Tuesday, February 23, 2010

UFC....Coming to a theatre near you?

As is, fans have the options for watching UFC events by ether ordering at homes and going to restaurants and bars (also, you can try streaming it online...something ,however,the UFC is currently attacking viciously with one of many more lawsuits to come against streaming sites ). It was announced earlier today that UFC have decide to show live UFC events at movie theatres throughout the US with UFC 111. This is a similar concept that World Wrestling Entertainment has for their pay-per-views.  The idea is that this will give fans the opportunity to see UFC events in a brand new form, on the big screen with an insane sound system and high definition display. The idea to release this new concept with UFC 111 was based on the strength of the card as it contains a welterweight title fight between George St Pierre and Dan Hardy, and a number one contender bout between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin. The event also features the highly anticipated rematch between Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves and fights featuring Mark Bocek, Nate Diaz, Ben Saunders, Ricardo Almeida and Matt Brown.  The price for a ticket to watching UFC events at a movie theatre will range from $15-$25.

As a third year business student, I am quite experienced in breaking down the pros and cons of any business idea.  This new idea definitely has its positives. Firstly, this allow UFC to generate additional revenue by licensing out the showing of their live events to another business form. Secondly, this can open doors for new potential fans. I am pretty sure that there are people out there that love the environment in regards to watching movies in a movie theatre that would be curious to watch UFC in that same environment. Thirdly, with MMA becoming more and more a mainstream interest, the possibilities of cinemas selling out these events are very high.  I would not be surprised if even events sold out weeks in advance when big status fighters are on the card such as Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, GSP and Brock Lesnar.

However, I see some negatives with this proposed idea. With the $15-$25 range subject to theatre or event card. If it is cheaper to view at particular theatres, they may limit the success of this idea as more people will go to cheaper theatres and drop the idea if they will have to pay a premium.   If the price is determined based on the perception of the quality of the event, rather it is a fight night or pay per view event;  the risk of people feeling an event is overpriced is always present. Another issue revolves around regular traditions involved with watching mixed martial arts. I have watched the sports with many different types groups of people that all have their tradition for fight night. There are two key types. There is the crowd of people that use the fight nights as a night out and go to the pub or restaurant. Then, there is the crowd of people that are chilling at a buddy’s house, just pounding away at the beer and smoking like chimneys. When looking at these two groups, there is one clear factor that would not work with watching fights at the theatre; you can’t do any of the things mentioned above if you’re watching a UFC event at the theatre. Theatres would either have to serve alcohol or better options for food for this option to be a successful alternative to watching ufc events at home or the bar.

Like everything in life, there are positives and negatives to any idea. The US will be the first test market for this new concept of watching ufc events. Only time will tell if it will be successful enough for the model to be transferred to other countries such as Canada. It will be a real dice roll in deciding if we, in Canada, will ever hear the phrase...UFC..coming to a theatre near you.

For more information, check out UFC.com

Monday, February 22, 2010

UFC 110 Aftermath!

Alright, UFC 110 definitely did not fail to disappoint. Personally, I have been pumped for this card from back when it was suppose to be Akiyama vs Silva (die hard Wanderlei Fan/Card is on the bday). All and all, very entertaining card with many things to think about in regards to the future of many fighters involved in the main card.

Cain Velasquez
Definitely surprised me in this one. Not to say that I did not think he could win but never thought he would knockout Nogueira the way he did. It was great to see him utilize the stand up game in such a dominating fashion (the work at AKA is clearly showing its reward) without any use of his wrestling. He really shut up many people that felt he had little knockout power  from his fight with Rothwell and wasn’t experienced enough for Nogueira. Mark my words when I say this...if there is a heavyweight in the UFC, presently speaking of course, that has the ability to take the belt from Lesnar, IT IS CAIN!.. Time will tell if he will get the first crack or wait for the winner of Mir/Carwin vs Lesnar. Maybe Dos Santos?

Was disappointed not to see the “Pride Treble” tonight but what can you do. Thought Nogueira’s boxing would have posed more difficulty for Cain but I felt he did not respect Cain’s stand up gain. Constantly left his hands down in between punches and left himself open for that deadly knockout. Was constantly finishing second in his exchanges with Cain and the result was inevitable. Will expect to see him take a crack at the loser of Mir/Carwin. Its win-win as we would see ether Mir vs Nogueira 2 or an interesting matchup between Nog and Carwin. At the end of the day, will determine where Nog will stand in the weight class in the long run.

Wanderlei Silva
Huge win for Wanderlei. Think Wanderlei has finally been able to find the best rhythm in his training and fighting. In the Franklin fight, he showed he can close up his game and be more conservative after the Rampage fight but failed to close in on potential situation when Franklin was rocked. He finished every round strong, almost finishing the fight in both the second and third round. As much as he didn’t want the fight to go to decision, this aspect was key in giving him the second and third round. I really think that the Ax Murderer of old is on his way back. I had a good laugh when he had to stop himself from soccer kicking Bisping in the third. Think his next fight will be based on UFC’s attempt to host a card in the land of the rising sun. Things are most likely leaning toward a clash with Akyama, however, cant see this fight being wasted in America if theres hope of a card in Japan. Maybe the winner of Okami vs Linhares or a new signing. Would love to see it but cant see Silva being rushed into Sonnen until he grabs one more win at 185

Michael Bisping
Very tough result. Honestly was worried about this one seeing the Wolfslair trained Rampage and Bisping is a technical enough striker to time out his strikes to find openings much like Rampage did. He seemed reluctant to be aggressive against Silva...cant blame him because most guys that get aggressive with Silva, fall into his game of a brawl when he could give you one good crack and its over. Still feel Bisping is of relevance to the division and would love to see him clash heads with Nate the Great.

Mirko Cro Cop
Good to see him pick up a W but failing to knockout a finish a fighter that took the match on Monday really makes you question him. Especially one that is more known for grappling with little striking and an unknown in the mainstream mma world doesn’t help. I feel this match hasn’t changed much in regards to where he stands in the weight class. Definitely feel he will have a place in the UFC considering he would be a huge grab for Strikeforce (popularity and status only). Very interesting to see who will get in the next fight with Cro Cop. Really up in the air right now.  Maybe try and put him up against Rothwell, Struve or Buentello.

George Sotiropoulos

Definitely didn’t see that one coming. Huge results beating Joe Stevenson the way he did. Would have loved to see him finish it but he clearly showed dominance with many opportunities to finish. Cant see him making it into the title mix anytime soon . Would like to see Sotiropoulos clash with someone like Sam Stout , Lauzon or another status LW.

General Observations
Bader: Good W . This TUF graduate looks ready for bigger name LHW
Jardine: Another fight proving that he is a gate keeper in the weight class. Gotta give him credit though because everyone he has fought in the UFC shows how strong and how deep LHW is....never gets easy fights.

Could go in more detail but preferred to just keep focus on the majors. For full results on the event, check out UFC.com , Sherdog or any other MMA. Still available for purchasing the replay at ufc.com. Below is a highlight i found on youtube

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Super 6 Boxing World Boxing Classic

I know, I know...this is MMA theories and opinions but still felt the need to open peoples eyes to this new concept in boxing(as i mentioned before, im getting into boxing and this is WHY). In short, it is the top 6 super middleweights in the world fighting in a tournament , which features 3 stages with a point system(2 for the win with a bonus for a knockout, 1 point for a tie) to determine who goes onto a traditional knockout round format, starting with semi finals, all to crown a winner. To make this concept more interesting, two of the boxers involved in this tournament are title holders and their belts are on the line in every fight.  Located below is a quick little preview of tournament. I strongly recommend people to check out their website, http://sports.sho.com/world-boxing-classic.html
for more information on the fighters , the events and tournament itself. You can even see quick clip videos of highlights from the first stage match by match or even in "Fight Camp 360: Inside the Super 6 Episode 3" If you have the time, go into their video library or go on youtube and look up "fight camp 360 super 6 episode 1"...trust me when I say, this show sold me immediately and so far, the tournament has not even come close to disappointing with one knockout finish, a new fighter in the mix (sadly in the form of a replacement, not going into more detail to leave it up to you to look into it..but hopefully the fighter that had to pull out can make a healthy recovery) and one title change. This is coming from someone that never thought he'd be into boxing. Enjoy!

Also felt the need to show this video I found on replacement, Allan Green....Both preview and this video are not my creation and are the property of their owners... Idea with the Allan Green video is over an apparent beef with Nick Diaz regarding Green coming to mma.

Maia vs Silva: Perfect Example of Irony

I apologize for the late blog guys, had this written from time but was unable to post it up due to a hectic week. Dropping another one later and one more tomorrow to make up for it haha.

For those who are not aware, there has been a huge change to UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. Due to an ailing injury , Vitor Belfort has been forced out of his title bout against Anderson Silva. Sadly, this is the third time this fight has been thrown out due to injury. This has forced the UFC to run through different options in order to keep Anderson Silva defending his title on this very pricy event (UFC sold part of its ownership to Flash Entertainment of Dubai in order to get the event in Abu Dhabi). Due to various injuries, the UFC was able to come up with the man to fight Anderson Silva for the belt: Demian Maia.

Trust me when I say, I have nothing but respect for Demian Maia and would love to see the upset. But let’s face it, this is another Thales Leites vs Anderson Silva. Demian Maia has shown some improvement in developing a stand up game but not at the level to contend with a striker like Anderson Silva. Another significant factor that does not help the situation is that Maia improvement in his stand up came from training with Lil Nog, an option that is now clearly unavailable considering Lil Nog is a training partner of Anderson Silva. Maia’s best chance in this fight will be on the ground, a place where Anderson Silva can handle his own but has the obvious advantage in the stand up. It’s very interesting how this fight will be built up, considering many have already began to refer to this fight as a classic UFC fight with a top grappler fighting a top striker. However, on a side note,  I found it very unnecessary for the UFC to refer to Demian Maia as a top 6 middleweight. Clearly, we in the MMA world only refer to lists in increments of 5; rather it is top 10 , top 5 or top 20. This fact narrows down that they feel Maia is the number 6 middleweight in the world. I understand that it is hard to find a fighter in short notice, but don’t short sell a guy like that, ESPECIALLY, when this fight is going to be the Main Event. Mention the fact he is the Best Submission fighter in MMA today, his multiple “submission of the night” awards but nothing devalues a main event when the promoting company does not even sound optimistic over their selection.

The UFC middleweight division has definitely been nothing close from sound over the past year. In 2009, we have seen the title of “number one contender” change 3 times. Initially, it was understood that Michael “The Count” Bisping and Dan Henderson , after this time on the Ultimate Fighter television series, were fighting for the next crack at Anderson Silva. After a stunning second round knock out by Dan Henderson at UFC 100, we began talking about Silva vs Henderson 2. However, it was , coincidentally, Nate Marquardt’s one punch knockout on Maia at  that had Dana White stating Marquardt is now the number one contender. If this situation wasn’t confusing enough, after his knockout victory on Rich Franklin at UFC 103, Vitor Belfort was announced to be getting the next title shot at UFC 108. Since this moment, we have seen Dan Henderson leave the UFC for Strikeforce due to this whole title shot situation/contract dispute and Nate Marquardt drop in rank after a recent loss to Chael Sonnen. For the record, Chael Sonnen would have been the best candidate for Belfort’s replacement but a suspension until March 23rd due to injuries after his 3 round battle with Marquardt would not give him enough time to prepare. Quite the shame considering the current back and forth verbal bashes going on between Sonnen and Anderson Silva’s manager, Ed Soares/ Sonnen’s recent fight creates the idea that Sonnen may have the tools to beat Silva. Another option could have been the winner of this upcoming weekends fight between Wanderlei Silva vs Michael Bisping, of course, if the fight ended in the first round with no medical suspension.

After looking back on the build up to this troublesome predicament......Henderson gone to Strikeforce....Marquardt now not a top contender...........all for Vitor Belfort to pull out due to injury and the UFC being limited to selecting Demian Maia as a replacement, Maia vs Silva is a perfect example of irony.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Can the price determine the success of WEC’s premier pay per view?

For those who are not aware, the World Extreme Cagefighting is a US based company that is under the same parent company as UFC, Zuffa. The WEC features the lighter weight classes such as Bantamweight, Featherweight and Lightweight while allowing the UFC to focus from Lightweight to Heavyweight. Their events can be caught on regular television on the Score, TSN or Versus. However, the company has always expressed interest in making the move to having pay per view events as fighter payout demands are increasing but has not made any serious moves until now. It was announced recently that WEC 48 was going to be their premier pay per view event with a fee of $44.95. Although it has been made clear that they would only be doing this for one or two events a year, the subject has been in heavy debate since its announcement.
As a fan of the brand for some years now, if there was a card that is worth paying for, it is this one. The proposed main card will feature 5 fights, with 2 of which being title bouts. As of now, the card will feature a featherweight title between Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber, a lightweight title rematch between Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone and a number one contender fight between Manny Gamburyan and Mike Brown. Each of these 3 fights brings a lot to the table in regards to talent and entertainment value for the fans. A main event that is featuring a rising phenom and the former king pin of the weight class that wants his title back. Then, a rematch for a fight that has won “fight of the year” honours from various publications. And a number one contender bout between two determined fighters that do not want to be derailed on the road to a crack at a title.  As much as I would love to break down each fight, I would prefer to leave it to the key mma sites. Either way, I strongly recommend for you to make the time in searching these fighters on Google Video to look up ether fights or highlight reels (ESPECIALLY FOR THE TWO TITLE FIGHTS). I watched a Urijah Faber highlight video when I first heard of WEC and I have been a fan ever since of both him and the WEC. Even, look them up on Google to see their fight records.
However, I personally can understand the argument from the mma community regarding this event becoming a pay per view. WEC, even though it is under the same “umbrella” as the UFC, does not have the exposure and overall appeal to both regular and casual mixed martial arts fans. The card is pay per view worthy but a lack of knowledge and following of the featured fighters can be disastrous in regards to this first event. WEC General Manager Reed Harris spoke out on the situation in an article on MMA Junkie, saying that “if you know the WEC, you know what you can expect”. Although I liked how he tried to sell the idea, there’s a problem with that logic....sadly, not a lot of mma fans follow the WEC. I have friends ranging from strictly UFC viewers to the ones that consistently stay up late to watch Dream and Sengoku..and sadly, the consensus is clear from both scenarios....they are not too interested in the WEC. The only people that can see the true value of this event are, sadly, regular WEC fans, which, let’s be honest...isn’t big enough on the wide scale for strong buy numbers. With those two factors in mind, I questioned the “regular UFC rate” for this premier pay per view and thought it would be more beneficial to even go to $30.99. In many ways, the WEC will have a lot of work to do in not just promoting this event and convincing mma fans as whole that this event is worth paying for, also educating the fans on what the brand  has to offer. It has already been stated that the event will be titled “UFC Presents WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber”, which is huge because it creates the connection for UFC fans to watch the event, and the UFC is going to be helping with the promotional work. Rather it is event previews showing through UFC programming (which we saw at UFC 109, excellent work btw), having a WEC Unleashed show to showcase these fighters or even creating a “WEC Countdown to WEC 48”, work will be needed to get people talking.
At the end of the day, rather it is $40, $30 or $10...or even if its casual fans, die hards or first time viewers...the WEC has the responsibility in presenting the value of both the brand and this event to the entire mma community for WEC 48 to be a successful event and have people coming back for more.  As a business student, I am aware of the power of perceived value....if the people think something is of high value, whatever the case may be.....price can be forgotten instantly. If the value isn’t shown, the price of this event will dictate the success (or failure) of this event.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Does Strikeforce have the potential to be a serious competitor to the UFC?

Alright, it is a proven fact that the first thing people think about when they hear the term mixed martial arts is UFC or a UFC fighter..trust me, try it out.  UFC is probably the biggest MMA association in the world with events and coverage all over the world. Many organizations have tried to compete with UFC in North America and failed..even Donald Trump tried to get involved with MMA to little success with Affliction. There is only one other organization in the US that is close to the UFC and that is Strikeforce.

The California- based Strikeforce was able to develop much recognition after being able to sign the number 1 heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, and Dan Henderson after negotiations failed with the UFC. After 27 events, one being this past Saturday, it is clear that there are many elements with this organization that can work well into this organization favour to compete with the UFC. First, the roster... as is, Strikeforce had a good roster of fighters but it was sometime last year when Strikeforce announced to have a co promotion partnerships with Japanese based association Dream and Europe’s M-1 to improve its efforts against the UFC.  This has allowed Strikeforce to improve their fight cards by being able to bring in fighters from these two organizations.  Trust me when I say, these fights so far have not been anything less than entertaining. For example, on Saturday, Nick Diaz vs. Marius Zaromskis for the welterweight title....both guys came out swinging from the opening bell until one dropped.  Even Melvin Manhoef vs. Robbie Lawlor....ended in a brutal knockout that came out of nowhere!  Some other fighters Strikeforce have been able to bring into the mix are Gegard Mousasi, King Mo, Kj Noons, Bobby Lashley ..just to name a few , with rumours circulating around Hayato Sakurai and Shinya Aoki being next to fight in a Strikeforce cage. Second, EA MMA....imagine EA Sport’s Fight Night .....MMA style! Game which features both Dream and Strikeforce fighters is set to come out this summer and will be huge in increasing Strikeforce’s exposure and if this game is a hit, improve the perception and interest in the company. Even though UFC was first to market with a video game, EA MMA can still be a huge for Strikeforce considering EA’s reputation for producing amazing sports games.

However, what kind of a person would I be to leave out the negatives about this company. Strikeforce’s biggest problem by far........television exposure. Although the company has some events that are hosted on CBS, the majority of their events are shown on Showtime and Super Channel. Now let me ask, don’t raise your hands all at once but how many of you have these channels?... How can one compete if there’s a good possibility your potential viewers don’t have the channel your event is airing on and isn’t even easy to access like Pay Per View ?  Maybe Showtime is huge in the states but Super Channel is not in Canada!! As it is , it’s difficult as is for any company to try and compete with the UFC because let’s face it, they are the originator that has already established their presence . Another problem is financial backing...it is very costly to try and have monthly cards with top talent. Strikeforce has created the Strikeforce Challengers series which showcases up and coming prospects  to try and have monthly events but to compete with the UFC, fans need to see the top dogs fighting more often than the next card, which is April. There are some other observations and criticisms that can be made but are minor compared to these two so don’t want to get into it.

Trust me when I say, Strikeforce has a long way to go to be at UFC level but I am happy to see what they have done as of late to try and improve their stance as a potential competitor to the UFC.

For more information on Strikeforce, please check out their website at http://strikeforce.com.