The Zuffa End Around
It is often said that business ethics is an oxymoron, but that is the case only if you conduct yourself in such a manner. Rob Maysey details the increasingly questionable nature of the UFC’s push for merchandising agreements with it’s fighters:
Multiple sources have indicated that UFC officials are now sending letters to fighters who have not yet signed the Merchandising Rights Agreement. The letter warns fighters that if they do not return the executed Merchandising Rights Agreement by the end of the week, the offer will be rescinded, and the fighter will not be included in the UFC’s licensing program.
Even more outrageous, UFC officials are directly contacting fighters, instead of the fighters’ selected agents. Fighters are told that they are hearing only one side of the story from their selected representatives, and that the UFC’s Merchandising Rights program really is a great deal. By not signing the Merchandising Rights Agreement, fighters are told they are leaving money on the table.
The old saw “he signed the contract, he should honor it” line of thinking is a bit of a dodge and hard to defend if the signature is attained by subverting the fighter-agent relationship and without the advise and consent of legal representation, in effect, duping the fighter. Moves of this nature are more at home in the moral morass that is the boxing scene, and not something that MMA promoters should be mimicking.
UFC 88: YOSHIDA WANTS TO BUILD ON PARISYAN
The influx of international talent into the Ultimate Fighting Championship continues to grow with almost every event. One of the most recent additions to the ever-growing welterweight division is Japanese standout Yoshiyuki Yoshida, who made his debut at UFC 84 picking up a quick submission win over Jon Koppenhaver.
Now the Judoka returns against one of the toughest tests in his career as he faces Karo Parisyan at UFC 88 in Atlanta, but it won’t be the first time he steps in as the underdog not expected to win.
Making his way through Japanese promotions such as Shooto, Yoshida worked his way into the GCM: Cage Force welterweight tournament as one of eight fighters vying for the championship title.
Brock Lesnar's Wrestling Coach Goes Full Time
Minnesota assistant wrestling coach Marty Morgan is leaving the program, to focus full time on former Gophers star Brock Lesnar's fledgling fighting career.
Lesnar is on the rise in the Ultimate Fighting Championship ranks. He was once an NCAA champion heavyweight at the school.
Morgan spent 16 years coaching at Minnesota after wrestling for the school himself. He says he will take the next year to concentrate on helping Lesnar train in the field of mixed martial arts before evaluating his career then.
To what extent Morgan understands the specificities of the MMA game is an open question, but adding his knowledge and oversight to the existing squad at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy can only be a good thing. And while Lesnar is a self motivated fighter, having someone on the coaching staff who knows Brock Lesnar is a major plus for the budding heavyweight.
This is also a demonstration that MMA is offering financial opportunities beyond the wrestling mat...even to wrestlers who don't fight. Lesnar is a bit of an aberrant case, but his participation in the sport could be the tide that helps lift all boats.
Brock Lesnar: I'm tired of hearing about Fedor Emelianenko
For UFC newcomer Brock Lesnar (2-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), the frustration was evident.
UFC President Dana White yesterday announced Lesnar would face a returning Randy Couture at UFC 91 for Couture's heavyweight title. And despite being part of what White referred to as "the biggest fight in UFC history," Lesnar was largely ignored for most of the hour-long media conference call.
The majority of questions focused on Couture's return and how it would impact a possible bout between Couture and current WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. Lesnar quickly grew tired of the hypothetical discussion.
"I'm hearing all this talk about Fedor Emelianenko," Lesnar said. "Who gives a [expletive] about Fedor? I don't care. I'm fighting Randy Couture. That's what this press conference is about."
Lesnar said he was not alone in his disdain for the discussions of Emelianenko.
"I don't give a damn about Fedor," Lesnar said. "I'm tired of hearing about [expletive] Fedor. Randy Couture is fighting Brock Lesnar Nov. 15. His No. 1 concern should be Brock Lesnar. And Dana White could care less about Fedor.
Johnson Recovered, Ready For October Return
During an appearance yesterday on TAGG Radio, Anthony Johnson talked about the controversial TKO loss to Kevin Burns, the fight's aftermath, and his recovery from eye surgery. Johnson said he is cleared to return now but will likely next fight in October.
Couture and Lesnar on ESPN television shows Mike and Mike in the Morning and ESPN First Take Today
This just goes to show how far the sport of MMA has come. To have two of it's stars on ESPN (the biggest name in sports) is just incredible. Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar were actually just on Mike and Mike in the Morning (which actually airs on ESPN 2) around 9:30 A.M. EST, discussing their upcoming bout at UFC 91and just MMA in general. The pair of UFC stars will also be joining the cast of ESPN First Take, which starts at 10:00 AM EST. What wonderful news for the UFC and MMA in general as a sport, this will only help to turn more people on to MMA and help the sport to grow even more.
Dollars and sense: No choice but Lesnar vs Couture at UFC 91
“Well I had hoped to entice you into taking a personal interest in things.”
“That’s an insult to both of us. It makes me stupid, and you a whore.”
While that might sound like the negotiations between Randy Couture and Dana White, it’s actually dialog from a movie about a martial arts warrior trying to bring down an evil syndicate known as “The Octagon.”
Talk about life imitating art.
Randy Couture is back in the UFC … and on Dana’s terms. For those of you who are furiously typing your dissent, don’t bother. Anything less than Couture vs. Emelianenko should be seen as a total failure for “The Natural” and all of his crusaders.
That’s not to say that Couture doesn’t benefit because he obviously does. I’m sure the financials of his three-fight contract are quite lucrative and he now gets to participate in the biggest pay-per-view (PPV) of all time.
Those aren’t my words, they’re Dana’s.
NOG VS MIR FOR (Interim) TITLE DESPITE COUTURE'S RETURN
“We have two heavyweights on the phone. We have scheduled a mega-fight between these two on Saturday, Nov. 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here in Las Vegas. It will be Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture, the heavyweight champion of the UFC, versus Brock Lesnar.”
Those were the words from Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White on Tuesday as he announced the return of the promotion’s embattled champion to the Octagon.
He also confirmed that the fight would be a five-round title bout, leaving many to wonder what is to become of the planned interim title bout between The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 coaches Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who currently holds the interim designation, and challenger Frank Mir.
People didn’t have to wonder long.
Dana White, Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar phone Press Conference
The UFC made it official, the champ is back. Randy Couture and the UFC worked out their differences and announced that the 45-year old MMA legend will return for a monumental heavyweight championship battle against Brock Lesnar on Nov. 15 in Las Vegas.
CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE:
Lesnar gets pretty pissed with all the questions about Fedor and Randy at around 5:50 of part 2.
Randy Couture returns to fight Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 … in Las Vegas
It’s official: Randy Couture fought Zuffa law and Zuffa law won … kinda.
The 11-month legal drama that involved the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its disgruntled heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, has been resolved.
Thank the almighty … whoever that may be.
In an official conference call today, UFC President Dana White announced that the 45-year-old Hall of Fame inductee had agreed to an out-of-court new three-fight contract. And, as speculated, will return against Brock Lesnar in the main event at UFC 91 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a five round fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.
This is quite a departure — and a monumental breakthrough — from the ugly break up that first began when Couture faxed in his resignation from a South African movie set in late 2007, citing poor pay, lack of respect and a desire to fight Fedor Emelianenko — a high-profile free agent who the UFC was unable to sign.
He has sat on the sidelines ever since, hoping that his legal team could find him a way out of his ironclad contract. Either he eventually realized that it was impossible or would just take too long, which is more than likely the genesis behind his sudden shift in strategy.
UFC could host a military-themed event in December
The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Spike TV are working toward a military-themed event that would likely take place Dec. 10 -- on a U.S. military base -- as a fundraiser for the Fisher House charity.
Sources close to the event tell MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that organizers have advanced past the preliminary planning stages, though a number of obstacles remain.
Spike TV officials could neither confirm nor deny the possibility of the event when today reached for comment.
However, according to multiple sources, the event would likely feature some UFC fighters who come from a military background (and many who don't). A main event for the card has not been determined.
BOETSCH LOOKING TO ESTABLISH HIS PLACE IN UFC
Tim Boetsch's debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship was not your typical debut for a newcomer. It's very common to see a fighter clam up, or overextend themselves early or even get knocked out in their first fight on the big stage, especially when called on short notice. However, Tim Boetsch is not your common fighter.
Boetsch showed some excellent striking skills and power against David Heath. He also had a notorious rag-doll-like throw on Heath that made mixed martial arts fans stand up and cheer. So after his impressive debut, it was natural that his newly acquired fans expected big things from him.
His next fight against Matt Hamill was also taken on short notice, however it did not go as planned for the Pennsylvania native. Hamill had controlled Boetsch and ended up finishing him in the second round. Boetsch was noticeably gassed in the fight and part of that may have been due to not training in high altitude. “Going up to Colorado really zapped me faster than I've ever been before,” commented Boetsch in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “Not being able to recover like I usually can at lower altitude. That's the worst thing in the world is losing and that motivates me even more to get back in there and perform and show people what I'm actually capable of doing.”
UFC88: LIDDELL READY FOR EVANS
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck Liddell takes on undefeated Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 88 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta on Sept. 6. And, with a win, Liddell hopes to move back into title contention and earn an opportunity to regain the belt against current champion Forrest Griffin.
Liddell's been in mega-fights before with the likes of Randy Couture, three times, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson twice, Tito Ortiz twice and former Pride Fighting Championship middleweight title holder Wanderlei Silva.
Questioned whether he can get up for a match with Rashad Evans, Liddell told MMAWeekly, "I don't find it hard to get motivated for fights. I love fighting and I want to get my title back. I want to get my title back, so I'm highly motivated for that."
Karo Parisyan: ‘I have so much at stake’ for Yoshiyuki Yoshida UFC 88 fight
“If I get hit by lighting and I lose, God forbid, I don’t care. All I know for this fight is I trained twice as hard as I did for the Thiago Alves fight. I have to thank Thiago Alves. He woke me up…. I have so much at stake. I have so much stress on me. People don’t understand how tough it is. I need to be able to conquer this match. Not sounding selfish at all, [but] I fight for myself. I fight to prove something to myself, to feel good about myself when I walk outside.”
Karo Parisyan talks about how important his next fight is against Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 88: “Breakthrough” at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on September 6. “The Heat” is coming off a technical knockout loss to Thiago Alves back in April, which dashed his near-term title chances. And it was just the second time ever he had ever been finished in more than 20 professional fights.
UFC Quick Quote: Chris Leben might want to rethink his UFC 89 gameplan for Michael Bisping
“I read that he said I might him with 20 punches to his one punch because I’m faster but he only needs one punch to knock me out. All I’d say to that is he’s going to need a very good game plan to agree to let me stand there and punch him in the face 20 times!”
– Michael Bisping questions the gameplan his opponent at UFC 89: “Bisping vs. Leben,” Chris Leben mentioned in a recent MMAmania.com interview in a new interview with The Sun. Both bangers are set to clash at The National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham, England, on October 18. It’s a 185-pound scrap that has already received a ton of attention even though we are still more than one month away. Here’s to hoping that Leben doesn’t change his gameplan … let the sluggers slug.
Who Are the Losers if Randy Couture Re-Signs With the UFC?
Zach Arnold thinks beyond Couture's image and Mark Cuban's MMA efforts, there are others who won't fare so well either:
* Third, Affliction could be facing the prospects of not being able to book Couture vs. Fedor in their ring. You would have to assume that booking Couture vs. Fedor was going to be a major part of their business plan. After all, the two men shook hands at Affliction’s debut event in Anaheim.
* Unless Fedor agrees to fight the winner of Arlovski vs. Barnett (10/11 Las Vegas), WAMMA has to be prepared to strip the Russian of his title belt if he goes to UFC. Dana White will not allow any mentions of WAMMA whatsoever or even have that belt shown on PPV or TV.
* Out of all of the fighters in the MMA business, Randy Couture was in the best position to challenge parts of UFC’s somewhat controversial fighter contracts in regards to the clauses inserted into them. Now that Couture reportedly is back in the UFC fold, UFC will be able to breathe a big sigh of relief that none of the contractual provisions they make fighters sign (e.g. the retirement clause, the champion’s clause) will face a legal challenge any time soon.
What Couture vs. Lesnar Means for the UFC Heavyweight Division
This weekend has brought an absolute storm in the blogoland, with rumors flying of Randy coming back to face Lesnar at UFC 91, in what will almost certainly be a title match, as the first fight in a three-fight deal. This matchup, and the other rumors about Randy's return, suggest all sorts of interesting possibilities.
Scenario 1: Couture beats Lesnar
If Couture beats Lesnar, this sets up two possible matchups for Randy. First is the unification match with the winner of Nogueira/Mir. The second and more interesting matchup is the rumor of a fight with Fedor:
The long-rumored heavyweight superfight between UFC champion Randy Couture (16-8 MMA, 8-5 UFC) and WAMMA champion Fedor Emelianenko (28-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is currently being discussed for an as-yet-unspecified date in January or February of 2009.
I suggested in a previous fanpost that the matchup would never happen. Both my own and other people's analysis has been that the UFC would never build up Fedor just so he could fight elsewhere. But the UFC has access to better numbers than any of us. Its quite possible that they have run the calculus and concluded that the UFC is now untouchable by any upstart company grabbing top fighters: the cost of the top fighters would make it impossible to build brand equity and achieve break-even before going under. I figured it would be a few more years before this would be the case, but the struggles Affliction has encountered suggest that perhaps the day is already here. If it indeed is, the UFC doesn't have to worry about Fedor going elsewhere, because he costs too much for upstart promotions to survive his paycheck.
If a Randy/Fedor fight comes to fruition, the winner of Nog/Mir might be able to fight Werdum in the meantime. Afterwards, the title could be unified, or Randy's piece of the title could be retired if Fedor wins and then leaves.
Lesnar beats the crap out of Cheick Kongo in his rebound fight.
Gonzaga Could Return At UFC 91
Trying to start another winning streak and get back in the UFC Heavyweight Title picture, Gabriel Gonzaga is expected to return to the Octagon at UFC 91. Josh Hendricks (14-4, 9 straight wins) is the likely foe.