Everlast to debut new glove in Bellator MMA

February 28, 2014

For those watching Bellator MMA as it returns to Spike TV Friday night, check out the new gloves worn by the fighters.  Everlast Worldwide, Inc. and Bellator MMA have come up with a next-generation MMA fight glove.

Via Bellator MMA press release:

Over the last year Everlast product designers have worked closely with Bellator’s team and its athletes to create the PowerLock MMA Fight glove. The new glove promotes proper hand form and technique, which can help to reduce the risk of face, hand and wrist injuries.

The PowerLock displays a number of improvements over earlier generations of MMA gloves; these changes include a curved striking surface that aides proper hand form, redesigned foam to maximize hand protection on the impact zone and additional padding that shields the first and fifth metacarpals, two commonly injured bones of the hand.

“Fighter safety is absolutely paramount in every decision we make, and when our team sat down with Everlast, both of our company’s shared one goal: take the next step in advancing the protection for every athlete that steps into our cage,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “We’ve already had countless fighters test this new glove in full sparring and the reviews have been off the charts. Working in partnership with Everlast we have created a glove that not only improves fighter comfort, but also lowers the risk of injury from both an offensive and defensive perspective. We’ve really hit a home run here, and I can’t wait for all of our athletes to strap on this new glove beginning February 28th.”

Everlast GLoves

Payout Perspective:

We have seen many injuries occur, namely eye pokes due to the fingerless gloves and this innovation might be something that can deter these types of injuries. The new gloves, which will debut Friday, is a great way for both Everlast and Bellator to gain some recognition within the MMA industry if the gloves are liked by the fighters.  We may see other organizations adopt them.

Vitor Belfort out of UFC 173 title bout after NSAC TRT ban

February 28, 2014

Earlier in the day, the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone treatment therapy (TRT), just a few hours after that announcement was made, UFC teased a big announcement would be aired on FOX Sports Live tonight.

Fox Sports Live reported that Vitor Belfort would not be applying for a Nevada license for UFC 173, which is scheduled to take place on May 24th, due to the NSAC ruling to ban TRT.  His replacement was announced to be Lyoto Machida after his recent win against Gegard Mousasi, which means the new UFC 173 headliner will be Weidman vs Machida.

Belfort claimed that he would now make the efforts to get off of TRT and continue to fight in the UFC without the testosterone therapy since other athletic commissions in the US would most likely follow the NSAC’s ruling.

 

Payout Perspective:

Today’s NSAC ruling on banning TRT will have a ripple effect on MMA for years to come. We got some of that today already, as Belfort’s announcement today to pull out of his fight three months in advance will cement his status as the face of the TRT era in Mixed Martial Arts and in the UFC.  The UFC is already in a tough spot to find headliners this year due to injuries and the impromptu departures of Georges St. Pierre (infinite leave) and Anderson Silva (injury), two of their biggest stars.

The buzz for a Weidman vs Machida main event in Las Vegas will not have the same feel as previous major events during the Summer time. This news puts even more pressure on Ronda Rousey to keep things going in 2014 as a number of UFC champions will continue to be sidelined from injuries suffered last year. As far as PPV numbers go so far in 2014, UFC 169 was estimated by Dave Meltzer to be in the low 200,000’s while UFC 170: Rousey vs McMann figures to do somewhere on the lower to mid end of 300,000 buys.  Factoring in today’s news of Belfort pulling out of UFC 173, it looks like it will be a tough first half of the year for UFC PPV sales.

NSAC Bans TRT, UFC Issues Statement

February 27, 2014

Earlier today, the Nevada State Athletic Commission motioned to ban the practice of issuing therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for the often questioned testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in the state, which would impact many notable fighters in the UFC.

The UFC supported the decision and issued the following statement:

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). We believe our athletes should compete based on their natural abilities and on an even playing field. We also intend to honor this ruling in international markets where, due to a lack of governing bodies, the UFC oversees regulatory efforts for our live events. We encourage all athletic commissions to adopt this ruling.”

Earlier in the week, MMA and athletic commissions came under fire after ESPN issued an eye-opening report of  the number of TRT users in MMA, most notably, UFC fighter Vitor Belfort. Belfort is currently scheduled to challenge the current middle-weight champion, Chris Weidman, at UFC 173 in May. What’s important about that event is that it is currently scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, where TRT is now not allowed.

Belfort is not alone in requesting and being granted TRT exceptions in Nevada. Other notable UFC fighters that have receiced TUEs for TRT include Dan Henderson (who fights in Brazil in less than a month and was planning on receiving a TRT exception), Shane Roller, Todd Duffee, Chael Sonnen (fights in Brazil in the Summer), Frank Mir and Forrest Griffin.

 

Payout Perspective:

It was a good day today to establish some credibility in MMA and the athletic commissions regarding performance enhancing drugs and cheaters in the sport.  The ban of TRT exceptions was a move that was long-awaited by many fans and that had become a heated debate due to prominent UFC fighters fighting outside of the USA who were previously revealed as TRT users.  The notion of a TUE for TRT has always been labeled as “legal cheating” by everyone in the sport, but the UFC never banned the treatment from competition due to being regulated by NSAC’s who allowed it.

This is a big first step, though definitely not the last.  Obviously more needs to be done on this front, including enhancing the advanced testing and the out of competition testing performed by certain commissions.  The issue here becomes getting enough funding to support such plans.  Hopefully in the near future, a solution can be found to solve most of MMA’s problems, but at least for now, we have removed what had become a hot trend for fighters to “legally cheat”.  It will be interesting to see if a fighter will challenge such a bold ruling in court, but at least for now we can breathe a little easier on what appeared to be a TRT epidemic in MMA.

FOX Sports 1 Releases 2014 MLB Schedule, UFCs Impact?

February 27, 2014

Today, FOX released their upcoming MLB on FOX 2014 schedule, which will occupy many upcoming Saturdays for the next few months. Will this impact UFC programming on Saturday nights?

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2014 FOX SPORTS/FOX SPORTS 1 MLB REGULAR-SEASON BROADCAST SCHEDULE

(Note: Schedule Subject to Change – Times Refer to On-Air)

Saturday, April 5

1:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

Tuesday, April 8

8:15 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals

Saturday, April 12

1:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Saturday, April 19

1:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Detroit Tigers

8:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers

Saturday, April 26

1:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at New York Yankees

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals

Saturday, May 3

1:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

7:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals

Saturday, May 10

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

7:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays

Thursday, May 15

12:35 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds

Saturday, May 17

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees

Saturday, May 24

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers

7:00 PM ET – FOX
St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates
Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Saturday, May 31

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins

7:00 PM ET – FOX
Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers

Saturday, June 7

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers

7:00 PM ET – FOX
Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Oakland Athletics at Baltimore Orioles

Saturday, June 14

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers

7:00 PM ET – FOX
Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Atlanta Braves

Saturday, June 21

7:00 PM ET – FOX
Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians

10:05 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Saturday, June 28

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers

7:00 PM ET – FOX
Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers
Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs

Saturday, July 5

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves

7:00 PM ET – FOX
Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox
Texas Rangers at New York Mets
San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres

Saturday, July 12

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers

7:00 PM ET – FOX
Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Texas Rangers

Tuesday, July 15

2014 MLB All-Star Game from Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

Saturday, July 19

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

7:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

Saturday, July 26

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

7:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals

Tuesday, July 29

8:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
New York Yankees at Texas Rangers

Saturday, August 2

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

Saturday, August 9

1:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles

Saturday, August 16

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

7:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
San Diego Padres at St. Louis Cardinals

Saturday, August 23

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals

7:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday, August 26

8:10 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals

Saturday, August 30

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates

Saturday, September 6

1:00 PM ET – FOX
San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers
Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays

4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees

Saturday, September 13

1:00 PM ET – FOX
Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers
New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles

8:10 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks

Saturday, September 20

FOX/FOX Sports 1
TBD

Saturday, September 27

FOX/FOX Sports 1
TBD

 

Payout Perspective:

Since the launch of FOX Sports 1, they have touted MLB on the network in addition to NASCAR and the UFC.  April 5th will now be the official debut of MLB on the network, which will finally place a big traditional sport on the network.  An afterthought to now airing baseball from April to September is what will happen to UFC programming on Saturdays? From a look at the schedule, FS1 will feature at least one, sometimes two MLB games on Saturdays, which happens to be when the UFC airs either their own events or prelims as lead-ins to their PPV events.

From Fox Sports point of view, this is the reason why they created Fox Sports 2, where they can keep the bigger sport on FS1 and move the clashing programming onto FS2.  The question is how much, if any, UFC Saturday programming will be moved to FS2 in the several few months?  The UFC also has the option to air their programming on Fight Pass, which would be a great selling point for the service, but both FS2 and Fight Pass would significantly decrease the exposure and reach of the product.

An update on Zuffa-NY lawsuit and 3 proposed bills re MMA in Albany

February 27, 2014

Zuffa and lawyers for the Attorney General of New York have filed an amended discovery plan which looks to depose certain individuals as it relates to Zuffa’s lawsuit against New York.  In addition, Lohud.com reports on the latest happenings with the future of professional MMA in New York.

Notably, the Lohud.com article reports on three major bills which addresses the regulation of MMA in the state.

One bill would allow professional bouts in the state.  Another bill would lift the ban only if an injury fund for fighters is set up and another would put a moratorium of two years on all MMA matches.

The article quotes a representative from the National Organization of Women stating that it would continue to oppose the legalization of professional MMA in the state.  Women groups have expressed concern over the messaging and violence of the sport.  Examples of their concern include recent statements by Dana White where he used the word “pussification” and actions by UFC fighter at the time Thiago Silva which included alleged violence toward his estranged wife.

And, of course, labor unions were mentioned as an obstacle for Zuffa in the state.

Of the three proposed bills that will be introduced this spring is one that would put a halt to MMA in the state (including amateur bouts) until a study on the health impacts of MMA will be performed.  I would assume that this would come out of a part of the state budget.  The other bill allowing MMA in the state with conditions has promoters coming up with a “compensation fund for injured fighters.”  It would also create a presumption that “any neurological later discovered in a fighter were caused by their participation in MMA.” (via Lohud.com).

There are inherent problems with the two bills that would presumably allow MMA in the state with certain conditions.

Payout Perspective:

As we’ve written year after year, hope springs eternal for professional MMA in Albany.  This time around we are presented with some interesting proposals which we will track.  Obviously, there is only one of the three bills listed that Zuffa would be interested in supporting.  From the public relations perspective, the Thiago Silva situation is bad PR for the UFC but realistically, like all sports leagues (e.g. Raymond Felton), it’s hard to avoid.  Moreover, the UFC was quick to act in dismissing Silva.  But, it supports anti-MMA advocates as recent examples of its position.  White’s comments reflect the good and bad of having a promoter speak from the hip.  He is going to say what he means without a filter but that is not always good for business.  We can only surmise that White did not think that his comments could be seen as derogatory towards women, otherwise he would not have said it.  But, that’s the problem.

Regarding the lawsuit, the discovery phase will be complete by April 25, 2014.  At this point, New York has identified three individuals that it will depose.  Zuffa has identified “persons most knowledgeable” at the AG of the State of New York, the New York State Liquor Authority, the New York State Athletic Commission and the New York State Department of State as well as Melvina Lathan.  She is a former boxing judge and chairperson to the NY State Athletic Commission.  Here is a 2010 article on her from the NY Times in which she wanted the state to legalize MMA.

MMA Payout will continue to keep you posted of the lawsuit as well as the political maneuvering in Albany.

Bellator MMA signs Victory Motorcycles as sponsor

February 26, 2014

Bellator MMA announced that Victory Motorcycles will be the “Official Motorcycle Partner” of Bellator MMA.  The partnership is another sponsor secured by BMMA prior to the start of its 10th season on February 28th.

Via BMMA press release:

Victory Motorcycles will be strategically integrated throughout the Bellator broadcast and digital platforms.  In addition to premium logo placement on the cage mat canvas, and commercial inventory on Spike, Victory will present a custom in-show feature before the main event.  The segment will be named “Keys to Victory” and highlight what fighters must do to win the bout.

Victory Motorcycles

Payout Perspective:

In its lead-up to the start of its 2014 debut on Spike TV, BMMA has secured an Online Poker sponsor, an Energy Drink Sponsor and now a Motorcycle Sponsor.  As we can tell from the UFC, these industries are attractive to the target demo of MMA fans.  It will be interesting to compare how Victory’s sponsorship will be different from Harley Davidson’s sponsorship with the UFC.

Tech issues hamper WWE Network launch

February 26, 2014

On Monday the WWE launched its much heralded Network which it advertised to be available on almost every platform imaginable. The good news is that number of those signing up exceeded expectations. The bad news is that it is experiencing technical difficulties across most platforms.

The WWE’s technological partner in the venture, MLB Advanced Media, indicated that it had not expected the demand it has received from people signing up. The WWE released a statement Monday regarding the issues upon signing up and the subsequent technical issues subscribers found once they were able to attain access.

The WWE also stated that MLBAM was aggressively working to resolve the matter on Monday morning. Although not directly, the WWE inferred that the fault lay with MLBAM for the tech issues. At least, that’s how it is being interpreted in the press. One would think that a part of this has to do with the one week free trial. Even as of Wednesday, there are still problems with logging in.

In my own experience, I was able to sign up at 6:01 a.m. on Monday via PC, one minute after the promoted launch, but was only able to watch last year’s Wrestlemania in the first hour. I was not able to go through the library until mid-morning. Later that day, the stream was fine for me on the PC but I experienced issues on my iPad. Notably, I have experienced more buffering issues on the PC on Tuesday night and today.

Certainly, these issues are being worked on but the technical issues are a concern for the WWE going forward since its heavy investment in the product. The WWE and MLB Advanced Media must make the fixes soon. If the free trial ends with the problems persisting, its likely that the WWE will lose a lot of potential customers.

Payout Take:

Tech issues were a given as to challenges facing this network. The question is how fast can the WWE and ML BAM fix them. If we are to spin this in a positive light, the overwhelming demand for the Network reflects the fact that its promotion of its product created a swell of interest. But, the tech issues could make folks concerned and they may decide not to subscribe if they feel that these issues will be an inherent part of being a subscriber.

UFC 170: 936,000 viewers

February 25, 2014

MMA Payout has learned through Nielsen sources that Saturday’s UFC 170 Prelims received an average viewership of 936,000.  The ratings for the 2 hour prelims on FS1 are up slightly from the UFC 169 Prelims.

UFC Prelims on FS1

UFC 164  809,000

UFC 165  722,000

UFC 166  628,000

UFC 167  998,000

UFC 168  1,554,000

UFC 169  933,000

UFC 170  936,000

UFC on Fox 9  613,000

UFC on Fox 10  713,000

The Prelims final match before the start of the PPV featured Alexis Davis as she narrowly defeated Jessica Eye. It also aired bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao against up and coming prospect Pedro Munhoz.

Payout Perspective:

The Prelims went up against College Basketball on ESPN and the Winter Olympics on NBC.  According to TV By the Numbers, Syracuse vs. Duke on ESPN was the highest rated cable program of the night with an average viewership of 4.1 million for a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demo.  The game aired during the Prelims on FS1.  The ratings are the third best PPV Prelims on FS1.

Mayweather chooses Maidana over Khan for May 3rd

February 25, 2014

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will fight Marcos Maidana on May 3rd in Las Vegas per a tweet sent out by Mayweather on his birthday.  It will be Mayweather’s third fight for Showtime Boxing.

Mayweather engaged with his twitter followers by asking them to go to his web site to vote for who he should fight.

 

According to this Kevin Iole story (via Lockerdome), Khan won the unofficial fan vote.

Payout Perspective:

The “Cinco de Mayo weekend” fight has become tradition for Mayweather.  Maidana as his opponent is somewhat surprising as most had Amir Khan as the frontrunner for the shot.  Khan would have drawn a lot of British fans as he is from the United Kingdom. He also has argued that he would have brought in a lot of interest from the Middle East as Khan is of Pakistani descent.  Yet, Mayweather chose Maidana which is likely due in part to his upset victory over Adrien Broner.  Maidana, who is from Argentina, made a strong case for himself as he knocked Broner down twice and his style could bring a much more fan friendly, exciting fight than Khan.

Mayweather is master of social media strategy.  He implemented the use of his followers to engage with him on twitter as to his next fight and created traffic for his own web site.  Regardless of the opponents he listed on the poll, the goal of creating traffic appears to have worked.

Bellator announces sponsor deal with Monster Energy

February 25, 2014

Bellator has announced that Monster Energy will become the “Official Energy Drink Partner” of Bellator per press release.  In addition, Monster has added Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as one of its sponsored athletes.

Via Bellator press release:

Monster will own highly visible inventory inside the Bellator cage and activate at various consumer touch points in-arena.  In addition, Monster is extending their Monster Girl program with a marquee position in sponsoring the Bellator Girls.

Monster has also expanded its athlete roster with the addition of MMA icon Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to their stable of sponsored athletes. The Monster logo will be featured prominently on Jackson’s fight gear as “Rampage” prepares for his February 28th Light Heavyweight Tournament debut.

To complement the live event experience, Monster and Bellator will look to engage in a multi-faceted activation plan intended to build customer loyalty and drive tune-in of the Bellator broadcast on Spike.

bellator monster

Payout Perspective:

The Bellator sponsorship reflects its stepping up in visibility and doing more to promote itself in light of the upcoming season on Spike TV. 

As an aside, the two top MMA organizations now have Monster as an official sponsor.  Bellator has Monster Energy Drinks and the UFC has Monster Head Phones.  The two operate in different industries so this is the likely reason they can use the “Monster” name.

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