Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WHATS THE UFC AND DANA UP TO ?


June 10, 2008 - The UFC's planned a big announcement for this week that, according to president Dana White, will shock the industry. To further the point, White's rented out a location in New York to tell all his employees about said announcement, which could be a red herring, but likely is a true representation of the magnitude of this potential announcement, one that White's said is both "out of left field" and "will change the industry for the next five years".

Of course, there's been heaping amounts of speculation regarding what the announcement will be. We have a poll on the front page of IGN Sports with a mix of realistic suggestions and comical ones (unless you consider Chuck Liddell shaving his mohawk to be serious business), but it's worth seriously analyzing the possibilities and what they might be. We'll name the rumors and put odds on each actually being the big news.

Floyd Mayweather Signing With UFC: This rumor currently leads our poll, and it's easy to understand why. The former boxing champion already diversified his brand by signing with WWE for a match and appearing on "Dancing With The Stars", so he's comfortable going outside of boxing. Mayweather is famously all about the money, and the rumors have pegged him receiving a huge purse and potential stake in the company were he to join UFC. Furthermore, he recently retired in a sudden, unexpected fashion, only months before a huge money fight with Oscar de la Hoya.

It's that fact which makes us believe that Mayweather's not the story. Sure, UFC wouldn't have wanted him to fight de la Hoya if the possibility was that he'd lose, but Mayweather wasn't likely to give up a purse and pay-per-view bonus of $30+ million only to fight in a new sport. Furthermore, who would he fight in UFC that would make a big money fight? That's a topic for another article altogether, but Mayweather would likely have to bulk up to 155 to fight BJ Penn, and even that doesn't seem like a huge money fight. The possibility is there, but we're not biting on it being the announcement. (In addition, shortly after this article was posted, White said on CNBC that the announcement was not a deal with Mayweather.)Odds: 20:1




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UFC Linking Up With WWE: Arguably the most shocking of all the rumors would see WWE buying or establishing some sort of partnership with UFC, a move WWE could see as more enticing in lieu of actually competing against the company for pay-per-view dollars. It would seem impossible, though, that such a huge deal could come out of nowhere. (White also confirmed that this was not the announcement.) Odds: 200:1


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UFC Becoming Licensed In New York/Announcing Show in New York: In addition, it's not entirely clear whether UFC would be able to run a show at Madison Square Garden because of WWE's exclusive deal with the arena that keeps other wrestling companies out -- whether UFC would be subject to that is still up for debate and dependent upon the wording of the WWE's deal.

The UFC hired away influential Nevada State Athletic Commission head Marc Ratner to lobby for MMA (and with it, UFC) to be legalized in new states, and New York was likely the first commission that the UFC targeted. Running New York (specifically Madison Square Garden) gives the company a level of legitimacy and respect amongst "old media" that it craves. Considering that the announcement will be made in New York (granted, it's where the company is headquartered), the odds are that this is the favorite. Odds: 4:1



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A Change In Rounds: A smaller announcement that's been rumored is a move to five-round fights for regular fights and seven rounds for title fights. The argument against this is simple: Kalib Starnes. Odds: 175:1


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A New TV Show: Although the UFC already has The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Unleashed on Spike, there's always going to be speculation that UFC seeks a network deal to supplement that coverage. When you factor in the success of EliteXC's show on CBS, the situation is as ripe as it's ever been for UFC to get a huge television deal. That could be a major network station or a pay station like HBO -- either way, although Dana's denied that it's a network deal, we think he could be lying. Odds: 18:1


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The Signing of Fedor Emelianenko: There's been little talk regarding the signing of Fedor since he was released from his M-1 contract. He's currently contracted to fight Tim Sylvia at the debut Affliction show, but he's still a free agent and could theoretically sign with the company. We think that if that was going to happen, it'll happen after Fedor beats Sylvia, not before. Odds: 33:1
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