NAC give Calvillo 3 more months in addition to USADA suspension

March 14, 2018

Cynthia Calvillo received an additional three-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission per MMA Junkie.  She was fined 15 percent of her disclosed $41,000 purse ($6,150) in addition to $436.08 in attorney’s fees.

USADA suspended Calvillo six-months for an in-competition drug test at UFC 219 that revealed marijuana metabolites in excess of the allowable limit of 180 ng/mL.  However, she was still subject to discipline from the NAC

She must now submit a clean drug test for steroids and diuretics 30, 15 and three days prior to receiving another fight license in Nevada.

Under the USADA suspension, her discipline would have been able to be reduced by three months if she had taken a drug education course.

Payout Perspective:

The additional suspension identifies an issue with double jurisdiction.  Even if Calvillo were to complete an approved drug course from USADA, thus reducing her suspension, the question of whether she can apply for a license in Nevada sooner may be in an issue. According to the Junkie article, she cannot apply for another license until September 30th.  Or, can she fight within 6 months in any state aside from Nevada?  The additional 3 months and fines also reflect the stance Nevada has on the use of marijuana which in itself is controversial.


ESPN scores highest cable boxing ratings in 2018 thus far

March 14, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew over 1 million viewers for its Saturday night telecast featuring Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg scored 1,082,000 on Saturday night.

The 123-minute telecast drew a 0.37 rating in the A18-49 demo.  According to Nielsen, the Andy Vences-Erick De Leon fight was the highest-rated boxing event on cable for 2018 with a 0.8 share.

The lead-in for Top Rank Boxing on ESPN was the ACC conference championship tournament game between North Carolina and Virginia which led to the highest-rated show on cable TV for Saturday night with over 3.4 million viewers.

(h/t:  ShowBuzz Daily)

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, the ESPN deal is helping Top Rank with exposure of its product.  The ratings for its programming are aided by the lead-ins.  This time around it was the ACC Championship game featuring two top programs which likely helped keep people tuned into the next thing on ESPN that night.  Saturday night exemplified this affect since for most casual fans, we did not know these fighters.  It did go up against Showtime’s event which aired at about the same time but it fared much better.

Smith talks Project Spearhead in SBJ article

March 12, 2018

The Sports Business Journal reports on Leslie Smith and her efforts to organize UFC fighters with Project Spearhead.  The effort “by fighters, for fighters,” seeks to collect enough signatures by fighters to obtain an National Labor Relations Board vote to determine the fighter employment states.

Via SBJ:

In order for the NLRB to look at the issue, Project Spearhead must collect cards from fighters representing 30 percent of the UFC roster, or roughly 200 of the organization’s more than 600 fighters. That will give the group what is known as “a showing of interest,” which will meet the threshold for the NLRB to determine whether or not the fighters are employees. Project Spearhead was launched in February and the group has a year to collect the necessary cards.

The article explains why this effort will be different from those that had come and gone in recent memory including the Professional Fighters’ Association which indicated is no longer active.  Smith and current outside counsel Lucas Middlebrook were previously associated with this group.  Also, the MMAAA which included Bjorn Rebney as an advisor and Georges St Pierre and Cain Velasquez as members has not been active as well.  This leaves the MMAFA as the only other group seeking to organize fighters.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how these efforts will go.  Smith, Kajan Johnson and Al Iaquinta are the three fighters that are leading Project Spearhead.  While social media has seen some fighters voice their support, we will see how many actually sign on for this effort and then the bigger issue will be whether they will vote to be considered as employees.


ESPN Top Rank Boxing Saturday night scores highest overnights this year

March 11, 2018

Saturday night’s ESPN Top Rank event drew the highest overnight ratings (in terms of market rating) for 2018 according to the network.  It was the prelim fight between Andy Vences and Arick De Leon that scored a 0.8 metered market rating.

Last week’s Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz drew a 0.7 rating on Showtime and 1.055M viewers.    The main event of Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg drew a 0.7 rating.

The visual spectacle of the fights fought outside under a canopy while rain came down in Southern California was nice.

The ratings will come out on Monday.

Payout Perspective:

It was a pretty big night on Saturday with an event on Showtime and the ESPN event.  The Valdez-Quigg fight was especially entertaining with Valdez earning the unanimous decision.  One might expect the ESPN fights to draw over 1 million viewers based on the market share according to ESPN.

Cro Cop’s end around his USADA drug suspension

March 10, 2018

Should Cro Cop have served his USADA suspension in full?

Bellator announced that Mirko Cro Cop would be facing Roy Nelson at Bellator 200 in London on May 25th.  Cro Cop “retired” in November 2015 in lieu of serving a two-year ban for violations of the UFC’s anti-doping program.  Cro Cop admitted to the use, attempted use and possession of human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test.  He was eventually released from the company.

But, Cro Cop did not retire, and in fact fought for Rizin FF in Japan.  Despite the inference that the USADA ban would be honored by other promotions and athletic regulators, it has not happened.

According to an MMA Junkie article, it’s still unclear on whether there will be an issue with Cro Cop obtaining a license.  Association of Boxing Commissions and Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation president Mike Mazzulli noted that he still considers Crop Cop “in the process of being licensed, and therefore subject to immediate drug tests.”  Yet, that does not answer the question about the USADA suspension.  Mohegan will be the regulator for Bellator in May for the London event.  It’s not clear as to if a fighter sits out a sanction but fights in an unregulated promotion, then comes back after the time of the sanction if they must adhere to the remaining time suspended.

Mazulli assumes that if they are able to drug test Cro Cop, the commission is likely to view the suspension served.

Payout Perspective:

Cro Cop’s suspension was issued in 2015 and since its March 2018, one might argue that the USADA suspension has been served.  Or has it?  Cro Cop was active during the two-year period in which he was supposed to be inactive.  So, we see the end-around with drug testing.  While one might not think this is an issue, it could come to a head with Bellator as more and more past-UFC fighters become available.  There is no consistent, regulatory drug-testing protocol or policy in place to deal with these issues.  While it is a product of the UFC’s proactive drug testing policy, Bellator must address what it will do in these grey areas.  Or, if it will not do anything at all.

Alliance MMA settles in principle with plaintiffs in securities lawsuit

March 10, 2018

The parties in the Alliance MMA lawsuit have filed a Notice of Settlement filed in the class action lawsuit filed in federal court in New Jersey.

The lawsuit was premised upon an accounting irregularity in Alliance MMA’s 10-Q filings in 2016 could no longer be relied upon.  As a result, two lawsuits were filed against the company with one being dismissed in order for the other to be the lead case in the litigation.

Alliance MMA became the first publicly traded MMA organization on the NASDAQ.  Since it began trading publicly, the company’s stock has been down since.  As of Friday, March 9th the stock closed in trading at just $0.52.

Alliance MMA denied any financial impact as a result of the error and brought a motion to dismiss in the lawsuit.  The parties determined to settle the case prior to plaintiffs filing an opposition.

The notice allows for a stay on a deadlines in the case while the parties finalize a settlement.  A settlement and dismissal of the case must occur by April 9th according to the below filing.

Notice of Settlement by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

The settlement is probably the best for both parties as the plaintiffs likely received compensation while Alliance MMA cut off the legal fee spigot.  We shall see what impact, if any, it has on the operations of Alliance MMA.  The company made changes in its C-suite and named a new president this past February.

USADA issues 6 month sanction for Calvillo

March 8, 2018

Cynthia Calvillo has accepted a six-month suspension from USADA for testing over the limit for marijuana in an in-competition test from UFC 219.  Her suspension may be reduced if the strawweight completes a USADA-approved drug awareness and management program.

The 30-year-old lost a close decision to Carla Esparza on December 30th.  Her in-competition drug test was flagged for marijuana or hashish metabolites.


Calvillo, 30, tested positive for Carboxy-THC, the pharmacologically-active metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected on December 30, 2017, at UFC 219 in Las Vegas, Nev. Marijuana and hashish are in the class of Cannabinoids and prohibited in-competition under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Cannabinoids are listed as Specified Substances on the WADA Prohibited List. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the standard sanction for an anti-doping policy violation involving a Specified Substance is a one-year period of ineligibility, which may be reduced depending on the athlete’s degree of fault.

Calvillo accepted a six-month period of ineligibility, which began on December 30, 2017, and may be reduced to a three-month period of ineligibility, pending the satisfactory completion of a USADA-approved drug awareness and management program. Calvillo’s positive test also falls under the jurisdiction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which may impose additional sanctions, including fines or a period of ineligibility that is longer than the period set forth above.

Payout Perspective:

This is a good outcome for Calvillo as she should be off of suspension by April if she decides to take USADA-approved drug awareness and management courses.  The issue of the use of marijuana is becoming a controversial subject with many taking it to recover from pain.  The fact that there is a threshold limit that is deemed acceptable should tell you that there is some tolerance from regulators regarding its use.

Bellator 195 peaked at 745,00 viewers

March 8, 2018

Bellator 195 peaked with 745,000 viewers on Friday night on the Paramount Network.

The event featured Darrion Caldwell’s defense of his featherweight title as he submitted Leonard Higo in the very first round.

The ratings are on par with the past three Bellator telecasts, none of which surpassed 500,000 viewers.  The peak viewership is on par with the last 3 as well.

Ion Cutelaba accepts 6-month USADA suspension for ozone therapy

March 8, 2018

Ion Cutelaba has been suspended 6 months by USADA after declaring the use of an alternative therapeutic treatment that is prohibited under certain routes of administration.

Via USADA release:

Cutelaba, 24, declared the use of ozone therapy on his doping control paperwork during out-of-competition tests conducted on October 18, 2017, and October 19, 2017. Ozone therapy is a treatment that can be administered in a variety of methods, some of which are prohibited under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Based on Cutelaba’s doping control paperwork, USADA contacted the athlete to request more information about the route of administration in order to establish whether the treatment was permissible. Cutelaba’s physician subsequently provided documentation indicating that the treatment was administered on October 3, 2017, and October 17, 2017, in a prohibited manner, as it involved a blood transfusion. The WADA Prohibited List prohibits the administration or reintroduction of blood or red blood cell products of any origin or quantity in the circulatory system, unless a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption has been obtained. While Cutelaba was unaware of the violation and declared the treatment on his doping control paperwork, he was unable to refute the documentation provided.

Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code, an athlete’s period of ineligibility for using a prohibited method may be reduced due to an individual’s voluntary admission of a violation and/or pursuant to an analysis of the athlete’s degree of fault for the anti-doping policy violation. Here, after taking both of those factors into consideration, USADA determined that a reduction to six-months from the standard two-year period of ineligibility was an appropriate sanction under the rules for Cutelaba’s violation.

Cutelaba’s six-month period of ineligibility began on November 3, 2017, the date he was provisionally suspended from competition. As a result of his violation, Cutelaba was previously removed from the Card for the UFC 217 event in New York City that was held on November 4, 2017.

Payout Perspective:

A modest suspension which ends in a couple months although it cost the 24-year-old a spot on UFC 217 in New York.  It’s clear that the blood transfusion given to Cutelaba was the primary issue and since there was not a TUE requested, there was a problem.  So, the issue is whether Cutelaba or his management knew the rules prior to the ozone therapy.

Show Money Episode 21 talks antitrust lawsuit, Project Spearhead and more

March 8, 2018

In this episode of Show Money we talk antitrust lawsuit, project spearhead and more with Paul Gift and John Nash of Bloody Elbow.

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