Mailbag: UFC branches out

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The growth of mixed martial arts has largely been fueled by white males between the ages of 18 and 34. They're the staple of the UFC audience on Spike TV, they're the ones who get up early in the morning to watch live cards from Japan on HDNet and they're the ones who plunk down money to buy fights on pay-per-view and on DVD.

But the UFC wants to expand that demographic to include one that has been among boxing's most passionate base.

UFC president Dana White has frequently spoken of bringing a show to Mexico and of developing a Hispanic fan base. And now, according to the Los Angeles Times, the UFC is ready to use the same plan that it did to build its base among the young, white male demographic.

The Times reported Monday that the UFC has begun production of a Spanish-language show, "El Octagono," which will appear on the cable network Galavision and that will include fighter interviews, fight highlights and educational segments.

The show is scheduled to air on Saturday nights for an hour at a time, the Times reported.

It's now on to the reader mailbag, where I'll tackle a variety of topics. My answers are in italics following the questions.

ELITE XC/CBS

I'm a fan of the UFC, and I'd prefer they remain the elite organization and grow even bigger. I like knowing that the majority of the talent can be found under one "flag" and the champions are legitimate. That's why I like MLB and the NFL. I don't mind knowing there are other organizations, but I want to know that 99 percent of the best talent is in one league so I can follow it easier. That being said, what should I be rooting for in regards to the Elite XC and CBS partnership? If Elite XC puts up good numbers, they (and others) can become legitimate threats to the UFC. However if they fail, it could it be a major setback to the UFC's future "mainstream" plans and the entire growth of the sport.

Lance Young
Milwaukee

It's not my place to tell you what to root for, Lance. But I'd suggest that if it were me, I'd be rooting for a good fight card with good ratings. Competition makes everyone better. When the fans have a choice, the promoters will do what they can to try to get the fans to choose their product. The bottom line is, you're a fight fan and I'd expect you want to see great fights. If a promoter can consistently deliver you good fights, why should it concern you what logo is on the mat?

SYLVIA-FEDOR

Can you shed some light on whether the Fedor Emelianenko-Tim Sylvia fight, scheduled for the summer, is an attempt to beat Randy Couture to the punch? And with so many questions about who (Georges) St. Pierre and (Anderson) Silva should or could fight next, why are Matt Lindland and Frank Trigg constantly overlooked by you and fellow reporters?

Matt Mroch
Sioux Falls, S.D.

I don't think the Fedor-Sylvia match was an attempt to beat Couture in any way. Couture is still unavailable to fight because of his lawsuit with the UFC. Emelianenko does not want to, nor should he, put his career on hold waiting for the legal process to take its course. If and when Couture becomes available to fight, I'm certain it won't be long before a fight with Emelianenko is made. As for Lindland and Trigg, they're not signed to UFC contracts, so they won't be fighting any UFC champions. That's why there has been no talk.

UFC 85 on TV?

I was just wondering about UFC 85. Is it going to be free on Spike TV? I really wanted to see Chuck Liddell for free, but I would still like to see Michael Bisping and Marcus Davis.

Connor Behnen
St. Louis

The show will be on pay-per-view and will not be on Spike. Bisping is fighting Chris Leben and Davis is fighting Mike Swick.

LONGER SHOW

I just wanted to draw your attention to an email-writing campaign myself and other members of the Internet MMA community Sherdog.net have been running. We are asking the Versus cable network to provide a three-hour time slot for coverage of WEC 34 on June 1. Seeing fans rally being Ultimate Fight Night 13 and getting a three-hour spot on Spike TV was the inspiration for this campaign, along with the many compelling fights by some of the top fighters in the 135- and 145-pound weight divisions. What are your thoughts on this actually happening?

Andrew Gladstone

I'd love to see a three-hour show. I doubt it will occur, but we can beg, can't we? Versus executives, are you listening?

HATING ON ELITE XC

Why does everyone hate on the Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson fight as the main event fight on the first Elite XC show on CBS on May 31? I am a huge MMA fan, and I can't lie, I am excited to see this fight, and I think it's great for the sport. If you have seen any of Slice's fights on YouTube then you know he is a big bad bare knuckle brawler, who has yet to really be challenged. James Thompson is a perfect match, and a great challenge for Kimbo. If Slice pulls out a victory I think he will legitimize himself, because Thompson is no joke. Also the Robbie Lawler middleweight title fight is practically guaranteed to please any dedicated MMA fan.

Jay

The criticism is that Kimbo is not an accomplished MMA fighter at this stage yet is being given an extraordinary privilege by being the headliner on the first MMA show on network TV. I disagree with your assessment of the fight, too. Kimbo is going to squash Thompson, who is all but at the end of the line.

FABER IS ELITE

Urijah Faber is the WEC featherweight champion and has talent that very few can match. If he were in the lightweight or welterweight divisions, how do you think he would do against B.J. Penn or Georges St. Pierre. My opinion is they would be fights for the ages.

Georges San Miguel
Laredo, Texas

Faber is ranked seventh in the Yahoo! Sports poll, so we recognize how great he is. If he and Penn or St. Pierre were the same weight, fights between them would be of the kind they'd be speaking about for years. Here's one way to judge how talented Penn is: Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, two of the greatest mixed martial artists who ever lived, are ranked behind him.

WHERE'S THE NIGHTMARE

I haven't seen Diego Sanchez fight in a long time. I thought that he was a real threat in his division and could be a contender real quick. But after his disappointing fight with Josh Koscheck (which I think he was paid to lose) and then the one after, I haven't heard anything from the guy. Will he be fighting anytime soon?

Chris
Boston

Sanchez will fight Luigi Fioravanti at The Ultimate Fighter finale June 21 at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. He had back-to-back losses to Koscheck and Jon Fitch before defeating David Bielkheden at UFC 82. Koscheck and Fitch were simply too skilled as wrestlers for him.

FIGHTER PAY

In your column "More money than meets the eye," do you think it's accurate to say that Frank Mir made all that money in one night of work? You mentioned earlier in the column that, if injured, they can lose up to several months of work. Granted, that's still a considerable amount of money for even a six-month period. The way you phrased it sounded unfair to him.

Kolby Campbell
Henderson, Nev.

You're right, Kolby, that the money was earned not only on fight night but in all the preparation that went on before. But they're paid only for what they do on fight night.

DANA'S PAY

So with all of these bonuses and whatnot, how much does Dana White make in a year?

Adam Henke

I don't know, but I'd say it's a fair guess he makes more than all but a handful of fighters. But he's also run a company that he and his partners purchased for $2 million in 2001 that Forbes now estimates is worth $1 billion, so I'd say he's earning his keep.

WHO DESERVES MORE?

Car salesmen get paid to sell cars. Real estate agents get paid to sell homes. Mechanics get paid to fix cars. Football players get paid to, yes, play football, and be some of the biggest moaners and complainers, next to baseball. MMA fighters take their fights (unless hurt) and don't feel the need to be another sport-crushing showboat. Not showing up for camp isn't an option. You tell me who should get paid more. But before you answer, see how long it takes to get ready to prepare to fight someone at your fighting weight. Done? Now you can answer!

Nush
Friedensburg, Pa.

Nush, anyone who follows MMA or boxing respects the fighters and the effort they put into preparing. And as I said last week, I'm in favor of the fighters getting as much as they possibly can get. Having said that, professional athletes are entertainers and salaries are market-driven. If you offered a pair of tickets to someone to the Super Bowl or to the top UFC pay-per-view of the year, the majority of Americans would take the Super Bowl tickets. That's why NFL players make more than MMA fighters. The fighters who sell the most tickets and pay-per-views make the most money.

  • Can’t get enough of Kevin Iole’s mailbag? Then check out last week’s edition.