TUF 27 Episode 7 draws 275,000 viewers on FS1

May 31, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter episode 7 drew the highest ratings of its season with 275,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night.

There was no fight on the telecast as Team Cormier’s Richie Smullen suffered a leg cramp and could not fight Team Miocic’s Allan Zuniga.  He was forced to withdraw and give Zuniga the win by DQ.  More bad news for Team Cormier in this episode as Ricky Steele was forced to withdraw from the tournament after he was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms.

The telecast drew 0.10 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

Payout Perspective:

275,000 viewers doesn’t seem like a huge audience, but it is for this season.  Last spring’s TUF 25 drew 372,000 viewers and TUF 26 scored 316,000 viewers.  As you can tell, the live +SD ratings are gradually decreasing.

Plaintiffs file Reply Brief supporting class certification in Antitrust lawsuit

May 31, 2018

The Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit have filed its Reply Brief in support of its motion for class certification.

Plaintiffs Reply ISO of Class Certification by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Zuffa Oppo to Class Cert by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The four factors for class action certification are the number of potential members of a class, the commonality of questions of law or fact, the typicality of the claims or defenses of the class and the adequacy of the representative classes.  In its, opposition brief, Zuffa took aim at the four factors in concluding that Plaintiffs have not served

Plaintiffs stress “four fundamental errors” in its reply brief.

First, Zuffa errs that there can be no legal challenge to its business practices.  Plaintiffs cite illegal conduct that allowed Zuffa an advantage in its industry.  The Plaintiffs rebut Zuffa’s assertion that wage level is the only way to evaluate compensation citing that its use is a way to masks Zuffa’s abuse of monopsony power.  Again, this is the overarching argument between wage level which measures compensation in dollars versus wage share which measures compensation as a percentage of revenues.

Second, Plaintiffs argue that Zuffa misunderstands the antitrust violation which is a scheme to acquire and maintain monopsony power.

Third, plaintiffs claim that Zuffa failed to respond to the ways in which they show common impact.  Plaintiffs claim that common evidence was capable of proving widespread harm across a class, courts usually certify classes in antitrust cases.

Finally, Plaintiffs’ claims are typical of the class as it refutes Zuffa’s claim that challenges the typical damages may have left some proposed class members uninjured.  In refuting this argument, Plaintiffs argues that there is no law which must show all class members were harmed to satisfy the typicality requirement.

Zuffa also argues that since Plaintiffs are ex-fighters, they will not protect the interests of the current Fighters.  However, Plaintiffs cite case law stating that former employees may represent present employees.  Plaintiffs also cite the “transitory” nature of a fighters’ career.  Since they are independent contractors, it would be easy for Zuffa to insulate itself from a class action lawsuit as the promotion could release a fighter it believed would be part of a lawsuit.  Moreover, Plaintiffs argue that former fighters have less of a concern with retribution from the organization versus a current fighter bringing a lawsuit.

Payout Perspective:

As in most Reply Briefs, Plaintiffs support its initial motion while rebutting opposition from Zuffa’s response to the motion.  As will be one of the bigger issues in the “battle of the experts” is the calculation of damages through wage share or wage level.  Plaintiffs endorse the wage share model to determine whether fighter wages were suppressed through illegal conduct versus Zuffa’s claim that wage level should be used to evaluate whether there were any factors to show such illegal conduct on the part of Zuffa.  Of course, each version supported by the party helps their respective viewpoint.  The Reply addresses Dr. Singer’s expert report and his theory of Zuffa’s Foreclosure Share – the proportion of fighters subject to its exclusive contracts – affects its Wage Share.  Dr. Singer’s theory of liability model suggests that Zuffa’s Exclusive Contracts are part of an unlawful scheme which correlates with underpayment of fighters due to illegal foreclosure (i.e., the measure of damages).  MMA Payout will keep you updated.

Catching up with Zuffa’s Reply Briefing in Antitrust Lawsuit

May 30, 2018

As we prepare for another filing in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit this week, MMA Payout takes a look at the briefing in supporting the motion to exclude plaintiffs’ experts.

Earlier this month, Zuffa filed briefs in support of its Motion to Exclude the testimony of Dr. Andrew Zimbalist.  They seek to exclude the testimony pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and the Daubert case which allows the Court to determine whether certain expert testimony may be used at trial prior to trial.  The standard for admissibility is based on 5 factors which look to the scientific means of the method and whether they are generally accepted within the industry.  Zuffa argues that Dr. Zimbalist’s expert testimony as indicated in his submitted report conducted “no analysis and used no standards in his yardstick method.”

Zuffa Reply ISO Motion to Exclude Zimbalist by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Zuffa argues that there are standards for the ‘yardstick method’ which Dr. Zimbalist uses, but he chose not to do so.   Specifically, Zuffa argues that Dr. Zimbalist did not conduct an empirical analysis of product markets, business models, revenue sources, or inputs.  According to Zuffa, Dr. Zimbalist did not consider any of the other factors that must be assessed using the yardstick method including “demand conditions or whether the comparators stand in the same relative position in their markets.”

In its analysis, the Dr. Zimbalist is measuring damages by wage share.  However, Zuffa argues that this measure is not accurate since it neglects to use individual salaries.  Zuffa argues, “[i]t is highly speculative for Dr. Zimbalist to assume without foundation that these hundreds of negotiations would add up to a similar wage share as the contractually define wage shares collectively bargained by the unions in the comparator sports.”

Zuffa goes on in its brief to argue that Dr. Zimbalist’s comparison to boxing is premised on faulty data as he uses Golden Boy to measure the entire boxing industry.  Zuffa argues that Dr. Zimbalist utilized data from another’s expert report in Golden Boy’s lawsuit against Al Haymon without independently verifying the data.

Finally, it argues that Dr. Zimbalist’s expert reports do not support Dr. Hal Singer’s expert reports and analysis and vice versa.

In supporting its motion to exclude Dr. Singer, Zuffa argues once again that wage share is not an acceptable practice for measuring damages.  Specifically, Zuffa takes issue with a regression analysis performed by Dr. Singer in his model.  Zuffa argues that the expert report finds anticompetitive effect which “directly contradicts” the fact that actual compensation has increased.  Second, the regression analysis performed by Dr. Singer shows that there is no anticompetitive effect and there is no relationship between the conduct and actual wages.

Zuffa Reply ISO Motion to Exclude Dr. Singer by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The reply briefing to plaintiffs’ opposition to exclude their retained experts’ reports are based on the difference regarding wage share and actual wages.  The assertion by Zuffa is that “an analysis of wage share does not provide a reliable means of inferring anticompetitive effect, antitrust injury or damages because it cannot distinguish between a decrease in wage share as a result of the challenged conduct and a decrease as a result of legal and procompetitive business developments that increase overall revenues.”  Zuffa argues that there is no case law or economic literature supporting a regression analysis with wage share as a dependent variable inferring anticompetitive conduct.  Defendant also points out that the method would assume that a mandatory share of revenue is allocated for compensation. Yet, Zuffa compensates athletes based on “its perception of the athlete’s value and market forces, leading to a wide range of athlete compensation.”

Zuffa also argues that Dr. Singer’s reports do not show causality between his findings an the alleged anticompetitive conduct.  Zuffa claims that Dr. Singer’s regression analysis does not answer the key question of what proportion of increased revenues are attributable to athletes.  Rather, Dr. Singer relies upon economic theory which cannot replace Daubert standards according to Zuffa.

UFC Fight Night 130 draws 552,000 viewers Sunday on FS1

May 30, 2018

The main card for UFC Fight Night 130 Sunday morning/afternoon drew 552,000 viewers on FS1 according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The post-fight show on FS1 outdrew the morning prelims.

The post-fight show drew a 2018-high of 392,000 viewers and 0.14 in the A18-49 demo on FS1 Sunday afternoon.  The post-fight show aired for 24 minutes due to the overrun of the main card.

The main card featured Stephen Thompson taking on Darren Till with Till taking the victory.  The event drew 0.20 in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims, which began at 8:00 am on the west coast drew 308,000 viewers and 0.10 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Sunday morning’s event did better than last year’s Memorial Day Sunday event in Sweden as that event drew 496,000 viewers.  The post-fight show likely drew more eyes simply because it was on in the afternoon.  Also, The Indianapolis 500 may have taken away some viewers as it drew 4.91 million viewers on Sunday morning on ABC.

Bellator 200 draws 421,000 viewers on Paramount

May 29, 2018

Bellator 200 drew 426,000 viewers on Friday night on the Paramount network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The London event was taped delayed in North America despite the prelims airing live on Bellator.com.

In the main event, Gegard Mousasi won the Bellator Middleweight Championship with an impressive stoppage of Raphael Carvallho.  The Mirko Cro Cop-Roy Nelson fight scheduled to headline this card fell out due to a Cro Cop injury.

The prelim card was held on Bellator.com live although many in the United States had to stay off twitter and wait until Friday night to se the main card.

The card is the second-lowest rated first run telecast this year.

Payout Perspective:

This may be a case where the knowledge of the results of this event may have hurt the first run telecast on Paramount.  While many disregard DVR viewership, as some do with TUF ratings, this may be one to keep an eye on.  If you are a casual fan and knew of the results, you may have recorded the event to watch at a later point.

Ray Borg goes after former managers with commission complaint

May 29, 2018

MMA Junkie reports that Ray Borg has filed a complaint against the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department alleging that his former management team was never licensed as a coach or manager.  His former management team sued Borg for unpaid commissions.

Junkie has a copy of the Amended Complaint filed by Wild Bunch Management, LLC in the Second Judicial District Court in the State of New Mexico.  Borg filed an Answer to the Amended Complaint on May 16, 2018 per court records.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department oversees the state’s athletic commission and licenses athletic trainers.  Prior to his official court response, he filed the complaint with the commission claiming he committed multiple breaches of a management contract and was treated unfairly.

Payout Perspective:

The commission complaint is ancillary to the lawsuit filed by Borg’s former management although it seems like a scorched earth strategy as he claims in the complaint that his former manager held unsanctioned fights known as “smokers” illegally.  These claims are unlikely to deflect the claims made against Borg, but it will show that the flyweight is not the only one that may have been in the wrong.

AirAsia sponsorship activation includes UFC-branded plane

May 27, 2018

On Friday, the UFC announced a UFC branded livery ahead of UFC Fight Night Singapore.  The event will be presented by promotion sponsor AirAsia.  The aircraft is an AirAsia Airbus 330-300.

Via UFC press release:

UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, and AirAsia, sponsor of UFC and presenting sponsor of UFC® FIGHT NIGHT SINGAPORE: COWBOY VS EDWARDS presented by AirAsia, today launched the first UFC – branded livery on an AirAsia Airbus A330-300.

The aircraft is the first of its kind in the world to feature UFC branding and is sure to capture the attention of travelers all over the world.

“This exemplary partnership between UFC and AirAsia is a testament to the passion behind these two inspiring brands,” said UFC Vice President, International Marketing Partnerships, Rene Valencia. “Today is a momentous occasion, one that we are very proud of and we look forward as travelers embark on this magnificently branded AirAsia Airbus.”

The launch was witnessed by no. 5-ranked lightweight athlete, Kevin Lee, who was in town to promote UFC® FIGHT NIGHT SINGAPORE: COWBOY vs. EDWARDS presented by AirAsia happening on June 23.  At the launch, Lee said, “This is incredible. Having this aircraft branded UFC is unreal – it’s amazing that AirAsia have taken their sponsorship integration to this level.”

AirAsia Group Head of Branding Rudy Khaw added: “We are pleased to unveil this special livery as the Official Airline of the UFC in Asia. Fight fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of UFC to Singapore, and we are thrilled to be able to present Cowboy vs Edwards for their enjoyment.”

Speaking of the launch, Vice President of Asia Pacific at UFC Kevin Chang said: “This is a special moment for our valued partner AirAsia and UFC. We’re committed to growing the brand and sport in Asia, and this collaborative partnership will continue to help us do that. We have a Fight Night in Singapore in less than a month, and this branded aircraft will add to the excitement of fans traveling there.”

Payout Perspective:

This is Air Asia’s first big sponsorship activation, as it gets ready for next month’s UFC Fight Night where it is the presenting sponsor.  The aircraft is a nice touch that will gain a lot of visibility at airports as it travels throughout Asia.  This is significant for the UFC as it attempts to expand in the region.

 

UFC Fight Night 130 attendance, gate and bonuses

May 27, 2018

UFC Fight Night 130 took place Sunday morning in North America as the promotion went to Liverpool, England.  There were no Fight of the Nights as 4 fighters received the $50,000 Performance Bonuses.

Tom Breese, Darren Stewart, Claudio Henrique da Silva and Arnold Allen earned the “Performance of the Night” Bonuses.

The event took place at The Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.  There were 8,520 in attendance and a gate of $1.3 million.

The UFC announced the attendance, gate and bonuses post-event Sunday.

Payout Perspective:

It was not an exciting morning of fights and the main event of Darren Till and Stephen Thompson was more strategic than action-intensive.  Going up opposite the Indianapolis 500, we shall see how much this will affect the ratings.

UFC issues statement on Nick Diaz

May 27, 2018

The UFC has issued a statement on Nick Diaz in light of his arrest in Las Vegas on Thursday night related to domestic violence allegations.

Via UFC.com:

“UFC is aware of the recent arrest of middleweight athlete, Nick Diaz. The organization does not tolerate domestic violence and requires all athletes to adhere to the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. Every athlete is deserving of due process and this situation, as with any official allegations, will be duly reviewed and thoroughly investigated by an independent party.”

Payout Perspective:

Despite not being active, Diaz is one of the more popular figures in the UFC.  The UFC understands this and it will be interesting to see how this issue is handled.  While there are rumors of the incident surfacing, its ultimately up to legal authorities in Vegas as to whether there is enough information to prosecute Diaz.  The UFC will give Diaz the benefit of the doubt, but there should be a point where the company must draw a line.

 

 

Nick Diaz arrested on charges of domestic battery

May 25, 2018

Nick Diaz has been arrested in Las Vegas on charges of domestic battery by strangulation and misdemeanor domestic battery.  The alleged victim was female.

According to a report from MMA Junkie, 12 units were dispatched to the scene on Thursday evening and Diaz was combative with officers during his arrest.  A bail hearing is scheduled for Saturday morning at 9:00am.

Diaz has just come off of a one-year suspension from USADA for a whereabouts violation of the UFC anti-doping policy.

Payout Perspective:

The Saturday morning hearing is due to his constitutional right to have one 48 hours after an arrest.  If the reports are true, Diaz becomes another UFC fighter with a criminal record.  This one will come with a lot more scrutiny since it is related to domestic violence.  Although the UFC has seemingly overlooked Greg Hardy’s past, we will see what happens with Diaz.  He’s been a popular figure despite his abrasive behavior, but this latest episode seems to be different.

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