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.
It's GSP vs. ATT At UFC 100
No, it's not a handicap beatdown-to-be, but that's what the matchup of Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves will be at UFC 100 according to Alves' teammate, Lightweight standout Gesias Cavalcante. "JZ" is confident that the training Alves is getting at American Top Team will be the difference in their UFC Welterweight Title fight.
Fans Under 18 Banned From UFC 99
UFC 99 in Germany is now a "no kids allowed" zone. A front-page article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung-one of the country’s biggest newspapers-on Sunday has led to a ban on anyone under the age of 18 from attending UFC 99, according to Yahoo Sports. But early word is not a lot of fans will be affected by this.
Pros Picks: Hughes vs. Serra
On Saturday in scorching Las Vegas, the only thing hotter than the desert heat will be a ticket to UFC 98 “Evans vs. Machida” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The chief support bout to the main event between light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and unbeaten challenger Lyoto Machida is the oft-delayed grudge match between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. Both former UFC welterweight champions, Hughes and Serra desperately need a win to stay relevant at 170 pounds.
Sherdog.com spoke with dozens of professional fighters and trainers inside the world of mixed martial arts to see who they favored in the UFC’s best grudge match since Tito Ortiz first flipped the bird at Ken Shamrock.
Pros that picked Hughes: 8
Pros that picked Serra: 10
I'm surprised that Serra is ahead i guess Hughes is disliked by some in the mma community
Gesias Cavalcante Interview
One of the best lightweight fighters of the world, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante is ready for his return to the rings. Thirst for fight, the American Top Team representative is scheduled to fight Tatsuya Kawajiri in the Dream 9, on May 26, Japan. Without stopping the trainings, Gesias talked with TATAME.com and guaranteed: is ready to return with victory. Check below the exclusive interview with the fighter, who also commented about Shynia Aoki’s loss to Hayato Sakurai at Dream welterweight tournament, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro’s return at Dream, the title fight between his team mate Thiago Alves and Georges St. Pierre and much more.
Cro Cop's fighting ASAP.... In the UFC
These days the boys from Cro Cop team are training in full force. After a long break and highly demanding recovery process, Mirko Cro Cop is ready to fight in MMA again.
All problems with injuries are history and Cro Cop is very optimistic to start another chapter in his career:
„I feel great, the recovery process is going well and we train at high intensity now. I never had such a strong desire to prove myself and I'll climb up again, or die trying.“
Mirko's next fight is set for June 13th in Germany, which means that he's back in the UFC, a place that he didn't have his best moments:
„I decided to fight in the UFC again, because of the stronger competition in the heavyweight division. My next opponent will be Mustapha Al-Turk. I didn't do well in my first three appearances - I wasn't myself. By returning to the cage I want to prove that I can still fight at highest level, no matter when or where.“, claims Cro Cop.
All I have to say is I didn't even hear about this. He signed with Dream not to long ago lol.
Sean Sherk ready for Frankie Edgar in 3D
“I think he’s pretty well-rounded. He has a great wrestling background, [and] his striking looks good. Every time I’ve seen him fight, he looks comfortable on his feet. I think he’s a purple belt in jiu-jitsu. I think he’s pretty well-versed. I don’t know how this fight is going to turn out. It could turn into a wrestling match or a boxing match. That has yet to be seen. I think you’ll see a lot of everything in this one. That’s the way it is with everybody in this industry now, especially at the high level. Everyone is three-dimensional now. You never know how it’s going to go until you get in there and start mixing it up. I think my fight with Frankie is going to be real exciting. I think — assuming I do pull the win off in two fast-paced, exciting fights — that the fans would be excited for Penn and Sherk 2.”
Jitters Gone, 'Professor X' Ready For UFC 98
He certainly didn’t look it, but Xavier Foupa-Pokam says the UFC jitters got him at UFC 97.
“I was feeling very great in the locker-room, and just before the corridor to the path to the Octagon,” Foupa-Pokam told MMAWeekly.com. “Then, I started to feel tense and didn't fight the way I should have. I wasn't lucid; I was short of breath.”
Serra Vs Hughes Moves From Reality To Real
“I’ll tell you this for sure, I’ve got one more fight left in me. Matt Serra needs to come up with a game plan now. My wife wants it. I want it. And I know these fans want it, too.”
Such were the words of Matt Hughes nearly one year ago after losing to Thiago Alves at UFC 85. New week, on May 23 at UFC 98, that fight will finally happen. In reality, it's been much longer than a year in developing.
Thiago Alves on GSP: "I'm going to knock him out" and "shock the world"
Five rounds. Twenty-five minutes. Fifteen hundred seconds. July 11, 2009, will be the meeting of destiny for Thiago Alves.
The journey won't take long; that he assures you.
Inside a steel structure at UFC 100, a sellout audience of MMA fanatics and A-listers, along with millions watching in their homes and lined four-deep at sports bars, will have their eyes fixated on a young man from Fortaleza, Brazil. Across the octagon will be Alves' opponent, Georges St Pierre, a UFC welterweight champion in the prime of his career.
UFC's Pat Barry brings heavy blows
Pat Barry has the kind of concussive punching and kicking power that can take him a long way in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's heavyweight division, even if his cell phone is filled with voice mails and text messages telling him he's a fool to compete with the big boys of mixed martial arts.
He's 5 feet, 11¼ inches tall and weighs 230 pounds but is derided as a "midget" who would be better off fighting as a 205-pounder.
Barry, who may be the most brutally honest man in MMA this side of Dana White, doesn't believe he's too small to be a factor at heavyweight.