Fact discovery issues over White’s phones to be heard Thursday

May 31, 2017

On Thursday, the parties in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit will conduct a hearing to determine a number of discovery issues, most importantly, the status of Dana White’s phones.  The hearing will take in federal court in Vegas before a magistrate which hears these types of discovery disputes.

Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Compel the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information seeking information from four phones from Dana White.  For those wondering, the phones identified are an iPhone 4, an iPhone 6 and two Nokia flip phones.  It believes that the phones all include information for which White conducted business which may be related to Plaintiffs’ claims.  The motion and reply to Zuffa’s opposition suggests that Zuffa did not comply with the discovery process, violated the Court Order regarding discovery and did not preserve evidence when it was notified that information would likely be requested.  As it appears that certain information from White’s phones are no longer available, the Plaintiffs request an order to serve subpoenas on White’s telecommunications service providers in an effort to obtain communications logs to show the “times and dates messages were sent and received in White’s devices.”

Plaintiffs Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Plaintiffs claim that Zuffa has used the fact discovery cut-off to “stonewall” discovery.  Fact discovery was due on May 1, 2017, but it was clear that due to the continued meeting and conferring over documents and the issues with obtaining documents from non-parties, it would not be complete.  Realistically, this may not be any parties’ fault, and therefore it is left to the Magistrate to decide what is fair.

Plaintiffs Reply to Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

In its opposition to the Motion to Compel, Zuffa states it “has produced over 650,000 documents, including 44,928 text messages to Plaintiffs.”  The tone of the opposition is of a party that has made its best efforts to comply with discovery while making Plaintiffs appear overbearing and zealous in its request for additional discovery.  This includes Zuffa claiming to have to “re-reproduce” all text messages due to the fact that Plaintiffs claim that some text were not originally produced.  Zuffa hired vendors to conduct forensic analysis of the information from White’s phone in preparing to turn over the information to Plaintiffs.  Moreover, it states it has complied with the standing order from the Court and the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure.  It also claims that Plaintiffs failed to “meet and confer” in good faith.

Defendant’s Response to Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

As suggested in its Reply Brief (the seconded embedded document above), it would appear that the request to serve a subpoena on White’s telecommunications provider (e.g. Sprint, ATT, Verizon) would add another layer to the discovery process and add more time to discovery.  Moreover, one would think that with other parties objecting to the subpoenas that a telecommunications provider would object to the same.  One would think privacy matters and that the request would be overbroad and produce non-relevant information would be obstacles Plaintiffs would have to obtain the information.  Plaintiffs are hoping that the Magistrate will see that Zuffa attempted to stall discovery and will allow this request (or some version) as a way to “make things right.”  We will see on Thursday.

Brook-Spence draw 291,000 on Showtime Boxing

May 31, 2017

Showtime Boxing drew 291,000 viewers on Saturday night for the fight between Kell Brook and Errol Spence, Jr.

The event took place from Bramall Lane Football Ground in Sheffield, England.  Spence stopped Brook in the10th round and established himself as one of the next great boxers in the sport.

The fight drew 291,000 viewers and 0.11 in the A18-49 demo.  The ratings reflect the 46 minutes in which the main event took place.  The post-fight drew 207,000 viewers and 0.08 in the A18-49 demo.  The pre-fight, which included the walk outs, drew 155,000 subscribers of the premium network and 0.05 in the A18-49 demo.

The event was also on Sky Sports.  No word on those ratings yet although you might expect them to be higher.

H/t:  ShowBuzz Daily

Payout Perspective:

The live event took place on Saturday afternoon (2:15PT/5:515ET) which can account for the lower-than norm ratings.  Couple that with the fact that this happened on Memorial Day weekend and we have a sub-300K viewed fight which really should have been much more considering the talent involved.

UPDATED: UFC Fight Night 109 draws 496,000 on Sunday

May 31, 2017

UFC Fight Night 109 drew 496,000 viewers on FS1 Sunday afternoon.  The Prelims, which preceded the main card on FS1 drew 353,000 viewers per ShowBuzz Daily.

According to Nielsen, the main card peaked at 665,000 viewers between 3:30-3:45pm ET.  A replay of the card later that night drew 128,000 viewers.  It should be noted that the card did go up against the Indianapolis 500 which drew a 10 share on Sunday afternoon which is big.

The main card featured the return of Alexander Gustafsson in Sweden as he took on Glover Teixeira in the main event.  Gus won via 5th round stoppage.  The event drew 0.19 in the A18-49 demo.

The prelims featured Pedro Munhoz and Damian Stasiak in the last fight of the prelim card.  Munhoz won the matchup of bantamweights via unanimous decision.  The event drew 0.13 in the A18-49 demo.

The prefight show, which aired at 7am on the west coast (10am ET), on FS1 drew 109,000 viewers and 0.05 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight show on FS1 drew 277,000 viewers and 0.11 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight on FS1 went from 1:03pm-1:30pm PT (4:03-4:30pmET).

In other UFC programming on FS1 that day, the UFC 212 countdown on FS1 later that night drew 182,000 viewers and 0.06 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the fact that this event occurred on the middle day of a 3 day holiday weekend for most.  Also, it occurred in the morning for those on the west coast with the prelims starting at 8am and the main card at 10am.  It is the lowest-rated UFC Fight Night this year and the lowest-rated since 2015.  Through 6 televised events, the UFC Fight Night main cards are averaging 890,000 viewers.  The prelims are averaging 659,000 viewers.

Battle of the Network Stars returns to ABC with Rousey as a team captain

May 30, 2017

Vulture.com reports that Ronda Rousey will be one of the permanent captains for the revival of the Battle of the Network stars.  Retired NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware will serve as the other captain.

The original show aired on ABC from 1976-1988 and pitted stars from each of the three big networks at the time: ABC, NBC and CBS performing in athletic competitions which included a dunk tank, obstacle course and tug of war.  Legendary announcer, Howard Cosell, served as the show’s original commentator.  Mike Greenberg and Joe Tessitore will serve as co-hosts for this reboot.

There will be two significant changes to this Battle than the one from yesteryear.  First, this will be a ten-episode series running weekly with its debut starting June 29th.  The original aired once or twice per year.  Secondly, the networks will not be segregated.  Instead, as the Vulture article points out, the teams will be based on the actor’s characters (e.g, cops vs. TV sitcoms, TV moms and dads vs. TV kids).

Payout Perspective:

I was a big fan of the original show and while it will be billed as an athletic competition, it always had comedic elements to it.  The remake will be interesting to see how it plays for this generation.  Rousey as captain will help draw appeal from a broad range of demos and this likely helps her propel a career outside of fighting.

3 UFC fighters on ESPN World Fame List

May 30, 2017

Anderson Silva, Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey have landed on ESPN’s top 100 list of most famous sports stars.  The second-edition of the list is based on endorsements, social media and google search popularity.

The UFC Lightweight champion comes in at number 25.  The article lists McGregor as having $4 million in endorsements.  This might be more considering he just signed a deal with Beats By Dre.

The former women’s Bantamweight champion comes in at number 16.  She has double the endorsement dollars than McGregor with $8 million.  Rousey is ranked higher than the likes of Serena Williams and Tom Brady.

Silva comes in at 39 and has as many endorsement dollars as Rousey with $8 million.  This is likely due to the popularity with Brazilian fans.

As for boxers, Manny Pacquiao (59 – $2.5M endorsements) and Canelo Alvarez (89 – $1.5M in endorsements)

Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, NBA player LeBron James and Lionel Messi are the top 3 on the ESPN lists which ranked the most popular sports stars based on endorsements and social media followers.

Payout Perspectrive:

Despite losing her one fight last year, Rousey moved up on this list.  So did McGregor.  Silva was unranked last year but jumped up to 39.  Pacquiao and Alvarez dropped down on the list.  No Floyd Mayweather here since he rarely does endorsements.  What the list shows for MMA (and boxing for that matter) is that the most popular stars of the sport are leaving.  Rousey should be retired and the same is likely true for Silva.  McGregor is chasing Mayweather and if he fights Floyd, it will be hard to get him back into the Octagon to fight for less money.  The list shows that the UFC must look to build new stars to take over for the most famous right now.

As for boxing, the decrease in Alvarez’s ranking is odd considering he is heading into a huge year and is the only one of the combat sports stars on this list that has a certain future in his sport beyond this year.  One might expect someone like Anthony Joshua appearing high on this list next year.

UFC teams with Samsung to show content on VR device

May 30, 2017

Engadget reports that UFC fights have been added to a list of content for Samsung’s new VR Live Pass.  The X Games and Live nation were also a part of the announcement by Samsung on Tuesday.

Selected events will be available via the Samsung VR app in early June.  Users with the Gear VR can watch events from anywhere with the device.

Via Samsung news release:

“We are excited to offer Samsung Gear VR users the opportunity to experience their favorite live music and sporting events through our industry-leading VR ecosystem,” said Younghee Lee, CMO and Executive Vice President, Samsung Electronics. “Partnering with these companies to expand our VR services helps us to open up a new gateway of opportunities for fans and demonstrate our commitment to delivering experiences that make the seemingly impossible, possible.”

“We’ve always felt that the potential of combining UFC events with virtual reality would give our fans the ultimate enhanced experience,” UFC Chief Operating Officer Ike Lawrence Epstein said. “We’re excited to partner with Samsung on this game-changing initiative to further revolutionize how fight fans consume our content and live events around the world.”

Payout Perspective:

This is an experience for the early adopters of the virtual reality phenomenon.  Essentially, you would be watching the UFC with the headset on your head.  Not sure how that looks out in public.  But, the move is a way to bolster Samsung’s sales of the device and it is obviously geared toward the younger demo.  The UFC has been a company willing to be one of the first to use new technology and we will see how this works out.

Beats By Dre signs Conor McGregor

May 29, 2017

Beats By Dre has signed Conor McGregor to an endorsement deal.  McGregor joins the list of athletes that the headphone company is signing.

You might recall that McGregor was one of several athletes that was featured in a Beats By Dre commercial in December.  His partnership with the company is now official.

In addition to Beats By Dre, McGregor has sponsorship deals with Reebok, Monster Energy and Bud Light.  The company is deepening its relationship with mainstream athletes and McGregor is considered one of these athletes.

Payout Perspective:

The deal should be beneficial to both sides.  If the Mayweather fight happens, Beats wins with the anticipated exposure from the fight.  McGregor gets another sponsor deal to add to his list of blue chip brands.  It also reflects the belief that McGregor is a mainstream star that most would recognize.

USPTO refuses registration of Broken Matt Hardy TM application

May 29, 2017

Matt Hardy was handed a potential setback from trademarking “Broken Matt Hardy.”  The USPTO issued an Office Action which is denying the process for the “Broken Matt Hardy” trademark application.  The good news is that Hardy has a chance to respond to the initial decision.

Hardy applied to register his “Broken Matt Hardy” gimmick with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on March 1, 2017.  Last week, the USPTO issued a response initially denying the Trademark.

Hardy identified the first use of the trademark from April 20, 2016.  With existing use of an applicant’s trademark, you must provide what’s called a “specimen.”  This is to show the use of the trademark in commerce and your prior use (of the trademark before applying with the USPTO).  But the digital images include two YouTube video images showing  the use of Broken Matt Hardy in two promotions, and the third is an “EventBrite” screenshots for tickets to a talk featuring “Broken Matt Hardy.”  While all of these show the use of the name, these do not give rise to a trademark.

The Office Action notes:

Personal names (actual names and pseudonyms) of individuals or groups function as marks only if they identify and distinguish the services recited and not merely the individual or group. In re Mancino, 219 USPQ 1047 (TTAB 1983) (holding that BOOM BOOM would be viewed by the public solely as applicant’s professional boxing nickname and not as an identifier of the service of conducting professional boxing exhibitions); In re Lee Trevino Enters., 182 USPQ 253 (TTAB 1974) (LEE TREVINO used merely to identify a famous professional golfer rather than as a mark to identify and distinguish any services rendered by him); In re Generation Gap Prods., Inc., 170 USPQ 423 (TTAB 1971)(GORDON ROSE used only to identify a particular individual and not as a service mark to identify the services of a singing group).

Matt Hardy USPTO Office Action by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

As an example of a successful trademark of a wrestler’s name, the WWE applied for the trademark of “Daniel Bryan.”  The WWE registered the character name as a “Service Mark” and a Trademark.

The specimen for the Bryan service mark is one from the talent roster on NXT.

The trademark specimen for Bryan included an image of the character toy action figure.

Payout Perspective:

The Broken Matt Hardy trademark application can still be successful if Hardy’s representatives amend the application to include a specimen showing a service mark using Broken Matt Hardy.  Of course, if that has not happened yet, they could always convert the application to an “Intent to Use” application which means they plan to use the trademark at some point in the future.  Notably, the Daniel Bryan Service Mark is a web site screen shot of his NXT bio whereas you can argue it is similar to what Hardy submitted.  Hardy should have six months from the date of the issuance of the Office Action to respond or the application will not go forward.

UFC Fight Night 109 attendance, gate and bonuses

May 28, 2017

MMA Junkie reports the attend ace, gate and bonuses from UFC Fight Night 109 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The event drew 12,668 for a gate of $1,920,000 at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm.  It was the third highest gate in Stockholm since the UFC debuted in 2012.

  1. UFC on Fuel TV 2 – April 2012   15,428 for a live gate of $2,230,000
  2. UFC on Fuel TV 9 – April 2013 14,506 for a live gate of $2,710,53
  3. UFC Fight Night 109 – May 2017 12,668 for a live gate of $1,920,000

In addition, bonuses went to Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, Bojan Velickovic and Damir Hadzovic.  The main event between Gustafsson and Teixeira drew the Fight of the Night.  Gus won via 5th round stoppage.  Prelim fighters Velickovic and Hadzovic drew Performance bonuses.  Each drew $50,000.

Payout Perspective:
The Swedish fans are passionate for MMA and have turned out for the UFC.  It helps having a fighter like Gustafsson who did not disappoint the fans or his girlfriend as The Mauler proposed in the Octagon.

Bellator signs former UFC TUF winner Roy Nelson

May 27, 2017

MMA Fighting has confirmed with several sources that Roy Nelson has signed with Bellator.  The heavyweight joins the growing list of former UFC fighters signing as free agents with the Viacom-owned company.

Nelson spent 8 years with the UFC.  He was 9-10 in the UFC and was a TUF contestant.  Notably, he was the first fighter to face Kimbo Slice and defeated him and an exhibition bout on the show.  Nelson went on to win Season 10 of TUF.

At 40, Nelson is on the tail-end of his career and ended 1-2 in his last three fights for the UFC.

Nelson will bring his UFC resume and knockout power to Bellator.  Whether he will be considered a contender for the Bellator Heavyweight title is something we shall see.

Payout Perspective:

With Derrick Lewis saying on The MMA Hour this week that he just signed a new contract for the UFC for “six figures,” maybe this is where the company found the money for the raise.  Nelson’s last reported show money was $100,000 to show which made him one of the higher paid fighters on the roster.  The decision not to re-sign him made sense for the UFC and also was a good business decision from Bellator’s perspective.  Assuming Nelson can still get in condition to put in 3 rounds with the potential for a KO, Bellator should be happy.

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