Promotions and the Use of Exclusive Fighter Agreements in MMA
Promotions use exclusive fighter agreements to carefully and comprehensively describe the rights and responsibilities of fighters under contract with the organization. Generally, these exclusive agreements address key business conditions a promotion wishes to clearly define in the event the conditions are not met. Promotions are big businesses and the sophistication of their business agreements reflect this reality.
MMA business is no longer based on a handshake. In fact, in many instances, the exclusive fighter agreement is just one of several a promotion will use. Bout agreements and standard fighter contracts governed by state athletic commissions and/or other governing bodies are also used to strictly define the roles of the parties, the term of the business agreement, the scope of the deal (which can be very broad) and the consequences for breach. Following are just some of the key provisions one could expect to find in an exclusive fighter agreement:
Mir & Griffin Working With Mark Dellagrotte
Frank Mir is working with MMA trainer-du-jour Marc Dellagrotte ahead of his challenge for the heavyweight title held by Brock Lesnar. And Forrest Griffin is also consulting the Boston-based trainer, who has recently move towards a Las Vegas expansion.
Dellagrotte is known for his knowledge of Muay Thai kickboxing and skill in adapting to the requirements of mixed martial arts, suggesting that Mir anticipates a standing fight with Lesnar, who he submitted in their first fight last year.
Michael Bisping eager to pick up a few ‘new tricks’ from Frank Mir prior to UFC 100
“When Rampage fought Wanderlei in December he used Frank Mir’s gym. Anthony [McGann] the manager of Wolfslair is friendly with Frank, so seeing as he’s fighting on the card I thought it could be a possibility…. I’ve got to make sure I’m as fit as I possibly can be — that’s a given, I always try to be in top condition. Obviously I’ve got to work my defense against Greco-Roman wrestling, and avoiding Dan’s big right hand which he likes to follow up with the clinch — to try to land that big shot and follow it up with a take down. And same as always, I always try and improve my all-round game and go in as a better and improved fighter than I did last time. I definitely feel I’ve improved as a fighter since I fought Leben. I’ve definitely got some new tricks up my sleeves and I’ll be looking at using them when we fight.”
Dennis Hallman vs. Duane Ludwig Possible for June 19 Strikeforce
The second installment of Strikeforce Challenger Series may have another main card bout added soon.
A welterweight match-up between Dennis Hallman and Duane Ludwig is under consideration for the Showtime series, according to a source who chose not to be named.
If Ludwig is confirmed, the up-and-comers' main card will carry a half-dozen fighters with over ten fights on their record.
Nick 'The Goat' Thompson Moving Up To 185
Six months ago, Nick “The Goat” Thompson thought he was a fighter with a law degree. But when fights stopped coming in the last half of 2008, he wondered if he was the opposite.
“I’ve got this $100,000 degree, I’ve been paying on that, and I can’t find any fights,” said Thompson. “It doesn’t really matter how good you are if you can’t find fights. The law was looking a lot more attractive an option.”
What is Going on with UFC, Bud Light, and Mickey’s?
Last week’s edition of TUF had a subtle sponsor item that may have escaped the eye of most of those watching the telecast, but may speak to larger issues.
Mickey’s sponsorship of the tale of the tape comes after a long absence from sponsoring the UFC. The company was a major sponsor of the UFC, but was ushered out the door with the UFC’s signing with Bud Light. As noted in their press release at the time of the Bud Light signing, the Anheuser-Busch company signed on to be the exclusive beer sponsor for the UFC. With Mickey’s in, is Bud Light in, out, or somewhere in between? Many questions abound….
Is the UFC playing semantics with the difference between malt liquor and beer, and if so, at what cost to their relationship with Bud Light? The UFC has a deal with Tequila Cazadores to be the official spirits sponsor of the UFC, but the this represents another product category all together and wouldn’t be seen as a direct competitor to Bud Light. Not so with Mickey’s and Bud. In addition, Mickey’s is a MillerCoors company, which serves as the Pepsi to Bud’s Coke, so to speak. Trying to play off of both brands while having an exclusive deal for beer with one would be frowned upon. Even if Bud Light didn’t care to sponsor the tale of the tape, they would look to protect their exclusive rights with the UFC and have them pursue a non-alcoholic beverage sponsor for the TUF spot. I’m hard pressed to name any sports entity that is double dipping from both Miller and Bud Light. If the Bud Light UFC deal is still in effect, this kind of abrogation of the agreement would have to be run by Bud for an OK and their would likely have to be some kind of special circumstance instigating such a deal.
Which begs the question, does the deal with Mickey’s signal a strained relationship between the UFC and Bud Light? An noted previously on MMAPayout.com, Bud Light frowned upon Dana White’s recent blog rant commenting “The comments by Dana White were inappropriate, insensitive and out-of-line. We have spoken to Dana about the gravity of this issue and communicated that our company maintains a corporate commitment to zero tolerance for discrimination.” While they frowned upon Dana’s comments, they made no intimations that any kind of separation with the UFC was imminent. With the UFC hitting their demo wheelhouse, as loathsome as White’s comments were, Bud Light would be hard pressed to scrap their UFC deal. Industry sources have indicated to MMAPayout that Bud Light does have periodic outs in their UFC deal, allowing exits at specified times before the 3 year term of the deal is over. It should also be noted that Bud Light is still prominently featured on the UFC website, which suggests the relationship is seemingly healthy. Bud Light paid a premium to be an exclusive provider, have they scaled back their sponsorship? With the Bud InBev merger, one of the first areas mentioned for savings was the large amount of sponsorship dollars spent on sporting events. Is the UFC sponsorship becoming a casualty of this cost cutting mindset?
One possible explanation for the Mickey’s deal is the UFC meeting previous contractual obligations. The UFC severed their deal with Mickey’s rather quickly after signing with Bud Light. The UFC may be having to make good on their Mickey’s sponsorship that was shunted aside in the ushering in of Bud Light. Making good on an unfulfilled deal would be preferable to litigation, but again this is something that would have to be done in co-operation with Bud.
The Mickey’s sponsorship raises many questions, with few answers at this point. MMAPayout has e-mailed UFC VP of Sponsorship Sales Michael Pine, UFC Assistant General Counsel at Zuffa and Sponsor Czar Mike Mersch, and UFC PR Head Jennifer Wenk for clarification on this item, but have received no comment as of press time. We’ll let our readers know more when/if they respond.
Dana White to CNBC: UFC First Quarter up 20%
UFC President spoke with CNBC’s Darren Rovell and touted the UFC”s First Quarter results for 2009:
White gave us a never before released number to prove it, saying that business was up 20 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008.
Much of the increase in quarter over quarter results can be traced back to the PPV success of UFC 94: Penn vs GSP 2, which generated nearly a million buys on PPV. This was a net increase of around 300k buys over the highest selling PPV in the First Quarter of 08 (Lesnar vs Mir). The UFC also benefited from higher than normal numbers for their Franklin Henderson card from their UK Division. Other items, like their deal with Topps also came to fruition during this time period, opening up additional revenue streams. The UFC can also look forward to a higher than normal result for the second or third quarter of 2009, depending on when revenue from the UFC Undisputed 2009 video game is booked.
White also hinted at his strategy when enticing sponsors on the corporate level for the UFC:
“Look our ratings in the 18-34’s,” White said. “We outrated Monday Night Football in that demo four times last year.” White also said he thinks that even in this environment the UFC….. can land another big sponsor. “Especially now we can do it,” White said. “The price of an NFL sponsorship is so high and we hit the same market at a lower price.”
The UFC can sell itself as a value play, giving more bang for the buck. The UFC make a very attractive option, especially now when the ad/sponsorship market is in something of a free fall. The value play doesn’t come without some risk for the sponsors, as evidenced by the videoblog brouhaha that erupted recently.
It's GSP vs. ATT At UFC 100
No, it's not a handicap beatdown-to-be, but that's what the matchup of Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves will be at UFC 100 according to Alves' teammate, Lightweight standout Gesias Cavalcante. "JZ" is confident that the training Alves is getting at American Top Team will be the difference in their UFC Welterweight Title fight.
Fans Under 18 Banned From UFC 99
UFC 99 in Germany is now a "no kids allowed" zone. A front-page article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung-one of the country’s biggest newspapers-on Sunday has led to a ban on anyone under the age of 18 from attending UFC 99, according to Yahoo Sports. But early word is not a lot of fans will be affected by this.
Pros Picks: Hughes vs. Serra
On Saturday in scorching Las Vegas, the only thing hotter than the desert heat will be a ticket to UFC 98 “Evans vs. Machida” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The chief support bout to the main event between light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and unbeaten challenger Lyoto Machida is the oft-delayed grudge match between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. Both former UFC welterweight champions, Hughes and Serra desperately need a win to stay relevant at 170 pounds.
Sherdog.com spoke with dozens of professional fighters and trainers inside the world of mixed martial arts to see who they favored in the UFC’s best grudge match since Tito Ortiz first flipped the bird at Ken Shamrock.
Pros that picked Hughes: 8
Pros that picked Serra: 10
I'm surprised that Serra is ahead i guess Hughes is disliked by some in the mma community
Nortje: "Sokoudjou is Messing With the Real HWs now"
Sokoudjou stunned the MMA world by knocking out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona but coming into this bout the fight favors you standing up and he has the advantage on the ground. Who are you training with at the moment to help you if the fight does hit the mat?
Nick Feketi was the silver medalist in the 2008 Olympics in heavyweight wrestling, he is helping me. Randy has some input as well and the gym is full of excellent wrestlers that also help so if we go to ground I should be good.
Time Warner Possibly Dropping MMA-friendly HDNet
Time Warner and HDNet have reached an impasse in coming to terms on a new carriage agreement and the result is the possible dropping of the high definition channel effective May 31st. The drop would affect the more than 1 million HDNet subscribers through TW nationwide. This would be a sizable chunk of the 15 million subscriber base for HDNet.
HDNet Co-founder Mark Cuban spoke with MMA Fanhouse and held out hope for a resolution:
“We are still in discussions,” Cuban said via e-mail. “The best thing fans can do is call their local Time Warner general manager and tell them that. They love HDNet and would be upset if its taken off.”
Gesias Cavalcante Interview
One of the best lightweight fighters of the world, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante is ready for his return to the rings. Thirst for fight, the American Top Team representative is scheduled to fight Tatsuya Kawajiri in the Dream 9, on May 26, Japan. Without stopping the trainings, Gesias talked with TATAME.com and guaranteed: is ready to return with victory. Check below the exclusive interview with the fighter, who also commented about Shynia Aoki’s loss to Hayato Sakurai at Dream welterweight tournament, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro’s return at Dream, the title fight between his team mate Thiago Alves and Georges St. Pierre and much more.
Cro Cop's fighting ASAP.... In the UFC
These days the boys from Cro Cop team are training in full force. After a long break and highly demanding recovery process, Mirko Cro Cop is ready to fight in MMA again.
All problems with injuries are history and Cro Cop is very optimistic to start another chapter in his career:
„I feel great, the recovery process is going well and we train at high intensity now. I never had such a strong desire to prove myself and I'll climb up again, or die trying.“
Mirko's next fight is set for June 13th in Germany, which means that he's back in the UFC, a place that he didn't have his best moments:
„I decided to fight in the UFC again, because of the stronger competition in the heavyweight division. My next opponent will be Mustapha Al-Turk. I didn't do well in my first three appearances - I wasn't myself. By returning to the cage I want to prove that I can still fight at highest level, no matter when or where.“, claims Cro Cop.
All I have to say is I didn't even hear about this. He signed with Dream not to long ago lol.
MMA regulation coming to Indiana
The state of Indiana appears to be headed toward full regulation for the sport of mixed martial arts. Senate Bill 160 was drafted primarily by Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn. It has been ratified, and regulation for MMA will take effect on the first day of July.
According to mmafacts.com, MMA is currently regulated in 32 states. A bill to add Hawaii to the list has passed that state’s legislature and is scheduled to go into effect later this year.
There are seven remaining states that do not regulate the sport.
They are: New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Connecticut. However, in the case of Connecticut, the Mohegan Sun casino is on an Indian reservation and has run MMA shows.
There are also five states that have no athletic commission for MMA or boxing. Those are Alaska, Alabama, Wyoming, South Dakota and Maine.
Full regulation is a move those in the sport feel is necessary.
Lyoto Machida and the Revenge of Karate
Saturday, Lyoto Machida may well wind up finishing what Minoki Ichihara started.
Ichihara, if not the pioneering karateka to step into a mixed-rules ring, was certainly the first to do it for the benefit of a television satellite truck. An elite daido juku fighter in Japan -- a hybrid of judo and kyokushin karate -- Ichihara admitted himself in the 16-man draw of the second Ultimate Fighting Championship in March 1994.