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

Saturday, December 30, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- History Being Re-Written on the Eve of the UFC's Biggest PPV Ever
by Ivan Trembow

On the eve of UFC 66, which will be the biggest UFC pay-per-view to date thanks to the main event match-up of Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell, it shouldn't be too surprising to see that history is being re-written, specifically the history of the UFC in articles that also feature interviews with Zuffa executives. The so-called "Zuffa Myth," fresh off its appearance on 60 Minutes, has reared its head in the New York Times and the St. Petersburg Times, both of which failed to do any basic fact checking.

The New York Times wrote: "Dismissed as too brutal by critics, and banned in some states including New York, the sport has been striving for respect after enacting rules in 2001 that forbid tactics like eye gouging and biting."

The St. Petersburg Times wrote: "'We thought, God, if we owned this thing, it would be so cool if we did this or that. We had a lot of ideas,' said [Dana] White, a former boxer and driving force behind the growth of the sport. White’s plan? Invade the country’s major markets. Instead of running from regulation, run toward it."

Basic fact checking would have alerted the New York Times to the fact that eye gouging and biting were both illegal in 1993 when the UFC started. Basic fact checking would have also alerted the St. Petersburg Times to the fact that the "old UFC" ran fully sanctioned UFC events in states such as New Jersey, Iowa, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

New Jersey is regarded as having the second-biggest sanctioning body (behind only Nevada's) in terms of importance and prestige. In addition to getting fully sanctioned in New Jersey, the previous owners of the UFC also made an unsuccessful attempt to get sanctioned in Nevada before selling the UFC to Zuffa, so it is completely false that the previous owners "ran from regulation" or "ran from sanctioning."

A lot of credit must go to James Melroy of the Long Beach Press-Telegram for not repeating these kinds of lies, as Melroy wrote what any other mainstream media reporter would write after doing five or ten minutes of basic fact checking: "SEG Sports, which bought the company in 1995 from its founders, Art Davie and Rorion Gracie, slowly began working toward regulation, and in November of 2000, held its first sanctioned event in New Jersey under the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board's Mixed Martial Arts Unified Rules. But with the company running well into the red, SEG began to field offers from potentials buyers. White, a boxing promoter and fan of MMA, heard about the opportunity and made a few phone calls, including one to his childhood friend Lorenzo Fertitta. 'A month later we owned it,' White said. With White taking over as UFC president and brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta helping out behind the scenes, UFC slowly began to dig itself out of the hole in which it had been buried for so long."

Tito Ortiz Also Re-Writing History
The re-writing of history is not limited to the history of the UFC itself, at least not if you've listened to anything that Tito Ortiz has had to say in the build-up to his rematch with Chuck Liddell. Ortiz has numerous tall tales that he has made a habit of telling in recent days and weeks, one of which is that he was best friends with Liddell right up until Liddell "betrayed" him by agreeing to fight Ortiz in the UFC.

Ortiz' assertion is unintentionally hilarious given the fact that Ortiz was the one who jumped in the Octagon after Liddell defeated Vitor Belfort in mid-2002 to talk about how badly he was going to beat Liddell... this at the time that they were supposedly "best friends who would never fight each other," according to Ortiz' current version of events.

In the official previews, the first fight between Liddell and Ortiz is portrayed very differently from how you may remember it if you saw it in April 2004. Ortiz has portrayed the fight as though his loss was almost entirely because of Liddell's accidental thumb to the eye. It's almost like Ortiz just lost on a technicality if you go by Ortiz' version of events. He was having a fantastic fight and then there was this freak incident with a thumb to the eye and that's the only reason he lost, which is far from the truth.

Then there's the notion that Ortiz insisted on standing and trading strikes with Liddell for the entire first fight... that he played Liddell's game because he was too headstrong to go for takedowns and his signature ground and pound offense. This ignores the visual evidence of Ortiz going for several takedowns in the fight and Liddell defending every one of them.

It's also interesting to note that Ortiz has been saying different things in different interviews about the possibility of one day fighting training partner and new UFC acquisition Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who will make his UFC debut on February 3rd against Marvin Eastman. In some interviews, Ortiz says that he would be willing to fight Rampage if it was a "champion vs. number one contender" scenario (which is also what Rampage has said publicly on a consistent basis), and in other interviews such as one in the Orange County Register, Ortiz says that he would never fight Rampage and that he actually has an agreement with Rampage that they will never fight.

Tito Ortiz Comments on Triple H
Here's a Tito Ortiz quote regarding Vince McMahon's son-in-law, Paul Levesque (aka Triple H): "I think he would be horrible [in MMA]. He's too stiff and his cardio fitness is horrible. A guy like that isn't an athlete. We're running, lifting, and training every day, not for looks or to show off our bodies, but to fight and last five rounds at full strength."

While Ortiz didn't use the S-word, the point stands that MMA is not bodybuilding. At the same time, pro wrestling in and of itself is a perfectly valid form of entertainment, as Ortiz should know very well given the fact that he has participated in pro wrestling in the past and he has admitted in media interviews that he modeled his character in the Ken Shamrock feud after the WWE character of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

Also, if you haven't been reading MMAWeekly.com lately, check it out to read all about Quinton Jackson's impending UFC debut, the fact that the UFC is going to announce the signing of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic on tonight's PPV (he will make his UFC debut in February against Eddie Sanchez), and Zuffa's impending TV deals with the UFC headed to HBO (in addition to Spike TV), while the newly Zuffa-owned WEC heads to the Versus Network. All of this and much more is up right now on MMAWeekly.com.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 29, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- New Jersey Commission Corrects 60 Minutes Story on MMA
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

MMAWeekly has previously documented the false statements that have repeatedly been made by Zuffa in recent weeks, months, and years about the history of the UFC and the rules and sanctioning of mixed martial arts in general.

Now, with the recent 60 Minutes segment on mixed martial arts having provided a positive look at the sport while also propagating the same set of factually incorrect statements, we present to you a copy of the letter sent to CBS News by Nick Lembo, who is the Deputy Attorney General of the state of New Jersey and the Counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.

"To: 60 Minutes
CBS News
(addresses deleted)

My name is Nick Lembo, I am the Counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.

I found your program interesting and appreciated your coverage of a great sport, known as mixed martial arts. Your segment including legends such as Renzo Gracie, Pat Miletich, and Matt Hughes
was fantastic.

However, I would like to address some issues surrounding Mr. Dana White and his limited role in creating rules currently in use in the sport.

Mr. White did not set up rules and regulations for today's sport known as mixed martial arts. Simply put, the State of New Jersey did. All Mr. White did was follow rules that were already set in place.

Mr. Larry Hazzard was the first major state athletic Commissioner to sanction modern day mixed martial arts. He should be given due credit.

It should be noted that even before New Jersey sanctioned the sport, the California State Athletic Commission had prepared detailed rules to regulate mixed martial arts but they were not implemented solely due to governmental issues surrounding the budgeting process. These rules were based on rules developed in Quebec, Canada.

That being said, I think the current UFC has done great things for the mixed martial arts fan and the sport of mixed martial arts in the United States.

Please be advised that the previous owner of the UFC, Bob Meyrowitz, held UFC 28 in Atlantic City, NJ on November 17, 2000. This event was fully sanctioned by New Jersey while the UFC was an entity and a name owned by SEG. This event was held under strict oversight and was not "no holds barred".

The UFC, under Mr. Meyrowitz, had already accepted, by virtue of staging that event in Atlantic City in November 2000, every below listed rule before Zuffa bought it. Accordingly, knees to the head of a downed opponent, certain elbow strikes, head butts, groin strikes and 20 other actions were already denoted as fouls that could result in disqualification. Additionally, weight classes, stringent medical requirements and strict regulatory oversight were in place at that time.

In fact, an entity unrelated to the UFC, SEG or Zuffa held a sanctioned event, under similar rules, in Atlantic City, prior to UFC 28, on September 30, 2000. This organization was known as the IFC [the International Fighting Championships].

Many other rules and regulations were in place in the UFC itself even before New Jersey or California's involvement, including weight classes (added in 1997), multiple judges scoring a fight if it goes the distance (1995), doctors at ringside (1993), medical exams of fighters (1993), time limits (1995), gloves (1995), multiple timed rounds (1999), the banning of groin strikes (1994), and the ability of the referee to stop the fight (1994).

The notion that the previous owners of the UFC ran from regulation is factually incorrect. In fact, the previous owners tried to get sanctioned in as many states as possible, and they did so in New Jersey, Louisiana, Iowa, and Mississippi. Also, the previous owners of the UFC formally sought sanctioning in the state of Nevada not long before selling the company, and they were unsuccessful in their efforts to get sanctioned in Nevada.

Mr. Ivan Trembow recently published the following, {According to the Wrestling Observer and with edits made in brackets to fill in context or correct grammar, and with a timeline clarification courtesy of Whaledog.com:

"Meyrowitz [former UFC president Bob Meyrowitz] would go to InDemand [the PPV company] and ask what he needed to do to get back on InDemand, and they said the UFC needed to get sanctioned [by a major sanctioning body]. He got sanctioned in New Jersey, and was basically told that he needed to get it sanctioned in Nevada, as that was the most influential athletic commission in the country. [Meyrowitz] set up a meeting in Las Vegas, and at the time, sanctioning was going to happen based on what inside sources were telling both Meyrowitz and InDemand. Suddenly, the night before the approval that was going to be the step to put the UFC back on the map, Meyrowitz was told that he was going to be voted down [the next day, when his request was scheduled to be voted on by the members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission]. He didn't have the votes. He was also told that if he followed through the next day, and was voted down, he would never have an opportunity to be sanctioned. So, he pulled out, they created some cover reason as to why he was pulling his attempt at sanctioning, and basically he was screwed. Lorenzo Fertitta [the current co-owner of the UFC] was an influential member of the Nevada commission at the time. [Approximately one year later], Fertitta purchased the UFC [for $2 million], then got sanctioning in Nevada, and then got on PPV."}

Mixed martial arts websites and publications such as Full
Contact Fighter, ADCC News, Eddie Goldman's NHB News, Whaledog.com, MMAWeekly.com, WrestlingObserver.com, and FightOpinion.com have done extensive articles covering Mr. White's factually incorrect statements, which have come to be known as the "Zuffa Myth".

In Clyde Gentry's 2001 book on MMA, Mr. Fertitta, the owner of the UFC was quoted as stating that "Without Larry Hazzard and the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, this sport would still be dying a slow death."

Please find the following language in our administrative proposal, written in 2001, regarding martial arts. "In past years, the State Athletic Control Board (SACB) had been hesitant to sanction mixed martial arts events due to the lack of formal rules in the sport which created health and safety concerns. For example, the sport generally did not divide contestants into weight classes, had contestants participate in several matches on the same evening and did not provide time limits on either round or bout length. However, in the last year or so, promoters of mixed martial arts events began to develop formal rules and regulations which included procedures to minimize the risk of injury to the contestant. After becoming aware that detailed regulations were now in place for most mixed martial arts events, the SACB then began a course of communications with the California State Athletic Commission with regard to the subject of regulating mixed martial arts events. California has established rules and regulations for the conduct of the sport in their state. As of September 2000, the SACB began to allow mixed martial arts promoters to conduct events in New Jersey upon submission and review of their established rules and regulations. In addition, the promoters had to agree to incorporate the SACB's medical testing and safety requirements. The intent was to allow the SACB to observe actual events and gather information needed to determine what would be necessary to establish a comprehensive set of rules to effectively regulate the sport. On April 3, 2001, the SACB held a meeting in Trenton to discuss the regulation of mixed martial arts events. This meeting was set up by SACB Commissioner Larry Hazzard, Sr. in an attempt to unify the myriad of rules and regulations, which have been utilized by the different mixed martial arts organizations. At this meeting, the proposed uniform rules were agreed upon by the SACB, several other regulatory bodies, numerous promoters of mixed martial arts events and other interested parties in attendance. The meeting was quite comprehensive and lasted over three hours. At the conclusion of the meeting, all parties in attendance were able to agree upon a uniform set of rules to govern the sport of mixed martial arts. In recent months, other states, including Nevada, have begun to sanction mixed martial arts events based upon the SACB's regulatory framework, which arose at the conclusion of the April meeting. The SACB anticipates that this proposal will result in uniform rules for mixed martial arts events held throughout the United States. In a similar sense, in March of 1998, the SACB proposed uniform rules for the conduct of championship professional boxing matches. Since the proposal, these rules for championship rules have become the norm throughout the country.


13:46-24A.1 Weight classes of mixed martial artists

(a) Mixed martial artists shall be divided into the following classes:

1.Flyweight under 125.9 pounds;
2.Bantamweight 126 lbs. - 134.9 pounds;
3.Featherweight 135 lbs. - 144.9 pounds;
4.Lightweight 145 lbs. - 154.9 pounds;
5.Welterweight 155 lbs. - 169.9 pounds;
6.Middleweight 170 lbs. - 184.9 pounds;
7.Light Heavyweight 185 lbs. - 204.9 pounds;
8.Heavyweight 204 lbs. - 264.9 pounds; and
9.Super Heavyweight over 265 pounds.

13:46-24A.2 Fighting area

(a) The fighting area canvas shall be no smaller than 18 feet by 18 feet and no larger than 32 feet by 32 feet. The fighting area canvas shall be padded in a manner as approved by the Commissioner, with at least one-inch layer of foam padding. Padding shall extend beyond the fighting area and over the edge of the platform. No vinyl or other plastic rubberized covering shall be permitted.

(b) The fighting area canvas shall not be more than four feet above the floor of the building and shall have suitable steps or ramp for use by the participants. Posts shall be made of metal not more than six inches in diameter, extending from the floor of the building to a minimum height of 58 inches above the fighting area canvas and shall be properly padded in a manner approved by the Commissioner.

(c) The fighting area canvas area shall be enclosed by a fence made of such material as will not allow a fighter to fall out or break through it onto the floor or spectators, including, but not limited to, vinyl coated chain link fencing. All metal parts shall be covered and padded in a manner approved by the Commissioner and shall not be abrasive to the contestants.

(d) The fence shall provide two separate entries onto the fighting area canvas.

13:46-24A.3 Stools

(a) A ring stool of a type approved by the Commissioner shall be available for each contestant.

(b) An appropriate number of stools or chairs, of a type approved by the Commissioner, shall be available for each contestant's seconds. Such stools or chairs shall be located near each contestant's corner.

(c) All stools and chairs used must be thoroughly cleaned or replaced after the conclusion of each bout.

13:46-24A.4 Equipment

For each bout, the promoter shall provide a clean water bucket and a clean plastic water bottle in each corner.

13:46-24A.5 Specifications for bandages on mixed martial artist's hands

(a) In all weight classes, the bandages on each contestant's hand shall be restricted to soft gauze cloth not more than 13 yards in length and two inches in width, held in place by not more than 10 feet of surgeon's tape, one inch in width, for each hand.

(b) Surgeon's adhesive tape shall be placed directly on each hand for protection near the wrist. The tape may cross the back of the hand twice and extend to cover and protect the knuckles when the hand is clenched to make a fist.

(c) The bandages shall be evenly distributed across the hand.

(d) Bandages and tape shall be placed on the contestant's hands in the dressing room in the presence of the inspector and in the presence of the manager or chief second of his or her opponent.

(e) Under no circumstances are gloves to be placed on the hands of a contestant until the approval of the inspector is received.

13:46-24A.6 Mouthpieces

(a) All contestants are required to wear a mouthpiece during competition. The mouthpiece shall be subject to examination and approval by the attending physician.

(b) The round cannot begin without the mouthpiece in place.

(c) If the mouthpiece is involuntarily dislodged during competition, the referee shall call time, clean the mouthpiece and reinsert the mouthpiece at the first opportune moment, without interfering with the immediate action.

13:46-24A.7 Protective equipment

(a) Male mixed martial artists shall wear a groin protector of their own selection, of a type approved by the Commissioner.

(b) Female mixed martial artists are prohibited from wearing groin protectors.

(c) Female mixed martial artists shall wear a chest protector during competition. The chest protector shall be subject to approval of the Commissioner.

13:46-24A.8 Gloves

(a) The gloves shall be new for all main events and in good condition or they must be replaced.

(b) All contestants shall wear either four, five or six ounce gloves, supplied by the promoter and approved by the commission. No contestant shall supply their own gloves for participation.

13:46-24A.9 Apparel

(a) Each contestant shall wear mixed martial arts shorts, biking shorts, or kickboxing shorts.

(b) Gi's or shirts are prohibited during competition.

(c) Shoes are prohibited during competition.

13:46-24A.10 Appearance

(a) All contestants shall be cleanly shaven immediately prior to competition, except that a contestant may wear a closely cropped mustache.

(b) Hair shall be trimmed or tied back in such a manner as not to interfere with the vision of either contestant or cover any part of a contestant's face.

(c) Jewelry or piercing accessories are prohibited during competition.

13:46-24A.11 Round length

(a) Each non-championship mixed martial arts contest shall be three rounds, of five minutes duration, with a one-minute rest period between each round.

(b) Each championship mixed martial arts contest shall be five rounds, of five minutes duration, with a one-minute rest period between each round.

13:46-24A.12 Stopping a contest

The referee and ringside physician are the sole arbiters of a bout and are the only individuals authorized to enter the fighting area at any time during competition and authorized to stop a contest.

13:46-24A.13 Judging

(a) All bouts will be evaluated and scored by three judges.

(b) The 10-Point Must System will be the standard system of scoring a bout. Under the 10-Point Must Scoring System, 10 points must be awarded to the winner of the round and nine points or less must be awarded to the loser, except for a rare even round, which is scored (10-10).

(c) Judges shall evaluate mixed martial arts techniques, such as effective striking, effective grappling, control of the fighting area, effective aggressiveness and defense.

(d) Evaluations shall be made in the order in which the techniques appear in (c) above, giving the most weight in scoring to effective striking, effective grappling, control of the fighting area and effective aggressiveness and defense.

(e) Effective striking is judged by determining the total number of legal heavy strikes landed by a contestant.

(f) Effective grappling is judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown and reversals. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to mount position, and bottom position fighters using an active, threatening guard.

(g) Fighting area control is judged by determining who is dictating the pace, location and position of the bout. Examples of factors to consider are countering a grappler's attempt at takedown by remaining standing and legally striking; taking down an opponent to force a ground fight; creating threatening submission attempts, passing the guard to achieve mount, and creating striking opportunities.

(h) Effective aggressiveness means moving forward and landing a legal strike.

(i) Effective defense means avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.

(j) The following objective scoring criteria shall be utilized by the judges when scoring a round;

1. A round is to be scored as a 10-10 Round when both contestants appear to be fighting evenly and neither contestant shows clear dominance in a round;

2. A round is to be scored as a 10-9 Round when a contestant wins by a close margin, landing the greater number of effective legal strikes, grappling and other maneuvers;

3. A round is to be scored as a 10-8 Round when a contestant overwhelmingly dominates by striking or grappling in a round.

4. A round is to be scored as a 10-7 Round when a contestant totally dominates by striking or grappling in a round.

(k) Judges shall use a sliding scale and recognize the length of time the fighters are either standing or on the ground, as follows:

1. If the mixed martial artists spent a majority of a round on the canvas, then:
i. Effective grappling is weighed first; and
ii. Effective striking is then weighed

2. If the mixed martial artists spent a majority of a round standing, then:
1. Effective striking is weighed first; and
2. Effective grappling is then weighed
3. If a round ends with a relatively even amount of standing and canvas fighting, striking and grappling are weighed equally.

13:46-24A.14 Warnings

(a) The referee shall issue a single warning for the following infractions. After the initial warning, if the prohibited conduct persists, a penalty will be issued. The penalty may result in a deduction of points or disqualification.

1. Holding or grabbing the fence;
2. Holding opponent's shorts or gloves; or
3. The presence of more than one second on the fighting area perimeter.

13:46-24A.15 Fouls

(a) The following are fouls and will result in penalties if committed:
1. Butting with the head;
2. Eye gouging of any kind;
3. Biting or spitting at an opponent;
4. Hair pulling;
5. Fish hooking;
6. Groin attacks of any kind;
7. Intentionally placing a finger in any opponent's orifice;
8. Downward pointing of elbow strikes;
9. Small joint manipulation;
10. Strikes to the spine or back of the head;
11. Heel kicks to the kidney;
12. Throat strikes of any kind;
13. Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh or grabbing the clavicle;
14. Kicking the head of a grounded fighter;
15. Kneeing the head of a grounded fighter;
16. Stomping of a grounded fighter;
17. The use of abusive language in fighting area;
18. Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent;
19. Attacking an opponent on or during the break;
20. Attacking an opponent who is under the referee's care at the time;
21. Timidity (avoiding contact, or consistent dropping of mouthpiece, or faking an injury);
22. Interference from a mixed martial artist's seconds;
23. Throwing an opponent out of the fighting area;
24. Flagrant disregard of the referee's instructions;
25. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his or her head or neck.

(b) Disqualification occurs after any combination of three or the fouls listed in (a) above or after a referee determines that a foul was intentional and flagrant.

(c) Fouls will result in a point being deducted by the official scorekeeper from the offending mixed martial artist's score.

(d) Only a referee can assess a foul. If the referee does not call the foul, judges shall not make that assessment on their own and cannot factor such into their scoring calculations.

(e) A fouled fighter has up to five minutes to recuperate.

(f) If a foul is committed, the referee shall:

1. call time;

2. check the fouled mixed martial artist's condition and safety; and

3. assess the foul to the offending contestant, deduct points, and notify each corner's seconds, judges and the official scorekeeper.

g) If a bottom contestant commits a foul, unless the top contestant is injured, the fight shall continue, so as not to jeopardize the top contestant's superior positioning at the time.

1. The referee shall verbally notify the bottom contestant of the foul.

2. When the round is over, the referee shall assess the foul and notify both corners' seconds, the judges and the official scorekeeper.

3. The referee may terminate a bout based on the severity of a foul. For such a flagrant foul, a contestant shall lose by disqualification.

13:46-24A.16 Injuries sustained during competition

(a) If an injury sustained during competition as a result of a legal maneuver is severe enough to terminate a bout, the injured contestant loses by technical knockout.

(b) If an injury sustained during competition as a result of an intentional foul is severe enough to terminate a bout, the contestant causing the injury loses by disqualification.

(c) If an injury is sustained during competition as a result of an intentional foul and the bout is allowed to continue, the referee shall notify the scorekeeper to automatically deduct two points from the contestant who committed the foul.

(d) If an injury sustained during competition as a result of an intentional foul causes the injured contestant to be unable to continue at a subsequent point in the contest, the injured contestant shall win by technical decision, if he or she is ahead on the scorecards. If the injured contestant is even or behind on the score cards at the time of stoppage, the outcome of the bout shall be declared a technical draw.

(e) If a contestant injures himself or herself while attempting to foul his or her opponent, the referee shall not take any action in his or her favor, and the injury shall be treated in the same manner as an injury produced by a fair blow.

(f) If an injury sustained during competition as a result of an accidental foul is severe enough for the referee to stop the bout immediately, the bout shall result in a no contest if stopped before two rounds have been completed in a three round bout or if stopped before three rounds have been completed in a five round bout.

(g) If an injury sustained during competition as a result of an accidental foul is severe enough for the referee to stop the bout immediately, the bout shall result in a technical decision awarded to the contestant who is ahead on the score cards at the time the bout is stopped only when the bout is stopped after two rounds of a three round bout, or three rounds of a five round bout have been completed.

(h) There will be no scoring of an incomplete round. However, if the referee penalizes either contestant, then the appropriate points shall be deducted when the scorekeeper calculates the final score.

13:46-24A.17 Types of Bout Results

(a) The following are the types of bout results:

1. Submission by:
i. Tap Out: When a contestant physically uses his hand to indicate that he or she no longer wishes to continue; or
ii. Verbal tap out: When a contestant verbally announces to the referee that he or she does not wish to continue;

2. Technical knockout by:
i. Referee stops bout;
ii. Ringside physician stops bout; or
iii. When an injury as a result of a legal maneuver is severe enough to terminate a bout;

3. Knockout by failure to rise from the canvas;

4. Decision via scorecards:
i. Unanimous: When all three judges score the bout for the same contestant;
ii. Split Decision: When two judges score the bout for one contestant and one judge scores for the opponent; or
iii. Majority Decision: When two judges score the bout for the same contestant and one judge scores a draw;

5. Draws:
i. Unanimous - When all three judges score the bout a draw;
ii. Majority - When two judges score the bout a draw; or
iii. Split - When all three judges score differently and the score total results in a draw;

6. Disqualification: When an injury sustained during competition as a result of an intentional foul is severe enough to terminate the contest;

7. Forfeit: When a contestant fails to begin competition or prematurely ends the contest for reasons other than injury or by indicating a tap out;

8. Technical Draw: When an injury sustained during competition as a result of an intentional foul causes the injured contestant to be unable to continue and the injured contestant is even or behind on the scorecards at the time of stoppage;

9. Technical Decision: When the bout is prematurely stopped due to injury and a contestant is leading on the score cards; and

10. No Contest: When a contest is prematurely stopped due to accidental injury and a sufficient number of rounds have not been completed to render a decision via the scorecards.


13:46-24B.1 Licensing

(a) All mixed martial arts events shall be subject to the licensing requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:46-4.

(b) The fee for a mixed martial artist license shall be as set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:46-4.25(b). Other license fees shall be as set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:46-4.25(a).

13:46-24B.2 Bond procedure

All mixed martial arts events shall be subject to the bond procedure requirements of N.J.A.C.13:46-4.8.

13:46-24B.3 Inspectors

All mixed martial arts events shall be subject to the presence, duties and compensation of inspectors as required by N.J.A.C. 13:46-9.

13:46-24B.4 Health and safety rules

(a) All mixed martial arts events shall be subject to the uniform medical requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:46-12A.

(b) All mixed martial arts events shall be subject to the additional health and safety requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:46-12B.

(c) All mixed martial arts events shall be subject to the emergency medical facilities and equipment requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:46-2.8.

(d) All mixed martial arts events shall be subject to the insurance requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:46-14.

13:46-24B.5 Weighing of mixed martial artists

(a) Weighing of all mixed martial artists shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements for professional boxers of N.J.A.C. 13:46-1A.3."

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Randy Couture to Come out of Retirement if Ortiz Beats Liddell?
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Mixed martial arts legend Randy Couture has stated that he is "going to have to come out of retirement" if Tito Ortiz defeats Chuck Liddell for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title at UFC 66 on December 30th.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle's Steve Sievert, the 43-year-old Couture predicted that Liddell would likely beat Ortiz, but he added, "If Tito finds a way to beat Chuck, I'm going to have to come out of retirement and give Tito a whack." The Chronicle article added, "Asked if he was serious about lacing up the gloves again to fight Ortiz, Couture responded with an emphatic 'absolutely.'"

Prior to Couture's statements in the Houston Chronicle interview, it was widely believed that the next shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Title would be going to Forrest Griffin if he is successful in defeating Keith Jardine on the Liddell-Ortiz undercard. The next title shot could also go to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, particularly if Liddell beats Ortiz, but the UFC will likely want to give Jackson one non-title match before he fights for the title.

If Couture were to come out of retirement, a rematch against Ortiz would make more sense than a rematch with Liddell, as Couture has fought Liddell three times but has only fought Ortiz once.

Couture, who is the only fighter to have ever won both the UFC Heavyweight Title and the UFC Light Heavyweight Title, defeated Ortiz by unanimous decision in a one-sided fight in 2003.

Couture has a full trilogy already in the books with Liddell, as Couture won the first fight between the two fighters in 2003, lost the second fight in 2005, and lost the third fight of the trilogy in February 2006.

After the loss to Liddell in February, Couture announced that he was retiring from the sport. The Wrestling Observer reported at the time that Couture had made the decision prior to the third Liddell fight that he was going to retire after the fight--- win, lose, or draw. The Observer also reported at the time that UFC president Dana White did not believe that Couture would actually retire, and that White later attempted to negotiate with Couture in an effort to convince him to come out of retirement.

Couture competed at a submission grappling event in November, grappling to a draw with highly regarded Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, but he has not fought under MMA rules since retiring from MMA in February.

Since his retirement, Couture has become a semi-regular part of the UFC's announcing crew as a color commentator. Couture also made an appearance on the hit CBS comedy King of Queens, and he will be one of the athletes on the second season of Pros vs. Joes on Spike TV, which premieres on January 25, 2007 after UFC Fight Night 8.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- In-Depth Coverage: Vitor Belfort & Pawel Nastula Suspended after Steroid Hearings
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Breaking News on MMAWeekly: Vitor Belfort and Pawel Nastula have each been suspended for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission as a result of their positive tests for banned substances following their respective fights at Pride: The Real Deal on October 21st.

In addition to the nine-month suspensions, each fighter was fined approximately one-third of their purses, which worked out to a $10,000 fine for Belfort and $6,500 for Nastula.

Drug testing at mixed martial arts events in the United States is handled by state athletic commissions, not by the MMA promotions such as Pride or the UFC.

The commissioners of the NSAC mentioned Stephan Bonnar when determining the length of the suspensions. Bonnar was suspended for nine months after he tested positive for the anabolic steroid boldenone following his fight against Forrest Griffin at UFC 62. The commissioners concluded that Belfort and Nastula should receive similar suspensions, and they unanimously agreed on the length of the suspensions for Belfort and Nastula.

Kevin Randleman's disciplinary hearing is tentatively scheduled to take place in January. The NSAC has alleged that Randleman provided a fake urine sample during his drug test at the same Pride event on October 21st. 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.

Nastula tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and the banned stimulants phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine. Belfort tested positive for 4-hydroxytestosterone, which is also legally defined as an anabolic steroid and banned in Major League Baseball and other sports.

Belfort, a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, lost to Dan Henderson by unanimous decision on the Pride card. Nastula, who won a gold medal in Judo at the 1996 Olympic Games, lost by submission to Josh Barnett on the card.

As with all NSAC drug-related suspensions, Belfort and Nastula will not be automatically reinstated in July 2007 when their suspension terms expires. After the terms expire, Belfort and Nastula will become eligible to re-apply for fighters' licenses in Nevada. This step requires a urine sample to be provided and for the sample to come back negative for all banned substances before the fighter can be re-licensed.

For as long as a particular fighter is suspended in the state of Nevada, companies that are licensed to promote events in the state of Nevada are strongly discouraged from using that fighter anywhere in the world, which includes Pride's events in Japan. On this subject, Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer told MMAWeekly, "I would expect a licensed promoter to respect any and all NSAC suspensions."

Vitor Belfort's Hearing
While Pawel Nastula was represented by an attorney and an agent/interpreter, Vitor Belfort represented himself and passionately pleaded his case to the commissioners. As for how he could have unknowingly ingested 4-hydroxytestosterone, Belfort said that it could have been in the rehabilitative injections that he was given by endocrinologist Dr. Rodrigo M. Greco following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee over the summer; or it could have been from a nutritional supplement called Max Tribustak.

That particular supplement does indeed contain 4-hydroxytestosterone and is touted as helping to maximize the user's testosterone output. The commission seemed to believe that the Max Tribustak was much more likely than the post-surgical injections to have been the cause of Belfort's positive drug test.

Belfort was emphatic in saying that he is not a cheater. Belfort added that many fighters in MMA are cheaters and steroid users, but he is not one of them. Belfort said that he was very surprised by the positive test result, adding that he has lost a lot of sponsorships and has had his name, reputation, and career tarnished as a result of this.

The commissioners stated that even if Belfort was given injections by a doctor who did not inform Belfort that the injections contained anabolic steroids, it would still be a violation of the banned substances policy and "it would be malpractice for a doctor to do that here in the United States, to be giving someone anabolic steroids" during recovery from surgery.

The NSAC received a written statement from Dr. Greco in which he said that he gave Belfort post-surgical injections containing testosterone, which the NSAC said would be a violation of the NSAC's drug policy in and of itself.

The conclusion was ultimately reached that Belfort's story is fairly consistent, but that it's still a violation of the drug policy to have a banned substance in your body at the time of a fight. Regardless of when or how he took the banned substance, he should not have been fighting with 4-hydroxytestosterone in his system, and it is the fighters' responsibility to make sure that they're clear of all banned substances going into a fight.

Pawel Nastula's Hearing
Pawel Nastula's primary defense, as laid out by attorney Howard Jacobs, was that Nastula's positive test for the anabolic steroid nandrolone was a result of supplement contamination, not deliberate use. Jacobs presented several studies on the subject of supplement contamination to the NSAC, but none of them were specific to Nastula's case.

After Jacobs spoke extensively about the subject of supplement contamination in general, one of the commissioners said, "We have [detected] certain prohibited substances in his urine. We don't know how they got there, and he's responsible for that."

The commissioners further stated that in many cases where supplement contamination is alleged as the reason for a fighter's positive test, the defense chooses to have sample pills from the same manufacturing batch tested to determine if the supplement was, in fact, contaminated. Jacobs responded that it would take four to six months to run cross-contamination tests, and with Nastula being unable to fight during that timeframe, it would be a de facto suspension for that four to six month period.

The commission responded by telling Jacobs that if he chooses not to have the samples tested and if Nastula is suspended today, he could potentially be suspended for longer than four to six months. Jacobs then asked if NSAC policy would allow Nastula to temporarily be able to fight until the disciplinary matter is resolved.

Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the NSAC, said that would not be allowed. Kizer said that an athlete who is taking performance-enhancing drugs in track and field would run faster or throw the javelin farther, but in MMA you're hitting another human being harder, so they can't allow MMA fighters to compete while they have pending disciplinary matters stemming from positive drug tests.

Jacobs also argued on Nastula's behalf that the relatively low levels of nandrolone found in Nastula's system were consistent with unintentional ingestion and not deliberate use. The commissioners responded by saying that low levels of a banned substance can sometimes indicate unintentional ingestion, but low levels can also sometimes indicate that a fighter was trying to cycle off of the banned substances and simply didn't stop taking them soon enough.

The commissioners said that they have no way of conclusively knowing which one of those scenarios holds true in this case, but they do conclusively know that Nastula had more than the maximum allowed amount of nandrolone in his system, and that was grounds to suspend him.

Pride "Allows Usage of Doping"?
Nastula's original written response to the NSAC stated that his promotional contract with Pride "allows the usage of doping." The commissioners asked for clarification on what exactly that means, and Nastula's agent/interpreter Michal Szymanski responded by saying that Nastula's Pride contract does not specifically allow doping, but it does say that fighters will not be tested for performance-enhancing substances at any of Pride's events in Japan. (It's a completely different scenario in the United States, where it's up to the athletic commissions and not the MMA promotions to handle the drug testing.)

The NSAC's Kizer further clarified to the commissioners that from what he has been told by Pride, they test for marijuana and other recreational drugs at their shows in Japan, but they do not test for steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. The commissioners agreed that they need to look into Pride's drug testing policies more in the future, although no specific plans to that effect were laid out.

According to the NSAC, the exact passage in Nastula's contract with Pride in Japan is as follows: "Fighter agrees to be tested immediately preceding and following the fight in each event, to confirm negative results of the use of marijuana, cocaine, barbiturates, and other illegal substances. Should any test be positive, fighter shall forfeit all amounts payable under this agreement granted for such event. Performance-enhancing stimulants of the steroid-based family are specifically excluded from the scope of the tests and the prohibition in this section."

At that point during the hearing, Kizer said that when Nastula's representatives were informed of his positive test result back in November, the first question that agent Michal Szymanski asked him was whether or not the NSAC had legally ratified the drug policy that Pride has in Japan. Kizer added that attorney Howard Jacobs' first question to him was also whether the NSAC had legally ratified the drug policy in Japan.

Kizer asked rhetorically why either of them would have asked that question right off the bat if the fighter had not intentionally taken steroids. Jacobs responded by saying that it was just a formality to make sure that the NSAC's policy allowed for the testing of fighters for performance-enhancing drugs.

Nastula Plans to Retire, Would Have Fought on Pride Shockwave if Cleared
When asked if Nastula or his agent had anything else to add, Szymanski said, "We have a contract with Pride to have Nastula's last fight on December 31st... and they told us that if Nastula is cleared and there is no suspension, Nastula can be used on the 31st of December... Nastula is 36 years old and this is his last chance... he would like to finish his career on the 31st."

Szymanski also inferred that Nastula is a top-level athlete and an Olympic Gold Medalist who would have no need to use performance-enhancing drugs. Kizer responded by saying that Nastula is indeed a tremendous athlete and an Olympic Gold Medalist, but he could have still potentially had motivation to use performance-enhancing drugs because his MMA record going into the fight against Josh Barnett was 1-2, while Barnett is ranked as one of the top five heavyweights in the entire world.

NSAC Commissioners "Putting the Hammer Down on the Steroids Issue"
After the Belfort and Nastula hearings were finished and everything else on the NSAC's meeting agenda was completed, commissioner T.J. Day said, "We're putting the hammer down on the steroid issue. This is real, this is important, and the tougher we are on it, the lesser the chance that we're going to be asked in the future why we didn't do anything about it."

It remains to be seen how accurate those words will turn out to be, given that the majority of fighters on any given fight card are still not drug tested.

Other Agenda Items
A few of the NSAC commissioners also said that with the popularity of MMA growing so much, they feel that all of the commissioners should fully understand the judging criteria and the referee procedures related to fight stoppages in MMA. The commissioners proposed that at some point in the future, there should be a seminar for the benefit of the NSAC, during which top MMA referees and judges would explain these matters in great detail to the commissioners.

The vast majority of the rest of the NSAC's agenda on this particular day related to upcoming boxing matches in the state of Nevada involving Jose Luis Castillo and Ricky Hatton, which will be relevant to MMA in the future if any main event fighters fail to make weight and subsequently face the kind of disciplinary action that Castillo has faced.

Castillo once again failed to make weight (or even come close to making weight) for a big-money boxing match against Diego Corrales earlier this year, which cost Showtime, the NSAC, and the event's promoters millions of dollars in lost revenue. Castillo was suspended until the end of 2006 and fined $250,000 for his repeated offenses, but that fine has yet to be paid.

At the meeting on Thursday, the NSAC insisted that the full fine of $250,000 must be paid before Castillo can fight in a proposed title elimination bout on January 20th, and that Castillo could be fined again if he fails to make weight for that bout.

Castillo’s promoter, Top Rank, presented plans to have Castillo and Hatton face different opponents at an event in Las Vegas on January 20th, and then if they are both victorious, Castillo and Hatton would fight each other in Las Vegas on June 2, 2007.

The NSAC was willing to approve those plans if and only if the $250,000 fine was paid before January 20th, or if Castillo pays at least $150,000 before the January 19, 2007 weigh-in and Top Rank puts into writing a formal agreement that they will be fully responsible and legally liable for the fine if Castillo does not pay it in full by June 1, 2007.

Top Rank was expected to compose such documents and return to the athletic commission at a later date in order to get formal approval for the June 2nd showdown between Hatton and Castillo.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Fight Night Ratings Improve, but Still Below UFC's Average
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The live two-hour broadcast of UFC Fight Night 7 on Spike TV drew an overall rating of 1.3 on Wednesday, December 13th. While this is an improvement over the record-low ratings of the UFC's previous live fight special on November 11th, UFC Fight Night 7 still drew ratings that were below average across-the-board when compared to the UFC's average ratings over the past two years.

The live finale of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a disastrous overall rating of 1.1 in November, and UFC Fight Night 7 did surpass that mark with its 1.3 overall rating. However, it's still down 28 percent from the 1.8 average rating for all of the UFC's live fight specials that have ever aired on Spike TV.

Key Demographic Ratings Down from UFC's Averages
The same trend holds true for the ratings in specific demographics: UFC Fight Night 7 did not sink lower than the all-time low ratings of November 11th, but it still drew significantly lower ratings than the UFC has historically averaged with its live fight specials.

In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, UFN 7 drew a 2.0 rating, which actually ties the November 11th broadcast and the very first Ultimate Fight Night as the UFC's lowest ever ratings in this demographic for a live fight card. The average-to-date for live UFC fight cards on Spike TV is 3.0 in this demographic, meaning that UFN 7 was down 33 percent from the average. Notably, it still out-drew a regular season NBA game on ESPN in this demographic.

In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, UFN 7 drew a 1.6 overall rating, which was up slightly from the all-time-low 1.5 rating that the TUF 4 finale drew in this demographic. However, a 1.6 rating is still down 30 percent from the average-to-date of 2.3 in this demographic for live UFC fight cards on Spike TV.

Viewership Level Plateaus at End of First Hour
The UFC Fight Night 7 broadcast opened up with Marcus Davis' unanimous decision victory over Shonie Carter. That fight drew a 1.1 rating, which is a typical rating for the first fight on a live UFC broadcast on Spike TV, as a sizable percentage of the people who end up watching the broadcast aren't even aware that it's on until they stumble onto it while flipping channels or they receive a phone call from a friend telling them to tune in. The last time Shonie Carter fought on Spike TV, it was in his pre-taped TUF 4 semi-final bout against Matt Serra, which drew a 1.4 rating.

The one big increase in viewership level during the broadcast came at the beginning of Karo Parisyan's three-round unanimous decision victory over Drew Fickett, which drew a 1.4 rating. While Parisyan vs. Fickett was the only thing that increased the ratings substantially on this night, its 1.4 rating still pales in comparison to the viewership level of Parisyan's last fight, a decision loss to Diego Sanchez in August that drew a 2.1 rating.

This is where the viewership levels started to get a bit odd. Instead of increasing throughout the course of the show, as is normally the case with live UFC specials on Spike TV, the rating stayed at 1.4 for the entire second hour of the broadcast, with statistically negligible fluctuations of just a few hundredths of a ratings point.

It's not that the next fight, Josh Koscheck's unanimous decision victory over Jeff Joslin, turned off viewers in droves, because the rating would have decreased if that were the case. That has actually happened during past UFC live specials when the viewing public dislikes a certain fight, but that's not what happened in this case, as the rating simply stayed at 1.4 for Koscheck vs. Joslin. Koscheck's previous fight on Spike TV was a victory over Jonathan Goulet, which drew a 1.1 rating in the unfavorable "first fight on the live broadcast" slot back in August.

Diego Sanchez knocked out Joe Riggs in the main event, and the viewership increases that usually occur in the minutes before, during, and after the main event fight simply did not happen on this night. Sanchez vs. Riggs drew the same 1.4 rating that was drawn by Koscheck vs. Joslin and by Parisyan vs. Fickett. The main event is almost always the most-watched fight on UFC live event broadcasts, even when it's a short fight like Sanchez vs. Riggs. Heck, even the fight between Matt Serra and Chris Lytle back in November, which was generally regarded as not being a very exciting fight, was still the most-watched fight of the night.

It's not as if Diego Sanchez isn't a ratings draw in general, because he is. His fight against Karo Parisyan back in August caused the viewership level to jump a whopping 50 percent from 1.4 for the previous fight (Chris Leben vs. Jorge Santiago) to 2.1 for Sanchez vs. Parisyan.

At the time, the 2.1 rating that was drawn by Sanchez vs. Parisyan was largely chalked up to Sanchez' ratings-drawing power and the fact that it was a great fight. However, looking back on it now, given the trends in the viewership levels on this show in December (ie, Sanchez' fight did not lead to a jump in viewership on this night, while Parisyan's fight did lead to a jump in viewership), it's pretty clear that Parisyan is a ratings draw in his own right and also deserves a lot of the credit for the strong rating that was drawn by Sanchez vs. Parisyan back in August.

UFC Fight Night is Spike TV's Lead-In of Choice, and UFN 7 Was No Exception
It becomes increasingly clear with each passing UFC Fight Night broadcast that these events are serving two purposes: One, which almost seems secondary at times in the marketing on Spike TV, is for the UFC broadcasts to draw strong ratings in and of themselves. The other purpose, from Spike's perspective, is to use these UFC events as lead-ins to whatever new show Spike is trying to push during any particular month.

While this puts the UFC in awkward positions with live fight broadcasts on nights that aren't ideal (such as Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday), it also puts the UFC in a stronger position come contract renewal time if Spike is able to launch successful new series or specials off the back of UFC broadcasts. Let's not forget, the UFC itself (in the form of The Ultimate Fighter) was launched on Spike TV with the benefit of having one of the highest-rated weekly series on cable television, WWE Raw, as its lead-in.

On the first occasion that a live UFC broadcast was used in the role of a lead-in that would heavily hype the show to follow, the premiere of Blade: The Series drew a 2.0 overall rating on Wednesday, June 28th, following a UFC Fight Night broadcast that drew a 1.4 overall rating. Not only did Blade retain the UFC's audience, but it actually increased it. The UFC did everything that it could to make Blade: The Series a success with numerous plugs on the Fight Night broadcast, and for one night, it worked exceedingly well.

Unfortunately, that's exactly how long it lasted: One night. Without the UFC as a consistent lead-in, the ratings for Blade: The Series collapsed, as it drew a 1.1 overall rating in Week 2. The entire season of Blade as a whole averaged a 1.0 overall rating, and it was subsequently cancelled by Spike TV.

The next time that a live UFC broadcast was used to help boost another show on Spike TV came on October 10th, when a live fight card headlined by Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock blew away every UFC ratings record in the book with a 3.1 overall rating. On that night, the hype was heavy for the "Scream Awards," a new awards show on Spike TV for horror and fantasy-themed entertainment. The Scream Awards drew a 0.9 overall rating, which is nothing short of disastrous for a show with a 3.1 lead-in.

Last week, UFC Fight Night 7 led into and hyped the 2006 Spike TV Video Game Awards (or VGAs), which drew a disappointing 0.5 overall rating. While there's no way to say that a 0.5 overall rating is anything short of a disappointment, the VGAs were actually less of a disaster than the Scream Awards because the VGAs had a much smaller lead-in audience from which to draw.

The Video Game Awards retained 43 percent of the UFC's overall lead-in rating, compared to the Scream Awards' 29 percent retention rate of its UFC lead-in audience. In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the VGAs retained 47 percent of the UFC lead-in audience, compared to 29 percent for the Scream Awards. Finally, in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the VGAs retained 43 percent of the UFC lead-in audience, compared to 28 percent for the Scream Awards.

As you might expect, the next edition of UFC Fight Night on Spike TV is scheduled to coincide with the launch of a major show on Spike TV. UFC Fight Night 8 on January 25, 2007 will lead into the second season premiere of the Spike TV reality series Pros vs. Joes, featuring a list of athletes that includes Randy Couture. Given that the promise of a Chuck Liddell appearance on Blade: The Series (which was basically a 30-second cameo) seemed to help Blade retain and build on the UFC's lead-in audience last June, and given the fact that Couture is actually a significant part of Pros vs. Joes Season Two, it's likely that Pros vs. Joes will do a much better job of retaining its UFC lead-in audience than either the Video Game Awards or the Scream Awards.

Head-to-Head Network Competition
Airing head-to-head with UFC Fight Night 7 on Wednesday, December 13th from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM, the first half of The Biggest Loser's season finale on NBC won the hour with a 6.6 overall rating. Two new episodes of the CBS comedy King of Queens averaged a 5.9 overall rating, while a new episode of Bones drew a 5.4 overall rating on Fox. The William Shatner-hosted Show Me the Money drew a 4.4 overall rating on ABC, continuing the show's downward trend and leading to ABC's decision to cancel the series two days later.

Airing head-to-head with the UFC in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, the final hour of NBC's Biggest Loser finale drew an 8.5 overall rating, but it was outdrawn by a new episode of the CBS drama Criminal Minds, which drew a 10.3 overall rating. Fox essentially threw in the towel on this hour by scheduling a repeat of Bones to air right after a new episode of Bones, and viewers reacted in kind, with the repeat of Bones drawing a rating of just 3.9. The biggest story of the night on network TV came in this hour as a fresh installment of the new ABC drama Day Break absolutely bombed. The show drew a 2.8 overall rating, which is the kind of rating that can lead to an immediate cancellation on network TV, and that is exactly what happened in this case. ABC announced a little more than 24 hours later than Day Break has been cancelled, effective immediately, with seven remaining episodes having been produced but not aired.

Three days prior to UFC Fight Night, the 60 Minutes segment on mixed martial arts was part of an episode of 60 Minutes that was watched by approximately 15.8 million people. This made 60 Minutes the #4 most-watched program on all of television for the week of December 4 to 10, behind only CSI, Sunday Night Football, and Deal or No Deal. A week later on December 17th, 60 Minutes' ratings were down nine percent, dropping the series from #4 to #13 on the weekly list of television's most-watched shows.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Analysis of Elite Xtreme Combat's Public Unveiling
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Elite Xtreme Combat (Elite XC) shows a lot of promise and will carry with it the prestige of being the first MMA promotion to air live fights on a premium cable network in the United States, but there is also reason for concern on a few specific points where Elite XC seems to be disconnected from reality.

First, there's this statement made by Elite XC president and longtime boxing promoter Gary Shaw at the company's press conference last week: "With Showtime and their eyeballs [television viewers], we will make real world champions."

While it's more prestigious than Spike TV due to its history of winning television industry awards, Showtime is a pay cable network with approximately 14 million subscribers, while basic cable networks like Spike TV are available in over 85 million homes.

If Elite XC is going to "make real world champions," there are a number of ways in which they could do that, but they are deluding themselves if they believe that they're going to have more "eyeballs" than the average UFC broadcast on Spike TV.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Elite XC executives are also hoping to match up their fighters against UFC fighters at some point in the future. Good intentions aside, that's another statement which is simply disconnected from reality.

Zuffa has its fighters under exclusive contracts and is going to continue to have them under exclusive contracts in the future; Zuffa is certainly not going to send fighters to its upstart competitors. It's unrealistic to think that there are ever going to be fighters competing in Elite XC while they're still under contract to the UFC.

Then there's the obligatory Frank Shamrock drama, which has gone something like this over the past few months alone: The December 8 bout against Phil Baroni was a fight that Shamrock announced without it ever actually being signed. Then it was announced that he'd be fighting Renzo Gracie in The World Fighter's debut show on January 26. Then The World Fighter went under before it had its first show.

Then Shamrock signed a contract to fight Baroni on a Strikeforce show in April, a contract which specifically states (according to Strikeforce) that he cannot fight for any other group before his next Strikeforce fight. Then he signed with Elite XC to fight Renzo Gracie on February 10 and announced it publicly, despite the existence of the Strikeforce contract. Shamrock claims that he's allowed to fight Gracie first.

Now Strikeforce has sent documents to Elite XC and Showtime "officially notifying them that there is a problem," according to Strikeforce's Mike Afromowitz in an interview with MMAWeekly's Ken Pishna.

As with any Frank Shamrock fight, one can only have a fair degree of certainty that it's going to happen when the bell rings to start the fight.

One of the most disconcerting statements at the Elite XC press conference was another one from Gary Shaw: "We want to come out with a 15-second stand-up clock, and if in the referee's judgment there's zero action, you stand them up and start again after 15 seconds." Shaw added that it will be up to the individual athletic commissions to approve that proposed change to the rules.

This should alarm MMA fans who actually want to see MMA, as opposed to something that could turn into kickboxing with takedowns and the occasional submission. This could happen in the worst-case scenario if "zero action on the ground for 15 seconds" ends up meaning "zero strikes or submission attempts for 15 seconds." It all depends on how one defines "inactivity," which is purely subjective.

Gary Shaw went on to say at the press conference, "We want electrifying fighters... we don’t want two guys to lay on the ground and... the fans turn on Showtime and they see two guys laying there. We want to give them action, and I believe that's been the success of the sport."

If "two guys laying on the ground" is what Shaw thinks of ground fighting, then Elite XC has a very serious problem. Statements like that are only going to give the impression to MMA fans that Shaw is either a boxing promoter who doesn't understand MMA, or he's doing one heck of a good impression of a boxing promoter who doesn't understand MMA.

At least one thing that Elite XC does seem to "get" is that one of the keys to success is promoting individual fighters and match-ups, as opposed to the promoters. Shaw said during the press conference, "I believe in the talent. I believe the talent should be larger than the company because that’s who people come to see.... If you ask people who promoted [Mike] Tyson versus [Lennox] Lewis, they have no clue, but two million people bought it on pay-per-view... It should be about the athletes. They’re the ones that should be the stars."

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Josh Barnett & Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Set for Pride Rematch
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Josh Barnett and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will face off at Pride Shockwave 2006 on December 31st in a rematch of their hotly contested fight from earlier this year.

The Barnett-Nogueira rematch was first reported by Tatame, and since then Nogueira has written the following in his latest column in the Brazilian newspaper Jornal dos Sports (roughly translated from Portuguese to English):

"My adversary for the next Pride event, on the 31st of December, will be the American Josh Barnett, and revenge will be mine in my last fight of the year. Shortly after [Nogueira's first fight with Barnett], I made it clear to Pride management that although I respect the judges decision, I would like a revenge match, since I didn't feel the decision being given to Barnett by 2 to 1 was just. I am motivated and focused for this fight and am certain I will put in a good performance. Barnett is a great fighter and has shown how he is dangerous on the ground. In a fight at this level, anything can happen, but I am quite confident I can beat him."

Barnett and Nogueira previously fought in the quarter-finals of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix on September 10th. After a Fight of the Year candidate with world-class submission grappling that you're rarely going to see in the heavyweight division or any other weight class, the extremely close fight went to the judges for a decision.

One of the judges gave the fight to Nogueira, while the other two judges gave it to Barnett, thus making Barnett the winner by split decision. Later that night in the Finals of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix, Mirko Cro Cop defeated Barnett by submission to become the 2006 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Champion.

Barnett is currently the #3 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, behind only Fedor Emelianenko and Cro Cop, while Nogueira is the #4 Heavyweight.

This highly anticipated rematch is set to take place at the Pride Shockwave show on December 31st. The show premieres on United States pay-per-view outlets on December 31st at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (6:00 PM Pacific Time).

The other confirmed fights on the card are Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mark Hunt, Takanori Gomi vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura, Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Gilbert Melendez, Joachim Hansen vs. Shinya Aoki, Akihiro Gono vs. Yuki Kondo, and Ikuhisa "The Punk" Minowa vs. Kiyoshi Tamura.

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 17, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Vera Attends Elite XC Press Conference, Has One Fight Left on UFC Contract
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Brandon Vera, who is widely regarded as the number one contender for a title shot in the UFC's heavyweight division, was in attendance at the press conference that was held by new MMA promotion Elite Xtreme Combat and Showtime Networks on Thursday in Hollywood, California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Vera met with Elite XC president and longtime boxing promoter Gary Shaw on Thursday. Vera told the press that he has one fight remaining on his UFC contract, and that he wants his next contract to be with "whoever wants to take care of me the best."

When asked about competition among MMA promotions in an interview with the Orange County Register, Vera said, "How long have McDonald's and Burger King been around? Yesh, hell yeah, competition is definitely good. It helps the fighters in more ways than one. It helps us get paid better. You know, we can ask for more money, we can ask for more promotional stuff. By having competition out there, it's good for everybody, I believe... [it's good for] the companies because it creates more awareness of MMA, and [it's good for] the fighters because it gives us leverage a little bit... a little bit (laughs). It doesn't give us a lot of leverage, but it gives us some."

The undefeated Vera is 4-0 in his UFC campaign, with victories over Fabiano Scherner, Justin Eilers, Assureio Silva, and Frank Mir. In his most recent fight, Vera scored an impressive TKO victory over Mir at UFC 65 last month. Vera was paid $40,000 for the fight ($20,000 for fighting and an additional $20,000 for winning).

Vera was expected to get the next shot at the title of UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, but Zuffa has a logical policy in place of not giving title shots to fighters who are not under multi-fight contracts, so Vera is not going to get a title shot unless he signs a multi-fight contract extension.

If Vera does sign an extension, then he is still very likely to be the next fighter to challenge for the UFC Heavyweight Title, assuming that the UFC is also successful in extending Sylvia's contract. If Sylvia signs a multi-fight contract extension and Vera doesn't, the next logical challenger for the title among the UFC's current crop of heavyweights would be the winner of the UFC 66 fight between Andrei Arlovski and Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz, although Sylvia and Arlovski have already fought each other three times.

The Los Angeles Times also quoted Vera's manager, Mark Dion, as saying, "If UFC wants to keep all of its fighters in house, they can, but it's people like [Elite XC], who have money and a platform like Showtime, who will compete for fighters now. This is the first time UFC is not the monopoly."

Zuffa president Dana White seemed to dismiss the talk of Vera signing with Elite XC when he said in the same Los Angeles Times article, "I've never lost a big star in my six years here."

White also said regarding Elite XC's promoters, "A couple other organizations, who had more talent, with guys who knew more, have already tried to do what these guys are, and they've failed. These guys don't know the difference between MMA and thumb wrestling."

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 15, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Buys Select Fighter Contracts as WFA Ceases Operations
by Ivan Trembow and Ken Pishna
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Zuffa announced on Monday that it has purchased what is left of the World Fighting Alliance, most significantly "select fighter contracts" and all of the WFA's trademarks and intellectual properties.

This news comes on the heels of Zuffa buying World Extreme Cagefighting, and reportedly also being in negotiations to buy Pride Fighting Championships from Dream Stage Entertainment.

While the WEC will continue to operate as a separate promotion under Zuffa's ownership, the WFA has ceased all operations and will be folded into the UFC.

In news that broke on MMAWeekly Radio last week, WFA President and CEO Jeremy Lappen is suing the owners of the WFA for breach of contract, alleging that the WFA's owners have not paid him or many of the company's other employees for quite some time.

MMAWeekly has learned that in the days since that story broke, Lappen reached a settlement with the WFA's owners. According to Lappen, “We have reached a settlement, but I cannot comment on the situation.”

Prior to the Zuffa purchase, many of the WFA's employees had already left the company and the WFA's debt was piling up, with creditors seeking payments and with some vendors from the July 22nd show still waiting for their funds to be delivered.

It is not known if any of the WFA's employees creditors who are owed money will now get paid the amounts due. Given the wording in Zuffa's press release that it has "acquired selected assets" of the WFA, it's possible that the UFC just bought the specific fighter contracts that it wanted and the WFA's trademarks, without also acquiring the company's debts.

At the time of publication, it was unclear as to whether or not all of the fighters under contract with the WFA were assignable (able to be bought by or sold to another organization). It is believed that most were; therefore, the UFC would have been able to negotiate with the WFA for the fighters that interested them and pick up their current WFA contracts.

For any WFA fighters who were no longer under binding contract to the WFA, or whose contracts the UFC specifically chose not to buy out, those fighters are now free agents who can negotiate with the UFC or any other MMA promotion.

Sources close to the situation told MMAWeekly.com that Quinton Jackson and Heath Herring are two of the fighters that are part of the deal and will soon be fighting in the UFC. Comments from UFC President and Zuffa co-owner Dana White in Zuffa's press release would seem to support that information: “Zuffa is committed to giving our fans the best fights between the best fighters in the world. This acquisition helps us continue fulfilling that goal… bringing the WFA fighters into the Zuffa family is the best thing that could happen for the fighters – and for the fans.”

A rematch between Jackson and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell has been a highly anticipated request by fans for some time, and Herring would help bolster a lacking UFC heavyweight division. Jackson was expected to be on his way to the UFC even before the UFC-WFA buy-out took place.

There could be legal complications if the UFC acquired the WFA contracts of Matt Lindland and Bas Rutten, who are also coaches in the IFL. While the WFA deals of Lindland and Rutten both allowed them to also fight and coach in the IFL, the UFC is likely not going to want to use fighters who are also coaches in the IFL, a company with which the UFC has exchanged lawsuits in the past, although those suits have since been settled.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Mirko Cro Cop Talks about Offers from UFC & Pride
by Al Yu and Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

MMAWeekly brought you the news earlier this week when Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic told a Croatian newspaper that the UFC has shown interest in signing him, and now Cro Cop has elaborated on the offers that he has received from the UFC and Pride.

In a subsequent interview with a different Croatian newspaper, Cro Cop said, "Like everybody else, I'm also available on the market. The offer from the UFC is slightly better than Pride's offer, but I haven't decided if I will change jerseys." Cro Cop went on to say that he has also received an offer from another US-based organization, which he did not name.

Cro Cop, who won Pride's 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix, also said in the same Croatian newspaper interview that money will not be the only factor that determines where he fights in the future, alluding to the fact that his decision will likely be swayed by his desire to secure a rematch with Fedor Emelianenko, who defeated Cro Cop last year at Pride's Final Conflict 2005. Cro Cop is currently the #2 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, while Fedor is the #1 Heavyweight.

As previously reported by MMAWeekly, Fedor is currently taking his fight bookings as a succession of one-fight contracts, with the next one being his December 31st fight against Mark Hunt in Pride, followed by his March fight with BodogFights. After that, numerous MMA organizations will surely be seeking Fedor's services, whether it's in the form of a one-fight contract or an exclusive long-term deal.

In addition to the aforementioned Croatian newspaper interviews, the following statement was also posted on Mirko Cro Crop's official web site:

"With MMA becoming a worldwide mainstream, more than a few promotions are trying to sign some of the best fighters in the world for their shows. Mirko's office is jammed with various offers from the world's top MMA promotions, and Cro Cop is considering everything before making his final decision. We've received tons of emails lately from Mirko's fans, with questions about Mirko's future MMA plans, so we decided to share some with you.

As we all know, Mirko's primary goal has always been winning the PRIDE Heavyweight title. After a successful Grand Prix, Cro Cop was promoted to #1 contender and promised a fight with Fedor by the end of the year or in early 2007. However, it's highly unlikely that we are going to see the rematch anytime soon. It was PRIDE's call to set up one of the most anticipated rematches in MMA history, but the Japanese organization has been unable to do it so far. Maybe it's not entirely their fault, as Fedor announced several times that he's going to fight in some other MMA organizations too, such as BodogFights.

But the bottom line is that Cro Cop likely won't have his chance to fight Fedor for the title in the next few months. With that said, it's perfectly reasonable for Mirko to consider other offers.

Of course, the most interesting offers are coming from the US, where we have a number of new and promising MMA promotions. However, the leader in the US MMA market is still the UFC and they are joining the battle for top level MMA fighters with full confidence after a few recent successful events. Over the last few days we have read about the UFC's offer to Mirko that allegedly leaked out due to someone's eagle eye from the airplane backseat. Millions of dollars were about to appear on Cro Cop's account if he agreed to fight in the UFC, according to the rumors. Well, that was nothing but the rumors, the offer from the UFC is actually in Cro Cop's hands, but the numbers are entirely different.

Is Cro Cop seriously considering making his UFC appearance? Let's say that Mirko is always open to new challenges and he is looking forward to his US debut, which will happen very soon. The question remains - under which roof?

The bottom line of the whole story is - Mirko is still hoping to fight Fedor for the title in the first half of 2007. If the rematch will never happen under PRIDE's roof, again, then Cro Cop will consider some other options. There are some other interesting challenges waiting for him in MMA, it's not all about PRIDE's Heavyweight belt."

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 11, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Buying World Extreme Cagefighting
by Ken Pishna and Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Both the Wrestling Observer and numerous independent MMAWeekly.com sources have confirmed that the Ultimate Fighting Championship has purchased, or is in the final stages of purchasing, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).

The Zuffa-owned WEC is expected to continue to hold shows under the WEC name and would use a UFC Octagon. Additionally, MMAWeekly has learned that WEC president Reed Harris and matchmaker Scott Adams are expected to remain with the company, and that the first WEC show to be produced under UFC ownership is an event tentatively planned for January 2007.

The Observer reports that the UFC is buying the WEC for many reasons, one of which is to serve as a venue in which to groom up-and-coming talent, and another is so that they can attempt to secure a high-profile national television deal for the WEC in a strategic maneuver to impede the chances of other MMA promotions (specifically the IFL or Pride) to secure a national TV deal in the United States.

There are only so many TV deals available for an MMA company in the United States. If a TV deal could be secured for the WEC, Zuffa would have the UFC on Spike TV, perhaps the UFC on HBO at some point, and the WEC on another network besides HDNet.

If the UFC were able to secure a deal for the WEC, this would leave any other MMA company with very limited options in terms of securing their own TV deals, with no possibility of signing with Spike TV, HBO (assuming that the UFC is able to secure some sort of deal with the premium network), Showtime (because of their agreement with Pro Elite, Inc.), and the network that would sign the WEC.

According to Ron Kruck, a broadcaster at WEC events and producer/host of WEC Exposed on HDNet, “We [HDNet] are in ongoing talks with the WEC about renewing their contract, but at this point, nothing has been signed.”

So, it appears that the HDNet deal is up in the air at this point and that the UFC may already be seeking a different outlet for their latest product.

There is definitely a higher priority being put on the television production of WEC events. Christian Printup of the Tachi Palace recently stated on WEC.tv that at least 50% of the WEC shows in 2007 are moving to the Tachi Palace’s new indoor venue, even though it is somewhat smaller than the outdoor venue where most WEC events have been held. His reasoning: “The new capacity is 1,450, and the [indoor] venue is better designed for a television audience... the [outdoor venue] was 1,800 capacity.”

As previously reported by MMAWeekly, Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta and president Dana White were sitting in the audience at WEC 24 on October 12th. Now, with the purchase of the WEC, it has become pretty clear why they were in attendance.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 08, 2006
Business/Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Owners Place $4.7 Billion Bid to Buy Back Station Casinos
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta, the majority owners of the UFC, are attempting to take their multi-billion-dollar Station Casinos empire private with a $4.7 billion buyout offer.

The newly-formed Fertitta Colony Partners LLC, which includes Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Colony Acquisitions LLC, has made an all-cash offer of $4.7 billion to buy Station Casinos, which equals $82 per share for all of Station Casinos' current shareholders.

Station Casinos, which has been publicly traded for 13 years, would be a privately owned company if the buy-out attempt is successful.

In addition to being the majority owners of Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC, the Fertitta brothers hold senior management positions at the company that their family founded. Frank Fertitta III is the Chairman and CEO of Station Casinos, while Lorenzo Fertitta is the Vice Chairman and President of Station Casinos.

In the first nine months of 2006, senior management at Station had already bought back nearly 13 million shares of Station Casinos stock for approximately $880 million.

The Station Casinos empire includes the $500 million Green Valley Ranch, which opened in 2001 and is a joint venture with the Greenspun family; and the new Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, which opened in April of this year and cost $925 million, according to Bloomberg News. Station Casinos also owns numerous other casinos and manages the Thunder Valley Native American Casino near Sacramento, California.

As Bloomberg News noted (albeit with some "no holds barred" hyperbole), "The Fertitta brothers also own the Ultimate Fighting Championships, a no-holds-barred martial arts competition."

The brothers can usually be seen near the Octagon during UFC fights and in the Octagon after main event fights, and they were also both sitting in the front row at Pride's United States debut show on October 21st.

As reported by Bloomberg, "Taking the company private means the Fertittas avoid investor questions about their management decisions as they build in the fast-growing Las Vegas market." Chuck Akre, the CEO of Akre Capital Management, said that the buy-out offer would give the Fertittas "greater economic gain and less public scrutiny."

Financial analysts have indicated that even more valuable than the company's current casino properties is the land that the company is currently holding for development, which is worth $997 million to $1.4 billion, according to the company's own estimates.

In an interview with Business Week, financial analyst Jeffrey B. Logsdon said that he believes the $4.7 billion bid for complete ownership of Station Casinos is a fair price. Logsdon said, "Although a bid for Station could go higher, minority shareholders would have to make a convincing argument that the company's land holdings value is higher than management's estimates."

A Forbes.com article on the $82 per share buy-out offer stated, "Analysts predicted that the deal would quickly be consummated and that the company, while recently experiencing some difficulties, will ultimately profit from a healthy Sin City economy."

According to the Associated Press, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Robert LaFleur "sees the strong insider position of the Fertittas as decreasing the odds of an outside offer [to buy Station]... while he thinks shareholders could apply pressure for higher bids, LaFleur doesn't see it going beyond the $84 to $86 per share range."

Though the buy-out is expected to be completed at some point, three lawsuits stemming from the proposed buy-out have been filed in Clark County District Court, according to In Business Las Vegas.

Station Casinos shareholders Walter and Rita Goldmann, Helen Roessler, and Charles Traynor are suing Station, Fertitta Colony Partners, Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Fertitta, and several Station board members for breach of fiduciary duty.

These shareholders are seeking to form a class-action suit and have alleged that the proposed purchase price of $4.7 billion for Station Casinos is "unfair and grossly inadequate because, among other things, the intrinsic value of Station Casinos common stock is materially in excess of the amount offered, given the company's growth and anticipated operating results, net asset value and future profitability."

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Will DSE Really Sell Pride to the UFC or WWE?
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Dream Stage Entertainment is taking part in ongoing negotiations with several different companies based in several different countries to sell Pride, according to a report in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Among the companies with which DSE has had talks are the Ultimate Fighting Championship, World Wrestling Entertainment, and multiple companies in both the United States and South Korea that were not named in the article, which further stated that the majority of the interest that has been shown in purchasing Pride has come from outside of Japan.

The crux of the Observer article is that it is necessary for DSE to eventually sell the company because while the company can continue to put on mega-shows like the December 31st show in the short term, Pride at its current level is simply not a sustainable business model over the long run without the all-important Japanese TV deal.

Fuji TV cancelled its contract and removed Pride from its network earlier this year due to company scandals, even though Pride's 2005 New Year's Eve show won the head-to-head ratings battle with the K-1 New Year's Eve show for the first time.

Fuji TV was much more than just a TV outlet for Pride, as Fuji also paid the company millions of dollars and provided it with valuable promotional exposure. Pride has been unable to secure a new TV deal with any other major network in Japan.

The DSE-owned Pride will continue to aggressively expand into the U.S. marketplace, add big-name fighters to its roster if given the opportunity, and continue to run shows in Japan. While it remains possible that a huge explosion in popularity or a Japanese TV deal could change the situation, neither of those two things are particularly likely to occur, and this would likely make it necessary for DSE to sell the company to new ownership if things don't turn around in the next year or so.

If Pride were to be purchased by World Wrestling Entertainment, it is not a stretch to say that it would be unlikely to succeed. Putting aside any fears that WWE would be tempted to fix fights, there's also the well-documented fact that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has never displayed competence in any business outside of his core business of pro wrestling, with unsuccessful business ventures in nutritional supplements (IcoPro), a bodybuilding league (WBF), the movie industry (WWE Films), reality television production (Manhunt, Tough Enough, WWE Diva Search), a professional football league (XFL), the book industry (WWE's self-published novels in which McMahon solves crimes), and yes, even promoting legitimate shoot-fights on national television (Brawl for All).

The Observer article noted that Zuffa is faced with a strategic choice. If the UFC bought Pride and inherited what the Observer referred to as Pride's "very high contracts," Zuffa would acquire lots of world-class MMA fighters, but the move would raise the UFC's salary structure and "up the ante greatly" in terms of the amount of money that the company spends on fighter contracts.

If, on the other hand, Zuffa were to sit back and take a different kind of risk by letting the situation play itself out, the ideal scenario for Zuffa would be that Pride would eventually go out of business (or whoever buys Pride would fail with it and go under), thus making all of Pride's fighters free agents.

This would enable Zuffa to pay a lot less for the fighters than they would otherwise have to, because at that point there would be a very large amount of free agent fighters and only two stable, big-money options available for those fighters (UFC and K-1), although upstarts like BodogFight have managed to lure Fedor Emelianenko away, at least for one fight.

As the Observer reported, in the latter scenario Zuffa would be able to "work at signing only the people they want with the ability to negotiate more favorable terms [for Zuffa] due to the only other option [for the fighters] being K-1, which generally doesn't pay at Pride's level." In this scenario, with Pride's entire roster as free agents, the top-level fighters would likely end up split primarily between the UFC and K-1.

In the face of all the speculation, Pride broadcaster Frank Trigg appeared on MMAWeekly Radio's SoundOff and denied outright that Pride was for sale. Trigg said, "Two major organizations offered to buy Pride and both answers were no. They were both very substantial offers." Trigg was adamant as he said, "[DSE President] Sakakibara does not want to sell Pride. Pride is not up for sale. I spoke with him earlier today. Are we trying to do cross-promotions with other people? Absolutely... [but] Pride is not up for sale."

The Observer reported in its initial article that DSE's senior management will continue to act like "everything is status quo" and will continue to tell company employees that the company is not going to be sold.

Regardless of how the situation with Pride plays out, the Observer reports that Zuffa is planning on getting "very aggressive" when it comes to signing top talent.

The only thing for certain is that in the ever-changing landscape of MMA, only time will tell.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 03, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Gracie Wins, Pele Tops Silva on Unimpressive BodogFight PPV
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The BodogFight promotion held its first pay-per-view event on Saturday night, December 2nd, and the end result was less than thrilling.

The theme of the show was "USA vs. Russia," despite the fact that the event took place in Vancouver, Canada. In addition, one of the three advertised superfights did not air (with absolutely no explanation), the USA vs. Russia series was a fairly one-sided affair in favor of Team USA, valuable minutes of PPV time were wasted on a performance by a Bodog Music group called Neurosonic, and there was a seemingly never-ending stream of truly dreadful segments involving punk rocker Bif Naked, who was met by the crowd with a mix of boos and awkward silence every single time she entered the ring.

The announcers claimed that the 5,000-seat arena was sold out, but that did not appear to be even close to true, and the crowd that was in attendance was quiet for most of the evening. On the live PPV broadcast, Fedor Emelianenko was not seen in the building, nor was the promotion's financier, gambling maven Calvin Ayre. Pride Open Weight Grand Prix finalist Josh Barnett was watching the event from the front row, and in a baffling moment, the commentators (who otherwise did a fairly good job throughout the evening) actually stated that Barnett used to be the UFC Heavyweight Champion and "chose to leave the UFC to move on to bigger and better things in Japan."

Interestingly, the post-event credits included two names that may be familiar to viewers of "ShoBox: The New Generation" on Showtime. One day after working on the ShoBox broadcast crew in California on Friday night, producer Richard Gaughn and director Rick Phillips had the same exact roles on Saturday night's Bodog broadcast. The live production of the show was respectable, with the exception being that the graphics team got the weight classes consistently wrong throughout the evening (ie, 185 pounds being "light heavyweight," 170 pounds being "welterweight," etc).

The most anticipated fight of the evening for a majority of hardcore fight fans was King of the Cage veteran Eric Pele's fight against Antonio Silva, who came into the event undefeated in his MMA career. One of the most agile 300-pound fighters that you'll find, Silva had previously dominated MMA veteran Tom Erikson via absolutely vicious ground and pound at a K-1 Hero's event in May of this year.

A buzz was building for Silva headed into the event, and he appeared to justify that buzz in the first two minutes of the fight, as he used his fast, accurate, and powerful punches and kicks to pick apart Eric Pele. All of that changed when Pele connected flush with a hook to the side of Silva's head, sending Silva crashing down to the canvas. After several unanswered blows on the ground, the referee stopped the fight, and Pele won by TKO in a huge upset.

Silva's cornermen should be ashamed of themselves for their actions after the fight, as they ran into the ring and went face-to-face with the referee, yelling in his face for stopping the fight and repeatedly saying, "He wasn't knocked out!" No, he was not knocked out, but he was also not intelligently defending himself, and the stoppage was justified.

The referee, who was just doing his job, did not deserve to have cornermen screaming in his face. As for Silva himself, he started protesting the stoppage about five or six seconds after it happened, but he still congratulated Pele on the victory afterwards. Silva still has a lot of potential, but tonight his rapid rise was at least temporarily derailed.

In the other superfight on the PPV broadcast, accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist Roger Gracie made his MMA debut against Ron Waterman, who was offered the fight after Bodog's negotiations in recent months did not result in signed contracts for Gracie to fight Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, or Don Frye.

Waterman took Gracie down and was briefly in the side mount position, but he was never able to truly test Gracie's chin with any devastating blows before Gracie maneuvered himself into the full guard and submitted Waterman from the bottom with an armbar. With an MMA record of 1-0, Gracie is just starting in his MMA career and has a long way to go, but with his phenomenal submission skills as a strong base from which to build, he has plenty of potential to be a force in MMA a few years from now.

During the PPV commercials that aired for several weeks before the event, and during the PPV countdown show, and during the first half of the live PPV broadcast, there were three advertised superfights: Gracie vs. Waterman, Silva vs. Pele, and Aaron Riley vs. Eddie Alvarez. Riley vs. Alvarez never aired on the PPV, with absolutely no explanation given to the paying customers as to why they were not going to see all of the advertised fights on the PPV.

If the company had simply run out of PPV time, one could make a strong argument that they managed time very poorly with all of the Bif Naked segments and other filler. If that were the case, it would be frustrating, but at least then there would be a logical explanation for the Riley vs. Alvarez fight not airing. In fact, the show went off the air with 30 minutes of reserved PPV time still remaining on the broadcast, which makes the decision not to air Riley vs. Alvarez all the more inexcusable.

The fight between Riley and Alvarez did take place after the PPV went off the air, with Alvarez winning via first round knockout, but you wouldn't know that if you were one of the paying customers who ordered the PPV.

If one of the goals of this event was to build up some goodwill with MMA fans and make them more likely to order the company's next PPV in March, this event likely accomplished the exact opposite.

The USA vs. Russia series was an anti-climactic affair, as Fedor was nowhere to be seen on the PPV, even though he was supposed to be "the coach of the Russian team."

When all was said and done, the Americans won six of the USA vs. Russia match-ups, and even then, one of the two victories for the Russian team came by way of a questionable split decision (Erik Oganov's victory over Keith Wisniewski).

In the eight-fight USA vs. Russia series:

-Trevor Prangley (Team USA) controlled most of his fight against Andrei Semenov (Team Russia) en route to earning a unanimous decision victory.

-Mario Rinaldi (USA) dominated Sergei Kaznovsky (Russia) and won via unanimous decision, but only after he survived a major scare in the second round. Kaznovsky landed a huge knee that opened a big cut above Rinaldi's eye and could have ended the fight, but Rinaldi recovered enough to still win the second round and the fight.

-Chael Sonnen (USA) rode out a lackluster unanimous decision victory over Alexey Oleinik (Russia). Sonnen did not connect with much offense, and even more so, Oleinik seemed content to hold on to Sonnen tightly from the bottom guard and did not attempt much in the way of offense.

-Tara Larosa (USA) was impressive as she put on a grappling clinic in her submission victory over Julia Berezekova (Russia).

-In one of the only exciting fights in the "USA vs. Russia" series, Nick Thompson (USA) and Ansar Chalangov (Russia) had a back-and-forth bout, which ended when Thompson secured a rear naked choke and Chalangov tapped out just before the horn sounded to signal the end of the first round.

-Nick Agallar (USA) appeared to be in control of Vladimir Zenin (Russia) in the stand-up position, particularly with some nasty leg kicks, until Zenin floored Agallar with a punch and then finished the fight with strikes on the ground.

-Erik Oganov (Russia) fought a lot better than his 2-5 career record would suggest as he squeaked out a split decision over Keith Wisniewski, although I honestly don't know how one of the judges had Oganov winning all three rounds.

-Michael Patt (USA) controlled most of his fight with Martin Malkhasyan (Russia) and won via split decision. The dissenting judge must have given Malkhasyan the first round, which Patt was winning until Malkhasyan scored a takedown with a minute left in the round.

Full Results

PPV Superfights
-Roger Gracie def. Ron Waterman by submission (armbar) at 3:38 of Round 1
-Eric Pele def. Antonio Silva by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 2:40 of Round 1

USA vs. Russia Fights
-Trevor Prangley (USA) def. Andrei Semenov (Russia) by unanimous decision
-Mario Rinaldi (USA) def. Sergei Kaznovsky (Russia) by unanimous decision
-Chael Sonnen (USA) def. Alexey Oleinik (Russia) by unanimous decision
-Tara Larosa (USA) def. Julia Berezekova (Russia) by submission (armbar) at 1:28 of Round 2
-Nick Thompson (USA) def. Ansar Chalangov (Russia) by submission (rear naked choke) at 4:59 of Round 1
-Vladimir Zenin (Russia) def. Nick Agallar (USA) by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 4:26 of Round 1
-Erik Oganov (Russia) def. Keith Wisniewski (USA) by split decision
-Michael Patt (USA) def. Martin Malkhasyan (Russia) by split decision

Post-PPV Fights
-Eddie Alvarez def. Aaron Riley by KO in Round 1
-Todd Gouwenberg def. Ron Faircloth by KO in Round 1

Pre-PPV Fight
-Rob Velek def. Tim Smith by TKO in Round 1