Different Approaches to the Business of MMA

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3/11/08 5:25:08PM

Last year brought three major players, the IFL, Elite XC and Bodog Fight, all of whom burned through tens of millions of dollars. IFL had a weekly Monday night television show in prime time nationwide on Mynetworktv, but didn't have or make the right stars, nor did they seem to have long-term planning. IFL no longer has that TV outlet and they have completely revamped their presentation.
Elite XC had a deal with Showtime, bought smaller promotions all over the world, and with a CBS prime time television deal have a shot at making a great impact this year. Bodog had a television show on Ion that nobody watched, spent millions in advertising, failed on pay-per-view, lost their TV and are no longer even running shows.

This year's key new players include Mark Cuban's HDNet Fights, looking to become a major player by using MMA as a key sport in building a new television station and seemingly having the best chance of promoting the elusive Fedor Emelianenko vs. Randy Couture fight. Affliction, the makers of the T-shirts that are a fixture in the world of MMA, is starting a company tentatively scheduled to debut in June, and is making a big play for a number of free agents, reportedly making big offers to the likes of Matt Lindland (who has signed with them), Josh Barnett and Ben Rothwell among others, for non-exclusive contracts and numbers far beyond what they would be earning in UFC.

Cuban has stated many times he's not interested in getting into a bidding war over the top talent. UFC has not talked publicly, but privately, their philosophy based on recent negotiations is to also not get caught up in bidding wars for talent.

From the above, there are two paths to MMA profit -- slow and steady (as exemplified by the UFC and Mark Cuban) and big and bold (IFL, Bodog, Affiction/Golden Boy, EliteXC). So far, slow and steady has won the race but EliteXC's CBS gambit has certainly made things interesting.

3/11/08 10:55:22PM
yea im interested to see how this plays out. I think Cuban is the next big thing, hes a genius promoter and businessman well just have to wait and see.

and im also excited about EXC theyve made some rpetty good moves and despite what dana says seem to be in it for the long run i hope they do well.
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