Little Nog notified of potential USADA violation

October 19, 2017

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has been flagged for a potential violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The light heavyweight’s upcoming fight against Jared Cannonier has been scratched with The Killa Gorilla awaiting for a replacement.

The UFC released its standard statement regarding these matters.  A portion of which reads:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Antonio Rogerio Nogueira of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on September 27, 2017. Due to the proximity of Nogueira’s upcoming scheduled bout at UFC FIGHT NIGHT: LAWLER vs. DOS ANJOS in Winnipeg, Canada on December 16, 2017 against Jared Cannonier, Nogueira has been removed from the card and the UFC is currently seeking a replacement.

Payout Perspective:

If Nogueira cannot absolve himself of this wrongdoing, it could spell the end for the 41-year-old’s career in the UFC.  This would be Nogueira’s first violation which would be a 2-year sanction unless he is able to mitigate the case with USADA.

TUF 26 Episode 7 draws 316,000 viewers

October 19, 2017

The Ultimate Fighter 26 Episode 7 drew 316,000 on FS1 Wednesday night.

The fight of the telecast featured Melinda Fabian taking on Rachael Ostovich.  It was Ostovich that came out victorious.

Notably, the MLB Playoff game between the Astros and Yankees preceded TUF and scored over 5 million viewers on Fox Sports with the post-game on FS1 drawing 2.8 million.

Payout Perspective:

The good news is that this is the highest rated Live + SD this season.  The bad news is that its only 316,000 viewers.  The last two seasons of episode 7 drew 372,000 viewers.  Realistically, this is a good rating for TUF since it took last week off due to the baseball playoffs and went up against it and the first full night of NBA action.

McGregor doc set to make U.S. one night debut

October 17, 2017

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that the Conor McGregor documentary from U.K.-based Trafalgar will be released in the United States on November 8th in movie theaters across the country.  Conor McGregor: Notorious is limited for the one night on Wednesday, November 8th as it coincides with an exclusive interview with McGregor.

The interview will be from the film’s world premier in Dublin.  The documentary was shot over a four-year period and details the story of McGregor’s rapid ascension from apprentice plumber and aspiring MMA fighter to making millions this past August when he fought Floyd Mayweather, ,Jr.

Payout Perspective:

Maybe the rumors of a potential fight with Paulie Malignaggi are just a way to keep McGregor’s name in the news as his documentary is set to be released.  The “one night only” access is interesting since it’s mid-week and does not give Conor fans the opportunity to see the documentary if they can’t get out to see it.  Of course, with a niche audience, perhaps theatres only wanted to limit the showing so it does not take away from other movies at the theatres.

Showtime Boxing event Saturday peaks with first two fights

October 17, 2017

ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Saturday night’s Showtime card had its best viewership prior to the main event.

Erislandy Lara’s win over Terrell Gausha drew 399,000 viewers and peaked at 476,000 Showtime subscribers according to Nielsen. But the Jermell Charlo Erickson Lubin fight averaged 495,000 viewers and peaked with 537,000.  The first fight between Jarrett Hurd and Austin Trout averaged 430,000 and peaked at 555,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The Showtime event aired after PBC on Fox.  The ratings are unusual as one would expect that viewership would increase as the telecast goes on but in t his case, the viewership peaked during the first two fights.

Bellator’s Hardy allowed to box and fight in MMA

October 16, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator women’s flyweight Heather Hardy’s second fight in the Viacom-owned organization won’t preclude her from stepping into a boxing ring.  Hardy revealed in an interview that her two-year contract with Bellator allows her to continue her boxing career.

Currently, Hardy is working with boxing promoter Lou DiBella but states that there is more opportunity for her in MMA.  The 35-year-old who debuted with Bellator this past June is not limiting her options.

According to the Junkie article, Hardy is guaranteed a minimum of 4 fights in Bellator.

Hardy is a boxing coach and trainer when she is not getting ready for a fight.

Payout Perspective:

The flexibility of Hardy’s contract seems to be something that all MMA fighters want nowadays.  While many wait for their next bout, they want to keep busy some other way.  But, underscoring the flexibility give to Hardy is the likelihood that she is not being compensated well for either job.  It’s like having two part-time jobs.  You have to make ends meet whereas if you were paid well for one you would do it.  On the other end, Bellator or Hardy’s promoter would likely require exclusivity if she was a draw or became one.

PBC on Fox draws 1.3 million viewers

October 15, 2017

PBC on Fox Saturday night drew 1.3 million viewers on Saturday night per Television By Numbers.

The event went up against stiff competition with the MLB Playoffs featuring the Cubs and Dodgers on cable TV.  Also, USC played Utah on ABC opposite the Fox broadcast.

The event featured Abner Mares as he defeated Andres Gutierrez to retain his WBA featherweight title.  The telecast drew 0.3 in the A18-49 demo and a 1 share.

In July, PBC on Fox drew just 866,000.  In February of this year it drew 1.76 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The PBC telecasts on Fox have waned in popularity and although Saturday’s event drew better than this past summer, it’s not nearly as popular as the UFC when it does its quarterly events on Fox.

UFC 215 and UFC 216 PPV buy estimates do not impress

October 14, 2017

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer estimates UFC 215 this past September drew 100,000 buys.  Also, last week’s UFC 216 likely drew around 120,000 buys.

The last two UFC PPVs have been lackluster.  UFC 215 was marred by Ray Borg needing to pull out of his championship fight with Demetrious Johnson.  Ironically, the main event for UFC 215 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes.  In July, Nunes pulled out of her fight due to health issues.  UFC 216 in Vegas featured DJ-Borg and Tony Ferguson versus Kevin Lee.  Last week’s event dealt with the tragedy of the Las Vegas shootings on October 1.  It almost lost its main event as Lee was granted an extra hour to cut a pound.

Only UFC 214, which featured the rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier has drawn significant PPV buys this past summer with an estimated 850,000 PPV buys.  Of course, Jones was flagged once again by USADA which placed an asterisk next to a really good comeback.

UFC 216 – 120,000

UFC 215 – 100,000

UFC 214 – 850,000

UFC 213 – 125,000-150,000

UFC 212 – 167,000

Payout Perspective:

We probably are not surprised by the results of the last two UFC PPV buy estimates as each card had its issues.  The numbers reflect that the casual fan will only come out for big name fighters.  The last several PPV cards have dealt with injuries and last-minute scratches.  These failing will likely come to an end November 4th when GSP returns to fight Michael Bisping in New York.  But, the UFC will need to figure out how it should address some of its PPV cards to address the low buy rates.

Jesse Taylor accepts 1-year USADA suspension

October 14, 2017

USADA announced that UFC welterweight Jesse Taylor has accepted a 1-year suspension for his use of Clomiphene.  The TUF Champion will not be able to return to the Octagon until September 2018.

Via USADA news release:

Taylor, 34, tested positive for clomiphene following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on August 22, 2017. Clomiphene is a Specified Substance in the class of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

Clomiphene is not approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the male population, as its use has not been thoroughly studied for safety and efficacy. Clomiphene also indirectly promotes the secretion of testosterone. Increasing testosterone, especially when combined with strength training, has been demonstrated to increase fat-free mass, muscle size, and strength in males, potentially leading to performance enhancement in sport.

Taylor’s one-year period of ineligibility, the highest sanction for a first offense involving a Specified Substance, began on September 13, 2017, the date his provisional suspension was imposed. As a result of his positive test, Taylor was removed from the Card for the UFC Fight Night event in Sydney, Australia, scheduled for November 18, 2017.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps the only recourse for Taylor without expending a lot of legal costs.  Also, if he did not have a true excuse for his testing, it would only prolong the administrative battle.  It’s too bad for Taylor who just made it back into the organization.  The suspension also brings to light the issue of Clomiphene, a fertility drug for women, and the use of it by male competitors.

After penning article on his health, Hunt taken off of UFC Fight Night 121 card

October 11, 2017

The UFC has pulled Mark Hunt from his main event match against Marcin Tybura in Australia for UFC Fight Night 121 this November citing medical concerns.  The concerns were made known after Hunt penned an article entitled, “If I die fighting, that’s fine.”

Fabricio Werdun will get the quick turnaround and fill-in for Hunt against Tybura.

The UFC pulled Hunt based on the article, in Player’s Voice (an offshoot of the U.S. version of The Player’s Tribune) as it stated that Hunt suffered from short-term memory loss and acknowledges that he is slurring his words.  In the article, he advocates for the expansion of the Ali Act to MMA and advises his children to do something aside from MMA.  In the article, he cites the “drug cheats” he faced in the sport including Brock Lesnar.

The UFC issued a statement to an Australian news outlet explaining its decision (via MMA Junkie):

“Following a recent first-person article published by UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt, UFC has taken the precautionary steps of removing Hunt from a previously announced bout in Sydney, Australia,” a statement first issued to News.com.au read. “The health-related statements made by Hunt in the article represent the first time UFC was made aware of these claims. Athlete health and safety is of the utmost importance to the organization and it would never knowingly schedule an athlete complaining of health issues for a fight. The organization will require that Hunt undergo further testing and evaluations prior to competing in any future UFC bout.”

Hunt is not pleased with this outcome and took to Instagram to blast Dana White and threated to sue.  The case is currently pending.

As we know, Hunt has sued the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar.

Payout Perspective:

This is a sticky situation for the UFC as Hunt publicly notes that he is fine with dying in the ring and lists some serious physical injuries which may likely be long-term health issues.  This could lead to potential liability especially if the UFC allows Hunt to continue the fight despite his statements that he is suffering from short-term memory loss from what he believes is related to fighting.  Also, the UFC is engaged in a lawsuit with Hunt and now Hunt is claiming that he may sue for taking him off the card.  Frankly, the UFC may be in a situation where it may feel like it will have to sever ties with Hunt because it cannot allow him to continue to fight.  Perhaps the UFC and Hunt come together to have a physician examine him to determine whether he can continue to fight.  But, I would suggest that the UFC takes a conservative approach to allow him to fight (maybe a Daniel Bryan-WWE situation if you follow that).  This will be an interesting issue to keep track of moving forward.

UFC 216: Payout Perspective

October 10, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at UFC 216 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ferguson submits Lee

It was not a good week for Kevin Lee.  Not only did he have issues with cutting weight which kept everyone in suspense on Friday.  It appeared that he had a staph infection on Saturday night.  Joe Rogan noticed a mark on Lee’s left pec immediately.  Lee acknowledged the infection which makes one wonder how the commission allowed Lee to fight.

It was a good fight but it looked like Lee had tired in the third and was eventually submitted.  Ferguson should go on to face Conor McGregor if he decides to return to fight.  If not, could we see another setup with Khabib.

DJ makes history with title defense

Demetrious Johnson did it again with another successful title defense of his UFC Flyweight title and another 5th round stoppage.  Johnson had a sensational suplex into an armbar transition to tap out Ray Borg.  It was the 11th title defense which set a record.  DJ stands alone in the UFC Flyweight division.

Despite the remarkable accomplishment Johnson was the co-main event and not the main fight on the show.  This was a subtle sign that despite the remarkable accomplishment, Johnson is not a top of the card draw as he should be.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

This was the lowest attendance and gate for a UFC PPV held at the T-Mobile Arena.  The figures announced post-fight totaled just 10,638 for a gate of $677,999.50.  Of 7 events at the T-Mobile, it was 6th in terms of attendance and gate.  Only this summer’s TUF 25 Finale drew less and that’s due to the fact that there are events on back to back nights.

The bonuses went to Demetrious Johnson, John Moraga, , Bobby Green, Lando Vannatta.  Johnson and Moraga earned the Performances of the Night while Green and Vannatta earned Fight of the Night for their draw.

Payouts

Tony Ferguson was the highest paid fighter of the night earning $500,000 while Demetrious Johnson drew $340,000.  Both Kevin Lee and Ray Borg earned the most of their career with their pay on Saturday.

Via MMA Junkie:

 

Tony Ferguson: $500,000 (includes $250,000 win bonus)
def. Kevin Lee: $250,000

Demetrious Johnson: $370,000 (no win bonus)
def. Ray Borg: $100,000

Fabricio Werdum: $400,000 (includes $125,000 win bonus)
def. Walt Harris: $28,000

Mara Romero Borella: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Kalindra Faria: $12,000

Beneil Dariush: $48,000*
vs. Evan Dunham: $40,000*

Cody Stamann: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Tom Duquesnoy: $23,000

Bobby Green: $24,000*
vs. Lando Vannata: $25,000*

Poliana Botelho: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Pearl Gonzalez: $10,000

Matt Schnell: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Marco Beltran: $14,000

John Moraga: $68,000 (includes $34,000 win bonus)
def. Magomed Bibulatov: $17,000

Brad Tavares: $74,000 (includes $37,000 win bonus)
def. Thales Leites: $57,000

The official Nevada Commission’s pay sheet had Godbeer receiving his show money.  Notably, the Nik Lentz-Will Brooks fight was scrapped due to an illness which hospitalized Lentz.  Although the Nevada Commission may not have paid Brooks, a social media post infers that he was still compensated.

The commission did not have purse payments for Lentz, Brooks and Derrick Lewis.

Promotion of the Fight

With the horrible events that happened the Sunday before the fight the event hype was muted for obvious reasons.  Dana White did not have any fight hype on his twitter timeline until Wednesday.  The Embedded episodes that usually kick off the week were held until that Wednesday.  With this event being a hard sell even before the tragedy, the lack of last minute buzz certainly did not help the buys for this event.

Sponsorships

Although not exactly related to this event, it was announced this week that longtime sponsor Bud Light would be replaced in the U.S. by Modelo Especial staring in 2018.

We are starting to see a lot subtler sponsor promotion on the Embedded series as we see the fighters getting their Reebok gear and visiting the UFC Performance Institute.

Aside from Budweiser, Toyo Tires, Metro PCS, Performance Inspired, Harvey Davidson, 7 Eleven and Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.  One may have noticed that 7 Eleven had its own signage post whereas in past events it shared one with Monster Energy.  It also had the prep point.  The twitter hashtag Vegas Strong was also in the Octagon.

Odds and ends

It was a different opening for the UFC 216 PPV as Dana White invited over 1,500 first responders to the event and brought some of the survivors of the devastating shooting to the octagon.  Everlast, from House of Pain fame, also sang “America the Beautiful.”  There were cold openings for both the Exclusive Fight Pass Prelims and the Prelims on FX.

The festivities were strained by Dana White’s public scorn for Jason Aldean.  He claimed that Aldean did not want to perform (Aldean was the performer on stage during the shooting).  But, he showed up on Saturday Night Live the same night.  Let it go Dana.  It’s petty to mess up a nice night by getting mad at this.

Derrick Lewis and Fabricio Werdum were taken off last minute with Walt Harris taking the fight against Werdum.  The good news is that Godbeer was paid despite being taken off the card.  Brooks was not although his social media account infers he may have been compensated by the UFC.

Prelims were on FX this time around to compensate for College Football on FS1.  It drew just 653,000 viewers Saturday night.

The commission had some explaining to do with the one hour allowance for Kevin Lee to cut the pound he was over.  Apparently, the rules allow it for championship fights.

There was also the issue of how the UFC Anti-Doping Policy allowed exemptions to Kalindra Faria and Mara Romero Borella.  Yet, it took Andrea Lee off the card due to her prior issues with drug testing.

It appeared as though the upper bowl of the T-Mobile Arena was cordoned off which reflects the attendance was low for the event.  Ticketmaster had seats available up until Friday (and likely Saturday) of the event with the get-in price going for $55.

The UFC sold Vegas Strong T-shirts with 100% of the proceeds going to victims of the shooting on October 1st.

The PPV ended before 10:00pm on the west coast and the broadcast crew was forced to stretch instead of trying to fill in a fight from earlier in the evening.  It did provide some comedy as Daniel Cormier had problems with his headset cords.

There were over 500,000 searches for UFC 216 on Saturday.

Conclusion

This will be one of the lower-purchased PPVs of 2017.  While Lee and Ferguson is a good fight, it is not one you’d pay $60 to see as the main event.  Johnson is one of the greatest fighters ever, but fans do not want to pay to watch him fight.  While it was a good night of fights, its hard seeing this event doing more than 170,000 PPV buys.

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