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Wednesday, Jun 27, 2001

Big News From The Big Apple

Big News from the Big Apple
UFC 32 Press Conference Features New Cable Deal Announcement, Carmen Electra Appearance

By Aaron Crecy

NEW YORK–When Zuffa LLC acquired the Ultimate Fighting Championship on January 10, 2001, one of its top priorities was to return the event to the national cable pay-per-view status it had once enjoyed. Another of its goals was to re-package the UFC as a high level athletic competition rather than the barbaric spectacle that it had become. Now, just six months later, that is exactly what has transpired.

Thursday’s UFC 32 press conference at the ESPN Zone restaurant in New York City’s fabled Times Square brought a wealth of exciting news for the sport of mixed martial arts fighting. First, Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta officially introduced Carmen Electra as the UFC’s official spokesperson.

Lorenzo Fertitta
"When me and my brother [Frank Fertitta III] bought the UFC in January, we said, ‘We are committed to making a lot of changes to try and elevate the sport and get it accepted as a mainstream sport,’" said Fertitta. "We decided that we wanted to re-brand the UFC-we wanted to roll it out in a whole new package. And in order to do that, we picked one of the most exciting, beautiful, lovely, nice ladies to be the cornerstone of that campaign, and that’s Carmen Electra."

Carmen Electra
"I’m sure everyone here is wondering, ‘What the hell does Carmen Electra have to do with the UFC?,’" she quipped. "Well, basically, absolutely nothing-I am just a huge fan. My entire family studies martial arts, my mom is a third degree black belt, I’ve always been interested in fighting and this is just about as real as you can get. These guys really get out there and fight, and so I’m excited to actually watch this go down in person. That’s why I’m here-I’m a fan."

Electra became a household name while starring on MTV and in the Baywatch television series, as well as through her short-lived marriage to basketball star and egoist Dennis Rodman. The model/actress will accompany the current UFC title holders in a print advertising campaign in such mainstream publications as Sports Illustrated, Maxim, FHM, GQ, Stuff, Rolling Stone and others. Together, Fertitta and Electra unveiled one of the ads, featuring the headline, "Get ready for a lesson in submission."

Unveiling the UFC Poster
"Come September, you’re going to see the Ultimate Fighting Championship everywhere," claimed Fertitta. "Every magazine you pick up, you’re going to see our branding campaign. Our branding campaign has been put together to catch the attention of young males all across America–I think we’re definitely going to do that."

But what created the greatest buzz was Fertitta’s announcement that the UFC has partnered with iN DEMAND, one of the largest and most expansive providers of in-home entertainment programming such as sporting events, concerts, first run movies and out-of-market NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL subscription packages.

Dan York of iN DEMAND
"In the last couple of weeks we were able to come to an agreement with our friends at Zuffa to bring the UFC back to cable television," said Dan York [pictured at left], vice president of Programming for iN DEMAND. "The September 28th event for the first time will be available on iN DEMAND. And that means 2,000 cable systems around the United States delivering to about 60 million basic cable homes and about 30 million pay-per-view homes will have UFC available to them for the first time in three years. That will more than double the distribution of UFC in one event and provide a true national platform for this franchise to really take off."

Of course, there was ample discussion of Friday night’s event, Showdown in the Meadowlands. The UFC 32 lineup boasts a total of eight fights-two preliminary match-ups, four bouts on the main card and two main events. The co-main events include a light heavyweight title bout between Tito Ortiz and Elvis Sinosic, and a lightweight match between Din Thomas and BJ Penn. And while Sinosic offered pleasantries to Zuffa and the New Jersey Athletic Commission, the outspoken Ortiz was all too willing to add fuel to the fire.

Tito, Carmen, Elvis
"Come Friday, you guys are going to see a lot of explosions and it may be some explosions from fire or some explosions from my hands," warned Ortiz. "I’m ready for this, and this guy [Sinosic] better be ready to take a little nap, because that’s what is going to happen."

Thomas was equally candid when asked about his fight with Penn. "Expect an early Fourth of July-there are going to be a lot of fireworks tonight," he predicted.

UFC 32 Showdown in the Meadowlands represents a significant challenge for the UFC and Zuffa as the event moves from Atlantic City to the larger Continental Airlines Arena at the Meadowlands. But according to Fertitta, the UFC expects a capacity crowd and an exciting show.

"It’s a huge step up for the sport of mixed martial arts," he explained. "We are heading to a venue that’s high profile-it’s very large, we’re going to have 13,000 seats, ticket sales are going very, very well, we expect to have a packed house and I think everyone should be there to see the coming out party for the UFC."

MMA Behind Bars
Pictures From Oz

By Joel Gold

HBO hit series Oz shot its final episode of the new season yesterday and FCF was on hand. UFC talent was plentiful with Frank Shamrock playing a member of a Sicilian gang as does Igor Zinoviev and, always the good guy, UFC Heavyweight Champ, Randy Couture plays a prison guard along with UFC commentator Jeff Blatnick.

More info in the upcoming issue of FCF….

Frank Shamrock and Randy Couture

Frank & Randy
Frank Shamrock

Frank getting a lift on the set of Oz
Jeff Blatnick and Randy Couture

Jeff Blatnick & Randy Couture

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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