Golden Boy Promotions chief executive officer Richard Schaefer confirmed that the company will branch out and promote mixed martial arts events later this year, along with apparel company Affliction.
But Schaefer denied that a deal is set for Golden Boy's MMA offerings to be broadcast on HBO, though he did concede he'd spoken to HBO officials and plans to do so again. Schaefer said he has a "very wealthy, very well known, very well-connected individual" whom he is speaking with about investing in the company. Though he wouldn't say, that's almost certainly Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Schaefer said the Golden Boy-Affliction company has yet to be formed or named, but said it plans to use the same formula that has helped GBP become one of the leading boxing promoters.
He said the new MMA company will offer an equity stake in it to a handful of established fighters.
Golden Boy, which is owned by Oscar De La Hoya, has given an equity stake in its boxing company to Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley and Marco Antonio Barrera.
"There is tremendous turbulence in this business right now," Schaefer said of MMA. "There is a lot of things happening and things could change dramatically. Everybody laughed at us when we started Golden Boy and said fighters turning into promoters could never work. Look at us now. I think we've proven ourselves in boxing.
"We're going to do the same thing with MMA. We're going to find the right fighters and the right (television) partners and we'll come up with a way to make this work."
Now, it's on to the weekly mailbag. My answers are in italics below the questions.
Do you think that Kaoklai Kaennorsing and other non-MMA athletes will make the jump into MMA? Do you think the UFC, IFL, or other MMA organizations are looking for other athletes besides college wrestlers to make the jump? Who do you believe could make an instant impact in MMA?
I believe there will continue to be an influx of wrestlers into MMA, as well as those from other forms of martial arts. As MMA gets more popular, it's going to mean bigger purses and that's going to attract athletes from other sports, especially those who don't have good earning potential now.
Why do you discount the possibility of Anderson Silva boxing Roy Jones Jr. without looking at it from a marketing perspective? Silva is very smart to suggest this fight because he could get paid about 50 times what he does in the UFC. The UFC would get a lot of mainstream exposure from it if they allowed him to do it, and they could probably use a solid No. 1 contender fight to figure out who gets Anderson next anyway. Even if he loses the boxing match, your logic of losing to one of the best pound-for-pound boxers still holds and everyone would admit Anderson would beat Jones in the cage. But imagine if Silva somehow pulled it out. That would be a major coup for the UFC in the eyes of the boxing public. This fight makes sense for everyone involved including the fans.
Silva is 1-1 as a professional boxer. What state athletic commission could approve a guy who is 1-1 as a boxer against some as skilled as Roy Jones Jr.? It wouldn't be sports; it would be a freak show and it's not going to happen.
DOWN ON FITCH
I just feel Jon Fitch has not done enough to earn a title shot. I can't argue he didn't earn the wins, but he really just outwrestles his opponents and doesn't convincingly finish. Do you give him a chance against Georges St. Pierre?
El Paso, Texas
Fitch has clearly earned his shot. In a sport where nobody seems to win 10 in a row, Fitch has reeled off 15 consecutive wins. He's done what he's had to do. I think St. Pierre is a bad matchup for Fitch, though. I would never discount an athlete as skilled as Fitch, but St. Pierre outwrestled Josh Koscheck. That fight would probably be a reasonable facsimile of what to expect were St. Pierre ever to meet Fitch. I'd go with St. Pierre over Fitch in an entertaining fight.
Why do you and many writers refer to Anderson Silva and Quinton Jackson as a "UFC guys"? Both were fighting in PRIDE before the UFC, just like many other current UFC fighters. I guess the only difference is they moved to the UFC a year or so earlier. Or is this really about UFC trying to create a sense of brand dominance and making themseleves seem like the best show in town?
Richard, when it's a show like UFC 82, when it was Silva defending his UFC belt against Dan Henderson, who was the PRIDE champion, then it has to be UFC vs. PRIDE. But I think the debate is silly. They're not UFC guys or PRIDE guys, they're MMA fighters. I'm not entering this debate any longer.
BLOWN UP DEAL
Hello, Kevin. I love your columns and I read everything on the site. Now that the dust has settled, do you think the purchase of PRIDE by Zuffa (the company that owns the UFC) was good for the sport, or good for the UFC, or neither? The UFC did not get all the great fighters that everyone anticipated and the ones that they did get, well we all know what happened. The attempt to get PRIDE out of the picture altogether has not worked as Pride executives have resurfaced with another organization. What is your take?
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Overall, I believe it's a mixed bag, though leaning more toward positive for all concerned than negative. I don't believe that the UFC executives cared about getting PRIDE out of competition. Except in Japan, the UFC was trouncing PRIDE in every quantifiable everywhere in the world. The deal would have been much better for the UFC had it simply inherited Fedor Emelianenko's contract, but all in all, I don't think anyone connected with the UFC regrets it. And don't forget, when it bought PRIDE, Zuffa also acquired PRIDE's video library, which has significant value and should provide an ongoing stream of income.
Elite XC president Gary Shaw said all UFC champs are "club champs" and asked how could they be considered the best in the world if the fighters are not allowed to fight in other organizations. The way I see it is, if you strive to be the best and are really that good, then you'll end up in the UFC and nowhere else. Period. If I were the best linebacker coming out of college, I'm not going to sign with the Arena Football League when the NFL is knocking at my door. And as for Kimbo Slice being EXC's star attraction, what other brand is dumb enough to put a talent-less fighter up against D-level competition and call it a main event? It shows Gary Shaw thinks his fans are ignorant and that he doesn’t belong in the MMA world. Its problems like this that keep MMA from entering the mainstream. The CBS deal is not good for the sport or the fans because if this is the kind of talent that will be seen on prime time, then the people watching for the first time will laugh and change the channel. At least when Brock Lesnar co-headlined at UFC 81, he fought a former champ in Frank Mir. Not until the fans, media, and the so-called Internet experts realize this will things change.
Shaw's comment about the UFC's champions is simply a ploy to gain attention for his company and tweak UFC president Dana White, with whom he has a less than cordial relationship. Right now, the UFC is the industry standard and you are correct, most of the stars are going to want to land in the UFC. But with guys like Tim Sylvia, Tito Ortiz, Josh Koscheck and Andrei Arlovski as free agents, there are going to be quality fighters on the market who may land with other promotions. That could start to change things, if another promoter comes along and does things right (I think the jury is still out on Elite XC) and has the money to spend to bring in established talent and develop new talent. I wouldn't bet against the UFC at this stage, but it's a very young sport and things can change rapidly.
WOMEN IN UFC
Is the UFC setting itself up for one of the biggest blunders in MMA history? I would compare not having women in the UFC to skipping over Michael Jordan or passing on the Beatles. The result of passing on both of them was a huge loss of money, publicity, and talent. I believe that women fighters take the sport just as seriously as their male counterparts. Women have all the things to truly draw attention to MMA and be successful. They are aggressive, skilled and, in my experience, train especially hard. You're on the front lines. Please tell me the logic behind not incorporating women?
Joel G. Richards
Joel, I think the problem is, there aren't enough quality women fighters out there at this stage. Women like Gina Carano, Tara LaRosa and Julie Kedzie, among others, are excellent fighters. But the depth isn't there and you'd wind up either with awful fights between less-than-competent athletes or one-sided matches between a star and a beginner. Neither scenario is conducive to selling tickets or pay-per-views. When the depth of women's talent increases, I think you'll see more women being included by all major promoters.
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