I remember when Bodog first announced it’s foray into MMA, I was pretty excited. Rich criminal mastermind invites fighters to a tropical island to fight? That’s like Bloodsport + Kickboxer + The Condemned times 1000. Unfortunately, the show sucked epic balls and was basically one gigantic infomercial for the “Bodog Lifestyle” wrapped in MMA fighting. It was the most blatant instance of a company getting into MMA to try and make some coin off the backs of fans I’ve ever seen. And now they’re shutting down their MMA division:
After losing a reputed $38 million last year, Bodog appears to be on its last legs according to a report in The Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Most of the company’s employees have been let go, there are no events planned (although they are sponsoring some smaller events), there is no new TV deal, and a recently proposed small budget (with the idea of slowly rebuilding) by Jeff Osborne was turned down.
I gotta say I’m pretty impressed that they were able to lose so much in a single year. Although you should also consider that the MMA events themselves were never really about ‘making money’ … a lot of the deals in the latter half of 2007 were just prime sponsorship deals where they’d give promotions an assload of cash to brand the event as Bodog and feature Bodog on the ring. That in turn was supposed to drive people to Bodog’s websites for gambling and betting on MMA.
I’m guessing the goal was to make up for the MMA losses through the MMA betting lines. But $38 million bucks is a lot of fucking money, and I doubt the returns were anywhere near the costs. Basically, when the USA changed the laws to make online gambling illegal (land of the free, baby), Bodog’s strategy became obsolete. You saw them try and shift their promotional focus to Russia and Japan to try and drum up business internationally, but those markets are just too small when you’re burning through money the way Bodog was.
Anyways, I never know how to react when a promotion folds … should I be happy because they were sketchy or sad because they pumped money into a lot of other promotions? I was never a fan of the Bodog product, but it’s hard to argue that putting money into promotions like Strikeforce, Hook N Shoot and Sportfight was bad for our scene. Here’s hoping they’re just shutting down general operations and will continue to sponsor events.