Court will likely decide Zuffa’s-NY motions without oral argument

February 23, 2015

Zuffa’s lawsuit in which it sued New York for its legislation banning professional MMA in the state is still ongoing and it looks like there could be a conclusion this spring based on the dual summary judgment motions filed by the state and Zuffa. But, it appears that there will be no oral argument to persuade the judge on the matter unless attorneys for each side amend their travel schedules.

Originally, the Court of Judge Kimba Wood issued an Order a couple weeks ago in which it would grant the parties final briefing and an oral argument on whether the New York statute banning professional MMA in the state was unconstitutionally vague. The briefs would be limited and the sides would only be allowed only 10 minutes of oral argument. The Court set the hearing for March 5, 2015.

However, the state indicated that both sides had conflicts with the date provided by the Court.  Each side indicated conflicting travel schedules (with nonrefundable tickets) and unavailability for the hearing.  In a letter from attorney John Schwartz on behalf of the state of New York, he proposed a hearing date scheduled for some time the week of March 30th.

Defendants' Letter to the Court by JASONCRUZ206

Well, no go from the Court.

Court Order in response to request to move hearing date

Instead of providing the accommodation, the Court has decided to render its opinion without oral argument unless of course they are available on March 5th.  The Court indicated in an order dated February 20th that it has reserved time for March 5th “in case that date becomes viable for counsel.” This is well within the rights of the Court.

Payout Perspective:

Would the Court have been persuaded by either side’s additional briefing or oral argument? Moreover, did the sides piss off the Judge for not being available or does the Judge just want this case to either end or proceed to trial? We shall see. Based on the limited scope of what the Court was requesting, it appeared that it wanted to hear some further information but maybe not so much as to postpone the decision any further.

What will be interesting is to see if a ruling comes out prior to an anticipated vote in the New York State Assembly on legalizing professional MMA in the state. MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC Fight Night 61 Attendance and Bonuses

February 22, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses from UFC Fight Night 61 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The attendance for Sunday night’s event was 5,080 which was a sell out according to the UFC.  The promotion indicated that it would like to hold another UFC event in a bigger venue when it returns.  No gate was announced which is standard for these small Brazilian shows.

The bonuses for the night were awarded to Frank Mir, Sam Alvey, Marion Reneau and Matt Dywer.  All were Performance of the Night as no Fight of the Night bonus was handed out.

Payout Perspective:

An interesting night of fights with several upsets.  Obviously, the attendance was quite low based on the small venue making it one of the smallest crowds in Brazil to attend a UFC event since 2012.

UFC Events in Brazil since 2012

Date Event Location Main Event Attendance Gate
1/14/2012 UFC 142 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Aldo-Mendes 10,605 $2,800,000
6/23/2012 UFC 147 Belo Hor, Brazil WSilva-Franklin 16,643 $1,420,000
10/13/2012 UFC 153 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Silva-Bonnar 16,844 $2,550,000
1/19/2013 UFC on FX 7 San Paulo, Brazil Belfort-Bisping 9,116
5/8/2013 UFC on FX 8 Jaragua, Brazil Belfort-Rockhold 7,642
6/8/2013 UFC on Fuel TV 10 Fortaleza, Brazil Nogueira-Werdum 6,286
8/3/2013 UFC 163 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Aldo-Korean Zombie 13,873 $1,500,000
9/4/2013 UFC Fight Night 28 Belo Hor, Brazil Teixeira-Bader 5,126
10/9/2013 UFC Fight Night 29 Barueri, Brazil Maia-Shields 6,621
11/9/2013 UFC Fight Night 32 Goiania, Brazil Belfort-Hendo 10,565
2/15/2014 UFC Fight Night 36 Jaragua, Brazil Machida-Mousasi 7,511
5/31/2014 TUF Brazil 3 Finale San Paulo, Brazil Miocic-Maldonado 8,986
9/13/2014 UFC Fight Night 51 Brasilia, Brazil Bigfoot Silva-Arlovski 8,822
10/25/2014 UFC 179 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Aldo-Mendes 11,415
12/20/2014 UFC Fight Night 58 Barueri, Brazil Machida-Dolloway
2/21/2015 UFC Fight Night 61 Porto Alegre, Brazil Bigfoot Silva-Mir 5,080

Punk and Cabana sued by WWE doctor

February 21, 2015

MMA Fighting reports that UFC fighter CM Punk and indy wrestler Colt Cabana are being sued by a WWE doctor for defamation among other claims resulting from Punk’s comments on Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” podcast last year.

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court (IL) by WWE doctor Christopher M. Amann accuses the former WWE wrestlers (Cabana had a brief stint with the company) of making defamatory statements regarding his professional duties as a medical doctor for the company.

In support of Dr. Amann, the WWE has released a statement and video which refutes Punk’s story told on Cabana’s podcast that he had a MRSA staph infection on his back and Dr. Amann misdiagnosed it.  Punk also indicated that the doctor did not treat him for a concussion.

Cabana was sued as Dr. Amann claims that he “helped Brooks falsely depict Amann as lazy and a bad doctor per the Cook County Record.

Payout Perspective:

When I first heard the much heralded podcast where Punk aired out the WWE, I wondered about whether there would be any response by the WWE on the comments made by Punk on how his injuries were addressed. It appears that the lawsuit is the response.  Certainly a physician filing a defamation claim against what was essentially a patient are unusual.  One might think that Punk may now bring a counterclaim alleging medical malpractice based on his side of the story from Cabana’s podcast.  Then again, the WWE statement (via the Wrestling Observer) includes a claim that there are no medical records documenting Punk’s condition and that Punk did not communicate his condition (i.e., lump on back) with the WWE’s doctors.

The news of Punk’s health will be interesting when he applies for a license to fight.  We will see if this lawsuit brings up additional information since it is an issue in this lawsuit.  Punk is at an “advanced age” for a first-time MMA fighter and one would think an athletic commission would look more closely at his health history when issuing him a license.

But, the Punk-WWE legal issues look to continue.

Mayweather-Pacquiao set for May 2nd

February 20, 2015

The long-awaited fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is taking place May 2nd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  Mayweather posted a picture of a piece of paper which he states was the signed contract for the fight.

It is being reported that the purse split is 60-40 in favor of Mayweather.  One would assume that Pacquiao would probably make up the split in international television rights although that is not being reported.

Pacquiao confirmed the fight was on via Yahoo! Sports and Kevin Iole.  It is expected that Floyd is making $120 million (not counting the ancillary business which is sure to propel him higher) and Manny will make $80 million.

While the biggest gripe about this fight is that its happening past both of their primes, it is sure to set Nevada gate and attendance records as well as closed circuit and PPV buy rates.

For those wondering, the biggest gate occurred a couple years ago with Mayweather-Canelo at the MGM Grand.  The attendance was a little over 16,000 but a gate of over $20 million.

A Floyd-Manny PPV would certainly break or near the reported 2 million PPV buys of Mayweather-Canelo and Mayweather-Oscar.

Although no specifics were reported, one assumes that this is a Showtime PPV since Floyd still has two fights left on the deal.

Payout Perspective:

Its clear that this fight will receive a ton of media as fans have been waiting for these two to fight for ages.  Expect a PPV price that will be more than the $75 for the Canelo fight.  Perhaps $100?  In my opinion, it would not surprise me.  We will be treated to a great deal of shoulder programming including, what I anticipate, an extensive All Access 360 covering both of their camps.

Minutes after the fight was officially announced, MGM Grand has sold out its hotel.  Expect much of the strip to be sold out the first weekend in May.

We will keep you posted on the business end of this fight as May 2nd nears.

Widow of former WWE performer sues

February 20, 2015

Cassandra Frazier widow of the late WWE wrestler Nelson Lee Frazier (aka Mabel, Viscera, Big Daddy, V, King Mabel) has sued the WWE in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tennessee.

The 124 page claims that Frazier suffered multiple head injuries/concussions while he wrestled with the WWE.  The Complaint claims negligence, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation and loss of consortium, a personal injury to Ms. Frazier among other claims asserted in the Complaint.

Frazier, who weighed near 500 pounds while wrestling for the WWE, died of a heart attack on February 18, 2014 at the age of 43.  Perhaps in honor of the anniversary of his death, the lawsuit was filed February 18, 2015.

The Complaint includes a timeline of events in which Frazier suffered injuries while working for the WWE.  It also includes a list of nearly 40 WWE wrestlers (photos of each included) that have passed due to issues related to head trauma.  Notably, the lawsuit includes some information revealed by CM Punk and Colt Cabana on Cabana’s infamous podcast last year.

Ms. Frazier claimed her husband suffered concussion symptoms, CTE, disfiguring scar tissue, head trauma

The WWE released a statement with respect to the lawsuit by Frazier (via Wrestling Observer):

“WWE has not been served with a lawsuit by Cassandra Frazier.  If served, we will vigorously contest this lawsuit brought by the same lawyers who have been soliciting people to sue WWE without merit.”

Payout Perspective:

This is the third lawsuit in less than a year against the WWE which relates to the issue of head injury/concussions that may have caused injury to former performers.  “Billy Jack” Haynes filed a lawsuit he had hoped would gain class action status in Oregon and Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton in Philadelphia.  As you can tell from the WWE’s initial statement, it is shifting the focus to the fact that we have “ambulance chasing” lawyers and not true claims.  The lawsuit has been filed by one of the lawyers that filed suit in the LoGrasso and Singleton case.  Hence, the statement by the WWE.  The Complaint includes information revealed by CM Punk on Colt Cabana’s podcast about the WWE medical policy.  The veracity of the statements made on the podcast are in question as a WWE doctor has filed a defamation lawsuit against Punk and Cabana.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC calls for policy on drug testing

February 19, 2015

The UFC announced a “Call to Action” on Wednesday which it hopes will address the issue of the usage of illicit drugs in the sport.  The organization earmarked July 1, 2015 as the date for the new policy to take effect.

Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and UFC COO Lawrence Epstein announced the new policy at a news conference on Wednesday.  On July 1 of this year, all fighters will be subject to random performance-enhancing drug testing. It intends to partner with a third-party to administrator overseeing its vision for drug testing its fighters.

There are obvious issues that must be hammered out here.  MMA Junkie points out four big questions.

The UFC is also in favor of longer suspensions and harsher penalties doled out by state athletic commissions.  The UFC is in favor of a two or four year suspension.  Having commissions comply with a new UFC drug policy seems like an easy fix but it’s clear that the impact may reach farther than the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how the drug testing policy plays out.  In August, ironically the same month that the Cung Le debacle occurred, it was reported that the UFC was looking into a drug testing protocol with third-party organizations. Now, it seems Zuffa will have to pick up where it had previously left off with seeking out an organization that will oversee its drug testing.

The UFC will take a hit here with how much it will need to spend in drug testing but for the integrity of the sport and from a public relations standpoint, it will need to spend whatever is needed to ensure that more fighters are not caught taking PEDs.  

Based on Wednesday’s news conference, the UFC’s use of a third party regulatory body to administer drug testing should solve the issue of what happens (like in Macau) where there is not a regulatory authority to oversee drug testing.  

 

While the announcement on Wednesday appears to be a move in the right direction.  There are a lot of things the company needs to do to hammer out a policy and its clear that it has to figure out whether state, provincial and international regulatory authorities will comply with the UFC.  Hence, the legal implications are far greater than one might think and the company will need to rely on the department that Dana White said “screwed up” the Cung Le issue. It was alluded to that contracts will need to be reworked so that the new policy would be a part of each fighters’ deal. Obviously, submitting to a third party (assuming that is the way the UFC goes) drug testing facility could create issues including liability.

Although just a thought, the new drug policy may be worked into the standard UFC Code of Conduct Policy as well.

As for independent agencies, at least one applauded the announcement Wednesday. 

Tygart has been an advocate of blood and urine testing in the UFC for a while.

We will see where this goes.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC Fight Night 60: 913K, Prelims: 775K

February 18, 2015

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 60 drew an average viewership of 913,000 viewers.  The Prelims which aired prior to the event on FS1 drew 775,000 viewers.

In the main event, Benson Henderson submitted Brandon Thatch in Henderson’s first fight at welterweight.  The Prelims aired from 5:00pm PT to 8:00pm PT and the main card was immediately after with about 20 minutes of overrun.  Approximately 8:00pm PT to 10:20pm PT.  Obviously, a late card for those on the east coast.

It was nowhere near the overnight rating of 1.7 million viewers that saw UFC Fight Night 59 when the promotion pulled out all of the stops for Conor McGregor as he headlined the show in Boston last month.  That event ended up with 2.7 million viewers.  But, Saturday’s event was slightly lower than UFC Fight Night 58 in December which featured Lyoto Machida and C.B. Dolloway in Brazil of 966,000.

The Prelims were off from UFC Fight Night 59 Prelims which drew 908,000.  However, Saturday’s Prelims did do much better than the 608,000 for UFC Fight Night 58.

Payout Perspective:

It’s likely that the NBA All Star Saturday Night may have drawn away some viewers for the Prelims.  But, the main card largely went unopposed in terms of sports competing with it.  Aside from the former UFC lightweight champion in the main event, the card did not have a lot of big names.  Still, the main card rating was above the 2014 Fight Night main card average of 819,000.

Silva fails post-fight drug test, 3 other UFC fighters issued penalties by NSAC

February 18, 2015

Four UFC Fighters including Anderson Silva were issued suspensions by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday at its monthly meeting.  Notably, it was revealed that Silva failed a second drug test post-fight according to MMA Junkie.

Silva tested positive for oxazepam and temazepam which are used to treat anxiety and insomnia.  Junkie reported Silva failing a second test although it was not known when he took it.

In addition, Hector Lombard, Nick Diaz and Ashlee Evans-Smith were all fined and suspended by the NSAC.

The UFC has called a news conference for Wednesday to address the spate of failed drug tests.

It will be interesting to see what the UFC will do.

Payout Perspective:

The news of Silva failing his post-fight drug test is disappointing when you recall that he denied any PED use upon the first failed test.  Not only does it appear that he lied, he has taken several banned substances in lead-up to his return to the Octagon.  For someone that was supposed to be an ambassador to this sport, this is a definite public relations issue for the UFC.  Regardless of the cost, it must do something to ensure the integrity of the sport.

MMA Payout will have more on the UFC news conference and the potential implications.

Bellator 133 overnight and adjusted viewership numbers

February 18, 2015

Bellator 133 held last Friday night drew an average viewership of 565,000 on Spike TV which is considerably down from January’s Bellator 132.  Its adjusted viewership (Live +3) increased to 606,000 viewers.

The event peaked at 967,000 viewers.  In the main event, Alexander Shlemenko used a spinning backfist to KO Melvin Manhoef in the second round.

Bellator 2015 viewership

Payout Perspective:

In terms of competition, the NBA All Star Events may have drawn some viewers away although it seems like the demo watching those festivities would not watch Bellator.  The NBA Celebrity Game on ESPN at 7:00pm drew 1.78 million viewers while the Rising Stars game on TNT held at 9:00pm drew 1.55 million viewers per Television By Numbers.  In terms of winning the night in cable ratings “Gold Rush” (4.6 million) followed by “Alaskan Bush People” (3.8 million) on the Discovery Channel were 1-2 in the cable ratings.

Premier Boxing Champions signs deal with CBS Sports and Showtime

February 17, 2015

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that CBS Sports and Showtime have brokered a deal with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions to be aired on Saturday afternoons.  The sides have agreed to an 8 show deal starting April 4th featuring light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

In addition, shoulder programming will assist in promoting the fight cards.

Prior to the announcement on Tuesday, Haymon’s PBC initiated time buys with NBC and NBC Sports Network, Spike TV and now CBS Sports and Showtime.

Payout Perspective:

It’s beginning to look a lot like everyone is an Al Haymon guy.  The boxing landscape for 2015 will have a lot of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions across multiple networks.  Certainly, this evolving strategy will be fascinating to watch as it is executed.  I am thinking that this investment will come with some blue chip sponsors that would like to advertise along some, if not all of these platforms.

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