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Random Rants: Thoughts on Affliction, Carano, Couture, and more

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m bored. I’d love to break a story or two for you but I haven’t been able to dig even though it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.

However, I have a lot on my mind so I figured I’d bring back “Random Rants” so I could espouse my opinions on a few burning issues.

So let’s kick it off with a subject that always gets everyone’s attention, Gina Carano.

Show Gina the Money! During this past week’s edition of the FOX Fight Game with host Mike Straka on, I expressed my impatience with the fact that we’re still being deprived of the biggest matchup in female mixed martial arts history, Gina Carano vs. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

During the segment I asked why we have to wait even long to see it and Mike pointed out that the obvious answer was that Gina hasn’t been signed yet and there are probably issues over money. What I wish I had said was that whatever Gina is asking, she’s probably worth.

How much is she worth? I’d say $100,000 per fight. That’s fight. If fighters such as Fabricio Werdum and Brandon Vera were compensated over $100,000 for past fights, why not Gina? No disrespect to Vera or Werdum, but Carano is every bit the star they are and in reality, probably much bigger.

If ProElite was willing to pay Antonio Silva $200,000 and Kimbo Slice at least $500,000 for his last fight, then Gina should be worth 100K. Carano hasn’t drawn a dime in PPV, but neither have many male fighters who have been compensated six-figures per fight. But if Carano has proven one thing, it’s that she’s a ratings draw on television.

We can sit here and hate on Carano all we want. Other female fighters can resent her as much as they want (although, many now appreciate some of the doors she has opened for them). But even her harshest critics can’t deny that she’s a star. And furthermore, she’s proven she’s not another Danica Patrick. Patrick gets a lot of attention in the racing world but isn’t much of a driver. Gina may not be the pound-for-pound best in the world but she’s definitely top ten and has dominated some very strong competition in her recent fights.

The $100,000 per fight figure is pure conjecture on my part and comes from no inside knowledge. But as long as she isn’t asking for anything above that, I think it’s a mistake not to give it to her and finally make Carano vs. Cyborg a reality.

Cut Kim Couture some slack, for now – A lot of people are complaining and whining about the recent revelation that Kim Couture is going to be fighting for Strikeforce in May. I have a contigency opinion regarding the matter. If Couture is fighting on the non-televised undercard, it’s a great move and I believe that she has a right to be there.

Few promotions have rosters as deep as the UFC’s so not every fight scheduled for a non-televised undercard can be used to determine whether a fighter is ready to move up the ladder. Most promotions need to use their undercard slots to sell tickets to the locals, build up names for bigger fights down the road, or spark some media attention.

I’m not sure where the second Strikeforce is going to be, as initial reports that it was going to be held in Seattle appear to no longer be the case. I am hearing it could be in the Midwest, in which case I don’t think Couture would equate to many ticket sales. However, her involvement on the undercard would be justified by all of the media coverage she would generate for the event. When Kim Couture fights, people talk about it. They even talk about her when she doesn’t fight.

Now, if Couture is fighting on a televised spot on Showtime, then I have to agree with all the pundits out there who are blasting her. While Couture has made slight improvements in the two fights I’ve seen her in, she still has no business fighting on major television. MMA is so multi-faceted that you don’t become world class atit with only a couple of years of training unless you’re an elite athlete. Kim Couture might be a great fighter one day but she still has a lot of room to grow and is not ready for a televised spot.

But before we condem her, let’s wait before we even hear what the televised lineup will be for Strikeforce’s May event. From what I understand, Showtime makes the final call on what fights it approves for its airwaves. To be honest, I’d be shocked if Couture got approved for the televised portion of the card.

Sounding off on Affliction, Part I – I had to chuckle when I read Ariel Helwani’s recent interview with Affliction COO Michael Cohen for a number of reasons.

First, some people responded to the interview by claiming that it contradicted my reporting. I guess they neglected to read the following quote:

“Right now, nothing is signed,” Cohen told Helwani, before continuing, “We are exploring several different dates including that July 11th date…”

So Cohen actually confirmed my report that July 11 was a potential date. I think there are some people that have so much hatred for me on the Internet that they’ll look for any excuse to take a pot shot at me. I am used to it by now but at least get your story straight. I’m sorry if I can’t always name my sources, but if you think I am speaking to make-believe people when I report my stories, I think you need to get over your insecurities (oh, I can’t wait for the backlash! :).

However, there was one clear denial by Cohen in Helwani’s interview regarding my reporting, which was that Affliction’s third event would be its last:

“It’s absolutely untrue…  Trump’s Affliction Entertainment is going nowhere except to the top, and the company will continue throughout 2009 and well into 2010… It’s here. It’s here to stay,” Cohen told in response to my reporting.

2010? Sorry, but it’s unlikely if it will make it past 2009. But I don’t blame Cohen for the denial because aside from the IFL’s Jay Larkin, has there ever been an MMA executive who was candid in telling us that they were at the helm of a sinking ship?

But I am a little surprised so many people are taking Cohen’s words at face value. As I said earlier, I can’t fault his comments because he has a business to run. However, I have a job to do and that is to report what I hear. And multiple sources have told me Affliction is looking to get out of the business of promoting MMA fights. Unless a new investor jumps in, Affliction will be closing its MMA operations sooner rather than later.

Cohen is based out of New York and Affliction’s main headquarters is on the West Coast. There have been many times when the company has issued contradicting information. Not to mention, Affliction has a lot more skin in the game than Trump. They’re the ones eating the $4-5 million losses with each show that they run, not the Trump Organization.

Personally, I’d like Affliction to stay in business. I’ve enjoyed their first two shows. They haven’t been perfect but there have been some very good fights. I’d like to see this industry support as many promotions as possible. But the bottom line is that valid sources are saying Affliction is looking to get out of the business of promoting fights.

It’s also important to remember that Michael Cohen is the same guy in October who promised us a revolutionary announcement that would change the sport. Well, I am still waiting for that announcement.

Furthermore, I have some credibility issues regarding Cohen’s claim that “Day of Reckoning” drew “somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 pay-per-views.” I’ve spoken to two separate sources within the cable industry that would beg to differ. When he used the term “neighborhood,” I think he might have meant a “sprawling neighborhood.”

Sounding off on Affliction, Part II - I think by now everyone realizes that the threat is real: Affliction is truly looking into counter-programming UFC 100. I’ve been asked quite a few times now: why would Affliction do such a thing?

My initial response is that I don’t know. It doesn’t make any business sense. Josh Barnett and Fedor Emelianenko fighting on the same card in separate bouts on free television is very exciting. However, it’s not exciting enough for me to not watch UFC 100.

Look, Barnett and Emelianenko could be fighting on a card held in my back yard at the same time that UFC 100 is taking place and I am still going to be upstairs watching Lesnar vs. Mir II and St. Pierre vs. Alves on my TV. Sure, I’ll send my son outside to video tape it but I am watching UFC 100 as it happens.

Going head-to-head with one of the most historic cards in UFC history just doesn’t make sense. Affliction wants to promote its lifestyle clothing brand, so why not try to go for the optimum amount of eyeballs? With so many weekends available during a course of a year, why not hold the event a week before or a week after and run the event unopposed?

I think the reason why Affliction counter-programming UFC 100 is being made for personal reasons as opposed to business reasons. The fued between Affliction and the UFC is one that has seen its share of bad blood. Some of the issues have become public, but you’d be shocked if you knew what has gone on behind the scenes. There are also people in the television industry that are willing to conspire with Affliction in going head-to-head with the UFC because Dana White has made his fair share of enemies within the TV industry. And I mean, he’s made some POWERFUL enemies and it appears that they all might be interested in working together.

What some people might be neglecting to understand is that if you back White into a corner, he doesn’t cower in fear. If a July 11 Affliction show becomes a reality, White will come out swinging. If Affliction stacks the card, then White might be compelled to give us more than just a triple-header of Lesnar vs. Mir, St. Pierre vs. Alves, and Henderson vs. Bisping. There’s no telling what the UFC might do in response to a competing event.

I just hope cooler heads prevail here and the powers that be allow UFC 100 to take place unopposed. But if I was a betting man, my money would be on Affliction 3 taking place on July 11 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas with the undercard being televised on HDNet and the main card being televised on CBS. The latter statement is purely conjecture on my part. I can’t stress that enough.

Bobby Lashley is not ready for primetime - I saw some clips of Bobby Lashley’s win over Jason Guida during “March Badness” and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I guess I expected him to be Brock Lesnar out of the gate and that was an unfair expectation on my part. There’s only one Lesnar. However, I still believe Lashley has a lot of upside. That being said, he stay off TV for awhile and focus on taking on opponents that are at his same experience level. Lashley simply isn’t ready to begin flying above the radar right now.

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