Fighter Salaries: A Fair Share of Revenues (Part 1)
Without a doubt the most contentious of all the fighter salary issues, determining a fair share of revenues for the fighters is no easy task. I’ve thought about the direction that I wanted to take this piece for some weeks and it has occurred to me that the best format for something such as this is to just put everything on the table and try to make some sense of it.
There really is no other place to start than defining the word fair; and, in this case it’s a matter of multiple perspectives. Without a doubt, primary consideration must to be given to the opinions and viewpoints of both the promoters (and their organizations) and the fighters - they are the main actors. However, secondary consideration needs to be given towards creating a revenue sharing scheme that is fair to the sport and fair in the eyes of the fans.
It has been reported that the Fertitta brothers dumped close to $40 million of their own wealth into the UFC from 2001 until 2005 (the time before the company began to see a profit). From their point of view and that of other owners and promoters, those that take the financial risks ought to determine the amount of financial rewards they’re entitled to.
Fisher vs Guillard at UFC 90 In Chicago
MMAWeekly.com on Monday confirmed that Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweights Spencer “The King” Fisher and Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard will face each other at UFC 90 in Chicago on Oct. 25.
Both fighters have received bout agreements and are in the process of signing them.
Fisher, 32, is coming off a tough decision victory over sometime training partner Jeremy Stephens at the Ultimate Fighter Finale on June 21. The durable Miletich Fighting Systems fighter has won seven out of 10 performances in the Octagon since debuting at Ultimate Fight Night 2 in 2005. Though he slid against contenders Frankie Edgar and Hermes Franca in 2007, Fisher has always been considered among the top-tier in the division.
Guillard, 25, has had mixed results in the UFC after debuting on the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The New Orleans native has faced a variety of personal issues outside the cage, despite several impressive performances since debuting at The Ultimate Fighter 2 finale in 2005. Guillard’s recent dispatch of Dennis Siver at UFC 86 was quick and explosive, two words that are often attributed to him.
Fisher’s trainer, Pat Miletich, is none too happy about the match-up.
“Spencer has no reason to fight that guy,” Miletich said. “I don’t think Melvin’s earned the right to fight him yet. I think Spencer should be fighting somebody where he’s got something to gain.”
Still, Miletich is confident that his student will emerge victorious.
“Spencer obviously would be the favored guy,” he continued. “Melvin’s a dangerous kid, but I don’t think Melvin’s a polished fighter at Spencer’s level.”
Fisher and Guillard were unreachable for comment.
UFC COMMENTS ON TEXAS RULING IN COUTURE CASE
Depending upon whom you ask, Randy Couture resigned or retired from the Ultimate Fighting Championship on October 11, 2007. Since that time, he has been embroiled in a legal battle with the Zuffa owned promotion.
With billionaire Mark Cuban’s company HDNet being one of the main suitors for Couture's services when and if he is ever clear of his legal entanglements with the UFC, both HDNet and Couture were handed a clear blow to their legal efforts in the Texas Court of Appeals on Friday.
HDNet has pursued a declaration stating the finality of Couture’s fight contract with Zuffa and when he would be free to fight for another organization. Its efforts were denied on Friday, however, when the Texas Court of Appeals found that the lower court that was acting on the HDNet litigation had engaged in “a clear abuse of discretion” by permitting it, according to a statement released by Zuffa.
The Texas Court of Appeals granted Zuffa’s Motion to Compel Randy Couture to arbitrate in the District of Nevada, staying all further action by HDNet against Zuffa in the state of Texas.
RELEASED BY IFL, CIESNOLEVICZ WANTS A SHOT
In the last days of the International Fight League, many of the promotion’s fighters have been given opportunities elsewhere on large shows. One fighter however that has been conspicuously absent from such large opportunities is light-heavyweight contender Mike Ciesnolevicz.
After losing his first two bouts with the promotion, Ciesnolevicz rebounded, winning five straight, becoming a big part of the Quad Cities Silverbacks team that took two straight team championships.
Eager to prove himself as an individual fighter, Ciesnolevicz looked to be a favorite heading into the promotion’s 205-pound Grand Prix, but due to a deviated septum was forced to sit on the sidelines and recover from injury.
WEC Signs Mexican Television Deal
Somehow this got swept under the radar, but it's worth a look. Notable quote:
Boxing has been the sport of choice for Mexican fans, but World Extreme Cagefighting is banking on the excitement, intensity and popularity of mixed martial arts to win over Latin fight fans.
The WEC is home to many Mexican fighters such as WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Angel Torres, Manny Tapia, Leonard Garcia and Blas Avena. The WEC is going after the Mexican market in a huge way, announcing a deal with Cadena Tres to become the network television home for the WEC in Mexico.
The deal with Cadena Tres starts with Sunday’s broadcast of WEC 35, which features three titles fights, and runs through 2009.
“This partnership between Cadena Tres and the WEC is a groundbreaking event for Mexican television,” said Erik Zuckermann, director of programming and new content for Cadena Tres. “We are the first free TV network to bring the Mexican audience this kind of contact sport in primetime. The WEC live events represent the perfect choice for Cadena Tres, which, being the newest option on Mexican free TV, continually bets on content that represents a unique and fresh option for our viewers. We are certain the WEC will represent one of the biggest hits on TV and Cadena Tres will be the channel to watch every week.”
Affliction: Day Of Reckoning - October 11, Las Vegas
ffliction announced over the weekend that its next show will feature a showdown of two of the best heavyweights in all of mixed martial arts as Josh Barnett will face Andrei Arlovski on Oct. 11 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The upcoming bout, labeled Day of Reckoning, is the second card for Affliction banner which made its debut at the Honda Center on July 19 in front of nearly 14,000.
In that card, Barnett dispatched Brazilian Pedro Rizzo to vindicate a loss early in his career. And that same night, Arlovski battled Ben Rothwell and earned a hard-fought knockout win.
More bouts are expected to be announced shortly for the pay-per-view event. Tickets go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m.
New Heath Herring Interview
Heath Herring has made a living fighting in other fighters' backyards. This Saturday he does it again, facing Brock Lesnar in Lesnar's native Minnesota at UFC 87-which is "nothing new" to Herring, a subject he touched on among others in a new interview.
Wanderlei Silva told to prepare for December return
After a brutal destruction of Keith Jardine in May, UFC light-heavyweight Wanderlei Silva (32-8-1 MMA, 2-3 UFC) has been told by UFC officials to prepare for a December return.
The win was Silva's first victory in almost two years, and the famed light heavyweight shared his thoughts on his next bout while a guest co-host on a recent edition TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"I'm talking with (UFC co-owner) Lorenzo (Fertitta)," said Silva, who's English continues to improve since a move to Las Vegas. "They're talking about December because it is the best event of the year. (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira is going to fight (Frank) Mir for the belt for the heavyweights.
"This is the best event. It's much more promotion. They told me to be ready to fight in December."
Silva said he doesn't yet know who he will face on the card.
"They gave me 10 (possible) names," Silva said. "My division is the best division in the world. They have so many names. I think they're going to give a good opponent to me."
While several names have been rumored, a possible third bout between Silva and ex-champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has been brought up repeatedly as of late. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in light of his two previous knockout victories over Jackson, Silva said he would be open to the match-up.
"I wanted to fight [Jackson] again," Silva said. "I think it's a very good match."
Despite recent troubles, including three straight losses to Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell before the victory over Jardine, Silva still has his eyes focused on the UFC's light heavyweight title.
"For me, I have time to fight for the belt in the future, no problem," Silva said. "I'm going to wait for my opportunity. I'm going to give my best on every fight. After I win my fights, I'm going to have an opportunity to fight for the belt."
And regardless of whom the UFC brings forth in December, Silva knows he'll be ready.
"For me, no problem," Silva said. "I'll fight with everybody."
Silva also discussed the advantages of his relocation to the U.S., his relationship with his old Chute Boxe teammates and the opening of his own gym in Las Vegas. To hear the full episode, which Silva co-hosted, download Wednesday's edition of TAGG Radio, available for free in the TAGG Radio archives.
Seven Fighters in Need of a Promotion
As the boom of mixed martial arts promotions and shows continues, one fact has become more and more apparent: Zuffa and the UFC are the gold standard, both in show production and fighter talent. As a result it can be sometimes painful to watch fighters of superior talent fight in promotions lacking the roster depth to fully test their abilities.
In the wake of the EliteXC show the newly crowned welterweight champion is a staunch reminder of the challenges that face a top ten fighter when fighting outside of the UFC. The talent discrepancy between the top 10 fighters in a weight class and the rest of the division can be daunting when trying to match-make. The 63 second drubbing Jake Shields laid on Nick Thompson is a repercussion of being an elite level fighter outside of the UFC.
Fighters who show elite-level ability can outgrow the competition around them very quickly in some promotions. If they want to take the next step forward as a fighter, both competitively and financially, then they need to make the move to the UFC. It’s a harsh reality of the mixed martial arts landscape for those not in the good graces of Zuffa. The step up in competition that Zuffa can provide brings legitimacy and respectability. Combined with the increased marketing and exposure the UFC can bring to the table, it results in sponsorship money that can far exceed a fighter’s purse.
After watching Shields win on Saturday evening, it got me thinking about who else in mixed martial arts would benefit from a move to the UFC or the WEC. Below is a short list of fighters, one from each major weight class, who are in dire need of a move to Zuffa:
Michael Bisping planning on going "straight through" Chris Leben
UFC middleweight Michael Bisping (16-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) will get his second shot at headlining a card at October's UFC 89 event in his native England. And while Bisping's first headlining gig netted him his only career loss to date against Rashad Evans, "The Count" thinks this time will be different.
Bisping discussed his upcoming bout with Chris Leben while a guest on a special weekend edition of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"I've got respect for [Leben]," Bisping said. "But I'm going to go straight through him. That's what I'm made to do."
The fight will be Bisping's third in the middleweight division. The Liverpool native started his career at 205 pounds, but he made the decision to move down a weight class after suffering the lone loss of his career.
Joey Villasenor slated for Sept. 20 EliteXC return; "Ninja" rematch possible
Top EliteXC middleweight contender Joey Villasenor (26-6) will return to action for the organization on Sept. 20, possibly in front of a hometown audience.
On Saturday MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) confirmed the upcoming EliteXC bout with Villasenor.
"It sounds like it's going to be in my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico," Villasenor said. "We’re just waiting on confirmation of who it's going to be (against)."
Villasenor said EliteXC officials have shared a few names as possible opponents -- including Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos -- but that the organization appears determined to put together a rematch with Murilo "Ninja" Rua (16-8-1).
Icon Sport: Hard Times Results
175: Phil Baroni (11-10) vs. Ron Verdadero (5-5)
R1-Verdadero faints a jab. Baroni comes out with a leg kick. Verdadero with a 1-2 counter backs up Phil. Baroni answers with an uppercut and right hook that drops Verdadero. Shimada stops it as Verdadero QUICKLY gets back up. HORRIBLE STOPPAGE. Verdadero wasn’t even hurt. Oh man.
Winner — Phil Baroni (12-10) at :51 of round 1 by TKO (strikes).
Crane Rebounds, Villa Stuns Fickett at RITC
After 112 Rage in the Cage events held in Arizona, the promotion finally ventured out of the desert to New Mexico, where a combined 22 amateur and professional bouts fight card was held at the Santa Ana Star Casino Saturday night.
In front of 2,300 fans, native Alberto Crane (Pictures) looked impressive defeating Adrian Valdez with a first-round submission at 1:35.
Crane jumped at his opponent immediately with a takedown, then transitioned from an armbar attempt to the guillotine choke, which prompted Valdez to tap out.
“It was great to get back in the win column,” said Crane. “I wanted to throw more punches and that was the plan, but when he was in position for the guillotine, I went for it and stuck it to him.”
In the co-main event, Richard Villa upset Drew Fickett (Pictures) with a second-round TKO. Villa followed a game plan that started earlier that day at weigh-ins.
Fickett came in over weight and had to run off two pounds, which may have took its toll on him. Villa and his camp figured they would take full advantage of that by letting Fickett come out strong and blow his load, then pick it up as the fight progressed.
It was all Fickett in round one as he was able to land two good right kicks to Villa’s head followed by a takedown. Fickett hunted for the submission, but to Villa’s credit he held on to finish the round.
Round two saw Villa attack and drop Fickett to his back with a hard right, where Villa continued his onslaught with rights and left hands until he coaxed out the referee stoppage and the biggest victory of his career.
”I knew he was drained from running this morning,” said Villa. “We planned on letting him come out strong and then I’d kick it into another gear in the second. People didn’t know who I was before this fight, maybe now they’ll take notice.”
MMA Adversary Removed From NYS Payroll
In a recent New York Post story discussing the firing of Ron-Scott Stevens, who had been the chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, it was speculated by George Willis, the writer of that piece, that Stevens’ attitude toward MMA, which has not yet been passed in New York but inevitably will be, was a factor in the decision by Governor David Patterson to replace with with Melvina Latham.
Stevens was quoted in Willis’ story as saying, “It’s not my role to say whether I like it or not. My role is, if it’s passed by the legislature, to regulate it properly.”
That’s a tough thing to do when the whole world knows you have a pre-disposition against it. It’s the kind of thing that would leave him open to constant attack, some of it justified, over decisions that may seem controversial or unfair against an MMA operator. And that might be the kind of thing that is expected out of someone who is part of the boxing culture, as a matchmaker for so many years as Stevens was.
Minotouro asks for Affliction belt
Affliction’s first edition was great to Rogério Minotouro, that left HCF with some troubles and arrived on a new show, that promises shake MMA world. After Vitor Belfort announce to TATAME that he’ll face Matt Lindland for the middleweight belt, Rogério Minotouro asked for the belt. “I’ll fight in October 11th, but it’s not right yet against who. They’re speculating a lot of opponents, but they didn’t say anything yet”, told Rogério, that didn’t knew yet about Belfort’s fight. “Did they created a belt for him? Do you know if they’ll create a belt to light-heavyweight too?”, asked Nogueira.
After hearing a “no” as an answer, Nogueira promised win the belt – when Affliction creates one. “If they make one it’ll be great… I wanna be on top, and I’m ready. If I get this belt I can be a top 3”, said Rogério, that commented about the rumors of the fight between Renato Babalu Sobral and Tito Ortiz. “It seems like it’ll happen, they’re already negotiating it, but I don’t know if it’ll happen on the next event”, told Rogério to TATAME.com.