INEXPERIENCE ASIDE, BROCK LESNAR EYES UFC GOLD
When Brock Lesnar signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the former collegiate wrestling champion and former professional wrestling superstar said he wanted to fight the top heavyweights. He was serious.
At UFC 91 on Nov. 15 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Lesnar will face Randy "The Natural" Couture for the UFC heavyweight belt in only his fourth mixed martial arts bout and third time in the Octagon.
"I've wanted a fight with Randy since before I signed a contract with the UFC," Lesnar told the media on Tuesday.
Despite his inexperience and Couture's year-long layoff from competition, expectations are high that the match-up will generate record numbers. "We actually do research on these things if you can believe it or not," said UFC president Dana White.
TKO SIGNS NEW TV DEAL, BEGINS AIRING FRIDAY
TKO Championship Fighting on Wednesday announced the signing of a television deal with the TQS television network in Canada.
The sport of mixed martial arts will be seen on network television in Quebec for the very first time beginning Sept. 5. TQS will air “TKO, Friday Night Knockouts” every Friday night at 9pm.
“For over eight years I have been working very hard to make the public understand and appreciate our sport and our athletes,” explained an elated Stephane Patry, president and founder of TKO Championship Fighting.
“When we first started in 2000, our events were held in small venues and TKO was available on DVD and on specialty sport channels only. In 2006, TKO Championship Fighting found a new home at the Bell Centre and our fans began to multiply. Now, thanks to this partnership with the Rémillard brothers and the team at TQS, I am confident that our sport will reach a whole new level of popularity which is exactly what the sport and our athletes deserve.”
AFFLICTION CLEARS ROADBLOCKS, READY FOR MORE
By now, Affliction vice president Tom Atencio has become used to swimming upstream against the doubters of his company. Since he launched Affliction Entertainment as the new fight promotion on the block in early 2008, he has faced naysayers at every turn, despite assembling one of the most talent-packed MMA cards in the sport’s recent history with “Affliction: Banned” this July.
None have been more vocal than UFC president Dana White. Since Affliction’s emergence, his not-so-affectionate moniker for the company, “the t-shirt guys,” has often been followed by a prediction of the company’s approaching demise. In a teleconference on Tuesday announcing Randy Couture’s return to the UFC, he was true to form.
“In this economy right now, losing money is a really bad thing,” White said. “There’s nobody out there looking to fund anything, nobody’s spending any money, nobody’s investing in anything. When you’re losing the kind of money that these guys are losing, you’ve gotta sell a lot of t-shirts to get back that money.”
UFC’s upcoming big-money run
If Chuck Liddell is able to defeat Rashad Evans this Saturday night in Atlanta, Georgia at UFC 88, UFC could well be on its way to the company’s biggest three-month run in PPV business — ever.
That’s a bold statement to make, especially given how much of a party crasher Rashad Evans could be to the proceedings if he is able to pull off the upset against Chuck Liddell.
If Liddell is able to defeat Evans, UFC will have three major blockbuster events in four months. UFC 91 on November 15th will be headlined by Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar. UFC 92 on December 27th could feature Chuck Liddell vs. Forrest Griffin for the UFC Light Heavyweight title and Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson on the undercard. UFC’s ‘Super Bowl’ event will feature Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn in a clash between the UFC’s 170-pound champion and UFC’s 155-pound champion. That’s a lot of PPV buys at stake for a company that continues to get richer while everyone else (outside of Strikeforce) continues to lose a lot of money financially in MMA.
Hughes: ''I'll fight Serra In January''
Matt Hughes expects to fight long-time rival and fellow former welterweight champion Matt Serra in January.
He expects his knee to be healed and able to withstand competing by then, according to an interview with Ohio newspaper The People's Defender.
Having participated in nine successful title fights, Hughes admits that he sometimes finds it hard to motivate himself for bouts.
"I have a harder time motivating myself... I'm not sure if it's my Christianity, my kids, or the fact I'm just getting older," he said.
But he will "definitely" be firing on all cylinders for the Serra fight because there are "a lot of things" that irritate him about the New Yorker.
"I am just different than him. I was raised to be courteous, respectful, and kind to people. He obviously wasn't raised that way," Hughes explained.
'Couture Vs Fedor' When Affliction Folds
Randy Couture will remain in the UFC whether he wins or loses his title fight with Brock Lesnar in November.
Dana White told media during a conference call that the heavyweight champion would not be walking away after one fight, regardless of its outcome.
Couture has signed a new three-fight deal while has delivered a severe blow to his hopes of eventually fighting Fedor Emelianenko.
Couture has "made it very clear he wants Fedor," said White. "We will do all in our power to make that fight, but we are not going to mess with other people's contracts."
"Fedor is under contract to another promotion," he explained, referring to the Russian heavyweight's agreement with Affliction that is rumoured to contain a North America no-compete clause.
"If we can work something out, great. If not, we will get him when Affliction folds," he said.
Rafael Cavalcante fights for EliteXC belt
Rafael “Feijão” Cavalcante just needed three fights do get his main goal: the opportunity to win the EliteXC light-heavyweight belt. Scheduled to be on October 5th’s edition, the Brazilian fighter still doesn’t know who will he face, but he knows that it’ll be a title bout. In an exclusive interview to TATAME, he spoke about the next fight, his preparation and his great time in the event. "That’s a goal that I had plan since the beginning of the year with my coaches, and thanks God we made it, and I hope I bring this belt to Brazil. I’m doing my best and I’ll get there in shape", said the athlete, in the exclusive interview that you can check today here in TATAME.com.
No Need To Panic: An Analysis of the MMA Industry
In recent days we’ve seen a flurry of MMA business activity that has forced everyone within the community to re-evaluate the health of the industry. Individuals like Dana White will be the first to tell you that MMA is going to be more popular than soccer or the Superbowl, worldwide, by 2016. Yet, others are far less optimistic and hailing 2008 as the beginning of the end of MMA. However, the truth of the matter is that neither side is accurate in their assessment of the industry.
Looking beyond the exaggerations and severe panic attacks, the truth can be found somewhere in between both extreme points of view.
Where does the market for MMA really stand?
If the UFC’s 2008 results are any indication, the market for MMA is quite healthy.
The latest S&P credit rating reports for the UFC’s parent company, Zuffa, indicate that PPV buy rates are largely flat, yet revenue is growing due to the increased number of PPVs in a year and also an increase in the prices of those PPVs.
The Zuffa End Around
It is often said that business ethics is an oxymoron, but that is the case only if you conduct yourself in such a manner. Rob Maysey details the increasingly questionable nature of the UFC’s push for merchandising agreements with it’s fighters:
Multiple sources have indicated that UFC officials are now sending letters to fighters who have not yet signed the Merchandising Rights Agreement. The letter warns fighters that if they do not return the executed Merchandising Rights Agreement by the end of the week, the offer will be rescinded, and the fighter will not be included in the UFC’s licensing program.
Even more outrageous, UFC officials are directly contacting fighters, instead of the fighters’ selected agents. Fighters are told that they are hearing only one side of the story from their selected representatives, and that the UFC’s Merchandising Rights program really is a great deal. By not signing the Merchandising Rights Agreement, fighters are told they are leaving money on the table.
The old saw “he signed the contract, he should honor it” line of thinking is a bit of a dodge and hard to defend if the signature is attained by subverting the fighter-agent relationship and without the advise and consent of legal representation, in effect, duping the fighter. Moves of this nature are more at home in the moral morass that is the boxing scene, and not something that MMA promoters should be mimicking.
Xtreme Fighting Championships drawing record-setting crowds in Florida
The UFC has been there. EliteXC also has paid a visit.
However, neither promotion is the answer to this question: which organization has drawn the largest mixed martial arts crowd in Florida?
That distinction resides with Xtreme Fighting Championships. If XFC doesn't exactly ring a bell, you're not alone.
"I've never heard of them, and we have 52 fighters under contract and another 45 on our prospect list," said Ken Pavia, one of the sport's top agents and an MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) contributor.
Pavia lives and breathes MMA, and the upstart organization isn't even on his radar, but, amazingly, Tampa-based XFC has staged four shows in the Sunshine State, and each has produced a bigger live gate than any other promotion in the state's history.
UFC 88: YOSHIDA WANTS TO BUILD ON PARISYAN
The influx of international talent into the Ultimate Fighting Championship continues to grow with almost every event. One of the most recent additions to the ever-growing welterweight division is Japanese standout Yoshiyuki Yoshida, who made his debut at UFC 84 picking up a quick submission win over Jon Koppenhaver.
Now the Judoka returns against one of the toughest tests in his career as he faces Karo Parisyan at UFC 88 in Atlanta, but it won’t be the first time he steps in as the underdog not expected to win.
Making his way through Japanese promotions such as Shooto, Yoshida worked his way into the GCM: Cage Force welterweight tournament as one of eight fighters vying for the championship title.
QUACH OUT, ELITEXC TAPS CULLUM FOR TITLE BOUT
EliteXC has tapped Abel Cullum to step in to replace the injured Bao Quach in the promotion’s first bantamweight (140-pound limit) title bout. Cullum will face Wilson Reis on Sept. 26 as part of a ShoXC event on on the Showtime premium cable network.
Quach suffered a fractured orbital bone in training and subsequently had to be withdrawn from the card, according to ProElite.com.
Allum brings with him an 11-1 professional record in the bout against the undefeated Reis. He is the current King of the Cage flyweight champion, among other honors.
Affliction to Air Prelim Fights on HDNet
From an HDNet press release:
HDNet Fights today announced a long-term partnership with Affliction Entertainment to air live MMA events exclusively in North America on HDNet. These live events, featuring the top Mixed Martial Arts fighters from around the world, will be broadcast on HDNet as a lead-in to Affliction's Pay Per View Events.
"This is the beginning of a long-term partnership with Affliction that encompasses live MMA, co-marketing and top fighters for the top weekly show in MMA - Inside MMA on HDNet," said Andrew Simon, CEO of HDNet Fights. "Affliction has quickly become one of the top organizations in MMA which means it is a must have for HDNet."
As part of the agreement, HDNet will feature the first ninety minutes of live bouts that are part of each Affliction MMA event. Affliction joins the deep HDNet Fights lineup, which already features more LIVE events than any other network on television today.
Brock Lesnar's Wrestling Coach Goes Full Time
Minnesota assistant wrestling coach Marty Morgan is leaving the program, to focus full time on former Gophers star Brock Lesnar's fledgling fighting career.
Lesnar is on the rise in the Ultimate Fighting Championship ranks. He was once an NCAA champion heavyweight at the school.
Morgan spent 16 years coaching at Minnesota after wrestling for the school himself. He says he will take the next year to concentrate on helping Lesnar train in the field of mixed martial arts before evaluating his career then.
To what extent Morgan understands the specificities of the MMA game is an open question, but adding his knowledge and oversight to the existing squad at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy can only be a good thing. And while Lesnar is a self motivated fighter, having someone on the coaching staff who knows Brock Lesnar is a major plus for the budding heavyweight.
This is also a demonstration that MMA is offering financial opportunities beyond the wrestling mat...even to wrestlers who don't fight. Lesnar is a bit of an aberrant case, but his participation in the sport could be the tide that helps lift all boats.
Brock Lesnar: I'm tired of hearing about Fedor Emelianenko
For UFC newcomer Brock Lesnar (2-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), the frustration was evident.
UFC President Dana White yesterday announced Lesnar would face a returning Randy Couture at UFC 91 for Couture's heavyweight title. And despite being part of what White referred to as "the biggest fight in UFC history," Lesnar was largely ignored for most of the hour-long media conference call.
The majority of questions focused on Couture's return and how it would impact a possible bout between Couture and current WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. Lesnar quickly grew tired of the hypothetical discussion.
"I'm hearing all this talk about Fedor Emelianenko," Lesnar said. "Who gives a [expletive] about Fedor? I don't care. I'm fighting Randy Couture. That's what this press conference is about."
Lesnar said he was not alone in his disdain for the discussions of Emelianenko.
"I don't give a damn about Fedor," Lesnar said. "I'm tired of hearing about [expletive] Fedor. Randy Couture is fighting Brock Lesnar Nov. 15. His No. 1 concern should be Brock Lesnar. And Dana White could care less about Fedor.