Appeal to 9th Circuit for plaintiffs that felt duped from Pac-May fight

September 20, 2017

Late last month, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed the class action lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming that they were duped by the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight in May 2015 due to the fact Pacquiao did not disclose a previous shoulder injury.

Despite the order dismissing the case, the plaintiffs have filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  But first, let’s look at the facts and the district court opinion.

Order Dismissing Pacquiao-Mayweather Boxing Match PPV Litigation by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

As we know, Manny Pacquiao faced Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Mayweather won via unanimous decision.  After the fight, Pacquiao indicated that he had an injury.  However, the facts would suggest that this was never disclosed prior to the fight.  In fact, on his pre-fight questionnaire, he did not indicate an issue with his shoulder.

Many believed that the injured shoulder was a factor in the outcome of the fight.  Those that paid for the fight on PPV ($100), bought a seat at the venue or watched on closed circuit or in a movie theatre were angered that they did not see the best Pacquiao and/or the injury was not disclosed.  Obviously, something like this has a trickle-down impact to the consumer but also to those that placed money on the fight.

Lawsuits were filed as a result and were subsequently consolidated to this court.  Plaintiffs allege that “Defendants were motivated by huge profits” to continue with the fight despite the alleged injury.  They claim that they affirmatively concealed the injury in promotion of the fight.

Attorneys for Pacquiao, Mayweather, Top Rank, Mayweather Promotions, and its related entitites filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuits.  On August 25th, the district court agreed with the defendants that this lawsuit should be dismissed.

The opinion emphasized that the legal system is not the proper place for unhappy fans to vent their anger over a result of a sporting event.  The court made a determination as to whether to determine the complaints per a “license approach “to assess the rights of fans that purchase a ticket to a sporting event.  Under this approach, purchasers are entitled to “nothing more than a revocable license” regardless of what transpires at the event.  However, the court noted that this specific issue was a novel occurrence and it had to determine whether it should apply this standard.

The court did cite to a ticketholder/PPV purchaser case from 2000 where Mike Tyson was sued after a fight between Tyson and Evander Holyfield.  You may recall that this was the bout where Tyson infamously bit Holyfield’s ear.  Plaintiffs in that case claimed that Tyson’s plan was to get disqualified if he could not win and this was a “premediated plan” to end the fight.  In that case, the plaintiffs’ lawsuit was dismissed and the appeal upheld the dismissal rationalizing that fans got what they paid for.

In addition to the “license approach,” the opinion discusses a set of cases which do not use the theory.  Instead, this line of cases have had plaintiffs assert their legal rights when sports teams allegedly lie to promote ticket sales.  Two lawsuits involve professional teams that were moving but did not tell their fan base and one case in which a team stated it was financially able to finish a hockey season but folded 13 games into the season.

So, the court determined which of these approaches it should take.  Either the “License approach” cases which resulted in no legally cognizable injury or the lawsuits against sports teams which reflects a legally cognizable injury.

The court found the “License approach” was the correct application since the alleged omissions and misrepresentations were based on athletic competition (i.e, concealing Pacquiao’s injury).

From the opinion:

The Court holds that a misrepresentation or omission implicates the core of athletic competition, and therefore does not constitute a cognizable injury to a legally protected interest under the license approach, if it is related to: (A) competitive strategy, or (B) the quality or outcome of competitive performance.

It’s also noteworthy that the court argues public policy as to why it ruled against the Plaintiffs here:

Thus, allowing sports fans to sue over the vicissitudes of competitive sports could destroy the
very thing that makes sports fandom so special. A holding in favor of Plaintiffs in this case could be construed to require near total transparency in sports, whereby any inflated, unreliable, or cryptic prevent statements would beget lawsuits. Gone would be the days of headstrong athletes declaring their complete readiness to destroy their opponents. Athletes would never again publicly predict that they will prevail, or even conclude that an event will be exciting. Sports teams and athletes might even be required to disclose the weak spots in their game plans or preparations before every event for all to see (including their opponents).

The judicial opinion is highlighted by a cite to a Joe Rogan podcast related to the uncertainty of sports.  The court commented that the “unpredictability and uncertainty” of competitive sports is important to it.  The point is that the unexpected nature of sport is inherent in sport and expected by fans.

Payout Perspective:

At first read, you wonder why Plaintiffs have decided to appeal this case to the 9th Circuit.  There’s a lot of money that goes into an appeal and the success rate seems in doubt.  However, if you read the opinion closely, you can tell that the district court is making up their own law as they go.  Perhaps that’s a little strong, but they are definitely applying a legal standard they feel is right for this circumstance.  While the “license approach” has been used to decide cases in disgruntled fan lawsuits in the past, there is no real precedent setting case (as the court notes in the opinion).  Thus there’s a line of cases which could be helpful to Plaintiffs but is not applied.  Moreover, the public policy as argued by the Court gives us the old “slippery slope” argument which I personally take offense.  Even if you think that this is ridiculous to follower, there is a telling piece of law here that may be more important than whether someone gets their $100 back.

 

Brazilian heavyweight set for UFC debut flagged by USADA

September 19, 2017

The UFC was notified that heavyweight Carlos Felipe failed a USADA out-of-competition drug test from a sample collected on July 29th.

As a result, Felipe has been taken off the UFC card in Sao Paulo, Brazil on October 28th.  He was set to face Christian Columbo.  The UFC will seek to find a replacement for Columbo.  This would have been Felipe’s debut in the UFC.  The 22-year-old is undefeated in his pro career going 8-0.

The UFC provided its standard statement upon notification from USADA:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Carlos Felipe of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on July 29, 2017. Because of the proximity to Felipe’s upcoming scheduled bout in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on October 28, 2017, against Christian Columbo, Felipe has been removed from the card and UFC is currently seeking a replacement.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Felipe. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

Payout Perspective:

The Brazilian prospect was outstanding on the regional circuit but the failed test may leave him on the sidelines for a couple years if he does not have a good reason for the failed test.

UFC Fight Night 116 draws 872K, Prelims 653K on FS1

September 19, 2017

UFC Fight Night 116 drew 872,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night.  The prelims drew 653,000 viewers via Nielsen per ShowBuzz Daily.

The 170-minute main card featured Luke Rockhold taking on David Branch.  The former middleweight champion looked impressive in dominating Branch.  It drew 0.32 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.

The 120-minute prelims which preceded the main card on FS1 Saturday night featured Olivier Aubin-Mercier has he defeated Tony Martin via split decision.  It also featured 3 stoppages on the prelim card.  It drew 0.23 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.

In addition, the post-fight show on FS1 which started at 12:50 am ET and lasted until 2:00 a.m. ET drew 361,000 viewers and 0.15 in the A18-49 demo.  The pre fight show which started at 7:00pm ET drew 224,000 and 0.08 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

These are very good ratings considering a lot of combat sports fans were interested by the GGG-Canelo fight happening at about the same time.  Also, college football is in full tilt and the ratings do not reflect a large drop-off from the competing events.  The ratings on Saturday were the best since UFC Fight Night 110 in June.

UFC partners with nonprofit as part of national campaign

September 18, 2017

The UFC announced a new national charitable partnership with Miracle Flights, a nonprofit which provides free commercial air transportation to critically ill children in need of medical care far from home.

Via a portion of the UFC press release:

“UFC athletes are some of the toughest in the world, but what happens inside the Octagon pales in comparison to the obstacles these children face on a daily basis,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ike Lawrence Epstein said. “We are proud to partner with Miracle Flights and support its mission to help children receive the life-changing medical care they need.”

This partnership is supported through UFC’s ‘We Are All Fighters’ initiative, which celebrates the fighter in all of us and is a symbol of how everyone fights every day to overcome challenges large and small.

Now in its 32nd year, Miracle Flights has provided more than 110,000 free medical flights to help children with rare and life-threatening conditions gain access to specialized, out-of-state medical care.

UFC’s support of Miracle Flights includes a joint PSA featuring UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin and 11-year old Levi Krystosek. Levi, a native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, suffers from Jansen’s Metaphyseal Chondrodysplasia, an exceptionally rare form of dwarfism with only 24 known cases worldwide. Since initially contacting Miracle Flights, Levi has been flown to see medical specialists in both Chicago, Illinois, and Wilmington, Delaware, 16 times, which included the nonprofit’s historic 100,000th flight in 2016.

Payout Perspective:

As with any big company, there are philanthropic endeavors that each undertakes as a part of its corporate social responsibility.  This appears to be a very worthy cause and working with children as part of their “We Are All Fighters’” Initiative.

Byrd still set for UFC 216

September 18, 2017

Coming off of a controversial scorecard in the main event of the GGG-Canelo Alvarez fight on Saturday, NAC head Bob Bennett has stated he has yet to make a decision as to if she will be removed from the upcoming UFC 216 card in Vegas October 7th.

Byrd scored the big fight in Vegas 118-110 for Canelo Alvarez, while Judge Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for GGG and judge Don Trella scored it a 114-144 draw.

Byrd’s lopsided scores which gave Canelo 10 rounds to GGG’s 2 is contrasted with the overarching popular belief that GGG was the aggressor in most rounds and won more than 2 rounds in the fight.

In addition to boxing, Byrd has judged UFC cards in the past.

There were conflicting reports as to whether or not Byrd had been relieved of her anticipated duties for the UFC event but Bennett indicated to MMA Fighting that she was not taken off the card.

Payout Perspective:

Adelaide Byrd received over 1 million google searches on Saturday night due to her scorecard.  In an otherwise “Fight of the Year” candidate, her score which did not compare with the other two scorecards which reflected a close, competitive fight was the hot button issue.  Judging in combat sports can be one of the more controversial parts of this sports and it highlights the subjective nature of being a judge.  Obviously, any fight she will judge in the near future will be scrutinized more than others.

UFC Fight Night 116 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 18, 2017

UFC Fight Night 116 drew just 7,005 fans for the event at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  UFC officials announced the attendance and gate post-event which took place Saturday night.

In addition, the $50,000 bonuses went to Mike Perry, Uriah Hall, Gregor Gillespie and Jason Gonzalez.  Perry and Hall earned Performance Bonuses while Gillespie and Gonzalez earned Fight of the Night.

The attendance at the event was the lowest for a UFC event this year with just 7,005 fans and the gate drew $396,190.  The figures were announced post-event by the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

UFC Fight Night 112 this past June in Oklahoma City had similar attendance figures but this past Saturday’s event was the lowest gates of the year.  With Canelo-GGG on the same night as well as college football, this may have been a tough sell for the UFC.  But, this is what to expect of the lower-tier Fight Night events.

TUF 26 Episode 3 draws 220,000 viewers

September 16, 2017

The Ultimate Fighter 26 episode 3 drew 220,000 viewers on FS1 on Wedndesday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The third episode in the new season feature coaxhes Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez coaching women to be placed in the new 125 pound women’s division.

The fight of the telecast featured Ariel Beck and Montana Stewart.  Stewart defeated Beck to move on in the tournament.

Payout Perspective:

It was the lowest rating for a first-run telecast in the history of TUF.  The show is relying more on its DVR audience than the live audience but this is a low water mark for the show.

Rungvisai-Chocolatito draw 796,000 on HBO

September 15, 2017

HBO Boxing After Dark this past Saturday drew 796,000 viewers for the main event featuring the rematch of Sor Rungvisai and Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez.

The event featured 3 fights on the telecast and ran opposite UFC 215 this past Saturday.  The event was dubbed, “Superfly,” since it featured super flyweights on Saturday event.

The main event pitted the rematch in which Rungvisai knocked out Chocolatito in the fourth round of their super flyweight championship.  The peak occurred during their fight and scored 835,000 viewers.

The co-main event of the evening featured Japan’s Naoya Inoue defeating Antonio Nieves.  Inoue, perhaps the next challenger to Rungvisai, defeated Nieves after the banker featured in the Wall Street Journal the same day, did not come out for round 7.  The event drew 735,000 viewers and peaked at 770,000.

In the first fight of the evening, Juan Francisco Estrada defeated Carlos Cuardras.  The fight drew 608,000 viewers with a peak of 714,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Very good ratings for the main event considering that this telecast focused on fights in some of the smallest weight divisions in boxing.  Many people had heard or saw the first fight between Rungvisai and Chocolatito and wanted to see they could match the action of their first fight.  It did not go to a decision but fans should have been impressed with Rungvisai’s stoppage of Gonzalez.

Canelo-GGG PPV will cost you $79.99

September 15, 2017

For those getting ready to watch GGG versus Canelo Alvarez this Saturday, you will have to pay a premium if ordering on PPV as the suggested retail price point will be $79.99 HD.

The premium price is more than the usual $64.95-$69.99 PPV boxing event.  Coming off of last month’s Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight, which cost $99.95, the question of whether that fight would impact this fight was a relevant question.

Certainly, “Supremacy,” as the fight is billed, is a fight that diehard boxing fans have been waiting for, but will casuals dip into their pocketbooks less than a month later to pay another $80 for a PPV?

The PPV buys for The Money Fight have not been made official but the conclusion is that despite the $100 price point, it drew between 4 and 5 million buys.  We aren’t looking at that buy rate for this event, but this has been a fight in the making with two of the biggest-named boxers in the sport today.

Last spring, Canelo’s last PPV appearance against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. drew 1 million PPV buys.

It would not be out of the realm of possibility for this fight to do the same due to the budding star that is Canelo, the strong Mexican boxing fan base and GGG.  The only concern would be the casual combat sports fan that may have bought The Money Fight and cannot think about paying more for this fight.

Of course, this excess spending on PPVs may have hurt UFC 215, which was sandwiched between the two.  Even with the UFC’s normal PPV price of $59.99, some fans may have sat last week out in order to watch the two boxing events.

UFC 214 Prelims draws 418,000 for an hour on FS1

September 14, 2017

The UFC 214 Prelims drew 418,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims on Fox Sports 1 were pre-empted for the first hour due to golf.

The main event on the FS1 prelims featured Sara McMann and Ketlen Vieira.  The Brazilian surprised McMann with an arm-triangle choke in the second round.

Payout Perspective:

Opposite college football and other sports Saturday night the partial rating (only 62 minutes on FS1) is not surprising.  It probably hurt that if you wanted to turn in and saw golf, they were unlikely to tune back in to FS1.  It is the lowest of the year and it does not bode well for the buy rate for this event.

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