Sports From the Couch–Why Are We Surprised? by jshowal2
November 10, 2011, 6:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

by Jeff Showalter

Why are we surprised?

Major college football programs have not been “programs” for decades. The BCS is business and in business, “problems” get covered up. Recruiting and donation support dries up, you lose games, and then it repeats itself.

 Why are we surprised?

 This time it wasPennState, many thought the last bastion of a world gone by. To a lot of people,PennStatewas the Mayberry of college football. The worst thing that happens in Mayberry is Otis locking himself up for a day or two. Surely this place, a long drive from any regional airport, was were kids went to class, played football, won games and went on to long careers as business leaders, lawyers and doctors. This is where the Cleavers would have wanted their kids to go to school. No way could some shady underlying plague of unlawfulness and moral ineptitude ever happen here!

 Why are we surprised?

 I googled “college football suspensions” and in .07 seconds had 500,000 hits.

 Why are we surprised?

 Have you paid attention to what goes on inSouth Bend? Declan Stevenson lost his life last year because Notre Dame wasn’t smart enough to get out of a storms way.  Google “Lizzie Seeburg”. I’m guessing her parents are not surprised by anything that goes on in college football.  Michael Floyd has had three drinking arrests but there was no way in hell ND had a chance at a BCS game without him.  Floyd plays.

 Why are we surprised?

 Barry Switzer ran anOklahomaprogram that resembled the Wild West.  Thirty Florida Gators were arrested under the tutelage of Urban Meyer.  Bobby Bowden was college football’s Father Flannigan and I my brain reminds me of “they’re good kids” in that southern twang Bowden has.

 Why are we surprised?

 Miami? Do I need to go there? Tressel lied atOhioState. USC is on probation for cheating

Football, by nature, is barbaric. That is why we love it so. But we are aghast when this barbarism goes on off the field? Women have been abused for years by players and coaches, but only in the most extreme cases do either players lose their scholarship or coaches their job.

 Why are we surprised?

 Kids die every summer from practicing in extreme heat. Players lose ligaments, break bones and injure their brains every day as coaches scream out for more intensity and harder play.

 Why are we surprised?

 I lost track of how many suspensions the Garcia kid fromSouth Carolinahad before being permanently banned. The SEC permits coaches to over sign athletes and then kick them to the curb.  Felony charges could only keep Jordan Jefferson away from LSU for a few games and the potential national champions had three players suspended one game for smoking synthetic weed. Amazingly, all players were on board and ready to go when the bus left for Tuscaloosa last week.

 Why are we surprised?

 The BCS and its members are multi million dollar businesses, tucked away in cities likeAustin,Ann Arbor,Athens,Knoxville, andStillwater. When you have multi-million dollar businesses you have competition and like in the real world, a criminal element rises when there is no other way. We shouldn’t have been surprised by Enron or WorldCom; the banks needing saved or Bernie Madoff. We shouldn’t be surprised by the HP scandal or hookers being brought in for big clients.  Wall Street trades on the big board, the BCS trades on the rankings boards, the recruiting stars and the television contracts. Companies cover up crimes to prevent the stock price from going down and a fear of losing billions of dollars. BCS schools cover up sins for the same reason.

 What happened atPennState could have happened at any BCS school and probably had the same outcome. Collateral damage be damned. Now we watch as the lives of innocent children have been forever scarred.  Yet across America, BCS schools will have stadiums filled beyond capacity watching kids try to injure each other as coaches scream at the top of their lungs when a player misses a tackle or drops the ball. Millions more will watch on TV. I know, because I am one of them. I love watching college football. Yet we must NEVER be so naive that something so egregious can happen?

 I can no longer be surprised.


Give the liquored up kicker a break by justinwhitaker
October 20, 2010, 11:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

by Justin Whitaker

Much like he does every Sunday, Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee put a few back last night. But instead of punts and touchbacks, it was alcohol.

Move over Mike Vanderjagt (not wide right), Peyton Manning has a new liquored up kicker.

The second year pro was arrested this morning a little before 5 a.m. with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 – almost double the legal limit.

The eccentric punter had been out drinking in Broad Ripple before reportedly being found without a shirt and soaking wet.

Uh, big deal.

Sure, getting arrested is never positive PR for an NFL team, but compare this to other teams recent disasters. McAfee did not send pictures of his long-snapper to a team employee. He did not “allegedly” sexually harass a girl in the bathroom of some hillbilly bar. He was not carrying around a loaded gun in his sweatpants in the club. There was no underground dog-fighting ring that killed countless animals.

He just had too much to drink and got caught doing it. How many of us have ever had a night where we ever drank more than we should have? I guarantee that some of us have even put that 0.15 to shame, we just did not get arrested and have our mug shot all over the news and TMZ.

Let the guy be, there is no reason for strict discipline in this case. The West Virginia product went out drinking during a bye week. Maybe if the Colts were preparing for a game this week then there could be some argument for missing the next game. But it’s the bye week, he can stay out late and drink if he pleases.

This would be a completely different story if McAfee was behind the wheel while the under the influence. If so, then the worse case scenario could have been a Donte Stallworth situation. The former University of Tennessee wide receiver struck a pedestrian, killing him after a night of drinking where he blew a 0.12.

Luckily this situation is nowhere close to Stallworth’s.

McAfee is known as a carefree fun individual, an exclamation mark on team filled with mostly periods. He is an active Twitter user (McAfee’s Twitter) and an entertaining person. Before being drafted by the Colts, the avid wrestling fan wrestled a match in West Virginia against a man named “War Pig”. On Sept. 20, he sat ringside for WWE Monday Night Raw at Conseco Fieldhouse with a group of Colts.

This guy is not a troublemaker or thug, he just likes to have a good time. While I’m not condoning his actions, all of us make mistakes and a 23-year-old NFL punter is not exempt from screwing up.

It could have been so much worse, but luckily it wasn’t. The only person McAfee hurt during this situation was himself.

Give McAfee a break, we all make mistakes. Just take it easy the rest of the bye.

Week 6 Fantasy Football Preview by justinwhitaker
October 15, 2010, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Justin Whitaker, NFL, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

by Justin Whitaker

(Puts hand on Bible)

“I, Justin Whitaker, swear to not make any jokes about Ben Roethilsberger’s ‘triumphant’ return or Brett Favre’s package during this fantasy football Week 6 preview even as tempting as it may be to take a shot below the belt.”

The Studs

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers at St. Louis Rams

Because I am a little biased, I am going to limit the times I put Peyton Manning in this slot. If I wasn’t fair then he would be locked as King Stud every week. Instead it’s the NFL leader in yards and touchdowns six weeks into the season who will have another solid game this week. Rivers has thrown over 400 yards twice this season and has had at least two touchdowns in each game. The quarterback’s play is finally starting to catch up with his loud mouth.

Projected Stats: 350 yards, 3 TDs

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Through five weeks, CJ’s performance has seesawed every other week. Two touchdowns and at least 125 yards in weeks 1, 3 and 5. Well it’s Week 6 and it is time for Johnson to bust his trend on Monday Night Football.

Projected Stats: 135 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving, 2 TDs

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants versus Detroit Lions

If you ever doubted Nicks’ ability, (I did), then it’s time to wake up. Eli Manning’s No. 1 target had 12 catches for 130 yards and 2 TDs last week against the porous Houston secondary. This week against the Detroit Lions, expect more of the same. This 22-year-old wide receiver is here to stay.

Projected Stats: 7 catches, 120 yards, TD

Honorable Mention: Peyton Manning, QB (325 yards, 3 TD), Mark Sanchez, QB (280 yards, 2 TD), Rashad Mendenhall, RB (125 yards, TD), Ray Rice, RB (140 total yards, 2 TD), Miles Austin, WR (8 catches, 125 yards, TD), Malcom Floyd, WR (6 catches, 100 yards, TD)

The Duds

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears versus Seattle Seahawks

The offensive line of the Chicago Bears is weaker than Betty White’s bench press. It’s God-awful how embarrassing they are. How successful will the (probably not) apprehensive gunslinger be returning from a concussion? I would guess not very well, Cutler doesn’t trust his line and I wouldn’t either. Watch to see how he fares in this one before starting him as your No. 1 QB.

Projected Stats: 250 yards, TD, 2 INT

Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings

After a season-high 15 carries and 109 yards last week one would think the success might continue. Well do not buy into the same hype that so many people believed that the Cowboys were actually good. This team is a mess right now so it’s completely unpredictable on what they will do. This game could either be a high scoring aerial assault or a 4 field goals win the game type of matchup. Either way Jones doesn’t seem to fit into either of those outcomes.

Projected Stats: 9 carries for 32 yards, 2 catches for 12 yards

Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars against Tennessee Titans

The fantasy breakout star of 2009 has been extremely disappointing so far in 2010. In three home games this season here is Sims-Walker’s total, 2 catches for 34 yards. In THREE games. This week against the division rival Tennessee Titans don’t be surprised if much like their games in the city of Jacksonville, Sims-Walker is blacked out. It’s probably a good thing Jacksonville fans won’t get to watch this.

Projected Stats: 2 catches for 28 yards

Honorable Mention: Donovan McNabb, QB (200 yards passing, TD, INT),  Arian Foster, RB (12 carries for 44 yards), Knowshon Moreno, RB (15 carries for 46 yards), Johnny Knox, WR (2 catches, 23 yards), Donald Driver, WR (4 catches, 42 yards)

The Sleeper

Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus New Orleans Saints

The rookie from Syracuse has caught a touchdown in three of his four games this season and is only owned in 50 percent of all ESPN leagues. While he might have hit his ceiling already, pick him up and give Williams a chance before everyone else in your league catches on.

Projected Stats: 5 catches for 85 yards, TD

Honorable Mention: Kevin Kolb, QB (275 yards, 2 TD), Ryan Torain, RB (90 yards, 1 TDs), Kenny Britt, WR (4 catches, 75 yards, TD)

Sports From the Couch–Does Fred Glass Have the Onions to Fire Bill Lynch by jshowal2

By Jeff Showalter

Bill Lynch doing his Bob Knight impression

Face it Hoosier fans, Football is still a three or four week season until basketball practice starts. Even though the basketball program is still pretty sad, it is in far better shape then the misguided mess that is IU football. IU football, except for one Rose Bowl and a few mediocre years under Bill Mallory, has been a disaster for as long as they have played the sport. Today, as Ohio State laughs at the current cream and crimson squad, Athletic Director Fred Glass has to decide the future of the football program. Continue to be losers, under Bill Lynch, or wipe the slate clean and pony up some real cash and get a qualified football coach to come to Bloomington.

Bill Lynch may be a great guy. Don’t know the man. I do know this, he can’t game plan. IU can not make necessary changes at halftime to win games.  Lynch isn’t smart enough to figure out that you can’t start a bunch of slow guys on defense and expect to hold good teams under forty.  The current IU head coach thinks some offense called “the pistol” should be the choice of offense because Western Kentucky and Indian State can’t stop it. Obviously he doesn’t care traditionally good football programs with ample talent (not yet Michigan) cant crush the offense by pressuring the QB and playing man to man on the wide receivers. I know Lynch choked away numerous games last year by making poor adjustments at halftime and letting offensive coordinator Matt Canada make some really poor play call choices late in those games.  I know Lynch has “co defensive coordinators” and neither of those coaches can coach up mediocre talent to be any better then the worst defensive team in the Big 10.

As bad as IU football, in it’s current state is, does AD Glass have the onions to change it. Sure IU may have new facilities and new scoreboards and the largest weight room in the country, but if you don’t have a good head coach then none of that matters.  That’s where IU is. The hangover from former IU coach Terry Hoeppner’s untimely demise is over. That happened A LONG time ago. It’s ok to fire Lynch.  Every year Lynch stays. that is four extra years to stay mediocre. You have the facilities, now go get the coach. Can Glass “sack up” and make the call?  I’m betting against it but he needs to. If Glass is committed to build IU football to a level of respectability, then it is time to get started.

IU hasn’t beat OSU since 1988 (I was there). The following is a list of the other Big 10 schools and the last time they beat the Buckeyes.

Purdue 2009, PSU 2008, NU-UW-Iowa 2004, Mich 2003, Minny 2000 and MSU 1999.  IU is 1988 folks. That is pathetic. IU is pathetic. Is Fred Glass going to fix it? Does he have the balls?


UFC 119 Fighters Meet the Press This Afternoon at Murat by wesreynolds
September 23, 2010, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Wes Reynolds | Tags:

by Wes Reynolds

Earlier this afternoon the UFC conducted its pre-fight press conference before Saturday’s event at Conseco Fieldhouse. I’ve seen enough of these pressers online so I knew what to expect; however, I did receive a few eye-openers in a variety of areas.

As you can see there are various highlights (provided by our friends at Heavy, since this reporter needs work at operating a handheld HD video camera. Dammit Jim, I’m a writer NOT a cameraman) from today’s conference. First and foremost, Mirko Cro Cop’s eye is supposedly healed and will fight on Saturday in the main event against Frank Mir. I can’t help but be somewhat cynical though since the future was so bright that he had to wear shades. Big, big shades. Cro Cop’s status was a question mark up until early this week and had to be examined by a local ophthalmologist in order to be cleared by the state commission.

The stars of this press conference were local Indianapolis firefighter Chris Lytle and his opponent, charismatic New Yorker Matt Serra. When asked why he fights for a living, Lytle gave the money quote of the whole 45-minute event. “You know I got four kids at home, I got a lot of pent-up rage. I can never hit them, so I gotta hit somebody.” Lytle further said, “It’s my therapy. It’s either go to a therapist or do this.” Lytle was also asked about his obvious change to a more g0-for-broke style after his loss to Serra in 2006. “I look to finish fights. If it goes the distance, I automatically feel that I didn’t do something right.”

Serra and Lytle have a mini-rivalry based on mutual respect and each man put the other man over huge as a great fighter and even better person. Serra is a very likeable guy, but will be very comfortable wearing the black hat as he was back at UFC 83 in April of 2008.

Serra was then the UFC Welterweight Champion after defeating now-current champion Georges St. Pierre (more commonly known as GSP) one year before at UFC 69 in Houston. The UFC 83 rematch was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, GSP’s hometown. As you can see, Serra got more than a “Bronx cheer” from the French-Canadian crowd. Needless to say, Serra is more than used to being the away team in the octagon.

Near the end of the presser, UFC President Dana White opened it up to receive a couple of questions from the fans. The final fan question that was asked turned out to be the best question of the press conference. White was asked about what had transpired with the failed drug test of Chael Sonnen, who was in the main event of UFC 117 in August and did everything but win against UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Sonnen tested positive for a PED (performance-enhancing drug) and faces a one-year suspension from the CSAC (California State Athletic Commission) pending his appeal. White gave a very brief and p.c. answer regarding the commission, but the answer didn’t interest me as much as the fact that the hardest question was asked by a FAN, not a reporter. Anyone who likes to poke fun at MMA fans, like several of yesterday’s dunderhead callers to JMV’s radio program, should watch this press conference in full. MMA is the first sport to really establish its ascendancy in the internet age and its fans are very internet savvy and consume a ton of news about the sport on a daily basis. You can’t b.s. these fans.

Perhaps many reporters had egg on their respective faces for not asking about the elephant in the room, which was Sonnen’s positive drug test. After the presser, White was peppered with questions about the topic and his answers were not as genial and composed as they were behind the podium.

That’s one of the main things that MMA fans love about Dana White. He’s brutally honest and sometimes that honesty and foul language gets him in trouble. On the other hand, he is the most accessible leader of his sport to his fans by a country mile. You will never see Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, David Stern or Gary Bettman responding to fans’ e-mails or Tweets. In terms of the drug testing topic, he makes a lot of sense. He can’t take away a fighter’s livelihood and UFC does spend a ton of money on paying for drug testing everywhere they go. It is difficult to randomly drug test fighters throughout the year because they live all over the world, unlike in WWE (Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment) where they bring the testing to the various arenas because the entire talent roster is there for their shows. White wants to drive drugs out of the entire sport of MMA and I believe he is sincere about it. However, the UFC has to try new things (random testing from an outside company) and perhaps spend even more money to do so.

Other random musings include seeing how out-of-place Rick Fuson, Pacers Sports & Entertainment Executive Senior Vice President/Executive Director of Conseco Fieldhouse, looked in introducing Dana White at the beginning of the press conference. Fuson stood up there prim and proper in his Brooks Brothers suit and all of a sudden here comes White in a black t-shirt and jeans. I’m sure Fuson knows absolutely nothing about MMA, but all he has to know is that it is likely to fill his building up on Saturday. He probably wishes UFC could do monthly shows and sell out the arena like the great Dick the Bruiser used to do at MSA in the 1970’s when rasslin’ came to town. Perhaps if that happened, PS&E wouldn’t have needed that $33.5 million gift (or as they like to term it, “loan”) from the CIB and Indianapolis taxpayers.

In addition, I have decided to look at career options in sports media (mainly online and perhaps radio because I may have a face a mother could love, but not for TV), but I received a dose of reality when I saw two local TV stations send their sports reporters to cover the event today and they were operating their own cameras. Local newsrooms either must be slashing their budgets and couldn’t afford to send a reporter and a cameraman, or they don’t look at Saturday’s event as a big deal.

One thing is for certain that the likely sell-out crowd on Saturday thinks UFC is a big deal. One can only wonder if the mainstream media will realize that someday.

Why Do Professional Athletes Get Arrested So Often? by dustinlytle
September 22, 2010, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Dustin Lytle, NFL, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

By Dustin Lytle

Is it really that difficult to stay out of trouble with the law?

Professional Athletes making millions of dollars a year should not be getting DUI’s. With the amount of resources available to themincluding former police officers, team officials and friends they always have a ride. The one phrase I always hear people saying is “They could always take a cab”. That is bullshit. Professional athletes, especially big name players cannot and will not take taxis. The reason that many of these players get DUI’s is because they are driving nice cars, are young and want to flaunt it. They also feel invincible. How else can you explain four NFL players driving around New York City at 5 in the morning drunk on a Monday.

It is evident that these players need mentors. By that, I am not inferring that they have not received mentoring or a father-like presence. Rather, I mean that they need to hear it from former stars themselves, Someone like Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Darrell Green, etc. People who “had it all” and didn’t go around getting DUI’s, hitting their girlfriends and/or smoking pot. This will help some players get a perspective on being a young star and how to behave.

The common person doesn’t get arrested for Domestic Violence, Drugs and DUI’s, why do professional athletes?

As much as many would like, it is really not fair to compare these players to the common citizen and saying “It’s not difficult for me to refrain from these things”. Yeah, and you are also not 25 years old making 6 million dollars a year. You haven’t had everything you wanted since you were 16 years old. You haven’t had girls flocking to you for your money, kids and grown men alike chasing you around asking you to sign a piece of paper, and hanging out with a group of 53 other men around the same age who have the same ego. Players are bound to get into bad situations. People stand to make too much money off their mere presence for them not to. It is what they learn from these situations and how they react to them that really matters. Most players tend to make sensible choices, while others seem to flock to wrong decisions.

So why do professional athletes, especially NFL players get arrested so frequently?

Every day, millions of Americans go about their day obeying the law, excluding speed limits. It seems that every day a professional athlete gets arrested. The rate of player incident seems so much higher than the general public. However, according to a report from April 2009 by the San Diego Union Tribune, NFL players are arrested less frequently than the average citizen. One in 47 players were arrested from 2000-spring 2009. Common citizens were arrested at a rate of one arrest per 21 people per year in that same time-span. Not only does this make you stand back and wonder how the hell people get arrested that much, but the fact that NFL players really are behaving better than the common citizen is kind of mind-boggling. It is especially surprising when you account for the fame, fortune and all the temptations that come with being an NFL player.

So what is there to learn from this?

Athletes are held to higher standards than common citizens. This is common knowledge. These are young men who have been given a lot of money and even more choices. The NFL needs to improve its mentor program as it is evident the current system is not working. However, there will always be players who break the law and will not listen when mentored. In the same fashion, there will always be common citizens who break laws repeatedly and won’t learn a lesson. For every Braylon Edwards, there are 200,000 other people being arrested for the same thing around the same time. I am not making excuses, but rather suggesting we take into perspective what we hear as “news” from ESPN and other sports outlets.

Examining UFC’s Indianapolis Debut from a Business Perspective by wesreynolds
September 22, 2010, 8:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Wes Reynolds | Tags: ,

by Wes Reynolds

If you listened to sports talk radio this afternoon, most notably 1070 the Fan, or watched your evening newscasts tonight, you FINALLY heard something about the UFC coming to Indianapolis. It wasn’t featured on any of the Sunday night sports shows due to the Sunday night Colts 38-14 win over the New York Giants. As an avid fan of mixed martial arts, I am dismayed by the lack of coverage for this event and the lack of curiosity by the local sports media. On the other hand as an avid fan of MMA who has some knowledge of the sport, I can sort of understand why this event is just being treated like another event and not as a big deal.

This afternoon we heard from a certain local radio host that UFC  is expecting a sellout for this event. That sellout may happen, and that is a tremendous accomplishment in this economy. As of early today, the event had sold 11,500 tickets (paid attendance) out of a set capacity of 13,000 (likely some of the upper obstructed view seats will be papered since you can’t see the scoreboard/jumbotron plus fighter, sponsor and local dignitaries/celeb comps) for a gate of around $1.5 million. However, there are still tickets available particularly on the floor in the $300 range. What has happened is the ticket buyers and brokers have bought all the intermediate price points in the lower bowl and club level ($100-$200 range) and haven’t been buying the floor and ringside seats, which usually go for about $600 a pop. The ticket prices are substantially lower for this event and you can even find tickets as low as $75 for this event, which is cheap and I would highly recommend buying those if you are only a casual fan and have never seen a UFC event live. Even in the nosebleeds, it’s a cool event to see in person.

SeatGeek, a ticket-search engine, posted a blog today discussing the UFC 119 event. In their most recent blog post, they analyze the average ticket prices for the previous event in Boston (UFC 118), the event Saturday at Conseco (UFC 119), and the next two shows in October (UFC 120 in London and UFC 121 in Anaheim).

As you can see in the above graph, the average ticket price is only $124 and substantially less than the previous event in Boston and the next two events. This is due to a wide variety of factors:

  • There is not a title fight headlining this card unlike at UFC 118 (Frankie Edgar-BJ Penn II for the Lightweight Title) or UFC 121 (Brock Lesnar-Cain Velasquez for the Heavyweight Title). UFC 120 also does not have a title fight headliner, but they do have Michael Bisping, the UK’s biggest MMA draw and winner of SPIKE TV’s The Ultimate Fighter season 3, in their main event.
  • Boston, Orange County and London are bigger markets.
  • This show is seen by hardcore MMA media as well as fans as a throw-away buffer show in between two larger domestic events. In fact, most of the MMA exclusive websites on the web have taken a collective giant piss on this card.

Some of the criticism is unfair because the quality and competitiveness of the fights on this card are quite good, but it does lack a true headlining superstar like a Brock Lesnar (UFC Heavyweight Champion) or Georges St. Pierre (UFC Welterweight Champion). While the fights on this show should be close and competitive, none of them have any immediate title implications. You will see two exciting, young and undefeated American prospects including Ryan Bader (vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira) and Evan Dunham (vs. former Lightweight champion Sean Sherk) who may be top contenders in one to two years. The Chris Lytle-Matt Serra rematch should be close just like their first fight in the summer of 2006. The main event between Frank Mir and Mirko Cro Cop, who was cleared to fight yesterday, is basically a crossroads fight between two heavyweights just looking to stay in the mix.

In terms of pay-per-view buys, the base buyrate of an average pay-per-view has settled at about 350,000 buys.  Here are the recent buyrates for UFC PPV’s.

  • UFC 118 (August 28 in Boston) – headlined by Frankie Edgar (Lightweight Champ) vs. BJ Penn II – 570,000
  • UFC 117 (August 7 in Oakland) – headlined by Anderson Silva (Middleweight Champ) vs. Chael Sonnen -600,000
  • UFC 116 (July 3 in Las Vegas) – headlined by Brock Lesnar (Heavyweight Champ) vs. Shane Carwin – 1,160,000
  • UFC 115 (June 12 in Vancouver) – headlined by Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin – 520,000
  • UFC 114 (May 29 in Las Vegas) – headlined by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans – 1,050,000
  • UFC 113 (May 8 in Montreal) – headlined by Lyoto Machida (then-Lt. Heavweight Champ) vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – 520,000

The first three PPV’s of the year only drew 300, 275 and 250 (in thousands) respectively due to massive injuries that forced late changes to the various cards. I think this will draw about 285,000. If this draws above the base of 350,000, then UFC President Dana White and company should be doing cartwheels down Las Vegas Boulevard. The UFC has largely avoided the mistakes boxing has made including actually building a brand (what is boxing’s brand?), putting more fights on free television, not placing fights on PPV that don’t have an interest (like boxing does routinely). If you have ever heard a Dana White press conference, he says they are coming everywhere and anywhere and they want to continue to grow the sport of MMA and the brand of UFC. However, the difficult part is happening right now. How do you continue to grow the sport without over-saturating the market and running too many shows?

The same radio host I mentioned above posted a blog question of whether this weekend’s UFC will be a one-time event or the first of many? I slightly disagree with the premise of this question because there are several North American markets in which the UFC has not run shows. At the top of the list is New York City, where a bill to regulate the sport just passed this passed June and is now slated to go the state assembly’s Ways & Means Committee. This weekend’s UFC may very well be successful in terms of the live gate and attendance, but it doesn’t mean it will be coming back every single year. After all, they run at least 4-5 shows in Las Vegas, 1-2 shows in California, so they can only go to so many cities each year. Many MMA experts feel they are running too many shows already.

I am personally hoping the event this weekend does well because there is a loyal and growing fanbase for MMA in this market. The hardcores will either attend the show live or buy it on PPV. The question remains whether the casual fans will care enough about this show.