New York files motion to dismiss Zuffa’s case

October 31, 2012

New York has filed a Motion to Dismiss Zuffa’s Amended Complaint this past Friday in an effort to do away with all of Zuffa’s claims.  Zuffa will have until November 30th to file a responsive brief opposing the motion.

Since we last reported on this litigation, the Court granted the defendants (New York Attorney General and District Attorney at the time) motion to dismiss the Equal Protection and Due Process claims.

Zuffa amended its Complaint against New York in the continued battle over the legalization of MMA in the Empire State.  Zuffa dismissed its claims against the District Attorney leaving the NY Attorney General as the sole defendant in the lawsuit. The parties agreed to its Stipulation and Order of Dismissal on August 31, 2012.

A Court order filed September 12, 2012, granted Zuffa the opportunity to file an amended complaint.  It also granted defendant a second motion to dismiss on or before October 22, 2012 with Zuffa’s responsive papers on November 19, 2012.  The dates were changed slightly by the parties as it turned out that the papers were filed on October 26th and Zuffa’s response would be due on November 30th to allow for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Despite the dismissal of two counts and one defendant, the Zuffa Complaint is now 160 pages versus 102 pages in the original Complaint.  While the Court dismissed Zuffa’s Equal Protection and Due Process claims, it included the claims with different theories in its Amended Complaint.

Zuffa argues that the renewal of the claims are based upon the shifting nature of the defendants in response to the Original Complaint.

Payout Perspective:

Apologies on the late reporting of these events as most occurred in September with the exception of the latest Motion to Dismiss.  With its latest bite at the apple, New York is seeking to dismiss all of Zuffa’s claims.  Zuffa’s Amended Complaint included the claims that were previously dismissed but provided a differing theory on the claims.  We will see how the Court treats this as defendants have pointed out this issue in its briefing.

Notably, New York argues that the First Amendment does not apply to sports.  This is pegged directly at Zuffa’s novel First Amendment claim against the state in which it argues that MMA is a public form of expression.  New York cites several cases where courts have held that sport is not protected under First Amendment protection.  Moreover, it argues that the recent Supreme Court case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association was misapplied by Zuffa.  In Brown, the Court struck down a California law barring the sale of violent video games to children.  The Supreme Court held that video games were protected under Free Speech.  Zuffa argued that under Brown, New York could not ban MMA to shield children from watching it.  However, New York argues that the First Amendment protects the depiction of violence but not actual violence.

MMA Payout will take a deeper look in New York’s attempt to dismiss Zuffa’s case in the coming days.

Bellator 78: 154,000 viewers

October 30, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 78 received an average of 154,000 viewers this past Friday.  The ratings reflect a slight increase from Bellator 77.

Bellator 74: 190,000 viewers

Bellator 75: 145,000

Bellator 76: 175,000

Bellator 77: 149,000

Bellator 78: 154,000

 

Payout Perspective:

The Bellator average for its seventh season is at 162,600.  Despite the past two weeks, this season maintains a decent average based on the debut.  We will see if the semis in the Heavyweight and Featherweight divisions this week will help maintain ratings.

TUF 16 Episode 7: 676,000 viewers

October 30, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that TUF 16 episode 7 garnered another only 676,000 viewers this past Friday.  According to Television By Numbers, the episode earned a 0.4 rating for the 18-49 demo.

TUF 16 Episode 1: 947,000

TUF 16 Episode 2: 872,000

TUF 16 Episode 3: 775,000

TUF 16 Episode 4: 1.1 million

TUF 16 Episode 5: 624,000

TUF 16 Episode 6:  811,000

Payout Perspective:

TUF was the only FX show to crack the top 100 cable shows for Friday night.  Another week and another down rating for the TUF series.  It will be interesting to see if Jones-Sonnen coaching the next season of TUF will revive the interest.

MetroPCS asks fans to vote for its next sponsored athlete

October 29, 2012

MetroPCS is asking its fans to choose its next sponsored fighters.  Frankie Edgar tweeted out the contest to his followers.

Brian Stann, Anthony Pettis, Urijah Faber and Carlos Condit are the choices to join Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar and Cain Velasquez as Team Metro Fighters. The results will be revealed December 8th during the UFC on Fox 5 event on the network.

Payout Perspective:

No word on what impact the pending T-Mobile acquisition will have on Metro PCS but this promotion is a nice piece of activation for one of the UFC’s official sponsor.  The reveal takes place on the next network appearance for the UFC which will provide some good exposure for Metro PCS.  There are no real underdogs or favorites with the fighters competing for the sponsorship as all have major deals.

The Pro Wrestling Post: 10.29.2012 edition

October 29, 2012

Welcome to another edition of The Pro Wrestling Post.  In this edition we look at a new show for the Miz, news on the WWE Network and a look at Linda McMahon’s political campaign

The Miz gets a role in ABC Family show

WWE Studios and ABC Family announced on Friday that an upcoming television movie, Christmas Bounty, will star Michael Mizanin (aka The Miz) in the main role.The movie is described as “an action-filled comedy about a former bounty hunter turned elementary schoolteacher looking for a normal life.”  Its the latest of several movies that the former MTV Real World star has been in since turning his reality television persona into a pro wrestling star.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Payout Take:  The latest partnership is an example of how the WWE is attempting to expand the “E” in Entertainment in its name.  It also shows how the WWE can leverage its larger than life pro wrestling stars into movies and television roles.

WWE Network Launch still a mystery

In a leadup to its earnings call next week, the Hartford Courant interviewed WWE CFO George Barrios.  The WWE promised more information at its Q3 earnings call on its WWE Network launch date which continues to be a moving target.

Barrios offered no new news on the network and it is still up in the air as to how it will be distributed.

Also in the article, the piece reports on the fact that the WWE has received nearly $37 million in state tax credits for TV production, digital media and infrastructure since 2007.  It makes the WWE one of the largest beneficiaries of Connecticut’s economic aid.  The state’s tax credit offers as much as 30% of the value of expenses incurred in Connecticut for media production firms.  The speculation is that with the WWE Network, the company will hire more people.  It has grown from 585 employees to 700 in the last 20 months according to Barrios in the article.

Payout Take:  The tax credits have become political fodder for Linda McMahon’s senatorial campaign.  The Hartford Courant did paint the WWE in a good light as a company that has used the state program correctly.  Many opponents of the program point to carpetbagging Hollywood studios that would utilize the tax credits in state and then leave.  As for the Network, the interview with Barrios offers nothing to look forward to with the earnings call this week.

Linda McMahon’s senate run tied to Trump

Earlier this week, the WWE and Linda McMahon’s senatorial campaign did some PR work after Donald Trump announced he was offering $5 million for the release of the President’s college transcripts and passport application.  The issue was that $5 million was the amount that Vince and Linda McMahon’s Foundation gave to Trump’s Foundation in exchange for his appearances with the WWE several years ago.  The problem is that Ms. McMahon is campaigning for senate in a race that has had its share of mudslinging.  This issue could be perceived as advocating Trump and his extreme position on the President.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Payout Take: McMahon is serious about winning this race.  She has spent $42.6 million to date and is nearing the $50 million she spent last go round.  This includes a recent loan of $3.3 million of her own money.  The Trump issue was an additional hurdle she had to address in a campaign where she has made attempts to parse out her association with the WWE to validate herself with voters.  We shall see how she will do next week.

 

UFC 153 PPV: 340-410K buys

October 28, 2012

Earlier this week Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer reported that the preliminary PPV rate for UFC 153 is in the range of 340,000 to 410,000 buys.  This would make UFC 153 the highest rated PPV in Brazil in recent history.

UFC 134 – 335,000 buys (Silva vs. Okami main event)
UFC 142 – 235,000 buys (Aldo vs. Mendes main event)
UFC 147 – 190,000 buys (Franklin vs. W. Silva main event)
UFC 153 – ~340K-410K buys (Silva vs. Bonnar main event)

Payout Perspective:

If the numbers hold true, this should be considered a successful card considering the amount of shuffling that went on to keep this card together.  Moreover, the addition of Silva and Big Nog probably meant more PPV buys than an Aldo-Koch or an Aldo-Edgar card.  Even though Edgar is a popular fighter, his main event PPV card history does not equate to buys.

Cruz to serve as NASCAR pace driver

October 27, 2012

Bantamweight Champ Dominick Cruz will serve as an honorary pace car driver for the Advocare 500 in Phoenix.  This will be the second time this year Cruz will make an appearance at a NASCAR event.

Earlier this year, Cruz served as the honorary driver at the Subway 500 held in Phoenix.  Jon Jones made an appearance at the Daytona 500 this year and Anderson Silva served as the honorary pace car driver for the Kobalt 500 last November in Phoenix.

Via UFC Press Release:

Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber announced today [October 25th] that Ultimate Fighting Championship® bantamweight champion, and former star of The Ultimate Fighter® Live on FX, Dominick Cruz has been named Honorary Pace Car Driver for the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, November 11.

“We are honored to have Dominick Cruz as our Honorary Pace Car Driver, he has always represented his sport and the state of Arizona with class,” said Sperber. “We know our fans will be excited to see him drive the pace car on race day.”

Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Cruz, 27, has ascended to the top of his profession. Known for his outstanding speed and footwork, Cruz has compiled a 19-1-0 professional record that includes wins over the likes of Demetrious Johnson, Urijah Faber, Scott Jorgensen, Joseph Benavidez and Brian Bowles.

“I’m excited to be making my return to PIR and the Advocare 500 NASCAR race,” said Cruz. “My first experience in the pace car was one of the coolest and most unique opportunities I have ever had. To feel even a sliver of the adrenaline that these drivers experience was so awesome and I can’t wait to do it again.”

Cruz will participate in pre-race ceremonies and will make appearances onsite at PIR on Sunday, November 11. Additional information on race weekend activities is available on Phoenix International Raceway’s official website at www.phoenixraceway.com

Payout Perspective:

With the UFC-Fox relationship, it makes sense that there is some cross-promotion of the UFC and NASCAR.  Cruz has been out with an injury so helping out with marketing the UFC helps keep his name in the minds of UFC fans.  He must have done something well since he is coming back to be a pace car driver again.

No bulls for Cerrone

October 25, 2012

MMA Junkie reports on Donald Cerrone and his inability to participate in bull-riding due to his current contract with the UFC.  The contract clause reflects the need for the UFC to protect their fighters and its investment.

The issue came up recently when Cerrone made an appearance at the Pro Bull Riders tour final in Las Vegas.  Cerrone had expressed an interest in pursuing career in bull riding but any dual sport aspirations have been nixed by Dana White.   Standard UFC contracts include a clause about participating in “dangerous activities” according to MMA Junkie.  Like other professional sports, the UFC looks to minimize the risk its athletes have in other areas.

Recently, Terrell Suggs of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens came off of the injured reserve after tearing his Achilles this past offseason.  While Suggs contends that the linebacker was injured in “offseason conditioning,” it was reported that Suggs injured it playing in a basketball tournament.

Suggs is not alone in professional athletes hurting themselves doing things outside of their sport (and perhaps outside of their contract).  Notably, former Laker Vladimir Radmanovic had to sit out games due to a separated shoulder he injured while snowboarding.  Adding insult to injury, Radmanovic was fined $500,000 for violating his contract.

Ben Roethlisberger was injured while riding his motorcycle.  But, Big Ben did not have a clause in his contract about riding motorcycles

Speaking of motorcycles, Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo had to delay his October title defense due to a motorcycle accident.

Payout Perspective:

While bullriding may be second nature to Cerrone and a hobby that would not cause injury to the Cowboy, the UFC cannot have one of its fighters hurt from a non-related MMA injury.  With the rash of injuries causing cards to be shuffled, reshuffled and sometimes canceled, it makes sense that the UFC would prevent and contractually bar its athletes from participating in risky activities.  It protects its investment and inventory of fighters.  Cerrone need only look to Radmanovic’s fine as a reason to stay off of a bull.  While the UFC might not fine Cerrone to the extent the Lakers did Vlad, it could.  And, it could void his contract for violating its terms.

Another reason to stay away: insurance.  It’s likely that Zuffa-sponsored insurance would not cover injuries not related to MMA training.

Rousey to UFC?

October 25, 2012

MMA Fighting reports on Dana White’s interview with Sports Illustrated on Tuesday where he indicated that women’s MMA will be heading to the UFC.  The reason for the move is due to Strikeforce Women’s Champ Ronda Rousey.

White was an opponent of women’s MMA in the UFC and affirmed his position when Zuffa purchased Strikeforce.  However, it appears that White has changed course based upon the popularity of Rousey.

via Wikimedia Commons

White indicated that there is no time frame for this and Rousey’s manager stated that she still has three fights left on her Strikeforce contract.

Payout Perspective:

With the addition of events in 2013, its plausible to argue that the UFC will need attractive fights to fill its cards.  Rousey is a hot commodity in MMA as she has built an impressive resume in a short timeframe.  And she’s finished her opponents with an armbar – her signature move.   Moreover, and most importantly, she is an outgoing, attractive female that is a good ambassador for the sport.  But, the question will be whether viewers will be interested in Rousey.  And if so, will they be interested in women’s MMA as a whole.

While many MMA enthusiasts are fine with the blood and bruising involved in a men’s match, how many casual viewers will be fine seeing a women busted open?  Sure, MMA purists will point to the fact that its sport and if you don’t like it don’t watch it.  But, the point of including Rousey in the UFC is that you want to attract viewers.

Will the decision to bring in women’s MMA help the UFC?  Or, does it mean that Strikeforce is on its way out?  While we can argue the overarching question of whether women’s MMA would appeal to an audience, the more practical question is whether the move means the demise of Strikeforce?

The argument that Strikeforce may be on life support is buttressed by the fact it has cancelled its last two events due to injuries to its main events.  It has pointed to 2013 as its next event but nothing has been made official.  Moving Rousey, and women’s MMA to the UFC would be a sign that the organization could be sunsetting in the near future.  Without Rousey, there is no women’s MMA in Strikeforce.

If Rousey headlines or co-main event’s a UFC card, would it speak to the advancement of gender equality in MMA or the popularity of one?  Invicta FC has shown that there is an audience for women’s MMA.  Rousey drew the biggest ratings for Strikeforce on Showtime this year.  And she has shown a penchant for promoting fights.  It will be interesting to see how UFC and Fox handles the issue if and when it happens.

Bellator 77: 149,000 viewers

October 24, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that this past Friday’s Bellator 77 on MTV2 received an average of 149,000 viewers.  The ratings reflect the consistently inconsistent ratings of the seventh season.

Bellator 77:  149,000 viewers

Bellator 74: 190,000

Bellator 75: 145,000

Bellator 76: 175,000

Payout Perspective:

While we all know that Bellator should make some traction with its new home on Spike in 2013, it needs to work on the consistency of its ratings.  Certainly there are factors that are beyond its control, yet the rise and fall of its ratings on MTV2 have been predictable.  It may help that on Spike Bellator will be part of a lineup on Thursdays dedicated to attracting a target demo.

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