Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Mixed Martial Arts--- Important Questions Raised about UFC Paying Media Outlets to Cover UFC Events
Editorial Commentary by Ivan Trembow
It didn't get anywhere near as much media attention as it should have (other than an excellent article by Zach Arnold of FightOpinion.com), but UFC president Dana White made a startling admission last week in a video blog prior to UFC 90. He openly admitted and talked about Zuffa paying radio personality Scott Ferrall to cover UFC events. As Arnold wrote, "I find it fascinating that UFC has no problems publicly admitting that they buy and pay off the media."
Here is a transcription of what White had to say about Ferrall (video available here):
"So something else happens today. I get off the plane and I get a call from a one of my buddies in California who says that Ferrall is talking a bunch of s--t now. Let me explain to you guys how this stuff works. Ferrall, if you know who he is... you know, he is a DJ comedian who is on Sirius Satellite, and for a while there, we were paying Ferrall to come to the shows and cover the shows... you know, the UFC fights. He would talk about them the week before and then cover it. Then he a came back to us and was... I don't know, I don't know how to really explain it but basically saying he wanted more money that other companies like ProElite and the T-shirt guys were offering him more money to come cover their shows than what we were. This was the guy that we brought in and, you know, he was so pumped when we first you know gave him the gig to come and check out the shows, and the way that he handled it... I didn't like the way that he handled it, so we stopped using him. Fair enough. So now I guess today he had the T-Shirt guys on there talking crazy s--t about, you know, me and the UFC and Lorenzo... and then Ferrall starts saying that he's done with MMA 'I'm done with MMA, and you know I don't even like it, it's not exciting, it's boring.' Ferrall, you f--king clown, you know what? You know, just because you're not getting a f--king paycheck anymore, now you don't like MMA. The only reason why you liked MMA was because we were paying you to like it... f--king goofy crackhead-looking mother f--ker. Give me a break. It's just if you guys knew now much goofy s--t we have to deal with on a daily basis, it's f--king ridiculous."
Given how casually Dana White spoke about paying Ferrall, as if it was nothing out of the ordinary, it would be naive to think that Ferrall is the only person to have been paid by UFC parent company Zuffa to cover UFC events.
So, this raises many obvious questions, including but not limited to:
1. Other than Scott Ferrall, which other media outlets been paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events?
2. When media outlets are paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events, are they being paid to provide positive coverage of UFC events, or to provide coverage of UFC events regardless of whether it's critical of any aspects of the event?
3. If a media outlet is obstensibly being paid simply to "cover UFC events" and not for "positive coverage of UFC events," would that media outlet tend to criticize the UFC less than they would if they weren't getting paid to cover UFC events?
4. If a media outlet is obstensibly being paid simply to "cover UFC events," what happens if that media outlet does criticize the UFC, its events, its matchmaking, its business practices, its public statements, or any other aspect of the UFC? Would that media outlet still continue to be paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events? Would that media outlet get a reduced fee for covering UFC events in the future? Or would Zuffa continue to pay the media outlet, at the exact same rate, regardless of that media outlet's criticism of the UFC?
5. If a media outlet is being paid to cover UFC events, what normally happens if that media outlet requests an increase in the fee that it's being paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events? Are these requests for raises sometimes granted, or are they always turned down? If media outlets do sometimes get increases in pay from Zuffa upon request, how does Zuffa determine which media outlets are worthy of getting a raise and which media outlets are not worthy of getting a raise? Does positive coverage of UFC events play any role in those decisions?
These are important questions. We didn't know that Scott Ferrall was being paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events until Dana White disclosed it while criticizing Ferrall for demanding a pay increase.
So, without full disclosure from any media outlet that is being paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events, this runs the risk of tainting the water for everyone who covers MMA because consumers have no way of knowing which media outlets are being paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events and which ones aren't. Without full disclosure from these media outlets, there's no way to distinguish between media outlets who praise the UFC for genuine reasons and media outlets who praise the UFC because they're "being paid to like it."
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Mixed Martial Arts--- ProElite Employee to NSAC Chief: No "Muay Thai-Style Kicks" Allowed in Kimbo/Petruzelli Fight
by Ivan Trembow
ProElite CEO Chuck Champion and in-house counsel Keith Wallner were on the phone during the Nevada State Athletic Commission's meeting on Wednesday and discussed the scandal involving the fight between Seth Petruzelli and Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson. NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer said that he previously spoke with ProElite representatives and was told that the reports of Petruzelli being paid to stand up were completely untrue, and that nothing improper occurred.
However, Kizer said that about two weeks ago, he had a conversation with someone from ProElite whom Kizer did not name. As later recalled in comments to MMAWeekly, this is Kizer's account of that conversation: "Someone affiliated with ProElite told me that the fighter or his camp said that he had not been training to fight a Muay Thai specialist and thus he had not trained to defend Muay Thai-style kicks, so that he would agree to fight the proposed opponent if the opponent agreed not to use any such kicks, and that information was told to that opponent."
After recalling this information during the NSAC's meeting on Wednesday, Kizer said that he was curious to ask Champion and Wallner if there was any truth to that. Wallner essentially said that he had never heard of anything like that.
Champion said that he was present for the negotiations, and that nothing like that happened in his presence, and that nothing at all improper happened in his presence. Champion said that both fighters did have a KO bonus, but that is standard in the industry and that approximately 30 to 40 percent of ProElite's fighters have KO bonuses in their contracts.
During the meeting, Champion and Wallner also discussed the cancellation of the EliteXC event that had been scheduled to take place in Reno, Nevada on November 8. Champion said that CBS/Showtime had been scheduled to underwrite the costs of the November 8th event, just as CBS/Showtime paid for the October 4th event. However, CBS/Showtime backed out of underwriting the costs of the November 8th event, and ProElite did not have sufficient funds to put on the event with its own funds.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Mixed Martial Arts--- Nevada's Out-of-Competition Drug Testing in 2008
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The Nevada State Athletic Commission in 2008 has tested a relatively small number of mixed martial artists and boxers as part of its out-of-competition drug testing program, newly instituted this year. When the new program was announced on Jan. 25, no specifics were given on how many fighters would be tested in the weeks and months prior to their scheduled fights in the state of Nevada.
Fourteen fighters have been tested in the nine months since then, and that includes a three-month period in which zero fighters were tested for any fights scheduled to take place in Nevada from July 6 to Oct. 31.
The out-of-competition drug testing program allows the NSAC to order random drug tests at any time on any fighter that the NSAC licenses as a mixed martial artist, boxer, or kickboxer. When or if these tests are conducted is up to the discretion of the NSAC, not the fighters or the fighters' promoters. Like many other major sports, this out-of-competition drug testing is in addition to day-of-competition drug testing.
In the press release announcing the program in January, NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer said, "Random testing throughout the year will further deter any fighters considering taking non-approved substances." The press release also noted that some fighters "have become very sophisticated in the timing of taking prohibited substances."
When asked by MMAWeekly this week for comment on why there were zero fighters tested in the out-of-competition drug testing program for fights scheduled to take place from July 6 to Oct. 31, Kizer said, "We will not set any pattern... kind of defeats the purpose."
An updated memorandum on the program dated May 24, 2008 added language that allowed the NSAC to order a random drug test as a result of "a request by a Commissioner" or for "any other cause determined by the Commission."
Additionally, the updated memorandum removed the original memorandum's note about the NSAC also attempting "to contact the fighter's promoter, if known, with the ordering of the test and the timeframe within which the test must be taken."
All NSAC licensees were originally notified of the out-of-competition drug testing program in a memorandum dated Jan. 7, 2008.
In February, the NSAC sanctioned three mixed martial arts events (including a UFC show and an IFL show), as well as four boxing events (including an HBO pay-per-view broadcast). None of the fighters on any of those cards were subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
In March, the NSAC sanctioned one MMA event (a WEC show), as well as one kickboxing event and three boxing events (including an HBO PPV broadcast). None of the fighters on any of those cards were subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
In April, the NSAC sanctioned one minor MMA event and one boxing event (including an HBO broadcast). None of the fighters on either of those cards were subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
In May, the NSAC sanctioned two MMA events (including a UFC show), as well as one kickboxing event and three boxing events (including an HBO broadcast). Prior to the UFC event, three fighters were subjected to and passed out-of-competition drug tests: Tito Ortiz, B.J. Penn, and Sean Sherk. Additionally, boxers Shane Mosley and Zab Judah were subjected to and passed out-of-competition drug tests prior to a show that was originally scheduled to take place in Nevada on May 31. The event ended up being cancelled due to an injury suffered by Judah.
In June, the NSAC sanctioned four MMA events (including a UFC show), as well as four boxing events (including an HBO PPV broadcast). None of the fighters on any of those cards were subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
In July, the NSAC sanctioned two MMA events (both UFC shows), as well as one kickboxing event and five boxing events (including an HBO PPV broadcast and a Showtime broadcast). Prior to the first UFC event, two UFC fighters were subjected to and passed out-of-competition drug tests: Forrest Griffin and Quinton Jackson. None of the fighters on any of the other cards, including the second UFC event of the month, the HBO boxing event, or the Showtime boxing event, were subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
In August, the NSAC sanctioned one MMA event (a WEC show) and four boxing events (including an HBO broadcast). None of the fighters on any of those cards were subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
In September, the NSAC sanctioned zero MMA events and five boxing events (including an HBO PPV broadcast). None of the fighters on any of those cards were subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
Thus far in October, the NSAC has sanctioned one minor MMA event and one boxing event (a Showtime broadcast), with an additional boxing event scheduled for Oct. 31. None of the fighters on any of those cards have been subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program.
On the schedule for November is one MMA event (a UFC show) and four boxing events. Six fighters who are scheduled to compete on the UFC show were recently subjected to and passed out-of-competition drug tests: Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, Amir Sadollah, Nick Catone, Aaron Riley, and Jorge Gurgel.
Earlier this year, pro boxer Joseph Gilbert was subjected to and passed a drug test as part of the NSAC's out-of-competition drug testing program. Gilbert previously tested positive for a banned substance in 2007, and has not fought in Nevada or elsewhere in 2008.
In total, 14 fighters in boxing and MMA combined have been subjected to the NSAC's out-of-competition drug testing program in the nine months since licensees were notified of its creation on Jan. 7, 2008.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Forum Posts: The Ultimate Fighter's Return to Drunken Idiocy
I recently posted the following on the MMAWeekly Forum.
Question: What do you call a reality show in which a house is stocked with an unlimited supply of hard alcohol, and then you act surprised in the result that you anticipated, encouraged, and hoped for?
Answer: A concept that was trashy, repetitive, and out-of-date in 1999. In 2008, it's just pathetic. Like a lot of people, I choose to watch The Ultimate Fighter because I enjoy MMA. I don't enjoy the obsolete 1990s reality show concept of "get a bunch of drunkards in a house, get them wasted, and film the ensuing chaos." I can't believe I missed South Park for that garbage.
The fact that Junie Browning is STILL not kicked off of The Ultimate Fighter is ridiculous. After all that he had already done (or even without it), jumping over the Octagon fence in an aggressive manner in order to instigate a fight would have likely been enough to get his license temporarily revoked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, as Dana White said.
But because Keith Kizer wasn't there in person on that day, it's like it never happened? That's a B.S. cop-out. The UFC officials who were there couldn't have decided that was the final straw to kick Browning off the show? Of course they could have. Anybody who was present to witness the incident couldn't have later said to Keith Kizer, "Hey, there was an incident at the TUF tapings, I think you need to take a look at this"? Of course they could have.
The producers of TUF and the people who make the decisions on who gets kicked off or doesn't get kicked off have made abundantly clear, if it hadn't already been made clear in the previous week's episode, that they don't have much faith in the concept of "a bunch of young fighters struggle to earn their way into the TUF finals." Instead, they are determined to promote, exploit, encourage, and profit from the 1990s reality show concept of "get a bunch of Type-A personalities in a house, get them wasted by stocking the house with an unlimited supply of hard alcohol, and film the chaos." You think there's going to be another incident of some kind involving Junie Browning before the season wraps? Of course there is, and that's the point. It's "Trash TV" at this point, and it could be so much better than that.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Mixed Martial Arts--- Top 20 Most-Watched Fights in U.S. MMA History
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Previous ratings for individual fights have been based on quarter-hour ratings, which measure the average viewership for an entire 15-minute period. Given that some fights last for well over 15 minutes and some fights last for well under 15 minutes, measuring a fight's average viewership based on quarter-hour ratings has always been an inexact science.
In the majority of cases, the average viewership for any given fight is dragged down by the lower viewership in the minutes immediately preceding and following the fight. It's the minutes containing the actual fights themselves that generally draw the highest viewership levels, so why not track the ratings on a minute-by-minute basis?
Using minute-by-minute Nielsen ratings data, the most accurate possible viewership information for any given fight can be determined. Viewership levels are based on live viewership, plus same-day DVR, rounded to the nearest 1,000 viewers, and the times listed are ET/PT. The indicated times begin at the opening bell of a fight and end at the minute in which the winner of the fight is known.
(In the case of a fight that ends in submission or KO/TKO, the ending time is obviously when the fight ends. In the case of a judges' decision, the ending time is the minute in which the judges' decision is announced. In the case of a doctors' stoppage, the ending time is the minute in which the fight is officially stopped by the doctor. The ending time is always the minute in which the winner if the fighter is known.)
Note that these are just the most-watched fights in U.S. MMA history, not the most-watched fights in worldwide MMA history. In Japan, a fight would need to draw over 30 million viewers to crack the top five. It also excludes pay-per-view, as accurate data on viewers per household is not made readily available for PPV events, although the biggest PPV buyrate in MMA history was 1,050,000 households for Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz on December 30, 2006.
MOST-WATCHED INDIVIDUAL FIGHTS IN U.S. MMA HISTORY
Based on Average Number of Viewers using Minute-by-Minute Ratings
1. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson--- 7.281 million viewers (Aired from 11:27 PM to 11:40 PM)
2. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock--- 6.524 million viewers (Aired from 9:42 PM to 9:45 PM)
3. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Seth Petruzelli vs. Kimbo Slice--- 6.451 million viewers (Aired from 11:08 PM to 11:08 PM)
4. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith--- 5.867 million viewers (Aired from 10.39 PM to 10:57 PM)
5. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Quinton Jackson vs. Dan Henderson--- 5.811 million viewers (Aired from 11:29 PM to 12:03 AM)
6. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Gina Carano vs. Kaitlin Young--- 5.508 million viewers (Aired from 10:09 PM to 10:17 PM)
7. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill--- 5.475 million viewers (Aired from 10:41 PM to 11:06 PM)
8. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Jake Shields vs. Paul Daley--- 5.338 million viewers (Aired from 10:34 PM to 10:44 PM)
9. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Gina Carano vs. Kelly Kobold--- 5.171 million viewers (Aired from 9:45 PM to 9:59 PM)
10. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson--- 5.154 million viewers (Aired from 10:12 PM to 10:20 PM)
11. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Kendall Grove vs. Chris Price--- 5.100 million viewers (Aired from 9:13 PM to 9:17 PM)
12. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Cheick Kongo vs. Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic--- 5.098 million viewers (Aired from 9:58 PM to 10:24 PM)
13. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Marcus Davis vs. Paul Taylor--- 5.023 million viewers (Aired from 9:35 PM to 9:39 PM)
14. UFC on Spike TV (7/19/2008): Anderson Silva vs. James Irvin--- 4.795 million viewers (Aired from 11:38 PM to 11:38 PM)
15. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Joey Villasenor vs. Phil Baroni--- 4.348 million viewers (Aired from 9:47 PM to 9:48 PM)
16. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Jason MacDonald vs. Ed Herman--- 4.297 millon viewers (Aired from 8:44 PM to 8:47 PM)
17. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Houston Alexander vs. Alessio Sakara--- 4.204 million viewers (Aired from 9:13 PM to 9:14 PM)
18. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Matt Hamill vs. Seth Petruzelli--- 4.007 million viewers (Aired from 8:09 PM to 8:28 PM)
19. UFC on Spike TV (7/19/2008): Brandon Vera vs. Reese Andy--- 3.847 million viewers (Aired from 10:58 PM to 11:19 PM)
20. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Brett Rogers vs. Jon Murphy--- 3.824 million viewers (Aired from 9:26 PM to 9:27 PM)