Jones returns home after probation violation hearing

March 31, 2016

Judge Michael E. Martinez added new terms to Jon Jones’ probation as a result of a recent moving violations.  Jones was free to return home with the added stipulations which include attending an anger management and driver improvement courses.

In addition to the two added stipulations, he will need to complete a 60 more hours within three months.

The prosecutors argued for another additional term to his probation: a curfew which would require he be home from 10pm until 4am.  Jones’ attorney argued against a curfew due to the fact that he is training for his fight next month against Daniel Cormier.  Jones prefers training at night and he is often out late at night as a result.

Jones’ attorney added that the recent moving violations were “bogus” and that Jones was being profiled.

The judge did not require a curfew for Jones but added a requirement that Jones ask his probation officer each time he wants to drive.

The UFC issued a statement related to Jones’ court appearance:

UFC respects the decision made today by Judge Michael E. Martinez in New Mexico Second Judicial District Court regarding the probation terms of the case involving Jon Jones.

The organization was disappointed to learn that Jones was cited for several traffic offenses last week, as well as concerned by the nature and tone of portions of the conversation between Jones and the citing officer.

Still, UFC respects Jones’ right to contest those traffic citations in court and receive a fair hearing on the matter.

Jones’ scheduled bout on April 23 will proceed as planned, however, Jones understands that the UFC expects him to fully cooperate with the terms of his probation as set forth by Judge Martinez.

(H/t: MMA Fighting)

Payout Perspective:

The fight with Daniel Cormier should be clear to go provided Jones remains out of a courtroom between now and April 23rd.  Fortunately for Jones, the judge did not impose a curfew on him which may have disrupted his training schedule.  Certainly, it was well within the judge’s right to impose such a restriction given Jones’ sordid moving violation history.  Obviously, the UFC should be keeping tabs on Jones for the next couple weeks as well.

Stitch Duran signs with Bellator MMA

March 31, 2016

Bellator MMA announced that Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran will join the organization as a lead cutman.  The company made the announcement via a press release sent out on Thursday.

Duran signed a multi-year contract with Bellator MMA according to the press release.

Via Bellator Press Release

Via Bellator press release:

Starting with “Bellator 153: Koreshkov vs. Henderson” on April 22 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in CT, the most famous cutman in the world will do everything in his power to get Bellator fighters prepped for entering the cage and helping them continue on once the bell rings, giving them “one more round.”

While working for Bellator, “Stitch” will not be prevented from seeking sponsors to wear and will also continue to work boxing events, with high profile clients the likes of Andre Ward, Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko.

Payout Perspective:

The press release throws “shade” at the UFC as it was Duran’s comments about the Reebok deal that got him released from the company.  Duran is still active in boxing and the new relationship with Bellator should help him with the possibility of attaining his own sponsors.

Jones to face judge to address probation violation Thursday morning

March 31, 2016

UPDATED:  Jones returns home after probation hearing which added additional conditions to his probation.  Jon Jones will have a hearing before an Albuquerque, New Mexico judge this morning to address a probation violation stemming from a recent traffic stop which resulted in Jones being issued several moving violations including drag racing.

Rest assured, it appears that Jones will be able to fight next month as the Bernalilo County District MMA Fighting has learned that the attorney prosecuting the case is recommending an amendment of his prior probation and recommending new adjustment’s to Jones’ probation.  No jail time is recommended and there is a recommendation from the DA that no bond will be required for Jones to post bail.  Thus, it appears that Jones will be able to leave the detention center he had be in since Tuesday sometime today.

As for the new terms, the prior terms of the probation will be revoked and a new set of terms will be recommended which include a driving course, an anger management course and a curfew for the former light heavyweight champion from 10pm at night until 4pm in the morning.

We will see if the judge will agree to the terms recommended by the District Attorney.  Certainly the curfew will be something that the UFC should be happy with since Jones’ last driving escapade occurred late at night.  One would hope that Jones can stay out of trouble for the next 24 days until his showdown with Daniel Cormier.

Exos becomes official performance partner of the UFC

March 30, 2016

The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reports that the UFC has signed a one-year deal with physical training, nutrition and physical therapy company Exos, makig it the official performance partner of the company.

You may recall that it forged the agreement with the company last year as part of a new Athlete Marketing and Development program.  The goal of the partnership was to reduce the number of injuries and increase the quality of athletes in the sport.  MMA Junkie covered the first UFC athletes training at the Exos Arizona facility.

Under the terms of the new, one-year agreement, up to 50 UFC athletes will train at Exos centers and Exos staff will work with UFC athletes at the promotion’s “Athlete Summits” throughout the year.

Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed.

The deal is only for one year because the UFC is set to open a new headquarters that will include a 40,000 square foot athletic complex.

Payout Perspective:

The partnership will be one that should benefit the training and overall health of UFC fighters.  It also benefits the UFC as the training should negate the number of injuries to fighters that are scheduled to fight.  This should decrease the number of scratches on cards that could affect business.  We will see if and how the partnership may continue once the UFC has an in-house facility for its contracted fighters.

ESPN to provide coverage at Wrestlemania

March 30, 2016

ESPN will be airing “SportsCenter” live from Wrestlemania this Sunday taking place at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.  It will also feature live cut-ins throughout the day.

The move is a “specific content play” as the network attempts to appeal to ESPN viewers that also are WWE fans.  The network had been featuring WWE in segments which now lead up to Sunday’s WrestleMania.  This past Monday, ESPN anchor, and former WWE announcer, Jonathan Coachman made a guest appearance on Monday Night Raw to promote the event.

This past January, ESPN also featured Lucha Underground stars to promote its return to the El Rey Network.  Last year it aired from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where Summerslam took place.

(H/t via Sports Business Daily)

Payout Perspective:

The coverage is good for the WWE and promotes its network.  It reflects the fact that ESPN is attempting to broaden its reach.  While pro wrestling is considered “sports entertainment” and not purely sports, ESPN will be giving it the coverage like any other sport.  It’s clear that it is a ratings-grab which the WWE does not mind at all.

Jon Jones arrested for violating probation

March 29, 2016

TMZ Sports reports that Jon Jones was taken into custody by police in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a violation of his probation.  Jones was cited for drag racing last week and a judge had issued a warrant for his arrest as a result.

TMZ reports that Jones turned himself in to the Abuquerque police department on Tuesday morning.  The terms of Jones’ probation last month required

EAG Sports, the management company representing Jones issued a statement per TMZ:

“Jon and his team are taking this very seriously and we will let the legal process play out.”

“We are confident he will be released once he has an opportunity to explain to the judge the facts in this case.”

Payout Perspective:

There are reasons why professional teams, and even in college, there is a “security detail” for some players.  It’s the ability to protect your investment and ensure that the player does not get into trouble.  Perhaps the UFC attempted to help Jones and he denied their request.  But, it’s clear that Jones was out late and got into trouble.  Whether or not it was his fault, whether or not he will be vindicated in court does not matter.  The legal ramifications might impact next month’s showdown with Daniel Cormier.  Then again, it may not (see Adrien Broner, although his case has a different set of circumstances).  What it does do is bring into question Jones’ decision making and those that help him and manage his career.  With Jones on probation and an imminent return to the UFC, there needed to be someone to ensure that Jones did not run afoul of the law.  Not only is Jones’ career in question, but a big business PPV next month.  We will see how this plays out.

Andre Ward draws over 1M on HBO Boxing

March 29, 2016

Andre Ward’s return to the ring Saturday night drew 1.064 million HBO subscribers according to Sports TV Ratings.  Ward defeated Sullivan Barrera by unanimous decision in what many believe is a tune up for bigger fights (i.e. Sergey Kovalev).

HBO Boxing drew 1.064 million from 10:55pm-11:42pm ET on Saturday night.  This included 506,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.  The other fight shown on the broadcast, Joseph Diaz, Jr. defeated Jayson Velez in a featherweight matchup.   That fight drew 756,000 viewers overall and 363,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Ward’s fight did better than Terrence Crawford last month and was the highest-rated program on sports cable Saturday night.  The biggest sporting event Saturday night was the NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Finals on CBS.  Despite Ward being a polarizing figure, he can be a draw for HBO.

Jon Jones stopped for alleged drag racing

March 28, 2016

TMZ first reported that Jon Jones was cited for drag racing and 4 other moving violations on March 24th according to Albuquerque police.  TMZ obtained the video of Jones being stopped by the police.  It was quite clear from the video that Jones was agitated by the police questioning.

Jones appeared on The MMA Hour to give his side of the story.  He became mad with the traffic stop after he learned he was being cited for drag racing.  Jones adamantly denied the accusation.  In the video, he called the police officer a “pig.”

This is just the latest in a series of moving violations involving Jones.

Payout Perspective:

One has to wonder why the UFC has not paid (or maybe they did) for a car service up until Jones’ fight.  As the facts come out, perhaps we may discover that the police officer was overzealous in stopping Jones.  Or, it could be Jones making another poor decision.  Whatever it may be, it’s another PR issue that the Jones team and the UFC must address.  The traffic stop and subsequent violations do not appear to be nothing more than that but I would assume that the UFC is keeping an eye on Jones until April 23rd.

Cyborg makes promotion debut at UFC 198

March 28, 2016

Cris “Cyborg” Justino will make her UFC debut at UFC 198 on May 14th.  The former Strikeforce champion and current Invicta FC featherweight champ will face Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds.

The UFC made the announcement Monday morning.

cyborgsmith198eng

In the UFC 198 main event, Febricio Werdum will defend his UFC heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic.  The event will take place in Curitiba, Brazil.

Payout Perspective:

It’s been a long-time coming for Cyborg to finally maker her debut in the UFC.  Notably, she is fighting at a catchweight instead of at 135 pounds.  Obviously, there still has to be concern as to whether or not she can make the weight limit at bantamweight.  Prior to her loss last November, the big fight would have been Ronda Rousey and Cyborg at 135.  With Rousey’s loss, Cyborg’s debut could mean her fighting Miesha Tate, Holly Holm or perhaps Cat Zingano at the catchweight of 140 pounds.  UFC 198 will be the test for Cyborg.

If she can make weight and win, we can she another woman fighter that would be a draw for the company.

NYT goes longform for UFC

March 26, 2016

The New York Times had a lengthy piece in Saturday’s edition on the UFC as it prepares to hold events in New York.  The article comes after the law to legalize MMA in the state finally became a reality this past Tuesday.

The article notes the importance of having sMMA in the state as it is “the largest and most important media market in the world.”  The UFC also cites the ban as the reason major companies did not sign sponsor deals with the UFC.

  • The article notes that the Fertittas plan to launch its IPO for the Stations Casinos in the coming weeks.
  • The article estimates that there are 30 to 40 million people watching their biggest PPV events which exceeds the audience for any game of the 2015 NBA Finals. Of course, the number appears to be an estimate of overall people watching on PPV, in bars, at the arena, etc.
  • Although written about before, the Fertittas have a clause in their contract that the dispute resolution mechanism to settle issues would be BJJ match of 3, 5 minute rounds. As a lawyer, I would recommend against this.  Then again, if you are the client and that’s what you want…so be it.
  • The antitrust lawsuit was brought up and Rob Maysey was interviewed for the article. He indicated that fighters in title bouts earn base pay of $300K to $00K and bonuses that could be worth $3 million or more.  There is also the potential for PPV upside for “marquee” fighters.
  • Maysey is quoted as saying that boxing promoters payout 85% of the revenue to fighters and keep the rest. However, in MMA, those numbers are reversed.  UFC executive Lawrence Epstein defended fighter pay stating its comparable to MLS players.

Payout Perspective:

Overall a good read and great publicity for the UFC as it moves into New York.  While the piece includes information on the antitrust lawsuit and the Culinary Union, it gives the backstory of the UFC and seemingly the last word to the UFC.  The article hits have been huge this week with the imminent legalization of MMA in New York.

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