Economy Falling Out, WEC's Stock Rising
Despite the economic fallout in the U.S., World Extreme Cagefighting is poised for its biggest year ever.
That's no small feat. Since being purchased by Zuffa (the UFC's parent company) in late 2006, WEC had seven events in 2007 and will have six in 2008 by the end of the year. They have also made inroads to the masses with a television deal on the Versus network, the rebranded Outdoor Life Network.
Vice president Peter Dropick says that the promotion currently has plans to run more events in 2009 than it ever has in the past, albeit only slightly more, but that is just the initial plans, which are open for expansion.
Nick Diaz Heading Back To Japan For New Year
In the Chinese fire drill of EliteXC’s talent division since its closure last Monday, fighter managers are taking the legal reigns to free their clients.
Cesar Gracie, manager of EliteXC fighters Nick Diaz and Jake Shields, informed MMAWeekly.com he had sent EliteXC a notice on Friday stating that the company had breached their contracts with his clients.
The clause in EliteXC’s contract, as reported by Loretta Hunt of Sherdog.com, states that should the company not be able to fulfill the terms of its “promotional and payment obligations” – essentially, to keep its employees working – the fighters could seek to terminate the agreement. EliteXC had 30 days from the notice of breach to correct the situation.
Gracie said he is already making plans for Diaz’s next fight. The 25-year-old fighter has an existing clause in his contract allowing him to compete in Japan as long as it doesn't interfere with his EliteXC duties.
St. Pierre Primes for Penn, Title Defense
Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre will defend his belt against lightweight titleholder B.J. Penn in what has already become the most anticipated bout of 2009 at UFC 94 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.
“I look forward to this fight,” St. Pierre (17-2) told Sherdog.com in an exclusive video interview.
The two superstars, both considered among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, met previously at UFC 58 in March 2006. St. Pierre was awarded a controversial split decision over the popular Hawaiian and would capture the welterweight crown from Matt Hughes eight months later.
Affliction VP Tom Atencio Believes Station Casinos Will Go out of Business Early Next Year
Interestingly enough, Affliction co-founder Todd Beard has recently surfaced to voice his displeasure with the UFC, most notably on a recent appearance on "The Scott Ferrall Show."
"They threaten us personally, which is hilarious," Beard said. "Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, they are tough guys. They're old school mafia guys, or wannabe old school mafia guys that their grandfather built their business and they are nothing. They’re nothing."
When asked about Beard's comments, Atencio seemingly shrugged them off.
"I will always do my fighting in the ring but my partner has just had it with them," Atencio said.
During his interview with Ferrall, Beard mentioned that Zuffa co-founders, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, are experiencing some financial trouble with their Palace Station Casino properties.
"They put their business five billion dollars in debt," Beard said in the interview."They’re in big touble right now. They are going to go out of business in February. Guaranteed. Station Casinos will go out of business in February for sure."
Atencio did not refute this claim.
"They want to talk about us being done by January," Atencio said. "Well, I will guarantee you that their Statino Casinos will be out of business by February...I have all the proof I need."
Of course, there are two sides to every story but an effort to get a response from someone at Zuffa was unsuccessful.
Randy Couture says size won't matter with Brock Lesnar at UFC 91
The belief of many MMA experts leading up to Randy Couture's comeback fight against Tim Sylvia in March of 2007 was that "The Natural," gifted as he was, just couldn't overcome Sylvia's massive size advantage.
Some 18 months later, after dispatching Sylvia in one of the most dominant performances of his career, Couture is hearing the same song, only a different verse.
As the UFC hall-of-famer now prepares for his UFC 91 main event with Brock Lesnar, which includes a fight camp with some of MMA's biggest wrestlers, Couture recently told MMAjunkie.com size again won't matter.
Did BudLight Bust Patrick Cote's Knee?
Now tell me that the slippery sponsor's decal didn't jack up Cote and ruin the fight.
Fightlinker has more:
I don’t know the process for how the UFC puts it’s advertisements onto the mat. I do know that many fighters often complain that the ads often have different grips, and you often see dudes stalk across the octagon only to go banana heel one they hit a decal. At UFC 89 the Gears of War 2 advertisement seemed to cause several fighters some issues, including Brandon Vera and Keith Jardine. This isn’t the only time we’ve seen it … it’s just the most recent incident that I can specifically remember.
Can you imagine another sport where athletes could be hurt because of the way advertisements are presented? In MMA it’s worse than others … a simple slip in other games means a botched play and some embarrassment. In MMA it could result in the other fighter jumping you and punching your lights out. So even if there isn’t a rash of fighters blowing their knees out on these things, it still needs to be addressed.
The UFC really needs to find a way to make the sponsor decals less of a hazard to the fighters. As we saw Saturday night, if a headlining fighter gets hurt and spoils the main event, its not good for business.
Silva's going crazy, wants to fight at UFC 91
It sounds like some of the criticism is starting to hit home for Anderson Silva. UFC president Dana White told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Silva wants to get right back on the horse:
"He's flipping out. He wants to fight again, like, on Nov. 15. He's (upset) about his performance and he wants to fight again immediately."
A Silva appearance on Nov. 15 is highly unlikely. There's no one of any quality who would take a Silva fight on three weeks notice for UFC 91. The following UFC cards (UFC 92 & 94) are completely stacked so where would a Silva fight fit in? UFC 93 in Dublin could use some beefing up. Right now the main event is Rich Franklin v. Dan Henderson and the second fight is Shogun Rua and Mark Coleman.
The UFC should make a fight for Silva at 205. Who should the next victim be? Dana White told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday that he feels sorry for the next guy who fights the 'disrespected' Silva. White had little response to a question about matching up Chuck Liddell and Silva in London in February. That matchup does have huge sizzle and all parties involved may feel some pressure to repair the image of both Liddell and Silva with a superfight.
Women’s MMA has earned its place
In an industry that really only has a few truly proven marketable top stars – and right now, only one stable major league operation – the folding of Elite XC last week has raised questions about the future of women’s mixed martial arts and its biggest star, Gina Carano.
The two main organizations over the past two years who promoted women’s fights, Elite XC and Bodog, are now both out of business, leaving women searching for a place to ply their trade.
Affliction, hardly stable but at least still in the game, has never promoted women’s matches, but is open to the idea. UFC, at least as of the weekend, was not.
“I think that Gina Carano is a real star,” UFC president Dana White said on Thursday. “She’s beautiful, talented and she’s a real fighter. I just don’t think there are enough good women fighters that you can start a division around them.”
EliteXC: A Lesson in Expectations Management
There are many golden rules within the business world, but in regards to selling yourself, your company, or your product, none are more important than this: never over-sell, never over-hype, never over-promise. It’s basic expectations theory.
When an organization makes a promise, they set an invisible bar of expectations within the minds of their customers. Then, for better or for worse, they’re stuck with the task of meeting those expectations; because, obviously, if you don’t meet the expectations of your customers, they’re not going to be happy.
While it seems like common sense, there is a host of academic research behind expectations theory. Perhaps that’s why I’m so surprised that a guy like Jared Shaw – someone so quick to pull out his Harvard School of Business case studies against KJ Noons – has managed to commit one of the greater selling sins in recent memory.
Under the management of EliteXC and the Shaws, Kimbo Slice has been promoted as this “street certified,” legend-slaying monster – a veritable MMA God. Unfortunately, they did such a good job of duping the general public that most actually believed the hype.
To the mainstream, Kimbo Slice, was as advertised; and, their expectations followed accordingly.
Sadly, those expectations were brutally exaggerated and MMA’s first, real foray into the mainstream should be considered a failure if for no other reason than the damage that Seth Petruzelli managed to inflict, with one glancing right, to the chin of both Kimbo’s and MMA’s credibility. And that’s even ignoring the controversy surrounding “Standgate.”
As a result, the general public - and perhaps just as important, the mainstream media - is very weary of our sport; all thanks to those brutal expectations that were unwisely, and perhaps even unfairly, thrust upon a fighter that was not ready and a sport that knew as much.
Now, the rest of the MMA community is left with the task of picking up the pieces and learning from the mistakes of the past.
So to all of you would-be promoters out there, know this: you’ve got a fine line to walk, between under and over-selling – tread it carefully. You can’t dupe the consumer and live to operate another.
Couture Backs Bisping's Title Prospects
Randy Couture has become the latest big name mixed martial artist to mark Michael Bisping out as a future champion.
The UFC heavyweight champion, who faces Brock Lesnar next month, told SunSport http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/ufc/article1865038.ece that Bisping is “doing the right things”.
He also described the Wolfslair middleweight as “explosive” and said he was impressed with the way he handled Chris Leben at UFC 89.
"Michael had a spot on game plan... he managed to counter and make Chris pay for every step he took towards him."
He added that Bisping ”was patient and showed some maturity by not letting the crowd get to him and force him to go toe-to-toe with [Leben]... It's an important step for him in his development.”
Recently, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson said Bisping has the potential to be a champion at middleweight.
Bisping himself has played down talk of challenging Anderson Silva soon, saying he is in no hurry and would prefer to develop over a few more bouts.
Anyone Else think COTE would have WON?
Decent read. Not sure Cote would have won, but overall some good points.
"One of those heavy hands was going to connect eventually. Silva was in unchartered territory for him in the UFC – beyond round two. Cote had the chin to stay in there with him and with ample time in a title fight, one of those overhand rights was going to catch Silva and force him to show he is not only talented but also durable."
Anyone else Agree??
Robbie Lawler's Manager Thinks He Can Get EliteXC Champ Out of Contract Quick
Robbie Lawler manager Monte Cox thinks he's got an escape hatch for his fighter, from Sherdog:
Cox filed a breach of contract notice last Wednesday with Pro Elite -- parent company to EliteXC, Icon Sport and Cage Rage -- prior to the company’s pending bankruptcy filing and the closing of its Los Angeles offices on Friday. Cox said the letter was received by Jeremy Lappen, head of fighter operations for EliteXC, and passed on to the appropriate parties.
"There’s a warranty clause in the contract that you can challenge if they have enough money to fulfill the contract," Cox said. "Obviously, right now, they do not. I notified them of what I considered to be breach of contract and they have 30 days to respond. They have to prove they can fulfill it or we’re a free agent."
WEC 36 Card Finalized
WEC today announced the full final card for the rescheduled WEC 36 on November 5. The event, headlined by WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber vs. Mike Brown and WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho vs. Chael Sonnen, was scheduled for September 10 but postponed due to Hurricane Ike.
Rich Franklin Not Approached About TUF 9 Coaching...Yet
Although Rich Franklin acknowledges rumors and news about him possibly being a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 9, he says UFC hasn't approached him about it yet. He says it's not something he's particularly interested in doing again, although he did put the "Show me the money" spin on it in not flat out saying no.
Silva on Disrespecting Cote: ‘Absolutely Not True’
Anderson Silva did not deliver one of his typical performances against Patrick Cote at UFC 90.
Although he was winning the fight before Cote’s injury in the third round, the UFC middleweight champion was booed by fans for his evasive strategy and later he was even criticized by some for “disrespecting” his opponent.
FABRICIO WERDUM KNOCKED OUT OF CONTENTION
Fabricio Werdum was displeased prior to UFC 90 about him not getting a chance to be in the heavyweight tournament that consists of current champion Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar and interim champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir. After all, he just defeated former No. 1 contender Gabriel Gonzaga and top prospect Brandon Vera.
Taking the fight with Junior dos Santos at UFC 90 wasn't exactly what he was hoping for, but he took the fight in stride. However, there were some people, including UFC president Dana White, who thought that Werdum was bigger than usual. Not necessarily out of shape, but noticeably larger. In fact, he was nine pounds heavier in this fight than his last.
Unfortunately for Werdum, he was brutally knocked out in the first round by dos Santos, getting drilled by a vicious uppercut. According to an interview with Tatame.com, he didn't underestimate “Cigano,” but he was surprised at how fast everything happened.
BISPING TALKS ULTIMATE FIGHTER 9 COACHING ROLE
Michael "The Count" Bisping won season three of The Ultimate Fighter and will coach season nine of the popular reality show on Spike TV. Armed with the experience of having gone through it, Bisping is excited about his role as coach.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to be involved with TUF again," Bisping told MMAWeekly.com. "I think it's a great tool for the UFC to discover new talent. Obviously, for my career, it was amazing. I've got some very, very fond memories and I can't wait to get involved with it again."
Season nine will feature a United States vs. the United Kingdom theme consisting of lightweight and welterweight fighters.
"As far as the talent in the U.K., there's a lot of great talent," said Bisping. "I've seen a lot of people on the Internet saying things like England couldn't compete with a team from America. I don't see that as the case at all. I think we've got some fantastic talent."