11.29.2007 - 2:02:00 PM -
Sam Caplan Interviews: Vadim Finkelstein, Turi Altavilla
Sam Caplan recently had two interviews with M-1 executive Vadim Finkelstein and Former PRIDE USA Vice President of Production and Marketing Turi Altavilla. Vadim confirmed Dana White's assumption that russian's are crazy. Turi's interview was great and revealed some of the interworkings of PRIDE and what could have possibly lead to the demise of the company.
Here's a snippet from the Turi Altavilla interview:
Q: Jerry Millen was certainly much-maligned in the months leading up to the sale of Pride. Two other names that have received criticism, and you've referred to them vaguely at times in this interview, were Hideki Yamamoto and Yukino Kanda. Do you feel the criticism that has been levied against them is fair?
TA: Ah (hesitates)... yeah, in a lot of ways I do. It's not a personal thing. I don't have anything against them personally. I worked with them for years. But to be honest I never quite understood why they were in MMA. I just never understood it. They did not have a passion for it. A lot of guys get into MMA because they are passionate about it and it drives the business. I live and breath MMA. Any successful promoter out there does. Look at Terry Trebilcock, Scott Coker, T.J. Thompson, even Dana (White). We all have a sickness to put in the hours we put in. It's because we love it.
Q: Last year at this time there were a lot of rumors about Pride's future and those rumors lasted up until the announcement was made on March 27. What was Pride's management telling its employees while all the rumors of its demise were circulating?
TA: Internally we were told that we didn't have anything to worry about and that decisions were going to be made that would guarantee Pride's existence as what we believed the top brand in MMA. And I truly believe that during Pride's existence it was the best brand in the world. But things didn't turn out the way anybody wanted them to. What we were told was that "You don't have to worry about the UFC. The UFC is not going to buy Pride."
But what ended up happening was that the Fertittas (the majority owners of the UFC) bought Pride and that was the distinction. And the original plan was that the Fertittas were going to own Pride and it was going to be run as a separate entity (and that) none of us on the staff had to worry about our jobs. We were told over and over and over not to worry. But I still worried. And I think that was maybe the original intention -- I'm sure even on the Fertittas side. I know that Lorenzo (Fertitta) is a big Pride fan. He's clearly a Pride fan. I wouldn't doubt that the original intention was to keep Pride intact but clearly that was not what happened.
While this is a good interview those damn russians dodged the good shit, here's a quick nugget:
Sam Caplan: Recent speculation has suggested that Hong Man Choi will be fighting Fedor on the card. Has an opponent for Fedor been determined? If so, can you name that opponent?
Vadim Finkelstein: Hong Man Choi is most likely to be Fedor's opponent for New Year's. There are other candidates, which we are not revealing at this time.
Read the rest of the article here to see just how crazy those russians are.
The UFC held a press conference yesterday to announce the deal between SpikeTV and the UFC. They also had Brock Lesnar, Dana White, Chuck Liddell, and Wanderlei Silva available for comment. Sam Caplan has the best transcript from the conference call available in my opinion. Here's the skinny on the SpikeTV deal:
The deal includes five additional seasons of The Ultimate Fighter (26 episodes will be produced in 2008 and 26 more episodes in 2009 with one season due in 2010) and 12 live telecasts over the course of the four-year contract.
As a part of the agreement, a new live fight series will debut in 2010 and will air in 2011. It sounds as though this new fight series will be replacing The Ultimate Fighter reality television show. There weren't many details provided in regard to the new concept other than to state that it will be a live fight series and will involve a caliber of fighter at least one level above what appears on TUF on average each season.
Dana White on when BJ Penn will fight:
White did not confirm that B.J. Penn will be fighting Joe Stevenson at UFC 79 on Dec. 29 but did say that he thinks it will happen on that card. Although, he added that he wasn't sure.
Dana White on the Andrei Arlovski:
White was asked about Andrei Arlovski by a Chicago reporter. Dana said that Arlovski is "on the bench right now" and that he wants Arlovski to fight. He then alluded to contract issues but the reporter said his impression from Arlovski's camp is that he wants to fight and is waiting for an offer. Dana acted surprise. He said if Arlovski wants to talk then he's willing to fly to Chicago "tomorrow." The reporter asked Dana if the UFC was unhappy with Arlovski and Dana said no but then he said Arlovski's last fight for the promotion was boring.
5 Oz. has also added another new feature called MMA Prospects. The goal of this section is to give exposure to some of the top upcoming prospects in MMA and help readers to become familiar with fighters that they might not necessarily be very familiar with or get to see on a regular basis fighting in the smaller shows.
You may notice some of the names and you may not. Jon Murphy on that list looks like he could definitely be running with the big dogs of the UFC soon. This is a great new feature for the site so people can get a better glimpse at some of the guys we could see in the UFC or be UFC champs in the next 2 or 3 years.
Sam Caplan at 5 Oz. has another new feature at his site called the 5 Oz. Roundtable. Sam's got quite a group of writers over there blogging about MMA. You should definately check it out if you haven't already. The roundtable is exactly what it says, a roundtable discussion for all the writers to express their ideas on. The first topic was:
"What do you think of Randy Couture's decision to leave the UFC?"
Here's a little taste of what they had to say:
Sam Caplan: Now that some of the shock has worn off, maybe we should have seen the signs coming? Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reported several weeks back that a number of fighters were not happy and there were some issues about the reporting of buyrates and whether certain fighters would continue to even get a percentage of buyrates.
I'd love to ask Dana White directly whether Dan Henderson's assertion that the UFC has attempted to institute some cutbacks. Does the UFC owe so much in loan payments that they need to increase their cash flow through cuts in order to make payments? I'd also like to know what Randy's comment about not getting a bonus for the fight at UFC 74 vs. Gonzaga means. Is it a clerical situation where he simply hasn't been given his bonus because the UFC is still waiting for the numbers to come in or did he mean they are refusing to give him a bonus now and in the future?
I think the money situation goes beyond just Randy. On the surface, it just seems to make too much sense to not just give Couture a huge bump in pay for his final couple of fights. But perhaps the UFC feels that if they give Couture a substantial raise that it will open the floodgates and virtually every fighter in the UFC will ask for a raise.
Adam Morgan: I see this as completely shocking. It seems as if Dana and some other people don't think it's too much of a shock, but really, this is nothing but a huge middle finger in Dana White's direction. From the sounds of it, Randy was getting screwed by the UFC as far as compensation goes. For him to come out and say some of the things he's said today, things must not have been as kosher with the Dana White and the UFC as everyone seemed to have thought. Randy has sent a message to the UFC: Pay your fighters what they're worth. A top star in the UFC resigns and drops bombshells on the way out. This is a lesson the UFC is learning the hard way.
The other interesting point things here are the remarks from Randy from the Sherdog article. According to Randy, if UFC would have signed Fedor, this would have been the scenario: Fedor signs, they offer the fight to Randy, and Randy says "F*ck you guys, I want Fedor money." This is something no one's talking about. Can you imagine? Dana brings Fedor in to fight Randy and Randy retorts by telling him he won't fight unless he gets more money, basically holding Dana hostage.
I kind of wish this is the way things would have went down, to be honest. I'd like to have seen what Dana's response and Randy's response would be to the situation. Do you think Dana would have folded and given Randy his money? I think so. The Fedor vs. Randy fight is a dream matchup, one that many fans want and one that Dana wanted badly as well. If Randy were to hold him and the fight hostage for more money, then Dana has to fold in order to save face.
I commend Randy for telling it like it is and not holding back. When someone with his stature says these kinds of things, it sends shockwaves through the MMA community. And how big was Fedor's signing with M-1? In two days, the UFC lost him and Randy Couture as result. I wish the best for Randy and hopefully M-1 comes ringing on his doorbell, asking for an opponent for Fedor. Hey, there's always wishful thinking, right?
10.15.2007 - 10:26:00 PM -
Sam Caplan's Thoughts on Randy Couture
Sam Caplan of ProElite and 5 Oz. of Pain recently provided some great insight on the Randy Couture resignation situation. There has been a lot of debate throughout the internet on whether or not Randy Couture will be able to fight for another promotion in 9 months after the time lapses on his contract. Sam provides some great insight in this article.
There is growing speculation that Randy Couture will eventually resume his fighting career and will do so for a promotion outside of the UFC. Unless I'm missing something here, I don't think that's entirely possible unless something drastic happens.
Many people are assuming that Couture will be able to fight outside of the UFC after a recent clarification was made that he has not retired from MMA but has in fact resigned from the UFC. Couture's statement is perplexing because he has two fights remaining on his UFC contract. If he’s not retiring from MMA then how does he plan to compete again if his promotional rights are retained by the UFC?
It's possible that Couture knows he has no legal way of fighting for another promotion but is phrasing his departure as a resignation as opposed to a retirement so that the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of UFC management. By saying he is resigning as opposed to retiring, it limits the ability for how the UFC can spin the situation. It seems to me that he's drawn a line in the sand and rather than take his case to a court of law, he's taking his case to the public court of opinion. It's a savy move on his part considering that he's one of the most beloved figures in the sport. It certainly never hurts to have an outpouring of public support to back your cause.
It's been said by some that Randy could become a free agent when his contract expires in nine months and that a showdown with Fedor Emelianenko under the M-1 banner is likely. However, based on my limited knowledge of the structure of the UFC's contracts, a scenario in which Couture becomes a free agent and can compete for another promotion is not possible.
It's been explained to me that a Zuffa contract contains two provisions when it comes to the length of a contract: the term (time period) of the agreement and the number of bouts. In order for a contract to expire and for a fighter to become able to negotiate with other promotions, a fighter must satisfy both the term and the number of bouts.