NLRB sends Smith case to D.C. for further review

June 30, 2018

Leslie Smith’s chances with the National Labor Relations Board filing a lawsuit on her behalf against Zuffa may have taken a detour after the Regional board was instructed to send the case to Washington D.C. for review by the Division of Advice.

On Friday, Smith’s attorney, Lucas Middlebrook announced that the NLRB Investigation on Zuffa based on Leslie Smith’s Charging Letter had merit and would file a complaint against Zuffa in Federal District Court.  Under 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act, the NLRB could file an injunction against Zuffa which would likely prohibit the company from designating its contracted athletes as independent contractors and make them statutory employees.

Still, in that scenario, Zuffa would have an opportunity to defend itself in Court and oppose an injunction and file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

But, late Friday night, Middelbrook stated that post-decision, Region 4 had been instructed to send the case to D.C. for review.  He opined that this was a favor done by the Republican-led NLRB to the UFC.  As you recall, Dana White and President Donald Trump are friends.  There is no timetable on how long it would take for the Board of Advice to get through with its review.

According to its web site, the Board of Advice, “provides guidance to the General Counsel and to the Regional Officers with respect to difficult or novel legal issues arising in processing of unfair labor practice charges. It determines whether charges have merit and, if so, what legal theories should be advanced in support.”

Payout Perspective:

Its an unfortunate turn of events for those rooting for Smith and her cause.  What this means is that despite a green light from the regional office, it was recommended to send to D.C. for further review.  So, while an initial determination was made, it seems as though someone thought it needed another set of eyes.  Could this case get buried and not be heard of a while?  Likely.  Middlebrook told MMA Fighting that it was in a “holding pattern” at this point.  This is not good news for those wishing for swift justice which appeared to be the timeline as Smith filed her letter with the NLRB in May and a determination was made one month later.  Now, we could be waiting months to see when a complaint will be filed.  Or if it will be filed.

NLRB to file complaint against Zuffa based on evidence submitted by Leslie Smith

June 29, 2018

Region 4 of the National Labor Relations Board has determined that Leslie Smith’s labor case against the UFC has merit and will be filing a complaint against the UFC unless a settlement is brokered.  The lawsuit will indeed include a request by the NLRB for an injunction.

According to Smith’s attorney, Lucas Middlebrook, the NLRB investigator determined that there was merit to her Charging Letter filed in May which questioned her work status as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee of Zuffa.

Middlebrook told MMA Fighting that he was informed by the NLRB investigator that the complaint will be filed in about a month.  The court, not the administrative law judge, will determine whether an injunction will be granted.

There are three types of injunctions:  a temporary injunction, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction.  It would appear that the NLRB would seek a temporary injunction which would last until the end of the case in which point they would seek a more permanent form of relief (here, the change of status of UFC athletes from independent contractors to employers.)  Permanent injunctions are just what you think of, a permanent halt to the practice (in this case, labeling UFC athletes as independent contractors).  A temporary injunction could be obtained immediately upon filing of a lawsuit and a request from the moving party.

Payout Perspective:

This is a big win for Smith as the NLRB will likely seek a temporary injunction which will upset the status quo of the company’s independent contract athletes.  If nothing else, the decision to go forward with a Complaint against Zuffa will cast a light on the UFC practice.  It does not mean that the NLRB (and Smith) will prevail at the end, but it does show that the case had merit and the NLRB is willing to devote resources to it.

TUF 27 Episode 11 draws 156,000 viewers on FS1

June 28, 2018

The penultimate episode of The Ultimate Fighter 27 drew 156,000 viewers on Friday on Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The 11th episode featured the coaches challenge which featured Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic in a hockey shootout.  The fight of the episode saw Team Cormier’s Joe Giannetti submit Team Miocic’s Allan Zuniga.  Giannetti advances to the final July 6th at the TUF Finale.

Ep        Live                 Live+3

1          201,000           298,000

2          186,000           296,000

3          246,000           366,000

4          207,000           357,000

5          176,000           362,000

6          196,000           398,000

7          275,000           437,000

8          248,000           443,000

9          290,000           462,000

10        219,000           402,000

11         156,000

Payout Perspective:

The 11th episode fell off from the past several episodes which hovered around the mid-200s.  The 156,000 is the lowest this season and shows that the season is starting to wear down.  Fortunately, the final episode is next week.

50 Cent says he sold trademark to Bellator for $1 million

June 28, 2018

Did Curtis Jackson really sell a catchphrase to Bellator for $1 million?  If so, it would be his best business deal since he invested in Vitamin Water.  But, likely it’s a ruse to get MMA fans to talk about Bellator.

Jackson posted on social media (and reported by MMA Junkie) that he met with Scott Coker and made the transaction.  The reason?  Jackson, who has been using the hashtag “Get the Strap” in social media posts claims that he has sold the trademark phrase to Bellator for use on t-shirts, etc.

l did a deal today l sold (get the strap) for a million dollars to Viacom’s Bellator. So you will see lt on some cooler clothing shortly. 👀see how l make something out of nothing. LOL

A post shared by 50 Cent (@50cent) on

It is true that Jackson has applied for the trademark “Get the Strap” in a class of goods for clothing, “namely T-Shirts, Sweathshirts; Hats.”  Jackson filed for the phrase with the USPTO on April 17, 2018.  With the filing of the mark so recent, there has not been a determination by a USPTO examiner as to whether or not his mark would be approved.  Moreover, there’s no transaction listed that Bellator owns the mark.  The owner is listed as Curtis Jackson.

It does appear that 50 will be involved with Bellator in some way, or at least, he would like to be based on the below tweet regarding the promotion’s latest deal with DAZN.

Payout Perspective:

It looks like Jackson will be a part of Bellator in some way or another.  Whether or not he sold the mark to Bellator is another question for the promotion really.  Why would you buy (or likely pay for a license) for a catchphrase that hasn’t even proven to be notable?  At this point, its not clear if the mark will be cleared by the USPTO as it must go through a process that will take several months and may meet opposition.  For instance, the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights dealt with opposition over its name and the dispute went on throughout the hockey season and was not resolved until the Stanley Cup.  If Bellator has paid Jackson to license the catchphrase, you have to give it to the rapper for his business acumen.  He flipped a phrase without even a determination as to if he can be owner.  He just filed for it first.  But, perhaps not his real estate choices.

Holloway told UFC 223 trending over 1M PPV buys by White

June 27, 2018

Would UFC 223 have scored over 1 million PPV buys if Max Holloway remained in the main event against Khabib Nurmagomedov?  Dana White told the Featherweight champ this prior to his removal from the main event in Brooklyn.

Al Iaquinta filled in at last minute to face Khabib.  The event reported between 250,000 to 310,000 PPV buys.  Nurmagomedov easily handled Iaquinta to win the interim Featherweight title.

MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn reports that Holloway told him that prior to his removal, White indicated that it was trending to over 1 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

Do we believe White?  Probably not, since White is promoting not giving accurate estimates.  There are a lot of measures used to estimate PPV buy rate and its difficult to give a precise number since there are many variables leading up to an event.  So while most would not have agreed with White’s assessment, he may have had the data to suggest it was “trending” over a million.  More likely, it was a motivational tool for Holloway to keep working.  Yet, these types of tactics do not seem fair to athletes.

WWE announces SmackDown Live deal with Fox Sports

June 26, 2018

The WWE announced its upcoming rights deal with Fox Sports with SmackDown Live starting on FOX Friday night October 4, 2019 according to a company press release.  The deal with Fox Sports more than triples the fees it was receiving in its prior deal with NBC Universal.

The show, which currently airs on the USA Network, will remain a 2-hour show airing year-round.

“WWE and FOX are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage FOX’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”

The announcement is part of a new 5-year deal with Fox Sports.  In addition, it signed a deal with Comcast Corp.’s USA Network for Raw to remain on the Network.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement confirms that Smackdown Live will be on network television in 2019.  The news of the deal with Fox Sports last month boosted WWE stock.  Smackdown Live on network television is an even bigger coup for the company as its business continues to ascend.  The clamor for live content has made this round of rights fees for the WWE a bounty of riches as it adjusted its annual average rights fees from $468 million as compared to the $130 million in its previous deal for its two key programs.

Bellator announces deal with sport streaming service DAZN

June 26, 2018

Bellator announced a 9-figure, multi-year deal with sport stream service DAZN on Tuesday.  The deal will feature 7 exclusive stacked fight cards per year on DAZN and another 15 that will be simulcast on Paramount Network and DAZN.

DAZN will launch in the U.S. and Italy in 2018 according a press release.  It is already live in Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan.

“The investment will enable us to continue expanding our roster with free agents that make sense, so we can put on PPV-worthy fight cards that fans want to see. Plus, on DAZN’s worldwide platform, our fights will be seen live for the first time to new audiences around the globe,”  said Bellator President Scott Coker.

The deal begins on Saturday, September 29th in San Jose as Bellator kicks off its Welterweight Grand Prix.  Also, Gegard Mousasi takes on Rory MacDonald for the Bellator Middleweight Title.  Also, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson takes on Wanderlei Silva in their 4th fight.

Payout Perspective:

Last month, DAZN and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing announced a deal worth $1 billion in rights fees over 8 years.  The move sought to make inroads into the U.S. market.  With news of the Bellator deal, its clear DAZN wants to be a player in the OTT landscape in the U.S.  How will consumers react when most have tried, and no longer subscribe to UFC Fight Pass and ESPN +.  Much will determine on the price point and the types of events held on the platform.  For Bellator, it’s a great move

Claressa Shields latest fight draws 376,000 viewers on Showtime

June 25, 2018

Showtime Boxing Friday night drew a telecast high of 376,000 viewers for the main event featuring Claressa Shields and Hanna Gabriels.

The “special edition” featured Shields as she defeated Gabriels in T-Rex’s first real challenge in her young pro career.  In addition, the first bout of the telecast featured Umar Salamov taking on Brian Howard.  Salamov won via TKO in the 9th round.  The event drew 205,000 viewers.

The second fight of the night featured Christina Hammer as she took on Tori Nelson. Hammer won via TKO to retain her 160 pound women’s title.  The fight drew 292,000 viewers.  Hammer’s victory sets up an eventual matchup with Shields.

Payout Perspective:

Shields’ last fight against Tori Nelson drew 320,000 viewers on Showtime so this is an improvement.  The viewership may have seen a slight uptick since the UFC aired on Fight Pass earlier in the day and there was no other boxing event on the schedule to compete.  This helps an eventual showdown with Hammer in the future.

UFC Fight Night 132 attendance, gate and bonuses

June 24, 2018

UFC Fight Night 132 took place in Singapore early Saturday for most viewing on UFC Fight Pass in North America.  The event drew 6,419 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.  It was the third time that the promotion has visited the country.

No gate was announced post-event by UFC officials.

Bonuses were awarded to Ovince Saint Preux, Song Yadong, Shane Young and Rolando Dy.  OSP earned his $50,000 bonus for a straight arm bar submission of Tyson Pedro. Yadong stopped Felipe Arantes in the second round.  Fight of the Night went to Young and Dy who had a back and forth fight until Young’s pressure forced Dy to drop after a flurry of punches.

Payout Perspective:

Yves Edwards earned the victory over Cowboy Cerrone in the main event of the card.  I’m a little surprised that there were not more in attendance for the event.  Still, those receiving bonuses definitely earned them.

UFC sponsoring Outsports LGBTQ Pride March in New York

June 22, 2018

MMA Fighting reports that the UFC is sponsoring the LGBTQ Pride March in New York for SBNation web site Outsports.  It is the presenting sponsor of the Outsports NYC Price March.

Outsports covers LBTQ athletes and is a sister-site of MMA Fighting and Bloody Elbow.

Tecia Torres, Nina Ansaroff and Sijara Eubanks will be part of the march this weekend.  All 3 are openly gay.

Payout Perspective:

The sponsorship for the event makes sense considering the number of openly gay athletes in the UFC.  Perhaps there’s a scheduling issue but I’m surprised Amanda Nunes is not a part of the event.  Ansaroff and Nunes are engaged.  Torres also is dating fellow UFC fighter Raquel Pennington.  A couple years ago, the UFC made an effort to reach out to the LGBTQ community and its nice to see them lend their support once again.

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