Archive for February, 2010

Pay The Man

Posted in Boxing, MMA with tags , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Dallas O'Malley

The UFC’s story is quite touching. Going from nearly extinct a few years ago to currently the world’s #1 combat sport brand. Still don’t think so? Well UFC’s pay-per-view numbers for 2009 are astonishing. Of the top ten pay-per-view events of 2009, the UFC claimed six to boxing’s three. The UFC accumulated 6.13 millions pay-per-view buys on that list versus 3.125 million for boxing. When comparing boxing’s top 3 event totals to those of the UFC, Dana White smiles emphatically thanks to a distinct 2-1 victory over the age old sport, and not to mention their biggest competition. That is quite the success story. It’s the stuff Hollywood scripts are made of. Now when exactly do they plan on finally passing along their good fortune to their fighters?

Brock Lesnar headlined UFC100, the top PPV event of ’09, and received a $3 million payday once all was accounted for. It’s worthing nothing that a far less popular and disgraced boxer, Antonio Margarito, cashed in $2.3 million for fighting Shane Mosley on a regular broadcast of HBO’s Championship Boxing in January ’09. Boxing’s top draws can bank on $20 million when negotiating to fight each other, but the UFC can’t afford more than $3 million to its biggest cash cow for the most important show in the company’s history? WTF?

The UFC is raking in money hand over fist. Need more proof? UFC 100 sold 1.6 million PPVs. The monetary totals are undisclosed, but we can only estimate $320 million in UFC 100 purchases. That estimate was drawn from conservatively figuring the breakdown at 80% were home buys at $50 each, and 20% bar/extended outpost at $800 a piece. That’s a massive total already even without figuring in gate receipts and merchandising. It far exceeds HBO’s single broadcast budget. Lesnar’s pay wouldn’t even account for 1% of the pay-per-view revenues.

Boxing also has more payout obstacles. Bloated sanctioning fees from their governing bodies like the WBA, WBC and IBF often cripple the boxer’s purse. The UFC is free of that burden. Both boxing and the UFC hold events where this is no state tax. Both are also very profitable thanks to sponsors and confidential licensing fees.

There is no excuse for the anemic salaries awarded to UFC fighters. It is highway robbery when you consider a punk like Floyd Mayweather is making eight figures for his pitter-patter glorified sparring sessions on PPV. The UFC is a rock solid promotion amassed from the blood spilled by its fighters. Safe from any Affliction-type meltdowns in their future. What’s right is right and if the UFC is surpassing boxing’s numbers, then the fighter’s pay should be too or at least come close to it.


UFC Cards Are More Like IRS Returns

Posted in Boxing, MMA with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by Dallas O'Malley

UFC 110 is now over and the countdown to UFC 111 begins.  UFC 111, unlike the more recent UFC pay-per-view telecasts, is one well worth the tag price.  That can’t be said out loud about cards like UFC 110 and UFC 109.  The fact is there are too many UFC cards on PPV.  Dana White was a boxer back in  his day and apparently he still has it in his system.  How else do you explain the UFC’s overabundance of PPV events?  Hosting too many PPVs seriously hurt boxing industry.  UFC head honcho Dana White has acknowledged this in the past and here he is committing the same crimes as boxing did.  The UFC is becoming more like the IRS where the more you put in the less you get out of it.

What kills me is Dana White’s outlook on the situation.  When questioned about this issue this is what he had to say:

“UFC fans are spoiled.  There’s gonna be the people that always bitch and I say what I always say, ‘don’t buy it!.’ If you don’t like the ______ card don’t buy it. I don’t give a _______…People who are real fight fans and want to sit home on a Saturday and watch fights, will watch it. Nobody’s _______ making you buy fights and watch the pay-per-view. Watch “American Idol,” I could care less.”

Wow.  Dana White is a smart and cunning business man, but no one accused him of having any class or common sense for that matter.  These are hard times and the recession is still affecting millions of people around the country.  Even so, UFC fans are still hunkering down $50 a pop every time Dana White decides to put together a fight card.  In 2009, the UFC had 6 out of the top 10 PPV purchased events thus totalling 6.13 million buys.  That’s a lot of people making Dana White rich.  So I ask, who is the spoiled one here:  Dana White or the devoted fan who keeps White employed?

The upside to the UFC cards is that there is more depth in their events.  Whereas boxing cards tend to focus on one fight that being the main event.  All I’m saying is stop with the tricks like bringing guys back from the dead for cheap nostalgia pops.  The Tito Ortiz’s and Mark Coleman’s of the world.  Randy Couture and The Senior Tour are OK, but not as a PPV headliners.

Injuries to stars happen all the time and it causes headaches for the promoters, but the fans are the ones who suffer the most.  Although there is no reason that the UFC couldn’t reschedule its events in the case of an injury or a setback.  If the UFC scraps or reschedules an event it loses money, but would they rather lose their fan base altogether like boxing almost did?  Not to mention having stars on the program actually justify the high cost of a PPV event.  If the fight is delayed then it only adds to the anticipation.

The bottom line is Dana White and the UFC’s round table should be grateful for their growing success.  The people paying for their cushioned lifestyle are saying something so maybe they should listen. Throw the customer a bone and give them what they want:  more star power for the money.  Not every card can be like UFC 100 but there’s no reason to force feed the consumer Couture-Coleman.  The bottom line is that the fans keep investing in the UFC, it’s time they give something of true value back.

Hardy is Serra-ously Mistaken

Posted in MMA with tags , , , on February 19, 2010 by Dallas O'Malley

There are three things I am looking forward to most this Spring:

3)  saying goodbye to a brutally cold winter

2) my upcoming family vacation

1) the Octagon return of Georges “Rush” St. Pierre at UFC 111

There are few things in my life that stir my grits like a GSP fight does.  What makes his 2010 debut even more enticing is GSP’s recent focus on becoming more explosive and finishing fights instead of grinding out shut out decision victories.  As MMA becomes more evolved, so does the world’s best fighter.  The moment a fighter stops adding more to his game is the moment the sport passes him by.  Georges St. Pierre knows this and never takes anything for granted.  He has been scary good since his entire career.  The thought of a more destructive GSP was enough for me to schedule my vacation around UFC 111.

His latest challenger, Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy, still thinks he’s going to pull a Matt Serra on the champ.  Is he serious?  Has he been following St. Pierre at all on his way to the front of the pecking order?  GSP learns from all his wins, and most of all, his losses.  He’s 3 years removed from the first Serra fight and since then has emerged an even more dominant fighter.  Much to the distress of the welterweight division.  Yet, since first making the bold prediction a few months ago and until now, the brash Brit is still day dreaming of a career-defining KO victory.

It’s OK to dream, but everyone has to wake up sooner or later.  Sooner rather than later would be best for Hardy. There have been many fighters, far better than Dan Hardy, who have shared the same KO aspirations. Yet in return all they received was a humbling lesson:  if you’re going into the fight looking to knockout the pound-for-pound king, then you’re in for a long night.  Thwarting bruisers like Thiago Alves and Josh Koscheck is second nature to St. Pierre.  In the end GSP’s foes often look foolish for approaching the fight with a strategy like Hardy’s.  Hardy’s trainers should be telling him this but apparently they must be as clueless as he is.

Maybe the whole Dan Hardy camp forgot that 3 of Hardy’s 4 UFC wins have come by decision.  I’d like to understand the reasoning on how stopping Rory Markham 3 fights ago would suddenly make Hardy a knockout artist now…but I can’t.  Going for the knockout is going to make this fight more like GSP-Serra II than GSP-Serra I.  Apparently Hardy is not only outspoken, but dumb as well.  Otherwise he would have learned this ages ago like the rest of the world.

Hardy’s KO prediction didn’t send the fight world abuzz. He’s neither the first to be so arrogant about his chances against GSP, nor will he be the last.  I’m actually glad he’s not backing off of his claim.  I love watching Georges St. Pierre crush people.  Especially big mouth, over inflated jerks like Dan Hardy.  Of course it’s going to be well worth $50 unless you’re related to Dan Hardy.

Cyborg’s Next Test

Posted in MMA with tags , , , on February 18, 2010 by Dallas O'Malley

Women’s MMA is Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos’ oyster.  Since conquering Gina Carano last August, the Strikeforce Featherweight Champion continues to improve at an alarming rate.  Cyborg’s recent destruction over submission veteran Marloes Coenen, makes the contender’s list look more like a grocery list for Cyborg to gobble up.  Women’s MMA is still in its infancy stage and the biggest obstacle is the incredibly shallow talent pool.  Coenen was Cyborg’s stiffest challenge to date, but Cyborg still stalked her down and finished her in 3 rounds. Cyborg is a beast and the only question surrounding her is who can challenge her?

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is hoping his latest acquisition and named next-in-line challenger, Erin Toughill, is the one who can actually threaten Cyborg’s title.  Coker would have preferred building Toughill for the American audience but Cyborg’s dominance has forced his hand.  Toughill is a big, strong and experienced fighter in both MMA (10-2-1) as well as boxing (8-2-1).  She is a worthy adversary for the champion and for the 1st time in her career, Cyborg will find her natural advantages taken away from her.  That in itself makes the match up more interesting.

Under normal circumstances, Cyborg is the larger woman in the cage.  Cyborg’s size has often overwhelmed her opponents.  That’s not going to be the case against the former American Gladiator.  The 5’8″ fighting phenom will not have that luxury with the 5’10” Toughill as her dancing partner.  Cyborg has had weight issues in the past.  She has fought a couple of pounds over the 145 lbs limit but never in a contest contracted over the featherweight limit.  Toughill has consistently competed between 160-170lbs and has successfully made the transition to 145lbs.  Cyborg’s bullying tactics will most likely not work on a woman on Toughill’s size.

Taking in account Cyborg’s trademark wild attacking style, it could be thwarted by a larger and patient counter puncher (see Dan Henderson vs. Wanderlei Silva).  Herein lies another obstacle for Cyborg.  Toughill has had her share of encounters with savage females.  She knows how to tackle that situation.  Toughill has also brought her power down with the weight cut.  All of that, along with her boxing background, made it possible to knock out the very same Marloes Coenen in only 1 round.  Toughill should be the crisper and cleaner puncher in the fight.  If she can weather the storm of punches thrown by Cyborg, she maybe be able to find an opening to make the champion pay for being overzealous.  Cyborg has shown a great chin in her fights by walking through her opponents shots, but Toughill does not punch like anyone from Cyborg’s past.  The flip side to that is Toughill has been chin checked and stopped before, but by better and bigger strikers.  Toughill gave Laila Ali a good fight at 168 lbs in one of boxing’s most brutal female matches, but ultimately succumbed to the quicker Ali whose straight right hands have been too much for any female to bear.  Even those with a zero fight IQ know that Ali is a far better puncher than Cyborg.  One of Toughill’s 2 MMA loses came against a 300 lbs+ Russian (the other loss was a disqualification), therefore she has been hit with more than what Cyborg is physically capable of.  It goes without saying that she will be ready for everything in Cyborg’s kitchen sink.

Women’s MMA might not carry the same weight it does when Gina Carano isn’t the headliner, but Cyborg-Toughill should peak any fight fan’s interest.  Knowing that Cyborg will be pushed should be enough reason to tune in, but the main reason you should be excited about this match up is because both these women come to fight.  MMA audiences love striking affairs and both women will be content on keeping the fight standing until one of them goes down.  Both are comfortable on the ground and have notched some impressive wins there, but their strengths and passions are in the striking game.  There is plenty to celebrate when you have two straight ahead warriors like Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Erin Toughill.  MMA is full of dominant champions and the winner will have the goods to join the likes of BJ Penn, GSP and Anderson Silva as dominant division kingpins.  That is something to be appreciated.  The book is already out on Cyborg and now that you know more about Erin Toughill, I hope you pay these two great women the ultimate respect by watching their championship contest.  This one will be a classic for as long as it lasts.

Barry Sanders: The Ringless Champion

Posted in NFL with tags , , on February 11, 2010 by Dallas O'Malley

The talk surrounding Super Bowl XLIV is beginning to simmer down.  The storybook ending for the New Orleans Saints culminated in the most watched Super Bowl of all-time.  Somewhere between the Saints saving New Orleans and the Mardi Gras style Super Bowl victory parade, I began to reflect on great players who lost the Super Bowl thus never reaching the sport’s pinnacle.  Worse than that are the men who never even had an opportunity to compete for a NFL championship.  No one’s trophy denied career makes my heart sink more than Barry Sanders.

Sanders was the most phenomenal physical specimen ever, I mean ever, to grace the gridiron.  Sanders is without a doubt the best running back ever to play the game.  It doesn’t matter who comes up in the conversation.  Whether it’s Jim Brown, Walter Payton or Eric Dickerson because they are beneath the mighty Barry Sanders.  Sanders was a perfect storm of  Brown’s power running, Payton’s elusiveness and Dickerson’s speed.  Also further separating him from the rest of the pack were his Michael Jackson moves that humiliated would-be tacklers.  No play was ever dead with Sanders.  His stops, spins and slides were video game-esque and a thing of beauty.  With such awe-inspiring talent it’s no wonder he was appreciated by all, including his opponents.  Many players have said that the one player they would pay to watch would be Barry Sanders.  He was the Michael Jordan of NFL running backs.

Every running back in history can attribute some percentage of his stats to his teams.  Whether it the benefit of a great offensive line or playing with a pass potent offense that opposing defenses had to account for, every back had someone to help them along the way.  There was no bigger crime in the NFL’s history than Barry Sanders tenure in Detroit. There he earned every inch he gained all by himself in his storied 10 year career. When the sorry Lions came up on a team’s schedule the game plan was simple:  throw all 11 members of the defense at Sanders.  The Lions couldn’t and wouldn’t throw the ball.  There was no offensive line to create holes and it left Sanders to make his own openings.  The coaching staff was poignant and the GM was Matt Millen.  ‘Nuff said with the latter.  Had Sanders landed in Dallas, with that O-Line, then Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin would have been expendable.

He never showboated and never talked trash.  He respected the game, the officials and his opponents.  There were no taunts or end zone celebrations.  Sanders simply played the game the way it was meant to be played.  Sanders was a fierce competitor but you never witnessed him as a sour sport.

More grand than his physical gifts was his character.  Sanders’ humility made him special.  Unlike many of today’s athletes, Sanders never lost sight of himself.  By millionaire standards, Sanders lived like a poor man.  In his prime, he lived in a median $180K home and did all of his own yard work.  Remaining true to his common man roots, despite earning several million dollars a year, was more electrifying as his on field performances.

There is nothing to feel but anguish when swine like T.O had the opportunity to showcase his skills on Super Sunday and Sanders didn’t.  It’s something I cannot abide.  It doesn’t sit well with me.  Good things don’t always happen to good people.  If that were true this post would cease to exist.  Barry deserved better, no wait; he deserved the best.  Nothing can ever change the past, but remembering his brilliance and never forgetting his cruel misfortune is the greatest respect I can pay the champion without a ring…Barry Sanders.

Super Saints Indeed

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , on February 8, 2010 by Dallas O'Malley

The NFL’s feel good story of the year had a sweet ending tonight with the Saints winning the 1st Lombardi Trophy in team history.  This has been a special team all season long who fought hard till the very end even when many, including myself, began to lose faith.  The Saints never lost faith in themselves and their special bond, one that can only exist when a team is made up of written off and undrafted players like the Saints, is what kept this team focused instead of falling apart.  Leading the way was head coach Sean Payton and his brass set that set a tone never seen before in the Superbowl.  Then there’s the magnificent Drew Brees.  Brees was simply brilliant on the game’s biggest stage and joined the Elite QB Club with a MVP performance.  Football though is a team sport and the defense was explosive all postseason long.  The defense lambasted three future Hall of Fame quarterbacks this postseason:  Kurt Warner, Brett Favre and regular season MVP Peyton Manning.  The Saints had some pretty nasty labels over the years but Superbowls have a way of changing perception.  Now there is only one way to see the New Orleans Saints and that is as World Champions.  Who Dat say gonna beat ‘dem Saints?  Nobody;  their destiny is now fulfilled.  Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints and the Who Dat Nation.  Party up and party hard.  You deserve it.

Superbowl Points of Impact

Posted in NFL with tags , , , on February 3, 2010 by Dallas O'Malley

Superbowl XLIV is only a half week away and there are no shortage of storylines to feast on. Some stories are media bliss and others are web page fillers. Here are some things I’d like to point out about this year’s championship game:

Hartley X

To borrow a phrase from “The Situation” (yes I was hooked on “The Jersey Shore” and I’m man enough to admit it), Garrett Hartley flipped his own script. He went from a zero to a hero in about 3 seconds or how ever long it takes for a perfect 40 yard field goal to go through the uprights. Hartley was the most hated man in New Orleans in week 15, now a 23 year old who kicked himself in the history books past the great Morten Anderson and Tom Dempsey. Hartley gained much needed confidence with the most important kick in Saints history. Hartley is the x-factor for the Saints in the Superbowl. With all the talk of the offenses of both teams it’s quite possible the game can come down to a final kick. Hartley exorcised the demons of missed field goals past, and the Saints can rest easy knowing Hartley is ready should they call his number again.

Freeney Will Play

The media has blown this issue way out of proportion. Anyone who thinks a sprained ankle that will have had 2 weeks to heal, will keep Dwight Freeney out of the Superbowl must have rode the short bus to school. The entire sage of Freeney’s ankle was manifested to create the drama the media felt the game needed. It’s stupid and nothing short of a gun shot wound is going to keep him out of this game. Even with a banged up ankle he could still give Jerome Bushrod a world of trouble. Knowing this Freeney will suit up and lock in on a certain #9.

Difference Between Brees & Manning

What separates Drew Brees from Peyton Manning is the way they conduct themselves. Not in the terms of class or preparation but their body language and attitudes. Peyton Manning believes the Lombardi Trophy is rightfully his and Drew Brees is just prolonging the inevitable. His swagger epitomizes it. Since trumping the Patriots in ’07 playoffs, Manning has developed a killer instinct unseen before in him. Give him the gun and he will shoot Old Yeller without hesitation or remorse. It’s what elevated his game to yet another level. When it’s time to go for the jugular Manning does, and it has become his calling card in 2009.

When you look back at the great clutch quarterbacks like John Elway and Tom Brady, when the moment arrives that every athlete dreams of…they seized the moment. Since the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Brees has looked almost apathetic in the game’s waning moments. You can bet the farm that Manning noticed Brees’ conduct and body language in the pivotal 2nd half of the NFC Championship. He looked like Rocky Balboa trying to survive the 1st round with Ivan Drago. With the exception of the divisional round against the Cardinals, Brees has not put away opponents like all great quarterbacks do. If given the opportunity Brees needs to punch Manning on the chin or it will be his ultimate mistake.