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Strikeforce and others find out UFC is the dominant brand; Film at 11

By Zach Arnold | February 16, 2010

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Recently, there were reports regarding the lousy business that the Strikeforce event did in Florida on Pro Bowl Weekend. The Observer reported a gate of around $320,000 and only $8,000 of that was on merchandise sales. $8,000. Holy $^%! When you take a look at the payroll for fighters on the show and how much some of the talent cost, it is real hard to see how the math proved to be favorable after this event was over.

The number to focus on is that $8,000 merchandise number. That is atrocious. It’s illuminating on a couple of levels:

1) Strikeforce has no brand power and people don’t watch the Strikeforce shows because it’s Strikeforce. This is a long-term losing strategy. Dave Meltzer in the Observer put it this way:

CBS seems more like MMA is something they are doing but don’t seem to have a strong commitment to it, and Strikeforce is just their current supplier, kind of like boxing promoters who supply HBO and Showtime with fights. If one of them does well or doesn’t do well, if they want regular fights, there will always be a promotion to work with, just like Strikeforce came after Elite XC went down.

The quandary SF is in is that a move to PPV will not likely prove to be a winner if they simply don’t have the brand power to pull it off. You’re left with CBS/Showtime financing and if it requires heavy gimmicks to attract some attention, then you can’t build long-term brand power with constant short-term fixes (see: Herschel Walker). When various sports media outlets covered Walker’s fight and the Rex Ryan middle-finger incident, ESPN commentators and hosts kept calling it “the Miami MMA show.” Strikeforce as a brand was not on anyone’s mind.

The talent pool is already thin enough as it is. The question coming into SF’s national expansion was whether or not they would be able to get talent on their own financial terms or if the price for the talent would be inflated. It appears that the salaries have been inflated (mostly by SF’s own doing and not so much due to UFC raiding talent) and that Dana White’s point about being happy that Dan Henderson signed a huge money contract with the promotion has some validity. He thinks Henderson and Fedor are guys that will bankrupt SF. He may very well be right.

2) I remember doing a long transcription of an interview Dan Henderson did on Sherdog right after he signed with Strikeforce and he mentioned that one of the big attractive points he saw with SF was their ability to let him sell Clinch Gear products at SF shows. Well, if SF is generating $8,000 for merchandise at a show, all I can say is that selling Clinch Gear merchandise will not prove to be a wildly profitable venture for him.

The concept of booking former UFC talent for bigger non-UFC shows has always been dicey. There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way of doing it. In the case of Bellator, they have largely avoided using ex-UFC fighters, but tonight the promotion announced Eddie Alvarez vs. Josh Neer for May. Alvarez is one of the golden boys for Bellator and seeing how Bellator books outside talent against him in future fights.

UFC will have some intrigue for their Saturday show in Australia (not sure how it will do for PPV buys, but I like the show going in) and then onto Versus in March and Abu Dhabi in April. Based on the recent Strikeforce show numbers, UFC has nothing to worry about whatsoever regarding “the competition.”

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 73 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

73 Responses to “Strikeforce and others find out UFC is the dominant brand; Film at 11”

  1. MK says:

    Showtime provides Strikeforce with a set fee, that’s how they make their money and as long as it brings in enough new subscribers then Showtime is happy.

    I wish that Showtime would move away from any branding and even work with multiple promoters. I have no interest in branding and when its done over the top (Mauro) it cheapens the sport.

    If Strikeforce is hoping to push their brand for future PPV shows it will fail badly. You can’t out-brand the UFC.

    They should focus on developing fighters and hope that with some consistency that they could build a following.

    The last thing MMA needs is more PPVs, Showtime boxing does a great job with a smallish (compared to HBO) budget and no PPV, I hope Showtime MMA can do the same.

  2. Rich Morrison says:

    Dana said about a month ago that Strikeforce will be bankrupt in 3 shows. Not sure if he meant 3 CBS shows or 3 total shows, but once again he is proving to be prophetic……it seems.

  3. David says:

    Sigh… Sad but true.

    Great article as always Zach!

    I love SF Challenger’s ‘feeder’ sub-promotion, but damn, I just don’t know how they are going to stay afloat, let alone go national.

  4. Brad Wharton says:

    $320,000, $8,000 on merch…wow.

    The disclosed payroll alone was $469,000. Then there’s insurance, site rental, event staff, etc, etc. I wonder how much of that Showtime is soaking up?

    They’ll do better gates with Hendo and Fedor on the card, as well as geting a better slice from CBS, but then you can probably double the disclosed pay with those two guys alone on the card – not to mention Sheilds, Carano, Lashley (who’ll be wanting more $$$ before long) and co.

    Then there is whatever lump M-1 is leeching, sorry, co-promoting, off the top of a CBS show.

    I wouldn’t go so far as putting a shelf life of three CBS cards on them, but I’d be very interested in taking a look at their books.

  5. Alan Conceicao says:

    Showtime provides Strikeforce with a set fee, that’s how they make their money and as long as it brings in enough new subscribers then Showtime is happy.

    I wish that Showtime would move away from any branding and even work with multiple promoters. I have no interest in branding and when its done over the top (Mauro) it cheapens the sport.

    Agreed.

    I don’t agree with this premise though:

    It appears that the salaries have been inflated (mostly by SF’s own doing and not so much due to UFC raiding talent)

    Without Fedor, there is either no CBS show at all or it would have been an utter failure. They cannot “build on their own”. It isn’t possible in a real sport.

    Moneywise is anyone’s guess. Showtime’s fee to Strikeforce was $700,000 (as publicized by the FL Commission), which is in line with what they were paying EXC for Showtime events and for bigger boxing shows. The difference is payroll and expenditures, far as I can tell. They do far less “stacked cards” and instead use cheap talent for the untelevised cards. They also aren’t spending absurd amounts on trying to buy KOTC or building a website. My gut feeling is that they’re neither making oodles or losing it. They’re just floating, which is really not a position MMA pundits have accepted as a possibility (see also: “DREAM is dying!”).

  6. The Gaijin says:

    Zach continues his constantly negative, anti-Zuffa biased articles/op-eds as usual… 😉

  7. Alan Conceicao says:

    Does anyone actually know what UFC merch totals from events? I’m sure its more and by a pretty solid amount, but I think the comparison of fighter wear to promotion T-shirts is almost apples and oranges. TNA and the WWE (his points of comparisons) don’t allow for the sales of other “competing” apparel at events, whereas the UFC and Strikeforce do.

  8. Kelvin Hunt says:

    I’ve been saying this for forever…as well as a few others. With no brand recognition…SF will never amount to much.

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    Great article.

    Dave Meltzer’s point is spot on. Showtime and CBS treat MMA like they do boxing. If Strikeforce fails, they will pick up Bellator, and so on. I believe that is one of the only reasons why Bellator is trying to stay afloat. They are hoping to look good enough until the end of Strikeforce’s Showtime contract and to try and steal it away. There is no other end game available to them.

    I keep on saying Dana White let Dan Henderson go on purpose. They are using the same strategy that they did with Affliction. Let the company implode within. Let them sign enough big contracts that if anything goes wrong, they can’t handle the dollar amounts. Keep in mind that Dan Henderson was signed to $250,000 for a win based on the UFC having PPV income. I don’t see how Strikeforce can match those type of salaries without PPV. Not to mention that now the rest of their champions will want Dan Henderson money (especially the loyal Cesaer Gracie guys)…. And Strikeforce will either have to pay out (at least increase greatly) or risk losing a few to the UFC.

    Dan Henderson proved to be dumb here. Like you pointed out, his merchendise sales will be non-existant. Dana White has pointed this out in the past. You need to be associated with the UFC for your brand to sell. The buying public wants to be associated with the UFC, not the secondary organization. They buy their shirts accordingly.

    “Showtime provides Strikeforce with a set fee, that’s how they make their money and as long as it brings in enough new subscribers then Showtime is happy.”

    The math still doesn’t make sense. Rumors are that Strikeforce got $700,000 for that show from Showtime (As Alan pointed out). They likely didn’t get all of the gate money…. They are many expenses that go into running a promotion. When they “underwrite the events” (as Coker likes to talk about), I highly doubt they expected such a low gate. That missing gate money was probably their profit. Keep in mind, even to have a staff of 15 employees is going to cost $1 Million a year…. That amount has to be deducted from each show. And when you run a show, everybody has their hands out looking for money… From the taxes to the fees, etc….

    The problem is that I do not see Strikeforce just “staying afloat”. That might work in Japan. It is very uncommon for businesses to do that in America. You either are doing well or you are sinking and going out of business eventually.

    The money just isn’t making sense. Between Fedor Emelianenko & Dan Henderson alone, they are going to have to pay out $750,000 minimum per event for a CBS card. Put Mousasi and a few others on those cards…. And the payroll is already at a million. I bet it is more then that, but let’s just say low estimates. And I can’t imagine CBS paying out that much because they are already paying Fedor $500,000 per fight.

    Those are UFC PPV type of salaries going to a “free” show event. Dana White has always said he wouldn’t go to network TV unless if it was the right deal. I think he has enough working knowledge of the business to know if the numbers make sense…. This is why he isn’t signing the deal himself.

    So Strikeforce is likely floating at best for money. Is not increasing their brand recognition. And on top of that, even when they have the most eyeballs possible (CBS)…. Their company name is barely mentioned.

    Scott Coker is like a dictator of a small country who just attacked a US Military base on US soil without actually having an army to back up the impending attack. He shouldn’t have signed Fedor. He wouldn’t be on CBS. He would be able to grow his business slowly on Showtime and really get use to the national stage before he made the big push…. Dumb business…. But that is what happens when you sign your control away to Showtime… They have the power to do what they want with your business… And in this case, they have no clue about MMA, and are screwing things up….

  10. Alan Conceicao says:

    The math still doesn’t make sense. Rumors are that Strikeforce got $700,000 for that show from Showtime (As Alan pointed out). They likely didn’t get all of the gate money….

    I don’t think people fully understand how “gate money” works. Sometimes its irrelevant. I don’t think the UFC gets much of, if any, of the gate when they run casino shows. Instead, the majority of the money that comes in is as a site fee. How does it work for Strikeforce? Don’t know off hand. I’ll say this though: the payscale for the Showtime event is similar or lower than most boxing programming on the network, and the fee larger. I don’t see Gary Shaw or Don King begging on street corners, and I doubt Don ever sold $8,000 worth of t-shirts ever.

    There is a reason why the Showtime deal was looked at as a potential cash cow “if done right”. Are they doing it right? I don’t know for sure. Neither does anyone know for sure how well Affliction or Tapout shirts sold in that same building that same night.

    The problem is that I do not see Strikeforce just “staying afloat”. That might work in Japan. It is very uncommon for businesses to do that in America.

    Lots of companies “float”. Who sits around talking about Oracle crushing the opposition in 2010? I think that’s more than likely the deal here. Coker isn’t driving Ferraris, but he’s not living in a van down by the river yet either.

    He shouldn’t have signed Fedor. He wouldn’t be on CBS. He would be able to grow his business slowly on Showtime and really get use to the national stage before he made the big push….

    They’d never have made the national stage without name fighters like Fedor and Henderson. Not in a million years.

  11. 45 Huddle says:

    I was speaking of smaller companies. Of course the biggest companies can stay afloat…. Typically not the smaller ones…. It’s either growth or out of business….

    It’s funny how you are comparing potential UFC deals with Strikeforce. I know how running events work. You either get a percentage of the gate or you get a flat fee. Either way, Strikeforce doesn’t have a big enough brand name to get a large flat fee. And they had to be depending on more then $8,000 in sales of merchendise.

    Lastly, boxing events are promoted with basic 2 to 4 fighters in mind and the rest getting paid peanuts. MMA requires full main cards which can make them more expensive.

    Also keep in mind a guy like Gary Shaw has been in business for years and couldn’t make the money thing work for MMA on Showtime. What makes you think Coker can do it on a national stage? Yes, I know Shaw was dumb with the money, but even if he was more conservative, he would have still gone out of business eventually. The money just didn’t make sense. Not enough money coming in and too many normal business expenses….

    “They’d never have made the national stage without name fighters like Fedor and Henderson. Not in a million years.”

    Showtime is the national stage. And they already signed with Showtime before they signed Fedor.

  12. Alan Conceicao says:

    I was speaking of smaller companies. Of course the biggest companies can stay afloat…. Typically not the smaller ones…. It’s either growth or out of business….

    A lot of promoters outside King and Arum, regionally and nationally, have been around for ages in boxing. I’m not a big wrestling fan, but I know that Meltzer has been expecting ROH and TNAs deaths for years, and they’re still around.

    I still wish Strikeforce ill in general, but I don’t think they’re crashing and burning. They’re just there.

    It’s funny how you are comparing potential UFC deals with Strikeforce. I know how running events work. You either get a percentage of the gate or you get a flat fee. Either way, Strikeforce doesn’t have a big enough brand name to get a large flat fee. And they had to be depending on more then $8,000 in sales of merchendise.

    No one really has a clear idea how these deals work. No one writes about it or talks about it. Does anyone here have hard numbers on UFC’s merchanise sales? No. Does anyone know what it would cost to have a booth at a Strikeforce event to sell merch? I sure don’t. By just contacting them, I’d become a ardent supporter or something, so why bother even trying? Maybe someone else will bother to do it. I just think comparisons with someone like the WWE (who own the images of the wrestlers and sell their merch, unlike MMA as a whole) isn’t totally apples to apples.

    Yes, I know Shaw was dumb with the money, but even if he was more conservative, he would have still gone out of business eventually.

    If the EXC business plan was completely different (which the SF one is), who knows what would have happened?

    Showtime is the national stage. And they already signed with Showtime before they signed Fedor.

    I don’t think Showtime signed Strikeforce just to run Nick Diaz fights. What do you think?

  13. Mr.Roadblock says:

    Without access to Strikeforce’s books it is impossible to know if this is good or bad for them. This may very well be the numbers they expect for these shows.

    I’m actually surprised SF has sold $8,000 worth of merchandise in its history. I’ve never seen anyone in an SF shirt or hat.

    SF may have its budget set up where it is looking to make $100k net from each of these shows and then make more on the CBS shows. That may be a fine set up for them. Again, we don’t know without seeing the books and looking at their 5-year plan, assuming they have one.

    That said, Alan’s point about Gary Shaw and Don King doing Showtime fights misses the point. Boxing promoters often use Showtime, ESPN, Telefutura and the other nets that occasionally do boxing as loss leaders. The idea is to show case their signed talent and then either get those guys to headline status on a PPV or HBO deal or have another promoter come along and pay to have that fighter be an opponent for his guy. That market is closed to Strikeforce. So SF seems to be reliant on making money from CBS right now. We also don’t know that value of SF’s international deals. Again most boxing promoters make as much if not more than they make stateside with international deals.

  14. 45 Huddle says:

    1) ROH and TNA are horrible examples to compare to Strikeforce. TNA runs in the same building week after week to keep production costs down. ROH is basically an indie promotion. Neither are even remotely like Strikeforce, which has expanded huge within a year, runs in markets they are clueless in, and has increased payroll probably triple compared to what they had 1 year ago….

    2) I really don’t think hard numbers are even needed. The proof is right in front of our faces. TapOut has done wonders being associated with the UFC. Affliction was so scared to be out of the UFC after their promotion was over, they signed right back with them. Go to a UFC event, and the majority of people are either wearing UFC, Tapout, or Affliction shirts. Sometimes a few of the smaller companies. That just isn’t happening at even shows like Strikeforce or Bellator.

    “If the EXC business plan was completely different (which the SF one is), who knows what would have happened?”

    They both share a common element…. Which is SHOWTIME. These guys do not view a promoter as an asset. They view them as a commodity. Showtime and CBS are keeping Strikeforce down, not helping them grow. Yes, they have increased their viewing audience, but they don’t help with the brand, which is essiential when the top dog in that sport has such a strong brand.

    See, they come from a boxing background, and just think promoting fights is important. That doesn’t work in MMA. Branding is everything.

    “I don’t think Showtime signed Strikeforce just to run Nick Diaz fights. What do you think?”

    Now you are changing the topic. You said: “They’d never have made the national stage without name fighters like Fedor and Henderson. Not in a million years.” And that was my response. They were on the national stage….

    *************

    Let me use a few Pro Wrestling examples here…. I watched The Rise & Fall of WCW the other day. I know it has a lot of misinformation in it, but two things made me really think of Strikeforce while watching it:

    1) Ted Turner – He is a perfect example that monet doesn’t solve problems. He liked wrestling and wanted it on his station. He didn’t understand it, so they hired people to run the ship for him. That disconnect between the content provider and the bosses hurts the business. They need to be the same person (like Vince McMahon). Strikeforce likes MMA. They don’t understand it. So they higher Coker, but then get in his business on what fights to put on…. It’s a lethal combination.

    2) Jim Crockett Jr. – This guy should just be called the Scott Coker of Professional Wrestling. They even kind of look alike. Here is a guy who had a nice regional promotion and decided to take it national. It killed him against the WWE. Arn Anderson said that if they just stuck to their regional market (even while on TV), they would have still been in business today. Instead, they expended too quickly, increased costs, and couldn’t keep up with the demands.

    Scott Coker is doing exactly the same thing. Increased his territory beyond what he should have. The $300,000 gate is proof of that. Even if they did’t get a cut of the gate, it still shows how bad the promotion for the event was on a local level.

    It’s only a matter of time that they either go out of business or somebody buys Coker out….

  15. Alan Conceicao says:

    ROH and TNA are horrible examples to compare to Strikeforce.

    My understanding from borrowed Observers is that TNA does live touring shows too. Still, my point is to say that just because it is “dying” according to pro wrestling news sheets (who the majority of sites really are), it may not mean much.

    Go to a UFC event, and the majority of people are either wearing UFC, Tapout, or Affliction shirts. Sometimes a few of the smaller companies. That just isn’t happening at even shows like Strikeforce or Bellator.

    This is a strange and untestable claim. No one wears Affliction or Affliction knockoffs to Strikeforce shows?

    Now you are changing the topic.

    No, I’m not. Strikeforce wasn’t given a deal with Showtime/CBS to slow build Robbie Lawler into a superstar.

  16. Alan Conceicao says:

    That said, Alan’s point about Gary Shaw and Don King doing Showtime fights misses the point. Boxing promoters often use Showtime, ESPN, Telefutura and the other nets that occasionally do boxing as loss leaders. The idea is to show case their signed talent and then either get those guys to headline status on a PPV or HBO deal or have another promoter come along and pay to have that fighter be an opponent for his guy. That market is closed to Strikeforce.

    I don’t know of any promoters running Showtime Championship Boxing as a loss leader. Shobox perhaps. I’ll agree that fighters do want to ascend to HBO, because the guarantees there are the biggest in combat sport on this side of the Atlantic. However, I don’t know that the “market is closed” to Strikeforce for PPV. I think everyone, including Strikeforce and Showtime, are aware that it will be necessary to run PPV shows. Its a matter of time before it happens.

  17. Mr.Roadblock says:

    I’m saying the market of selling a fighter is closed to SF because they are the whole league.

    That’s one of the differences a lot of fans don’t realize between boxing promotion and MMA promotion. You probably realize it because it seems you have a background in boxing too.

    A boxing promoter will sign a bunch of guys and bring them up the ranks. The promoter will take dates from ESPN and Shobox to feature his guy and lose a little money or break even on the card. If that guy shows potential to be a top guy the promoter goes out and pays for name opponents to fight him on a bigger HBO or Showtime card or on PPV. If the guy he invested in doesn’t look like a world beater, the promoter will try to sell him as an opponent to another promoter with a prospect. In that one contract the promoter can not only make up for his small losses on ESPN and ShoBox but he can make several hundred thousand dollars back on his investment.

    SF and UFC need to make money on their shows and merchandise period.

    As I said above, SF is probably trying to net around $100k for each of these challenger shows and end up with about a million profit from them by years end. If they can build up a couple of marketable guys from that it is a win for them.

    The problem for SF is going to be if they are losing money on the CBS shows. I don’t know what their math looks like on those.

  18. smoogy says:

    The whole idea that Dan Henderson is some trojan horse that will bankrupt Strikeforce is beyond laughable. If they had signed Tito Ortiz instead, then maybe there might be something there. Luckily for them, UFC eventually caved and agreed to pay Tito his quote, which has proven to be a “Isiah Thomas running the Knicks”-level bad decision so far. Henderson is downright thrifty by comparison, and will attract a bigger audience at this point.

  19. 45 Huddle says:

    You don’t think Tim Sylvia & Andrei Arlovski were trojan horses that helped take down Affliction?

    The UFC has the money to pay them, and they didn’t….

    Ortiz was too risky because he can be a star….

  20. Alan Conceicao says:

    You don’t think Tim Sylvia & Andrei Arlovski were trojan horses that helped take down Affliction?

    I think calling them “trojan horses” is pretty stupid, so no. I think it was part of a bad business plan by Affliction that overestimated their value.

    Ortiz was too risky because he can be a star….

    So Strikeforce doesn’t want stars? I don’t understand. That seems to be how they draw and make money; fighter’s name value.

  21. IceMuncher says:

    I think he means Ortiz was too risky for the UFC to let him go to SF.

  22. jr says:

    Going national is a sucker’s bet in MMA. Stay regional

  23. jj says:

    “2) I remember doing a long transcription of an interview Dan Henderson did on Sherdog right after he signed with Strikeforce and he mentioned that one of the big attractive points he saw with SF was their ability to let him sell Clinch Gear products at SF shows. Well, if SF is generating $8,000 for merchandise at a show, all I can say is that selling Clinch Gear merchandise will not prove to be a wildly profitable venture for him.”

    I’m actually really surprised that they made even $8,000 on merchandise and not because of their problem with establishing a brand. When I was at the Chicago show I didn’t see a single merchandise stand and when I asked the usher/security they had no clue. I just went to their website and they have a total of eleven items for sale so I have to guess selling merchandise is not a top priority to them. Do they set up like one stand in the whole arena and bring barely anything to sell? People love to buy souvenirs at live events and I have to believe they are only selling $8,000 due to a lack of supply and not a lack of demand.

    Assuming I am right and Strikeforce only sets up like one table with a small amount of merchandise maybe Hendo sees the big money opportunity when he sets ups his own stands and brings in his own supply? At live events the demand for merchandise is definitely there regardless of how recognized the brand name is to the general public and the media.

  24. 45 Huddle says:

    IceMuncher is correct…

    Look… The UFC can afford whoever they want in the sport. They have more income and such a large market share that if they are interested in a fighter, he will be on their roster (corrupt Russian being the only exception).

    They let Timmy go. They could have matched an offer to Arlovski and they decided not to.

    They know the industry. They know the cost of running events. We might not have that information…. Dana & Lorenzo do. They know which weekends are good to run a PPV. They have a very good indication of when a contract will bankrupt a corporation.

    This is why Dana White has been so good at not only predicting his competitions demise, but also telling us how it will happen….

    To think they aren’t actively trying to put their competition out of business is being naive. There are two ways to do this…

    1) Increase their own fighter pay scales… Which would cost them millions.

    2) Let their competition sign a few guys they might not be able to afford and let them sink under the weight of the contracts.

    #2 makes much more sense. This is the SECOND time Zuffa has done this…. I almost wasn’t sure they were trying it with Dan Henderson until Dana White took to the media and did everything buy beg Strikeforce to sign him. He ain’t stupid. He says stupid things, but he knows MMA.

    I disagree on the merchandise thing…. I have been to a good amount of MMA events. Some that have merchandise and some that don’t. People don’t rush to buy merchandise at smaller shows like they do the UFC.

  25. smoogy says:

    “You don’t think Tim Sylvia & Andrei Arlovski were trojan horses that helped take down Affliction?

    The UFC has the money to pay them, and they didn’t….

    Ortiz was too risky because he can be a star….”

    Henderson is a bigger star than Ortiz, who is so completely done as a drawing card that the UFC is throwing him back in with Liddell to squeeze one more attraction out of him.

    Obviously Sylvia and Arlovski weren’t trojan horses, because Affliction didn’t need any help fucking up their balance sheet. They signed non-draws like Lindland and Rothwell at a quarter million per fight, for pete’s sake. I’m astonished anyone would need that explained to them after all the hoopla about the Affliction payouts.

    Hendo is a relatively affordable main event fighter that the UFC was not happy to part with. His quote is more in line with fighters like Cung Le and Frank Shamrock than Tito Ortiz or any of the PPV-privileged UFC stars. Did Le and Shamrock bankrupt Strikeforce, or help build it into what it is today?

  26. 45 Huddle says:

    One bad PPV draw for Ortiz doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. Imagine him on free TV. He is a potential far greater draw then Henderson. Coker thinks so too, which is why he tried to sign him and why it forces Zuffa to up his pay into Leanar and Liddell pay. The proof is there. Ortiz wouldn’t have gotten that large payout if he wasn’t also valuable to Coker.

    So for you to sit there and say Ortiz really isn’t worth as much as Henderson hoes against both the actions of Coker and White.

    And yes, Affliction had other problems…. The UFC still pushed them along much quicker.

    It’s funny. Zuffa puts out the same strategy to two competitors, and the UFC hate-squad is still in denial over what they are doing….

    Additionally….. With Ortiz, Zuffa showed they could outbid competitors if they want to.

    Why not do that with Henderson? They could have easily paid him his pay demands….

    They let him go…. Same with Sylvia and Arlovski. The mire higher paying guys Strikeforce has, the less moves they can make. I forces them to out PPV as a required goal. And when that happens, that is when we will see the UFC counter with a big free show…. And then they are screwed….

    But Strikeforce needs to sign those fighters first to make that happen…..

  27. Mr.Roadblock says:

    If I may interject.

    The term “Trojan horse” is being misused. Trojan Horse would imply that Arlovski, Sylvia, etc are being actively used by UFC to go out and get those deals and ruin the companies that sign them. That is simply not true, inaccurate and silly.

    The appropriate way to describe the situation is a gambit. It comes from chess where one player sacrifices pieces to gain an advantageous position.

    That is what Dana White did. By allowing the above mentioned fighters and others to leave he took a chance. They could have drawn big money and audiences for the opponent and strengthened the opposition. Instead they put a financial burden on Affliction (and perhaps they will on SF) a company that didn’t have the revenue stream to cover that loss. All the while it preserved the pay scale that UFC felt it needed to maintain.

  28. 45 Huddle says:

    Mr. Roadblock is correct. Good point.

  29. smoogy says:

    UFC should let GSP walk and sign a “Fedor deal” with Strikeforce. Then they’d REALLY have them where they want them!

    Seriously, in relation to Henderson, this trojan horse/gambit talk is silly. He was an important UFC headliner and they lost him. It wasn’t a convoluted plot to destroy Strikeforce from the inside.

    If the UFC was making decisions on that level, they would have let Ortiz walk and kept Hendo. Ortiz is much more of a financial burden, and he doesn’t have anything left to offer in the cage, so his star power will only continue to dim. By comparison, Henderson is a very valuable chip to hold for SF.

    Maybe UFC should let GSP walk and sign a “Fedor deal” with Strikeforce. That would really be the nail in the coffin!!!

    lol, whoops on starting and ending that post with the same quip. I’m slipping.

  30. manapua says:

    LOL at Sylvia being a trojan horse. What a crock of shit that is. The reality is that UFC could not get rid of him fast enough. Even when he was the champion they did not want him. They tried like hell to get him beat enough to warrant cutting him loose. Threw Arlovski (the guy they wanted to be champion) at him twice and he lost both times. Once Couture and Noguiera were able to beat him UFC simply did what they had always wanted to do (get rid of Tim Sylvia). They were embarassed having that big clumsy oaf walking around with the championship while the the rest of the sporting world laughed at him.

    Smoogy is correct. You guys are looking for a conspiracy where there is none. This kind of stuff happens in sports all the time. The UFC wanted to keep Henderson but felt they could survive losing him so they decided not to meet his demands plain and simple. It was a business decision. They had no way of knowing where he might end up whether it had been SF, Dream, Sengoku or taking a break from fighting to see what came along.

  31. edub says:

    “Henderson is a bigger star than Ortiz.”

    Ehhhh. Wrong. Just because Hendo is a lot better than Ortiz does not mean he is a bigger draw. Despite the KO of Bisping Hendo is still a relatively low draw in the US. Definately no where near Tito.

  32. A. Taveras says:

    Coker should move closer to the Showtime boxing model. He’d make money for years matching up fading names, slumping stars, and the occasional disgruntled ranked UFC contender. Oh and throw in the occasional freakshow. Trying to build a UFC clone is a hard task battle with low likelihood of success.

  33. edub says:

    “They had no way of knowing where he might end up whether it had been SF, Dream, Sengoku or taking a break from fighting to see what came along.”

    Dude everyone knew where he was going. That’s why Dana talked about where he was going almost a month before he ended up there.

    If I had a good idea of where he was going, and I did. I’m pretty sure most people on here had the same.

  34. Jeff says:

    UFC 73: Franklin vs Henderson
    350k buys

    UFC 106: Griffin vs Ortiz 2
    375k buys

    Neither Dan or Tito are “big” draws at this point. The only difference i see is that Ortiz constantly gets his name in the news for something (good & bad) and more well known among casual fans. However with that said, Dan Henderson comes at a greatly reduced price tag.

  35. edub says:

    “Threw Arlovski (the guy they wanted to be champion) at him twice and he lost both times.”

    You do know that they fought three times right?

  36. Jonathan says:

    45 Huddle – We get it. This article is what you have been screaming about. Trust me bud, we get it. We get what you are all about, what you are obsessed about. we get it.

    Go to UFC.com, there are TONS of people who feel the same way you do. Trust me bud, we get it.

  37. manapua says:

    edub,

    I am aware of that but I am referring to when they threw him at Sylvia twice in a 3 month span because they wanted Arlovski to beat him that bad. Sylvia had already TKO’d him and they thought it was a fluke and the Sylvia beat him again. UFC was totally frustrated by having Sylvia as a champion. They did not want him but they were stuck with him at one point.

  38. edub says:

    No they threw him back in with Sylvia because he was still the best challenger at the time. They were 1-1 with both securing 1st round stoppages. Sylvia by KO, and Arlovski by sub. They threw it together because it was still the best fight that could be made for the HW title. Coming off of their second fight I would’ve thought the same thing.

  39. manapua says:

    They wanted Arlovski be champion and Dana White did little to hide his dislike for Sylvia in general. The fans did not like him and neither did the UFC. Having him as the HW champion was pretty embarrassing. He is not a PPV draw and he has no marketing potential.

    Also Dan had fought in Japan pretty much his entire career. There was no guarentee he was going to end up at SF. He could of ended up where had always been for the most part.

  40. Jeremy (Not that Jeremy) says:

    I think Strikeforce was doing a better job building their brand before they made the Showtime or CBS deal.

    They were running shows headlined by some yesteryear type names and slowly building that name recognition based around that, the playboy shows, and their penchant for rather unbalanced matchups (which isn’t unusual for a smaller promotion and not necessarily bad).

    KoTC had run a hundred shows and hadn’t made the same inroads that Strikeforce had before it was bought out by EliteXC (and then it was run into the ground). The mere fact that they were able to run a hundred shows is a major achievement (UFC is only the third promotion to get to 100 that I can think of, unless the various M-1 things all together have gotten to 100), and it shows that they were able to live within their means.

    I’m floating off topic here, and I’m no longer sure I have a point.

    Strikeforce: poor decisions and bringing in fighters with stronger brands than their promotion has lead to dilution of their own brand versus their previous slow brand growth based on a smaller number of known fighters per card.

  41. Mike Rome says:

    There’s a difference between a trojan horse and intentionally making someone else pay more than they should for a guy.

    Strikeforce’s deal with Showtime is actually a lot better than EliteXC’s. EliteXC was getting 200k per showtime show and 500k per CBS show. Strikeforce is getting 700k for Showtime, which is a big improvement. My guess is they’re getting around a million for CBS.

  42. 45 Huddle says:

    CBS is already paying $500,000 towards Fedor’s salary. I can’t imagine an additional $1 Million on top of that.

    “You guys are looking for a conspiracy where there is none.”

    Where are the conspiracy theories?

    Zuffa has a long history of not signing the wrong deals.

    1) CBS
    2) HBO
    3) Showtime
    4) Andrei Arlovski
    5) Tim Sylvia
    6) Roger Huerta

    I’m sure there is more…. But that is a solid list. They know the business…. So when they don’t sign Dan Henderson, there is probably a good reason. They have been bashed in the past for not signing all of those deals above… And yet a year later have looked very smart for not doing so.

    It’s funny…. In the business world, what the industry leader does, the rest of the companies in that sector take notice. If an insurance company decides not to renew an existing account, every other company looking at that potential new business ends up taking a 2nd and even a 3rd look at the company to see why the deal didn’t work. They approach it very cautiously to say the least.

    In MMA, both companies and fans have the opposite mentality. If the industry leader turns down a deal, they are told they made a dumb decision, and the rival organizations sign up that athlete or deal without thinking twice.

  43. Manapua says:

    You are saying UFC does not sign fighters because they want them to go elsewhere to bankrupt others companies when the reality is they just don’t want to pay what they are asking for.

  44. 45 Huddle says:

    The stars…. They will go out and sign no matter what.

    The guys who are good but not stars…. Guys like Sylvia, Arlovski, Huerta, and Henderson….

    They certainly allow the other organizations to sign them to bring up their payrolls….

    Why else would they sign Tito Ortiz to huge money and then not want to pay Dan Henderson above his $250,000 range….

  45. 45 Huddle says:

    And I don’t think it is a concept of “they just don’t want to pay what they are asking for.”…

    It’s more like…. They can pay Dan Henderson and easily afford it. But the potential for it hurting Strikeforce greatly outweighs any benefit we would have by signing him. So let him sign with Strikeforce.

    Which is why they wouldn’t let a guy like GSP go (as smoogy was BS’ing above). GSP has way too much downside to be leaving…

  46. Jeff says:

    I’m sure Dana is hoping Dan wins MW and LHW titles at SF. Then he can point out that Dan never won either UFC title. It’s all politics.

  47. Alan Conceicao says:

    Zuffa has a long history of not signing the wrong deals.

    No one knows if the HBO deal was “wrong”. On the other hand, Zuffa made the PRIDE deal, and that went terribly.

  48. Manapua says:

    Alan is correct. UFC signed Tito out of desperation for ratings. He certainly can’t fight well anymore.

  49. Alan Conceicao says:

    I didn’t say anything about Tito. The UFC signed him because he has value to them; I think he and Chuck are the right guys to use for TUF…well, I might have liked Hughes/Gracie more in that angle, but then I wasn’t selling 10% of a promotional company for 9 figures and trying to make the buyer happy.

  50. Isaiah says:

    The whole “Trojan Horse” line would be funny if it weren’t slightly sad.

    At this point, there is a winner’s curse thing going on whenever there is a bidding war for a fighter, and the UFC cheerleaders’ position is that anything the UFC does is by definition right. Therefore, anytime a fighter signs with another promotion, it is because the promotion is overpaying for him or because the UFC has no interest in the guy. Thus, it’s all circular logic, and as Jonathan says, we get it. We don’t need to read 45’s posts to know what he’s going to say in these discussions.

    The reality is, the UFC has more to lose by overpaying guys because for everyone at a certain level they have, there are more others at that same level than other promoters have at that level (yeesh — hope that made sense). As a result, they have to be more conservative.

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