion, Threats

    01/23/07 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event #LLV070123002562
    Extortion, Threats

    01/23/07 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event # LLV070123002562
    Extrotion. Victim: Xyience, Inc

    01/30/07 Las Vegas metro. Police Dept. Event # LLV070130002461
    Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

    01/30/07 Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. Event #LLV070130002652
    Violation TPO (2 Counts):

    02/25/07 Santa Ana, CA Police Dept. Report #07-07884
    Tel. #714-245-8360 Contact: Jime Rodriguez

  15. Jay Mancino says:

    What JUSTICE wrote is very true and I can also say that when ANYONE has ANYTHING to write or say that goes against Bergeron’s “articles,” He is the first to accuse you or anyone of being involved with someone at Xyience. In fact, he insults you straight out. I have done my own research and have found that NEIBER is a convict, a violent one. He is being charged with NUMEROUS crimes in two different states. I even emailed GNC and asked about his “INVOLVEMENT,” in securing contracts for the placement of Xyience products… All they had to say is that they have only dealt with PATRICIA WELDON.

    I contacted other sources that Bergeron has been in dispute with and they have told me that Bergeron’s quest is due from the deletion of his myspce account for slanderous comments and false stories made up by Mark Neiber himself.

    Bergeron’s quotes have even included comments stating that he has NOTHING against Xyience only its founder.. He is a misguided blogger.

  16. Reggie O says:

    Several months ago, I replied to one of Mr. Rich Bergeron’s “articles.” I pointed out to him that his sources were unreliable. Mr. Bergeron replied using obscenities and incorrect diction, while standing on his first amendment rights to spread slanderous and fraudulent documents over the internet. My responses to his article were immediately deleted from his web site. In other words, Mr. Bergeron, edits the truth and disseminates lies. After doing some research into Mr. Bergeron’s main source, Mark Neiber, I found some very interesting facts on this individual. Mr. Neiber’s first marriage ended in divorce in 1997. One of the many allegations made by his first wife was physical abuse. He allegedly threatened to kill one of her friends. In 1998, Mr. Neiber was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. The first two charges in the case carried life sentences. Neiber was released from prison in 2002. Mr. Neiber was arrested in 2005 for allegedly assaulting his second wife on their honeymoon in Hawaii. This marriage ended up in an annulment, with his second wife alleging physical abuse, infidelity and mental cruelty. Mr. Neiber is currently being sued by Launch Marketing Concepts Inc., the same corporation Bergeron’s articles claim Neiber owns. One suit is in Nevada, the other in California. Mr. Neiber is being sued for fraud, defamation of character and conversion. On March 12 of this year, Mr. Neiber was arrested in Las Vegas for extortion and aggravated stalking. It seems very interesting that Mr. Bergeron, the “investigative” reporter has some how missed these facts and left them out of his articles. Bergeron even claims that this violent criminal felon, Neiber, is some sort of victim. I, for one, am putting Mr. Bergeron’s form of jounalism where it belongs: In the trash can.

  17. Ed says:

    This is the same Mark Neiber I knew, he was a drug dealer in San Diego. He’s a big guy, on drugs all the time and totally full of himself. Ten years ago, he as abusing and cheating on his wife and she left. When she did, he went off the deep end. As Reggie says, he called up a guy she new and said he’d kill him, all because he thought he guy was helping his poor wife. Mark even called all her customers and told them that she had AIDS and not to come to her shop. After that Mark Neiber attacked another guy in a bar with a glass and beat him over and over in the face. They sent Mark to prison for that. I heard that when he got out he went both ways, moved to a gay section back in San Diego and started doing drugs again and cheating and using other people. Now he got arrested again. He deserves to be in prison. That’s where an animal like Mark Neiber should be, away form normal good people.