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Card & cable TV chaos puts UFC in a fluid business situation

By Zach Arnold | July 18, 2011

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When Chad Mendes decided to take a fight so soon after his most recent UFC bout instead of waiting around for Jose Aldo (UFC Featherweight champion) to recover from injury, he was roundly criticized for putting himself in a situation where he could have gotten a title shot if he had waited one month longer. As things turned out, UFC is very thankful that Mendes decided to take a fight for their Philadelphia card. The Philly card has been hurt by injuries and cancellations. Despite being favored by more than -500 to win over Rani Yahya, Mendes still has put himself in quite a low-reward, high-risk predicament.

“You ask if it’s a risk and I honestly believe it is a risk, but I mean it’s a big risk if the only reward is the belt. And for me, obviously, the belt is a great reward for me but in my situation and my life, competing is almost just as big of a reward for me as getting that belt. I mean, being happy in life, you know, competing, you know, I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to train and be healthy all the time, you know, I get to hang out with all my buddies all the time. You know, I get to travel all the world, I get to meet new fans, new people constantly. You know, I get to come on cool shows like this, get to meet you guys. I mean, never in a million years would I have thought that growing up I’d be sitting here right now, 26 years old. So, I mean, overall I’m loving my life and I love to compete. I mean, I’ve been competing since I was five years old, you know, with wrestling and stuff like that so, you know, just sitting around and training and not competing is not in the cards for me.

“I’ve only been doing this for not even three years, yet. It’s not going to help me to just sideline and just sit on the shelf, you know, if I can take another fight… I’m getting better with every fight, I honestly believe and, you know, I’m getting more confident with my stand-up. I have the wrestling and, you know, I’m only getting better. So, I’m taking the fight, I’m taking a chance. But like I said, overall I’m still going to be happy and I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. If I go out there and destroy (Rani) Yahya, well it was meant to be. If I don’t, well then it wasn’t. But, I mean, I’ll tell you this right now that I’ve put in all the blood, sweat, and tears for this camp and done everything possible to win this fight. So, you know, I did everything I need to do, I’m prepared for the fight, and I’m just going to go out there and have fun.”

Aldo, after giving the all-clear, will end up defending his Featherweight belt against Kenny Florian in early October for UFC’s Houston event (which also features Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard III & Chael Sonnen/Brian Stann). With all the reshuffling UFC has had to do with their upcoming cards, it has created a situation with two mega-cards for October (the early show in Houston and the later event in Las Vegas). All of this stress comes at a time when UFC did the right thing by giving their fighters (who are under contract) health insurance. File that policy, right now, under the category of ‘when doing the right thing hurts.’ A word to the fighters, however, who decide to open the floodgates all at once and pull out of fights for minor injuries — UFC can take the policy away. It’s not as if they are dealing with a union here. One day, UFC could simply make the decision to cut the cord on the insurance and come up with a multitude of reasons for doing so.

All of the card modifications and injuries has put UFC in a tough spot for television negotiations. Ratings are largely where they have been for the past few years and the company is in a transitional period right now by adding new weight classes and fighters to their roster to push. If you’re a television executive interested in UFC, how much do you want to invest in resources in promoting the UFC? The Versus cards, on paper, have been dogs lately and the upcoming Washington D.C. debut doesn’t look all that hot. If you’re a TV suit and you see UFC is constantly having to shuffle fights around, don’t you take pause and wonder if there’s room for growth for the organization? During this time period where UFC is negotiating with multiple television outlets, chaos is the last thing they want to deal with.

Throw into the equation what’s happening at HBO Sports and you have quite a landscape to navigate.

Sports by Brooks says Ross Greenburg got fired and Kevin Iole says that Greenburg burnt one too many bridges in the boxing world to keep his job. Think about the fact that Top Rank & Manny Pacquiao going from HBO to Showtime was the final nail in the proverbial coffin. Boxing’s economic model is the last thing UFC wants to find itself in and, yet, there’s the potential golden carrot of working with HBO now that Greenburg is out of the picture. Taking a deal with HBO for UFC would be quite the scenario. Dana White & Lorenzo Fertitta want full production control, including announcers. A lot of UFC fans are accustomed to watching cards on basic cable, not pay television. Zuffa has the Strikeforce deal with Showtime that appeared to be reaching a dead end. However, fathom this possibility — Zuffa keeps SF afloat to prevent new competition from taking a foothold on Showtime and they put UFC cards on HBO & Versus. It would be quite an interesting business scenario. If UFC is going to leave Spike TV, they may as well make a big splash (as opposed to buying the G4 TV network and trying to make the nearly impossible success story of their own cable/satellite channel happen.)

While it is easy to get caught up in the horse trading of fighters getting booked and canceled off of shows as the most immediate daily news updates, the real action right now is with what’s happening at Comcast/NBC Universal and, now, HBO.

Speaking of boxing, here’s Alistair Overeem taking a page out of the Nick Diaz playbook by suggesting the idea that he would like to fight Vitali Klitschko. “It matches my personality. I’m always looking for a challenge.” Klitschko is scheduled to fight Tomasz Adamek in Poland on September 10th. He’s around a -425 favorite (4.25 to 1) to win.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 71 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

71 Responses to “Card & cable TV chaos puts UFC in a fluid business situation”

  1. Jonathan says:

    This is not a flame of you Zach, but several lines from your article are almost verbatim with what 45 Huddle has said numerous times.

    So I guess props to 45 Huddle.

    I guess you two see the big picture.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      45 and I disagree on many things, but on the larger picture with the UFC in the TV landscape I think our thoughts are similar.

      It is tough for a TV exec to finalize a deal when you have so much change happening on cards (the whole Nate Marquardt deal). The pressure is on big for UFC. If HBO throws a lot of money at them but wants control, will they succumb to the offer?

      • Jonathan says:

        Zach,

        Have you thought about getting 45 Huddle to write a few articles for your site? I think that he would be good at it.

        And I am not in the know, but I do not think that they UFC will end up on a “premium” cable channel. I think that it would hurt their view on how they can “grow” the sport. All of the “big” sports, with the exception of SOME NHL games are on major broadcast networks or channels that are part of most basic cable packages.

      • Robert Poole says:

        “If HBO throws a lot of money at them but wants control, will they succumb to the offer?”

        I don’t think they will Zach. Basically HBO had that same offer on the table before the Zuffa didn’t budge.

        Yes their TV deal with Spike is expiring but I still think they hold a lot of the cards in that deal (Spike knows Bellator or any alternative is not going to do big numbers for them) and I think acquiring their own TV network, while it will not have an immense initial impact, would be a pretty good way to build their brand up the way NFL and MLB networks have been doing for their sport. My only thought is Zuffa will need to spend a lot of money to expand television operations out and produce a lot of shows on their own and unless they get some serious pros in there, they might be hard pressed to put forth shows that differentiate themselves with the events (see their Ultimate KO shows and such).

        I actually think UFC letting HBO handle some of the production would be a good idea if for no other reason than to change their completely stale presentation. For quite a number of years they’ve used the same intro song, the same tale of the tape song, the same graphics, the same interview setups for the fighters and the announcers between fights. They need to change things up.

        Have a more documentary-style based lead up to showcase fighters in a big fight, have an announcer doing sitdown Q&As with a fighter… even about outside the cage questions. Make Mike Goldberg stop using such predictable lines (how bad is it that he calls every fight in the UFC video games the same and you can watch the TV show cut Goldberg out and apply his pre-recorded video game announcing to the match and it would be exactly the same? Talk about stale).

        UFC could really use a reshuffle of everything in the presentation area and I’d be interested to see how HBO would do it personally.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    1) HBO – The UFC has nothing to worry about with this TV network. If the UFC signs with them, then good. If they don’t, they have as close to a 0% chance of worrying about HBO picking up another MMA company and working them from scratch. HBO is all about the highest quality possible. They will never sign a 2nd tier MMA company if they decide to enter that business. It would be UFC or bust. So the UFC will never have their backs against the wall and feel forced to sign a deal just to keep out competition.

    Personally, I don’t think Showtime or HBO are a good fit. They limit the audience far too much and over time hurt the overall sport for the GENERAL audience.

    2) ALISTAIR OVEREEM – Is a fool. Nick Diaz was at least smart enough to aim for a boxer that he had a remote chance of beating. That gave him some sort of power in the negotiations. After Overeem’s last performance…. Which really exposed him as the same fighter from his Pride days…. He can go to boxing and the UFC will likely say: “Bye”!!! It’s just not something that people will take seriously. And if Overeem is crazy enough to do it, he would get wrecked.

    3) TV DEALS – There is always going to be a solid TV deal out there for the UFC. The UFC brings in the right demographic, has a devoted fanbase, and is live sports entertainment. That alone makes them worth a certain amount. But what will always keep them from getting to that next level…. Is the structure of the sport. It’s not really Zuffa’s fault. This seems to be the nature of the business. But having cards falling apart or changing so much will keep the UFC’s TV contracts with a considerable ceiling. As a fan, I don’t really care that much. As long as the UFC is on TV, I am happy. But looking at it from the business perspective of the sport, it’s not a positive thing.

    4) INJURED FIGHTERS – First, I don’t think this has anything to do with the insurance policy recently put in place. This has to do with a multitude of factors:

    a) Fights are announced far in advance. This never happened in Pride because fighters were given less then 1 months notice. Longer time to train means more chance of injury.

    b) Quality of opponent. There are no easy fights in the UFC. Because of this, fighters are more likely to bow out when they have nagging injuries because the chances of losing are higher. Do you think Phil Davis would have gone to the doctors if he was going to rematch Tim Boetsch? Or would Little Noguiera have withdrawn if he was fighting Vladimir Matyushenko? Probably not.

    c) Fighters being dumb. Far too often you hear a fighter say something like: “Well, I had this nagging injury but I thought I could work through it. Then I was mostly through my training camp and realized I couldn’t”. That is a fighter being stupid. Get your body in check BEFORE training camp. This along would fix at least half of the injury withdrawals from the UFC.

    Overall, I don’t see all of this as a huge deal. Some people will say it’s all doom and gloom. But if the September thru November cards all stay healthy, then people will be back on the “UFC is back to greatness” bangawagon.

    But what this stuff should be doing is hopefully opening the eyes of Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta…. That putting on TWO PPV’s in one month does not work. Because it spreads the talent too thin, and a few injuries completely wreck the cards. If they had 1 PPV and 1 good SpikeTV card in August…. NONE of this would have been a problem. Each card would have taken a slight hit, but each card would have still be strong enough to survive. Right now as it stands, UFC 133 is a completely BS PPV event.

    Zuffa has the talent…. They just need to be using it properly. Some of it is growing pains. New divisions, increased roster. Issues with SpikeTV who I am sure aren’t paying out for any more cards outside of the guaranteed contracts. But within a year or so, this stuff needs to be ironed out. And especially before the add Flyweight.

  3. larrycraig says:

    “Fighters being dumb. Far too often you hear a fighter say something like: “Well, I had this nagging injury but I thought I could work through it. Then I was mostly through my training camp and realized I couldn’t”. That is a fighter being stupid. Get your body in check BEFORE training camp. This along would fix at least half of the injury withdrawals from the UFC.”

    This is not pure stupidity actually. If you havent noticed, alot of fighters are constantly broke after spending lots of money on their training camps and getting ZERO income during that time. Alot of them have families that rely on them completely for income. If they turn down a fight, they are not getting paid. And the insurance thing JUST started so prior to that they would have to pay for their medical treatment themselves. So to just call these guys “stupid” without recognizing the complexities of the situation is pretty STUPID if you ask me. Typical ‘pro-management` attitude by 45Hustle.

  4. MK says:

    This HBO deal seems like a lot of wishful thinking when there is zero indication that they will even attempt to pick up UFC shows. It’s the same with ‘nbc sports’ pushing MMA to the mainstream ra ra ra.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Actually…

      When Comcast was rumored to purchase NBC, a few fans (myself included)…. Started to talk about how this could impact MMA in a year or so.

      And we are around that time period now, and the merger HAS impacted MMA.

      Signs are pointing towards Zuffa signing on with Versus and potentially having their shows on many of their channels.

      Personally, I don’t think HBO will ever happen, but guys getting fired can change landscapes quickly.

      • MK says:

        So far it has led to a few UFC shows on VS with mediocre ratings. The ‘revolution’ of MMA on NBC Sports is still just a dream. In fact there are a lot less MMA shows now on VS as opposed to a few years ago.

        The Greenburg firing was a long time in the making and it’s a result of them losing a boxing superstar for one PPV, not looking at MMA (what happened 4 years ago isn’t relevant). Yet, all these blogs are running with the UFC on HBO idea.

        • edub says:

          The Greenburg firing is a hell of a lot more complicated then just losing Manny Pacquiao.

        • MK says:

          But it’s what put the issues over the top. Boxing fans can complain all they want but until HBO started losing major money to a competitor it was all status quo.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Ratings on Versus have been bad because people still turn to SpikeTV for the UFC. If they make the transition, they will do exactly what they did for the new PPV start time. They will advertise it to their audience. They will do it through their website. They will do it through their 5+ Million Facebook fans.

          And NBC owns much more then Versus.

          And the Comcast/NBC merger had NOTHING to do with MMA. And yet the UFC could end up being a benefactor of that deal.

          That is no different then Greenburg being fired from HBO. It has NOTHING to do with MMA. And yet the UFC could benefit from it long term.

  5. Mr.Roadblock says:

    I may be in the minority here, but I think UFC will have trouble even getting the money Spike gave them in the last deal.

    MMA has plateaued and is actually dipping in popularity.

    If I were a TV exec I wouldn’t do a deal with UFC without some control over matchmaking. UFC’s goal with cable or network TV is to drive viewers to its PPV events. It puts B-level fights on TV.

    We always hear that the UFC/HBO dispute is over production of the events. I don’t think that’s all it is. I imagine HBO wants veto power over matchmaking. It has that in boxing and frequently tells promoters that it doesn’t think a match or opponent is worthy for HBO and to get a replacement.

    Elite XC and SF pulled out all the stops for their CBS shows and didn’t draw very well by network standards. 3-5 million viewers at night time isn’t good. Maybe they can move the events to the afternoon where those are good numbers vs golf and baseball.

    I think UFC ends up still on Spike with the same deal or less.

    What I’m excited for is Greenberg being out of the way at HBO and them getting their boxing back on track. HBO has the muscle if it uses it to make Arum, Golden Boy, Joe Goosen and Lou DiBella all behave and work together.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      If the UFC stays with SpikeTV, I hope they implement the pre and post shows like we have seen on Versus. I really like those.

      • Jonathan says:

        I do not have Versus, so I am not sure, but who ran the pre- and -post fight shows?

        Please tell me it was not Goldberg.

        • edub says:

          Helwani and Bonnar with a woman whose name escapes me (eventhough she did a good job too).

      • Jonathan Snowden says:

        Those pre-shows were awful. Heavy does a better pre-show from their online platform.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    God, I would not want to be a MMA promoter.

    Alistair Overeem might be out of the Strikeforce Grand Prix.

    He is complaining that he wants to fight in October and that September is too early.

    Does he realize that he signed up for a tournament and the turnaround time would likely be quicker?

    A part of me feels like he finally got a taste of better talent again…. And he wants nothing to do with it. And is trying to find excuses to get out of the tournament and likely out of Zuffa all together.

    This is a guy who made good money in MMA for a few years beating up scrubs…. Most of whom were coming off of KO losses, so there were even down at the point of his fight.

    If you look what is eventual road is…. It gets much harder the Fabricio Werdum. There is Antonio Silva. Then maybe Josh Barnett. It only gets tougher from there with guys like Brock Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos, and Cain Velasquez.

    Overeem wants out….

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    Overeem out. Cormeir in.

    Overeem likely cycled for an October fight and couldn’t get clean in time.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      And Zuffa just sent a giant message to every single fighter out there.

      Don’t go to the press and trash your boss. If you do it in one of the major team sports, the owner is likely to trade you.

      If you do it in the UFC, they are going to do what they promised and run the event when they want. And if you can’t compete during that next round, tough luck.

      And don’t give me any of that: UFC Schill stuff…. You just don’t trash your boss in any job. You handle it BEHIND THE SCENES.

      What Overeem did on the MMA Hour was juvenile.

      He signed up a tournament, and then complained that the next round did not fit his schedule.

      This is the SAME guy who fought Duffee on 2 weeks notice. This is the same guy who competed on 5 events in 2010 and 7 events in 2009 for K-1 and MMA combined.

      And all of a sudden he has to fight with drug testing and with a higher level of competition…. And all of a sudden he needs more time to prepare to compete….

      • The Gaijin says:

        I agree he totally handled this the wrong way and it looks kinda fishy to the public, but I have a feeling there’s a lot more to it than “he’s cycling off”. But he took fights on short notice to fight James Thompson, Tony Sylvester and Todd Duffee, you answered your own question – he is fighting a higher level of competition and now he needs more time to prepare and compete…that seems reasonable.

        Apparently that was the last fight on his contract – I wonder if there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes and he’s trying to get himself onto a UFC contract and out of being tied to the SF tourney.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Yeah, it looks like he was trying to re-negotiate his contract with Zuffa.

          I think he tried to play hardball, and Zuffa basically called his bluff.

          At the end of the day, there is nowhere else to go unless he wants to get wrecked in boxing.

        • mr. roadblock says:

          How was Coker so stupid that he set up a tourney where the competitors (in this case one of the favorites) weren’t signed to deals that lasted through the finals?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          It’s no wonder that his financial partners wanted out. They saw what kind of mess his company was and knew it was a ticking time bomb.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I’m glad they just stepped on the gas and said “the show will go on” and booked Cormier. This tourney has gotten good buzz and had really good ratings, but they would have really killed its steam if they delayed AGAIN…let’s finish this thing. I imagine DW and Lorenzo are awful ornery given the sh*t going on with UFC 133 plus everything else recently and totally called the bluff…AO is going nowhere, especially if K-1 is not open for biz (and not paying the bills), so this wasn’t a great move on his part.

          Side note, I think this is too big of a jump for Cormier to step in against Silva, but with his credentials he might be give Silva fits – I don’t recall seeing much of Bigfoot off his back…should be a really interesting fight.

        • mr. roadblock says:

          Ricco Rodriguez put Silva on his back and beat the sh*t out of him for three rounds. Then got jobbed even worse than he did against Nog in PRIDE. In fairness to Silva that was awhile ago. He looked bad on his back against Mike Kyle last year and wasn’t overly impressive against Werdum.

        • Nottheface says:

          Doesn’t it seem peculiar to anyone that not only would Strikeforce dump a fighter because he refuses a fight on a 3 month turnaround when he was previously told four months or that they would go ahead with booking the date for the next round without first making sure all the participants would be ready on that date? They already postponed the second half of the first round two months why wouldn’t they wait a single month for their biggest star to take part? And to lay the blame on Showtime? Would they really demand that their premiere GP be ruined just to send a message?

          Now it’s possible that Showtime has given up on MMA and wants to just finish the thing as fast as they can so they can shed Strikeforce. Or
          Overeem is trying to negotiate a new contract – playing the Diaz game in regards to boxing – and since the money he’s asking for is only affordable under the UFC ppv banner, the only thing Strikeforce can do is refuse to give in and drop him. Which actually works for Zuffa, because now his value is no longer threatened by a Bigfoot loss and if they can come to an agreement with him they can put him on ppv instead of wasting him on a Showtime program.

  8. Mr.roadblock says:

    I said the SF tourney was stupid and would devolve into a mess when it was announced. I was right.

    Why even continue with this farce?

    Is Overeem still the paper champion of SF?

    On the other hand, I don’t see why Sept 10 was such a big deal for this event. It is only 3 months from his last fight.

    Sept 10 is opening weekend for the NFL it’s not like there will be tons of coverage for this event or something.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Dana White said SF wanted that date.

      I bet Showtime is liking the difference between Coker and White.

      Coker was a pushover who had to delay the Grand Prix.

      White tells his fighters “FU”, we can do it without you.

  9. Alan Conceicao says:

    Both topics are pretty transparent in what is happening. The UFC will end up on NBS Sports Network and probably already has a deal lined up because Comcast traditionally overpays for sports programming in desperation to create content. Sure will be tough to pull 1 million buys when your TV shows only gets .7s, but they believe in themselves, so whatever. Meanwhile Overeem is trying to get out of Shelby’s Cagefighting Purgatory Mk.2 and into the UFC to make real money, and ultimately he probably will be successful because he’s worth it.

  10. edub says:

    Some things:

    -Overeem could very well leave and go box agaisnt Klitschko. He’s a name, and he can draw eyes in Europe. It makes no difference if he gets destroyed or not. He can make more off that fight then he can fighting MMA for the next couple of years. We’re talking 7 figures.

    -Tournament just lost the only draw it had left. Half the support it had was for the killer that is Overeem (or so casuals like to think).

    -I’m fairly confident that Cormier will beat Bigfoot. He’s got the better wrestling, and 10x the scrambling ability not to mention good footwork and head movement.

    -I don’t understand why Overeem is getting so much shit for the way he played his cards. He did pretty much the exact same thing Diaz did, except Nick shit talked the UFC MORE than Overeem did. He got a title shot out of it so maybe Overeem will get one here too.

    • Cain Velasquez beats Dos Santos at UFC 138. Name a more interesting next defense than Overeem to sell. Lesnar can’t reasonably be included here because, well, who knows when or if he fights again. And besides – Lesnar off a two year layoff fighting Cain Velasquez in a rematch would probably be ugly.

      Dos Santos beats Cain Velasquez at UFC 138. Name a more interesting next defense than Overeem to sell. Lesnar can’t reasonably be included here because, well, who knows when or if he fights again. And besides – no one watched TUF for these guys, Lesnar would be coming off a two year layoff, and Dos Santos would have just beaten the guy that ethered Lesnar. Is that really a smart fight to make right away?

    • The Gaijin says:

      See I would probably be a lot more heavy on Cormier, who I really like FWIW, if it wasn’t for the fact that he will be a MIDGET against Bigfoot. If you thought Fedor looked undersized – DC is 5’9…he’s got the obv wrestling/scrambling advantage and is improving on the feet, but we’re talking a 5’9 – 240 (not even a muscular 240) against a 6’4 280lb seasoned/legit fighter.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        100% agree with The Gaijin when it comes to Cormier.

        I like him… Just not at Heavyweight.

        • The Gaijin says:

          And unfortunately he’s unable to cut down to LHW due to the kidney issues, so he’ll be stuck being a truly undersize HW.

          I think he can still for sure be a top 10 guy and will be one of the more talented guys out there, but he’s really going to feel the size differential against the guys at the top. Even a Cain/JDS – who are the “new breed” of medium sized HWs – have a big, big size advantage over him.

        • edub says:

          I agree with you guys that when he gets to the top tier of the food chain the size difference will be too much. The thing is I don’t see Bigfoot as that guy. He’s a really big guy with a good skill set, that just dominated Fedor. However, I don’t think he beats a lot of the top tier guys fighting right now.

        • Steve4192 says:

          “And unfortunately he’s unable to cut down to LHW due to the kidney issues, so he’ll be stuck being a truly undersize HW.”

          I wouldn’t go that far.

          Cormier can’t dehydrate himself to get down to 205 due to his kidney issues, but there is nothing stopping the guy from changing his diet and losing the flab. Sure, it would take longer and he might lose a little muscle in the process, but he has at least 25-30 pounds of spare tire he can drop. If he has to drop 10 pounds of muscle as well, so be it.

          in the long run he will be healthier if he slims down and not at as much of a competitive disadvantage in terms of length & lean body mass.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I dunno…I think he’s probably better off where he is at HW having a big speed/quickness advantage and still being one of the best wrestlers than dropping a lot of size to go to LHW, as counterintuitive as it sounds follow me saying he was a “small HW”. There’s not many 205ers that actually walk around at 205 and Cormier would basically have to do that plus dropping 10-15lbs of muscle would probably make a discernable difference when dealing with giant 205ers like Jones, Griffin, etc.

          He’s basically a true cruiserweight, but unfortunately for him there’s not enough guys or reasons to justify the division.

  11. Chromium says:

    If the UFC retains full production control, I like the idea of them on HBO. They offer them a lot. They’re a prescription based network so they can offer better money for higher quality cards. They offer a bit of prestige, since they’re the home to so much top level boxing and a lot of high-end dramas that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. They also offer a bit of mainstream credibility.

    I just don’t like them as the UFC’s primary non-PPV outlet. They don’t have the exposure or reach that other networks do precisely because they’re a cable network. The UFC still needs a place to advertise their product and stars with TUF and their B-Cards. They need a place where a lot of curious casual fans might check them out to see what all the hype is about. HBO is not that place. Everyone who has HBO is aware of it and knows where the channel is, but it’s still only available in 25% of American tv households. They are great as a complimentary outlet, not a primary one. Spike TV is in 85-90%. People already associate the UFC with Spike. It’s a well known channel with consistently decent viewership bordering on the Top 25 cable networks. There are definitely better places, like fX, TNT, or ESPN, but I would consider Spike TV the minimum they should be aiming for.

    • Jonathan Snowden says:

      Why would you want the UFC to maintain control of the production if they went to HBO? Their boxing broadcasts are great.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Not to mention that HBO would probably want some input on matchmaking (as mentioned by Mr. Roadblock) which could lead to some really good TV cards.

        I guess there’s a C/B trade-off (just like for network) in UFC not wanting to burn up PPV matches on TV, but if they stop trying to run 2 ppvs/mo. I think they have the roster resources to facilitate it and we would actually be better off in only having those cards that truly belong on PPV on PPV.

        • edub says:

          Or it could lead to something like Sergio Martinez-Sebastian Zbik getting turned down only to have JLC-Zbik get made a couple months later.

      • Kelvin Hunt says:

        Probably because the guys at HBO don’t havea clue about MMA.

        • edub says:

          This is what I see a lot of people looking over.

          When has HBO ever done anything with MMA? When have any of their staff worked any MMA events? When has any of their announcing team had anything good to say about MMA, let alone any knowledgeable thought?

        • The Gaijin says:

          Hey – Max Kellerman actually says lots of good things about MMA and has defended them against Merchant/Lampley several times. I’m pretty sure he’s decently knowledgable about it and who is to say that they won’t bring in people that do know about it?

        • edub says:

          That is true Kellerman has defended MMA in the past when one of the old guys went on a rant, I’ll give you that. However, whoever they get won’t be as good Goldie and Rogan. I know that’s blasphemy to say online, but they really are the best in the business.

        • Jonathan Snowden says:

          If it’s anything like Showtime they already have people on staff or will hire someone who has produced or directed UFC broadcasts.

        • edub says:

          Oh, they’ll get people to do it. That’s a great idea….

      • Chromium says:

        Okay this is seriously a minor point and I profess to not having seen a lot of their boxing broadcasts, but I imagine the main thing that HBO would interject would be the commentators. At best this is a huge gamble when the UFC’s announcing team is already perfectly good. Sure, Goldberg is still a bit clueless even after all this time, but he has chemistry with Rogen that only comes with years of working together. Furthermore if you were to add a third person to the existing team it I’d hope it would be a UFC fighter. Unless HBO insists on replacing the cheesy gladiator music and adding Bas Rutten to the announce team and/or as an interviewer, I can’t see how they would actually improve the production. Still, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about HBO’s boxing productions so if someone wants to enlighten me as to what they would be bringing to the table I’d be happy to hear it.

        Again though, it was a minor point in my post overall, which is that HBO is a great supplemental television network partner, but cannot be the primary outlet for free events due to its limited reach. It would lie somewhere between being advertising for the PPVs and fully showcasing the product in the way that PPVs do. They need a more accessible platform as their primary outlet to lure in casual fans and would-be fans.

        Regarding comparisons to Showtime, that’s exactly why I don’t want to see Zuffa give up much if any creative control. No prelim-inserts and Gus Johnson are both banes on Strikeforce broadcasts.

        With regards to match-making, I would be all for it if HBO pushes to get high-quality cards (like say, cards just below PPV-level), which is certainly something they’d be in a position to do, but they don’t need to be involved in the production aspect to do so. Also, if HBO wanted to design an entire card or something, this could result in a huge political clusterfuck since Joe Silva already has his hands full as it is between negotiating with managers, fighters, and filling in injury replacements on top of the basic matchmaking.

  12. mr. roadblock says:

    Saw this quote from Dana on MMAJunkie.com:

    “Sept. 10 was the date Showtime wants us to go, so it’s the date we’ve got to go,” White said. “It’s unfortunate that Alistair is unavailable, but situations like this are why there are alternates in the tournament.”

    If that’s what really happened shame on Zuffa. That’s total BS. Overeem had the hardest fight of any 1st round winner. The other guys all basically breezed. And Silva and Kharitonov have been resting since February.

    Overeem just fought on June 18th. They want him back on September 10th. No top fighters have that kind of turn around. Especially not HW’s. I’m surprised Barnett agreed to come back that soon.

    You need a minimum of 8 weeks for training camp. That was last week. This doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Overeem would have only had 3 weeks after the Werdum fight to get back in camp.

    • Chuck says:

      Overeem has fought seven times in 2009 (counting his K-1 fights) and 5 times last year, so he is known to fight a lot. The man has took fights on weeks notice. And I wouldn’t say Silva breezed in his fight against Fedor (the first round was very competitive). But he hasn’t fought since February, so that is true.

      But if he isn’t willing to fight on that date, then Cormier will have the opportunity of a lifetime. And Cormier fought on that same card as Overeem, so there.

      And no top fighters have that kind of turn around? Jon Jones beat Shogun for the light heavyweight title a month and a half after beating Ryan Bader. Antonio Silva fought Fedor only two months after beating (and almost getting KAYOED by) Mike Kyle.

      There are two explanations why Overeem won’t fight in September. Either he can’t cycle off steroids in time (if he does them…) or he has a feeling he won’t be able to beat Antonio Silva. Or both. Werdum almost beat Overeem standing. Think about that. Silva would eat Overeem for dinner if Overeem fought him like he did against Werdum. So would Sergei Kharitonov (Sergei already KAYOED Overeem before).

      • mr. roadblock says:

        Jones and Silva were getting big time no-lose opportunities.

        Those are terrible examples.

        Overeem is the champion of SF.

        You can’t compare his kickboxing fights to MMA. His background is in kickboxing. When he prepares for those fights he has one discipline to focus on. It’s not comparable to his MMA camps. Especially one preparing for Bigfoot Silva where he needs to be beefing up on the ground.

        If the SF tournament meant anything at all to Zuffa or anyone else they wouldn’t be giving Bigfoot Silva and Kharitonov such a huge advantage.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          He fought Duffee on 2 weeks notice and 20 days after competing 3 times in the K-1 Grand Prix…

          This is not a guy who has needed 3 months notice even less then a year ago…

        • The Gaijin says:

          It was also Todd Duffee.

        • Chuck says:

          Fedor was a no lose opportunity for Silva? You are out of you God-damned mind for thinking that.

          And Overeem being champ of SF…..you do realize that he defended the title ONCE in FOUR YEARS!!!! He can take a few more fights.

          Zuffa isn’t giving Kharitonov nor Silva any huge advantages. Zuffa has to take what Showtime gives them.

          Overeem’s background may be kickboxing, but his grappling background is almost as big (he did judo when he was younger and made his MMA debut at age 19). He also has more submission (19) victories than KO (14) victories.

          Even if the fight were to be in October he would probably still pull out because he probably thinks he can’t win against Silva.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “Zuffa has to take what Showtime gives them.”

          So Chuck you realize you are basically saying that Zuffa is less capable in their bargaining re. scheduling than SCOTT COKER? Because Coker was able to delay and reschedule the 2nd half of Round 1.

        • Chuck says:

          “So Chuck you realize you are basically saying that Zuffa is less capable in their bargaining re. scheduling than SCOTT COKER? Because Coker was able to delay and reschedule the 2nd half of Round 1.”

          Touche! But how far would they be able to push it back? A good chunk of October is taken up by either Showtime boxing (one event thus far on Oct. 29th) or UFC events (obviously they don’t want SF to run against UFC).

          Ah well, let’s wait and see what really does happen.

        • Mr.roadblock says:

          Fedor was absolutely a no lose situation for Bigfoot. It means even if Bigfoot lost it wouldn’t be a big deal because it was Fedor. I was saying Bigfoot and Jones had everything to gain in those fights reputation-wise. Wins would shoot them to the top level in the sport, but loses wouldn’t really hurt them.

          Geez, you mention Fedor’s name and some people just lose all rational thought. It’s like discussing religion with a zealot.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I was mainly being a smart ass, because I’m pretty sure the Zuffa guys have a lot more bargaining leverage than Coker…but it’s interesting they’re basically presenting that case. As you pointed out, there’s not really that many options w/out pushing it back a couple of months, and frankly I say I’m just as happy they decided to drive on with the tourney.

          I really think White/Zuffa are going to be taking a hardline going forward on guys that try to gain any leverage with this type of bargaining – they basically no sold Machida by getting Tito to step in and now they’re doing it to Overeem. And of course there could be much more to it and we’ll see AO with a UFC contract and a title shot/unification, but we’ll have to wait and see.

        • edub says:

          Anybody who believes that Zuffa “had to take what showtime gave them” is quite naive.

          Overeem is in his last fight, and probably trying to parlay his popularity into a big time contract (on top of speaking out about fighting Klitschko).

          Zuffa has more leverage this time (as opposed to Diaz) because Overeem didn’t have that boxing match in his contract.

          Overeem fought a month ago exactly, and he is SF’s biggest draw (outside of maybe Diaz and Fedor). If Zuffa had any thought of pushing Showtime’s date back they would have. All he needed was another month.

  13. 45 Huddle says:

    Hammers Hamil on The UG…. Who broke Lesnar being injured story a few days before anybody else has said a few interesting things the last day or so.

    1) SpikeTV is back to negotiating with the UFC. And the UFC isn’t getting the high money offers they were expecting. And somebody else is also now interested.

    2) Overeem’s negotiations with Zuffa for his new contract are not going well.

    #2 is not a shock. Golden Glory is barely a step above M-1 in terms of being impossible to deal with as managers….

    • 45 Huddle says:

      And the guy might be on to something…

      UFC 138 is now in England and has Leben/Munoz as a main event. It’s absolutely a SpikeTV card with a main event like that. UFC 139 is now Cain/JDS. Seems like the relationship is better if SpikeTV is agreeing to more shows now that weren’t already on the schedule.

      Versus was never a great fit unless they could get a guaranteed number of NBC shows. FOX/FX, ABC/ESPN, or even TBS/TNT and HBO have always seemed like a step UP from SpikeTV. Perhaps Versus in a few years would at least be a lateral move in the right direction. That doesn’t seem to be the case at this point.

      Either way, I’m watching MMA no matter what. Just interesting to see what channel(s) this all ends up on.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Leben-Munoz eh? I had seen an interview where Cung Le was lobbying for a fight with Leben, which would have been pretty interesting. Probably would have been very similar to the Scott Smith-Le fights…oh well this fight is much more meaningful to the MW picture as I highly doubt Le is ever going to take mma as a full-time gig very seriously (not that I blame him mind you).

        • 45 Huddle says:

          The same source is now saying Rich Franklin will either co-headline this card or headline the UFC on Versus 6 card. That should add some bulk to the card….

          Le is a mid-level Welterweight without any real ground game, who happens to be competing at Middleweight. I can’t take him seriously….

        • david m says:

          I am a huge Cung Le fan. A fight between Cung and Leben would be wild.

  14. Steve4192 says:

    Regarding the folks who are saying the UFC should just ‘push the even back’ to October to accomodate Overeem, here are the other MMA/boxing events going down in October.

    October 1 – UFC on Versus 6
    October 8 – UFC 136
    October 15 – Hopkins versus Dawson (HBO)
    October 22 – open
    October 29 – UFC 137, Ward versus Froch (Showtime)

    There is really only one open weekend in October, and that doesn’t even take into account the arena’s schedule. What if there is a concert scheduled for October 22nd at the arena that Zuffa has chosen? Should they move to another city to accommodate Alistair’s toe?

    Saying ‘just move it back’ is all well and good when you aren’t the guy who has to hammer out the details. Works well in theory, but in practice it is a LOT more complicated than ‘just move it back’.

    • Chuck says:

      They could take the 15th and compete against the HBO boxing program. It would be stupid to do, but it can be done.

      • nottheface says:

        Why would it be stupid? It’s on HBO and there is very little crossover audience between MMA and boxing. Plus one night ratings aren’t nearly as important as the number of subscribers.

        • Mr.roadblock says:

          I’m actually surprised they’re not doin the 15th. Showtime and HBO frequently go head to head with cards. They did it last week with Rios vs Antillon (must see fight if you missed it) on SHO against the Paul Williams screwjob on HBO.

        • edub says:

          nottheface- So true.

          And as Steve4192 said the 22nd is open.

  15. ergface says:

    No Overeem? I don’t care aboutthis GP or really even SF anymore at all. I like Cormier but him and Bigfoot in this context is a pretty sad consolation prize. I won’t pretend to have any inkling of what is truly happening between Overeem’s management and Zuffa. I have to say on the heels of DW’s comments re: Machida to me it’s starting to point to typical promoter ish. Then again things could be swell between them and this is all just a ruse to finish cannibalizing SF in favor of the UFC shows. Whatever it is hopefully it results in more money for Overeem and an exciting next match for the fans.

    BTW I have noticed a decrease in pushing SF on the ShoBox cards, is that just me? They list it in their schedule of upcoming attractions, but before they also ran banners across the bottom of the screen during the boxing matches.

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