Monday, September 27, 2010

Dream 16 Leftovers: FEG, a Sinking Ship

It looks like my weekend caffeine binge didn't distort my interpretation of this weekend's Dream 16 event. HeadKickLegend.com and BloodyElbow.com have both chimed in on Dream/FEG's buoyancy issues. Following what was clearly a sink or swim venture, Dream 16 produced significantly low ratings, and the lasts gasps for air are now quite evident from the surface. Even if Chinese investment bank PUJI Capital decides to throw out the life vest it might be too late.

As reported by HeadKickLegend.com:
"Dynamite!! saw a two-hour peak of 16.7%, which was the most that FEG had seen for MMA since 2006. The early DREAM shows were given the primetime treatment on TBS, as this was the true successor to PRIDE, and failed to impress. DREAM.9, featuring a Bob Sapp fight saw a DREAM high of 16.2%, making many believe that Japanese MMA was starting to make a comeback. TBS was still hesitant to give DREAM a primetime slot unless they had something huge planned. So the next appearance of Bob Sapp at DREAM.11 was able to convince TBS to give DREAM a primetime slot, which drew a disappointing 12.7, showing some decline.

So cue up this weekend, where TBS believed they had a perfect storm situation for DREAM; a strong lead-in for DREAM.16 with Daiki Kameda fighting beforehand, which always draws huge ratings in Japan. There are very few draws as powerful as the Kameda brothers in Japan at the moment, so when you tack on Kazushi Sakuraba, Ikuhisa Minowa and a possible Norifumi Yamamoto fight (KID coming off of a win in May), they believed they had a formula for success. Sadly, Yamamoto's camp was unable to negotiate a deal they felt was fair with FEG, so KID's fight never surfaced. This made FEG pull out the big guns. Really big guns.

The ratings for Dynamite!! were huge for two reasons; Satoshi Ishii's MMA debut and Masato's retirement. To capitalize on this, FEG was able to come to terms with WVR and acquire Satoshi Ishii for a fight at DREAM.16. The problem? The fight was announced within days of the event, allowing FEG and TBS to do minimal promotion for the event. This all led to what turned out to be less-than-stellar ratings for DREAM 16, with Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Satoshi Ishii as a strong draw in the press, but only Ishii's second bout on Japanese soil and Ishii doing very little press since the loss in December.

The final ratings for the event were 11.9%, almost a full point decline from their last primetime event, DREAM.11. With FEG in dire straights, one has to wonder how this looks to investment bank PUJI as well as what this means for the TBS/FEG relationship

BloodyElbow.com adds:
"More bad news for Japanese MMA. FEG pulled out the stops for what may be the very last DREAM show ever, but it may have been too little, too late.

American fans may not care or may even celebrate a jingoistic triumph of the collapse of Japanese MMA, but those of us with memories remember that Japanese fans kept the sport alive and growing ten years ago when American authorities and cable companies nearly succeeded in driving the sport into the ground.

Losing the Japanese market as a major outlet for MMA is a loss for the sport. It will mean less money for promoters and fighters, fewer options for fans and a diminished MMA world."

Wonderings:
  • If and when the FEG collapse occurs will the Dream stable fighters like Shinya Aoki, Bibiano Fernandes, and Hayato Sakurai become free agents or will their contracts be sold to other organizations?
  • Will the Dream-Strikeforce alliance allow Strikeforce to get first dibs on FEG fighters if a collapse does happen?
  • What will happen to the K-1 tournament? Will one of the international kickboxing organizations (WFK, WKA, IKS, etc.) be willing to take up the K-1 format and continue its legacy?

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