UFC Fight Night 123 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 10, 2017

UFC Fight Night 123 drew 7,605 fans for a gate of $528,290.  Brian Ortega was the star of the night earning two bonuses for his main event submission over Cub Swanson.

Ortega and Swanson received a bonus for Fight of the Night.  Ortega received another for his submission victory in round 2.  Marlon Moraes drew the other $50,000 bonus of the night for his devastating knee of Aljamain Sterling.

The first UFC event from Fresno drew 7,605 fans at the SaveMart Center.  The reported gate, according to UFC officials, was 568,290.

Payout Perspective:

The SaveMart Center was far from a sellout as the capacity for boxing/wrestling events is 16,182.  But, with the Fight Night event, these are the types of attendances to expect.  Notably, the attendance is the same as UFC Fight Night 112 from Oklahoma earlier this year.  The UFC may have found another fighter to put into the mix for Max Holloway’s title as Brian Ortega put on another great performance.

Loma-Rigo 2nd highest rated boxing telecast on cable this year

December 10, 2017

Last night’s Vasiliy Lomachenko-Guillermo Rigondeaux fight was the second highest-rated boxing telecast on cable in 2017 according to Nielsen overnight ratings via ESPN.  The fight which was won by Lomachenko, was second only to the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight this past July.

Although no viewership ratings are yet available, Nielsen indicates that it drew a 1.3 metered market rating.  Pacquiao-Horn drew 2.4 rating.  Third and fourth on the list of highest-rated shows were the two undercards on Saturday night.  Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Mendoza and Michael Conlan-Luis Molina drew 1.1 metered market ratings on ESPN.

Payout Perspective:

The Heisman Trophy Presentation which preceded the big night of boxing likely helped the event.  The lead-in is one of the reasons why Top Rank decided to move to ESPN.  Lomachenko-Rigondeaux was a marquee matchup from the time it was announced and it received major hype from boxing community and many casuals were interested.  Without knowing the UFC or Bellator numbers, its clear this event was the main viewership for combat sporting events on Saturday night.

Arbitration could determine boxer Trout’s Ali Act claim

December 8, 2017

Although not given enough publicity, the lawsuit filed by Austin Trout against the World Boxing Organization which was moved to U.S. federal court in Puerto Rico continues with the WBO attempting to move the case to arbitration while Trout seeking to maintain it in federal court.

Notably, Trout claims damages for violations of the Muhammad Ali Act, Breach of Contract and Fraud.  The lawsuit was originally filed in November 2015 in New Mexico state court.  It was then removed to New Mexico federal court in February 2016 and then moved for dismissal for improper venue as it argued that the case should be in Puerto Rico where the WBO operates and pursuant to the “Contract Venue Provision” in the contract Trout had with the organization.  Although the Court denied this motion for dismissal, the WBO filed a Motion to Transfer venue to Puerto Rico in August 2016.  In July 2017, the federal court in New Mexico transferred the case to Puerto Rico.

After requesting that the lawsuit be moved to Puerto Rico, the WBO moved to compel arbitration of the matter citing the contract Trout signed with the promotion.  Trout’s attorney argued that the Ali Act claim is based on federal legislation and could not be decided by an arbitration.  It would not be a claim encompassing what was contemplated when resolving a dispute with arbitration.

Trout’s attorneys argue that the WBO never indicated that in its pleadings prior to the Motion to Compel Arbitration that it contemplated moving the case to arbitration.  Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution outside of the court system.  It is decided by one or more arbitrators that renders an arbitration award that is usually binding and cannot be appealed.

The WBO cites Section 35(e) which states that Arbitrations pursuant to the laws of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Arbitration Act is the sole remedy for grievances.  This would be a binding Arbitration which means there would be no means for appeal.

Section 35(e) as cited by the WBO in its briefing:

All WBO participants acknowledge and agree that the mandatory resort to the WBO appeals regulations is the sole and exclusive remedy for any claim, appeal, grievance or contest that arises from any right or status that is or could be subject to these regulations or which result or could result from or relate to the interpretation of application of these regulations. These WBO Grievance Committee determinations are Arbitrations within the contemplation of the arbitration laws of Puerto Rico, 32 LPRA § 3201 et. seq. and the U.S. Arbitration Act, Title 9 of the United States Code and the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration of July 30, 1975 and the convention on the recognition and enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards, June 10, 1958. All WBO participants stipulate and agree that the nature of the sport requires a prompt, final, and uniform resolution of all disputes concerning application of these regulations by a tribunal experienced with the application of these Regulations and with a special knowledge and experience in world championship professional boxing.

The WBO argues that Trout’s claims “come within the compass of an arbitration clause.”

On November 30th, Trout filed a sur-reply in opposition to the motion.  A sur-reply is an additional reply to a motion filed after the motion has already been fully briefed.  In general, courts frown up these types of briefs because they are not requested by the court and creates more work that many believe is unnecessary.

Nevertheless, the additional brief cites that the contract venue clause contained in the WBO contract governs the forum in the present case and thus should stay in the court system.

The pertinent contract language according to Trout is Section (d).

Section 35(d) of the WBO Championship Regulations states:

These Regulations are to be interpreted in conformity with the Laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. All WBO participants agree and consent that the exclusive venue for any or all action in which the WBO is made a party, whether it is to enforce, interpret or declare the application of these Regulations or to appeal from any determination of the WBO, including, but not limited to a determination of the Complaints and Grievance Committee, may be maintained only in the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or, if applicable, in the U.S. District Court for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The WBO advocates that it’s the arbitration clause and not where the case should be litigated governs this issue:

The clauses here are not mutually exclusive. One clause—Section 35(d)—dictates applicable law and a chosen location for possible lawsuits involving WBO, and the other—Section 35(e)—dictates the selected procedure for disputes regarding WBO regulations.

The organization also claims that it has not waived its right to arbitrate.  It contends that there is no trial date and despite the fact that the lawsuit was filed in 2015, the delay in litigation of the case was due to securing proper venue and jurisdiction.  It also argues that the Ali Act violation claimed by Trout is subject to arbitration.

Of course, the argument by Trout’s side is that Section 35 (e) relates to “disputes regarding WBO regulations.”  The Ali Act, according to Trout, is outside the contemplated WBO regulations.  This would be a strong argument to keep it in federal court.

Payout Perspective:

This will be an interesting lawsuit to monitor due to the Ali Act claim.  Trout’s attorneys claim that the WBO had not brought up the issue of moving to compel when moving the jurisdiction and then venue.  But, this argument is not persuasive of whether or not the claims should be arbitrated per the contract.

If the court grants the motion, we could see an arbitration panel deal with an Ali Act claim (barring a motion to dismiss the claim prior to arbitration) and make a final determination on it which might be something of first impression.  The argument that the claims are from federal legislation (i.e., Ali Act) and not related to the WBO Rules is the strongest argument against arbitration.  MMA Payout will continue to follow.

Pacquiao courts McGregor for possible April boxing match

December 8, 2017

Manny Pacquiao has reached out to Conor McGregor for a potential boxing match in April 2018.  Pacquiao has not fought since July when he was upset by welterweight Jeff Horn.

McGregor is one of several opponents Pacquiao is considering but it is the biggest name and probably the biggest payday.

Pacquiao was scheduled for a rematch with Horn in November of this year but the fight was called off after the Filipino fighter’s duty’s as a politician conflicted with the anticipated fight date.  Horn is scheduled to fight Gary Corcoran on December 13th in Brisbane to defend his WBO World Welterweight title which he won from Pacquiao.

McGregor was stopped in a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather this past August.  It was the biggest PPV of all time for combat stops and commanded one of the richest paydays for both Mayweather and McGregor.

Although Pacquiao has reached out, there are no details or formal discussions of an actual fight being set up.

Payout Perspective:

It’s ironic to say that this fight may be a “money grab” for Pacquiao.  The former number 1 boxer in the world is on the downside of his career and may be looking for a couple big paydays before he retires.  For McGregor, he is seeking more money from wherever it may come: boxing or MMA.  A matchup with Pacquiao might give him a fight in Croke Park.  Pacquiao traveled to Australia to fight Horn in front of his home fans and it would make sense that if both parties wanted to fight, McGregor would have more leverage in these negotiations based on the money he was able to draw versus Mayweather.

In all honesty, it’s sad to see Pacquiao hanging on for paydays like this.  But from a business perspective, it would bring the most money for the fighter at this point in his career.

GSP vacates Middleweight title allowing Whittaker-Rockhold fight for title

December 7, 2017

Georges St Pierre has stepped aside and relinquished the UFC middleweight title after winning it last month in New York.  The UFC announced the news in conjunction with the main event set for UFC 221 in Perth, Australia between Robert Whittaker and Luke Rockhold this February.

GSP becomes the first UFC fighter to vacate two UFC titles.  He gave up the welterweight belt after he took a leave of absence from the company following his fight against Johny Hendricks in November 2013.

Whittaker earned the interim title in July when he defeated Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 213.  Rockhold, a former title holder, dropped the belt to Michael Bisping in June 2016.  He returned to the Octagon in September 2017 and defeated David Branch.

Payout Perspective:

The optics of GSP decision does not look good for either the UFC or St Pierre although its best for business.  The Bisping fight served as nothing more as a handpicked fight for GSP to “ease” back into the UFC without the need to cut down to 170 in his first fight back.  But, with winning the belt, he saw no easy road in defending the belt with the likes of Whittaker, Rockhold, Romero and Weidman waiting for a title shot.  With the UFC lobbying against the Ali Act Expansion, this matchmaking is what proponents of the bill are seeking to stop.  A fight made without care for the rankings.  There’s no real reason for making GSP-Bisping aside from GSP wanting the fight and the UFC needing a huge draw to attract PPV ratings for its New York event.

With its debut in Perth, the company gets a very good main event with the local fighter Whittaker taking on the former champ.

Rousey to test WWE waters?

December 6, 2017

According to MMA Junkie, it appears that Ronda Rousey’s next appearance will be in the WWE as the former UFC star is taking her talents to the pro wrestling ring.

Rousey has made an appearance at a Wrestlemania and admits to being a big wrestling fan.  Her friend, Shayna Baszler, is already a pro wrestler and recently signed with the company.  Rousey made an appearance at an NXT event earlier this year.  It is reported that she has been training at the WWE Performance Center in Florida.

Her longtime friend, Gene LeBell said that she may make occasional wrestling appearances as opposed to being on the full-time roster.  When Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE from his first stint with the UFC, he was on a part-time schedule which the company seems to accommodate for bigger stars.  Although Rousey is not a pro wrestling star, she certainly would be the type of personality that would command big money and star accommodations.

Payout Perspective:

Although nothing is confirmed, this move seems likely and the most sensible for Rousey if she still wanted to be involved in “combat sports.”  While she has tried out acting, she could utilize her MMA/Judo and entertainment background in pro wrestling while making good (and likely better) money.

Court allows discovery to continue in part in Mark Hunt lawsuit

December 6, 2017

The Court in the Mark Hunt lawsuit has ordered that discover to continue with respect to all claims except for his RICO claims in his First Amended Complaint until the determination of the Motion to Dismiss filed by Zuffa/Dana White and Brock Lesnar.

The 3-page ruling indicated that discovery (requests for documents and answering of questions) related to Hunt’s RICO claims against the UFC and White.  However, the other claims including breach of contract and battery (for Brock Lesnar) may proceed forward.

Order on Motion to Stay Discovery in part in Hunt case by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The Court notes the changes made from the original Complaint from the First Amended Complaint including changes in the breach of contract claim and the battery claim.  According to the case law cited by the Court, it may stay discovery from a “preliminary peek,” initially a cursory scan of the Motion to Dismiss to determine whether it might win on the merits and dismiss the need for discovery.

The Court was not convinced from its “preliminary peek” at the motion to dismiss that it will certainly be granted for all claims.

Payout Perspective:

If you think the peek is awkward because it provides foresight into a potential outcome of the actual motion, you are not alone.  However, this is the legal authority that is followed.  A minor win for Hunt as this might precipitate a settlement between the parties so that the UFC will not have to spend money on discovery.  Yet, the Court may decide the Motion to Dismiss at any point.  One might suspect that since the Order was issued for the stay in December for a motion to stay that took place in July, it may take more time for the Court to decide the Motion to Dismiss.

Cotto retirement fight scores 944K on HBO

December 5, 2017

Miguel Cotto’s retirement fight against Sadam Ali drew 944,000 viewers on HBO Saturday night according to Nielsen.  The fight peaked with over 1 million viewers as fans saw Ali score a major upset over Cotto in his final fight.

Via ShowBuzz Daily, the fight drew 0.34 in the Adult 18-49 demo and 0.42 in Males 18-49 during the 12-round fight.  The fight peaked at 1,012,000 viewers.

The other fight of the telecast saw Ray Vargas defeat Oscar Negrete.  The win for Vargas drew 697,000 viewers and 0.23 in the Adult 18-49 demo.  It peaked with 697,000 viewers watching the fight.

Payout Perspective:

Only Terrence Crawford’s win over Felix Diaz this past May did better in peak viewership than Cotto’s last fight.  It was a very entertaining bout despite the feeling that Cotto would outclass his opponent.  The event went up against the UFC 218 PPV and viewership was fairly high which may mean that boxing fans tuned in due to it being Cotto’s last fight.

UFC 218 Prelims draw 694,000 viewers on FS1

December 5, 2017

The UFC 218 Prelims drew 694,000 viewers Saturday night on FS1 according to Nielsen.

According to ShowBuzz Daily, it drew 0.26 in A18-49 demo.  The event fetured Charles Oliviera and Paul Felder.  The Irish Dragon defeated DoBronx via tap to strikes.

The event also featured one of the fights of the year as Yancy Medeiros scored an upset victory over Cowboy Alex Oliveira.

UFC 218 took place at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, Michigan.

Payout Perspective:

The Prelims rating is a usual indicator of how the PPV will do and based on this outcome, we might expect something in the mid-150s.  The PPV Prelims did air against College Football Championship Saturday with the Big 10 and ACC Championship games on the same time.  The good news for the UFC is that last December’s PPV later replayed on Fox on Christmas Eve and scored surprisingly good ratings.  This was a good PPV card and if you throw in Cowboy-Yancy, it could do well on Fox again.

Bellator 189 draws 439,000 viewers on Spike

December 4, 2017

Bellator 189 drew 439,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event featured Julia Budd defending her Featherweight championship against Arlene Blencowe.  It was Budd’s first title defense as she defeated Blencowe for the second time.

The event took place in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC edged out Bellator on Friday night with its TUF Finale.  Bellator ratings were down slightly from last week’s event in Israel.  The event did not draw as much interest as the UFC which might be due in part to the TUF season and the lack of promotion for the Bellator event.  This is the 6th event this year which has drawn less than 500,000 viewers.

 

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