Hayabusa, GSP apologize for “Rising Sun” Gi

March 31, 2013

Last week Georges St. Pierre came under criticism for wearing a gi with the Rising Sun flag inspired by Imperial Japan.  The Korean Zombie Chang Sun Jung wrote an open letter to GSP on KZ’s Facebook page criticizing his apparel.

In response, Hayabusa has taken the product off the market and GSP added a personal apology for those it may have offended.

KZ compared the Rising Sun flag similar to the German Hakenkreuzflagge.

The Rising Sun Flag and symbol was used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.  It is a symbol of oppression for many Koreans as expressed in KZ’s letter.

This may not be just a publicity stunt but a legitimate issue.  As Maggie Hendricks of Cagewriter points out, some South Koreans took offense to a Rising-Sun inspired uniform worn by Japanese gymnasts at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. 

Fortunately, Hayabusa and GSP acted swiftly and issued an apology in pulling the gi off the market.  Via Hayabusa Facebook:

Since Georges St-Pierre wore our walkout gi at UFC 158 we have received attention surrounding the negative connotation of the rising sun graphic used. The last thing we want is to offend or alienate anyone with the choice of design on our products.

We at Hayabusa have the utmost respect for culture and history and appreciate all of our customers worldwide. As such, we accept full responsibility for this design and are taking all complaints and comments very seriously.

The gi worn by GSP will not be brought to market. In addition, we will be very conscious of this specific design element when developing future communication materials and products.

Please accept our sincerest apology for any offence this has caused. If you have any questions or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to discuss it with us at customerservice@hayabusafightwear.com. One of our representatives will be happy to assist you.

Sincerely,

Craig Clement

Co-President

Hayabusa Fightwear Inc.

GSP also issued a public apology on his Facebook page: ” I’d like to also personally apologize to anyone who was offended by this. I am very sorry, that was never my intention.”

Payout Perspective:

It was a good move by Hayabusa and GSP to act swiftly to avoid further conflict.  Certainly Hayabusa realizes its market and it does not want to offend those in it especially after the origins of the design have been highlighted as a symbol of oppression.  Which begs the question, why didn’t research and development for Hayabusa realize the negative connotations of the Rising Sun design.  The Rising Sun design was worn by GSP in his last fight vs Carlos Condit (although the Rising Sun design was black on his gi). So, this was not a new design for UFC 158; just a different color.

KZ’s letter was pointed, articulate and argued his point of view without being confrontational.  Obviously, one might also think his letter as a way to garner some press on the heels of one of the bigger PPVs in over a year.  Still, if KZ honestly believed that the Rising Sun flag is a sign of oppression that he felt deeply about he should be applauded for taking a stand and pointing out a wrong.  

There are many designs and logos that are culturally and racially insensitive that go by without being noticed because no one complains or the complaints fall on deaf ears.  Certainly pulling the gis from sale is a business hit for Hayabusa but it immediately saw that the PR hit would outweigh the economic benefit.  In the end, all involved handled the issue without it getting bigger than it could be.

Bellator MMA Live 94: 713,000 viewers

March 29, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that Bellator MMA Live (94) scored a viewer average of 713,000 this past Thursday.  The immediate replay received an average of 359,000 viewers.

Bellator 85:  938,000 viewers

Bellator 86:  812,000 viewers

Bellator 87:  705,000 viewers

Bellator 88:  807,000 viewers

Bellator 89:  719,000 viewers

Bellator 90:  737,000 viewers

Bellator 91:  901,000 viewers

Bellator 92:  741,000 viewers

Bellator 93:  748,000 viewers

The lead-in, TNA’s Impact Wrestling received 1.49 million viewers for a 0.5 rating according to Television By Numbers.  This was slightly up from last week.

Payout Perspective:

Good ratings considering Bellator went up against NCAA Basketball.  The show featured Emmanuel Newton as he defeated Mikhail Zayats in the main event.  Newton was the surprising winner of the Light Heavyweight Tournament as “King” Mo Lawal and “Babalu” Sabral were early favorites to win but were upset.  It would have been interesting to see the ratings if either Lawal or Sabral had made the final.  But, as with March Madness that’s the unpredictable factor of the tournament.

Zuffa Copyright Claim Correct Action Under DMCA

March 28, 2013

Can Zuffa have YouTube take down a video of Nick Diaz being told by a UFC official that the Quebec Athletic Commission would grant the fighters a 0.9 pound allowance of the mandatory 170 pound weight limit?  Short Answer:  Yes.

The UFC’s decision to take down the video of UFC Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs and Assistant General Counsel (what a title) Michael Mersch  has sparked controversy as many have questioned whether its legal.  It is.

Bloody Elbow took issue with the UFC making a copyright claim:

The video was of a conversation, the UFC does not own a copyright on conversations that take place in the stadium seats. Nor does it own a copyright on anything actually shown in the video. The video doesn’t even show something like the Octagon which the UFC could try to make some sort of (wrong) claim that violated their copyright. It is strictly a conversation in the stadium seats.

But the issue is not the substance of the video but where the video was taken.  It was taken backstage at the weigh-ins.  In order to get there, one must obtain access from the UFC.  And while we do not have definitive information on this, it’s likely that the UFC made each person sign something and/or wear a pass to get to the back.  We also assume that the UFC limits its liability as well as has language which states that it owns rights to videos, images, sounds, etc. for those entering the backstage area.  Its not a public area although we might think it is.  Certainly, we all would want to hang out before weigh-ins if we could.  But we cannot.  Why?  We don’t have the necessary access.  

If we may infer from the UFC fighter contracts, the UFC has contemplated the control of pre and post-bout access.  One can look to the Eddie Alvarez contract which was produced in the Bellator litigation to take note that pre and post bout happenings are covered by the UFC.

 The Alvarez Promotional and Ancillary Rights Agreement is a section entitled, Ancillary Rights.  The section provides an exhaustive list of rights that the fighter agrees to grant Zuffa.  Among the rights is Section 2.3(b) which states:

2.3.  The Rights include the following:

 b.  All media, including, but not limited to, motion picture, radio, television (which term whenever referred to herein shall include, without limitation, live or delayed, interactive, home or theater, over-the-air broadcast, pay, pay-per-view, satellite, closed circuit, cable, subscription, Video On Demand, Near Video On Demand, Subscription Video On Demand, multi-point, master antenna, or other), telephone, wireless, computer, CD-ROM, DVD, any and all Internet applications (including,without limitation, netcasting, podcasting, direct download, streamed webcasting, internet channels (e.g., Youtube) or any other form of digital media download or web syndication), films and tapes for exhibition in any and all media and all gauges, including but not limited to video and audio cassettes and disks, home video and computer games, arcade video games, hand-held versions of video games, video slot machines, photographs (including raw footage, out-takes and negatives), merchandising and program rights, in connection with or based upon the UFC brand, the Bouts or activities pertaining to the Bouts, including but not limited to, training, interviews, press conferences, weigh-ins and behind-the-scenes footage for the Bouts (the “Pre-Bout Events”), post-fight interviews and press conferences (the “Post Bout Events”) and any parts thereof on a commercial, sustaining, theatrical or other basis, and by any and all means, methods and devices whatsoever, now existing or hereafter devised. (our emphasis)

An interesting note about the Ancillary Rights that Zuffa will retain from the fighter.  It lasts in perpetuity – even after the fighter dies.  Yes, its repetitive but emphasizes that Zuffa owns the rights forever.

Based on this particular language, it means that someone like Nick Diaz probably signed over his rights to any “Pre-Bout Events” such as a “behind-the-scenes footage.”  Even if the video was shot by someone else, it still features a UFC official and Diaz talking backstage at a UFC weigh-in.  Thus, the UFC could make the copyright claim.

There are steps that an individual can do to reclaim their video.  The first is to send a counter-notification.  

Via YouTube re counter-notification:

A counter notification is a legal request for YouTube to reinstate a video that has been removed for alleged copyright infringement. The process may only be pursued in instances where the upload was removed or disabled as a result of a mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled, such fair use. It should not be pursued under any other circumstances.

Bloody Elbow via MMA Junkie’s Stephen Marocco states that the person that uploaded the video has filed a counter-notification.  

If the video does reappear as a result of the counter-notification, the UFC could file suit.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the center of this copyright claim controversy as all of the claims to take down videos online are based on this law.  It is used by media companies to protect its intellectual property.  It can be a confusing law as to what rights an individual may have to upload videos to sites like YouTube.  

This issue of a spectator’s rights at a sporting event came up with NASCAR this past February.  NASCAR has flipped on its stance on the reasons for taking down spectator videos of the crash but the fact remains that NASCAR had licensed its rights to the images.  Poynter.org has an interesting recap of the NASCAR event as well as arguing whether NASCAR had a legit claim to take down a video of the crash.  One of the arguments made is that facts cannot be copyrighted.  One of the commenters (with a legal background) noted a case, NBA v. Motorola, which found in favor of a pager service that would provide live scores and stats of NBA games.  The Court held that while the official recordings of the NBA may be protected by copyright law, actual athletic events are not copyrightable.  The commenter believed that the holding in the case was premised on the logic that the NBA could assert protections over its official recordings, but not over every recording in the arena.  

Certainly this rationale goes against the UFC’s copyright claim here and our argument that it is valid.  But the contractual issue probably would hold the day here.  If Diaz and other contracted UFC fighters in the video signed Zuffa fight contracts, they likely signed over their Ancillary Rights as well.  Thus, the UFC would have a strong case to stake its claim to have YouTube take down the video.

World Series of Fighting averages 210,000 viewers for second event

March 28, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that the second event for MMA startup organization World Series of Fighting received 210, 000 viewers.  The ratings average are up slightly from November’s 198,000.

The second event replay received 140,000 viewers and the organization said that another 200,000 viewers watched online.  There were no ratings for Univision Deportes at this time.

The ratings are not on the level with live “Fight Night” boxing events held quarterly by NBC Sports Network which average around 270,000 viewers per event.

MMAWorldSeriesOfFightingLogo

Payout Perspective:

The numbers are a positive considering it went up against some of the late NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament games on Saturday.  The organization had to scramble for a ring and featured Andrei Arlovski in the main event wearing UFC gloves.  There were issues with the production to be sure.  But, the deal with Univision Deportes means that the company is staying afloat and has time to improve.

Diaz camp to file Complaint due to issues with Quebec Athletic Commission

March 27, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that Nick Diaz’s camp is threatening to file a complaint against the Quebec Athletic Commission for its weight allowance and post-fight drug test.

First, the Diaz camp contests the Montreal Athletic Commission’s custom of allowing a 0.9 allowance for weigh-ins for a championship match.  While a 1 pound allowance is granted in non-championship fights, the UFC has a strict rule that fighters in championship matches must weigh at the division’s limit.  Diaz’s camp states that the commission allows for up to a 0.9 allowance and still be considered the weight (i.e., rounding down).  So, GSP could have weight 170.9 and it would still be considered 170.

If you recall, Nate Diaz had to cut .5 pounds for his UFC on Fox 6 Lightweight Championship match against Benson Henderson.

Also, Diaz contends that the commission did not properly supervise GSP’s post-fight drug test.  Diaz’s camp indicates that these two irregularities should pave the way for a rematch with GSP.

Payout Perspective:

There seems to be two issues here.  The first is to determine whether the Quebec Athletic Commission properly followed the regulations with respect to determining weights.  Also, whether the commission properly conducted the post-fight drug test.

The next issue is whether these issues should necessitate a rematch.  This issue would interest fans the most.  Would these problems have meant that the fight would have been different?  Certainly if GSP used PEDs, there may be an argument.  Of course, if that occurred, there would be a much bigger issue than just Diaz’s rematch.  But would 0.9 lb matter in determining the result of UFC 158?

The video is interesting as the “Canadian loophole” (as someone off camera calls it) is explained to Diaz.  We will see how far the Diaz camp takes the grievance and whether it will mean anything for GSP-Diaz II.

Mayweather fight to be shown in theaters

March 27, 2013

Bad Left Hook reports that the Floyd Mayweather-Roberto Guerrero fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend will be aired in theatres.  Fathom Events, the same company that works with the UFC in theatre events, will be working with Golden Boy to put the fight in this weekend.

After a year off, Floyd Mayweather returns to the ring and Golden Boy will take advantage of this by introducing an additional revenue stream: movie theaters.

ep_poster__Mayweather_vs_Guerrero

Payout Perspective:

The move makes sense considering the hefty price to pay for one fight.  Based on the trend, it’s likely that Mayweather-Guerrero will be $69.99 (in HD) for most viewers.  Tickets for the movie theatre will be $18.00 a piece.   With the rising prices of PPV, it will be interesting to see how many people will take advantage of this option.

GSP takes role in Captain America movie

March 26, 2013

Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has been cast as a villain in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  The film is set to open April 2014.

Latino Review details GSP’s character, Batroc the Leaper:

Batroc is an experienced thief and smuggler, who also speaks French and English. Although, as a mercenary, he does not hesitate to perform any number of criminal acts for his clients, Batroc has, by his own rights, a strong sense of honor, and he will turn against any client whom he feels has unfairly deceived him into committing crimes to which he might not otherwise have agreed.

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Payout Perspective:

The character is also in peak physical shape and has amazing agility and reflexes. The role sounds fit for GSP.  We could see GSP segue into more movies as he nears the end of his fighting career.  Obviously it helps to be represented by CAA to get him opportunities like this one.  Although GSP has been in small movie roles, this will be his first big mainstream movie.

From a UFC perspective, it looks like the movie may keep GSP busy despite having Johny Hendricks on the schedule this year.  Maybe we see GSP take the Hendricks fight this summer, shoot the movie and take a “Superfight” against Anderson Silva before taking time off to promote the movie next spring.

TUF 17 Episode 9: 1.3 million

March 24, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that this week’s TUF episode scored the second highest ratings of the season with a 1.0 rating and an average of slightly over 1.3 million viewers.

According to MMA Fighting, the episode received a 1.37 rating in Males 18-34 and a 1.25 in Males 18-49.

TUF 17 Episode 1: 1.51 million

TUF 17 Episode 2: 1.27 million

TUF 17 Episode 3: 1.191 million

TUF 17 Episode 4: 1.25 million

TUF 17 Episode 5: 1.13 million

TUF 17 Episode 6: 1.14 million

TUF 17 Episode 7: 1.259 million

TUF 17 Episode 8: 1.12 million

TUF 17 Episode 9:  1.3 million

Payout Perspective:

It was Thanksgiving on this episode of TUF which underscored one of the unexpected happenings of this season: Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones actually like each other outside of the Octagon.  This was highlighted by Sonnen’s toast calling Jones a “gentleman” which occurred during a Thanksgiving meal with all of the competitors at the TUF house.

Chris Camozzi takes stand against lowball fight sponsor offers

March 23, 2013

Chris Camozzi made some headlines pre-UFC 158 with a blog post which outlined a pattern of low offers made by sponsors.  Camozzi called out the fighters and managers that take low offers which lower the standard for everyone.

Camozzi wrote that despite UFC 158 being a big card it did not mean a windfall when it comes to sponsorship.  His blog post, found on his web page, did not request the UFC do something about the lowball sponsors offers or the sponsors to cease its tactics but the fighters to turn down such low offers.  As an example, he cited that a couple years ago a walkout shirt could make $10K if a fighter appeared on the main card of a PPV.  He stated that for UFC 158 he was offered $3K.

In the same post, Camozzi indicated that he is against a union as that is a “lazy” way for allowing another to set a baseline.  He called for up and coming fighters not to take low offers from sponsors.  He states that he turned down more money at UFC 158 to make the point.  He also reminded fighters that the sponsors paid between 5 and 7 figures for “permission” from the UFC to have ads displayed on fighters and its the sponsors that need the fighters not the other way around.

Payout Perspective:

Camozzi’s post is interesting as he’s requesting other fighters to “leave money on the table” in order to take a stand.  This sounds good but for the present conditions in the UFC, it’s a hard proposition to follow.  In a crowded fighter roster, one loss could spell the end of your UFC career.  From an up and coming fighter’s perspective, if you do not capitalize now, you may never have that chance.  If you are a manager, one would hope you are trying to get as many sponsors as you can for your fighter.  But, if you are on the prelims, one can imagine it being harder to find sponsors.  So, if posed with an offer that is less, do you take it or turn it down waiting for a better offer?  An offer that may never come.

Camozzi does make a point.  At times, the UFC will be making more money from its sponsor fee than the fighters will from the sponsors.  Sponsors need fighters to advertise their brand and fighters should be compensated accordingly.

One of the problems is that UFC production has cut walkouts which curbs the amount of time a walkout shirt is seen on television.  On FX, Fuel and Fox shows, some fights are cut to where the fight banner is barely seen and the fighter doesn’t have his shirt on.  From this perspective, the amount of time seen by a viewing audience has gone down.

It will be interesting to see if anyone takes Camozzi’s call for fighter solidarity on this issue.  It would be a hard thing to do for a young fighter with an uncertain future.  But, Camozzi is bringing up issues that will affect a fighter’s future.

The Wrestling Post – 03.22.13

March 22, 2013

Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post.  This week we take a look back at a fight Dana White turned down, Wrestlemania is $70 and an interesting lawsuit involving the independent contractor/employee question.

Vince challenges Dana

One of the stories that was buried under the Nick Diaz press was Dana White revealing that Vince McMahon asked him to do a match with him at Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta.  Wrestlemania, the annual big event for the WWE usually pulls out all the stops including celebrity participation.  Instead of White, the WWE had the Jersey Shore’s “Snooki” participate in a match.  Previous celebrities included Donald Trump, Mike Tyson and host more.  White smartly turned down the offer from McMahon.

Payout Take:  Despite being different, the two organizations seem to always be connected. White seems to have respect for McMahon and perhaps vice versa.  While we may criticize White for many business decisions, declining the spectacle that it would have been was the correct choice.  Although it would have helped with UFC publicity, it would have made the two organizations synonymous which the UFC definitely does not want to do.

PPV model to go away but it will be $70 for Wrestlemania 29

WWE Chief Financial Officer George Barrios speaking to financial web site 4-traders.com indicated that the WWE’s pay per view model will eventually go away.  This seems to be based on the hopes of the launch of the WWE Network which still does not have distributors or a launch date.  Presently, the WWE plans to run its usual PPV events on the subscription based network with the exception of Wrestlemania in addition to running its events on regular PPV.  However, Barrios believes that those PPV fans will “migrate” to the WWE Network.  At some point, pay per view will eventually go away.

In the meantime, Wrestlemania 29 has been priced at $70 for the 4 hour event.  This is a rise of $5 from last year and is on par with the Pacquiao-Marquez IV fight in December.

Payout Take:

The WWE seems to have gone all in on the WWE Network as it appears that they are set on having a network which will do away with its PPVs.  Obviously, the “migration” of its fans is key to its success.  I tend to think that the WWE’s PPV business is just one revenue stream of its business now and that the statement should not be surprising.

As for the $70 for Wrestlemania, I would think that the UFC is looking at this and seeing how successful the event is in terms of buys to see if it could raise its price point in the future.  I think that this would be unlikely in the near future but something it could look at down the road.

Former TNA Wrestler Daphne settles injury lawsuit

An interesting lawsuit was settled at mediation earlier this month as Former TNA wrestler, Daphne, decided to settle her case with TNA instead of moving forward to trial.  If the former wrestler had moved to trial, the first issue that would have been decided was whether the wrestlers are independent contractors or employees.

Shannon Spruill, Daphne’s real name, sued TNA for medical bills exceeding $26,000 from an in-ring injury.  According to Spruill, she was promised that her bills would be paid by TNA but in the end, they were not.

Payout Take:

I will try to obtain a copy of the lawsuit (which I believe was filed in Tennessee state court) but the issue of independent contractor versus employee has come up again.  The independent contractor status is something that has been used in professional wrestling to the detriment of the wrestlers.  In MMA, most organizations, including the UFC, have its fighters as independent contractors and not employees.  The UFC does offer its fighters under contract insurance which would have helped Spruill here.  If Spruill and TNA had gone to trial on the issue of independent contractor/employee, it would have certainly raised some eyebrows if the court had decided she was an employee.  Moreover, it would have opened up a ton of discussion (i.e., lawsuits) within the industry.

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