Leites-Sakara Official, Completes UFC 101 Card
With the confirmation today of Thales Leites vs. Alessio Sakara for the card, the UFC 101 card is now final. The 11-fight card is headlined by BJ Penn vs. Kenny Florian for the UFC Lightweight Title and Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin. Leites-Sakara will be a prelim.
Sean Sherk Would Like To See Shinya Aoki Take Off His (Stretchy) Pants
UFC Lightweight Sean Sherk thinks ranking systems like BloodyElbow's and others that rank fighters like Kenny Florian and Shinya Aoki ahead of him make no sense. As for Aoki, Sherk says he's got no boxing, no wrestling, nothing except those pants. So Sherk would like to see Aoki and others like him in UFC, where he can't wear the pants.
221-pound Sonnen takes on Miller because Herman wouldn't
The politics of fighting has put Chael Sonnen in an interesting position. When Yushin Okami had to drop out of his UFC 98 fight against Dan Miller, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva gave a call to Team Quest and Matt Lindland looking for a replacement back on May 1st.
Lindland was asked about Ed Herman, who just saved his job with a win over David Loiseau back at UFC 97 on April 23rd. Lindland told Silva that Herman was a go.
When "The Law" finally tracked down Herman, "Short Fuse" said he didn't want the fight. Lindland then called Sonnen, who was driving to the gym, and told him now he was in a lerch. Sonnen took the fight not realizing that he was 221 pounds with only 22 days to cut the weight to reach the middleweight limit of 185.
TUF 9 Finale: Martin Kampmann vs TJ Grant (UPDATED: Kampman Turns Fight Down)
Former top middleweight contender Martin Kampmann (15-2) is in talks to tangle with UFC sophomore TJ Grant (14-2) in a welterweight match up at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 9 Finale at “The Pearl” at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 20.
Grant announced the bout earlier today via his Facebook page and MMAmania.com was able to independently confirm the announcement with Grant’s camp.
Kampmann made his welterweight debut at UFC Fight Night 18: “Condit vs. Kampmann,” spoiling the Octagon debut of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Welterweight Champion and top-ranked 170-pound fighter Carlos Condit.
Matt Hughes Fans Should Be Encouraged
By news like this:
“I’ve switched things up a little bit,” he says. “I went to a lot of training camps, went out a lot to different places and didn’t stay home near as much.”
One of those outside camps visited by Hughes (42-7) was Greg Nelson’s Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, home to former and current UFC champions Sean Sherk, Dave Menne and Brock Lesnar.
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.
Kongo to step in for Heath
MMABay can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that Wolfslair MMA Academy trained heavyweight, Cheick Kongo, has agreed to step in for the injured Heath Herring at UFC 99 against Cain Velasquez.
UFC Adds Pyle As "Insurance" For 98
Apparently UFC has some concerns about Chris Wilson, who is supposed to fight Brock larson Saturday at UFC 98. The concerns aren't clear, but UFC has signed Mike Pyle to a contract and he's been told to be ready to fight Saturday as an "insurance policy".
Dana White: ESPN's E:60 was a peice of S&%#
Anyone who thought Dana White would soften his tone after the backlash from his recent controversial comments obviously doesn’t know the UFC president.
White drew widespread criticism for a video blog he posted on YouTube last month in which he attacked Sherdog.com writer Loretta Hunt for a story she wrote about the UFC’s credentialing policy. The low-point of the profanity-laced tirade was a homophobic slur White used to describe anonymous sources in Hunt’s story.
White later apologized to the *** community, but otherwise stood by his message and the manner in which he delivered it. In an interview with the Herald on Thursday, White explained that he has no intention of toning things down.
“I have a lot of attorneys that could write (expletive) speeches for me every time I talk,” White said. “I have three attorneys in the car right now. I can have them tell me everything they (expletive) want me to say. Is that what you want? Is that what the fans want? Is that what people want? I can do that. It would give me a lot less (expletive) headaches. Sure I could do that and be a phony like all the other guys, if that’s what everybody wants.”
The questions were obviously rhetorical, as White directed his ire at an ESPN feature on him that appeared on the network’s “E:60” program last week.
“The ‘E:60’ thing was a piece of (expletive),” White said. “Same old (expletive) story, same old (expletive).”
'Behind the Octagon' to Stream Backstage Video at UFC 98
The UFC has a special treat for those staying in to watch the fights on Saturday night. Starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, four live video streams will be available at UFC.com/BK, as part of a new Burger King-sponsored online feature called "Behind the Octagon." Viewers can switch between the red and blue corner dressing rooms, the fighter entryway, and a camera that will just be following Dana White as he makes his rounds. In other words, you'll be seeing a lot of behind-the-scenes action that's never been available before, aside from edited highlights in Danavlogs.
Specific details on "Behind the Octagon" are scarce at this point — we don't know if UFC.com will try to charge viewers for access, and we don't even know if the feeds will be available during the entire event. But if it comes together, BtO could be the most forward-thinking Internet feature the UFC has ever offered. Now all they have to do is give press credentials to bloggers and we'll have entered the Utopia...
Mir & Griffin Working With Mark Dellagrotte
Frank Mir is working with MMA trainer-du-jour Marc Dellagrotte ahead of his challenge for the heavyweight title held by Brock Lesnar. And Forrest Griffin is also consulting the Boston-based trainer, who has recently move towards a Las Vegas expansion.
Dellagrotte is known for his knowledge of Muay Thai kickboxing and skill in adapting to the requirements of mixed martial arts, suggesting that Mir anticipates a standing fight with Lesnar, who he submitted in their first fight last year.
Michael Bisping eager to pick up a few ‘new tricks’ from Frank Mir prior to UFC 100
“When Rampage fought Wanderlei in December he used Frank Mir’s gym. Anthony [McGann] the manager of Wolfslair is friendly with Frank, so seeing as he’s fighting on the card I thought it could be a possibility…. I’ve got to make sure I’m as fit as I possibly can be — that’s a given, I always try to be in top condition. Obviously I’ve got to work my defense against Greco-Roman wrestling, and avoiding Dan’s big right hand which he likes to follow up with the clinch — to try to land that big shot and follow it up with a take down. And same as always, I always try and improve my all-round game and go in as a better and improved fighter than I did last time. I definitely feel I’ve improved as a fighter since I fought Leben. I’ve definitely got some new tricks up my sleeves and I’ll be looking at using them when we fight.”
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.