Friday, April 6, 2007

Interview With Ed Fishman (Part 1)

By Shu Hirata

When PRIDE announced Ed Fishman, the man behind the success of Harrah's group, Ž¡ŽÈis now on board of PRIDE USA,Ž¡ŽÉ everyone in Vegas was stunned. After five years of struggle by their US office attempting to penetrate Las Vegas, PRIDE might have finally gotten the right man to make things happen in this country. Indeed, that speculation was right. Within a half year after Fishman got involved, PRIDE had their first show in the United States. Every MMA fan in the world was excited about this. Finally PRIDE was here, in Vegas, a Mecca of fight sports in the United States, and most importantly they are ready to square off with their biggest rival, the UFC. With the backing of a major casino group, it seemed like PRIDE was now really here to stay.

However, on March 27th, everything changed. Lorenzo Fertitta's new company called PRIDE FC WORLD WIDE took control of PRIDE in Japan. What does it mean? Are we are witnessing the beginning of a monopoly? The perfect person to answer these questions, perhaps providing a new light on the entire situation, has got to be the man who was the key factor in PRIDE making it to the US market. That person is Ed Fishman.

SH: What do you think of the announcement of Lorenzo Fertitta getting control of PRIDE? Fishman: I am not quite sure if it's the deal that they think they got, if all the assets, especially fighterŽ¡ŽÇs contracts, will take place. With certain contracts, it doesnŽ¡ŽÇt necessarily mean that they would allow a trade; automatically shipped to the other organization. They might make a choice on what they want to do. And we have to wait and see whether they run separately, (UFC - PRIDE) and do the kind of promotion and production that PRIDE is well known for doing.

SH: At the press conference held in Tokyo on March 27th, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the president of DSE stated that there was no official offer from Ed Fishman to buy PRIDE, and DSE felt that they could not get full results out of you, so they eventually asked you to resign, and that resulted in a law suit. Fishman: Well, what you supposed was said. Nobu (Nobuyuki Sakakibara) came to me in April (2006). They opened their office here in 2000, in Los Angeles, and for five years they were not able to get a chance to do PRIDE in the States. So we talked and we made the deal. In April I immediately got them, probably the best name in the world as far as casinos, Ceasars Palace, known for boxing and special events, to be the main sponsor, along with a dozen other casinos who never really participated in buying tickets of a fight event other than the UFC. And they were responsible for buying over a million dollars worth of tickets right off the bat. That was the main thing DSE wanted me to do. Get them into Las Vegas, get them the sponsor, but the problem is that the Japanese way of doing things in Japan is a well-oiled machine working all the time, but here, it took a very long time for them to make any decision. They evidently told me that a month and half after we signed the deal, they lost Fuji Television, and they were suffering from the money they lost, and could not advertise the way it shouldŽ¡ŽÇve been done, the way we suggested.

But as far as my job of getting them into the US market, getting them lots of support from casinos to buy higher-end tickets, it was done. The problem really was, we all discussed that they would not make money for the first several fights. I explained to them the difference between the 15,000 to 20,000 people they had in their database of people, who for the past six or seven years has bought $39.95 PPVŽ¡ŽÇs. That person, who has been buying PPVŽ¡ŽÇs, doesnŽ¡ŽÇt necessarily mean they would spend several hundred dollars flying into Las Vegas, and buy tickets that could be anywhere from 50 dollars to 700 dollars.

(Continue Reading)

No comments: