Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 65 Fighter Salaries
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
MMAWeekly has obtained the fighter salary information for UFC 65, which took place on November 18th in Sacramento, California.
The following figures are based on the fighter salary information that the UFC is required by law to submit to the state athletic commissions, including the winners' bonuses.
Although MMA fighters do not have collective bargaining or a union, the fighters' salaries are still public record, just as with every other major sport in the United States. In addition, any undisclosed bonuses or "secret money" that the UFC also pays its fighters (specifically, PPV bonuses for the top PPV main event fighters) is not included in the figures below.
In the listings below, "Title Match & Main Event Fighters" are defined as fighters who compete in the main event of a show and/or compete in a title fight on a show. "Main Card Fighters" are defined as fighters whose fights appear on the main card, but not in title fights or in the main event. "Preliminary Match Fighters" are defined as fighters whose matches take place before the live broadcast goes on the air, regardless of whether or not those matches end up airing on the PPV broadcast.
Title Match & Main Event Fighters
-Tim Sylvia: $120,000 (defeated Jeff Monson)
-Matt Hughes: $75,000 (lost to Georges St. Pierre)
-Georges St. Pierre: $58,000 (defeated Matt Hughes)
-Jeff Monson: $13,000 (lost to Tim Sylvia)
Main Card Fighters
-Brandon Vera: $40,000 (defeated Frank Mir)
-Frank Mir: $36,000 (lost to Brandon Vera)
-Joe Stevenson: $24,000 (defeated Dokonjonosuke Mishima)
-Alessio Sakara: $10,000 (lost to Drew McFedries)
-Drew McFedries: $8,000 (defeated Alessio Sakara)
-Dokonjonosuke Mishima: $8,000 (lost to Joe Stevenson)
Preliminary Match Fighters
-Nick Diaz: $24,000 (defeated Gleison Tibau)
-Jake O'Brien: $12,000 (defeated Josh Shockman)
-James Irvin: $10,000 (defeated Hector Ramirez)
-Antoni Hardonk: $6,000 (defeated Sherman Pendergarst)
-Sherman Pendergarst: $4,000 (lost to Antoni Hardonk)
-Josh Shockman: $3,000 (lost to Jake O'Brien)
-Hector Ramirez: $3,000 (lost to James Irvin)
-Gleison Tibau: $3,000 (lost to Nick Diaz)
Disclosed Fighter Payroll: $457,000
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- The Ultimate Fighter 4's Most-Watched Fights
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
A total of 17 fights aired on the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter, and what follows is a ranking of the fights from #1 to #17 in terms of viewership, along with a breakdown of which specific fighters drew the highest average ratings.
1. Shonie Carter defeats Rich Clementi: 1.8 Rating (fight aired on Episode 1)
2. Edwin Dewees defeats Gideon Ray: 1.7 Rating (fight aired on Episode 2)
3. Chris Lytle defeats Pete Spratt: 1.6 Rating (fight aired on Episode 3)
4. Matt Serra defeats Pete Spratt: 1.4 Rating (fight aired on Episode 7)
5. Matt Serra defeats Shonie Carter: 1.4 Rating (fight aired on Episode 10)
6. Pete Sell defeats Charles McCarthy: 1.3 Rating (fight aired on Episode 6)
7. Matt Serra defeats Chris Lytle: 1.3 Rating (fight aired on TUF 4 live finale)
8. Din Thomas defeats Mikey Burnett: 1.3 Rating (fight aired on Episode 5)
9. Travis Lutter defeats Scott Smith: 1.2 Rating (fight aired on Episode 4)
10. Din Thomas defeats Rich Clementi: 1.2 Rating (fight aired on TUF 4 live finale)
11. Patrick Cote defeats Jorge Rivera: 1.2 Rating (fight aired on Episode 8)
12. Travis Lutter defeats Patrick Cote: 1.1 Rating (fight aired on TUF 4 live finale)
13. Scott Smith defeats Pete Sell: 1.1 Rating (fight aired on TUF 4 live finale)
14. Travis Lutter defeats Pete Sell: 1.1 Rating (fight aired on Episode 11)
15. Chris Lytle defeats Din Thomas: 1.0 Rating (fight aired on Episode 9)
16. Jorge Rivera defeats Edwin Dewees: 1.0 Rating (fight aired on TUF 4 live finale)
17. Patrick Cote defeats Edwin Dewees: 1.0 Rating (fight aired on Episode 12)
Here's how the individual fighters rank in terms of average viewership for their fights on TUF 4 (including the live finale). This list only includes fighters who fought at least twice.
1. Shonie Carter: 1.60 average over two fights
2. Rich Clementi: 1.50 average over two fights (tied with Pete Spratt)
2. Pete Spratt: 1.50 average over two fights (tied with Rich Clementi)
4. Matt Serra: 1.37 average over three fights
5. Chris Lytle: 1.30 average over three fights
6. Edwin Dewees: 1.23 average over three fights
7. Pete Sell: 1.17 average over three fights (tied with Din Thomas)
7. Din Thomas: 1.17 average over three fights (tied with Pete Sell)
9. Scott Smith: 1.15 average over two fights
10. Travis Lutter: 1.13 average over three fights
11. Patrick Cote: 1.10 average over three fights (tied with Jorge Rivera)
11. Jorge Rivera: 1.10 average over three fights (tied with Patrick Cote)
only had one fight on the air: Gideon Ray, Charles McCarthy, Mikey Burnett
did not have any fights on the air: Jeremy Jackson
TUF 3's Most-Watched Fights
For the purposes of comparison, here is a breakdown of TUF 3's most-watched fights, followed by the fighter averages for TUF 3 (as previously published on MMAWeekly). We'll add to this as more TUF aeasons air in the coming months and years.
1. Kendall Grove defeats Ed Herman: 2.5 rating (fight aired on TUF 3 live finale)
2. Michael Bisping defeats Josh Haynes: 2.5 rating (fight aired on TUF 3 live finale)
3. Kendall Grove defeats Ross Pointon: 2.3 rating (fight aired on Episode 3)
4. Josh Haynes defeats Tait Fletcher: 2.1 rating (fight aired on Episode 7)
5. Rory Singer defeats Solomon Hutcherson: 2.1 rating (fight aired on Episode 5)
6. Matt Hamill defeats Mike Nickels: 2.0 rating (fight aired on Episode 9)
7. Ed Herman defeats Danny Abaddi: 2.0 rating (fight aired on Episode 8)
8. Kalib Starnes defeats Mike Stine: 1.9 rating (fight aired on Episode 1)
9. Michael Bisping defeats Kristian Rothaermel: 1.8 rating (fight aired on Episode 4)
10. Matt Hamill defeats Jesse Forbes: 1.6 rating (fight aired on TUF 3 live finale)
11. Ed Herman defeats Rory Singer: 1.6 rating (fight aired on Episode 11)
12. Kendall Grove defeats Kalib Starnes: 1.6 rating (fight aired on Episode 10)
13. Michael Bisping defeats Ross Pointon: 1.6 rating (fight aired on Episode 12)
14. Noah Inhofer defeats Jesse Forbes: 1.5 rating (fight aired on Episode 2)
15. Josh Haynes defeats Jesse Forbes: 1.3 rating (fight aired on Episode 12)
Here's how the individual fighters on TUF 3 rank in terms of average viewership for their fights during the season and on the live finale.
1. Kendall Grove: 2.13 average over three fights
2. Ed Herman: 2.03 average over three fights
3. Josh Haynes: 1.97 average over three fights (tied with Michael Bisping)
3. Michael Bisping: 1.97 average over three fights (tied with Josh Haynes)
5. Ross Pointon: 1.95 average over two fights
6. Rory Singer: 1.85 average over two fights
7. Matt Hamill: 1.80 average over two fights
8. Kalib Starnes: 1.75 average over two fights
9. Jesse Forbes: 1.47 average over three fights
only had one fight on the air: Tait Fletcher, Solomon Hutcherson, Mike Nickels, Danny Abaddi, Mike Stine, Kristian Rothaermel, Noah Inhofer
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ratings in Review
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
MMAWeekly has already brought you the full ratings reports for each of the twelve regular season episodes of The Ultimate Fighter 4, and now we're going to take a look at the bigger picture by comparing the ratings that were drawn by TUF 4 to the ratings that were drawn by the first three seasons of TUF.
When all was said and done, TUF 4 was the lowest-rated season of TUF to date, and it also reversed what had been an upward trend throughout TUF 1, TUF 2, and TUF 3 of increasing ratings in the most advertiser-coveted demographics.
In series history, the regular season of The Ultimate Fighter 1 averaged a 1.6 overall rating, the second season was down to a 1.4 overall rating on average, the third season was up to a 1.7 average, and the recently completed fourth season drew an average rating of 1.2 overall, which was down 29 percent from TUF 3.
The Ultimate Fighter 4 actually started off the season with ratings that would have put it in the same ballpark as previous seasons, but the ratings quickly went downward.
Breaking down the twelve episodes into four different groups of three episodes apiece, the first three episodes of TUF 4 averaged a 1.6 overall rating, but then the next three episodes averaged a 1.2 overall rating, the next three episodes after that also averaged a 1.2 overall rating, and the final three episodes of the season averaged a 1.1 overall rating. The drop-off from the first set of three episodes to the last was 31 percent.
Ratings in the #1 Key Demographic
In the demographic that is the most targeted by advertisers, 18-to-34-year-old males, The Ultimate Fighter as a series had been on a steady increase in viewership from the beginning of the first season to the end of the third season. This trend reversed during TUF 4, and the season ended up with a lower average in this demographic than TUF 1 averaged.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the first season of TUF averaged a 2.2 rating, the second season averaged a 2.5 rating, the third season averaged a 2.9 rating, and the fourth season averaged a 2.0 rating, which was down 31 percent from TUF 3.
As with the overall ratings, TUF 4's ratings in the key demographic started off well and collapsed shortly thereafter. This indicates that it wasn't a case of viewers simply not giving the season a chance (if that were the case, the ratings would have been low from the beginning of the season). What this trend indicates is that many of the people who tuned into the first few episodes of Season Four decided that they were not interested in watching the rest of the season.
Again, if you look at the twelve-episode regular season as four different groups of three episodes apiece, the first three episodes of TUF averaged a 2.6 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which would have been the second highest rated season of TUF in series history if that average had been maintained.
Instead, the next three episodes averaged a 1.9 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the next three episodes after that also averaged a 1.9 rating, and the final three episodes of TUF 4 averaged a 1.6 rating in this demographic. The drop-off from the first set of three episodes to the last was 38 percent.
Ratings in the #2 Key Demographic
The second most targeted demographic among the UFC and Spike TV's advertisers is 18-to-49-year-old males. This demographic includes the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic that makes up the bulk of the UFC's audience, but it also includes the 35-to-49-year-old male demographic, which is disproportionately less interested in "new sports" like mixed martial arts.
In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, we don't have all of the data for the first and second seasons of TUF, but we do have all of the data for the third and fourth seasons. The third season averaged a 2.2 rating in this demographic, while the fourth season averaged a 1.6 rating in this demographic.
As with the other ratings trends, this one started out moderately well and proceeded to go downhill from there. The first three episodes of TUF 4 averaged a 2.0 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, and then the next three episodes averaged a 1.6 rating in this demographic, the next three episodes averaged a 1.4 rating, and the final three episodes of the season also averaged a 1.4 rating. The drop-off from the beginning of the season to the end was 30 percent.
As detailed in a separate article earlier this week, the live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a 1.1 overall rating, which was down drastically from the 1.9, 2.0, and 2.0 overall ratings that were drawn by the finales of TUF 1, 2, and 3. Also, the individual fights on the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter drew overall ratings that ranged from a high of 1.8 for the fight on Episode One to a low of 1.0 for the fight on Episode Twelve.
It remains to be seen whether the decreases in viewership for The Ultimate Fighter 4 were just an aberration or whether these decreases were the beginning of a downward trend in TUF ratings. If there's one thing that is certain, it is that when The Ultimate Fighter 5 starts airing in April, it will need to do a better job of maintaining its audience over the course of the season than The Ultimate Fighter 4.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Vitor Belfort Responds to Steroid Charges
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Pride and UFC veteran Vitor Belfort has responded to the Nevada State Athletic Commission's charges that he had anabolic steroids in his system when he fought on Pride's October 21st card in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Belfort, who lost by unanimous decision to Dan Henderson on the card, tested positive for 4-hydroxytestosterone, which is legally defined as an anabolic steroid and is also banned in Major League Baseball and other sports.
Belfort's case is still pending in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and at some point there will be a disciplinary hearing at which Belfort could be fined or suspended.
Here is a transcript of the letter that Belfort sent to the NSAC:
"In regard of the disciplinary complaint against myself about having violated section 467.850 of the Commission Regulations, all I have to say is that I bought a supplement called 'Max Tribostak' at Max Muscle in La Habra, California, which contains 4-Hydroxytestosterone. I had no idea that a supplement bought over the counter at a vitamin store would contain a substance that is illegal in the state of Nevada. This lack of knowledge is costing me a great deal, hurting my image throughout every newspaper in Brazil, which caused me to lose some of my sponsors, and most of all the risk of being suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. I hope you consider my letter before taking any formal disciplinary actions.
The product in question ("Max Tribustak," which Belfort misspelled in his latter) is listed on Max Muscle's web site as "male hormone support" and an "anabolic optimizer" that will help maximize the user's testosterone output. As Belfort acknowledges in his letter, it contains 4-hydroxytestosterone, the substance that caused Belfort to fail his drug test.
Belfort was one of ten fighters who were drug tested at the Pride event on October 21st, and he is one of three fighters on the card who failed to pass their drug tests. The other two are Kevin Randleman and Pawel Nastula.
Randleman has been charged by the Nevada State Athletic Commission with providing fake urine for his drug test, while Nastula tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and the banned stimulants phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine.
The seven Pride fighters who were drug tested on October 21st and passed their tests are Fedor Emelianenko, Mark Coleman, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson, Phil Baroni, and Yosuke Nishijima. The other six fighters on the card were not drug tested.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Fighter Salaries for The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
MMAWeekly has obtained the fighter salary information for the Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale, which took place on Saturday, November 11th.
The following figures are from the fighter salary information that the UFC is required by law to submit to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, including the winners' bonuses. Any "secret money" that the UFC also pays its fighters is not included in the figures below.
In the listings below, "Main Event Fighters" are defined as fighters who compete in the main event of a show on a show. "Main Card Fighters" are defined as fighters whose fights appear on the main card, but not in title fights or in the main event. "Preliminary Match Fighters" are defined as fighters whose matches take place before the live broadcast goes on the air, regardless of whether or not those matches end up airing on the TV broadcast.
In the cases of Matt Serra and Travis Lutter, who won the TUF 4 tournaments, it was noted during the season that the two winners would each receive a cash bonus of $100,000, and you'll notice those bonuses reflected in the figures below.
Without further ado, here are the fighter salaries for the Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale.
Main Event Fighters
-Matt Serra: $110,000 (defeated Chris Lytle)
-Travis Lutter: $110,000 (defeated Patrick Cote)
-Chris Lytle: $10,000 (lost to Matt Serra)
-Patrick Cote: $10,000 (lost to Travis Lutter)
Main Card Fighters
-Jorge Rivera: $20,000 (defeated Edwin Dewees)
-Din Thomas: $20,000 (defeated Rich Clementi)
-Edwin Dewees: $10,000 (lost to Jorge Rivera)
-Rich Clementi: $10,000 (lost to Din Thomas)
Preliminary Match Fighters
-Scott Smith: $20,000 (defeated Pete Sell)
-Pete Spratt: $20,000 (defeated Jeremy Jackson)
-Charles McCarthy: $20,000 (defeated Gideon Ray)
-Martin Kampmann: $15,000 (defeated Thales Leites)
-Jeremy Jackson: $10,000 (lost to Pete Spratt)
-Pete Sell: $10,000 (lost to Scott Smith)
-Gideon Ray: $10,000 (lost to Charles McCarthy)
-Thales Leites: $3,000 (lost to Martin Kampmann)
Disclosed Fighter Payroll for Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale: $408,000
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Pro Wrestling--- TNA Impact Ratings Analysis on the Day of TNA's Weekly Primetime Debut
After premiering each new episode at 11:00 PM on Spike TV since October 2005 (first on Saturday nights at 11:00 PM, and then starting in April 2006 on Thursday nights at 11:00 PM), TNA Impact's weekly start time will be 9:00 PM starting tonight, November 16th.
The first week of Impact in primetime will be a special two-hour episode airing from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM, and each subsequent episode will air from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM (yes, it still seems as though Spike TV doesn't understand that one hour of original programming per week is not enough for a pro wrestling promotion if you want to establish characters and have longer matches).
Since August 17th, when the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 4 aired as TNA Impact's lead-in, Impact has averaged a 0.8 overall rating, as well as a 1.1 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic and a 0.9 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic.
The ten episodes of UFC Unleashed that aired in the Thursday at 9:00 PM timeslot from August 24th to November 2nd beat out TNA Impact's ratings by a slight margin on average. In that timeframe, UFC Unleashed averaged a 1.0 overall rating (compared to Impact's 0.8), as well as a 1.3 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic (compared to Impact's 1.1), and a 1.1 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic (compared to Impact's 0.9).
However, The ratings for UFC Unleashed dropped off quite a bit in the past few weeks, and looking only at the last four weeks of UFC Unleashed ratings, it was actually out-drawn by TNA Impact in the key demographic, despite the fact that Impact aired at 11:00 PM and UFC Unleashed aired at 9:00 PM.
The last four weeks of UFC Unleashed on Spike TV (from October 12th to November 2nd) averaged a 0.9 overall rating, which is slightly higher than TNA Impact's average overall rating of 0.8 in the same timeframe.
However, in that same four-week period, UFC Unleashed was only able to average a 1.0 overall rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, compared to 1.2 for Impact. Additionally, UFC Unleashed averaged a 0.9 rating in that time four-week period in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, compared to 1.0 for Impact.
If TNA and Spike TV are looking for the "numbers to beat" for TNA Impact on Thursday nights at 9:00 PM, it depends on what you're using as a basis for comparison.
If you're using the ratings for the two replays of The Ultimate Fighter that aired from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM on November 9th as the measuring stick that TNA in primetime has to beat, then the numbers to beat are 0.6 overall, 0.6 in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, and 0.6 in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic. That's not a very big barrier to break, and it would be shocking if TNA can't beat those numbers.
If you're using Impact's own ratings from the past five weeks when it was airing at 11:00 PM as the measuring stick that TNA in primetime has to beat, then the numbers to beat are 0.8 overall, 1.1 in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, and 0.9 in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic. Impact in primetime should be able to beat those numbers, but probably not by very much. A move to primetime does not magically increase ratings in and of itself, especially if the product is still crammed into a one-hour timeslot (and it's now going head-to-head with two of the most-watched shows on television, Grey's Anatomy and CSI).
If you're using UFC Unleashed's ratings from its last four weeks in the Thursday at 9:00 PM timeslot as the measuring stick that TNA in primetime has to beat, then the numbers to beat are 0.9 overall, 1.0 in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, and 0.9 in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic. Impact may or may not be able to beat the 0.9 overall mark on a weekly basis, but it should be able to surpass those particular demographic ratings.
It will be interesting to see which of these numbers TNA Impact is able to beat, and which of these numbers TNA isn't able to beat. With The Ultimate Fighter not on the schedule again until April 2007, Impact will have a decent amount of time to prove itself in primetime. While the timeslot is important, but it's much less important than the actual quality of the product (ie, whether Vince Russo's booking makes the product better, or whether his booking actually makes the product worse, as his history would indicate).
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale Draws Lowest Ratings in History of TUF Finales
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a 1.1 overall rating on Saturday, November 11th, making it the least-watched TUF season finale in the history of the series. The previous low for a TUF finale was the 1.9 overall rating that was drawn by the first season finale.
While a 1.1 overall rating is still a solid rating for cable television, it's barely above Spike TV's recent primetime average of 1.0, and there's a big difference between drawing almost double the primetime average of a cable network and just barely surpassing it.
Ratings Also Down in Key Demographics
Among 18-to-34-year-old males, which is the viewer demographic that is seen as the most important by Spike TV and the UFC due to the fact that it is highly coveted by advertisers, the first three TUF finales drew ratings of 3.3, 3.7, and 3.8, respectively. The TUF 4 finale drew a 2.0 rating in this demographic, which is a decrease of 44 percent from the previous average for live TUF finales.
In the slightly broader 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, the first three live season finales of TUF drew ratings of 2.7, 2.7, and 2.9, respectively. The TUF 4 finale drew a 1.5 rating in this demographic, which is a decrease of 46 percent from the previous average for live TUF finales.
TUF 4 Finale Reverses Trend of TUF Finales Out-Drawing Regular Seasons
At this time of the year in 2005, The Ultimate Fighter 2 drew some of the lowest ratings in series history in the last several weeks of the twelve-episode regular season, only to rebound when the live season finale drew an excellent 2.0 overall rating.
This year, The Ultimate Fighter 4 was the least-watched season to date, and unlike TUF 2, it did not rebound with a stronger rating for the live season finale.
Historically, the live season finale of any given TUF season has always drawn better ratings than the twelve-episode regular season. After all, the entire regular season is designed to build up the live finale and ensure that even if a viewer misses an episode or two (or three) of the regular season, he or she will still make sure to tune in for the live season finale.
The first season of TUF improved from a 1.6 regular season average to 1.9 for the live season finale. The second season of TUF improved from a 1.4 regular season average to 2.0 for the live finale. The third season of TUF improved from a 1.7 regular season average to 2.0 for the live season finale. On average, the first three TUF season finales drew 26 percent higher ratings than the first three TUF regular seasons.
In the case of the TUF 4 finale, the opposite was true. The twelve-episode regular season drew an average rating of 1.2, and the live season finale drew a 1.1 overall rating.
TUF 4 Finale Also Lower-Rated than Non-TUF Live Specials
Instead of making more and more viewers of the show excited to see the live finale at the end of the season, it seem as though the regular season of TUF 4 actually caused viewers to have less interest in watching the TUF season finale than they would normally have in watching a UFC live fight special in general.
This is evidenced by the fact that the TUF 4 finale was not just the least-watched TUF finale in UFC history; it was also the least-watched live fight special that the UFC has ever aired on Spike TV. The live UFC Fight Night events, which typically draw much lower ratings than the TUF finales, have still averaged higher ratings than the TUF 4 finale was able to draw.
The reason that this is disconcerting is because the UFC Fight Night live specials don't have entire seasons of The Ultimate Fighter to build them up, whereas the TUF live finales obviously do. Therefore, it only makes sense that the TUF finales have generally drawn higher ratings than the UFC Fight Night specials, with the obvious exception of the October 10th special and its Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock main event (which had years of build-up behind it).
The "non-TUF" live fight specials that the UFC has aired on Spike TV (ie, the Ultimate Fight Night and UFC Fight Night events) are also lower-rated in part because they are often placed awkwardly in the middle of the week. Only one of the seven Ultimate Fight Night/UFC Fight Night specials has aired on a Saturday night, which has been established for years as the week's primary "Fight Night" in both boxing and MMA.
The non-TUF fight cards on Spike TV have, on average, outdrawn the TUF 4 live finale terms of the overall rating (1.8 to 1.1), as well as the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic (2.9 to 2.0), and in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic (2.3 to 1.5).
The Big Question: Beginning of a Trend?
The big question moving forward is whether TUF 4's low ratings are just an aberration or whether they represent the beginning of a downward trend for UFC ratings. The latter would seem to be very unlikely, given the fact that less than two months ago, the UFC drew a phenomenal 3.1 overall rating for Ortiz-Shamrock III.
The likely reason for the drastically decreased TUF 4 ratings is not that there's a general disinterest in the UFC among people who watched previous seasons of TUF. It's much more likely that the appeal (or lack of appeal) of a TUF season or a UFC live fight special is entirely dependent on the actual fighters and how well they are promoted.
It's clearly not just the UFC brand name that sells, or there wouldn't be a live fight special drawing a 3.1 rating in October and a second live fight special from the same company drawing a 1.1 rating in November. It's all about the product and specifically how interested or disinterested the television-viewing public is in seeing the product that's being presented to them.
Ortiz-Shamrock III, while it wasn't something that was highly anticipated among hardcore fans of the sport, was a product that millions and millions of casual MMA fans (and new fans) were interested in seeing. The Ultimate Fighter 4 was not, for all of the various reasons that we've analyzed ad nauseam over the past few months. More than anything else, the ratings drawn by the TUF 4 finale demonstrate that if fans aren't interested in the specific fights or fighters that are being presented, they're not going to watch just because it's the UFC or just because it's on free TV.
With overexposure being one of the problems, Spike TV and Zuffa went a long way towards alleviating that problem when they delayed the fifth season of TUF, which had been tentatively set to start filming in October and airing in January (it's now tentatively scheduled to start filming in January and airing in April). The brief delay was a smart move that will help the series in the long run by avoiding overexposure.
When TUF 5 does start airing several months from now, its success or failure is going to be based on whether or not the producers of the series are able to conceive and execute a concept for the season that resonates with hardcore and casual fans alike.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter 4 Draws Another Series-Low 1.0 Rating
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The twelfth and final episode of The Ultimate Fighter 4's regular season tied the series' all-time low once again with a 1.0 overall rating on Thursday, November 2nd.
Episode Nine set the series' new all-time low for a regularly scheduled new episode by drawing a 1.0 overall rating on October 12th, then Episode Eleven tied that mark on October 26th, and finally Episode Twelve tied that mark once again on November 2nd.
The actual fight on Episode Twelve (Patrick Cote vs. Edwin Dewees) drew a 1.0 rating, which ties it with Chris Lytle vs. Din Thomas as the least-watched fights of the season.
Low Regular Season Ratings Do Not Necessarily Equal Low Finale Ratings
While it would seem that TUF has no ratings momentum heading into the November 11th live season finale of TUF 4, that does not necessarily mean that the live finale isn't going to draw strong ratings.
One needs look no further than TUF's own ratings history to see that. The second season of The Ultimate Fighter limped across the finish line with low viewership levels for the end of its regular season, yet the live season finale of TUF 2 drew a fantastic 2.0 overall rating, which made it the UFC's most-watched live fight special up to that point in time.
When it comes to the UFC, the ratings for new episodes of TUF are a different beast altogether than the ratings for live fight specials. The TUF 2 finale ratings demonstrate that, and an even more jarring example came just a few weeks ago. A new episode of The Ultimate Fighter drew an overall rating of just 1.1 on October 5th, and then the two-hour live fight special that was headlined by Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock drew a 3.1 overall rating on October 10th (shattering every UFC ratings record in the book), and just two days later the next new episode of TUF drew a series-low 1.0 overall rating.
So, in a way, the disconnect between "TUF viewers" and "UFC live fight special viewers" should be encouraging for Spike TV and the UFC. Yes, TUF 4's significantly decreased ratings are likely to make the ad rates for future seasons of TUF lower than they otherwise would have been, but the ad rates for live fight specials (including the live TUF finales) should be staying the same or going up because the UFC has still been able to deliver when it comes to live fight special viewership.
This trend also means that it would be a mistake to assume that the live season finale of TUF 4 is going to draw a disappointing rating. It may or may not draw a disappointing rating, but one cannot accurately assume that a live TUF finale is going to draw a low rating just because the regular season has been drawing less-than-stellar ratings.
Episode Twelve's Ratings Collapse in Key Demographics
The overall rating of 1.0 that was drawn by Episode Twelve of TUF 4 may be troubling for the UFC and Spike TV, but the most alarming aspect of Episode Twelve's ratings was not the overall rating; it was the dramatic drop-off in the key demographic ratings.
Among 18-to-49-year-old males, Episode Twelve drew a 1.1 rating, which is a new low for the season and is down significantly from the previous week's 1.5 rating in the same demographic.
In the most advertiser-coveted demographic, 18-to-34-year-old males, Episode Twelve drew a 1.3 rating, which was down significantly from the previous week's 1.8 rating in the same demographic. The rating of 1.3 was the lowest of the season in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic; the previous low for TUF 4 was 1.7.
In fact, Episode Twelve of TUF 4 was the least watched episode in Ultimate Fighter history in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic. The previous series low in this demographic was 1.5, which was drawn by the very first episode of TUF's first season.
Overall Rating Stays at 1.0 Despite Drastically Decreased Sports Competition
While it would be natural to assume that head-to-head sports competition has a direct negative effect on TUF's ratings, that has proven to be untrue time and time again throughout the series' history, as previously documented by MMAWeekly.
Prior to this week, the most recent example was that Episode Ten and Episode Eleven of TUF 4 went head-to-head with a virtually identical level of head-to-head sports competition (NLCS Game 7 drew a rating within one percent of World Series Game 5), and yet TUF's overall rating dropped 20 percent from Episode Ten to Episode Eleven.
In the case of Episode Twelve, it faced a drastically decreased level of sports competition, so one would think that it would have drawn a higher rating if head-to-head sports competition had any significant effect on TUF's ratings.
However, once again, that wasn't the case. Episode Eleven and Episode Twelve of TUF 4 both drew the same overall rating (1.0), despite the fact that Episode Twelve only went head-to-head with sports programming that drew a combined 7.8 million viewers, while Episode Eleven had to go head-to-head with sports programming that drew a combined 18.6 million viewers.
If head-to-head sports competition had any significant effect on TUF's ratings, a 58 percent drop-off in head-to-head sports competition would have led to at least a small ratings increase in TUF, but it didn't.
For the record, the head-to-head ratings breakdown for those episodes is as follows: Episode Eleven of TUF went head-to-head with the World Series on Fox (16.1 million viewers) and college football on ESPN (1.4 million viewers), for a combined head-to-head sports viewership of 18.6 million. Episode Twelve of TUF went head-to-head with college football on ESPN (6.4 million viewers) and the NBA on TNT (1.4 million viewers), for a combined head-to-head sports viewership of 7.8 million.
It's also not just a case of the bigger college football game on November 2nd drawing away more of the young male audience. On October 26th, up against Episode Eleven of TUF, a combined 8.4 percent of the 18-to-49-year-old males in the United States were watching either the World Series or college football on ESPN. On November 2nd, up against Episode Twelve of TUF, a lower percentage (5.3) of the 18-to-49-year-old males in the United States were watching either college football on ESPN or the NBA on TNT.
Head-to-Head Network Competition on November 2nd
Episode Twelve of The Ultimate Fighter 4 did face stiffer competition from the major broadcast networks on November 2nd, although TUF's competition was nowhere near as difficult as the competition faced by its lead-in, UFC Unleashed.
A repeat of UFC Unleashed aired from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Spike TV and drew an overall rating of 0.8, head-to-head with two of the most-watched shows on television. A new episode of Grey's Anatomy on ABC drew a 13.9 overall rating, while a new episode of CSI on CBS drew a 12.8 overall rating. Meanwhile, the season premiere of The OC on Fox drew a 2.3 overall rating, which is an embarrassingly bad rating for network television and would almost certainly lead to an immediate cancellation if it wasn't an already established show. The ratings for The OC collapsed in the 2005-2006 TV season and have collapsed further with the first episode of the 2006-2007 TV season. Also in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, Deal or No Deal on NBC drew a 7.9 overall rating.
Going head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter in the 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM hour, a new episode of ER on NBC narrowly beat out a new episode of Shark on CBS, as ER drew a 9.0 overall rating and Shark drew an 8.9 overall rating. Fox does not air national programming in the 10:00 PM hour, and ABC's Six Degrees was a non-factor with a 5.3 overall rating. While ABC may or may not spare Six Degrees the indignity of being abruptly pulled in the middle of November sweeps, the chances of the show being around next season (or even at the end of this season) are almost zero, due to its low ratings.
Airing immediately after The Ultimate Fighter from 11:00 PM to 12:00 AM on Spike TV, the pro wrestling show TNA Impact drew an overall rating 0.8 for the third consecutive week. TNA Impact is bumping UFC Unleashed from the Thursday at 9:00 PM timeslot starting on November 16th, and the move comes at a time when neither series has much in the way of ratings momentum.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- ESPN Re-Affirms UFC Commercial Ban
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The Disney-owned ESPN has re-affirmed its ban on all UFC-related advertisements from appearing on any Disney-owned network, which includes the ABC and ESPN family of networks.
The UFC commercials that had been appearing frequently on ESPN and ESPNews were already a violation Disney's company policy, which expressly prohibits advertisements
or promotions of any sports program that does not air on a Disney-owned television network.
This is not limited to the UFC. It would also be against the Disney/ESPN corporate policy for a Disney-owned network to advertise a sports program that airs on USA Network, or a sports program that airs on Fox Sports Net, or a sports program that airs on any other non-Disney-owned network.
Despite this policy being in place, the UFC was previously able to place its commercials on Disney-owned networks such as ESPN and ESPNews by purchasing the commercials via local advertising affiliates throughout the country.
As a result of this, Disney/ESPN sent a memo, which has been obtained by MMAWeekly, to all of its local advertising affiliates. After being reminded by Disney/ESPN that the UFC commercials are "a direct violation of our Affiliate agreements," the memo goes on to state, "Please contact your programming colleagues for complete advertising restrictions. ESPN is not accepting these ads on a national level, and the same restrictions apply for our local Affiliates. Thank you for your cooperation and immediate attention to this matter."
With ESPN or any other television network, there's the programming on the network (the actual shows), and then there's the advertising. This news does not affect programming in any way. ESPN hasn't devoted many news segments to the UFC in the past, but there is nothing that would prevent them from doing so in the future. The same goes for UFC fighters appearing on Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith, Cold Pizza, or any other actual show.
Advertising, on the other hand, is a completely separate matter. The Disney/ESPN corporate policy is, and has been, that you can't buy ads to promote sports shows that air on any non-Disney-owned network.
This is not a new policy, but some local ESPN advertising affiliates were selling UFC commercials anyway. The memo from Disney/ESPN makes it clear that they are going to start enforcing the policy more strictly, so local advertising affiliates will no longer be able to violate the policy by selling UFC commercials.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Kevin Randleman Charged with Faking Urine Test after Pride USA Event
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
MMAWeekly has learned that Kevin Randleman has been charged by the Nevada State Athletic Commission with providing a fake urine sample for the drug test that he took after his fight on the Pride card in Las Vegas on October 21st.
If he is found to be guilty of these charges, Randleman could face severe disciplinary measures from the athletic commission, which could include a significant fine, a lengthy suspension, or perhaps even permanent revocation of his fighters' license.
All NSAC-sanctioned organizations, including Pride, are required to honor NSAC suspensions for all of their shows throughout the world if they want to continue to be licensed to run events in Nevada.
In the recent history of unarmed combat drug testing in Nevada, one fighter was previously alleged to have provided a fake urine sample, and that fighter's license was flat-out revoked (as opposed to suspended). That fighter was Sean McCully, who tested positive for marijuana and the anabolic steroid nandrolone in September 2004, and then allegedly provided a fake urine sample when he was re-tested in September 2005.
Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, tells MMAWeekly, "I just spoke with Dr. Hyatt, who said [Randleman's urine] specimen 'flat-lined' for hormones. This allegedly means that the urine was fake, similar to Sean McCully’s case from several months ago."
If it does indeed turn out that the urine sample provided by Randleman did not contain any human hormones, that would mean that it was urine from a dead human or urine from a non-human.
Randleman, who lost to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by submission on the Pride card in question, will have 20 days to respond to the NSAC's complaint, and then at some point there will be a disciplinary hearing at which Randleman's status will be determined.
Providing fake urine or otherwise trying to defraud the drug testing system is regarded as being just as much of a violation as actually failing a drug test, if not more of a violation.
Randleman now becomes the fourth MMA fighter to fail to pass a drug test in a period of less than two months in the state of Nevada.
Stephan Bonnar tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid used to rehabilitate injured horses, after his fight at UFC 62. At Bonnar's disciplinary hearing last Friday, he admitted that he knowingly took a banned substance, and he was suspended for nine months.
Competing on the same Pride card as Randleman on October 21st, Vitor Belfort and Pawel Nastula also failed their respective drug tests. Belfort tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-hydroxytestosterone, while Nastula tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and the banned stimulants phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine (ironically, the same exact combination of banned substances for which Kimo Leopoldo tested positive after a UFC fight in 2004). The cases of Belfort and Nastula are still pending before the NSAC.
All four of the offending fighters lost the fights in question, as Randleman lost to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by submission, Belfort lost to Dan Henderson by unanimous decision, Nastula lost to Josh Barnett by submission, and Bonnar lost to Forrest Griffin by unanimous decision.
Randleman, Belfort, and Nastula were three of the ten fighters who were drug tested on Pride's October 21st card. Four other fighters on the card were not drug tested. In Bonnar's case, he was one of just four fighters who were drug tested at UFC 62, as there were fourteen fighters on the card who were not drug tested.
According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the total cost of drug testing one fighter for all banned steroids, stimulants, and recreational drugs is $278.40.
With ticket sales for these events in the millions and with more and more fighters failing to pass their drug tests, a growing number of MMA fans have begun to question the fact that there isn't mandatory drug testing for every single fighter on every single card.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ratings Tie Series Low
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Two weeks after Episode Nine of The Ultimate Fighter 4 set a new series low with a 1.0 overall rating, Episode Eleven tied that mark on Thursday, October 26th. The two episodes' ratings of 1.0 are the two lowest ratings ever drawn by any regularly scheduled new episodes of The Ultimate Fighter.
The previous week, Episode Ten of TUF 4 had shown mild improvement by drawing a 1.2 overall rating, but it was back to 1.0 with Episode Eleven. This season has been the least-watched to date, with an average overall rating of 1.3 through eleven episodes.
Episode Eleven did draw a slightly higher rating among 18-to-34-year-old males than Episode Ten (1.8 to 1.7), but neither of those two ratings approach the 2.9 rating that Season Three of TUF was averaging in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic through eleven episodes.
The actual fight on Episode Eleven, Travis Lutter vs. Pete Sell, drew a 1.1 rating, which makes it the second least watched fight of the season thus far.
Major League Baseball Has Minimal Impact on TUF's Ratings
One might think that going head-to-head with the World Series would have been a significant factor in lowering TUF's ratings from the previous week, but the ratings from the past few weeks actually contradict that notion fairly decisively.
On October 12th, Episode Nine of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a 1.0 overall rating when it went head-to-head with an MLB playoff game that drew an overall rating of just 5.5, which is hugely disappointing for an MLB playoff game.
One week later on October 19th, Episode Ten of The Ultimate Fighter 4 had to go head-to-head with Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, which drew a vastly improved 9.3 overall rating. So, what happened to TUF's ratings when the head-to-head baseball competition was up 70 percent in the ratings from the previous week? TUF's ratings actually went up 20 percent, from 1.0 to 1.2.
In the case of the most recent episode of TUF, Episode Eleven, it drew a 1.0 overall rating, but it actually faced a virtually identical level of MLB competition. Episode Eleven went head-to-head with Game 5 of the World Series, which drew a 9.4 overall rating. That's a difference of just one percent from the 9.3 rating that was drawn by Game 7 of the NLCS a week earlier, which means that Episode Ten and Episode Eleven of TUF 4 went head-to-head with essentially the same MLB audience.
As a result, it would be inaccurate to say that Episode Eleven of TUF 4 faced competition that was any stiffer than Episode Ten's competition, or that going head-to-head with the World Series had any demonstrable effect on Episode Eleven's ratings.
World Series Draws Fewer Young Males than UFC: Final Chapter
MMAWeekly has extensively covered the ratings that were drawn by UFC: The Final Chapter on October 10th (headlined by Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock III), which was by far the most-watched UFC broadcast of all time. Now there's another footnote to add, as The Final Chapter actually outdrew the World Series in one specific demographic.
Among 18-to-24-year-old males, which is a demographic that has shown less and less interest in baseball in recent years, the five-game average for the World Series was 504,000 viewers per game. In the same demographic, The Final Chapter averaged 532,000 viewers on October 10th.
While the World Series still drew a much larger average audience (15.8 million viewers, compared to 4.2 million for The Final Chapter), it's still extremely impressive for the UFC to be able to say that one of its broadcasts beat the World Series among 18-to-24-year-old males. That statistic is certain to cause the UFC to gain additional advertisers among those that target 18-to-24-year-old males with their products.
In the broader picture, it was not a good postseason for Major League Baseball, as the 2006 World Series' average of 15.8 million viewers per game was the lowest in television history for the World Series. The 2005 World Series drew an average of 17.2 million viewers, which was also viewed as a big disappointment at the time.
Head-to-Head Network Competition on October 26th
Besides the aforementioned Game 5 of the World Series, Episode Eleven of The Ultimate Fighter 4 faced the weakest head-to-head network competition in several weeks as CBS, ABC, and NBC braced themselves for November sweeps with the usual late October repeats.
Airing from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM on October 26th, a repeat of the CBS freshman drama Shark won the hour with a 7.1 overall rating. ABC pulled struggling drama Six Degrees from the October 26th line-up and replaced it with an additional repeat of Grey's Anatomy. The repeat of Grey's Anatomy drew a 7.0 overall rating, which is actually higher than the 6.0 overall rating that was drawn by the most recent new episode of Six Degrees. Despite NBC's previous announcement that ER would not air any repeats this season, ER did air in repeat form on October 26th, and it drew a predictably bad 5.1 overall rating (ER has always performed horribly when it airs in repeat form).
Airing head-to-head with UFC Unleashed from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, a new episode of Deal or No Deal on NBC drew a 7.0 overall rating, and a repeat of CSI on CBS drew a 10.8 overall rating, which made it the night's most-watched show. Meanwhile, a repeat of Grey's Anatomy on ABC drew an 8.4 overall rating. On the five occasions when both series have aired new episodes head-to-head with each other, Grey's Anatomy has beaten CSI in each of them, but it comes as no surprise that CSI won a battle of repeats because CSI performs better than any other show on television in repeat form. Along with the 2006 Winter Olympics, you can add the 2006 World Series to the list of major events that have lost head-to-head ratings battles with repeats of CSI.
Bookending Episode Eleven of The Ultimate Fighter 4 on Spike TV were UFC Unleashed and TNA Impact. Unleashed drew an overall rating of 0.8, which was the lowest rated airing of the series since August 10th, while TNA Impact drew an overall rating of 0.8 for the second consecutive week.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Stephan Bonnar Suspended Nine Months for Steroid Use
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Stephan Bonnar has been suspended for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission as a result of Bonnar's positive test for anabolic steroids following his fight against Forrest Griffin at UFC 62. Bonnar has also been fined $5,000 by the commission.
The NSAC chose to make the suspension retroactive to the date of the fight, so Bonnar's suspension expires in May 2007. Bonnar tested positive for anabolic steroids after his unanimous decision loss to Griffin on August 26th.
While Bonnar's representatives had previously issued a formal written response to the NSAC in which they neither admitted nor denied that Bonnar had knowingly used anabolic steroids, Bonnar admitted at a disciplinary hearing on Friday that he knowingly used anabolic steroids, and then he apologized to the commission and asked for forgiveness.
Even before his positive drug test results came back, Bonnar had already been medically suspended for six months by the NSAC due to a broken right thumb.
The maximum possible fine that could have been levied was $250,000, but it's extremely rare for fines of more than $5,000 to be issued by the NSAC for drug offenses. Bonnar's purse for the fight was $16,000.
Prior to today's disciplinary hearing, Spike TV had already released Bonnar from his contract as a broadcaster on SpikeTV.com, which is separate from his contract with Zuffa as a UFC fighter.
The anabolic steroid for which Bonnar tested positive is Boldenone, which is a steroid used by veterinarians to rehabilitate injured horses. According to the Food and Drug Administration, "Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian." Due to potential health risks for humans, the FDA has gone so far as to say that Boldenone "should not be administered to horses intended for human consumption."
Boldenone is not generally a popular drug among bodybuilders because of the fact that traces of the drug remain in the user's system for several months after use. Bonnar is just the second fighter in MMA, boxing, or kickboxing since 2000 to test positive for Boldenone in the state of Nevada (the first was Josh Barnett).
As with all NSAC drug-related suspensions, Bonnar will not be automatically reinstated in May 2007 when his suspension term expires. After the term expires, Bonnar becomes eligible to re-apply for a fighter's license in Nevada. This step requires a urine sample to be provided and for it to come back negative for all banned substances before the fighter can be re-licensed.
That is exactly what happened in Josh Barnett's case when he wanted to fight on Pride's Las Vegas card in October. Barnett tested negative for all banned substances, both before the Pride event and after the Pride event.
Out of the seventeen fighters who competed on the UFC 62 card alongside Bonnar, three of them were drug-tested (Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, and Renato "Babalu" Sobral), and all of their drug tests came back negative.
Bonnar's case is unfortunately part of a growing trend of fighters testing positive for anabolic steroids. Earlier this year, Kimo Leopoldo tested positive for steroids prior to a scheduled WFA event in California. Two months after Bonnar tested positive for steroids, Vitor Belfort and Pawel Nastula tested positive for steroids following the Pride USA event on October 21st. The cases of Belfort and Nastula are still pending before the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Pawel Nastula Tests Positive for Banned Stimulants in Addition to Steroids
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
In addition to testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone after his October 21st Pride fight in Las Vegas, Pawel Nastula also tested positive for three banned stimulants.
Last week, both Nastula and Vitor Belfort tested positive for anabolic steroids, and with the stimulant test results coming in on Monday, Nastula has also tested positive for the banned stimluants phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine.
All of the other tested fighters passed their tests for banned stimulants, including Belfort.
Nastula, who won a gold medal in Judo at the 1996 Olympic Games and started his MMA career in 2005, lost to Josh Barnett by submission on the Pride card. Prior to his drug test results coming back, Nastula had already been medically suspended indefinitely by the Nevada State Athletic Commission until MRIs and a doctor clear possible injuries to his right ankle and knee.
Ephedrine is a commonly used dietary supplement/weight loss aid, but it was made illegal as a dietary supplement in the United States in 2004 due to a number of ephedrine-related cardiovascular health problems and deaths. Among many other things, ephedrine is often used as a stimulant, and it is among the banned stimulants for which the Nevada State Athletic Commission tests.
Pseudoephedrine is in the same family as ephedrine from a chemical standpoint, but pseudoephedrine is far more commonly used due to its prevalence in over-the-counter cold remedies, allergy medications, and nasal decongestants.
Pseudoephedrine has been the subject of much controversy in recent years due to the fact that it is one of the key ingredients in the making of methamphetamine, and easy access to pseudoephedrine at any drug store has fueled the rapidly rising methamphetamine problem in the United States. While Nastula was not taking methamphetamine (he would have tested positive for it if he had been taking it), the benign form of pseudoephedrine found in cold and allergy medicines is, in and of itself, a banned stimulant under the Nevada State Athletic Commission's regulations.
Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is also chemically related to ephedrine and is commonly used as a decongestant, and like ephedrine, it has been linked to numerous health issues. While ephedrine's health risks are primarily cardiovascular, PPA has been linked to strokes, and the Food & Drug Administration is in the process of making PPA illegal in the United States. Like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, PPA is a banned stimulant under the regulations of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
The nine fighters who tested negative for any banned stimulants after Pride's October 21st event were Vitor Belfort, Fedor Emelianenko, Mark Coleman, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Kevin Randleman, Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson, Phil Baroni, and Yosuke Nishijima.
Taking into account all unarmed combat sports (MMA, boxing, and kickboxing), Nastula and Belfort were the 21st and 22nd fighters to test positive for banned substances since 2000 in the state of Nevada. Ironically, when Kimo Leopoldo failed a drug test following his UFC fight against Ken Shamrock in 2004, he tested positive for the same four substances as Nastula: nandrolone, phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine.
As with Vitor Belfort, who tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-hydroxytestosterone, Pawel Nastula will have a disciplinary hearing in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission at a date to be determined and will be subject to a possible fine and/or suspension. Suspensions from the NSAC are honored worldwide by any organization that has NSAC sanctioning, including Pride.