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.
Rising from the Slums
In Brazil, where an estimated 50 million people live in favelas, or slums, it’s common for a child to dream of changing his or her life through sports.
In years past, kids have aspired to follow in the footsteps of soccer idols like Romário and Ronaldo, both of whom were born in the Rio de Janeiro favelas. Nowadays, the popularity of mixed martial arts in Brazil and the growth of its international market have attracted more athletes from these poor communities who aim to become the next Wanderlei Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira or Anderson Silva.
*one of the best reads in a long time*
THQ Finalizes Undisputed Roster
THQ has released the final roster of playable characters in UFC Undisputed 2009, and it'll top out at 85 characters. In addition to confirming that EVERYONE will be able to eventually get Efrain Escudero and Ryan Bader and not just those who buy the game at GameStop, the final 3 characters were revealed as the late TapouT founder Charles "MasK" Lewis and his TapouT partners "Punkass" and "Skyscrape".
UFC Undisputed Projected Sales: 2 Million
Bloomberg News has a nice piece up that gives some good insight to the numbers game behind the UFC 2009 Undisputed video game that will be hitting stores soon. The article also gives the first intimations of how the title may do at the cash register:
UFC’s male fan base is a main reason Todd Mitchell, a technology analyst with Kaufman Bros. in New York, projects the game will sell more than 2 million copies in nine months.
The UFC license runs through 2011 and may be extended, said Julie MacMedan, a THQ spokeswoman. The company is probably paying UFC about 17 percent of sales or a guaranteed minimum, said Mitchell, who recommends the stock and doesn’t own it.
“UFC 2009 Undisputed” returns THQ to its expertise making fighting games. WWE titles have brought in $1.5 billion in sales over the past decade. The company spent more than $20 million developing the UFC game and will expense “not quite” as much on marketing, Farrell said.
A little quick math pegs the 2 million in sales by the 59.99 list price yields a gross sales figure of $120 million. If we figure the UFC is being paid the license fee off of gross, that would yield the UFC just over $20 million on the deal; if off of wholesale which generally runs 45 to 50% would mean somewhere in the $10 million range.
Another interesting figure is the sunk cost they have in both marketing and production. Between the two they are looking at probably a $35 million outlay. This is a good chunk of money, but is the first step in establishing a a franchise title, which THQ hopes the Undisputed title will be. Subsequent years will have a lowered production cost with the engine merely being tweaked, instead of made from scratch. Marketing cost as well will dip due to the brand awareness established during the initial launch.
Liborio named National Coach for USA Grappling
USA Wrestling is excited to announce a new alliance to provide leadership for USA Grappling, its national program in the sport of Grappling.
International respected coach Ricardo Liborio of Coconut Creek, Fla. has been named the National Coach for USA Grappling.
“Ricardo Liborio brings credibility to our Grappling program,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. “We are confident that we will not only sustain our competitive excellence but will take it to a new level with Ricardo on our team. USA Wrestling is committed to maintaining our dominant position in international Grappling.”
Dan Henderson, Cung Le, ‘Shogun’ Rua, Matt Serra Join Round 5 for Expanded ‘Series 4' Release
Four of the most popular and accomplished champions in mixed martial arts, Dan Henderson, Cung Le, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Matt Serra, have partnered with Round 5, the leading producer of MMA collectibles, to create figurines that will be included in an expanded Series 4, it was announced today by Barron Lau, Round 5 CEO and co-founder and Damon Lau, president and co-founder. The series, scheduled to be available at retail in July in time for UFC 100, will include the four plus fellow superstars Fedor Emelianenko and Gina Carano. McCarthy, Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, will be in stores across North America and at online outlets including www.Round5MMA.com in late May, about a month behind its original schedule.
“With six figurines, Series 4 will be our largest issuance to date,” said Damon Lau. “Adding four more of the biggest names in the sport – with wide fan bases – to what began as an already stacked set is huge for Round 5 and a great opportunity for fans to quickly add to their collections.”
To date, Round 5 has issued two Series of four athletes each: Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Tito Ortiz comprised Series 1 while Rich Franklin, Sean Sherk, Anderson Silva and Wanderlei Silva were released in Series 2. Series 3 had been planned for an April release, but has been delayed by about four weeks.
“The Series 3 prototypes have been completed and are currently in production,” said Lau. “It took a little longer than we had originally anticipated, but we feel that the finished product is well worth the extra wait.”
Henderson, the last man to hold the welterweight and middleweight titles for PRIDE, has a 24-7-0 career MMA record, competing against many of the best in MMA. “Hollywood” defeated Wanderlei Silva to take his final PRIDE crown, then rejoined the UFC, where he has won his last two bouts. He leads Team USA in Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter television program and will fight fellow coach Michael Bisping at UFC 100 on July 11 in Las Vegas.
Though he has competed for years in the Chinese martial art of Sanshou, the South Vietnamese native Le gained fame in North America by defeating legendary Frank Shamrock via TKO last year in San Jose, Calif., where he trains. Le is unbeaten (6-0) in his MMA career and has begun a career in acting, with several feature films nearing international release.
The Brazilian star Rua, known the world over as “Shogun,” boasts and 18-3 record, last week recording a first-round knockout over Chuck Liddell at UFC 97. He is a former PRIDE champion, winning the Grand Prix title in 2005 with wins over Quinton Jackson, Rogerio Minotoro Nogueira and Ricardo Arona.
Serra, a Long Island, N.Y., native, has compiled a 9-5 MMA mark, earning international acclaim following his first-round TKO of Georges St. Pierre in their first meeting in 2007 for the UFC welterweight championship. St. Pierre won the rematch last year, and Serra is next scheduled to battle Matt Hughes at UFC 98 in May. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master, Serra also gained fame as the winner of Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter.
GSP Announces Fan Logo Design Contest
Georges St-Pierre is rapidly becoming an international icon – not only is he one of the strongest, toughest, and most energizing athletes to grace the MMA Octagon, he is also a class act outside of it. Now Georges wants to take his brand to the same level that his athletic performance has taken him. To accomplish this task, he’s engaging those that who will help him achieve that goal – his fans. “Georges has some of the greatest fans in the sport”, said Shari Spencer, Georges’ manager. “This contest represents his desire to give something back to his fans – to allow them to participate in his efforts to represent this sport on a whole new level.” The winning logo design will be incorporated into Georges’ new website, be displayed on his shorts and banner within the Octagon during his fights, and be incorporated into a new line of merchandise to be debuted in conjunction with UFC 100 on July 11th.
Here is your chance to show GSP your skills and help him develop a logo that represents GSP in your eyes! Take some time to draw, paint, or even sketch your ideas – then go to GSPfightclub.com and send him your ideas. GSP will narrow the choices down to ten (10) finalists. Then, just as GSP draws upon his fans’ support to win his fights, he’ll turn to his fans to help him pick the winning logo design. Your design just might be chosen as the lucky winner that he’ll wear during his upcoming fight at UFC 100! But you better hurry – this contest is only open for a short time. For full contest details, check out .
"Hanging-up the Gloves: Chuck Liddell is just the Beginning"
"Who is next to say goodbye?"
This past Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal marked an emotional evening for not just the Iceman, but for the Mixed Martial Arts community as a whole. Chuck Liddell has been a front-runner in one of the most stacked divisions in the sport for as long as most of us can remember, but in the last two years of his prolific, exciting, and accomplished career, his aura has melted, exposing his age and the fact that the level of competition has simply passed him by. The changing of the guard happens in every sport, but not as frequently and quickly as in MMA. In the span of sixteen years we’ve seen multiple generations emerge and fall victim to the next, and at this juncture in 2009 it is happening again. The major difference between this passing of the torch from Chuck Liddell’s generation to Mauricio Rua’s at UFC 97, is the fact that the Iceman’s generation was the first to really cast the UFC into the mainstream spotlight, making him one of the sport’s first truly iconic superstars.
Here's the , definitely a depressing but interesting read!
UFC Crackdown on Streaming Piracy?
MMAPayout.com has posted before on the UFC”s efforts to stem the tide of piracy of their PPV broadcasts. Up to this point these efforts have mainly been through going after bars and restaurants that illegally show their cards. This campaign is done mainly through the efforts of Joe Hand Promotions, who handles the bar and restaurant PPV business for the UFC.
The UFC may be going a step further into these efforts, judging from information put out by BayTSP, which provides online copyright monitoring, enforcement, measurement and monetization services for the entertainment industry, software and videogame makers and the publishing industry. The company recently announced:
One global sports franchise and two of the largest pay-per-view event promoters in the world have signed with BayTSP to protect and monetize broadcasts valued at more than $5 billion annually, the company announced today.
The logical companies to attach to this information would be the UFC and WWE for the PPV event promoters and Manchester United Football Club for the global sports franchise. The crackdown has already been cited by some as a possible reason behind the precipitous drop in traffic at the streaming site Justin.tv.
Nate Quarry talks UFC 97 & Video Games!
PDG: UFC 97 in Montréal, Canada is a pretty stacked card; what fights are you looking forward to seeing that night?
Quarry: Any time that you get a chance to fight on a card with Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva, it is a real treat. I have been a fan of Chuck's for a long time and we are also friends. So being able to be there and to say I fought on the same card as Chuck Liddell is a real honor. That is something that I will always remember.
MacDonald Inks Round 5 Deal
The Fight Network has the info on Jason MacDonald signing a figurine deal with Round 5:
Pavelich Sports Entertainment is pleased to announce that Jason “The Athlete” MacDonald has signed a deal with toy manufacturer Round 5 MMA to create his very own action figure.
MacDonald, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, will now join a very exclusive and elite group of fighters that have all collaborated with Round 5 to produce some of the most detailed and unique MMA action figures in the world.
“Since we are based in Ontario, I am particularly excited that Jason MacDonald is the first Canadian to sign with Round 5,” said Damon Lau, Round 5 President and Co-Founder. “He is one of the most successful and popular MMA stars in the country and enjoys a strong following across North America.”
It is interesting that Round 5 is now reaching into the mid-tier level with their signings. The initial signings have been high profile: Couture, Matt Hughes, Wanderlei, Rampage, etc. When looking at the mid tier fighters, Round 5 may look to hit those fighters that have some degree of tenure with the UFC, giving them name recognition if not superstar status. Other factors like being a regional draw (MacDonald’s Canadian roots) may also be taken into consideration.
Steinbeiss talks about cancelled UFN 18 Fight
PDG: How did you find out that your fight with Ryan Jensen was canceled?
Steinbeiss: We were about 30 seconds away from stepping up onto the stage for weigh-ins and right then they pulled us aside and said that the fight wasn't going to go on because of the Adderall thing.
PDG: That had to be pretty disappointing considering all the work that you put in to prepare yourself for that fight.
Steinbeiss: Most people have no idea; I made the weight and was ready to go through the weigh-ins and then pound some Pedialyte. 10 weeks of hard training and then the day before the fight you find out it is canceled. It certainly took the wind out of my sails.
Mino and Stallone together?
The news broke today in the ‘O Globo,’ newspaper that Sylvester Stallone will be inviting Rodrigo Minotauro to participate in a moving being shot in Rio de Janeiro.
As discerned by GRACIEMAG.com, contact was made through Rodrigo’s adviser, Fernando Flores.
Mino, who is in Miami, arrives in Rio tomorrow, when he may meet with the star of “Rambo” and “Rocky.” Stallone’s team also expressed interest in meeting other well-known fighters, like Lyoto Machida and Rogerio Minotouro.
Actor, producer, director and screenplay writer of “The Mercenaries,” Stallone, 62, has already called upon Randy Couture for the full-length action movie, as reported by GRACIEMAG.com last December 18th. Yesterday, at a press conference in Rio, the Hollywood star said he is an MMA fan and spoke about the city.
He justified his choice in having Randy Couture, 45, in the film. Couture has already appeared in “Redbelt,” the 2008 movie by David Mamet.
“Couture will participate in this movie because he looks like a gladiator,” said Stallone. “I like fights and even know some Brazilian fighters; who knows maybe some of them will be in the film.”
“I came to shoot in Rio because the script called for a tropical setting and I found the city ideal for it. The movie shows mercenaries for a cause, and doesn’t intend to harm Rio’s image,” stated the debuting director. Although Stallone tend to surprise, the story of “The Expendables,” with Forest Whitaker, Gisele Itie and a large cast, isn’t too original at the outset: it is the story of a group trying to overthrow a Latin American dictator.