Another UFC Heavyweight flagged by USADA for potential violation

November 18, 2017

UFC Heavyweight James Mulheron has been notified of a potential violation of the UFC anti-doping policy and has been removed from his fight against Cyril Asker next week in Shanghai, China at UFC Fight Night 122.

Mulheron fought just once in the UFC, losing against Justin Willis at UFC Fight Night from Glasgow, Scotland.

Via UFC.com:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed James Mulheron of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on November 10, 2017. Due to the proximity of James’s upcoming scheduled bout at UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Gastelum in Shanghai, China on November 25, 2017, against Cyril Asker, Mulheron has been removed from the card and UFC is currently seeking a replacement.

Payout Perspective:

Yet another Heavyweight falls to USADA it appears.  It’s not clear why heavyweights may be susceptible to the anti-doping policy but it appears that this is happening more than other weight classes.  As we know, Anderson Silva was removed from this card because of a potential violation as well.

Early estimates of UFC 217 PPV are at 875,000

November 17, 2017

Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting is reporting that early estimates of the UFC 217 drew 875,000 PPV buys in North America making it the biggest PPV show for 2017 thus far.

UFC 217 featured Georges St Pierre’s return against middleweight champion Michael Bisping in addition to two other championship fights.

Google trends reflected strong interest in the PPV.  There were over 1 million google searches on the Saturday of the PPV for UFC 217.  The UFC Prelims drew 1.276 million viewers despite starting on FS2.

Payout Perspective:

Very good result but if you are gaging success by the 1 million PPV buy threshold, it may disappoint.  There were 3 title fights and the return of GSP.  There was more interest in Canada for this PPV but it wasn’t enough to hit 1 million in North America.  The good news that it’s likely the PPV buys worldwide exceed 1 million and shows that GSP is still a draw.

Werdum charged with assault after hitting Covington with boomerang

November 16, 2017

Fabricio Werdum is in trouble after a video showed him throwing a boomerang at UFC welterweight Colby Covington.  According to an Australian news outlet, Werdum has been charged with common assault.

Werdum is the headliner of Saturday UFC Fight Night card in Sydney, Australia where he faces Marcin Tybura.

The video shows the two getting into an argument and then Werdum appears to throw a clear plastic bag which had a boomerang inside of it.

Covington went on Facebook Live after the incident and used an anti-gay slur in the direction of Werdum.  Just last month, Werdum was disciplined for using a similar slur in a confrontation with Tony Ferguson.

It appears that Werdum will have to return for a court date in December.

Payout Perspective:

This is something that you cannot do especially outside of a hotel in a country where the company is trying to develop a presence.  Werdum is in the wrong for throwing a boomerang at Covington and Covington is wrong for his continued generalizations against the people of Brazil.  The UFC has to step in and it will be interesting to see what it will do to Werdum who is in trouble for the second time in two straight months.  Covington has been under fire after his post-fight comments in Brazil calling the people of Brazil “Filthy Animals.”  We’ll see if there are any repercussions for Covington although it would seem in the legal case he is the victim.

TUF 26 Episode 10 draws low of 158,000 viewers

November 16, 2017

TUF 26 Episode 10 drew 158,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night according to Nielsen.  It is the lowest-rating for the TUF series.

The show featured the final quarterfinal bouts to determine the semifinals for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion.  Barb Honchak defeated Rachael Ostovich in one of the quarterfinal bouts.  In the other Nicco Montano defeated Montana Stewart.

Honchak and Montana will now meet in next week’s semifinals to determine who will fight for the title at the Finale on December 1st.

The show drew only 0.06 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The 158,000 viewers is the lowest-rated TUF this season and overall for a first-run episode for the series.  It was ranked 150th in cable tv ratings on Wednesday night and almost did not make the cut for reported ratings on ShowBuzz Daily as it only lists the top 150 shows on a given day.  The lead-in was college basketball which did not draw that many viewers.  An Indiana-Seton Hall matchup drew just 252,000 viewers Wednesday night before TUF.

Nunes makes Forbes’ “30 under 30” list

November 16, 2017

UFC women’s bantamweight champion was chosen to be on Forbes’ ’30 under 30’ list for 2017 in the area of sports.

Nunes, 29, defended her title this past September.  But, she was mired in controversy when she pulled out of UFC 213 with an injury causing Dana White to criticize her.

In addition, boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was picked for the list as well.  Alvarez fought twice in 2017 with both fights (vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr and Gennady Golovkin) drew over 1 million PPV buys.

Here is her Forbes writeup:

“She sent shockwaves through the UFC world by defeating Ronda Rousey in just 48 seconds. The first openly gay champion for the sport, Nunes is the reigning women’s bantamweight champion with a 15-4 record. Nunes has an endorsement deal with TEN spring water.”

In 2016, Jose Aldo made the annual list for sports figures.

Payout Perspective:

Nunes should be more of a star than she is and hopefully the Forbes lists helps with her celebrity.  Her pulling out of UFC 213 may have put her in the UFC doghouse.  After destroying Ronda Rousey, you would have thought she would be the next woman fighter to make it to mainstream appeal.

Jacobs-Arias fight on HBO draws 706,000 viewers Saturday

November 15, 2017

The Daniel Jacobs-Luis Arias fight on HBO Saturday night drew 706,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

Jacobs’ victory over Arias peaked at 765,000 viewers.  The co-main event featured Jarrell Miller and Mariusz Wach drew 673,000 viewers and peaked at 739,000 viewers.  Miller defeated Wach in the heavyweight matchup.  The other fight on the telecast saw Cletus Seldin defeat Roberto Ortiz and drew an average of 532,000 viewers peaking at 556,000.

Also of note, the shoulder programming featuring Jacobs drew 265,000 viewers for the 15 minute lead-up to the event.

Payout Perspective:

The HBO telecast went up against ESPN’s boxing telecast which drew the second-highest rating since Top Rank and HBO partnered.  The ratings are good considering the competition on Saturday night which included the UFC and college football.

Bellator 187 peaks with 1 million viewers during McGregor run in

November 15, 2017

According to Nielsen, the Conor McGregor interruption this past Friday at Bellator 187 drew 1 million viewers on SpikeTV in the quarter hour that the event occurred.

As you recall, McGregor charged the cage after his teammate’s first round KO.  McGregor then proceeded to go after referee Marc Goddard.  The event occurred in the first quarter hour of the Bellator tape-delayed telecast on Spike TV.  The news on social media spread and many tuned in to watch the antics.

In comparison, Bellator 186 peaked at 800,000 viewers during Phil Davis’ fight.

Overall, Bellator 187 drew 621,000 viewers in DVR +3 ratings.

Payout Perspective:

The 1 million viewers is a peak threshold not seen by Bellator on Spike TV since Bellator 175 this past spring.  It says something that McGregor’s appearance was the likely reason many tuned in considering the peak was in the first quarter hour and most telecast peak as the event progresses.

Jon Fitch’s Statement before Congressional Subcommittee supports Ali Act Expansion

November 14, 2017

Former UFC Fighter Jon Fitch submitted a Statement at the Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on MMA as well as an op-ed piece in the Washington Examiner on the day of the hearing.  Each supports the proposed legislation expanding the Ali Act.

The Statement submitted and filed for the Congressional Subcommittee Hearing last week was on MMAFA letterhead.

Fitch’s primary argument is that he was passed over for fights despite being the ranked number 1 contender in the UFC.  He stated that he was criticized for “employing a tactical style” emphasizing his wrestling background rather than fighting in a more “exciting” fashion.

He cites being presented with a merchandising agreement by the promotion which required he give the UFC image rights “in perpetuity and for no compensation” for a video game.  He was released by the UFC for a time due to his refusal to sign the agreement.

Unlike Marc Ratner’s description of the MMA business model, Fitch describes it as a “structurally flawed model inconsistent with sport and designed to achieve a monopoly over an entire sport.”  Fitch gave the anecdote of winning the World Series of Fighting title and then being stripped of the title when “new investors” took over WSOF and it was changed into the Professional Fighters’ League.  He “regained” the title at PFL’s first official event in July.

Fitch goes on to advocate for the amendment to the Ali Act arguing that “sport’s natural growth is stunted” due to the coercive “contractual practices” in the sport.  He cites the lack of disclosure of fight purses by promoters which is required under the Ali Act.  He notes the Chris Algieri situation as a prime example.  We wrote about this in April 2016 and presented the problem with the Ali Act for boxers.

He also stressed that the Ali Act “requires rankings to be based on merit, not contractual subservience.”  Here, Fitch emphasizes the need for objective rankings giving the analogy with Major League Baseball changing the World Series simply based on popularity of team.

In conclusion to his statement, Fitch reiterated the stunting of growth in MMA due to anti-competitive restraints and that when the restraints are removed, “deep-pocketed investors will be made in MMA.”  He believes that the elimination of artificial restraints will cause organic growth benefiting all by increasing revenues for all in the sport.

Similarly, Fitch’s Washington Examiner op-ed was briefer than his Statement to Congress but touched on the same points including the rankings system and the fact that the titles do not matter.  The opinion piece called for sanctioning bodies that would provide the fighter with consistency and ensure that the top contender would have a shot at the title.

Jon Fitch Statement by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Fitch provides the fighters’ perspective of the MMA industry and it is vastly different from that of Ratner’s viewpoint of MMA.  Ratner believes that MMA is devoid of the corruption that plagued boxing which led to the Ali Act.  Fitch sees it differently.  He provides a first-hand account of the issues he knows of in MMA including the issue with the UFC related to the forfeiting of his image rights for the EA video game and giving up his WSOF title when new owners took over.  Certainly, you can point to the fact that neither addresses that he is a plaintiff in an antitrust lawsuit against the UFC which may sway the reader’s view when objectively looking at the opinion.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN draws 1.487M viewers Saturday night

November 14, 2017

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew 1.487 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The main event saw Jose Ramirez defeat Mike Reed in a junior welterweight matchup.  The victory keeps Ramirez in line for a shot at the title vacated by Terrence Crawford.  In addition, Artur Beterbiev beat down Enrico Koelling to win the vacant IBF World Light Heavyweight title and remains undefeated.

Surprisingly, the ratings rank 2nd behind the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight for Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.  The event’s lead-in was the Alabama-Mississippi State game which drew over 7 million viewers.

Headliners for Top Rank on ESPN since July 2016 and the telecast overall rating:

7/1/17:  Pacquiao-Horn – 2.812 million

8/19/17:  Crawford-Indongo – 965,000

8/05/17:  Lomachenko-Marriaga – 728,000

9/23/17:  Valdez-Servania – 706,000

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are a success for Top Rank as the fighters on the card are not really known to the casual boxing fan.  Still, the placement on ESPN after a big college football game likely aided the ratings in this case.  It is hard to think that this telecast did far much better than one with Terrence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko on it.

UFC Fight Night 120 draws 837,000 viewers on FS1; prelims score 726,000

November 14, 2017

Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 120 on FS1 drew 837,000 viewers. The prelims scored 726,000 viewers on FS1.

The main card was highlighted by a bloody main event between Dutin Poirier and Anthony Pettis. Poirier scored the victory when Pettis tapped due to injury. The prelims featured Marlon Moraes over John Dodson.

According to ShowBuzz Daily, the main card drew 0.34 in the A18-49 demo while the prelims drew 0.28.

The pre-fight show (7-8:05pm ET) on FS1 drew 272,000 viewers and the post-fight show (1:10-2:10am ET) drew 369,000.

Payout Perspective:

The event improved over the last two televised Fight Nights due in part to better matchups overall.  The ratings, including the prelims and post-fight show, are very good considering they want up against boxing on ESPN and HBO and college football.

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