Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ratings Hold Steady in Week Two
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The second episode of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew an overall rating of 1.6, which was almost identical to the season premiere's overall rating one week earlier.

While the fourth season premiere of TUF could not match the third season premiere in the ratings (2.0 overall rating for the third season premiere; 1.7 overall rating for the fourth season premiere), the more important factor over the long run is how well the show maintains its audience over time. In this area, TUF 4 is outperforming TUF 3 thus far.

History Does Not Repeat Itself with Week One vs. Week Two Ratings Drop-Off
A large percentage of the viewers who watched the premiere of TUF 3 back in April did not come back for week two, as the overall rating went from 2.0 for the premiere all the way down to 1.3 for the second episode.

If the same percentage of viewers tuned out this season, the result would have been a hugely disappointing 1.1 overall rating for Episode Two, but that's not what happened. Instead, the overall rating for episode two on August 24th barely decreased at all, as it went from 1.7 to 1.6.

With the premiere-to-week-two drop-off out of the way, the fourth season of TUF now has a chance to build some ratings momentum over the course of the season, which every season of TUF except the second season has been able to do.

Specific Demographic Ratings Already Hold Steady
The ratings for the second episode of this season also held up fairly well in the specific demographics that TUF's advertisers are targeting.

Among 18-to-34-year-old males, Episode Two drew a 2.7 rating, which was down slightly from Episode One's 2.8 rating in that demographic.

In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, which combines the aforementioned 18-to-34-year-old male demographic with the 35-to-49-year-old male demographic, Episode Two drew a 2.1 rating, which was down slightly from Episode One's 2.2 rating in the same demographic.

Dewees-Ray Bloodbath Could Have an Impact on Future Episodes' Ratings
The bloodbath involving Edwin Dewees and Gideon Ray drew a 1.7 rating over the final two quarter-hours of Episode Two, falling short of the 1.8 rating that was drawn by the fight between Shonie Carter-Rich Clementi one week earlier.

The question now is what affect, if any, such a bloodbath will have on ratings in the future. Specifically, will the people who saw it be more likely or less likely to watch TUF in the future?

The only way that it could make people significantly more likely to watch TUF in the future is if they specifically enjoy seeing that much bloodshed, or if there's a large positive word of mouth effect. There is no evidence of any positive worth of mouth effect on the ratings for the Dewees-Ray fight, as the exact rating that it was drawing at the beginning of the fight was 1.68, and the exact rating that it was drawing at the end of the fight was 1.70. The kind of ratings increase that happens when lots of people call their friends and say, "Turn to this channel because you have to see this!" was simply not present during the Dewees-Ray fight.

The fight could, on the other hand, make some people less likely to watch in the future, specifically those who are new to the sport of mixed martial arts, or those who are squeamish. Although the UFC draws excellent ratings among 18-to-34-year-old males, it doesn't draw anywhere near as well among 35-to-49-year-olds or viewers over 49, and the Dewees-Ray fight is certainly not going to help that.

Viewers in the 35-to-49-year-old demographic, while not as coveted by advertisers as 18-to-34-year-olds, are still important to the show's overall rating and total number of viewers, and they also make up a sizable portion of the combined 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

For those viewers who are new to MMA and just tuned in and saw blood pouring of Edwin Dewees' head like a faucet while the doctors said, "He's fine as long as he can still see," it can't be understated how much of a bush-league image was projected to those fans. If all that one has seen of mixed martial arts is the Dewees-Ray fight, one would probably have a disproportionately poor opinion of the sport.

I'm hardly someone who is squeamish about blood, as I've seen pro wrestlers lose a lot more blood from self-inflicted blade-jobs than Edwin Dewees did on TUF 4. The difference is that pro wrestling is a largely unregulated free-for-all where the safety rules and regulations are often changed on the fly. Mixed martial arts is supposed to be a sport with doctors who look out for the health and well-being of the fighters above all else.

The fact that the doctors let the fight continue long after it was clear that Dewees' cut was not going to stop gushing blood is, sadly, far from an isolated incident. This is the same team of doctors who cleared Jorge Gurgel to compete on TUF with a pre-existing torn ACL. This is the same team of doctors who cleared Rob MacDonald to compete on TUF with a pre-existing torn labrum in his shoulder. This is the same team of doctors who let the fight continue at UFC 57 in February when Frank Mir had a large cut over his eye and flat-out told the doctor that he couldn't see out of the affected eye (which was audible on the PPV broadcast). This is the same team of doctors who let the fight continue at UFC 61 in July when Yves Edwards was losing puddle-creating amounts of blood. It's true that "this ain't ballet," as the saying goes, but it's not supposed to be a free-for-all, either.

The logic that it doesn't matter how much blood a fighter loses as long as he can still see is something that just doesn't hold up. If during a fight in the near future a fighter gets a large cut on the top or back of his head (in a way that doesn't interfere with his vision at all) and he loses a gallon of blood, would that make it "medically okay"? Of course not.

Putting aside the argument of whether the Dewees-Ray fight should have stopped when the two fighters were put back on the ground and it became clear that Dewees' cut was going to continue to gush blood like a faucet, the fact remains that the fight wasn't stopped. That may or may not have a slight negative effect on the ratings in the future, and it has already projected a bush-league image to anyone who is new to the sport.

UFC Unleashed Almost Matches UFC Fight Night's Rating
The biggest ratings-related surprise of the night actually came from TUF 3's lead-in. The Ultimate Fighter's lead-in on August 17th was a live two-hour fight special (UFC Fight Night 6), which drew a 1.5 overall rating. The Ultimate Fighter's lead-in on August 14th was an episode of UFC Unleashed, which surprisingly almost matched that total with a 1.3 overall rating.

The overall rating of 1.3 was the third-highest for UFC Unleashed since it moved to Thursday nights back in April. The two highest-rated airings of UFC Unleashed came on April 20th and June 29th; both of those airings drew overall ratings of 1.4.

TNA Impact, the pro wrestling show that follows The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV, drew a very disappointing rating of just 0.8 on August 24th, meaning that it retained just 50% of its lead-in audience.

Network TV Competition for TUF and Unleashed
The network TV competition that went head-to-head with the UFC block of programming on Spike TV was fairly weak once again, but this will not be the case for much longer as the summer TV season nears its completion.

Airing head-to-head with TUF on August 24th from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, NBC's drama series Windfall collapsed in the ratings without the benefit of having America's Got Talent as a lead-in. Windfall went from a 3.9 overall rating on August 17th to an embarrassingly-low-for-network-television 2.9 overall rating on August 24th. A new episode of the ABC newsmagazine Primetime drew a 4.6 overall rating, while a repeat of Without a Trace on CBS led the pack with a 7.0 overall rating.

Airing head-to-head with UFC Unleashed from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM on August 24th, an NFL preseason football game on Fox drew a 4.3 overall rating. Two repeats of The Office on NBC each drew 2.7 overall ratings. While averaging a 2.7 rating for new episodes during the season would lead to the show getting cancelled (even with an Emmy Award for Best Comedy--- see Arrested Development), it's not considered as big of a deal for two repeat airings in the summer to have drawn such low ratings.

Meanwhile, a repeat of CSI drew a 7.6 overall rating on CBS, while a repeat of Grey's Anatomy on ABC drew a 5.6 overall rating. Now airing head-to-head, CSI and Grey's Anatomy are both expected to draw ratings in the 10 to 15 range every week when their new seasons start airing in September.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006
Pro Wrestling--- Kurt Angle Fired by World Wrestling Entertainment
The Wrestling Observer and Pro Wrestling Torch are reporting that Kurt Angle has been fired by World Wrestling Entertainment. While this is a grave sign of what WWE thinks about Angle's current condition, this development may also bring forth the only chance that we're not going to wake up one day soon and see the headline, "Kurt Angle Found Dead," because that's what is going to happen if he doesn't get the help that he needs.

According to the Observer, Angle failed a drug test earlier this year due to large amounts of prescription pain medication being found in his system, and he served a 30-day suspension for the drug test failure.

According to the Torch and Observer, Angle recently suffered a torn groin muscle in addition to all of his other injuries, which include a broken neck and herniated discs in his back.

It got to the point that due to liability reasons, WWE management did not let him go out and wrestle at a recent TV taping even though he wanted to wrestle despite his condition. WWE management has had a reputation for decades of encouraging wrestlers to work through injuries, and it's unheard of for WWE to say to a wrestler who wants to wrestle, "No, you can't."

For WWE to have now flat-out fired Angle from his multi-year WWE contract, his condition must now be such that he's considered a very high risk for WWE to keep under contract. There have been many, many cases over the years of a former WWE wrestler dying and WWE's public statement to the media essentially being, "Well, he wasn't under contract with us when he died."

A few weeks ago, before Angle suffered his latest injuries, the Torch reported, "[Angle] is known to be reliant on pain pills to get through his matches, and it has been a concern for years that he may have built his tolerance up to dangerous levels. Angle has a well-established determination to work through pain and injuries, and a desire to please Vince McMahon and hide any pain he may be experiencing."

In late 2005 after the untimely death of Eddie Guerrero, just as Angle's physical problems reached a point that it was regarded as a life-or-death situation for him, the Pro Wrestling Torch reported than an unnamed wrestler was on an unofficial "death watch" among his colleagues. That wrestler was widely believed to be Angle, but the Torch insisted on pussyfooting around the issue instead of saying whatever they wanted to say (click here for my previous editorial on the Torch's coverage).

The Torch's Wade Keller would later write, "[Angle] may push himself so hard without a break that any chance of another entrance into the ring is extinguished. With a neck, back, and overall body as broken down as anyone in the industry today, any match could be his final."

The Torch's Jason Powell was a little bit more direct in saying, "As much as I admire Kurt's work ethic and desire to be the best in the business, I wouldn't put someone in his physical condition in the ring."

Angle himself has made no secret of the fact that he works through career- and life-threatening injuries on a daily basis. Angle said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in early 2006, "I get a lot of self-satisfaction from going out there and performing in front of the fans. Throughout my career, I never told people about my neck problems until one day I couldn't even lift my arm anymore, and that's when the cat was out of the bag. I've had re-occurring neck injuries. I actually have one right now. I have a broken neck, levels C7 and T1, but I continue to wrestle, because I love it, because of the fans. Is it worth my health? No, but I'm addicted to wrestling. I've done it my whole life, 27 years combining amateur wrestling and pro wrestling. So I'll continue to wrestle as long as I can... I refuse to quit. Vince McMahon is literally going to have to fire me in order for me to stop wrestling."

The Pro Wrestling Chronicle wrote an excellent editorial on Angle's situation in late 2005. Key excerpts: "Angle's checklist reads like an almanac of worst case scenarios. Nerve damage to his face. Six knee surgeries. A broken neck. Torn muscles. Bone chips removed from his upper spine. Destroyed ligaments. Dislocated shoulders. Several years ago, Angle said to the press with pride, 'Look at my face. It looks like I have aged fifteen years in the last five.' Angle can no longer hear out of his left ear. It has been drained 80 times."

The Chronicle also recounted the story of how Angle won his Olympic Gold Medal in 1996, prior to his years as a pro wrestler. "Five months before the 1996 Olympics, Kurt Angle cracked two vertebrae and pulled four muscles in his back, causing two herniated discs to stab into his spinal cord. The pain was intense. Doctors told him that he risked paralysis competing, but Kurt was proud. Mepivacaine was the painkiller that Kurt Angle chose, and for the next half of a year he took it constantly to make training, and eventually winning a gold medal possible."

If you look at pictures of Kurt Angle from the mid-90s or even from 2000 and compare those pictures to what he looks like today, you can barely tell that it's same person. As the Chronicle put it, "Kurt's physical changes over the past half-decade are shocking. His head has increased in size dramatically, which may or may not point to use of Human Growth Hormone. Angle has suffered concussions, and has major nerve damage as a result of his neck problems. His triceps appear to be on the verge of atrophy, and one of Angle's biceps is noticeably larger than the other. Kurt Angle has a history of heart disease in his family. He has a glassy look in his eyes, and is a self-admitted user of painkillers. And he shows no signs of slowing down... Kurt Angle has proven in the past that pride is more important to him than anything. It has cost him his health, it has cost him his family, and at the rate he is going, sooner rather than later... his pride may cost him his life."

The WorldWrestlingInsanity web site reported just this week, "Kurt Angle is spiraling out of control.... His life is literally falling apart before our eyes. Angle is working himself into an early grave. It is public knowledge that Angle has a severely injured neck. He doesn’t try to conceal that fact nor does he downplay it. However, he has been downplaying other recent injuries that have plagued him. According to Angle’s own words in an interview with the British newspaper, The Sun, he cannot get out of bed in the morning without taking some sort of pain medication."

The Pro Wrestling Torch reported today after the news broke, "The fact that Angle has been wrestling a full time schedule has been of concern to colleagues for the past few years... several friends and colleagues of his say he has been using a lot of medication to get through his matches and mask his pain for years, to the point that people feared for his life."

In an interview with the Baltimore Sun in early 2005, Kurt Angle talked about his injuries and the fact that he was having trouble playing with his young daughter at that time.

Kurt's wife, Karen, spoke up and said to the interviewer, "If he gets to the point where he really can't play with her, that will be it. No matter what you have in your house, no matter how good your life is, you can't give that up. If that's what happens, that's when I'll put my foot down and make him stop." According to the Baltimore Sun, "At that moment, Kurt Angle smiled and said, 'I'll never stop.'"

Kurt Angle eventually reached a point where he had to choose between his family and his career, and he chose the latter. Angle's wife divorced him in the summer of 2005. They briefly reconciled in early 2006, only to separate again recently.

Karen Angle is now a few months' pregnant with their second child, a boy, who might never even get a chance to meet his father unless Kurt Angle takes his firing from WWE as an opportunity to get the help that he so desperately needs.

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Friday, August 25, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Fight Night 6 Ratings Up Slightly from UFN 5
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The sixth edition of the UFC Fight Night franchise, which was previously known as Ultimate Fight Night, drew a 1.5 overall rating on Thursday, August 17th. This rating is slightly higher than the 1.4 rating that was drawn by the UFN 5 special on June 28th.

Show was Designed to be a Strong Lead-In for TUF 4
One thing that UFN 5 and UFN 6 have in common is that both shows aired in particular timeslots for the specific purpose of providing a strong lead-in to another TV show on Spike TV. In the case of UFN 5 on June 28th, Spike TV hoped that the show would provide a strong lead-in for the premiere of Blade: The Series. In the case of UFN 6 on August 17th, Spike TV hoped that the show would provide a strong lead-in for the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 4.

In both cases, the UFN specials themselves did not draw particularly strong ratings, but the shows that followed them still managed to perform well in the ratings. This is partially because the ratings generally grew for the UFN specials as the shows went on. In the case of UFN 6 in particular, the first hour averaged a 1.3 overall rating, while the second hour averaged a 1.8 overall rating.

The last time that a live UFC fight special aired immediately before the premiere of a new season of The Ultimate Fighter, it was April 6th of this year. On that date, the TUF 3 premiere was preceded by UFN 4, which was headlined by Stephan Bonnar vs. Keith Jardine. That installment of UFN drew an overall rating of 1.6, which is slightly higher than the 1.5 overall rating that was drawn by UFN 6 last week.

How UFN 6's Ratings Stack Up to Previous UFC Live Specials on Spike TV
In total, there have now been nine live UFC fight specials on Spike TV (six UFN specials, and three live TUF finales). In several different ratings categories, UFC Fight Night 6 ranks near the bottom of that list.

The only previous live fight special to have drawn a lower rating than UFN 6's mark of 1.5 was the aforementioned UFN 5 special on June 28th, which drew a 1.4 overall rating.

In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, UFN 6 drew a 1.8 rating. The first UFN special, headlined by Nathan Marquardt vs. Ivan Salaverry in August 2005, also drew a 1.8 rating in that demographic, and there has not been a UFN special that has drawn a lower rating in that demo.

In the advertiser-coveted 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, UFN 6 drew a 2.2 rating, which is the second-lowest in UFN history for that demographic. The lowest is still UFN 1, with its 2.0 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic.

Ratings for Individual Fights
As is usually the case with the UFC's live fight specials, the lowest-rated portion of UFN 6 was the beginning of the broadcast, which is an indication that word of mouth helps to boost the ratings as any given UFN show is airing. The opening fight on the live TV broadcast, Josh Koscheck vs. Jonathan Goulet, drew a rating of just 1.1. This likely has very little to do with Koscheck or Goulet's drawing power and more to do with the fact that the first match on a live UFC broadcast is almost always the lowest-rated.

Following an 18-minute gap in between fights, Dean Lister defeated Yuki Sasaki over the course of a three-round decision, and the fight drew a 1.4 rating. Just over 20 minutes later, Chris Leben's fight with Jorge Santiago started, and it also drew a 1.4 rating.

Sixteen minutes after the Leben-Santiago fight ended, the previously recorded fight between Joe Riggs and Jason Von Flue started to air, and this fight was literally too short to have a rating.

Fourteen minutes after the conclusion of Riggs vs. Von Flue, the fight between Diego Sanchez and Karo Parisyan started. The Sanchez-Parisyan fight drew a 2.1 rating, which is a remarkable increase from the other fights on the show.

If casual fans were flipping channels and were only going to see one MMA fight on this night, Sanchez vs. Parisyan was a hell of a fight to see, and there can be little doubt that this was the kind of fight that creates new MMA fans. Even for those who disagreed with the judges' decision, the fight was good enough that it more than likely left viewers with a very positive overall experience, making them significantly more likely to watch UFC fights in the future.

Network TV Competition, and Other Spike TV Ratings for the Night
UFC Fight Night 6 faced significantly weaker head-to-head network TV competition than previous UFN specials, although it was a tougher TV landscape than most Thursday nights in the summer time.

Airing head-to-head with UFC Fight Night 6 in the 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM hour, the latest installment of CBS' Big Brother drew a 5.1 overall rating, while a repeat of Grey's Anatomy on ABC drew a 4.7 overall rating. Meanwhile, NBC aired repeats of My Name is Earl, which drew a 3.9 overall rating, and The Office, which drew a 3.5 overall rating.

In the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, a repeat of CBS' smash hit CSI was not the highest-rated show of the night for the first time in the summer 2006 season. The season finale of America's Got Talent on NBC drew a 7.3 overall rating, just beating out the 7.0 overall rating that was drawn by the CSI repeat. In the meantime, ABC continued to prep viewers for the new timeslot of Grey's Anatomy with another repeat airing of the show, which drew a 5.3 overall rating in this hour.

Airing head-to-head with UFN from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM was NFL Preseason Football on Fox, which drew a 4.2 overall rating and put Fox in fourth place for the night.

Also airing on Spike TV on Thursday, August 17th was the latest installment of the pro wrestling show TNA Impact, which drew an overall rating of 0.9. This was considered a disappointment, given the strong TUF lead-in audience. In addition, a new episode of UFC Unleashed aired from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM and drew an overall rating of 0.9.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter 4 Premiere Ratings Down Slightly from TUF 3 Premiere
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The fourth season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter drew a 1.7 overall rating on August 17th, which was down slightly from the third season premiere of the series.

While the overall rating of 1.7 is well above Spike TV's recent primetime average rating of 0.9, it falls short of the record-tying 2.0 rating that was drawn by the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 3 earlier this year.

The larger drop-offs came in the specific demographics ratings. Among 18-to-49-year-old males, the third season premiere drew a 2.7 rating, while the fourth season premiere drew a 2.2 rating in that demographic. Among the advertiser-coveted 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the third season premiere drew an amazing 3.7 rating, while the fourth season premiere drew a 2.8 rating in that demo.

The show-closing fight between Shonie Carter and Rich Clementi drew a 1.8 rating in the final quarter-hour, as Carter became the first fighter to move on to the welterweight semi-finals.

TUF 4 Season Premiere Draws Fewer Casual Viewers
The season premiere ratings don't necessarily reflect how well a show will end up performing in the ratings over the course of a season. However, the decreased ratings for TUF 4 indicate that the proverbial sales pitch for TUF 4 was not quite as attractive to potential viewers as the sales pitch for TUF 3.

In the extensive advertising campaign for the TUF 3 season premiere, the lure was essentially, "Watch our show to see Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock get in at least one pull-apart brawl." The dynamic between Ortiz and Shamrock, whether manipulated or not, was the focal point of the advertising for the third season.

For the fourth season premiere, the lure to attract viewers was, "Come see these UFC veterans get a second chance at championship glory." That concept may or may not prove to have more longevity over the course of the season, but it's less likely to attract a flood of Week One viewers who might see a commercial and said, "Oh, I know [Tito Ortiz or Ken Shamrock], so I'll give that show a chance."

The most important test for TUF 4, as with any season of TUF, will be how the ratings hold up over the course of the season. The fourth season of TUF could end up building ratings momentum as the season progresses (like TUF 1), or it could lose viewers over a period of time (like TUF 2).

Network TV Competition Weaker in Summer
With a premiere date in the summer TV season, the fourth season premiere of TUF faced significantly weaker head-to-head competition on network television than the series did in April.

Airing head-to-head with TUF on Thursday, August 17th, Without a Trace on CBS led the pack with a 6.7 overall rating. The ABC newsmagazine Primetime drew a significantly larger-than-usual overall rating of 6.4, while an NFL Preseason football game drew a 4.2 overall rating on Fox. Coming in last place was the NBC summer flop Windfall, which drew a weak-for-NBC overall rating of 3.9, despite having a huge lead-in audience from the season finale of America's Got Talent.

The Ultimate Fighter will not have to go head-to-head with the major networks' new fall line-ups until Episode Six airs on September 21st. The series will, however, have to go head-to-head with the first regular season game of the NFL's 2006 season when NBC airs the Steelers-Dolphins game on Thursday, September 7th.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Brock Lesnar Signs with K-1 Hero's, Will Make MMA Debut in Early 2007
by Ivan Trembow

Brock Lesnar, a former NCAA National Champion in amateur wrestling and later a pro wrestling star in WWE, has officially signed with the Japan-based Hero's MMA promotion, which is owned and operated by K-1.

Lesnar's signing was officially announced by K-1 at the company's show in Las Vegas on Saturday night. He is expected to make his MMA debut in early 2007, and his first opponent has not yet been determined.

It was also announced on Saturday night that Lesnar would be doing some training with MMA legend Royce Gracie, but as reported by the Wrestling Observer, this is essentially a storyline announcement to build the Japanese public's interest in Lesnar. The storyline of, "This person is being trained by this legend" is frequently repeated in Japan, and its popularity in Japan stems from Antonio Inoki's years as a legendary figure in Japanese pro wrestling.

While Lesnar will be training with Gracie at some point, it will more than likely be for just a brief period of time, and Gracie's camp will be just one of many that Lesnar visits.

Lesnar is trying to get a diverse sampling of MMA training under his belt, having already trained with Sean Sherk's team in Minnesota and Pat Miletich's crew in Iowa.

Shortly after the 29-year-old Lesnar spent some time training with Miletich's team last month, Miletich said in an interview that "no human being" will be able to beat Lesnar one year from now.

Lesnar quit his job with World Wrestling Entertainment in 2004, at which point WWE tried to enforce a six-year no-compete clause that would have included all pro wrestling and MMA events worldwide.

At every court hearing in the case, things went Lesnar's way, prompting WWE to reach an out-of-court settlement just before a trial date was to be set earlier this year.

The settlement gave Lesnar the freedom to fight for any MMA promotion in the world, and he has now signed with K-1 Hero's instead of signing with the UFC or Pride.

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Friday, August 11, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Backs Off Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva Claims
One month after announcing that Wanderlei Silva had been signed to fight in the UFC and would likely face Chuck Liddell in November, the UFC has backed off of those claims in a Canadian media interview. Pride has not yet commented on the UFC's statements.

Here is the full article, courtesy of the CP, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Associated Press.

Liddell Silva fight could be off, according to UFC president
by Neil Davidson, Canadian Press (CP)

It appears the much anticipated mixed martial arts bout between rival champions Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva scheduled for November might be off.

"I don't even know if Silva's going to happen," Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, told The Canadian Press in an interview.

White cited problems in dealing with the Japan-based Pride Fighting Championships that is home to Silva.

White said UFC 65 will instead probably feature Liddell against Tito Ortiz in a rematch of UFC 47 in 2004 when Liddell battered and bloodied the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.

The Liddell-Silva bout was considered a blockbuster matchup, finally bringing the rival UFC and Pride organizations together

Liddell (18-3-0) is the current UFC light-heavyweight champion at 205 pounds. While the Iceman has been out of commission recently with a toe injury, he remains the face of mixed martial arts in North America for many.

Known as the Axe Murderer, Silva (24-3-1) is a fighting machine who holds the Pride title. He has appeared in the UFC before, losing to Ortiz at UFC 25 in 2000 in his last outing in the Octagon.

The UFC, now looking to expand to Europe, has had the U.S. market largely to itself. Pride dominates Japan, using pay-per-view shows and Fox Sports TV to spread the word.

Complicating matters is the recent announcement that Pride is staging its first ever show in North America, The Real Deal!, in UFC's backyard of Las Vegas on Oct. 21.

"Obviously there are a lot of things going on," White said of the Pride situation. "I'll [tell] you this, the Japanese are very hard to do business with and you never know what's going to happen."

The UFC surprised viewers at UFC 61 last month in Las Vegas when Silva and Liddell met in the ring for a stare down as White announced their bout.

The Liddell-Silva fight was contingent on Liddell defeating Brazil's Renato (Babalu) Sobral at UFC 62 on Aug. 26 and Silva surviving Pride's Final Conflict Absolute card Sept. 10 in Saitama, Japan.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Pat Miletich & Dana White Trade Verbal Shots in Newspaper Article
by Ivan Trembow

Mixed martial arts trainer and fighter Pat Miletich recently traded verbal shots with Zuffa president Dana White in a Quad City Times newspaper article.

Zuffa recently scheduled its UFC 63 pay-per-view event to take place on September 23rd, which is the same date as the IFL show on which Pat Miletich will make his in-ring return to active MMA competition for the first time since losing to Matt Lindland in 2002. On the same IFL show, Miletich will also be coaching the five members of his Quad City Silverbacks team against the five members of Renzo Gracie's New York Pitbulls team.

Two of the top fighters from Miletich's acclaimed training center are scheduled to compete on the UFC pay-per-view event on the very same night, as UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes will fight Georges St. Pierre, and former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver will be fighting in the UFC for the first time since 2002. This means that Hughes and Pulver will not be able to have their usual cornerman in their corner, nor will Miletich be able to have Hughes or Pulver in his corner for his first MMA fight in over four years.

As you might have guessed, this does not sit too well with Miletich, who told the Quad City Times, "That’s Dana White’s business strategy. He’ll keep making enemies and we’ll keep making friends. Eventually, the worm will completely turn. I’m sure he offered Matt a large financial incentive to fight that night. When Matt wins, Jens wins, our team [the IFL entry Silverbacks] wins, and I win, everybody’s going to be good.”

The response from Dana White in the Quad City Times was: "I’m sure he does think that. Pat’s a paranoid lunatic, and he thinks that the UFC’s always trying to [mess] with him." White added, "Unless someone tells me the IFL’s doing something, I don’t even know they exist.”

Like all of the fighters associated with Miletich, which includes three of the UFC's four current champions, Jens Pulver was put in the awkward position of being stuck between his trainer (Miletich) and his boss (White), and he didn't want to offend either party. Pulver told the Quad City Times, "It sucks that it’s got to be like that. None of us want to miss that. He [Miletich] is our guy. That’s our coach, but things happen. I’ll be on the phone before and after my fight, ‘How’d it go? What’d he do?’ ”

The problems between White and Miletich date back to January 2006, when White called Miletich and allegedly threatened him in an effort to get him to sever all of his ties with the IFL. Instead of agreeing to no longer participate as a coach in the IFL, Miletich provided a deposition, under oath, when the UFC sued the IFL in an attempt to get a temporary restraining order to prevent the IFL's first show from taking place.

White has not commented publicly on that particular situation, and Miletich has only commented on it in general, broad terms, but the body of his sworn deposition provides the details on what allegedly happened. Excerpts from Miletich's deposition follow.

In this deposition, Miletich stated, "In or around late January 2006, I received a call from Mr. White... he proceeded to express in a rather irate manner his feelings about the IFL and abruptly stated that 'he was going to f--king crush these [the IFL] guys.' ... Mr. White further threatened me during the conversation, and implicitly the livelihoods of the fighters I train, stating that 'when the dust settles, anyone associated with the IFL would not be associated with the UFC.' I took this for what it was -- a threat to me and to my fighters who count on me to represent them and obtain opportunities to for them to fight in the MMA industry. Because of the virtual monopoly that Zuffa has in the MMA industry, Mr. White clearly knew that cutting me and my fighters off from the UFC would have a devastating economic impact."

Miletich continued, "Mr. White further told me during this conversation that he had been on the phone all day calling everyone he dealt with in the MMA industry and told me that, after speaking with all of them, none would be doing business with the IFL. My understanding from his comment was that he had made the same threats to everyone else he knew in the MMA industry that he had just made to me during our conversation... Following my conversation with Mr. White, Ken Shamrock, another world-renowned MMA fighter, called me and told me that Mr. White had just 'raised hell' with him about his being associated with the IFL. As I understand it, Mr. White had made similar threats to Mr. Shamrock whom I believe at the time had an agreement with the IFL to coach one of its teams. I further understand that Mr. White made the same or similar threats to Randy Couture, perhaps one of the most legendary MMA fighters in the world and a former UFC World Champion. I further understand that Mr. White called a current UFC World Champion, Matt Hughes, to inquire of him whether he had any involvement in the IFL."

Miletich claimed in the deposition that he tried to reason with White, but to no avail. "During this conversation I expressed to Mr. White my opinion based on numerous conversations with individuals in the MMA industry that a lot of people involved in MMA industry didn't very much care for him or the way Zuffa conducted its business and treated the individuals who fought at UFC events. In response, Mr. White stated that it 'wasn't his f--king job to be liked.' Mr. White further told me that he had spoken with the Fertittas (who own Zuffa), and they had given their 'permission' to go after the IFL... I told him that I felt going after the IFL for no reason would be very bad for the entire MMA industry. Clearly, Mr. White could care less what I thought... I believe this litigation is about one thing and one thing only -- stamping out legitimate and, indeed, healthy, competition. I declare under penalties of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct."

If you believe Miletich, his statements would help explain why Randy Couture and Ken Shamrock both pulled out of their roles as IFL coaches after they had each agreed to be coaches in the IFL. It would also make sense that Miletich would be perhaps the only person in the entire MMA industry who would have the leverage to stand up and say "no" in such a situation, given that he is associated with three of the UFC's four current champions.

The response to the Quad City Times newspaper article from the MMA community has been mixed. Jeff Thaler of Whaledog.com encapsulated a lot of the response from the MMA community, as he wrote, "I find it hard to believe that Dana White *just happened* to hold UFC 63 on the same night when Miletich is fighting. What makes White's story even harder to believe is his incredible statement that he does not even know the IFL exists unless someone tells him. Really? Well, if White does not know the IFL exists, I wonder how he managed to file a lawsuit against the IFL - before its first show - that essentially sought to put the IFL out of business. Nevertheless, as much as White's statements carry little credibility, his business practices are not unheard of for a large company trying to smother an up and coming competitor. Scheduling conflicting shows is not nice, but it is not really out of line either."

Regarding the broader situation of how Zuffa is dealing with potential competitors, Thaler wrote, "On the other hand, the UFC is the elephant in the room and it seems to have decided to throw away its goodwill a long time ago. The UFC believes its interests are served by bullying the IFL and trying to reduce the IFL's audience, so that is what it is going to do. It is not too different from what the UFC did when it scheduled two specials to air on Spike TV on the same night the WFA had its PPV event. Now, as for calling Miletich a 'paranoid lunatic' . . . that was just unnecessary. Miletich trains two UFC champions [Matt Hughes and Tim Sylvia], and is aligned with the Monte Cox, the manager of its third champion [Rich Franklin]. At some point, those fighters' contracts will be up for renewal. Will White's arrogant attitude (and major surge in revenues) lead to contract disputes or even the UFC champions leaving the organization? My guess is that White is in for some tough negotiations."

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Drug Test Results and Costs
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The Nevada State Athletic Commission's drug test results for the past three UFC events have all come back clean.

While main event fighters are normally drug tested whether they're in a title fight or not, the fighters in two of the past three main event fights were not drug tested. However, there was a slightly higher level of random testing.

When asked about the actual costs of drug testing each fighter, the Nevada State Athletic Commission told MMAWeekly that the steroid test for any given fighter costs $154.50, the drug screen (which also tests for recreational drugs) costs $78.90, and the stimulant test costs $45.00. The total cost of drug testing one fighter is $278.40.

The fighters who were drug tested on the June 24th "Ultimate Finale" event were Ultimate Fighter 3 finalists Michael Bisping, Josh Haynes, Kendall Grove, and Ed Herman. All four of those fighters passed their drug tests.

Though Kenny Florian and Sam Stout fought in the main event of the evening, neither fighter was drug tested. The total amount spent on drug testing for the evening $1,113.60.

On the June 28th "Ultimate Fight Night" card, the main event fight was Anderson Silva vs. Chris Leben, but once again the main event fighters were not drug tested.

Instead, the NSAC chose to test two random fighters out of the 18 who competed on the card. The two fighters who were randomly selected were Jorge Gurgel and Jason Lambert, both of whom passed their drug tests. The total amount spent on drug testing for the evening was $556.80.

At the UFC 61 card on July 8th, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski were still drug tested because it remains mandatory that all title fighters must be drug tested. Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock were not drug tested because they were not in a title fight.

The NSAC chose to test one random fighter out of the 16 non-title fighters who competed on the card, and the fighter who was randomly selected was Jeff Monson. Sylvia, Arlovski, and Monson all passed their drug tests. The total amount spent on drug testing for UFC 61 was $835.20.

In total on the three aforementioned events, there were nine fighters who were drug tested and 45 fighters who were not drug tested. The total amount spent on drug testing for the three events was $2,505.60.

MMAWeekly contacted Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the NSAC, and asked why the NSAC doesn't drug test all fighters, given the fact that the NSAC's cut of the UFC's event revenue would easily cover the cost of drug testing for the UFC and for any other MMA promotion that runs events in Nevada.

Kizer said, "We do not drug test all contestants because of the cost. Plus, I like having the element of surprise. You will see the Commission testing a lot more fighters in the future than you have in the past."

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