MMAjunkie.com Fight Biz: On cusp of historic show, what's in store for UFC's next 100?
UFC 100 – it is a milestone few thought possible when the organization was fighting for its survival in the mid-1990s.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship was deemed too heinous for even pay-per-view and on its way to becoming but a footnote in American sports.
"I knew they were going to shut it down," said Guy Mezger, one of the early "ultimate fighters," who competed at UFC 4 and 5. "The reason that I fought in UFC 4 in the first place, I wanted to see how I would do in such a challenge because I thought they were going to shut this down, with it being a no-rules contest. And, we were right. The original Semaphore Entertainment Group held on for as long as they could, but they weren't willing to change with the times and the flow of, let's say, the politics, and they became nonexistent and Zuffa took over."
It's largely because of the change in ownership that the UFC will celebrate a seminal moment in its history on July 11 in Las Vegas with its 100th show. With the "UFC Fight Night" series added to the count, the promotion topped the century mark some time ago, but that's beside the point. UFC 100 takes on special significance because of what the organization – and the sport – has endured to get here.
"The sport had to shake its old renegade image, back in the head-butts and groin-shot days," Showtime MMA analyst Stephen Quadros, who served as a judge at UFC 8, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "It had to clean itself up, but I've always believed in the athletes and the sport. It's already rivaling primetime sports like NASCAR and the NBA, and people know what mixed martial arts are today and what the UFC is."
It took 16 years to get to this point, and with the pace the UFC now schedules major shows, UFC 200 will arrive on a much faster timeline. So what will the UFC look like then, nine to 10 years from now? Will the promotion and MMA truly be mainstream, as much a part of the American sports lexicon as the NFL, college football or the NBA finals?
For all its strides thus far, MMA isn't there yet.
"It's not mainstream," Mezger said. "We get a lot of attention, it gets a lot of hype, but I don't think we're mainstream, mainly because you don't see GSP (Georges St. Pierre) with the multimillion dollar Nike contract, the Gatorade contract and selling Cadillacs."
The UFC's lack of a network TV deal is one of the main reasons that MMA still sits on the sporting fringe in the U.S. For hordes of casual fans, the UFC is MMA. The organization has the most recognized fighters, the biggest marketing budget and the promotional edge over its rivals. Most casual fans can't even spell Sengoku, much less articulate what it is. The UFC has a significant advantage over all competing promotions, enabling the UFC to draw more new fans to MMA than even EliteXC could with its breakthrough exposure on CBS. However, until the UFC establishes a consistent presence on national network TV, its growth will be tempered.
Josh Barnett: ‘Rock Em, Sock Em’ Reilly will vote for MMA when he can get rich from it
"New York is a very big legislative district and there’s a lot of money going through here … [MMA] is an easy target for a politician to make it seem like he’s working for the money he’s gobbling up into his pockets through special interests and greasing palms, the old-boys network. Politicians aren’t really there to serve us, they’re there to serve themselves and to work and live in the political circle that it is and live off the political money that is in that circle. When the day comes that it’s more beneficial for them to have MMA (in New York) instead of attacking it, then things will change. Until they think they can get rich off it, they’re going to use it as their Rock’Em, Sock ‘Em Robot."
Machida Receives Hometwon Hero Welcome
Newly minted UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida got a hero’s welcome from more than 100 fans that greeted him at Belém International airport this week. The 31-year-old Machida knocked out Rashad Evans in the second round of their UFC 98 title tilt on May 23 in Las Vegas.
“I knew they would have a party for me, but I didn’t expect that much,” said the clearly moved Machida.
Maine Nearing MMA Legislation
The State of Maine is one of the last few dominoes left when it comes to legalizing MMA, but that particular domino looks to be teetering, as the Governor of Maine looks set to give the go ahead to MMA for the state:
Legislation that would allow mixed martial arts fights in Maine has received all but final approval from lawmakers, and Gov. John Baldacci says he will consider signing the measure after his administration opposed a similar bill earlier this year.
“The original bill had the Department [of Public Safety] regulating it, and there was just not the expertise and staff to handle it,” Baldacci said in an interview. “That is not what is called for now.”
The measure passed by the House and Senate is a different bill from that crafted by the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee. The new measure would establish the Mixed Martial Arts Authority of Maine to regulate and promote mixed martial arts competitions, exhibitions and events. The governor would appoint the five members to the authority.
The article details the opposing camps for MMA in the state, with one opponent of MMA coming up with this little gem: “Now, there are rules, but not rules created by the Marquis de Queensbury but [rules] by the Marquis de Sade.” The governor will now take the billl under advisement and speak with all parties before making a final decision on signing the bill into law, but the odds look great for getting MMA in this northeasten state.
Randleman on Training & fans & Whitehead!
Kevin “The Monster” Randleman – Back in the USA
PDG: What advantages do you see for yourself going into the fight?
Kevin Randleman: I am faster, quicker and I believe that I am stronger than he is. I think I'm a better wrestler and I will be able to use my agility to my advantage. The bottom line is that I am not going into this fight taking him any lighter than any other opponent that I have ever faced. I thought I could beat Fedor Emelianenko, I thought I could beat Mirko Cro Cop, I think I am better than every fighter when I step in the cage and if I didn't think than way why the **** would I be fighting? I have watched a few of Whitehead’s fights and I know that he has been training with Wanderlei Silva but I don't think that his style is going to be that much different than in his previous fights. I think he is going to have a disadvantage though with his weight cut for the fight. He walks around at about 250 pounds and he is going to have to cut down to 205 pounds for this fight.
Diaz Talks Title, Smith & Japan
“El Diablo” Nick Diaz talks Strikeforce & Scott Smith
PDG: It is a pretty stacked card coming up on June 6th; are there any other fights on the card that you are looking forward to seeing?
Nick Diaz: I think that the fights are going to be very entertaining for the fans and I am sure that a lot of people are looking forward to seeing the Jake Shields and Robbie Lawler fight. But I don't really look forward to seeing any of my friends fighting whether it is my brother or Jake Shields. I am sure that they are going to have great fights but it is not something that I really look forward to watching. I don't look forward to it any more than if I was watching a death match.
Brett Rogers Talks Arlovski
PDG: Are there any fights on the card that you are looking forward to seeing?
Brett Rogers: Definitely the Kevin Randleman fight and Scott Smith versus Nick Diaz fight. I like both Smith and Diaz but I am very interested to see how Smith is going to handle Diaz’s striking. Diaz always changes things up and both of them love to stand and bang but Scott usually is the counter-puncher so it is going to be interesting to see how both fighters approach the fight. Then you have Randleman who goes full bore all the time and doesn't care where the fight ends up; he may just end up pumping me up for my fight. I can't wait to see his fight.
Chicago out for 2009, but Indianapolis in UFC's sights for 2010
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will not return to Chicago in 2009 according to Marc Ratner, the UFC's vice president of regulatory affairs, but it may be coming to Indianapolis in 2010.
The UFC came to Chicago for the first time in October 2008 for UFC 90 at the Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont. The event took place just about three months after mixed martial arts regulation took effect in Illinois.
Some of the cities in which the UFC puts on events, outside of its Las Vegas base, have become fairly regular blips on the MMA radar screen. Columbus, Ohio, has hosted a UFC pay-per-view each March the last three years. Montreal has played host to highly successful cards the last two Aprils. But that apparently won't be the case for Chicago -- at least yet.
"Our schedule is pretty well done for this year," Ratner said, saying Chicago is not on the promotion's calendar for 2009. "But yeah -- we'd like to go back to Chicago. It's a great, great market. Maybe to the United Center this time. But we're also looking at cities like Memphis, (and) we're going to go to Portland (for UFC 102) at the end of August. We're very ambitious."
Ratner said the Midwest has been a market that has worked for the UFC. In the last three years, the world's largest MMA promotion has put on events in Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Minneapolis and Nashville in an attempt to go into as many new markets as possible.
And with legislation to regulate MMA in Indiana taking effect on July 1, the possibility for a UFC or World Extreme Cagefighting show in the Hoosier State comes into play. (The WEC is owned by Zuffa LLC, the same company that owns the UFC.) Chicago played host to WEC 40 in April.
Ratner said the UFC is interested in putting on a show in Indianapolis at Conseco Fieldhouse -- either a pay-per-view or a "Fight Night" card, which would air live on Spike TV -- and already has begun preliminary discussions to come to Indiana for the first time, but that would not happen until 2010 at the earliest.
UFC 98 Preview w/Monster, Ortiz, Miletich, Thomson & More!
Nate Quarry – “Serra/Hughes is the fight I'm personally tuning in to see. Ever been to a UFC and seen a fight break out in the stands? Everyone turns to watch it. Why would they want to see two drunken brawlers instead of two well conditioned athletes? Because of the passion the drunken idiots have. We're addicted to seeing this personal part of people's lives. It's what makes us tune in to reality shows. We want to see those raw emotions on display. It's one of the few taboos left in the world. Well, guess what? That's what we get to see with Hughes and Serra. Two guys who don't like each other. One farm boy and one New Yorker. Hughes plan is going to be the same as always. Take him down and ground and pound. But Serra is going to be very tough to do that to. He's got very fast hips and is built well for reversals and submissions. And Serra has proven he has knock out power in his hands. I don't generally give predictions because I usually get them wrong but... I've got to go with Serra on this one.”
Date Set For NY MMA Vote
On June 3, the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports will debate and vote on bill 2009-B, which would regulate the sport of mixed martial arts in the state.
Michael Kim, a representative from committee chair and bill sponsor Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s office, informed MMAWeekly.com of the news Wednesday morning.
“It will be a pretty significant first step,” said Kim.
Miller's Time: No More Goofing Off For 'Mayhem'
Jason “Mayhem” Miller says the days of monkeying around in the ring are done.
A decision loss to submission ace Ronaldo “Jacare” de Souza in Dream’s Middleweight Grand Prix woke him up. The "Bully Beatdown" host realized his attitude was costing him fights.
Dana White's UFC 98 Video Blog - Episodes 1 and 2
Check out Dana White's video blogs as he meets up with fans during the midnight release of UFC 2009: Undisputed, and gets left an interesting message on the sidewalk.
In the second video, Dana makes an appearance on the Opie and Anthony show, hangs out with Jimmy Fallon, and more.
The End Of WAMMA? Miletich & Caplan Step Down
It could be the first WHAM-O for WAMMA today. Two of the organization's founding members, Vice President of Fighter Relations & MMA pioneer Pat Miletich and interim COO Sam Caplan have both resigned from WAMMA today, raising questions about the future of MMA's first sanctioning body.
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:
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.”