Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sorting Throught the "Big Announcemnt" Rumors

When Dana White says a big announcement is imminent, most MMA fans have learned to get to intrigued. As often as not in the last year or so, White has shown that he jumps the gun on suggesting big news is on the horizon, leaving people doubthing his word.

But when he rents out a "undisclosed location" and brings the entire staff of the UFC in for an announcement that will indicate "where the sport is going over the next five years," a lot of us get sucked up in the hyperbole and are wondering what the hell is going on.

And no one seems to know. When Sam Caplan and his friends over at 5oz's get catch more than the slightest whiff of what's going on, when Zach Arnold and Fight Opinion have barely mentioned anything, and when no site has anything more than a pie in the sky rumor, you know whatever is happening is known by only a few people, and they're keeping it close to the vest.

The rumors out there are breaking down into three main categories:

1. Talent Announcements

Floyd Mayweaterh
The day after White made his comments about a big impending announcemnt, boxing's pound for pound best fighter Floyd Mayweather made one of his own. Saying he didn't have the drive for "this sport" anymore, Mayweather announced his retirement from boxing.

ON the surface, a lot of people have taken that to mean that he has an interest in MMA and will make the switch. MediaTakeOUt.com has gone so far as to suggest that Mayweather is being brought into the UFC and being given an equity share in the company...to the tune of $200 million.

Somehow I don't see it. While the story of having the world's second most famous active boxer jumping would be big, and a big blow to the world of boxing at the same time, it's in no way worth $200 million. OR anywhere near that. I don't think the UFC is losing out on too many PPV buys to boxing right now, so it's just not worth it.

On Mayweather's side, I can't see it either. He's a great boxer, but one with little power and brittle hands. Put 4 ounce gloves on him, and I'll guarantee he breaks at least one hand in his first fight. Beyond that, he's far too small to compete even at lightweight in MMA.

And finally, Mayweather is not known in boxing circles as looking to take on big challenges. He mostly picks fights he can win and avoids fighters - Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito - that could pen his first loss.

The most likely scenario for Mayweather's retirement is that he's trying to position himself to be De La Hoya's retirment fight, and not just his second to last fight.

Anderson Silva
He's been the most dominant champion the UFC has seen in a while, blowing the only two fighters given a chance against him out of the water, and really has no "money" fights left at 185. So what do you do with Anderson Silva?

Why, move him up to 205 and have him main event against Chuck Liddell at the UFC's Atlanta debut in September.

Sounds good to me, I'd imagine it sounds good to everyone involved.

And while I think this is a rumor that will likely come to fruition, I don't think it's big enough to be THE announcement.

2. The Sale

As the main rumor goes right now, Dana White has put together a conglomerate to buy out the Fertitta brothers and now will run the UFC himself...which he pretty much does now, so I'm not sure how big a deal this is.

The 'OMG!!!" part of the rumor has Vince McMahon and the WWE as one of the major investors.

Let me just go out on a limb and say......HAHAHAHAH! If there's anyway at all that White would allow the UFC to be tainted by association with "fake" wrestling, then I'm a monkey's uncle.

Other than the WWE part, I can actually see this happening as rumors were swirling about two months ago that the UFC was up for sale. ANd while this would be a "big" announcement, I don't think a White-headed purchase would be that earth shattering.

3. TV Deal

I think this one has BIG legs. We know various deals have been in the discussion stages for a while, but with the success of EXC on CBS, you've got to imagine that a few people on the TV side of things got a lot easier to deal with.

And the field is WIDE open. NBC has Strikeforce late nights on Saturday right now, but if they're happy with that show, I'd imagine they'd love to get in bed with the UFC. ABC is a possiblity, but I really can't see Disney putting MMA on their main network. THat leaves FOX out of the big 4, and on the surface they seem like the best fit. We'll see.

But network TV isn't the end all be all right now, and some other attractive avenues are probably open as well.

Disney might be uncomfortable putting MMA on ABC, but it'd be a better fit for them on ESPN. With the coverage given MMA on Sportscenter, the biggest sports channel of them all has been slowly coming around on MMA. It's not unreasonable to think they might want to air some live shows, or maybe even do a Friday Night FIghts kind of deal with MMA.

And let's not forget HBO, where all this talk started. Some of the plans on how to use HBO in the business and marketing plan of the UFC sounded pretty fleshed out last year so finally getting that deal done might be the big announcement. Of course, that's been sititng on the vine so long, the deal may have rotted.

Personally, I'm thinking it's a combination of options two and three - a new TV deal, with either ZUFFA selling or a network buying equity.

Of course, it could be something totally different. Here's my guesswork idea:

With all the problems they've been having with unhappy talent, the UFC will be switching to a salary pay scale with all new contracts. Fighters will be signed to a yearly salary, but given large incentive bonuses for fights/good performances. At the same time you'll see a big raise in salary, with the low end contracts being for $50000 minimum.

Who knows.....

No comments: