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Torn ACLs & volatile UFC PPV buyrates

By Zach Arnold | December 8, 2011

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Losing your #2 PPV draw in Georges St. Pierre at a time when you’re preparing to run 34 shows in 2012 is a big deal. ACL injuries also take a lot longer to recover from both mentally & physically. Let’s take a look at the comments that GSP’s trainer, Firas Zahabi, made yesterday to Mauro Ranallo:

“It’s going to postpone the big fight but I think in the end Georges will be back to 100%. I think he’s come back from worse and knowing Georges, I know he’s going to follow the doctor’s orders to [the letter] when it comes to rehabilitation and he’s going to overcompensate, I know it, I trust his legs will be stronger than ever, his knee will be stronger than ever when he comes back.

“What’s most surprising is that he was training on it still. He was still training on it and he has a very strong mind, Georges, and he always try to work around discomfort and injury and pain and he was doing things, I think he, now that knowing he has a torn ACL I just think it was too rough, it was too much on the body and I think Georges has to learn to listen to his body more and at the place where he’s at now, you know, every little thing, every little injury he has to have it looked over by a specialist. He just has to be more careful. I know he’s very disappointed but I think he’s going to learn from that lesson and he’s just got to be more careful in the future.

“The training is very hard, it’s very intense and I think the body has limits even though the mind can go farther and push more, I think the body has limits and we’re learning that the hard way and Georges has to ease into training. He had to take a break and once he came off his break, he really went intense a little too fast I think and we got to learn ease back on the throttle at the right time.

“If I take it like Georges did, it would be really bad. I’ve got to be the positive one for him and just remind him that people have come back from worse and people have come back better than ever from injuries like that and I think he can. I think he’s the type of guy who’s really not going to take his rehabilitation lightly and I think he’s going to be more motivated when he comes back. Now he’s not in a good place, that’s for sure, he’s not in a good place mentally but I know Georges and eventually he’ll look at it in a positive light sooner or later.

“When you have a blown ACL, there’s no other avenue but surgery. That’s the only way you can fix it. I told him to start coaching with me, have him coaching, just keep your head in the game and it’ll make the time pass faster than sitting at home doing nothing. Georges is not the type of guy who does nothing. So, he needs a project and I think staying in the gym coaching, working with the guys, even just sitting down and watching practice and giving the guys tips and keeping his head in the game.”

To put into perspective the business climate that UFC is facing in 2012, our friend Front Row Brian notes the following:

Meltzer: As recently as the first six months of 2011, 75% of UFC’s income came from either PPV or live gates. To operate Zuffa, it costs $350,000,000 per year. Fox pays $90,000,000. UFC still a PPV driven company and #’s are declining.

I think UFC becoming a publicly traded company is a possibility. Dana would have to change his act real quick though.

UFC can only provide 1st run programming 1-2x a month. WWE can provide 1st run 8-10x month so they get more international TV rights fees.

If Fox is ponying up $90-100M USD a year, that still leaves UFC very much in need of making a couple hundred million USD on 12-14 PPVs. The more shows you run, the more the buy rates decline and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy like we are seeing in WWE where it’s dangerously close to sub-100k PPV buy numbers at times domestically in the States (if you believe the data that Dave Meltzer presents).

The company desperately needs warm bodies and guys that are perceived as stars. That’s why there’s so much intrigue about how FX will handle The Ultimate Fighter. We already know they hired Jon Anik (Zuffa did, I suppose) to work on the project. Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz are the coaches. The big question is whether Urijah will be able to dedicate himself 100% to the show given what’s happening with his sister after that terrible car accident.

Mauro Ranallo points out just how critical the success of the TUF launch on FX with Faber will need to be.

“A lot of people thinking, what’s with this announcement? I don’t know, is that going to be a great season?

“We have to start building up the lighter divisions and these guys, say what you will, Urijah Faber is Mr. Marketability, are you kidding me? Not only is he a talented fighter, not only is he tremendous promo guy, has the looks of mini-me Kerry Von Erich, but a guy who is a very astute businessman and for his brand, are you kidding me? He’s going to embrace this for all its worth and Dominick Cruz, as well. People may not be fans of his elusive defense-first style that has made him the dominant fighter that he is but, again, a very cerebral, very intelligent, well-spoken athlete and I’m very much looking forward to the camps, you know, Alliance in San Diego and, of course, Team Alpha Male the coaching that is going to be presented to the TUF 15 athletes on the reality show beginning in March and, as I’ve said throughout the last few weeks now that the TUF era on Spike TV has ended and we go live on FX beginning in 2012, let’s see more of what it takes to become a Mixed Martial Artist. Let’s see the training, let’s see the weight cutting, let’s see the strength and conditioning, diet and nutrition. And people can say, ‘yeah, but that’s for you hardcore fans…’ no! It’s about educating the masses. You can do it in an entertaining fashion. What, do you want to see a guy drop another upper decker on the reality show host? Do you want to see someone deposit his bodily fluids in someone’s piece of sushi? No fucking thank you! No! I want to see these tremendous athletes, these hungry individuals who are looking to take that all important next step in their career, in front of a nationally-televised audience with champions like Faber and Cruz… you know, I know it’s a reality show but now that the UFC’s in bed with Fox for the next 7 years, we can make it more sports-oriented this show I think and still make it entertaining while introducing people to the nuances of the submission game, of the ground game. So, hopefully one day soon we will silence the boo birds. People can boo, you can boo the guy you love to hate but don’t boo when the guys are on the ground plying their craft in the art of grappling. It’s called MIXED MARTIAL ARTS for a reason, folks.”

Unlike the Toronto show last April at the Sky Dome (Rogers Centre), this weekend’s affair is at Air Canada Centre and this guy is one of the headliners on the card:

Question: “What do you think is your secret to be able to last as long as you’ve had when compared to other older guys who have retired now like Randy (Couture) and Chuck (Liddell), what’s your secret? Why are you still here fighting the top-level guys?”

“I think it comes down to the big man upstairs. God has really blessed me with some great skills and the attitude of myself just believing the things that I needed to do to get me forward. I had back surgery, neck surgery. Athletes don’t compete after having that happen. Liddell and Couture has never had any injuries like that and came back. I don’t think there’s any other athlete, out of all of them, that’s ever competed after having the surgeries that I’ve had done. I think it just comes down to hard work and dedication, determination of believing in myself and believing in what I needed to do to support my family and showing the fans that I’m a true athlete and I’m a real person.

“I think I kind of took a page out of Randy Couture’s book of training a lot more smarter, not really push myself trying to kill myself… I’m so used to doing road work and just killing myself and now I kind of second-guess myself a few times because I’m not doing the stuff I used to do when I was the world champion. Even eating the right things, I mean I eat junk food whenever I want to, small things like that… am I doing the right things? But I’m enjoying life a lot more now, I think. After 15 years of hard work and putting a lot of things together… you got to train the right way, of course, but I think smarter is better than doing more, you know, I think it really comes down to doing the right things to make it happen instead of doing a bunch of things trying to cram it all together into one.”

Thoughts on fighting Little Nogueira after the Phil Davis fight?

“I think Phil Davis showed the recipe to beat Little Nog but that’s very tough, it’s very tough to beat Little Nog. He’s a very tough opponent, being a black belt in BJJ, golden gloves in boxing, takedown defense is really good, too. Him and his brother really dangerous, Black House of course they train with world champions, they train with Anderson Silva, train with Machida, a lot of guys they train with and they’re one of the biggest, best gyms in the world right now. My hands are full and I believe it’s just one of things that I have to go, put my heart and determination and get my hand raised and I know what I need to do, me and Jason we sat down and we kind of fulfilled what we needed to do in training camp and I’m really and excited for this fight to get my hand raised.”

To put things into perspective for this weekend’s main card, Tito Ortiz is a smaller underdog in his fight (against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira) than Big Nogueira is to Frank Mir (5-to-2) and Machida is against Jon Jones (9-to-2).

Topics: Canada, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

7 Responses to “Torn ACLs & volatile UFC PPV buyrates”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    All of the ground work is being put in place to build more stars. JDS vs. Cain was the start. The triple header on FOX is the next step. A lot of good fighters are getting huge amounts of exposure. It might not pay off today or tomorrow. But it will pay off 6 months to a year from now. Every sport not named Football has up and down years on attendance and viewership. The UFC isn’t much different. They felt the effects of SpikeTV messing with them near the end and they are still pulling in big numbers ratings wise. Let’s see what Jones and Lesnar do before people start claiming it’s the end of the world….

    One guy getting injured isn’t a big deal.

    And let’s look at that $350 Million. $90 Million from FOX. They are likely to get at least $50 Million from the live gate this year no matter what. That’s $140 Million.

    Let’s say they take half of all PPV buys. Let’s say $27.50 per buy. They run 15 shows. They average 250,000 per show. That’s $100 Million. $240 Million out of the gate without blinking an eye. And that’s the lowest estimate possible on PPV numbers. Many shows draw more. They have income from bars and roku, xbox, and internet streams. Then put in advertisers and merchandise. Really, with the company running itself, they are basically breaking even if that $350 Million amount of true.

    The money story is over. The UFC will be fine. They have structured the contracts to make sure bad things don’t happen. That’s why the best fighters are on PPV bonuses…. They make more money if the UFC does.

    The smaller weight class guys will eventually break through to the general audience. It happened in boxing. However, unlike Heavyweights, it takes more time for the fans to get use to them. It’s been less then a year and already the smaller guys are getting big time traction (look at the TUF Finale ratings).

    And once all 8 weight classes have been in the public eye for a few years, the UFC will have 8 different guys to pull from to create stars. And then it’s just about maximizing profits.

    FOX is in it for the long haul. They don’t need to hit a home run out of the park on day one.

  2. EJ says:

    Love Meltzer but I have no idea where he came up with that number or if it’s even remotely close to being true. Like i’ve complained about the UFC, Meltzer has also been off his game reporting wise, this past year so i’d be hesitant to believe those numbers are being close to being true at this point.

    That number seems way too high and kind of ridiculous almost as much as saying the UFC will go public. Since that goes against how the Ferttitas deal with the UFC and how private they are about everything they do. This seems like another overeaction to ppv numbers something that a guy like Meltzer should know better than to do.

  3. Brett says:

    350 million to run UFC? That seems a little high.

    • Keith Harris says:

      I think what Meltzer means is *at its current level*. Even WWE’s lowest drawing PPVs are still comfortably profitable because they have cut back on production costs in a way that nobody has noticed and also the payoffs to talent has been cut back too. UFC would do the same if it came to it.

  4. […] Arnold has an interesting piece on Fight Opinion about Torn ACLs & volatile UFC PPV buyrates – what’s the correlation? Find out […]

  5. Safari_Punch says:

    “Mini-Me Kerry Von Erich?” Faber is going to blow his brains out?


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