WWE / UFC / EXC: Credit Where Credit Is Due

Scott Hudson


The WWE and the MMA promotion of UFC and Elite XC have raised the bar over the last 8 days. I will be the first to admit that the WWEâ<80><99>s promotional tactics leave me cold and there are more MMA promotions than there are Graham brothers. But these operations have distinguished themselves in ways that made me stand up and take notice.

First, the WWE. Someone up there likes them. Just when it appeared that the bloom may be coming off the Stamford rose, in strolls Floyd Mayweather (arguably the best fighter active today and inarguably one of the biggest draws in the sweet science) and his $20 million contract. Initially, I was floored. Not by the fact that a boxer would associate with pro wrestling (my God, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, Leon Spinks and Buster Douglas did it long before), but that Mayweather was ignored. There is no bigger name in boxing than Floyd Mayweather. One can argue that Oscar de la Hoya is as big but not bigger and it seemed like no one was paying attention. The Big Show angle at the No Way Out pay-per-view was spot-on. Could not have been better.

And nobody cared.

Then, somebody leaked the Mayweather payoff. Cha-Ching! Thatâ<80><99>s all it took. $20 million is the magic number. The number that made Jim Carrey an A+ list movie star. The annual salary that made Alex Rodriguez the most hated man in baseball (until Bonds and Clemens). The sales price of hotornot.com. The portion of the signing bonus Michael Vick got to keep (that will buy a helluva lot of cigarettes). When anything is â<80><9c>$20 millionâ<80> every Johnny Punchclock in town turns his head.

And turn heads it did.

Now, every media outlet, not just sports media, has a story about Floyd Mayweather taking a $20 million payoff at Wrestlemania. Some are laughing at the amount, some treat it as a legit feature story and others get it right: that giving a huge pay-per-view star a sizable check to be a part of your show is great publicity. Will Mayweather generate $20 million in additional buys? I seriously doubt it (that would be an additional 500,000 buys – not gonna happen). But will it bring in casual fans who might order the next few pay-per-view? Absolutely. Genius

The UFC announced that Bud Light will sponsor their events for the next three years. This may not sound like much but it is huge. Budweiser does not need to find other outlets to advertise its product. Who in the hell has not heard of Budweiser? Seriously.

Bud Light has linked up with UFC because they see money. The UFC demographic is exactly the same as Budâ<80><99>s demographic. Itâ<80><99>s a perfect match and will be mutually beneficial. The UFC immediately steps up to NFL and NASCAR in perception. Obviously, they are not on par with those organizations yet, but perception can eventually become reality. This is a great first step. Congratulations.

But I saved the best for last. Elite XC (who?!) has reached an agreement to have quarterly Saturday night special broadcasts of their product on CBS. CBS?! The home of Edward R. Murrow? The Waltons? Touched by an Angel? Holy cow, the Tiffany network must be thinking of Tiffany the stripper at Tattletales rather than Tiffany jewelers.

Regardless of how this impacts CBSâ<80><99> reputation (I think its great business for CBS regardless), Elite XC is the biggest winner of the week. They have lighting in a bottle in Kimbo Slice also. If your exposure to Kimbo (Kevin Ferguson) is limited to those youtube.com videos – keep looking. The 33 year old attended the University of Miami on an academic scholarship (did not graduate but did not play football either). His professional record is 3-0 with impressive victories over Ray Mercer, Bo Cantrell and Tank Abbott. Not the cream of the MMA crop, to be sure, but the guy is undefeated and charismatic (which puts him two up on Brock Lesnar). Elite XC should (and will) ride this guy for all he is worth – and apparently heâ<80><99>s worth a lot as the CBS deal in some way is predicated on Slice being pushed to the moon. Imagine if Elite XC had no one to build around? Basically, no Kimbo? No CBS.

So the bar has been raised. The WWE, UFC and EXC are in a sprint to the tope of the pay-per-view and television ratings ladder. This now becomes very fun to watch. TNA? Your move.

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