3:30PM : Well here we are folks … we’ll be liveblogging the UFC press conference regarding Randy Couture from 4pm onwards. All comments on this sucker should go in this post and afterwards we’ll have a round up post with general thoughts.
Expect to refresh every 3-5 minutes depending on how chock full of information this bitch is gonna be. To see the general quality and feel of our live blogging, you can see our work on last week’s UFC press conference here.
3:35 : I’m surfing this shit on Yahoo … sure, they’re the home of MMA’s resident village idiot Kevin Iole, but I’ll still trust them to push the propaganda better than anyone else.
3:40 : Marked improvement already. Last time I had to listen to some painfully terrible muzak. While the shit going on is still kinda generic, at least it’s more of a Collective Soul ripoff than a Kenny G ripoff.
3:50 : I’m all stocked up. Big mug o’ pepsi : check. Peanut butter sandwich : check. Empty bladder: check. Although I’m already feeling the urge to piss again. There’s just something about these conferences that make my bladder contract.
4:00 : Yo yo yo and away we go! It’s a three person show as Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, and some other dude (probably their CFO) sit down.
Dana opens up by saying he doesn’t like talking about money because most of the fighters don’t like talking about money. He says he takes care of his fighters and pays them well, and wants to address the false accusations Randy has made. Mentions the company having growing pains, and that he tries as best he can to take care of his fighters. Blah blah I respect randy and am personally blah blah and the statements Randy made “weren’t true” and they’re here to clear up the facts.
4:02 : That other dude is CFO John Malkey
4:03 : Lists off Randy’s involvement in TUF, and Randy Couture Day on Spike that the UFC put together. This is to rebutt Randy’s wife’s statement that the UFc never promoted Randy. Re: Kim’s statement that Randy makes more money outside the octagon than in, Dana says he WANTS this for his fighters and that’s part of how the UFC operates and their goal to let fighters make money. I gotta admit, they’re not like WWE who own a dude till the day his heart explodes from steroids
4:05 : Oooh, sounds like they’re gonna lay out all the numbers. Dana says they’re gonna walk us through the pay structure.
4:06 : Lorenzo says he was intimately involved with Randy and consider him a friend and was the guy who negotiated the contract. Re: Randy’s statement that he was never happy, Lorenzo said Randy seemed very happy the day they ‘shook and hugged’ over the contract. Aaaah, a broken trust over hugs is evil.
Lorenzo said Randy’s statements “grossly misrepresent the situation”
4:07 : John says re: signing bonus … he got a 500k signing bonus, half to get upon signing and half after his first fight. Failed to mention his employment agreement which included 200k per year and 50k in commentating fees.
Randy got 250k purse and got the other 250k bonus. The PPV bonus worked out to 936k based upon est of 534k buys. Total compensation = 1.186 million. Fuck, John talks super fast. Slow down, buddy.
4:10 : For the Gonzaga fight, 250k purse, 30k bonus fight of the night, ppv bonus of 787k on 340k buys. Total = 1.127 million.
All money for UFC68 has been paid and Gonzaga fight is pending. Randy used the words ‘off the book’ when talking about bonuses. To clarify, discretionary payments are taxable and completely at the choice of UFC management, and are on top of everything that is included in contracts.
4:11 Dana basically says he was being very generous considering Randy a signing bonus considering Randy’s two losses, and the risk of injury since Randy was so old. Because of the risk of injury, they gave him the first 250k and after the first fight he got another 250k.
4:13 Dana says Randy was 436k off in his calculations. Dana says he doesn’t think there’s another promoter out there who pays above and beyond what’s on contracts. Josh Barnett will disagree with you there. Of course, I think with Pride it was more sketchy gangster money than kindness. Dana says “Nothing is off the books. We’re not paying guys under the table.”
4:14 Re: UFC being a monopoly. “never in MMA has there been more opportunities for fighters right now. There’s 5 large companies here. Just because we’re better doesn’t mean we’re a monopoly” Yeah, but when you’re the biggest and trying to crush everyone, I think that’s kinda a monopoly.
4:15 Lorenzo says it’s pretty shocking that Randy’s contract being put out there is unprecedented and seemed calmly miffed about that. Says this has nothing to do with being public or private
4:16 Steve Cofield on the mic! Go boy! Question: Have you guys talked to Randy. Lorenzo says “I talked to him the day of his conference. I tried to explain the situation, but wasn’t good enough at it apparently because of the inaccurate things Randy said during his conference. We don’t’ want to do this he said / she said stuff. But what Randy is doing is damaging us and it’s damaging our sport. To have Randy use the platform we gave him to try and damage us hurts very much.”
4:17 Re: the meeting two weeks before the resignation. Lorenzo says “He did explain he was unhappy about other fighters getting more money or receiving large signing bonuses. Also heard about an offer to Fedor that made him feel disrespected. I felt we left this on a positive note. Randy said in his opinion the only fight worth fighting for him was a fight against Fedor and if that wasn’t going to happen he might retire”
Dana says “He kinda jumped us and spat out his issues. I’ve had meetings with Chuck Liddell like this and had it out with pretty much every guy. I didn’t expect it from Randy at the time. I told him I’d get back to him … this was September and September was a very busy time. We didn’t realize we were on some 2 week notice. Two weeks is like two hours and we didn’t know Randy was at risk.”
4:20 : Are you gonna take Legal action. Lorenzo “Randy is still under contract and we’ll do what we have to do to protect our rights.” OOOOOH SNAP. Question: How do you feel about not having #1 fighter in Fedor, and now you lost number 2?” Dana: “Blah blah Fedor sucks, he’s fought a bunch of pushovers. Randy Couture is the #1 fighter in the world.”
Dana: “I don’t know how we got here and I don’t know what I did wrong. I just can’t believe that Randy left. A lot of the stuff that Randy was complaining about wasn’t to do with fighting. Stuff about pros and joes. I would have been willing to hand out the same paperwork I’m handing out here (they’re giving out the numbers on paper) to Randy happily.
4:23 : Dana “I felt like I got kicked in the throat” Now I guess ya know how a lot of fighters feel, bud. “I had a good relationship with Randy … or at least I thought I did”
4:24 : How is this going to affect Xtreme Couture fighters. Dana “If tito and I can work things out, I’m sure Randy and I can.”
4:25 : Dana “This is the last time we’re talking about Randy. Get your questions in today because this is the last time. And there’ll never be a breaking point … we’ll always want Randy back”
4:26 : Lorenzo “I was hurt … it hurt … this all hurts!”
4:26 : Lorenzo “When you add it up, it’s not what Randy gave.”
4:27 : Is it two more fights or is it 9 months? Dana : “We’ll find out!” Hmm … thems litigious words!
4:27 : MMA Weekly asks a question. They mumble where they’re from … probably afraid Dana will kick him out for being part of the evil internets.
4:28 : That whole Carmen Electra thing was some lame Maxim photoshoot thing where they wanted him to take photos for free but he didn’t want to
4:29 : Dana admits he kept counting Randy out … against Pedro, against Chuck, etc. Lorenzo adds that regardless, he’s always at the top of the food chain and always gets a title shot. He’s probably the guy with the most title shots in UFC history.
4:30 : “We hope it doesn’t end up in court, but that’s up to Randy Couture”. Dana reiterates his ‘hollywood agent theory’.
4:31 : Dana asks “What’s the end game here? The stuff he said was false … I don’t get it. We’ll find out where this is going!”
4:32 : Steve Cofield is owning the mic. “When’s the cutoff?” Dana says “We’re gonna offer Randy a fight early next year against Nog and we’ll see?”
4:33 : Steve asks about M-1 and if Randy is going to fight in M-1. Dana says “What do you think?” about 20 times. Maybe he forgot who’s press conference this is.
4:34 : What happens if he turns down the fight? Dana : “If he turns down the fight, he retires, and if he retires we get two fighters to fight for the vacant title” Damn that ‘retirement’ bullshit.
4:35 : Go phone conference technology. They try to take it to the phones and it’s not working too well. And we’re good.
4:35 : Does this make you take a step back and say “We should disclose what they earn?” A more obvious answer has never been uttered : “Noooooooooo”. Same old blah : Fighters don’t want to talk about money. It makes Dana’s tummy hurt. Boo hoo. As far as Dana’s concerned, it’s gonna be his way or the highway.
4:36 : Since the day of the press conference, they haven’t talked. Dana thought this whole thing was about him and he felt like a teenage girlfriend who had been dumped. Finally after Randy and him talked it seemed okay but then the press conference happened and now they’re where they’re at.
4:37 : Another question about the 2 fights or 9 months question. Dana says “I’m not gonna answer that. We paid Randy 500k to sign the contract, we’re gonna do everything we can to make sure he honors that contract”
4:38 : Some guy asks how much the UFC makes, and that the money seems small compared to what other sports guys make. Dana makes an analogy that big golfers don’t make shit either. Says 3 million for two fights is pretty damn good. Points out the infrastructure to make UFC succeed is massive and a lot of the money goes to that.
4:40 : Dana said “Some guys want more straight up money and some guys want more PPV moneys. Randy chose the PPV numbers.” Guess he wishes he got to fight Tito Ortiz again or something.
4:41 : Who’ll be next in line if Randy’s gone? Dana says he has no idea … as far as he’s concerned Randy is still champion and they’re gonna work this out.
4:42 : How do I watch this conference? Fucking hell, grandpa wants this shit tech supported?
4:43 : Meltzer shows up, asks another question regarding the contract freeze. Dana says “We don’t talk about this shit … we’re talking numbers but not the contract.”
4:44 : Dana “We thought he had resigned from doing all the other jobs he did for the ufc. You can’t resign from a contract.”
4:45 : Question re: did they feel like he was serious when he said he’d retire if he didn’t get to fight Fedor. Lorenzo said “We didn’t really think he would retire.” Dana says “When he left last time it was coming off of two losses. Now if he left it would be from a much better position”
4:46 : Dana “One last chance for questions before we’re gone forever”
4:47 : Some douche from the Las Vegas Sun asks some gay question about sports betting. Lorenzo says “We’re down with that so long as it’s legal. Because of Station’s involvement in the UFC we don’t take bets. We could, but we don’t ever want questions to be raised.”
4:49 : This guy is a moron. “Do you want to see betting lines all over town?” Duuuuuuuh. Sit down, you press monkey.
4:50 : No one has asked about the whole “You’re the second highest paid fighter” thing. Congrats, media. You guys suck.
4:50 : Dana says no fucking way to Randy being sent to M-1 to fight Fedor.
4:51 : Oh fuck. Now they’re asking questions about stupid shit like fights in Mexico. Lorenzo says “Mexico is good, one day we’ll do something there. But for now there’s no specific plans.”
4:52 : Cofield on the warpath. Question re: the offer to fedor and if it was more than 1 million per fight. Dana said “Fedor would have never made more money than Randy made. The funny thing is Randy said he knew how much Fedor was going to make. But Randy didn’t even know what HE was making.”
4:53 : Dana “Everyone knows my personality and I tell it like it is. If I didn’t like him I’d tell you. We’ve never had issues with him personally. We’ve had some small business issues but that’s the kind of thing we deal with all the time.”
4:54 : Lorenzo: “Randy has never complained about anything to me, so it was a shock how this whole thing came down.”
4:55 : What’s the biggest fuckup … HBO, Randy, or Fedor? Dana said “We walked away from the HBO deal. We wanted to get Fedor just for Randy. I don’t give a fuck about Fedor.”
4:55 : Lorenzo “When we bought this company, we had to do a FEMA and have employees ask questions. Over all the time we were losing money but we never bounced a check and we ate all the losses. One of the goals was that we would get to pay a fighter a million bucks. Little did I know that would be the start of my problems” Wha … big money big problems? What a surprise.
And that’s it. First five minutes were meaty, and I guess now we just wait for that ‘fact sheet’ to make it’s way to the internet.
The problem with basing your entire promotion around the acquisition of one fighter is that if that fighter goes down, you’re fucked. Thus is the position of M-1 as they wade into the battleground that is MMA. They came into existence for Fedor. They bought M-1 for Fedor. They expect other fighters to come because of Fedor. Is this the MMA equivalent of “Field of Dreams” or what!
M-1 won’t always be completely dependant on Fedor to carry their organization. But you better believe that Fedor is just as important to M-1 as Beckham was for the Los Angeles Galaxy. But MMA is not soccer, where you can suck balls for a long time and still be a fan favorite. The moment Fedor loses a fight, he loses his spot as #1 in the world. And with that much of his mystique and a lot of his value disappears.
M-1 probably realizes this and will most likely feed Fedor a number of softballs as the company gets on their feet. Jeff Monson, Ricardo Arona, and Rickson Gracie have all been mentioned as potential opponents for the big Russian. The only mention of Josh Barnett has been from Monte Cox saying “Josh looks like he’ll be signing with another company”. I dunno if that’s true, but you better believe M-1 isn’t about to match Fedor up with the most dangerous free agent on the market. It’s simply too dangerous of a business decision to make.
It’s a funny situation and just another example of how MMA is one of the most interesting sports to follow in terms of business wheeling and dealing. It kinda sucks that Fedor has basically become a pawn in the game promoters are playing, but you can blame that on his managers for being balls deep in that game.
In the end all we can really hope for is that eventually Fedor will get his day in the ring with the Josh Barnetts and the Randy Coutures of the sport. But I wouldn’t bet on it happening before M-1 has grown enough not to need Fedor to survive.
Aw shit … this has not been a good couple of months for Din Thomas. He exploded his kneeball against Kenny Florian back at Ultimate Fight Night 11, and now he’s being arrested and given felony charges for hosting a smoker at his gym:
Din Thomas, almost a legend in the ultimate fighting world, was arrested Tuesday after police say he ran “illegal cage fighting” matches at a local training studio that he runs, a police spokesman said.
Thomas, 31, faces a felony prohibited competitions charge after police got a tip Oct. 19 about the matches at a facility he uses in St. Lucie West.
Inside, they observed two men fighting in an octagon-shaped ring surrounded by about 150 spectators. The fights reportedly weren’t sanctioned.
The silver lining in this was that the newspaper called Din “almost a legend in the ultimate fighting world”. Not too shabby for a TUF wash up, huh? Of course, it doesn’t make up for the downside: that the law is not on Din’s side. Here’s Florida’s laws regarding this:
548.008 Prohibited competitions.–
(1) No match involving amateurs which utilizes, but is not necessarily limited to, strikes or blows to the head may be held in this state unless it is sanctioned and supervised by an amateur sanctioning organization approved by the commission as required by this chapter.
(2) No amateur mixed martial arts match may be held in this state.
(3) No professional match may be held in this state unless it meets the requirements for holding the match as provided in this chapter and the rules adopted by the commission.
(4)(a) Any person participating in a match prohibited under this section, knowing the match to be prohibited, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) Any person holding, promoting, or sponsoring a match prohibited under this section commits a felony
This is a pretty big fucking deal … smokers (exhibition matches) are a massive part of amateur MMA. If police start throwing gym owners in jail because of them, who knows what’s next?
There’s enough grey area in MMA training to throw quite a few innocent people in jail. What constitutes an illegal fight? If these guys were wearing headgear would it have been considered sparring or fighting? If there were 50 people there instead of 150? Is the key component a $5 door fee?
A felony is pretty fucking serious business … this could end very badly for Din. There’s not enough details right now to say for sure what’s going on, but I don’t like this one bit. You better believe I’m gonna follow this closely and update on it as the story progresses.
Yeah … another day, another problem with WordPress. Now it seems like comments aren’t being accepted, so please don’t spend 10 minutes writing out long detailed messages because the site is currently a black hole.
If anyone has any ideas what could be causing this, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org … most of the fun I get from this site is reading the comments, so without that I’ll wilt like a rose without water
**Update** Okay, I think shit is fixed, but I would really really appreciate it if people gave it a shot and emailed me at email@example.com if their comment doesn’t appear immediately after they post it. I don’t ask for much, ya know! So yeah. Dooooo it!
Monte Cox was on Sherdog radio two days ago to talk about M-1. For the most part, Monte went through all the same talking points that have been repeated since their press conference two weeks ago. But one interesting thing worth talking about was M-1’s attempt to get on TV:
Cox confirmed that M-1 was still meeting with organizations on Friday and against on Monday to discuss terms of deals. He stated that on Tuesday, the organization will begin mulling over the terms of each deal and pick the best one that fits the organization. He did mention one confirmation of a rumor. ESPN is apparently in the running.
It’s pretty bold of them to make it sound like they’ve got TV deals left and right … like the hard part is going to be choosing between all their options. Considering the number of organizations which have fallen on their swords because they couldn’t get a TV deal worth more than the paper it was printed on, I seriously doubt this. And ESPN is ‘in the running’? Very interesting.
The MMA Analyst article goes over a number of reasons why ESPN would work with M-1 when they won’t work with the UFC. But they missed a very obvious reason: The UFC probably wants a fuckload of money and tons of conditions. ESPN is shameless in what they’ll cover … half the shit they show barely qualifies as sports. I have no doubt that M-1 could wrangle a hairy balls contract with them that will most likely result in their show getting a month delayed broadcast on Tuesday at 1am. But what the fuck is that worth?