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« | Home | »

HDNet Fights conference call

By Zach Arnold | September 12, 2007

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By Jeff Comstock

Announced their first card which will be shown as part of their Friday Night Fights program.

HDNet Fights October 13, 2007 in Dallas, Texas at the American Airlines Center:

Eric Paulson vs. Jeff Ford
Justin Eilers vs Justin Howard
Freddie Espiricueta vs Jason House
Sean Salmon vs. Leopoldo Serao
Anthony Lapsley vs TJ Walberger
Pete Spratt vs Sammy Morgan
Ivan Jorge vs Liam McCarty
Sunia Filikitonga vs. Joel Traves
Dave Morris vs. Jason Jones
Ishmael Gonzales vs. Chris Bowles

Mark Cuban, Guy Mezger, Eric Paulson, Jeff Ford, Justin Eilers, Freddie Espiricueta, and Jason House all participated in the call.

Plans call for HDNet’s Friday Night Fights series is to air new taped weekly fight cards between their own promotion and partners like Steele Cage Promotions, Art of War and Ring of Fire.

HDNet hopes to offer live fight cards in the future.

Friday, September 14th will see the debut of the weekly Inside MMA show on HDNet.

“Inside MMA is your opportunity to step inside the world of mixed martial arts and find out what it takes to be a champion. Hosts Bas Rutten and Kenny Rice provide all the latest news and highlights, along with features, analysis, and rankings.”

The most interesting talk came when Cuban mentioned that he was in talks with both the IFL and WWE. It sounded like he would like to see the IFL on HDNet and is talking with the WWE’s McMahons about them maybe consulting with HDNet for potential future MMA PPV offerings.

HDNet Fights launched a new website: at hdnetfights.com

Topics: HDNet, Jeff Comstock, Media, MMA | 31 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

31 Responses to “HDNet Fights conference call”

  1. Alex says:

    I was on this call via Sherdog Radio, and it was a disaster. Many in the MMA community had expected that Cuban’s sights would be set high, and with his pocketbook, he would book some high-profile fights for his org’s launch.

    Au contriere. What we were presented with was a mish-mash of retired old-timers and UFC has-beens. What a letdown. Guy Metzger stumbled over his words, promising that one of the fights would be “talked about for years” – a fight between two relative unknowns that will be seen by relatively few people.

    What I found was that Cuban’s angle was that his promotion would be “about the fighters – the athletes themselves.” Was he reading off of Gary Shaw’s notes from a year ago?

    All in all, this is an impotent start to a new MMA organization (compare this to what the WFA did for their first 2 cards and what BoDog has done).

    What remains to be seen is Fishman’s angle in this. Coming from a guy who truly believe that the future profitability of MMA rests on importing a small number of Japanese high rollers to Vegas for the shows, I’m not optimistic.

    If I were these two guys, I’d split a bottle of Cialis, as this is a fairly impotent start.

  2. Zach Arnold says:

    I was on this call via Sherdog Radio, and it was a disaster. Many in the MMA community had expected that Cuban’s sights would be set high, and with his pocketbook, he would book some high-profile fights for his org’s launch.

    Cuban is in a no-win situation here PR-wise – if he goes low-profile to get his feet wet, he gets criticism like what you levied. If he spends like a drunken sailor, he’s a goofy money mark.

    This business has a steep learning curve. I don’t blame him for not risking everything on one show. See what works and what doesn’t work. At least he didn’t proclaim to want to overthrow UFC. If Cuban can produce quality, low or mid-level MMA shows and good programming that generates positive cash flow, what’s the problem?

  3. Ultimo Santa says:

    Interesting that the WWE came up.

    Is Batista vs. Great Khali in a MMA fight far off? I hope not, because that would be phenomenal.

  4. cyphron says:

    In other words, Cuban wants to build a feeder organization for the UFC. Why didn’t he just say so!

    How about he gets the EliteXC/Strikeforce to show their fights on HDNET. That I’d watch.

  5. Jason Bennett says:

    (For those who think like Alex)

    Why would any new promotion try to aim that high right out of the gate? That’s a surefire recipe for disaster; witness- WFA, Bodog, IFL. Have you guys not been paying attention to MMA the last couple of years? A wise slow buildup with a unique perspective and philosophy to promoting is a much wiser method. Throwing money and big names out on the mat is not successful and just because Cuban is loaded doesn’t mean he enjoys losing it by the stacks.

    Of course he could have Democrat ideals, making my point moot. 😉

  6. Alex says:

    Let’s not be naive here, Jason. You’re saying that Cuban’s inenteded goal is mediocrity right out of the gate? Why has Bodog been a disaster? They’re just getting started but they’ve put on some decent shows to build a buzz and interest. The WFA just ran out of money!!!! That’s it! They were on the right track.

    There is no such thing as a “wise slow buildup with a unique perspective”. It’s about fighting! Plain and simple!

    Look, the UFC blew 40+ million getting up and running, and would have spent more if not for TUF and the Bonnar/Griffin fight. You think Cuban didn’t sink a ton of money into the Mavericks? Who the hell watches that sport nowadays anyways?

    Coming to the table with what he’s offered is below Strikeforce/EliteXC….you may think this is his intention, but I’m sure (confirmed by Metzger’s absurd proclamation that one of the fights will be ‘talked about for years’ ) Cuban sees his org. as higher quality than you or I see it.

  7. David says:

    Great discussion everyone.

  8. Rollo the Cat says:

    “There is no such thing as a “wise slow buildup with a unique perspective”. It’s about fighting! Plain and simple!”

    Cuban does want to compete with the UFC but the only way to do that is to have a big TV deal, not HDNet. If Cuban can secure a deal with a major network or even HBO, then he will be in business. Otherwise, he is just wasting his money. The slow buildup just gets slower until finally everyone loses interest.

    I have listened to Mezger and Cuban over the past few weeks and reading between the lines, I think they know this.

  9. D. Capitated says:

    You can’t have mega fights with weekly fight cards. I know that’s a HORRIBLE AWFUL THING and that they should be doing 5.5s with whatever they throw out there and it should all be with A+ guys, but there’s nowhere near enough depth for that in the sport. You can’t have top 5 contenders in each division fighting every week on free TV. Its not possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have consistently entertaining fights, though. So if Mark Cuban is planning to bring free weekly fights to TV, who am I to say no?

  10. Thomas says:

    The Good and Bad regarding Cuban’s interest in mma.
    It’s good that Cuban is starting slow. The only way for a new promotion to get good fighters away from UFC and others is to overpay. If the promotions is not a success right away they will bleed money. All he needs is a fighter like Fedor to headline the cards and then he can do cross-promotion with other organizations to help book more fights

    The bad is Cubans plans to incorporate “Non-scripted WWE matches”. Hate to play the “not good for the sport” card but that idea is horrible. Pro Wrestling issues with Steroids is still front and center and mma might be judged quilty by association. Mark Cuban is Celebrity in the sports world and everything he does garners attention.

  11. Hawk says:

    If I’m understanding the idea behind “non-scripted WWE matches” it sounds EXACTLY like what PRIDE used to do.

    PRIDE had storylines to build up the fights. Prior encounters, Fighter A beat Fighter B’s mentor, rivals camps, Hatred, friends forced to fight, etc, etc. At a few times, PRIDE would do in-ring angles, such as Silva storming the ring to attack Jackson. It’s money.

    If that’s Cuban’s plan…then it’s genius. UFC doesn’t do that. IFL doesn’t do that. WFA didn’t do that. EliteXC outside of Frank doesn’t do that. It works, and No one is doing it in the US.

    I hope Cuban goes in the exact opposite direction of UFC. Have middling, low level fights that you can afford, then spend money on production. Give the watchers a SHOW. UFC doesn’t do that. It’s just fighting. Give us characters beyond the usual “I’m so good I’m gonna beat him up!”. Tell us about their lives, make us emotionally involved with these fighters to a level that no company before, or since PRIDE has done.

    I REALLY hope that is his plan. MMA needs it right now.

  12. Hey, I’m all for a gradual start, but when you got nobodies in Alberta putting together better cards than a billionaire who’s using his own arena and his own TV channel ….

  13. Thomas says:

    touche Mr. Fightlinker

  14. Jeff says:

    “Hey, I’m all for a gradual start, but when you got nobodies in Alberta putting together better cards than a billionaire who’s using his own arena and his own TV channel ….”

    HCF has the backing of The Score Television Network in Canada so they are in some ways the same sort of organization as HDNet Fights.

    Just like HDNet The Score’s Hardcore Championship Fighting was airing tapes from other orgs but decided to promote their own cards.

    The difference is that I think HCF are trying to become the dominant force in Canadian MMA. Instead of competing with the UFC or Elite XC, they only have to better TKO and MFC.

    I was surprised that the HDNet card was so underwhelming and that it will not air live.

  15. 45 Huddle says:

    6 Million homes is 6 million homes no matter how you slice it. And i wonder if it is that much since the people able to get the station might not actually have an HD TV. It makes ShoXC’s 15 Million on Showtime look like gold.

    Now, if these fights get on ESPN as a weekly series, then he might be able to compete. Even then, a weekly show might actually diminish the importance of every card (burnout) and seem like the minor leagues because of this. Plus, it will take a few years for this process to be in place…. Around the same time the WEC’s contract comes up with Versus…. And something tells me ESPN would take the WEC over anything Cuban has to offer…. Especially when the WEC can highlight UFC stuff on their telecasts.

    Call me pessimistic, but I just don’t see this doing well. It might be around for a while, but it will never become the major leagues. Even if they get Fedor… Who cares? He is worth about 15,000 PPV Buys without the UFC Name Brand behind it.

  16. Zack says:

    So far in the last few years it seems like WEC was the only one that was launched properly i.e. waited until they had free tv, a good amount of footage in the vault, and the ability to produce live events on free tv.

    Would most people agree on that?

    Keep in mind, WEC ran a couple dark shows prior to running their first TV special. I don’t see that being too much different than Cuban doing a small show right out the gate. Get your feet wet, get everything in line before you do something big. Makes sense to me.

  17. Jason Bennett says:

    -to Zack

    I agree completely. I’m never surprised to see the dedicated fanbase try to sink every single promotion out there, nearly always before they’ve even had their first event.

    With friends like these….

  18. Lynchman says:

    Alex Says:

    September 12th, 2007 at 12:42 pm
    Let’s not be naive here, Jason. You’re saying that Cuban’s inenteded goal is mediocrity right out of the gate? Why has Bodog been a disaster? They’re just getting started but they’ve put on some decent shows to build a buzz and interest. The WFA just ran out of money!!!! That’s it! They were on the right track.

    There is no such thing as a “wise slow buildup with a unique perspective”. It’s about fighting! Plain and simple!

    Look, the UFC blew 40+ million getting up and running, and would have spent more if not for TUF and the Bonnar/Griffin fight. You think Cuban didn’t sink a ton of money into the Mavericks? Who the hell watches that sport nowadays anyways?

    Coming to the table with what he’s offered is below Strikeforce/EliteXC….you may think this is his intention, but I’m sure (confirmed by Metzger’s absurd proclamation that one of the fights will be ‘talked about for years’ ) Cuban sees his org. as higher quality than you or I see it.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Alex,
    WFA put on a show that cost them millions. They ran a big arena and only sold 4000 tickets (this was after dropping prices to $10). They did a poor job of promoting their show.
    Their production was awful. They mispelled names and words.
    They spent a lot of money and had no idea what they were doing.

    Bodog has lost millions of dollars on each show. Again, they have had little idea of what they were doing. One show has been successful live (Fedor in Russia) while the others have been poorly attended.

    In addition, the Bodog tv show has done awful and is being dropped.

    Bodog Fight is restructuring on orders from above. They have been told to cut costs everywhere.

  19. 45 Huddle says:

    It will be interesting to see what the MMA Landscape will look like at the end of 2008. Bodog, IFL, EliteXC, HDNet Fights….. A lot of struggles, but only so many companies can survive.

  20. 45 Huddle says:

    Have to laugh at Sherdog.com again.

    The UFC breaks the attendance record, and within a few hours the radio shows are posted and the article quickly sinks below.

    The article on HDNet Fights gets posted, goes lower because of the radio shows… And then quickly gets bumped back to the top as the main story.

    Josh Gross’s hate of the UFC continues to be his downfall. He mentions that HDNet is available in 6 Million homes, but gives no commentary on how that basically means this MMA fighting is meaningless in the spectrum of the sport because of the lac of exposure. Also, never once does he bring up the issues with co-promoting with the WWE. Running with a “fake pro wrestling” owner is about the worst thing for this sport. Where is his open letter to Mark Cuban asking him not to turn this sport it a freak show and laughing stock?

  21. Jordan Breen says:

    “Josh Gross’s hate of the UFC continues to be his downfall. He mentions that HDNet is available in 6 Million homes, but gives no commentary on how that basically means this MMA fighting is meaningless in the spectrum of the sport because of the lac of exposure. Also, never once does he bring up the issues with co-promoting with the WWE. Running with a “fake pro wrestling” owner is about the worst thing for this sport. Where is his open letter to Mark Cuban asking him not to turn this sport it a freak show and laughing stock?”

    It’s a news feature. Rhapsodizing about the idiocy of copromoting with the WWE has no place in an article like that. Whether or not Gross should consider writing said editorial-type piece in the future is another issue all together, but criticisms of whatever Cuban has planned don’t really belong in the news feature.

  22. Jordan Breen says:

    Also, Erik fucking Paulson. Hilarity. WCC 1 forever.

  23. In death, members of Project Mayhem have a name.

    His name was Erik Paulson

  24. 45 Huddle says:

    Erik Paulson was old when I first started watching MMA like 10 years ago. Is he 50 yet?

  25. Jordan Breen says:

    I think Paulson is 41 or 42.

    The real letdown is that he doesn’t have the ponytail any more.

  26. Zack says:

    Don’t hate on WCC 1, that was Renzo’s night of glory. Nothing tops the Taktarov upkick though.

  27. Jordan Breen says:

    Renzo is lucky he didn’t have to face Bart Vale. That is all.

  28. grafdog says:

    Renzo would have whupped Bart big time… you see the beating Bart took from Kazunari?

  29. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    HDNet’s been running MMA for quite a while now. Cuban is all about signing low level deals with everyone to get content for HDNet. You can see NHL, MLS, racing, all sorts of stuff on HDNet, and their production values are typically very high.

    Don’t confuse making a small investment to support HDNet through additional programming with an intention to actually compete with the UFC. Cuban is representing his media interests here, not his sports interests (although maybe he likes MMA, so it’s a combination).

    One thing you can be sure of is that Cuban is not going to bankroll a competitor to UFC on his own. If this results in that sort of entity, then it will most likely be because of a partnership with WWE.

  30. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Heck, I’m looking at today’s HDNet schedule and there are three blocks set aside for MMA in the next 24 hours. You’ve got “NABC Extreme Fighting – Friday Fight Night” which is some sort of MMA event courtesy a boxing promotion, and you’ve got “Steele Cage / IFO Presents: “Fireworks in the Cage II” – Friday Fight Night”. Then there’s a repeat for the NABC thing (none of these are first run anyway).

    So, is anyone watching the MMA that’s already on HDNet? I have HDNet, and I’m not watching it. I also don’t watch Bodogfight though, so maybe I’m an outsider on this.

  31. D.Capitated says:

    Serious question: Are people going to claim that all future MMA TV programming is a “challenge” to the UFC? I just want to know in advance so that I can laugh at such a statement.

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