“We’ve done a lot of research at HBO talking to all of our pay-per-view distributors and we haven’t found more than 5% overlap in the audiences. They’re two different businesses that co-exist. Sports that are thriving on our sport of boxing whether it’s on HBO or HBO pay-per-view, it has been growing significantly over the last 3 or 4 years and there is surprisingly little overlap between the consumer base.”
—HBO Senior VP of Sports Operations and Pay-Per-View Mark Taffet
Let me start off by apologizing for the lack of updates of late. Its been real crazy around here as well as being temporarily shorthanded. Anyway, onto the world of MMA.
The last few days of seen a flurry of new fights proposed in various organizations. Hopefully free of his EliteXC contract, Eddie Alvarez looks to return to fighting in the US with a proposed match in Extreme Challenge. No opponent has been named, but the fight is set for January 23rd in Atlantic City. Extreme Challenge is run by Monte COx and is generally based in the Midwest. But Alvarez’s strong ties to the East Coast will surely help their foray into Atlantic City
Urijah Faber will look to quickly get back in the win column following his TKO loss to Mike Brown. He’s certainly not taking on a cupcake either, as he will be tangling with former UFC lightweight champ Jens Pulver in a rematch of their June 1 fight which was a Fight of the Year candidate. The fight is set for WEC 37 on January 25 in San Diego, CA.
The rumor mill is hot and heavy that Chuck Liddell will make his return to the UFC Octagon to face Randy Couture for a fourth time. This one would take place in Germany at UFC 99 and would occur in the heavyweight division.
Golden Boy to compete with Affliction’s Day of Reckoning
Despite all the earlier announcements that Affliction and Golden Boy Promotions were teaming up to put on mega cards featuring both boxing and MMA, GBP has pulled back the reins some. Though they will still be producing and advertising the January 24 Aflliction show, GBP also has announced they will be putting on the Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosely World Title boxing match on HBO that same night. While most believe the boxing and MMA fan bases are separate, there is still some crossover and putting this fight on for free sort of (HBO), can’t help but take some eyes away from the Affliction show.
I also fully expect the UFC to counter program on SpikeTV against the Affliction show. Don’t be surprised to see the UFC 91 card on that night, featuring the Randy Couture vs Brock Lesnar title fight as well as a host of other dynamic fights.
Dana White. Photo courtesy of Playboy Magazine.
Playboy’s regular readers might have something a little extra to look forward to this month as Dana White is featured in the magazine’s usual monthly interview slot for the September issue.
The UFC’s head-honcho opens up on a bunch of topics, including the future of the UFC, the downfall of boxing, his feud with Tito Ortiz, his thoughts on Mark Cuban and Donald Trump, and a failed multi-year deal with HBO among other things.
The September issue was released this past Friday and is now available on newsstands everywhere as well as online at www.playboydigital.com. Selected quotes from the interview are after the jump, courtesy of Playboy themselves.
NEW YORK - The International Fight League and Alfred Haber Distribution today announced that HBO Latin America, one of the fastest growing entertainment channels in Latin America will begin showing IFL content beginning in 2008. It is the IFL’?s first Spanish Language partnership, and will cover Latin America, Brazil and the Caribbean.
?Serving one of the fastest growing demos for Mixed Martial Arts, the Hispanic market both in the United States and abroad, is a major priority for the IFL in 2008,? said IFL CEO Jay Larkin. ?We are very pleased to be able to start that progress with one of the hallmark brands in all of broadcasting, HBO, and its Latin American arm.?
HBO Latin America joins an ever-growing international TV lineup for IFL programming, which includes MyNetworkTV, HDNet and FSN in the United States, MBC in the Middle East and parts of Africa, Star TV in Asia, CanWest Global and Fox Sports Canada in Canada, EGO in Israel, ITV in the United Kingdom, TV4 in Sweden and Armed Forces Television worldwide.
Just completing its first full season of operation, IFL programming will now be seen in over 300 million homes worldwide.
The IFL held a conference call with the media earlier this afternoon to promote this weekend’s opening round of the IFL Grand Prix, which will take place at at the Sears Center in Chicago. A portion of the event will be televised live on MyNetworkTV at 9 PM EST.
IFL President and Chief Operating Officer Jay Larkin was on hand to answer the media’s questions.
Larkin noted that the IFL will do away with the teams being attached to cities, citing that putting on events between two teams in neutral cities didn’t make much sense. The teams will now focus more on their name and head coach as well the gym the coach runs, if he has one. Larkin stated that the look of the league will look dramatically different compared to this past season.
The IFL is still in talks with MyNetworkTV about a television deal in 2008 but those negotiations are nearly complete. There aren’t currently any plans to have the final round of the Grand Prix televised live. Larkin also said that the IFL will announce a new television deal with a Canadian network tomorrow. The network will televise two hours of the Grand Prix. Larkin is also currently in talks with HBO concerning a television deal in the future.
Larkin said that he will not be at the Grand Prix because he is required to attend an HBO boxing event taking place overseas this weekend. He also said that he did not understand UFC President Dana White’s criticism of boxing officials even though he hired, Marc Ratner, a long-time boxing official, to be the UFC’s vice president.
There were no remarks made in terms of new coaches being hired or coaches being replaced. Larkin said those announcements will come at a later date. When asked about the possibility of hiring Randy Couture as a coach in the IFL, Larkin said that he would be interested but wouldn’t approach anything until all of the “dust” settles concerning Couture’s situation right now. Larkin also said that Couture is still under contract with the UFC so it wouldn’t be possible anyway.
The IFL will stay with a ring for next season, no plans to use a cage. The idea of eliminating the heavyweight division and adding a featherweight division is being discussed. No new news in terms of Kurt Angle signing with the IFL. Ben Rothwell is still with the IFL and will be ringside at the Grand Prix. Several IFL stars will be on hand at various locations throughout the city of Chicago to sign autographs today and tomorrow. Televised matchups for Saturday night will include Benji Radach vs Brent Beauparlant, Chris Horodecki vs Bart Palaszewski, Vladimir Matyushenko vs Alex Schoenauer.
Some notes from yesterday’s M-1 Global press conference which took place in New York City…
- Sibling Sports LLC is the name of the undisclosed American entertainment company that purchased M-1. The company is formed by Sibling Theatricals Inc and Garlin Holdings Limited. Mitchell Maxwell will serve as President of Sibling Sports while Monte Cox will serve as President and CEO of M-1 Global.
- Fedor Emelianenko’s contract is a two-year, six-fight, multi-million dollar deal. He has a clause in the contract that will allow him to fight in other organizations. If the UFC is able to bring Randy Couture back and would like to set up a mega-fight between him and Fedor, M-1 will send him over and also pay Couture and the winner of the fight an extra $1 million.
- M-1 Global is planning their first show to take place in the United States in February. They would also like to host shows in Russia, Korea, Japan, and the Netherlands as well. At least three of the promotion’s events next year will take place outside of the United States. The first show in Japan will most likely take place next summer.
- The company is still looking for a television deal. HBO, Showtime, and HDNet are said to all be among the interested parties.
- The new stable of fighters recently signed with the promotion will be revealed within the next 7-10 days.
- Fedor’s next opponent has not yet been named. Josh Barnett and Mark Hunt are said to be the favorites.
- M-1 Global will continue to use a rule set similar to the set that PRIDE used before it’s collapse. The promotion would like to adopt a set of rules that could be used anywhere in the future however.
- According to Fedor, the UFC apparently turned down an offer from PRIDE to have Fedor fight Tim Sylvia when he was the UFC Heavyweight Champion for unknown reasons. Fedor also added that a similar offer was made to match up Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva when they were champions as well.
- The UFC made a contract offer to Aleksander Emelianenko but the deal was apparently much lower than what Aleksander is worth according to his brother.
Multichannel News is reporting that HBO and the UFC have decided to end negotiations without reaching a deal:
The long-rumored distribution deal between Home Box Office and Ultimate Fighting Championship has been KO’d.
The premium service said it will not air live UFC combat sports eventson its network in the near future, ending more than a year of negotiations.
“After lots of discussion it became apparent that the business model doesn’t make sense for either one of us. So we agreed to go our separate ways,” said HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg in a statement. “You never know what the future holds. We have enormous respect and admiration for the executives we dealt with at the UFC. We wish them well.”
Nothing from the UFC on this yet. It was kind of obvious after all this time of going back and forth that neither side was budging.
Touch of gloves to Wrestling Observer for the find.
Update 10/6 10:30 AM: In an interview done with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports late last night, UFC President Dana White says that he is still confident a deal will get done:
“We’ll come to a deal with HBO, I’m 100 percent confident of that,” White said. “Ross is probably pretty happy now, but we’ll get a deal done with them. Believe me, we will. They want the deal, I want the deal – and when two sides want the deal, it gets done.
“There’s a lot of stuff to this and these things take time. Deals are never easy to get done. They take a lot longer than I’d like.”
UFC President Dana White and heavyweight title contender Mirko Cro Cop held a conference call with the media earlier today discussing this weekend’s event. Many topics were covered over the hour session including Cro Cop’s thoughts on Gabriel Gonzaga, the immediate plans for PRIDE’s future, the contract status of Mauricio Rua and Fedor Emelianenko, and much more.
Let’s just say that we have everything covered. Read and enjoy…
Cro Cop’s Thoughts on Gabriel Gonzaga:
Cro Cop was very straight forward in answering questions about Gonzaga. He stated that Gonzaga will not have an answer for everything that Cro Cop is going to bring to the Octagon on Saturday. He said that he is at full health for this weekend. He will not being using PRIDE’s theme music when he walks to the Octagon. Instead he will use his usual “Wild Boyz” song.
Cro Cop also said that he isn’t worried about Gonzaga’s ground skills and that it is his all-around game that presents the biggest problems matchup-wise:
“I have trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a lot, have experts in my gym. I feel comfortable even on the ground. I am aware he is a jiu-jitsu world champion, but I am pretty versed in ground fighting now. Of course my basis is stand up, but even if we go to the ground, I am not scared.
Gonzaga is a solid, good fighter. He is a tough guy. He won’t hesitate to fight toe to toe. He is a first class fighter. I will try to keep it in a stand up position. I don’t want to underestimate him” stated Cro Cop.
Cro Cop on Couture, Liddell, Fedor, and Big Nog:
Cro Cop said that he would love for to have a rematch with Fedor Emelianenko in the near future but he is currently focused on his fight with Gonzaga and then winning the UFC Heavyweight Title before that can happen. He said that Randy Couture’s age will not be a factor if and when they fight because he has already shown that it hasn’t been a factor in past fights. He stated that while he doesn’t have any preference on his opponents in the UFC, he has a feeling that he will be fighting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira very soon.
Cro Cop also made it known that he will be unable to cut enough weight to make it down to the 205 lb weight class, meaning that if a dream match with Chuck Liddell is to happen, that Liddell will have to come up to heavyweight and fight…
“I have no space to go down, maybe if I chop off my hand or something. I definitely can’t go down” said Cro Cop.
Dana White on Big Nog, Fedor, Wanderlei Silva, Sakuraba, and Liddell:
White stated that Nogueira was signed by the UFC as a free agent and that talks began about a month ago. He also stated that there is currently no timetable for his first fight nor any ideas on who his first opponent may be.
White said that at the time he originally made that Wanderlei Silva-Chuck Liddell announcement for UFC 65, it was going to be the biggest fight in MMA history. He now says that it isn’t the case until Silva wins a few more fights to make up for his KO losses to Cro Cop and Dan Henderson. Silva currently has four fights left on his six fight contract to do so.
According to White, the UFC is currently trying to figure out the status of Fedor. Fedor’s contract isn’t exclusive to PRIDE and that Zuffa and PRIDE FC Worldwide will not accept non-exclusive contracts for their fighters. White did say however that Fedor is under contract to the company and that if another rival promotion tried to sign him, he would slap them with an injunction immediately.
Despite the heavy rumors that Mauricio Rua has signed a contract that will allow him two fights in PRIDE and two fights in the UFC, White says that the rumors are not true. Also Kazushi Sakuraba is not under contract with PRIDE and White isn’t aware of the reasoning behind him being brought out to address the crowd during PRIDE 34.
White Talks About Changes to PRIDE and the Lightweight Grand-Prix:
White has confirmed once again that PRIDE will be changing to the unified rules of mixed martial arts (the rule set that the UFC uses) as well as the same round structures and weight classes. PRIDE will continue to use a ring instead of a cage. Also fight cards will be announced weeks in advance of an event, just like the UFC does now. Does everyone recall the PRIDE 34 mess?
PRIDE will not have a super heavyweight division and the crazy matchups the promotion used to hold including Butterbean, Giant Silva, and Bob Sapp will not take place anymore. White stated that all employees currently with PRIDE will keep their jobs with the exception of Gary Millen and Frank Trigg. They have been fired and will be replaced with a completely new announce team.
White said that it is still undecided in terms of whether or not the Lightweight Grand-Prix will take place at 155 lbs or 170 lbs. White denied all rumors about Diego Sanchez and Matt Hughes taking place in the tourney as there will not be any UFC fighters participating:
“There will be no UFC fighters in the tournament. The UFC and PRIDE are completely separate companies. You won’t see UFC vs PRIDE until we do the big event” said White.
White Discusses UFC’s status with HBO and ESPN:
The UFC will debut on HBO as soon as this summer according to White. The deal actually isn’t complete but is in the final stages of being finalized. White didn’t say much about things but did mention that the HBO will be doing their own production and announcing of events rather than having the UFC do things along with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. White said that it wasn’t easy for him to agree to that…
The UFC will still broadcast shows on HBO, Spike TV, and PPV. Spike TV will be made up mostly of guys from The Ultimate Fighter television shows. Shows on HBO will be mixture of TUF guys, international stars, and other UFC fighters. PPV shows would then have the best of the best.
ESPN will now be covering the UFC on a regular basis according to White. The coverage will include both weigh-in and fight results…
White Talks About Possible UFC Fights and Events in the Near Future:
White said that UFC 72 will either be on PPV or Spike TV. He mentioned Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta, and Philadelphia all as possible sites that may hold future UFC events. Florida will also hold another UFC event in the near future according to White.
White said that the “Inside the UFC” TV show wasn’t scrapped and that the company is currently working on a date to bring the show back to the air.
White announced a slew of possible matchups - If Andrei Arlovski defeats Fabricio Werdum on Saturday, he will most likely fight the winner of Mirko Cro Cop and Randy Couture should Cro Cop get poast Gabriel Gonzaga as well. Sean Sherk will defend his lightweight title in Sacramento, California against Hermes Franca. Tito Ortiz vs Rashad Evans and Anderson Silva vs Nate Marquardt will also take place on that card. Georges St. Pierre will most likely be fighting next in August against an opponent that has yet to be determined…
White on Tito Ortiz:
White’s comments were short and sweet when asked about the current situation between himself and Tito Ortiz:
“Tito is living in a fucking bubble right now” said White “You saw what happened. I showed up and he didn’t. He’s not afraid of me, but he has people around him telling him it was a bad idea. He is out there making himself look like a jackass. He should shut his mouth and worry about Rashad Evans.”
News and Notes
- According to Dave Meltzer, UFC 70: Nations Collide will likely appear on Spike TV and not HBO.
Dana White said that regarding the broadcast of UFC 70 on 4/21 from Manchester, England into the U.S., that nothing is finalized right now, but it will most likely be on Spike and not HBO.
- Fight Opinion Radio has released their newest episode dubbed “Power Brokers”. The show features former WFA boss and current EliteXC employee Jeremy Lappen and Jimmy Greninger of Soldier Fight Gear.
- MMA manager Monte Cox told MMAWeekly that he doesn’t feel Tim Sylvia’s back injury had any effect on the outcome of the fight with Randy Couture.
“He had trouble with his back. It was something that we dealt with with chiropractic help to make it so he could compete hard. And I think he did,” commented Cox. “I’m not one to say that has any kind of effect. I wish he hadn’t have said it. It happens before a lot of fights, it’s just one of those things.”
Injuries going into a fight, especially a fight with as much meaning as a title fight, are quite common among professional fighters. In fact, it’s a common saying amongst fighters that “if you’re not injured at all going into a fight, you’re not training hard enough.”
- Our rumors section has been updated.
Icon Sport: Epic TV Promo
News and Notes
- Renato “Babalu” Sobral will make his return to the octagon at UFC 68 on March 3rd when he faces Jason Lambert. Sobral last appeared in the octagon at UFC 62 when he suffered a devastating knock out loss to the hands of the UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell.
- Martin Kampmann will be fighting on the upcoming UFC 68 card, his opponent is currently unknown.
- It looks like Matt Lindland will be making his way over to BodogFight to face PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko.
- Last night Dana White took part in a special chat for all of the ‘UFC Fight Club’ members. Here is some interesting information that came out of the chat…
Mason: Have you ever considered having a legends type fight on a card, such as Randy vs. Bas Rutten?
Dana White: We always want to put on the fights the fans want to see. I would love to bring Bas back.
rickrock: Would you like to see Wanderlei Silva back in the octagon? Has there been any steps taken to try and sign him?
Dana White: I would love to have Silva in the UFC, it’s always my goal to get the best fighters in the world to fight for us. Hopefully we will see that fight in 2007.
Poundem: Dana, were do you see the UFC in 5 years from now?
Dana White: Poundem, I see us GLOBAL.
tootall2: Do you intend to keep bringing the better - fighters from other organizations, or is there a plan to absorb other organizations, such as Pride - and thanks for bringing excitement back to professional fighting.
Dana White: Totall, it’s my goal to acquire all the best fighters in the world and if things go my way, I will have them all by the end of year.
Poundem: What is your plan for Fedor, or do you have one? Would you like to get him in the UFC?
Dana White: Poundem, I want Fedor and everyone else in the UFC.
DrWu: If you could change one thing about the rules of fighting in the octagon, what would it be and why?
Dana White: I would add knees to the head.
dnkyntz: Could you talk about the rumors regarding Zuffa acquiring Pride?
Dana White: Obviously we are out there acquiring other MMA companies right now and if Pride is for sale, I’m interested.
Raiderbeast:Before leaving tonight, can you tell us if another big Pride fighter will show up in the UFC anytime soon?
Dana White: Count on it!!
For the folks back home, the 5-7 Fisher was going to the relatively big city of Bettendorf, Iowa to train in some sport he called mixed martial arts. He might as well have told them he was going to be the star in a high-wire trapeze act, because that probably got more recognition from mainstream America in 2002.
But fast forward to 2006, and Fisher has not only carved out a niche for himself in MMA, currently the fastest growing sport in the world, but he’s one of the featured fighters on a Spike TV fight card on January 25th and his face is plastered on the event’s poster. So when he visits family in Cashiers, things have changed a bit for him.
“They love it,” said Fisher. “They keep up with it, and when I go back home they say, ‘hey, I saw you on TV the other day,’ and it’s a big deal to them. It’s nice to know that I have fans. Before I made it on TV, I’d go back home and people would say ‘what are you doing now?’ I’d tell them and they’d go ‘Oh jeez,’ and it was kind of a joke until they saw it on TV and they saw that there were real punches and real kicks and now there’s a respect that goes along with it.”
MMAWeekly: UFC Champ Ready for Cro Cop and Couture