Rousey files for “FTA” trademark

February 18, 2016

Ronda Rousey has filed five trademarks for “FTA” which stands for “F*** Them All” per ESPN’s Darren Rovell.  The FTA trademark would apply to a variety of materials for the proposed brand including apparel, stickers, removable tattoo transfers, cosmetics and MMA entertainment services

The trademarks were filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in early February.  Last year, Rousey filed trademarks for “DNB,” which stood for Do Nothing B***.  Those trademarks for DNB were filed in August 2015.

Payout Perspective:

The trademark applications are still in the infancy stage.  Her “DNB” marks are still under consideration with the USPTO as they have yet to receive a registration certificate by the USPTO.  Does the filing of the “FTA” marks mean that Rousey is nearing the end of her fighting career as she looks toward a career in movies?  Maybe.  It also could mean that she is capitalizing on the popularity of her brand expanding.

UFC investigates B.J. Penn

February 18, 2016

The UFC has launched an investigation into allegations against B.J. Penn and has held off on booking the fighter for a fight in the UFC.

Earlier this week, a former BJPenn.com writer went on twitter to state that Penn assaulted his girlfriend (“forced himself on my girl” according to one tweet).  Another individual with apparent knowledge of the situation went on twitter (yes, this is the age we live in now) and corroborated the story although would not go into details about the situation.  The allegations also notes the Penn uses drugs (cocaine).  The UFC issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging the recent allegations.

Via UFC.com:

UFC is aware of the recent allegations made against BJ Penn. The organization requires all athletes who compete in the UFC to act in an ethical and responsible manner, as detailed in the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. UFC will not tolerate violations of the policy. Every athlete is deserving of proper review and this situation, as with any serious allegation, will be investigated by an independent party and thoroughly reviewed by the UFC.  The UFC organization will also cooperate with any law enforcement investigation. In light of the serious allegations, UFC has postponed plans to book Penn for an upcoming bout until more details are determined.

UFC holds athletes who compete in the organization to the highest standard and will continue to take appropriate action, if and when warranted.  It is important to note that Penn is considered innocent until proven guilty and UFC is not prejudging this matter.

Payout Perspective:

As you recall Travis Browne was investigated by the UFC regarding allegations of domestic violence this past summer.  The news of Penn’s issue here is rather odd since this information appears to have been kept under wraps until the former writer left the web site.  This is sad news for Penn (as well as the person he may have assaulted if the allegations are true) as a return to the Octagon would have been terrible.  But if the news that is surfacing is true, it’s clear that he may have issues outside of MMA that he must address.

Nevada issues 3-year ban for Wanderlei Silva

February 17, 2016

The Nevada State Athletic Commission issued a 3-year suspension of former UFC fighter Wanderlei Silva on Wednesday.  Silva’s suspension is retroactive to May 24, 2014, the date that he evaded a drug test in lead up to his fight with Chael Sonnen at UFC 175.

In addition to the suspension Silva will have to submit a clean drug test upon applying for a new license.  There was no fine since a fight at UFC 175 never materialized.  Previously, Silva was fined $70,000 and banned him for life.  Silva filed a lawsuit seeking judicial review of the original NAC ruling.

Silva appealed the judicial review (despite the court reversing and remanding the NAC punishment) citing that the NAC did not have jurisdiction of Silva since he was an unlicensed fighter at the time that he evaded the drug test.

Payout Perspective:

The ruling could provide closure for Silva who will likely continue to fight.  But, with the ruling from the NAC, Silva’s attorney may reinstate his appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court.  A precursor to the legal court action was the NAC ruling.  Even if Silva accepts the 3-year ban, it does not mean the 39 year old will have to wait to fight.  He could fight overseas outside of the jurisdiction of the NAC.  We shall see if there will be an appeal.

Pacquiao dropped by Nike

February 17, 2016

Nike has severed ties with Manny Pacquiao after the Filipino fighter made derogatory remarks about same sex relationships.  Despite an apology from Pacquiao, it was too little too late.

Pacquiao had been a Nike-sponsored fighter for over 8 years.  He had a clothing line specifically for the fighter including a logo made by the apparel company.

Notably, Pacquiao’s opponent for his last fight on April 9th, Timothy Bradley, is sponsored by Nike.

In a statement issued by the company obtained by Darren Rovell, Nike stated, “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent.  Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the right of the LGBT community.  We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”

As stated by Rovell, Nike has nixed the contracts of sponsored athletes that have been in the storm of controversy for their actions including Lance Armstrong, Ray Rice, Oscar Pistorius and Adrian Peterson.  It was initially thought that Jon Jones lost his Nike sponsorship due to a media day brawl with Daniel Cormier in 2014.  However, he later clarified the issue about Nike.

Payout Perspective:

It should be no surprise that Nike dropped Pacquiao for his comments.   It was swift and decisive as it had to protect its own brand.  While the Pacquiao Nike brand had not done much in terms of retail sales over the past couple years, he was still a big-name for the company.  It will be interesting to see if Pacquiao’s other sponsors will feel the pressure to sever ties with him.  In his last fight with Floyd Mayweather, it was reported that Paquiao would make $2.25 million off of sponsors on his trunks alone.  The Bradley fight would not have commanded this much, but the backlash for his comments may mean less in sponsor pay for Pacquiao.

Toyo Tires renews sponsorship with UFC

February 16, 2016

Long-time UFC sponsor Toyo Tires announced that it has signed a multi-year extension with the UFC.  The Cypress, California company will continue to be the “Official Tire of UFC.”

In a press release sent out on Tuesday, the company stated that it would continue to have a presence inside the Octagon during “select events on Pay-Per-View, UFC Fight Pass and with global broadcast partners.”  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As you might see from visiting various MMA-related web sites, Toyo Tires will continue with its presence “integrated across UFC social and digital assets.”  Along with UFC.com, it will be in banner ads and background on sites like MMA Junkie.

For more information on the company, MMA Payout did a “Sponsorship Spotlight” on Toyo Tires.

Payout Perspective:

On a day that it was announced that DraftKings has not renewed its time with the UFC, the news of Toyo Tires maintaining its relationship with the UFC makes sense.  It has keyed in on relationships with fighters including Dominick Cruz, Luke Rockhold and Chad Mendes and will continue to work with these fighters.  The company believes that the UFC allows it to market to its target demo and it appears to be working based on its decision to renew.

DraftKings decides not to renew UFC sponsorship

February 16, 2016

The Legal Sports Reports states that fantasy sports operator Draft Kings has not renewed its sponsorship deal with the UFC.  It appears that the deal expired at the end of 2015 according to the report.

The sponsorship deal could be renewed at any time but a DraftKings representative gave a rather neutral statement about its relationship with the UFC.  Per the Legal Sports Report, “We [DraftKings] value our continued relationship with UFC and are very happy with what we were able to accomplish through our partnership – we have great enthusiasm for their offering and are committed to this sport.”

Maybe we are looking to deeply in the verb tense from the statement, but it does sound like either the parties are negotiating a new deal or are moving on from the UFC.

Recently, DraftKings announced the acquisition of MMA Fantasy Sports Operator Kountermove.

DraftKings signage was a mainstay during UFC events this past year.  According to the announcement this time last year it also included promotions outside the octagon.

Payout Perspective:

We shall see if the UFC and DraftKings continue their relationship in the future.  I would think that the purchase of KounterMove and the decision not to renew with the UFC are separate, but maybe not independent business moves by the company.  DraftKings is going through a huge legal and legislative battle across the country with respect to the legalization of daily fantasy sports.  One would think that niche sports like MMA would benefit the company.  Perhaps the sponsor deal was always for a year to gage the segment of MMA fans and the Kountermove purchase offered more flexibility in what it seeks to do.

Sterling chooses to re-sign with the UFC

February 15, 2016

Aljamain Sterling announced that he is re-signing with the UFC.  The bantamweight was a free agent after his fight this past December and while there was much speculation about where he would sign he has decided to remain in the UFC.

Sterling made the announcement on The MMA Hour.  He said that he got a better deal by waiting for free agency.  Sterling feels confident about his skills and adding value to the company.

Although no terms were disclosed, Sterling signed in with the UFC in January 2014 when he accepted a four-fight contract at $8K/$8K with a $2K increase if he won.  According to an article with Bleacher Report, Sterling says the UFC offered him a raise to $20K/$20K.  But, he declined the offer and fought out the last fight of his contract.  He was subsequently offered $24K/$24K by the UFC but declined that offer too.

In addition to Sterling’s choice to stay with the UFC, Heavyweight Alistair Overeem decided to re-sign with the UFC as well.

Payout Perspective:

Do you think that the UFC blew Sterling out of the water with their offer or did he not receive a better offer from a rival organization?  One would think that Bellator could have used the money it spent on signing Chris Leben to sign Sterling.  He could have bolstered that division and been an instant rival for the likes of Joe Warren.  Re-signing with the UFC probably means that in addition to more money, Sterling will get better, higher-profile fights.  With a raise, perhaps Sterling will get some prime fights at bantamweight and maybe headline a Fight Night.  He is a likable, charismatic person that can finish a fight.  We shall see what the company does with him.

K-1 Global claims ownership of video library licensed by Glory to UFC Fight Pass

February 15, 2016

Kickboxing organization K-1 Global issued a response Monday morning in reaction to the announcement by UFC Fight Pass that the over the top digital platform will air Glory.  It appears that the K-1 may take issue with the ownership of its events.

In an email from its press office, K-1 made it known that it is the current and only owner of the K-1 trademarks and other K-1 related assets under the control of K-1 Global.  As such, it states that if any of its owned assets are to be used, it would need the permission of K-1 Global “before any such deal could be brokered.”  Thus, despite a deal with Glory, UFC Fight Pass would have to sign a deal with K-1 Global.

“No other third party has the rights or permission to sell K-1’s assets, nor has K-1 given any permission for such a sale,” states the email from K-1 Global.

The email states that during the bankruptcy of FEG in September 2013, it sold parts of the GLORY Sports International library that it had no legal rights to sell.  K-1 Global claims that it already had purchased the assets and thus any subsequent transfer of the rights to the library would be null.  It states that there is a legal process under way in Japan.  The press release does not state anything further about the current legal issue in Japan.

UPDATED:  For those wondering, Glory was to begin airing on UFC Fight Pass in two weeks time.   From the UFC press release, the Glory addition would have added, “over 2000 hours of elite striking action including the 27-event GLORY archive, seven major events from the It’s Showtime library and over 100 events from the iconic K-1 organization that featured athletes like Mark Hunt, Mirko Cro Cop and Alistair Overeem.”

Payout Perspective:

We’re not experts in Japanese Bankruptcy Law but it looks like K-1 is claiming it is the rightful owner of the video library and believes that if FEG sold the video library to Glory, it did not have the rights to do so.  As a result, it appears that K-1 Global might prevent the launch of Glory on UFC Fight Pass as there seems to be a dispute with respect to the ownership of the video library.  Certainly, UFC Fight Pass and Glory might be able to air videos not in dispute but that was not likely the financial arrangement.  Look for a lawsuit between K-1 Global and Glory if a deal is not negotiated between all parties.

Coker not taking Brooks comments personal

February 14, 2016

MMA Fighting reports on Scott Coker’s response to lightweight champion Will Brooks’ criticism of the organization for not promoting him versus others within the company.

Brooks, according to his twitter account, plans to fight out his contract with Bellator.  The insinuation is that he is going to head into free agency and look for a better deal than what the Viacom-owned company is offering him.

Rather than fight Brooks in the media, Scott Coker state that he’s not taking it personally and that Brooks’ feelings are “part of the business.”  Coker indicated that Bellator would make an offer to Brooks but did not go as far as to say they would go out of their way to re-sign him.

Payout Perspective:

With Benson Henderson coming into Bellator, could its current lightweight champion be leaving?  Brooks presents an interesting case since he’s a current champion.  One would think that the Champions Clause might prevent Brooks from leaving the company cleanly.  We will see if that happens (or if Brooks has this clause in his contract).  But, Coker is playing this well.  He’s not getting personal and is complimentary of Brooks despite his dismay with the company.

Rousey gets one of covers for SI’s swimsuit issue

February 14, 2016

Ronda Rousey will be one of three models to be on three separate covers of the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Rousey will be on the cover of the magazine along with Ashley Graham and Hailey Clauson.  The reveal of the covers came Saturday night on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2016 Revealed which aired on TNT immediately after the NBA All-Star Saturday night.

Via SI on the reason for choosing Rousey on the cover:

 “Ronda Rousey is a cultural phenomenon. She is the perfect combination of beauty, brains, brawn and humility. She possesses a spirit bigger than the space around her, and it is both infectious and inspiring. She’s a Phoenix, as fiery and beautiful as any mythical creature ever depicted.”

Payout Perspective:

Despite the unique accomplishment for Rousey, the MMA community was mixed on the reveal.  While mainstream fans are still Rousey fans despite her loss to Holly Holm in November, the always opinionated MMA fan do not like the choice.  Regardless, the cover shows the ascension of Rousey’s brand and the fact that she should have an exit strategy after fighting.

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