Aldo pulls out of UFC 189 main event

June 30, 2015

Jose Aldo is out and Chad Mendes is in as he now faces Conor McGregror for the interim Featherweight title in the main event of UFC 189.  Dana White made the announcement on ESPN’s Sportscenter with Conor McGregor by his side.

It was an interesting announcement.  Not because Aldo was pulling out but because it was made with the “challenger” McGregor.  Obviously we are reading into the comments, but White’s decision to make it for the interim title and his statement that Aldo has pulled out of 5 title fights seemed to reflect the fact he believed it was Aldo’s fault for not going through with the fight.

Mendes now will be fighting on very short notice against McGregor who has had a full training camp.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly this was the necessary outcome if Aldo’s injuries limited him.  McGregor seemed to indicate that he was cleared to fight but chose not to.  If Aldo was to go through with the fight, it would have brought scrutiny to the athletic commission.  In light of the Manny Pacquiao situation, the public would look closely as to whether Aldo would have been cleared to fight.  Even if he were cleared, Aldo would have been fighting with a known injury that McGregor would have likely taken advantage of during their fight.

The UFC has to be upset due to the fact they spent so much money for this fight and it will go by the wayside.  A huge Embedded series as well as other shoulder programming leading up to the fight will likely not produce a huge PPV buy rate.  Add the fact that Aldo has publicly spoken out about the Reebok deal and one would think that the now former Featherweight Champion may have to work his way back to a title fight.

With Mendes coming in on short notice, the odds favor a McGregor win considering this is a five round fight.  Prior to the injury, White was bullish on the PPV stating that it would have over $1 million PPV buys.  It already projected to have a $7M gate.  A lot of the marketing was centered on the feud between Aldo and McGregor with McGregor doing much of the promoting.  Now, the marketing will center solely on McGregor to sell this PPV.  The card is still very strong as it has a very good fight for the welterweight title between Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald.  But that fight has not been promoted.   It’s a very disappointing ending to what would have been a huge PPV.

Bradley-Vargas draws 1.121M on HBO

June 30, 2015

ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Saturday night’s HBO Boxing event featuring Timothy Bradley Jr. and Jessie Vargas drew an average of 1.121 million viewers for the live event from Carson, California.  The fight peaked at 1.228 million viewers on a night where Bradley pulled off a unanimous decision.

The undercard featuring Oscar Valdez and Ruben Tamayo drew 826,000 viewers with a peak at 916,000.

The HBO fight is 9th best this year on the premium networks (HBO or Showtime) pulling in front of the Terrence Crawford-Thomas Dulorme fight.

HBO Boxing Ratings for 2015 (main event fights only)

January 2015

Rios-Alvarado: 1.252 million viewers

February 2015

GGG-Murray: 862,000 viewers

March 2015

Kovalev-Pascal: 1.152 million viewers

April 2015

Matthysse-Provodnikov: 1.243 million

Crawford-Dulorme:  1.004 million

Klitschko-Jennings: 1.63 million viewers

May 2015

Canelo-Kirkland: 2.146 million viewers

GGG-Monroe: 1.338 million viewers

June 2015

Cotto-Geale: 1.589 million viewers

Walters-Marriaga: 588,000 viewers

Bradley, Jr.-Vargas:1.121million viewers

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are once again reflect that boxing is once again back.  Tim Bradley has made himself into a name since his controversial win over Manny Pacquiao 3 years ago.  Bradley improved in ratings since his last event on HBO when he drew 966,000 viewers against Diego Chaves.  Notably, of the top ratings on HBO or Showtime this year 8 are HBO events while just 1 (Wilder-Stiverne) was on Showtime.

UFC-Reebok unveils uniforms

June 30, 2015

The UFC unveiled its Reebok fighter “kits” in a glitzy press conference in New York City Tuesday morning.  Many UFC stars were on hand to model the new uniforms which go into effect starting at UFC 189 next week.

The unveiling included many fighters based on home country and then the champions of each division (except Jose Aldo as he is training in Brazil).  The UFC and Reebok stressed “performance and customization” and fighters that were interviewed talked about how the new uniforms were specified for combat sports.  The uniforms had differing color variations although the design was mainly the same.  Champions in each division wore black uniforms.  Fighter names are on the back of the jersey and country patches are on the sleeves.

During the unveiling, Reebok officials talked about three types of kits: the country kit, a universal kit and a champion kit.  The country kit are specific to the country that the fighter is from including design elements specific to that nation.  The champion kits are the aforementioned black and also have gold and red trim.

There are also walkout wear including hooded sweatshirts, t-shirts, jerseys and sports bras available which will be made available for retail to the public.

Reebok already has UFC apparel on sale on its web site.  Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre Reebok gear are available in addition to UFC fighters.  Replica jerseys go for $70-$95 while Reebok t-shirts range from $30-$35.

The uniforms are already finding criticism as there are glaring misspellings and errors on the jerseys.

Payout Perspective:

It was an interesting debut for the kits and we shall see how soon fighters and fans adopt to the new Reebok-branded uniforms.  The country design is an interesting idea as it leverages fans with their loyalty to their country.  Also, the champion uniforms are a nice touch to make them stand out.  While we might debate the design issues, the overaching issue with the Reebok deal is the dent in sponsorship money that many of the UFC fighters will take.  Obviously, it’s something that many fighters have talked about but I’m sure most will not do anything more than this.

Despite loss, Machida tops UFC Fight Night salaries

June 29, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the disclosed salaries from Saturday night UFC Fight Night 70.  Lyoto Machida earned 1/3 of the total reported payouts drawing $200,000 in his loss to Yoel Romero.

Via MMA Junkie:

Yoel Romero: $66,000 (includes $33,000 win bonus)
def. Lyoto Machida: $200,000

Lorenz Larkin: $66,000 (includes $33,000 win bonus)
def. Santiago Ponzinibbio: $10,000

Antonio Carlos Junior: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Gordon: $15,000

Thiago “Marreta” Santos: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Steve Bosse: $10,000

Hacran Dias: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)
def. Levan Makashvili: $12,000

Alex Oliveira: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Joe Merritt: $10,000

Leandro Silva: $28,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)*
def. Lewis Gonzalez: $8,000

Tony Sims: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Steve Montgomery: $10,000

Sirwan Kakai: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Danny Martinez : $10,000

The total disclosed payroll was $601,000

Payout Perspective:

Gonzalez was docked 20% of his fight purse for not making weight.  Machida’s payout is on par what he has been receiving although the 37-year old may be heading toward the downside of his career (and his pay).  Romero and Larkin were the next two highest paid on Saturday earning $33K and $33K.

Bellator 139: 764K viewers and Friday night boxing numbers

June 29, 2015

Bellator 139 drew an average viewership of 764,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings.  The event is down from its tent pole event of a week prior but it still was the second-best rating on the network since February.

In the main event of Friday night, former UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo defeated Alexander Volkov.  The other big news coming out of Bellator 139 was the KO of Joe Schilling by Hisaki Kato.  Per Nielsen sources, the peak for the show was 988,000 viewers during the last quarter hour (10:45-11pm).

Bellator 137 pulls the promotion’s 2015 Spike TV average up to 800,000 viewers.

Overnight Peak
Bellator 132 767,000 1,200,000
Bellator 133 565,000 967,000
Bellagtor 134 872,000 1,200,000
Bellator 135 607,000 922,000
Bellator 136 655,000 900,000
Bellator 137 594,000 768,000
Bellator 138 1,580,000 2,100,000
Bellator 139 764,000 988,000

Bellator 139

Sports TV ratings also notes that boxing on TruTV drew 303,000 viewers Friday night in the 10pm-12am slot.  The TruTV fights are promoted primarily by Top Rank.  Also, boxing on FS1 on Friday drew 129,000 viewers.  The event on FS1 appears to be the last promoted by Golden Boy.  Additionally, Showtime aired a prospect card Friday night although no information on the ratings were available at this time.

Payout Perspective:

There were a lot of viewing options Friday night for combat sports enthusiasts but viewers tuned in to Bellator 139 which should be seen as a positive for the company and Spike.  It’s interesting that it did so well the week after its tent pole event.  The last tent pole event, Bellator 131, did not have a follow event the next week.  In fact, the next Bellator event was not until January 2015.  We could see more follow up events the week after to take advantage of the momentum.

In terms of boxing ratings, the TruTV ratings are surprising and it looks like Top Rank has found a nice way to promote its HBO fights the next night.

Estate of former WWE wrestler files head injury lawsuit

June 28, 2015

The estate of another former WWE wrestler has filed a lawsuit against the organization.  The mother and son of Matt Osborne (aka “Matt Borne” and “Doink the Clown”) have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company for the alleged negligent and fraudulent mistreatment of Osborne while he was a wrestler with the company.

The Osborne lawsuit was filed on June 26th in the U.S. District Court for the North District of Texas, Dallas Division.  The Dallas Morning News covered the lawsuit.  Osborne died in 2013 of a painkiller overdose at the age of 57 in Plano, Texas.  The family claims brain injuries caused while a professional wrestler caused depression and drug abuse which led to his death.

The WWE, utilizing the same public relations strategy as in similar lawsuits, claims that the lawyers are the ones driving these lawsuits pegging the attorneys as opportunists.  The WWE indicates that the Osborne lawsuit is merely seeking “NFL money” in reference to the NFL concussion lawsuits which likely will result in settlements for those involved.

In a similar lawsuit, Billy Jack Haynes’ case against the WWE that was filed in Oregon has been transferred to Connecticut upon motion by the WWE on the basis that he signed WWE booking contracts which indicated that the forum of choice was the home state of the WWE.

Payout Perspective:

Osborne spent limited time in the WWE throughout his wrestling career which may make his claim hard to prove.  However, it does not negate the alleged negligence that the WWE may have contributed to his injuries.  The complaint points out specific instances where Osborne was injured during his stint in the WWE.  It also claims the WWE knew and/or knew but did not warn him about the perils of head injuries.  Notably, the complaint has a similar template as other lawsuits filed by former WWE wrestlers.  However, at least one part of the lengthy complaint has been updated to include a photograph embedded in paragraph 139 of the complaint which shows the WWE is taking precautionary steps with its talent now with helmets used in training.

This lawsuit may be moved to Connecticut like Haynes’ lawsuit as one might infer that Osborne signed a WWE contract with a forum selection clause which would dictate where a lawsuit would take place if one should happen.  We will see if more wrestlers continue to file lawsuits which appear to be similar to the NFL and NHL concussion litigation.

Rousey, Cerrone nominated for ESPYs

June 28, 2015

Ronda Rousey and Donald Cerrone have received nominations for the 2015 ESPY awards.  Rousey is nominated in 3 categories while Cerrone received a nomination in the “Best Fighter” category.

Rousey is nominated for “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Play.”  The UFC women’s bantamweight champion won “Best Fighter” honors last year.

Rousey and Cerrone are in the “Best Fighter” category along with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., GGG and Terrance Crawford.  Rousey will go up against UCONN basketball star Breanna Stewart, skier Lindsey Vonn and Serena Williams in the “Best Female Athlete” category.

Rousey’s third nomination is “Best Play” for her armbar against Cat Zingano which is in a “bracket-style” tournament with other plays in which people will vote on the play culminating in the winning play to be announced on the night of the ESPYs.

Whaaaaat!? I just realized I was nominated for a 3rd #ESPY – best play for the world record breaking fastest title defense 14 second Armbar vs Cat Zingano!!! Please vote for me if you care to take the time here: http://goo.gl/3Zfruf

A photo posted by rondarousey (@rondarousey) on

Payout Perspective:

As always, the ESPYs is a good promotional tool for ESPN. It’s a popularity contest and Ronda Rousey has become one of the more popular athletes around this year. The Donald Cerrone nomination is a bit of a surprise. Perhaps we credit his agents for getting Cerrone in the mix in the “Best Fighter” category. The ESPYs occur in July 15.

UFC Fight Night 70 attendance and bonuses

June 28, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses from UFC Fight Night 70.  Yoel Romero led the bonus winners with his KO of Lyoto Machida in the main event.

Romero, Thiago Santos, Lorenz Larkin and Santiago Ponzinibbio earned the $50,000 bonuses.  Larkin and Ponzinibbio won Fight of the Night.  Santos earned a Performance of the Night for his head kick KO of Steve Bosse.

In addition, the event was a sell out at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The event drew 5,604 to the venue although no gate was announced at the post-event news conference.

Payout Perspective:

Let’s put aside the ridiculousness of the “controversy” in Romero’s post-fight interview.  He was trying his best to speak in broken English and not making a social commentary on this country although I’m sure law clerks for Justice Scalia may take note in drafting future dissents.  Does everyone really think a guy focused on the fight of his life have the time to review SCOTUS rulings during fight week?  Regardless, it was a resume-building fight for Romero.  Santos also had a highlight-reel kick which might have moved ahead of the Bellator KO Friday night as the best of the weekend.

As for the attendance, selling out such a small venue was expected.  No word on gate or comps as of yet although we might know later on this week.

NSAC indicates position on licensing with Aldo injury still uncertain

June 27, 2015

Jose Aldo’s injury appears to be worse than first reported and the main event for UFC 189 on July 11th hangs in the balance.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission indicated that it will rely on the medical information provided to it in issuing Aldo a license to fight next month.

MMA Junkie reports that the commission will rely on the medical records and pre-fight questionnaire submitted by Aldo to determine if he can be issued a license.  The article indicates that the commission will rely on the UFC to inform it if a fighter cannot fight due to injury.

There are conflicting reports on the severity of Aldo’s injury.  It was first reported that Aldo suffered a rib injury during training.  The UFC announced that the injury was a bruise and was cleared to fight.  However, reports are conflicting according to an MMA Fighting article which suggests that Brazilian doctors diagnose Aldo’s injury as fractured ribs whereas American doctors cite bruised ribs.

The Junkie article states that there are no orthopedic tests required for licensing but will have to go through routine examinations to obtain a license.

Payout Perspective:

The drama continues and if you were looking for the commission to step in to decipher whether Aldo should or should not be issued a license to fight based on an injury, think again.  Based on the comments from the commission in the Junkie article, it’s clear that they are going to rely on information provided to them.  While this is based on the standard requirements for licensing, it also identifies a huge problem with the system.  Essentially, you can outright conceal an injury on a pre-fight questionnaire.

We saw a situation like this occur with the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight when Pacquiao did not disclose an injury on his pre-fight questionnaire.  It’s unknown whether disclosing injury would have derailed the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight (although there are still lawsuits out there suing Pacquiao for failing to disclose the injury), he still was able to fight on May 2nd in the biggest PPV event in the history of boxing.

With the commission taking a stronger stance on PEDs in combat sports, perhaps this should be one of the next issues it should address.  Draw your own conclusions on that one.

Koscheck signs with Bellator

June 26, 2015

Bellator announced the signing of former UFC welterweight Josh Koscheck during its live event on Spike TV Friday night.  The 37-year-old Koscheck ended his UFC career on a 5 fight losing streak but has signed a mult-fight deal with the organization.

We last saw Koscheck in a loss to Erick Silva as a replacement at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LaFlare in March.  He also lost to Jake Ellenberger at UFC 184 in February.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the fight to make here is against Paul Dailey.  For those that do not recall, Dailey was exiled from the UFC after he sucker-punched Koscheck at UFC 113 in May 2010.  That matchup saw a lot of trash-talking which ended up with Dailey hitting Koscheck after the final bell.  He was dismissed from the UFC and never given a chance to return.  We shall see if Bellator can continue its success of repackaging older, name brand fighters for its shows.  As we know from Bellator 131 and 138, the ratings reflect that it can.

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