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, March 31, 2007
Pro Wrestling--- McMahon Thinks Asking Him About Steroids Scandal is "In Poor Taste"
by Ivan Trembow

In response to Vince McMahon's comment last week at a Florida press conference that it's "in poor taste" for mainstream media reporters to ask him about him about the ongoing WWE steroids scandal that Sports Illustrated broke, local reporter Todd Lewis said, "Vince, you have your employees dying prematurely due to health problems from steroid use, and you are going to lecture people about poor taste?" I've got a few more things to add.

Do you know what I think is "in poor taste," Vince?

I think that creating an environment where wrestlers feel the need to be massive, gassed-up freaks if they want to succeed in this business is "in poor taste."

I think that failing to try to fix the underlying problems that you have contributed to when so many people have died on your watch is "in poor taste."

I think that exploiting one of those wrestler's death for profit in a pro wrestling storyline for over a year is "in poor taste."

I think that having a joke of a "Wellness Policy" where wrestlers are actually allowed to take steroids and HGH just as long as they have a doctor's prescription that any famous athlete can easily obtain is "in poor taste."

I think that forcing wrestlers to work without pay for X number of days instead of having them actually get taken off the road when they fail a drug test is "in poor taste."

I think that publicly mocking Randy Orton on national television for his temporary loss of muscle mass when he temporarily got off steroids to rehab a neck injury is "in poor taste."

I think that promoting gassed-up freaks to little kids as their heroes is "in poor taste."

I think that promoting man-on-woman violence as something that is perfectly fine and even ideal if the male is in the right and the female is in the wrong is "in poor taste."

I think that continuing a pro wrestling show after a wrestler falls to his death from the rafters of the arena because the safety equipment that he was given was substandard is "in poor taste."

I think that exploiting terrorism for profit on the 4th of July, or any other day for that matter, is "in poor taste."

I think that making fun of a longtime employee's real-life cancer scare in a TV skit where you pull objects out of his ass is "in poor taste."

I think that booking yourself in segments to tongue-kiss countless female employees on national television, some of them with your wife watching from two feet away as part of the storyline, is "in poor taste."

I think that suggesting an incest storyline involving yourself and your daughter is "in poor taste."

I think that subsequently suggesting an incest storyline involving your son and your daughter after the previous idea was turned down is "in poor taste."

I could go on like this, as could anyone who knows anything about Vince McMahon.

The fact is, when most people hear the name "Vince McMahon," two of the first words that come to mind are "poor taste."


Thursday, March 29, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Diego Sanchez Failed Drug Test After UFC Fight in December
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Ultimate Fighting Championship star Diego Sanchez tested positive for marijuana after his December 13th victory over Joe Riggs and was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission.

The UFC welterweight contender and Ultimate Fighter Season One winner knocked out Riggs in the main event of UFC Fight Night 7, which took place in San Diego, California at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and aired live on Spike TV.

At some point following Sanchez' failure of the drug test, he was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for three months from the date of the fight, which means that his suspension has already expired. The CSAC also fined Sanchez $500 (his purse for the fight was $32,000).

The news of Sanchez' positive test was first reported on Thursday by Carlos Arias of the Orange County Register. In the three months following the Sanchez-Riggs fight and prior to Arias' report, the California State Athletic Commission did not announce or disclose Sanchez' drug test failure.

In addition, the UFC did not acknowledge Sanchez' drug test failure on its web site, despite the fact that the company has posted brief stories on its web site acknowledging all other drug test failures for UFC fighters since the beginning of 2006, including Thiago Alves' positive test for a banned diuretic just a few weeks after Sanchez' positive test for marijuana.

When asked why the California State Athletic Commission did not previously disclose or announce Sanchez' positive drug test, CSAC Executive Officer Armando Garcia said to MMAWeekly, "No one made any requests for public records on it." Garcia also said that the CSAC would make information about any positive drug tests in the future readily available to media outlets.

When asked why the UFC did not acknowledge Sanchez' drug test failure on its web site, as it has for all other UFC drug test failures over the past year, the UFC did not respond.

Sanchez' next scheduled fight is against Josh Koscheck at UFC 69 in Houston, Texas on April 7th. His positive drug test will not affect his availability to fight on the UFC 69 card, due to the fact that his suspension has already expired. Sanchez has a 17-0 professional record in MMA and is currently the world's #4 Welterweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings.

It is fairly uncommon for fighters in the UFC to fight more often than once every three months under normal circumstances, so a three-month suspension may or may not change any given UFC fighter's schedule in any tangible way.

The CSAC's Garcia said to MMAWeekly that a three-month suspension and $500 fine is the most common punishment for MMA fighters who test positive for marijuana in the state of California. In Nevada, the typical punishment for a positive marijuana test is a six-month suspension. Since the beginning of this year alone, there have been two MMA fighters who have tested positive for marijuana in Nevada: Pride's Nick Diaz and the WEC's Joe Pearson, neither of whom have had their NSAC disciplinary hearings as of yet.

Garcia also said that the California State Athletic Commission is planning to implement new drug testing procedures in the near future, which will include drug testing more fighters than any other state. Under the CSAC's new procedures, all fighters will be tested for recreational drugs, and approximately 25 fighters per month will be tested for steroids.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- It is now official that the owners of the UFC have purchased Pride Fighting Championships. For complete details on this huge, industry-changing deal, check out the full report from MMAWeekly's Scott Petersen on MMAWeekly.com

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Mixed Martial Arts--- Week Two of IFL on MyNetworkTV Draws 0.7 Rating
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The second episode of IFL Battleground on MyNetworkTV drew an overall rating of 0.7 on Monday, March 19th. This is down slightly from Episode One's overall rating of 0.8.

A ratings drop-off had been expected for the second episode, given the fact that the first episode was widely regarded as being so bad that it elicited an apology from IFL executives, due to its tasteless references such as, "Stay tuned because before the night is over, someone is leaving on a stretcher!"

While the overall rating dropped off from 0.8 to 0.7, the ratings were also down slightly in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic and the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic. In both of those demographics, the show's first episode drew a 0.7 rating, and the second episode drew a 0.6 rating in the same demographics

Comparisons to MyNetworkTV's Averages and Last Week's UFC Ratings
Episode Two's overall rating of 0.7 is horrible based on the usual network TV standards, but for the struggling MyNetworkTV, it's an improvement over the network's average overall rating of 0.5 on Monday nights during the February sweeps period.

In addition, IFL Battleground's Week Two rating of 0.6 in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic is still three times the network's average (0.2) in the advertiser-coveted demographic.

Two new episodes of UFC Unleashed aired on Tuesday, March 13th on Spike TV from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM. The first new episode of UFC Unleashed drew an overall rating of 0.7, and the second new episode of UFC Unleashed drew an overall rating of 1.1. The two-hour block averaged an overall rating of 0.9, which tops IFL Battleground's Week One average by 0.1 and its Week Two average by 0.2.

The Financial Aspects of the IFL's Deal with MyNetworkTV
According to the IFL's own financial documents, MyNetworkTV currently pays the IFL a rights fee of $50,000 for each new episode of IFL Battleground; plus $20,000 for each episode replay.

With 22 new episodes and 22 replays having been ordered for this season, that means MyNetworkTV is paying the IFL a total of $1,540,000 for the entire 22-episode season.

If MyNetworkTV is able to make that money back in commercial sales for IFL Battleground, it would be a win-win situation for the network.

If MyNetworkTV is not able to recoup the rights fees in commercial sales, it may or may not be considered worth it for the network to take a financial loss if the IFL can continue to boost MyNetworkTV's ratings averages and increase the network's profile in general.

To use an example on the complete opposite end of the financial spectrum, there is not a single network on television (CBS, NBC, Fox, or ESPN/ABC) that comes close to breaking even on the hundreds of millions of dollars that it costs for the rights to air NFL games, but it's still considered well worth it for those networks to broadcast NFL games because they can heavily advertise their other shows to a large audience during NFL broadcasts.

In the case of the IFL and MyNetworkTV, the ratings are a lot smaller and the rights fees are a lot lower, but the same general principle applies.

Head-to-Head Network Competition
As is always the case, MyNetworkTV came in last place in the network TV ratings on March 19th. Airing head-to-head with IFL Battleground's first hour from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM, the first half of Dancing with the Stars' season premiere on ABC drew a monster rating of 13.0. The first half of a two-hour episode of Deal or No Deal on NBC drew an 8.3 overall rating, holding up fairly well against Dancing with the Stars. Meanwhile, a new episode of Prison Break drew a 5.2 overall rating on Fox. New episodes of the CBS comedies How I Met Your Mother and The New Adventures of Old Christine drew overall ratings of 5.0 and 4.7, respectively.

Airing head-to-head with IFL Battleground's second hour from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, the viewership of both Dancing with the Stars and Deal or No Deal grew significantly as compared to their first hours. The second hour of Dancing with the Stars drew an overall rating of 14.4, while the second hour of Deal or No Deal drew a 9.2 overall rating. New episodes of the CBS comedies Two and a Half Men and Rules of Engagement drew overall ratings of 7.6 and 6.0, respectively, while a new episode of 24 on Fox drew a 7.1 overall rating.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Pride USA President Ed Fishman Files Lawsuit Against Pride Parent Company Dream Stage
by Ken Pishna and Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

As Pride FC is mired in rumors of a potential sale, Pride USA President Ed Fishman filed a lawsuit on Monday against Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE), the parent company of Pride FC, in Clark County, Nevada. According to the complaint, DSE has failed to pay monies owed to Fishman Companies, breaching a contract between the two parties.

The complaint states that "on or about April 7, 2006" Fishman Companies was contracted "to promote and market PRIDE events… for three years," and that the agreement "provides Fishman Companies with the option of renewing it for an additional two years."

As compensation, the complaint states that DSE was "to pay $200,000.00 to Fishman Companies annually for the term of the Agreement for consulting on PRIDE events world-wide," not solely in the United States. The complaint continued, "In addition, Fishman Companies is entitled to 10% of tickets sales for all PRIDE events occurring in the United States."

At this point, Fishman alleges that DSE has not compensated him for either of Pride’s two U.S. shows, which took place on October 21, 2006 and February 24, 2007, both at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pride: The Real Deal, which took place on October 21, 2006 in Las Vegas, generated $2,056,444.00 in ticket sales, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. With Fishman claiming to be entitled to 10% of that revenue, he would be owed $205,644.40.

Pride: The Second Coming, which took place on February 24, 2007 in Las Vegas, generated $2,033,098.00 in ticket sales, according to the NSAC. Fishman's 10% cut of that revenue would be $203,309.80.

The combined ticket sales for the two events was $4,089,542. If Fishman’s allegations are accurate, the amount that DSE has failed to pay him in ticket revenue is $408,954.20.

Fishman did state in the complaint that Fishman Companies was paid the initial $200,000 owed for the first year of consulting services shortly after he signed with Dream Stage, but official correspondence with DSE for either payment or an assurance of future payment for consulting services has gone unanswered.

The lawsuit states that on February 27, 2007, which was three days after Pride: The Second Coming took place in Las Vegas, Fishman's representatives sent a letter to Dream Stage that served as a "formal written demand" for Fishman's cut of the revenue from the Pride event that had taken place on February 24, 2007, though the lawsuit mistakenly lists the event as having taken place on February 24, 2006.

This correspondence from Fishman's representatives to Dream Stage demanded that Fishman receive his 10% cut of the revenue for the February 24th event no later than March 7, 2007. Also on or before that same date, Fishman wanted a written and formal assurance from Dream Stage that he would be receiving his second annual consultant's payment of $200,000 as scheduled on or before April 7, 2007.

According to the lawsuit, Fishman still hasn't received a reply to his February 27, 2007 correspondence. He has allegedly not received any of the ticket revenue from either of Pride's two U.S. events, nor has he heard anything from DSE about the $200,000 annual payment that is due on or before April 7, 2007.

Fishman Companies is seeking a judgment for damages in an amount in excess of $10,000, an award of reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees, pre and post judgment interest, and any additional relief the Court deems just and proper on the evidence presented at trial.

Though the complaint does not specify the exact amount of relief that Fishman is seeking, sources close to Fishman have made it known that in addition to seeking the amount of money that Fishman would be owed for consulting services over the remaining four-year life of the contract ($800,000), and in addition to seeking his share of the ticket sales for Pride’s two U.S. shows ($408,954.20), Fishman Companies is also seeking revenue for future shows that, as allegedly presented to Fishman by DSE, would have netted Fishman Companies at least $9 million over the five-year term of the contract. Dream Stage would have had to generate $90 million in ticket sales over a five-year period in order for Fishman's 10% cut to reach $9 million.

So, in total, Fishman is seeking somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million, which sources say is based on a business plan and the lower-end of projections used by DSE officials in their attempts to recruit Fishman and to use his already established marketing acumen in the entertainment and gaming industries to help establish Pride in the U.S. market.

It is interesting to note that in addition to DSE, Fishman’s suit also indicates a number of Doe Defendants, or defendants whose identities are not currently known. The lawsuit states, "The true names and capacities of those individuals and entities, corporate or otherwise, are unknown to Fishman Companies at this time." Fishman's lawsuit says that these defendants will be named at a later date, once their "true names and capacities have been ascertained."

These unknown individuals and entities are alleged by Fishman to have "conspired in some manner with Defendants [ie, Dream Stage] and/or each other." The lawsuit also states that these unknown parties are "responsible in some manner for the events and occurrences alleged in the pleading" and that Fishman's financial damages were "proximately caused by their conduct."

The lawsuit makes no mention of the fact that a third Pride USA show had been scheduled for April 28, 2007 and was cancelled after the February 24th event. The lawsuit also makes no mention of Fishman's publicly stated hope to purchase Pride from Dream Stage, including his comments such as "once I fully acquire Pride FC" in the days before the February 24th Pride event.

At this point, no court dates have been set, but we will continue to keep you updated on this story as events unfold.

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Friday, March 23, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Fighters Pass Drug Tests; Plus the Recent History of MMA Drug Testing
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The drug test results have come back from UFC 68, and all of the fighters who were tested at the event tested negative for banned substances.

The Ohio Athletic Commission tested for steroids and recreational drugs at the event in Columbus, Ohio on March 3rd, although only four of the eighteen fighters on the card were tested.

The four fighters who were drug tested were Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Jon Fitch, and Luigi Fioravanti. All of those fighters' urine samples came back negative for all banned substances. The remaining fourteen fighters on the card were not drug tested.

This marks the second consecutive UFC event on which none of the fighters failed their drug tests. At UFC 67, which took place in Las Vegas on February 3rd, eight of the eighteen fighters on the card were drug tested and all of them passed their tests. Those eight fighters were Anderson Silva, Travis Lutter, Mirko Cro Cop, Eddie Sanchez, Quinton Jackson, Marvin Eastman, Ryoto Machida, and Sam Hoger.

At UFC 66, which took place in Las Vegas on December 30th, six of the eighteen fighters on the card were drug tested. Five of those fighters passed their drug tests: Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Keith Jardine, Forrest Griffin, and Tony DeSouza. However, the banned diuretic Spironolactone was detected in the urine sample of the sixth fighter who was tested, Thiago Alves, and Alves was suspended for eight months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Prior to Alves' failed drug test, the last time that a UFC fighter had tested positive for banned substances was when Stephan Bonnar tested positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone at UFC 62 on August 26, 2006. Bonnar was suspended for nine months by the NSAC.

Drug testing is the responsibility of the state athletic commissions, not the responsibility of the UFC, Pride, or any other specific MMA promotion. However, in the cases of big promotions like Zuffa or Dream Stage Entertainment, they could easily afford to pay for every fighter to be drug tested on every card with the revenue generated from less than 100 tickets sold.

At Pride's first event in the United States, which took place in Las Vegas on October 21st of last year, ten of the sixteen fighters on the card were drug tested. The fighters who were drug tested and passed their tests were Fedor Emelianenko, Mark Coleman, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson, Phil Baroni, and Yosuke Nishijima. However, three fighters on the card failed their drug tests: Vitor Belfort, Pawel Nastula, and Kevin Randleman.

Belfort tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-hydroxytestosterone and was suspended for nine months by the NSAC. Nastula tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and also for the banned stimulants phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine; Nastula was suspended by the NSAC for nine months.

Randleman admitted to submitting a fake urine sample due to the large amount of painkillers and antibiotics that he was taking at the time, as well as the fact that he had a potentially life-threatening lung infection. At a discplinary hearing last month, the NSAC revoked Randleman's license as a fighter. In addition to passing a drug test, Randleman will have to personally appear in front of the NSAC and provide medical evidence that he is completely healthy before he can fight again, and he is not eligible to do so until at least October 2007.

At Pride's second event in the United States, which took place in Las Vegas on February 24th, ten of the eighteen fighters on the card were drug tested. The fighters who were drug tested and passed their tests were Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Takanori Gomi, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Joachim Hansen, and Jason Ireland. However, Nick Diaz tested positive for marijuana. Diaz has not yet had his Nevada State Athletic Commission disciplinary hearing.

At the first Zuffa-owned WEC event in Las Vegas on January 20th, six of the eighteen fighters on the card were drug tested: Urijah Faber, Joe Pearson, Rob McCullough, Kit Cope, Rich Crunkilton, and Mike Joy. Faber, McCullough, Crunkilton, and Joy passed all of their drug tests. However, Cope tested positive for the illegal anabolic steroid Boldenone, and Pearson tested positive for the active ingredient in marijuana. Cope and Pearson have not yet had their NSAC disciplinary hearings.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 68 Breaks Total Attendance Record for North American MMA
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The final attendance figures for UFC 68 have come in from the Ohio Athletic Commission, and the event has officially broken the all-time total attendance record for a mixed martial arts event in North America.

The total number of fans in attendance at UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio on March 3rd was 19,079. The previous record for an MMA event in North America was set by the Strikeforce promotion, which drew a total of 18,265 fans at a show in San Jose, California on March 10, 2006.

The paid attendance for UFC 68 was 17,358. This falls just short of Strikeforce's paid attendance record for an MMA event in North America, which still stands at 17,465 for its March 10, 2006 event in San Jose.

The initially announced figure of $3,014,520 for UFC 68's live gate revenue was not correct, as the final live gate figure for the event was actually $2,741,820.

This is almost identical to the live gate total for UFC 67 ($2,767,130), despite the fact that UFC 67's paid attendance of 8,700 was much smaller than UFC 68's paid attendance. The reason for this disparity is that UFC 68 had much cheaper ticket prices than most of the UFC's Las Vegas events. The average price per ticket sold for UFC 67 was $318, while the average price per ticket sold for UFC 68 was $158.

UFC 68 out-drew the Pride event that took place one week earlier at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC 68 came out on top in total attendance (19,079 to 12,911), paid attendance (17,358 to 8,334), and live gate revenue ($2,741,820 to $2,033,098).

Comparisons to Previous UFC Records and Worldwide MMA Records
The previous record for total attendance at a UFC event was set by UFC 60, which was attended by a total of 14,765 fans in Los Angeles, California on May 27, 2006. The UFC's web site still claims that UFC 59 drew over 17,000 fans in Anaheim, California on April 15, 2006, but the building capacity for that sold-out show was actually 13,814.

The new record of 19,079 in total attendance is strictly for North American MMA events and does not apply to Japanese MMA events. Pride has sold out the Saitama Super Arena numerous times, and with Pride's seating configuration, the arena can hold approximately 35,000 fans (though the attendance is usually announced as being over 45,000).

However, Pride has never drawn anywhere near as much pay-per-view revenue as the UFC, which generated $222,766,000 in pay-per-view revenue in 2006 alone.

The worldwide total attendance record for an MMA event was set at Tokyo Outdoor Stadium on August 28, 2002, as a Pride and K-1 co-production drew over 70,000 fans (though it was announced as being 91,107).

Compared to WWE's biggest pro wrestling event in the United States over the past twelve months (WrestleMania 22 in Chicago, Illinois on April 2, 2006), UFC 68 out-drew WrestleMania in total attendance (19,079 to 17,155) and in live gate revenue ($2,741,820 to $2,500,000).

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Monday, March 19, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- IFL's Debut on MyNetworkTV Draws 0.8 Rating
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The two-hour debut of IFL Battleground on MyNetworkTV drew an overall rating of 0.8 on March 12th. This falls far short of the ratings that the UFC has consistently drawn on Spike TV, but at the same time it's also considered a strong rating for MyNetworkTV.

Since its debut as a broadcast network last fall, MyNetworkTV has severely struggled in the ratings, with an average primetime rating of 0.7 overall. On Monday nights during February sweeps, the network averaged a 0.5 overall rating.

The IFL's overall rating of 0.8 is enough to bring MyNetworkTV's averages up slightly if it's maintained over time, but not by a huge margin.

Ratings in Young Adult Male Demographic are Lone Bright Spot
What the IFL will change for MyNetworkTV is the number of young adult males who are watching the network, and this is the primary reason that MyNetworkTV signed the IFL in the first place. Through all of its ratings struggles, the biggest one of all that has faced MyNetworkTV is the struggle to garner viewership in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-34-year-old male demographic.

The premiere of IFL Battleground drew a 0.7 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which is a 250 percent increase over MyNetworkTV's average rating of 0.2 in this demographic. It was also the highest rating drawn by any show in MyNetworkTV's history in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic.

IFL's Ratings Nowhere Near UFC's Ratings
Compared to the UFC's averages for the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter, the premiere of IFL Battleground fell short, as TUF 4 averaged a 1.1 overall rating and IFL Battleground drew an overall rating of 0.8. IFL Battleground also fell short of TUF 4 in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic (0.7 to 2.0), and in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic (0.7 to 1.6).

Compared to the UFC's most recent live fight special on Spike TV (the January 25th broadcast of UFC Fight Night), the premiere of IFL Battleground fell short in overall rating (0.8 to 1.7), 18-to-34-year-old males (0.7 to 2.3), and 18-to-49-year-old males (0.7 to 2.0).

Compared to the UFC's viewership level the very first time that it aired on Spike TV (with the series premiere of The Ultimate Fighter on January 17, 2005), IFL Battleground fell short in overall rating (0.8 to 1.4), 18-to-34-year-old males (0.8 to 1.5), and 18-to-49-year-old males (0.8 to 1.5).

IFL's Long-Term Viability on MyNetworkTV
As with any TV show, the key for IFL Battleground will be how it maintains its ratings over time. It's very apparent from the feedback that the majority of hardcore MMA fans did not like the show, to put it mildly. If a significant percentage of the non-MMA fans who were seeing MMA for the first time felt the same way, there could be a significant drop-off in the ratings for Episode Two.

If, on the other hand, the IFL can maintain a high level of viewership among young adult males, MyNetworkTV would likely be happy to keep IFL programming on its airwaves for a long time to come, as the show would be considerably increasing the network's average in this demographic.

Head-to-Head Network TV Competition
MyNetworkTV came in a distant last place in the network TV ratings on March 12th, just as the struggling network has every single night since its launch on September 5, 2006.

Airing head-to-head with the first hour of IFL Battleground, the first half of a two-hour episode of "Deal or No Deal" on NBC drew a 9.8 overall rating; a repeat of the Fox drama "House" drew a 6.3 overall rating; two new episodes of the CBS comedy "The New Adventures of Old Christine" drew overall ratings of 5.2 and 5.5, respectively; and a repeat of the ABC reality series "Wife Swap" drew a 4.5 overall rating.

Airing head-to-head with the second hour of IFL Battleground, the second half of NBC's two-hour "Deal or No Deal" drew a 10.5 overall rating, outgunning a new episode of the Fox drama "24," which drew an overall rating of 7.6. A repeat of the most-watched comedy on television, CBS' "Two and a Half Men," drew an 8.0 overall rating at 9:00 PM, while a new episode of the CBS comedy "Rules of Engagement" drew a 7.4 overall rating at 9:30 PM. The season finale of the reality series "Supernanny" drew a 5.1 overall rating on ABC.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 70 to Air on Spike TV Instead of Pay-Per-View or HBO
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

With a star-studded line-up that includes top ten heavyweights Mirko Cro Cop, Andrei Arlovski, and Fabricio Werdum, the UFC's April 21st show in the United Kingdom is an event that many fans in the United States would have gladly bought on pay-per-view. Instead, due to an unforeseen chain of events, U.S. audiences will be able to watch the event for free on Spike TV.

The news, which was previously listed on MMAWeekly's Rumors page for UFC 70, has now been officially confirmed by the UFC.

Dana White, the president of UFC parent company Zuffa, previously said that UFC 70 was Zuffa's target date for the company's first show on HBO. Privately, negotiations have been ongoing between Zuffa and HBO, but a number of sticking points have kept the two sides from reaching an agreement in time for UFC 70 to air on HBO.

Zuffa could not air UFC 70 on HBO without having an HBO deal, and Zuffa also could not air UFC 70 on pay-per-view because all of the PPV advertising deadlines for an April 21st event have long since passed.

This sequence of events left Spike TV as the only logical option as the U.S. home for UFC 70. Spike TV was interested in broadcasting UFC 70 due to the strong ratings that it is sure to draw, and Zuffa was interested in airing the event on Spike TV not only because there wasn't much of a choice, but also because it will build some goodwill with fans.

Instead of airing live, the event will air in the United States on a tape delay and will begin airing on Saturday, April 21st at 9:00 PM (Eastern Time/Pacific Time).

The six-figure cost of broadcasting live in the United States from an event in Europe was ultimately deemed to not be worth the expense, particularly since the ratings are likely to be higher in primetime. Most UFC fans in the U.S. will not be aware that the event is taking place on Saturday afternoon.

The event could have aired live on Spike TV on Saturday afternoon and re-aired on Saturday evening in primetime (as is the case when HBO Boxing broadcasts an event from Europe), but instead it will air only in primetime.

The top four fights on the card are Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (with the winner fighting Randy Couture this summer), Andrei Arlovski vs. Fabricio Werdum, Ryoto Machida vs. David Heath, and Michael Bisping vs. Elvis Sinosic. All of those fights look excellent on paper, with the exception of the Bisping bout, as Sinosic has an MMA record of 8-9-2.

If there is a fifth fight on the live Spike TV broadcast, it would likely be Cheick Kongo's fight with Assuerio Silva. The complete line-up as it currently stands is listed at the end of this article.

Zuffa could have booked a United States pay-per-view date for UFC 70 while privately hoping to have reached a deal in time for the event to potentially air on HBO, as was the case with UFC 69. The fact that Zuffa never did book a U.S. PPV date for UFC 70 demonstrates how confident the company was that an HBO deal would be reached by this point.

Now, without a PPV date booked for UFC 70 and without an HBO deal in place, UFC 70 is set to air on Spike TV.

As a result, HBO has lost out on an event that would have likely garnered more interest than many of the lopsided boxing offerings that have aired on HBO recently, and Zuffa has lost out on millions of dollars in PPV revenue. The winner in this unusual chain of events is clearly the fans, who will be able to watch a PPV-quality event for free on Spike TV.

As for why Zuffa wasn't able to reach a deal with HBO in time for UFC 70 to be the company's first event on HBO, there have been a number of snags in the negotiations between the two sides.

Zuffa president Dana White has said consistently over the past eleven months that the UFC would be on HBO "very soon." However, while HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg has publicly said things like, "We're still measuring it, looking at it, and getting comfortable with the UFC" (which he recently said in an interview with trade journal MultiChannel News), Greenburg is said to be strongly against the UFC deal behind the scenes.

Acclaimed boxing writer Thomas Hauser wrote in an article on the Seconds Out web site in January that Greenburg had "opposed the UFC deal as vigorously as possible" and was doing "everything in his power not to televise mixed martial arts." In the same article, former HBO Sports president Seth Abraham actually compared MMA to "naked boxing." Abraham said that MMA would tarnish HBO's boxing heritage, a view that is shared by many people who still work at HBO Sports.

In an unprecedented move, HBO Chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht actually veto'd HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg and insisted that HBO would air MMA programming at some point, leaving Greenburg only to negotiate the details of such a deal. According to Hauser, this move "represented a marked shift in HBO's corporate culture... in the past, an HBO chief executive officer would not have ordered sports programming over the objection of the sports department."

Left only to come to terms on the details, some of the key disagreements between Zuffa and HBO Sports have been whose production crew will film the event, whose announcers will commentate on the event, and how those announcers will go about commentating on the event.

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer recently summarized the dispute as follows: "HBO wants full control of the product, and to use its crew and its announcers and cover it like a network broadcast team would cover a major sporting event. UFC doesn't want to give up its control of the product, wants its own crew to film it, and wants to use its own announcers, who are closer to pro wrestling announcers whose role is to build up the product as opposed to providing detached, objective commentary."

UFC 70 Line-Up
-Mirko Cro Cop (#2 Heavyweight in the World)* vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
-Andrei Arlovski (#7 Heavyweight in the World)* vs. Fabricio Werdum (#8 Heavyweight in the World)*
-Ryoto Machida vs. David Heath
-Michael Bisping vs. Elvis Sinosic
-Assuerio Silva vs. Cheick Kongo
-Dennis Siver vs. Jess Liaudin
-Alessio Sakara vs. Victor Valimaki
-Terry Etim vs. Matt Grice
-David Lee vs. TBA

* Based on MMAWeekly Rankings

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Thursday, March 15, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Inside the UFC Goes on Hiatus
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The UFC newsmagazine-style series Inside the UFC has been put on hiatus and currently has no return date planned. The last planned episode of the series aired on March 1st and was officially referred to as the "season finale."

A Spike TV spokesperson tells MMAWeekly, "Inside the UFC will be going on hiatus, as we have new originals Bullrun and TUF 5 coming up."

While part of the reason for Inside the UFC going on hiatus was because of two original series that are set to debut in March and April, that couldn't have been the entire reason. Bullrun is going to air on Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM, while The Ultimate Fighter 5 will air on Thursday nights at 10:00 PM. Neither of those timeslots conflict with Inside the UFC's regular timeslot of Thursday nights at midnight, nor does the scheduled weekly replay of Bullrun on Thursday nights at 11:00 PM, nor does

A significant factor that may have contributed to the decision to put Inside the UFC on hiatus was the show's diminishing ratings. While the show did an excellent job of hyping the UFC's pay-per-view events, it also faltered in the ratings.

Inside the UFC started off with ratings that were considered strong for a midnight show, as it averaged a 0.6 overall rating in its first five weeks. However, starting at the beginning of January, the show no longer had repeats of UFC Unleashed and other UFC programming as its lead-in, and instead it had Afro Samurai and Wild World of Spike as its lead-in.

Inside the UFC's ratings promptly collapsed without UFC programming as a lead-in, with the next four episodes all drawing overall ratings in the range of 0.3 to 0.4. The low point came on February 1st, when the show drew a 0.2 overall rating. The show didn't get much help from its lead-in, Wild World of Spike, which drew a 0.3 overall rating on February 1st.

During the UFC 67 pay-per-view on February 3rd, it was mentioned on multiple occasions that Inside the UFC would have a special start time of 11:00 PM "for the next two weeks."

Spike TV moved the debut airings of Inside the UFC from midnight to 11:00 PM starting with the February 8th episode, in part to see if the show would perform better in the earlier timeslot and with a much stronger lead-in (Pros vs. Joes).

While the ratings did increase for the two episodes that debuted at 11:00 PM, those episodes still averaged a mere 0.4 overall rating. For the purposes of comparison, the pro wrestling show TNA Impact averaged a 0.8 overall rating in the same timeslot of Thursdays at 11:00 PM on Spike TV.

Given the fact that repeats of UFC Unleashed consistently draw ratings in the range of 0.7 to 1.0 no matter how many times they have aired in the past and no matter what kind of lead-in they have, it wouldn't make much sense to produce a 30-minute original series every week if it was only going to average a 0.4 rating.

Inside the UFC did not air on February 22nd. A repeat of UFC Unleashed aired instead, and sure enough, it drew a 0.9 overall rating for an episode that has aired numerous times in the past.

When asked about a possible return date for Inside the UFC, a Spike TV spokesperson said, "Inside the UFC is currently in hiatus, so I don't have a target date."

The series is expected to return eventually, but not anytime in the immediate future.

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Monday, March 12, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 68 Fighter Salaries & UFC Fight Night 8 Fighter Salaries
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

MMAWeekly has obtained the fighter salary information for UFC 68, which took place on Saturday, March 3rd in Columbus, Ohio.

The following figures are based on the fighter salary information that the UFC is required by law to submit to the state athletic commissions, including the winners' bonuses.

Although MMA fighters do not have collective bargaining or a union, the fighters' salaries are still public record, just as with every other major sport in the United States. Any undisclosed bonuses that the UFC also pays its fighters, but does not disclose to the athletic commissions (specifically, PPV bonuses for PPV main event fighters), are not included in the figures below. Also not reflected below are the taxes that the fighters have to pay.

Following the fighter salaries for UFC 68 are the fighter salaries for UFC Fight Night 8, which took place on January 25 in Hollywood, Florida.

In the listings below, "Title Match & Main Event Fighters" are defined as fighters who compete in the main event of a show and/or compete in a title fight on a show. "Main Card Fighters" are defined as fighters whose fights appear on the main card, but not in title fights or in the main event. "Preliminary Match Fighters" are defined as fighters whose matches take place before the live broadcast goes on the air, regardless of whether or not those matches end up airing on the PPV broadcast.

In addition, next to each fighter's name is the number of UFC fights that he has had, not counting fights that took place during Ultimate Fighter seasons because those fights are officially classified as exhibitions.

UFC 68 Fighter Salaries
Event took place on March 3, 2007

Title Match & Main Event Fighters
-Randy Couture: $250,000 (17th fight in UFC; defeated Tim Sylvia)
-Tim Sylvia: $100,000 (11th fight in UFC; lost to Randy Couture)

Main Card Fighters
-Matt Hughes: $150,000 (18th fight in UFC; defeated Chris Lytle)
-Rich Franklin: $42,000 (9th fight in UFC; defeated Jason MacDonald)
-Renato "Babalu" Sobral: $21,000 (9th fight in UFC; lost to Jason Lambert)
-Martin Kampmann: $20,000 (3rd fight in UFC; defeated Drew McFedries)
-Jason Lambert: $18,000 (5th fight in UFC; defeated Renato "Babalu" Sobral)
-Jason MacDonald: $14,000 (3rd fight in UFC; lost to Rich Franklin)
-Chris Lytle: $10,000 (8th fight in UFC; lost to Matt Hughes)
-Drew McFedries: $5,000 (2nd fight in UFC; lost to Martin Kampmann)

Preliminary Match Fighters
-Jon Fitch: $28,000 (5th fight in UFC; defeated Luigi Fioravanti)
-Matt Hamill: $10,000 (3rd fight in UFC; defeated Rex Holman)
-Luigi Fioravanti: $8,000 (4th fight in UFC; lost to Jon Fitch)
-Jamie Varner: $6,000 (2nd fight in UFC; defeated Jason Gilliam)
-Gleison Tibau: $6,000 (2nd fight in UFC; defeated Jason Dent)
-Rex Holman: $3,000 (1st fight in UFC; lost to Matt Hamill)
-Jason Gilliam: $3,000 (1st fight in UFC; lost to Jamie Varner)
-Jason Dent: $3,000 (2nd fight in UFC; lost to Gleison Tibau)
Disclosed Fighter Payroll: $697,000

UFC Fight Night 8 Fighter Salaries
Event took place on January 25, 2007

Main Event Fighters
-Rashad Evans: $24,000 (5th fight in UFC; defeated Sean Salmon)
-Sean Salmon: $3,000 (1st fight in UFC; lost to Rashad Evans)

Main Card Fighters
-Heath Herring: $60,000 (1st fight in UFC; lost to Jake O'Brien)
-Hermes Franca: $24,000 (7th fight in UFC; defeated Spencer Fisher)
-Jake O'Brien: $18,000 (3rd fight in UFC; defeated Heath Herring)
-Spencer Fisher: $13,000 (6th fight in UFC; lost to Hermes Franca)

Preliminary Match Fighters
-Nathan Marquardt: $44,000 (4th fight in UFC; defeated Dean Lister)
-Ed Herman: $24,000 (3rd fight in UFC; defeated Chris Price)
-Din Thomas: $24,000 (6th fight in UFC; defeated Clay Guida)
-Rich Clementi: $20,000 (3rd fight in UFC; defeated Ross Pointon)
-Josh Burkman: $14,000 (5th fight in UFC; defeated Chad Reiner)
-Dean Lister: $11,000 (3rd fight in UFC; lost to Nathan Marquardt)
-Chris Price: $7,000 (2nd fight in UFC; lost to Ed Herman)
-Ross Pointon: $5,000 (2nd fight in UFC; lost to Rich Clementi)
-Clay Guida: $5,000 (2nd fight in UFC; lost to Din Thomas)
-Chad Reiner: $3,000 (1st fight in UFC; lost to Josh Burkman)
Disclosed Fighter Payroll: $299,000

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Saturday, March 10, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Tito Ortiz vs. UFC President (and now Professional Boxer) Dana White Sanctioned in Nevada
by Ken Pishna and Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, officially received his professional boxing license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Monday morning.

White was attemping to acquire such a license in order to fulfill a contractual promise that he made to professional MMA fighter Tito Ortiz when Ortiz re-signed with the UFC in 2006.

With the license in hand, White is now cleared to face Ortiz in an exhibition boxing match that will consist of three rounds of three minutes each. All of the standard ringside precautions will be taken, and the bout will take place under the auspices of a professional boxing referee, although there will be no judges or scoring of rounds due to the bout's exhibition status.

The bout is scheduled to take place on March 24th and will not be open to the public. There are plans to air the bout on UFC.com (though not live), with the majority of the financial proceeds going to charity. There will also be a documentary about Ortiz and White's training for the bout on Spike TV.

White received his license following a 3-1 vote by the NSAC to approve him. The lone dissenting vote was from Dr. Raymond “Skip” Avansino, Jr. who after much discussion said that he could not justify granting a license to an 0-0 professional boxer to face a fighter with as much experience as Tito Ortiz, albeit as a mixed martial artist and not as a professional boxer.

At one point, White did say that he was doing this because he wanted to live up to the word that he gave when he promised the bout to Ortiz. Reassuring the commission, he said, “Believe me, if I thought I was going to get seriously injured… I wouldn’t do it.”

UFC Chief Operating Officer Kirk Hendrick also spoke on behalf of White, saying that he really has been training for this and is taking it seriously. “This is not WWE wrestling. This is not Vince McMahon getting in the ring. We’re taking this seriously,” said Hendrick, addressing another concern of Avansino’s that this was some sort of “publicity event.”

At one point, when Dr. Avansino was saying that he couldn't justify voting in favor of granting White a license to fight Ortiz because he felt it was a mismatch in favor of Ortiz, Hendrick said that if anything it would be a mismatch in favor of White. Hendrick said to the athletic commission that White used to "dominate" Ortiz when they would spar together.

White was an amateur boxer from the ages of 17 to 24 (which would be 1988 to 1995) before turning to managing fighters and then to his current position as president of Zuffa, which is now the most successful mixed martial arts company in the United States, if not the world.

In the end, the argument for the bout to take place won out, and the 3-1 vote was cast in favor of newly licensed professional boxer Dana White.

White said towards the end of the meeting, "Believe me, I'm never going to fight again after this."

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Nick Diaz Fails Drug Test at Pride 33: The Second Coming
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Nick Diaz has failed the drug test that he took shortly before his win over Takanori Gomi at Pride 33: The Second Coming. Diaz tested positive for marijuana, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Diaz will have an opportunity to defend himself at a Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing in the future.

The typical punishment for MMA fighters or boxers who test positive for marijuana in the state of Nevada has been a six-month suspension, with the most recent example being professional boxer Mikhail Lyubarsky, who was suspended for six months at his NSAC disciplinary hearing just this morning.

Diaz defeated Takanori Gomi by submission at Pride 33: The Second Coming in a huge upset.

In addition to being under contract to Pride, Diaz was also under contract with the Showtime-backed EliteXC to fight on a future EliteXC card. It is not yet known how or if Diaz' positive test will affect his status with Pride or EliteXC.

Diaz Was Hesitant to Take Drug Test
MMAWeekly spoke with NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer about Diaz's failed drug test, and Kizer noted that Diaz was initially hesitant when he was asked to give a urine sample.

Kizer said, "It was interesting because when the inspectors went to take the urine sample before his fight, Mr. Diaz said no at first. He wanted to give the sample in a stall. The sample has to be given in front of an inspector, and he wouldn't do it. Well, we've played that game with Mr. Randleman, so we weren't going to have that, but he refused to do it. So I said, 'That's fine, no problem, but you're not going to be fighting, of course. If you're not going to take the drug test, that's fine, but you're not fighting tonight.'"

Kizer continued, "So I talked to Turi [Altavilla] at Pride and then he apparently talked to Nick, and then he was more than happy to give us a sample. The fight would have been called off otherwise. I don't know if his hesitance to take a drug test has anything to do with his positive drug test and whether there's any correlation there, but it's definitely a factor that I will be bringing up with the commissioners. Mr. Diaz was the only fighter [on the Pride 33 card] who showed any hesitance in taking a drug test."

Fight Result May or May Not Be Changed to "No Contest"
The official policy of the NSAC used to be that the result of a fight would stay the same, no matter what banned substances were found in the winning fighter's system, but that policy has changed in recent years.

Now, if a fighter wins a bout and tests positive for steroids, stimulants, or other performance-enhancing drugs, the official result is changed to a no-contest.

Whether or not that will apply to marijuana as well remains to be seen. When asked specifically about the official result of the Diaz-Gomi fight, Kizer told MMAWeekly that the issue will have to be decided by the commissioners. He added that all of the factors will be considered before it's decided whether the official result of the fight should be changed to "no contest" or whether it should stay the same (Diaz wins by submission).

Regarding the subject of marijuana use among mixed martial artists in general, Kizer said to MMAWeekly last month, "The main issue with marijuana is it slows the reflexes, putting the fighter at much greater risk. We would not let a fighter compete who is coming off arm surgery and has not fully recovered his reflexes, or who is under the influence of alcohol because of the same issue. Additionally, it may also deaden some pain. That could hurt the fighter... he may not tap out when he should and he suffers broken bones or torn ligaments as a result... or that could unfairly help him if he can trade punches more easily with his opponent."

Potential Disciplinary Suspension a Moot Point?
Due to the fact that Diaz suffered a broken orbital bone during the fight against Gomi and had already been medically suspended by the NSAC for six months, any potential disciplinary suspension for marijuana could end up being a moot point, depending on the length of the disciplinary suspension.

If Diaz were to be given a six-month disciplinary suspension that coincided with his six-month medical suspension, the disciplinary suspension would essentially be a moot point because he wasn't going to be fighting for six months anyway. The fighter in that case has actually lost zero days when they "could have fought" but weren't allowed to fight because they were being punished.

In other states such as New Jersey, if a fighter is medically suspended and also fails a drug test, the fighter's disciplinary suspension begins on the day that his or her medical suspension ends.

This is not currently the case in Nevada. When asked if the NSAC plans to change its policy on this matter in the future, Kizer said that it's up to the commissioners, but he added, "Any drug violation occurs before any injury, so I am not sure if you should punish a fighter more because of his injuries."

Nine Other Pride Fighters Pass Drug Tests
All of the other fighters who were drug tested at Pride 33: The Second Coming tested negative for all banned substances, including steroids, stimulants, and recreational drugs.

The ten fighters that the Nevada State Athletic Commission chose to test following their respective fights at Pride 33 on February 24th were Nick Diaz, Takanori Gomi, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Joachim Hansen, and Jason Ireland. The remaining eight fighters on the card were not drug tested.

At Pride's first event in the United States last October, three of the ten fighters who were drug tested failed their tests (Vitor Belfort, Kevin Randleman, and Pawel Nastula).

According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the total cost of drug testing one fighter for performance-enhancing drugs, stimulants, recreational drugs, and all other banned substances is $278.40.

The NSAC spent a total of $2,784 on drug testing for Pride 33: The Second Coming, while the total cost of drug testing every single fighter on the card would have been $4,454. The event drew $2,033,098 in ticket sales.

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Monday, March 05, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC's Relationship with HBO Continues to Evolve
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

An article by the Associated Press has addressed the issue of the UFC's relationship with HBO Sports, and the Wrestling Observer recently reported on some of the points of contention between the two companies as well.

Zuffa has been in negotiations to air UFC programming on HBO for quite some time. Any potential deal with HBO would not conflict with Zuffa's Spike TV deal. Zuffa's deal with Spike TV is an exclusive basic cable deal, but Spike's exclusivity does not cover premium cable (like HBO and Showtime) or broadcast television (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, MyNetworkTV, and The CW Network).

The Associated Press report said, "[HBO executive Mark] Taffet said he isn't worried about UFC's rise. The two companies are negotiating over HBO possibly airing a UFC fight. However, there are questions about which company will produce the fight and who will call it — along with some hard feelings. One of HBO's most well-known ringside announcers is Jim Lampley, who has bashed the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC."

In addition, HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg recently told MultiChannel News, "We're still measuring it, looking at it, and getting comfortable with the UFC."

The Wrestling Observer has elaborated on the status of the negotiations between Zuffa and HBO, specifically focusing on the disagreements over control, production crews, and announcers.

The Observer reported, "HBO wants full control of the product, and to use its crew and its announcers and cover it like a network broadcast team would cover a major sporting event. UFC doesn't want to give up its control of the product, wants its own crew to film it, and wants to use its own announcers, who are closer to pro wrestling announcers whose role is to build up the product as opposed to providing detached, objective commentary."

The Observer added that there are two factors that have made a UFC-HBO deal more likely to happen than it was a few months ago, with the April 21st show from England being the UFC's target date for its HBO debut.

One factor is that with Showtime having aired the first MMA event on premium cable (EliteXC), and with the event being internally considered a ratings success by premium cable standards, it has led to "both parties [HBO and Zuffa] wanting to get in the game now and speed up working through whatever problems might be there."

The other factor that makes a UFC-HBO deal more likely to happen is the fact that if Zuffa does not agree to a deal on HBO's terms, HBO could easily find other MMA promotions that would agree to its terms.

So, even if the terms of the deal are not favorable, Zuffa might still want to sign with HBO, if for no other reason than to prevent any other MMA promotion from signing a deal with HBO. This scenario is not as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance. The Observer previously reported that the IFL had been in negotiations for a national TV deal with the Versus Network when Zuffa bought the WEC and got it a deal to be the exclusive MMA partner of the Versus Network. (This was before the IFL struck a deal with MyNetworkTV.)

Zuffa president Dana White has said consistently over the past year that the UFC would be on HBO "very soon." This has been said as recently as this past week and as far back as April 2006, when White first mentioned HBO during a radio interview on 1140 KHTK in Sacramento.

An article in January on the boxing web site Seconds Out reported that HBO Sports did not want to air MMA programming at all, specifically saying that HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg had "opposed the UFC deal as vigorously as possible" and was doing "everything in his power not to televise mixed martial arts."

Seconds Out feature writer Thomas Hauser wrote that HBO Chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht, in an unprecedented move, actually veto'd Greenburg and insisted that HBO would air MMA programming, leaving Greenburg only to negotiate the details of such a deal.

The Seconds Out article added that the veto from Albrecht "represented a marked shift in HBO's corporate culture... in the past, an HBO chief executive officer would not have ordered sports programming over the objection of the sports department."

Greenburg was quoted on the record in the Seconds Out article as saying, "I wouldn't say that I’m a big fan of UFC... but when I started at HBO, I wasn’t a big fan of boxing, either. I recognize the fact that UFC appeals to a fan base and demographic that boxing doesn’t have right now."

Seth Abraham, who was the president of HBO Sports before Greenburg, went on a now-infamous tirade in the article, and his rather outlandish statements about MMA are said to represent the opinions of some of the hard-liners who, unlike Abraham, still work at HBO Sports.

Abraham said, "I think it's ridiculous for HBO to televise UFC. When I was at HBO, we had discussions once or twice a year about professional wrestling. We all agreed that it would get good ratings, and we also agreed that it would tarnish our boxing franchise. I feel the same way about UFC. Boxing has a storied history. When HBO attaches itself to boxing, it attaches itself to Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali. It attaches itself to history, achievement, and glory. UFC has none of those things, and it will tarnish HBO's boxing franchise. Will UFC get good ratings? Probably, but so would naked boxing."

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Saturday, March 03, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC PPV Revenue Tops $200 Million in 2006, PLUS: Early Word on UFC 67's PPV Buyrate
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The UFC broke the pay-per-view industry's all-time records for a single year of business and generated over $200 million in revenue during 2006, according to two credible media outlets.

Both the Associated Press and the Wrestling Observer have reported that Zuffa's pay-per-view revenue in 2006 exceeded $200 million, with the Wrestling Observer reporting the specific figure of $222,766,000. As the Observer put it, "UFC grossed more money this past year on PPV than any promotion in history ever has."

Many fans of both boxing and MMA have wondered whether the UFC has already surpassed boxing. The numbers show that not only is the UFC bigger than boxing today, but it's also bigger than boxing ever was from a PPV revenue standpoint. The all-time record year for boxing was 1999, with just over $200 million in combined PPV revenue, and the UFC broke that record by over $20 million in 2006.

Specific UFC PPV Buyrates
In addition to the broader, annual statistics in the Associated Press report, the Wrestling Observer has also reported on the PPV buyrates of specific UFC events.

Leading the way was UFC 66 (Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz), which drew approximately 1,050,000 pay-per-view buys and grossed approximately $41.95 million in PPV revenue.

Prior to UFC 66, Zuffa publicly and repeatedly predicted that the event would draw 1.2 million PPV buys. While the event fell short of meeting that prediction, the total of 1,050,000 still topped boxing's biggest event of 2006 (Oscar de la Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga) by more than 100,000 buys, as De la Hoya vs. Mayorga drew approximately 925,000 PPV buys.

The UFC's second-biggest pay-per-view event of 2006 was UFC 61 (Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock and Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski), which drew approximately 775,000 PPV buys and grossed approximately $30.96 million in PPV revenue.

The UFC's third-biggest PPV event of 2006 was UFC 60 (Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie), which drew a final number of approximately 620,000 PPV buys and generated approximately $24.77 million in PPV revenue.

Several other UFC PPV events in 2006 surpassed the mark of 500,000 PPV buys (and thus $20 million in PPV revenue), as the UFC's average for its ten PPV events in 2006 was approximately 522,500 buys per event.

Even if one were to take the three biggest UFC events of 2006 out of the equation, the seven remaining UFC PPVs in 2006 still managed to average approximately 400,000 PPV buys per event.

Boxing Has Second-Biggest Year Ever, WWE's Domestic PPV Buyrates Collapse
The only records that the UFC has not broken are the all-time boxing records for individual events, which still stand at approximately 2.0 million buys for a heavyweight fight and approximately 1.4 million buys for a non-heavyweight fight. The upcoming fight between Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is expected to break the 1.4 million mark and perhaps even approach the 2.0 million mark.

While the perception is that boxing's PPV business has rapidly declined, the fact of the matter is that 2006 was the second-biggest year in boxing history at the PPV box office, with gross PPV revenue of $177 million. That would likely be seen as a far bigger news story than it currently is, if it weren't for the fact that the UFC blew away boxing's all-time records during the same year.

It's not boxing that the UFC's explosion in PPV business appears to have severely hurt; it's pro wrestling and specifically World Wrestling Entertainment that the UFC is hurting.

The UFC launched on national cable television with the highly-watched pro wrestling program WWE Raw as its lead-in, and two years later the UFC's domestic PPV business has skyrocketed during the same period that WWE's domestic PPV business has collapsed.

From a promotional standpoint, the UFC has out-done WWE at its own game with money-drawing, exaggerated personal feuds like Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock, only with real fights in place of the simulated fights that pro wrestling offers. Indeed, the same publication that broke the story of the UFC's PPV totals for 2006, the Wrestling Observer, has also written in the past year that they have been specifically told by UFC president Dana White that WWE's business model "is the business model that they're trying to emulate."

The data could not be any more clear in demonstrating that the UFC is drawing fans away from pro wrestling far more than it's drawing fans away from boxing.

The management of WWE, led by Vince McMahon, continues to publicly downplay the negative affect that the rise of the UFC has had on WWE's domestic PPV buyrates. Indeed, a WWE executive is quoted in the Associated Press story on this subject as saying, "We are not worried about UFC."

Nonetheless, WWE's domestic PPV buyrates for its monthly shows have fallen under the 200,000 mark regularly over the past year, and recently fell to as low as 55,000 for a PPV event in December. In addition to the alarming number of 55,000 domestic buys for the "December to Dismember" event, several of WWE's pay-per-view events in the second half of 2006 failed to draw 150,000 domestic buys, including Great American Bash (140,000); No Mercy (120,000); Cyber Sunday (140,000); and Armageddon (145,000).

With its total of 1,050,000 domestic PPV buys, UFC 66 actually drew more domestic buys than WWE's last six pay-per-events of 2006 combined. The last six WWE PPVs of 2006 combined to draw approximately 880,000 domestic PPV buys, which is still 170,000 buys short of UFC 66.

In addition, annual mega-events that used to be huge for WWE are now drawing domestic PPV buyrates that are far below the average UFC PPV buyrate. Two prominent examples are Royal Rumble and SummerSlam from January 2006 and August 2006, respectively. Royal Rumble and SummerSlam are traditionally WWE's second and third biggest events of the year, but the 2006 editions of these events only managed to draw 340,000 domestic buys and 330,000 domestic buys, respectively.

Even WWE's biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, was actually out-drawn at the domestic box office by the UFC's second-biggest PPV of the year, and not by a close margin (775,000 to 640,000).

The total revenue generated by domestic buys of WWE PPVs in 2006 was $131,793,000, according to the Wrestling Observer, and that's with WWE having held 16 pay-per-view events in 2006, as compared with ten events for the UFC in 2006 and eleven for boxing.

The average number of domestic PPV buys per event was a mere 208,000 for WWE; which is less than half of the UFC's average of 522,500.

UFC 67 Establishes Strong "Base-Line" for Non-Marquee UFC Events
The Wrestling Observer also reports that the UFC's first PPV event of 2007, UFC 67, drew a much stronger than expected PPV buyrate and has established a "rock bottom" for UFC PPV buyrates that would still be highly profitable.

With Georges St. Pierre having pulled out of UFC 67 due to injury, the PPV main event was Anderson Silva vs. Travis Lutter, which was expected to draw the lowest buyrate that the UFC could possibly draw at this time. The Observer added, "Anything more than 300,000 would have been considered a huge success."

As it turns out, the early estimates for UFC 67 are that it drew between 350,000 and 400,000 PPV buys, meaning that it grossed between $13.98 million and $15.98 million in PPV revenue. The early estimates are always lower than the final numbers, which have replays and "late buys" included in the figures.

It's a positive sign for the UFC if the absolute minimum number of buys that UFC PPVs are going to draw is still in the range of 350,000 to 400,000 buys.

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