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Thursday night notes (1/10/08)

By Zach Arnold | January 10, 2008

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More on the story of the day in full-page mode (read on)…

World Victory Road announced Sanae Kikuta vs. Phil Baroni for their 3/5 Tokyo, Yoyogi National Stadium Gym I event.

K-1 announced a “World Youth 2008 ~ International Team Competition” format for their 2/2 Nippon Budokan event, with the theme of Japan vs. Holland. HIROYA is one of the Japanese fighters announced. The 2/2 Budokan show is a World MAX event.

Kevin Iole lays the hammer down on Roy Jones Jr. and Don King. Wonder if the tone would have been as harsh if Top Rank was promoting the fight?

Luke Thomas talks about Randy Couture. Audio here.

MMA has their own version of KFC – the Kentucky Fighting Challenge. Here’s news on another Blue Grass MMA event.

MMA Predictions radio is going big time, as Brock Lesnar will be the guest on their next show.

On January 25th in Miami, Oklahoma at the Buffalo Run Casino, Kenny Florian will make an appearance at a 12-fight MMA card.

A profile article on WEC fighter Charlie Valencia.

The story of the day is this report about a new Japanese event produced by K-1 and DSE called “Dreams.” The long and the short of it — K-1 gets all the TV revenue, DSE gets the house show revenue, and Akira Maeda is gone. This makes total sense given what has been speculated on this site for the past two weeks — that Ishii, in jail, is calling the shots and is basically isolating all MMA companies from TV except for K-1. If anyone in Japan wants on TV, they have to go through him. Kawamata, likely, is helping Ishii execute his plans. Tanigawa is, at this point, demoted. Maeda is not going to hang around with anyone cooperating with DSE, as DSE went after talent in RINGS. This leaves DSE (w/ Sakakibara’s production company helping) to basically do all the work and apply the elbow grease. Ishii and K-1 get the easy TV money while DSE has to work for their cash. K-1 is in total control of the major Japanese MMA scene for 2008.

Topics: Boxing, HERO's, Japan, K-1, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 32 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

32 Responses to “Thursday night notes (1/10/08)”

  1. Shane says:

    Just wondering, which company would be expected to be pay the fighters?

  2. IceMuncher says:

    Some days I wake up and say to myself, “Thank God I’m not a business man in Japan.”

  3. Rob says:

    What’s the name of the name of the new company formed by the old DSE staff? It can’t be DSE, can it?

  4. Jonathan says:

    I am glad to hear that this is happening. Anything that brings me stuff like Pride nd I am a happy man. All in all, what does this mean for Hero’s and their fighters? Is this similar to the way that the UFC bought out Pride and then basically just raped their fighters.

    And would Maeda really leave if he is in the power position that he is?

  5. Shaolin says:

    So I thought wvr was working with pride staff? Is pride staff doing double duty, and I also thought there was a k-1, pride, type mma show in march? Is this all the same, or different companies?

  6. Zach Arnold says:

    K-1 is controlling all the free-to-air TV revenue.

    DSE (or whatever company they will call themselves in the future) will handle house show promotion for their events.

    WVR is controlled by J-ROCK, which is Hidehiko Yoshida’s management team. They were close to DSE, so expect DSE production for those shows.

    The non-K-1 events will be carried on PPV and any mega-matches that air on free-to-air TV will be produced by K-1.

    Essentially speaking, you have lots of different factions but K-1 ultimately controls the easiest revenue source of all.

  7. white ninja says:

    not only does K1 control the TV contract and revenue – what this means is that the party with the most juice (ie., TV and K-1) will call the shots on matchmaking, especially main events and main undercards

    whose paying the fighters? you can bet its not K1. maybe kawamata will pay πŸ™‚

  8. mmafan says:

    who will pay fighters, DSE or FEG?

  9. How does a dude in jail control the MMA scene? This is ridiculous.

  10. Dave2 says:

    So basically let me get this straight.

    WVR = J-ROCK (with PRIDE-styled production)

    “Dreams” = FEG and DSE.

    I figured that WVR would have been the venture between FEG and DSE but I guess that’s not the case then?

  11. Dave2 says:

    Btw why is Zombie PRIDE letting FEG screw them like that? Zombie PRIDE is not going to survive if they have FEG taking all the TV revenue while expecting Zombie PRIDE to cover the expenses and only get the gate revenue. Zombie PRIDE is better off starting small (meaning toning down on the pageantry, production and talent quality), remaining on SkyPerfectTV PPV for now and working towards a TV deal. If TBS let Zombie PRIDE on free-to-air TV already, they shouldn’t have a problem getting on TV independently eventually in the future.

    Also will WVR be airing on PPV as well? Or will they actually be on free-to-air TV?

  12. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    It might be worth remembering that the objective is not always to make money. Sometimes losing money is just as important to certain organizations.

  13. Grape Knee High says:

    Just a few thoughts/musings:

    * I wonder what the likelihood is of WVR joining forces with Dreams under one banner? It would make sense, especially if DSE is involved with both.

    * As a fan, I personally like this move, assuming the HERO’s and Yarrenoka fighters all move over to this new org.

    * I also prefer a Japanese org over M-1 as an alternative to the UFC. I do think it is in the best interests of the sport for another org to keep the UFC honest, and I don’t think any organ without a natural fanbase can/will succeed. The UFC already has North America wrapped up. The only other mature market right now is SE Asia (which by default will go to Dreams), and it is still questionable whether other areas Europe and South America could be opened up by the likes of the M-1.

    * How exactly is FEG getting away with partnering with DSE on this if DSE is “tainted”?

  14. Dave2 says:

    It may be best a this point for the major players in Japanese MMA to unite. Though I really don’t like FEG’s tactics. Sure they are all Yakuza in the end but FEG is totally raping DSE by giving them the raw end of the deal like that. Also while FEG has the most resources to carry the “torch” for PRIDE, from what I’ve seen from K-1 HERO’s, it appears that FEG doesn’t really care to carry the torch. They’re a big company but after the death of PRIDE it seemed that they had absolutely no interest in competing with the UFC. In the MMA community, UFC is regarded as #1 by far and HERO’s was far behind them despite the fact that FEG is a big company and K-1 is a big brand. K-1 HERO’s Dynamite!! USA doesn’t count as competing with the UFC. πŸ˜€

    M-1 Global’s model is a complete joke on the other hand. In America, HDNet Fights should be able to move into #2 eventually. Though currently I guess ProElite would be considered #2 in America. However HDNet Fights has a lot more potential whereas ProElite will continue to decline and eventually go bankrupt. There’s no way that Showtime is going to have enough patience with EliteXC whereas Cuban has all the resources to help HDNet Fights take off. The only thing going against Cuban is that HDNet has only like 9 million subscribers according to them (even that number is probably inflated) or something whereas Showtime has like 15 million.

  15. spacedog says:

    Ok Zack I have a question. People have been speculating about this K-1- DSE “co-promotion” and thinking about it like you would a normal busness. So my question is this, how corrupt are we talking, How fucked up is the Yakuza really? I mean are they Arthur Anderson-Enron corrupt or are they gouge your sleeping kids eyes out and send them to you kind of fucked up? Does having them involved mean you really have to throw all classic ideas of proper busness out the window? Is the Japenese fight scene so crazy because its being run by a bunch of truly violent psychos?

  16. Zack says:

    How many fighters are missing half a pinky under their DSE gloves?

  17. spacedog says:

    Yeah, or how many TV executives, or newspaper men, or booking agents or trainers and so on.

  18. Smoogy says:

    There is more to the story… a “major” company (not the UFC) is also hitching on to FEG’s wagon.

  19. D.Capitated says:

    There’s no way that Showtime is going to have enough patience with EliteXC whereas Cuban has all the resources to help HDNet Fights take off.

    I see quite the opposite. Everything I’ve read seems to indicate that Showtime is happy with the ratings for their show. I doubt its going anywhere soon, and they’ve purchased smaller shows that have been around for a long time to build up their credibility and contracts.

  20. Dave2 says:

    Pro Elite stock has been hurting though and they’ve been bleeding a good deal of ink. Showtime has to be very patient with them for this to work.

  21. Zach Arnold says:

    K-1’s power base (through Ishii) has always been through various forces in Japanese’s entertainment sector. While he may not have as much power as he thinks he does, the fact is that he’s got juice behind him in the TV side of things that DSE never had.

    Which is why Ishii’s TV deal continues to survive.

    You have to throw out all conventional business rules when talking about the entertainment scene in Japan, primarily the combat sports sector. There is no playbook other than having street smarts and getting dirty.

    The only lesson to learn here is that Ishii has now conquered his ultimate goal, which is that if anyone wants to get on Japanese TV, they have to go through him. He could care less about applying elbow grease to promote house shows, as it’s too much for him. TV money is easy cash for him and only requires bringing sponsors to the table.

    He should really be in jail for grand larceny and theft instead of tax evasion. πŸ™‚

  22. Dave2 says:

    I’m skeptical of whether FEG could fill the void in MMA left by PRIDE. FEG seemed content to just concentrate on K-1 and didn’t really put much into HERO’s. How would things be any different now?

    HERO’s had some great fighters but in terms of the revenue generated by the HERO’s brand, the number of top stars and roster depth, the UFC has them beat by a long shot. HERO’s hasn’t come close to PRIDE in its prime and I don’t see Dreams being any different. PRIDE was able to attract elite talent worldwide, including America. I don’t see FEG having the competitive edge in the global mma market. Not until they prove to really be serious about concentrating on MMA.

  23. Ivan Trembow says:

    Regarding Gary Shaw’s comments in that Fox Sports interview, maybe he’d more credibility to talk about things like that (or anything else MMA-related) if he weren’t booking “Kimbo vs. Tank” main events.

  24. David says:

    Speculation Arnold is like Stockgaucho

  25. 45 Huddle says:

    I think Showtime’s level of happiness with EliteXC has little to do with them keeping the show at this time.

    EliteXC is currently losing a lot of money. At their current pace, it will cost Showtime a good amount of money per year to subsidiaze the company and make it work. Showtime does it with boxing, but do they have the budget to do so for both boxing & MMA with only 15 Million Subscribers? My initial thoughts are no.

    Either way, that current business model does not allow for enough shows per year to really make it work. The UFC use to run 5 to 6 shows per year, and it just isn’t enough at that low level. (I’m not counting the lesser shows, because they really don’t do much to attract fans).

  26. Dave2 says:

    Huddle, when the UFC first started out they didn’t have 5 to 6 shows a year. πŸ˜€

    But I don’t think that ProElite is going to be successful either. They are a lot more financially stable than the IFL (which isn’t saying much) and ProElite will survive longer. But like I said, they are losing a lot of money and their stock is going down. Mark Cuban on the other hand I think will eventually emerge as UFC’s competition in America. Dana White can say what he wants about eating billionaires for breakfast but Cuban and his resources and connections is no joke. The problem with HDNet Fights is that it’s on HDNet, which apparently only has 9 million subscribers (and even that might be an inflated number) whereas Showtime has 15 mil and HBO has 30 mil.

  27. 45 Huddle says:

    I was referring to when Zuffa purchased the company.

    Unless some idiot puts millions into the IFL, it will be gone before the end of 2008. I think EliteXC will still be in business by the end of the year, but it will be interesting to see how they are doing. First, they need to minimize their internet website. I don’t care what type of goals they have for the future, that thing is just eating cash up, and really isn’t gaining any steam in the MMA community. There is only so much money to go around, and people are more willing to spend that on a UFC PPV (which you can see on your TV) compared to a smaller show telecast being streamed on your PC.

    Additionally, they have to find a way to make money with the PPV market. This is their key. Without it, they are either a minor league feeder system to the UFC, or just waiting out their time to go out of business. Potentially both.

    With HDNet, it is still going to be an uphill battle. The UFC IS MMA in North America. That is the view of the general public. HDNet could have a lot of fighting on their channel, but to break that cycle is going to take a miracle. Even a Couture/Fedor or Mayweather MMA fight won’t break that. It might give them some good revenues for a PPV or Two, but to the casual fan, if they want to see the best, it is still a UFC PPV to see it.

  28. Dave2 says:

    There is room for competition in the MMA market. The WWF brand was synonymous with pro wrestling for a time too and look what happened with WCW over-taking them for 2 years. The WCW collapse came out via poor management of course but the WCW model shows that it is possible to compete with an established brand. Heck why not look at video games? Everyone still uses the term “playing Nintendo” generically to refer to playing video games. But then look at how well Sega competed against Nintendo in the 16-bit era (even if they lost worldwide, they gave Nintendo a run for their money in America and Europe) and how well Sony’s playstation 1 and 2 competed against Nintendo’s 64 and Game Cube system. Just because you are the “default” brand with a huge market share, doesn’t mean that you are clear from a competitive threat in the future.

    You could also look at the case of PRIDE. PRIDE was the #1 MMA promotion internationally and Japan was the Mecca of MMA. Great Mainstream free-to-air network television ratings (there’s no money to be made in PPV in Japan so free-to-air TV is where it’s at over there), poaching international talent from around the world (including UFC and America in general) and drawing impressive live gates. And then a Yakuza scandal changed all that.

  29. Michaelthebox says:

    Dave2: wealth and connections aren’t enough to guarantee competition, Ayre is rich and BodogFight has scaled back massively. While Cuban could develop a strong, self-sustaining promotion, I don’t think he’ll be able to challenge the UFC head-on unless the UFC’s growth stagnates badly.

  30. John Doe says:

    Zach, do you have more names of old Pride staff ? Like Shinoda or something ?

  31. Dave2 says:

    Michaelthebox: Of course they aren’t enough. As for Ayre, he isn’t that wealthy actually. In early 2007, he lost about half a billion dollars in personal wealth because the US government has cracked down on online gambling. He was a billionaire but his net worth has been at somewhere between $400-600 million for a year now.

    Mark Cuban on the other hand has a net worth of $2.8 billion, worth more than both the Fertittas combined ($1.3 billion each). It’s also fair to say that Cuban is a lot more competent than Ayre and seems a lot more serious about promoting MMA. Ayre only really cared about selling the bodog empire brand name.

    Cuban is also playing it smart. He’s not rushing to compete head-on with the UFC. We’ve seen what happened with Bodog when they had the Fedor x Lindland disaster. Fedor costed Bodog seven figures but they brought in like 14,000 PPV buys. Cuban is building up HDNet Fights slowly.

    Just because the UFC has 90% of the market share or whatever they have in American MMA, doesn’t mean that Cuban’s promotion can’t compete with them in the future. I bring up the examples of WWF in pro wrestling and Nintendo in video games. Both businesses had a huge market share in their industry (Nintendo for one had 95% of the console gaming). Both brands were synonymous with the type of product they sold (pro wrestling and video games). But then both businesses got dethroned for a period of time as seen with WCW beating out WWE for 2 years and Nintendo being absolutely mauled by Sony for over a decade. Only recently has Nintendo made a comeback and even then, their Wii system has a 43% market share compared to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. I don’t know about you but going from 95+% market share in the late 80s to 43% in 2007/2008 is huge.

    It shouldn’t be assumed that the UFC is invisible just because their brand = MMA in North America right now. Nintendo’s brand was (and still is) synonymous with video games but look how much things have changed in that industry. Whose to say that the MMA industry won’t have their own Sega, Sony or Microsoft to compete with their “Nintendo” (the UFC)? Why is it automatically assumed that the UFC will coast along easily without competitive threat just because they were the first brand to break out in American MMA?

  32. Dave2 says:

    Also let me make it clear that I’m not Pro-Mark Cuban or anything. Hopefully I don’t give off that impression. Cuban has his positives but in fact I dislike Mark Cuban, in part because of his egoism and his so-called “copyright activism”. He’s also an “objectivist.” πŸ˜€ Though I do feel that competition is good for the sport and that’s why I’d like to see real competition spring up.


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