Judge rules in New York’s favor, dismisses Zuffa lawsuit

March 31, 2015

On Tuesday, Judge Kimba Wood granted New York’s Motion for Summary Judgment and denied Zuffa’s Motion for Summary Judgment thus ending (for now) the company’s legal battle to strike down New York’s law prohibiting professional mixed martial arts in the state.

Essentially, Judge Wood stated that Zuffa lacked “standing” as a plaintiff as there was no “injury in fact” and it was “merely speculative.” Since the Court determined that there was no “imminent injury” in the evidence presented, it sided with New York. Thus the remaining claim that the New York statute was unconstitutionally vague as well as a similar challenge to the state liquor law were dismissed.

Two key points made by Judge Wood here was that Zuffa had to establish an “injury in fact.” It held that there were no “specific facts” provided by Zuffa to survive the motion for summary judgment. Secondly, the Court stressed that standing must be determined at the commencement of the suit. Essentially, the Court let it be known that anything that occurred after the filing in November 2011, could not be utilized as evidence to prove standing now.

In her opinion issued on Tuesday, she indicated that if Zuffa wants to re-file based on events that may have occurred since the lawsuit was filed in November 2011, it may be better served to do this in state court rather than federal court.

The Court did not rule on a Motion to Strike filed by New York which it sought to preclude some of Zuffa’s evidence since it already had ruled in New York’s favor.

(h/t: Jim Genia)

Payout Perspective:

We had predicted that this may have been a likely outcome. In its moving papers, New York had stressed the standing argument which would allow an “out” for the Court to dismiss the case without a further need for ruling on the merits. Yes, that’s a Zuffa view of the New York strategy (of course, a more Zuffa view would be its press release announcing the decision). It’s also a very good one and one that courts tend to look for if the issues either become convoluted, a toss-up or they just don’t think that the claims were that strong. We’re not saying any of those was the reason for the ruling Tuesday. But, standing is a necessary requirement in bringing claims. Essentially Con Law 101. But, there were legitimate arguments set forth by Zuffa which addressed the reasons why it had a right to bring the lawsuit.

At this point, it’s too early to know whether Zuffa will appeal or focus its efforts on lobbying for an MMA bill in Albany. MMA Payout will have more on this and keep you posted.

WSOF 19: 216,000

March 31, 2015

MMA Payout has learned via Nielsen sources that World Series of Fighting 19 on Saturday drew 216,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network. The ratings slightly improve on its last event in February.

The event featured an exciting bout between WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje and Luis Palomino. Gaethje stopped Palomino in the third round. The event also featured an upset with UFC veteran Thiago Silva getting knocked out by Teddy Holder in the first round. The fight was set up after Matt Hamill was forced to pull out late due to an illness.

WSOF Graph through 19

World Series of Fighting
WSOF 1 198,000
WSOF 2 210,000
WSOF 3 201,000
WSOF 4 264,000
WSOF 5 227,000
WSOF 6 161,000
WSOF 7 94,000
WSOF 8 212,000
WSOF 9 242,000
WSOF 10 365,000
WSOF 11 781,000
WSOF 12 206,000
WSOF 13 246,000
WSOF 14 229,000
WSOF 15 179,000
WSOF 16 181,000
WSOF 17 222,000
WSOF 18 209,000
WSOF 19 216,000

Payout Perspective:

The average for WSOF viewership is around 244,000 viewers and 214,000 viewers if you discount the NBC show last July.  The viewership is average for a Saturday night especially when you consider that WSOF went opposite the NCAA Tournament game between Notre Dame and Kentucky.

Featherweight boxer Gonzalez sued by Golden Boy

March 31, 2015

ESPN reports that Golden Boy Promotions filed a lawsuit against boxer Jhonny Gonzalez on Friday prior to his fight on Saturday.  The complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claims that Gonzalez’s Mexican promoter violated Golden Boy’s exclusive rights to promote his bouts.

Despite the lawsuit, it did not attempt to file an injunction from stopping Gonzalez from fighting Gary Rusell, Jr. Saturday night.  It is requesting $1 million and for equitable relief which asks the court to enforce Golden Boy’s promotional agreement which Gonzalez entered into in 2013.

The lawsuit implicates Al Haymon as conspiring with Gonzalez’s promoter, Osvaldo Kuchle’s Promociones del Pueblo, in delaying a bout with Russell (who Haymon manages) until Golden Boy was not in the picture.

Gonzalez was stopped by Russell, Jr. on Saturday.

Payout Perspective:

Although the story does not indicate a cause of action, one might expect it to be a breach of contract claim.  This is at least the second boxing lawsuit which names Al Haymon as a contributing issue in a promotional dispute.  Last year, you might recall that Sergey Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events, sued Adonis Stevenson’s management group as well as the boxer.  That lawsuit was settled essentially with Bernard Hopkins stepping up to fight Kovalev.  Here, we may have a similar (not the same) situation.  Obviously, the timing of the lawsuit probably precluded an injunction, although it would have been interesting.  But we will see what happens next.

Bellator 135: 607,000 viewers

March 30, 2015

Bellator 135 drew an average viewership of 607,000 viewers on Friday night according to Nielsen sources.  It was the lowest output for a Bellator event this year.

In the main event, Marcos Galvao won the Bellator bantamweight title making Joe Warren submit to a knee bar.  There was also an exciting undercard fight with Hideo Tokoro taking on LC Davis.

Below is a chart of the 2015 Bellator events:

Bellator 2015 through 135

The NCAA Tournament on TBS topped cable ratings on Friday night with Michigan State/Oklahoma winning the night with over 4.4 million viewers and a rating of 1.5 in the A18-49 category.  Bellator 135 drew 0.2 in the A18-49 category.

Payout Perspective:

The current average overnight viewership for Bellator in 2015 is a little over 702,000.  It’s clear that the NCAA Tournament played a part in the low ratings.  We shall see how it does in a couple weeks with Will Brooks on top of the card taking on Dave Jansen.

WWE Network averages 918,000 subscribers through Q1 2015

March 30, 2015

The WWE announced its network subscription numbers on Monday and Wall Street was unimpressed.  The WWE Network surpassed 1.3 million subscribers which is almost double its total from a year ago.  The current average is approximately 918,000 paid subscribers through the first quarter of 2015.

The WWE stock dipped during the day on Monday on “confusion over the company’s subscription growth,” according to analyst Laura Martin of Needham & Co.  Last year, the company announced WWE Network subscriptions at 667,000.  The average is at 918,000 per company press release.

The WWE Network surpassed 1 million subscribers in late January.

Payout Perspective:

As of the time of this writing, WWE stock was rallying in after-hours trading.  The 1.3 million subscribers sounds like a good number considering we are over a year in with the platform, but the fluctuations in how many subscribers there are at a current time still remains a source of confusion for investors.  Thus, this may be the reason the stock dipped today.  The network announced 8 new original series for the network during WrestleMania 31 on Sunday which the company hopes will facilitate consumer retention of the network.

WrestleMania 31 sets gate record, attendance record for Levi’s Stadium

March 30, 2015

The WWE announced an attendance and gate record for Wrestlemania 31 from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  In a press release it indicated that it grossed $12.6 million with an attendance of 76,976.

It was the 5th highest attendance figure in Wrestlemania history.  It also set a mark for attendance at Levi’s Stadium (previously 70,799 for the first regular season game for the San Francisco 49ers).  Wrestlemania 29 at MetLife Stadium in 2013 had the previous record for highest gross with $12.3 million.

For the Bay Area, Wrestlemania served as preparation for Levi’s Stadium to host Super Bowl 50 next February.

Payout Perspective:

The company’s annual event proved once again why cities vie to host WrestleMania each year.  All of the events during the weekend surrounding Sunday’s show also provided a great influx of revenue to the Bay Area economy.  Many fans make it an annual trip and local businesses benefit.  While the attendance figure might be skewed, and as Dave Meltzer pointed out, the attendance record for Levi’s Stadium will likely be eclipsed by Super Bowl 50 next year, it still shows the continued popularity of the event.  Even though the WWE has received criticism over the build of this show, it pulled off one of the best shows in Wrestlemania history.

Rousey makes appearance at Wrestlemania

March 29, 2015

Ronda Rousey made a special appearance at Wrestlemania 31 in Santa Clara, California at the WWE’s biggest event of the year.  Rousey and The Rock appeared in a promo with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon which was signed off by the UFC.

Rousey actually got physical in the WWE ring as she gave Triple H a judo throw and grabbed McMahon’s arm and performed an arm crank and then “rag dolled” her around the ring.

According to MMA Fighting, The Rock and Rousey share the same agent.  The appearance was likely part of a promotion for “Fast and Furious 7” which both make appearances in.

It was clear that the UFC had agreed to her participation at Wrestlemania.  Rousey is a big wrestling fan and was in the front row of the event with the other three “Four Horsewomen.”

Payout Perspective:

It was definitely a Wrestlemania moment with arguably the UFC’s most popular star in a WWE ring.  Who said that the two audience demos are not the same?  Even though the physical altercation was minimal, it’s still surprising that the UFC allowed this to happen.  But, since Rousey is a big wrestling fan, it was probably something the UFC let her to do.  I doubt she appears in a WWE match while still under UFC contract without some sort of monetary exchange.

I realize that this is not her first physical involvement at a wrestling event as she did what seemed to be an unrehearsed weak chop on a wrestler at a PWG show late last year.  The Wrestlmania appearance was a way to promote Rousey and the Rock (who hosted SNL Saturday night) at the same time on one of the most viewed platforms (Wrestlemania) of the weekend.  It will certainly grab some mainstream interest on Monday.

UFC 189 gate predicted at $7 million

March 28, 2015

Dana White is stating that UFC 189 will do a gate of $7 million which would eclipse the biggest gate which would eclipse Silva-Sonnen II on July 7, 2012.  The event is headlined by Jose Aldo defending his Featherweight belt against Conor McGregor

UFC 148 which was the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen drew $6,901,655 according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.  The paid attendance was 13,600 at the MGM Grand.

White is in the midst of a world tour for UFC 189 which will headline the annual International Fight Week this July.  The tour is chronicled through the ongoing “UFC Embedded” online features highlighting the tour from the perspectives of Aldo and McGregor.  In interviews, including this one with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, White indicates that the gate will be $7 million.

Payout Perspective:

Let’s get this out of the way.  Yes, the gate would pale in comparison to the $74 million gate that is expected at the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in the same venue.  However, if we are strictly to view this in terms of MMA gates, it would be the second biggest to UFC 129 in Toronto.  Of course, the UFC is spending an unprecedented amount of money on this tour.  While there is no public dollar figure on the investment, the private jets, expensive hotels and extensive traveling would make it a pricey venture.  Still, the promotion has been well done and if it means a big gate and PPV buy rate for essentially a Featherweight title, it is worth it.

Cyborg signs with UFC but with conditions

March 27, 2015

Cris “Cyborg” Justino has signed with the UFC according to a report via Brazilian outlet Combate via Fox Sports.  The move was later confirmed by Dana White but terms of Cyborg’s contract require her to make the 135 pound bantamweight title limit.

The terms of her UFC signing also require her to compete at 135 in InvictaFC before a fight with Ronda Rousey can occur.  Of course, Rousey must beat Bethe Correira at UFC 190 in Brazil.   In order to help Cyborg cut down to 135, it has hired a nutritionist with getting down to bantamweight.

Payout Perspective:

Assuming Cyborg makes weight, the Rousey-Cyborg fight would be the biggest fight in the women’s division in the UFC and all of MMA.  It would likely headline a major card such as Memorial Day 2016 or International Fight Week 2016.  Of course, there are a lot of hurdles in the way such as Cyborg cutting down successfully to 135 and for both women to continue winning.  With the UFC signing, it’s clear that they want it to happen.

Filipino networks come together to air Mayweather-Pacquiao

March 27, 2015

Bloody Elbow reports that Manny Pacquiao facilitated a deal in which many of the big Filipino networks will air May 2nd’s fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

In an unprecedented move, rival networks that usual vie for broadcast rights of Pacquiao fights have agreed to air the fight.  The fight will be available on various platforms and networks in the Philippines.

Via Bloody Elbow:

Top executives from the country’s biggest networks and companies such as GMA 7, ABS-CBN, TV5, Solar Sports, and SM Lifestyle Entertainment all gathered on Thursday afternoon to announce that they will all be airing the highly anticipated sporting event. From free TV, cable TV, pay-per-view, cinemas, radio, mobile and online streams, Mayweather vs Pacquiao will be available on various platforms reaching virtually every single Filipino in the country.

Solar Sports announced on Thursday that the 3 major networks in the Philippines – GMA-7, ABS-CBN and TV5.  According to Ryan Songalia of Rappler.com, Solar won the Philippine broadcast rights for the sum of $10 million and it will be available live on PPV through Cignal and Sky Cable for approximately $44 U.S.  Notably, the Pacquiao-Algieri fight in the Philippines cost $16-$23 U.S. on Philippines PPV via Cignal.  Free-to-air showing of the May 2nd fight will be on ABS-CBN, GMA-7 and TV5, plus Solar Sports on cable beginning at 10 a.m. in the Philippines.

Payout Perspective:

The deal is similar to the HBO-Showtime deal in which rival networks which usually compete for the rights of big fights have come together recognizing that this event will be so big there will be enough revenue to go around.  While there is a premium for those in the Philippines that want to watch the fight live, there is still the opportunity for most of the country to watch the fight.

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