UFC Fight Night 119 draws 558,000 on FS1, prelims draw 198,000 on FS2

October 31, 2017

UFC Fight Night 119 on Saturday night from Brazil drew 558,000 viewers on FS1.  The prelims, which aired on FS2, drew 198,000 viewers.

UFC Fight Night 119 featured Derek Brunson as he faced the returning Lyoto Machida.  Brunson stopped Machida in the first round to the dismay of the Brazilian fans.  The prelims which aired on FS2 due to College Football featured Vincente Luque’s D’arce choke victory over Niko Price.

The post-fight show on FS1 drew 265,000 from 12:59am to 2:00am on Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are fairly low due in part to the significant sports competition with The World Series and College Football.  The main card did better than the last televised Fight Night which was the Japan Fight Night this past September on FXX.  Yet, for a typical FS1 Fight Night card, this appears sub par.

UFC announces Perth PPV in February 2018

October 30, 2017

The UFC announced that it will hold its first ever event in Western Australia as the company will hold a PPV on Sunday, February 11th in Perth, Australia.  Due to the time difference, the event will be in the normal U.S. time slot on Saturday, February 10, 2018.

The announcement was made on Tuesday morning in Perth and Monday night in the U.S.

A ban on cage fighting was recently lifted in Western Australia which paved the way for this event.

In addition, the UFC announced its first PPV of 2018 will take place in Boston on January 20th.  Boston has been an annual destination for the company the past couple of Januarys.  However, those events were bigger cards for its Fight Night events.

Payout Perspective:

The move into Perth shows the excitement the region has for the UFC.  It’s been noted that the UFC is buzzing with an uptick in residential PPV buys and interest from bars to carry PPVs.  There are challenges in appeasing the local fans as well as ensuring the domestic audience has the PPV at its normal Saturday night time.  The global footprint continues to expand.

 

White responds to Hunt’s comments after taken off of Sydney card

October 30, 2017

Dana White responded to Mark Hunt’s comments after he was taken off the Sydney card next month.  In a letter to the Daily Telegraph he claims to have offered to fly Hunt to Las Vegas to get checked out.

Hunt was taken off of the UFC Fight Night 121 card after an article he wrote detailed issues with sleep and memory related to his career of fighting.

A portion of the letter reads:

My team contacted his [Hunt’s] management within the first week of learning about these symptoms and offered to fly him to Las Vegas first class to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center — which is the best in the world for brain research — to get more tests done. And you know what? He absolutely refused.

White went on to explain that he could not have him in the Octagon with knowledge that Hunt had health issues.  He noted that Hunt had yet to be cleared to fight on the Sydney card.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC really had no option here especially with athlete head injuries being in the news.  White’s response makes sense and if it is true that Hunt turned down the opportunity to get checked out, then it makes Hunt look bad.  Of course, the two sides are currently in a lawsuit where physical injuries are still being claimed so perhaps Hunt’s attorneys do not want him to avail to a medical examination at this point.  What will be interesting will be how all of this will factor in the pending lawsuit between Hunt, the UFC, Brock Lesnar and Dana White.

Covington issues apology for comments, UFC will review issue

October 29, 2017

The UFC will review post-fight comments made by Colby Covington in the Octagon last night at UFC Fight Night 119 in Brazil.  Covington has issued an “apology” of sorts but the comments show the line between gimmick and insensitivity.

Covington earned a victory over Demian Maia and proceeded to call the Brazilian crowd “animals” and Brazil a dump.  UFC exec David Shaw noted that they were not very happy with Covington’s comments.

Covington issued an apology of sorts:

Of course, Covington is not employed by the UFC if that who he is referring to in the tweet.  As we know, UFC fighters are independent contractors.

Covington noted that the crowd was hostile toward him and it appears that his comments were made in retaliation.  It is not the first time an American has received less than hospitable greeting from a Brazilian crowd.  Also, it is not the first time that a UFC fighter has made racially insensitive remarks.  Conor McGregor had made derogatory remarks about Jose Aldo and Brazil.  Whether or not he realized it, McGregor also made racially driven comments about Nate Diaz and Floyd Mayweather.  During his feud with Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen made remarks about Brazilian kids “playing in the mud.”

Payout Perspective:

Covington’s comments are not uncommon which is an issue the sport must address.  If you want to be a professional, you have to handle yourself accordingly and I assume under the new ownership they will want their fighters to act like a pro.  This would mean not responding to taunts from fans and understanding what is correct and what is not correct in making comments.  While a portion of this may do with inciting a reaction, there is a fine line that a professional must know without going over the line.   Moreover, you have to realize your place in the company.  While a McGregor may have more of a rope with his comments, Covington is not a known name.  I would expect the UFC to address this situation with some sort of sensitivity training.

UFC Fight Night 119 attendance and bonuses

October 28, 2017

UFC Fight Night 119 took place at Ginásio do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil.  The event was a sell out although the Brazilian fans left disappointed as Derek Brunson KO’d the returning Lyoto Machida in the main event.

The UFC announced the attendance and bonuses post-event.

For his work, Brunson earned one of the Performance bonuses of the Night.  Pedro Munhoz earned the other Performance bonus with his submission of Rob Font.  The Fight of the Night went to Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos and Max Griffin which aired on the FS2 Prelims. Dos Santos won via unanimous decision.  Each drew $50,000 bonuses.

The attendance was reported as a sellout of 10,265.  As is custom with Brazilian events, the gate was not announced.

Payout Perspective:

It was a disappointing night for Brazilian fans as Machida was knocked out and Colby Covington defeated Demian Maia in the co-main event.  He then trashed the country in a post-fight interview in the Octagon.  The report of a sell-out reflects the fact that Brazil is still a big market for the UFC.  This past March it drew over 14,000 fans in Fortaleza, Brazil for Fight Night 106.

Wilder-World of Boxing case continues with Motion to Compel documents re Meldonium

October 26, 2017

The Deontay Wilder versus World of Boxing/Alexander Povetkin case has not ended.  Despite a Court ruling which denied World of Boxing and Povetkin’s (collectively WOB”) motions for new trial and/or motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the parties continue with the other elements of the causes of action.

In September, the Court denied motion to overturn the February jury verdict which determined that Povetkin took Meldonium after January 1, 2016.  Meldonium was a banned substance post-January 1, 2016.  He claimed that the detection of the Meldonium stemmed from taking it sometime in 2015.

A Joint Status Report filed with the Court mapped out further happenings in this lawsuit.  There is scheduling for the potential of a Motion for Summary Judgment and WOB has filed a Motion to Compel documents.

At this point, the attorneys for WOB filed a motion to compel certain documents from a string of emails from May 25, 2016.  This came to light during a deposition in which a WOB lawyer attempted to question a witness about the email string.  The lawyers for Wilder requested to “clawback” the document.  A “clawback” is a provision which allows the return of documents that were erroneously provided to the other side.  The reason for the “clawback” is that they are protected by a certain privilege or confidentiality.  This occurs in high-volume electronic discovery cases.

Wilder asserts that the emails were confidential communications protected by attorney-client privilege.  The Wilder privilege log which lists the documents that have not been produced to the other side states that they are protected by the Attorney-Client Privilege.  WOB claims that these exceptions do not apply.  The gist here is that the documents that are being withheld are said to be confidential because they include attorneys in the string of emails.  However, WOB claims that these emails are not protected because they were provided to third parties.

Payout Perspective:

Just when you thought that this case might be over, it continues. It appears that the parties are moving forward with the Breach of Contract cause of action.  This motion to compel was held until the finish of the post-trial briefing per Court order.  At this point, we don’t know the substance of the emails that are being withheld, only that they relate to Meldonium.  Wilder’s attorneys will likely argue that the substance of the emails is protected by attorney-client privilege or were provided to others maintaining privilege.  WOB argues that the substance of the emails is not legal in nature and do not uphold the privilege.  Even if the emails are proven not to be attorney-client privilege and handed over to WOB, the question is whether the substance of those emails will have any impact on the case.  A jury did find that Povetkin took Meldonium post-January 1, 2016.  Any information from the Wilder emails must provide something more to prove elements of WOB’s theory of the case.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

White suggests possibility of digital platform for next media deal

October 26, 2017

Could the UFC be moving toward a digital platform for its next media rights deal?  Dana White intimated the notion recently on a podcast with the Wall Street Journal.

The discussion was based on the belief that younger people watch content on phones and tablets rather than on television.  Also cited, was the eroding ratings of networks including ESPN.  The network is building its own digital network in 2018 which will include Top Rank Boxing.   White predicts digital platforms as the wave of the future.  Thus, there is a possibility that the next deal may not include a network.

There is also the possibility of splitting up the rights to include network, cable and digital.

Currently, UFC Fight Pass serves as a supplement to UFC fans.  Similar to the WWE’s Network, it rectnly started a 24/7 model which plays content constantly instead of the user choosing what they want to watch.  The digital platform includes an extensive library of past events and other organizations as well as its own events on Fight Pass.

Payout Perspective:

One of the key things pointed out during the interview was that the UFC produces its own events.  But, it was discussed that the next rights deal, the UFC would relax this custom and allow the rights holder some latitude with the partnership.  Perhaps White is just advocating for digital platforms to step up in the media rights bid by championing it over network or cable.  The UFC has been at the forefront of innovative trends and if digital overtakes traditional platforms, especially with the younger demographic, we might see a serious push for digital content.

UFC signs licensing deal with UK mouthguard maker Opro

October 26, 2017

The UFC announced that it has entered into a licensing deal with UK mouthguard manufacturer Opro.  The deal, negotiated by IMG, will commence in 2018.

The agreement will grant Opro the right to make UFC branded mouthguards as well as bespoke guards for UFC athletes.

A portion of the UFC press release announcing the deal reads:

As part of this collaboration, OPRO will be able to brand the products and packaging for their Custom Fit, Self-Fit and Snap Fit product ranges, providing oral protection guards to athletes currently on the active roster.

“OPRO has ambitious international expansion plans for the coming years, and partnering with another hugely progressive and pioneering brand who are growing exponentially all over the world, particularly in key markets for us such as Asia and the Americas, is truly exciting,” OPRO Chief Executive Officer David Allen said. “This partnership with UFC reflects our continued growth in the combat sports market and we look forward to working with them as we kit out more and more UFC athletes with OPRO guards.”

UFC athletes will have the option of wearing mouthguards by OPRO while training or competing inside UFC’s world-famous Octagon®. OPRO will also offer UFC branded guards to combat participants and fight fans for purchase at opromouthguards.com and through a network of key global retail partners.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Payout Perspective:

This does not appear to be an exclusive relationship since the UFC has a licensing deal with U.S. mouthguard maker GuardLab.  But, the deal shows that IMG is looking to regionalize licensing efforts in order to capture a broader base of partners.  Opro operates out of the UK, so you might see more of the use of the brand in Europe than here in North America.

Bisping sued by gym goer after incident at 24 Hour Fitness

October 26, 2017

TMZ Sports first reported that Michael Bisping is being sued by a 19-year-old after claims the UFC middleweight champion allegedly grabbed him by the throat.

The incident occurred on July 31st at a 24-Hour Fitness in Anaheim, California.  According to the lawsuit and report, Bisping was angered that Antonio Georgakopoulos had taken his weights without asking during the UFC champ’s workout.  Bisping went on a verbal tirade and eventually grabbed Georgakopoulos by the throat.

Anaheim Police were called but Bisping had left the scene.  He did comply with authorities and there were no criminal charges filed after an investigation.

Georgakoopoulos is suing for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Payout Perspective:

If you wanted some public relations for Bisping-GSP, here’s some.  This seems like a lawsuit that will ultimately be settled.  Despite no criminal charges, it does not mean that the young man could not sue him in civil court, which he has done.  Regardless of how small the incident might seem, grabbing someone by the throat, or even attempting to do so, is not good especially if you are a public figure and a UFC fighter.  Expect a quick settlement here from Bisping.  If the UFC and 24 Hour Fitness are named in the lawsuit, I would assume that the UFC would get out without paying (since Bisping is an independent contractor) and that 24 Hour Fitness may have to pay something since it did happen in their gym and should have a reasonable expectation that patrons would not choke other gym members.

HBO Boxing telecast tops out at 613,000 viewer average for undercard

October 25, 2017

HBO’s Boxing telecast on Saturday night drew an average of 613,000 viewers for Demetrius Andrade and Alantez Fox per Nielsen according to ShowBuzz Daily. The main event between Albert Machado and Jezreel Corrales drew 545,000 viewers.

The 47 minute Andrade-Fox fight, which Andrade won, peaked at 685,000 viewers per Nielsen.  It drew 0.22 in the A18-49.  The Machado-Corrales fight peaked at 595,000 viewers and drew 0.20 in the A18—49 demo.  Machado defeated Corrales in the main event.

The first fight of the night was a taped bout from Ireland featuring Ryan Burnett defeating Zhanat Zhakiyanov averaged 576,000 viewers and peaked at 618,000.  The fight drew 0.17 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

It’s not too often that the undercard outdraws the main event, but it happened this past Saturday.  This likely means that the casual viewers tuned in to watch boxing and did not know the fighters in the main event which is too bad.

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