Garcia-Easter fight draws 680K on Showtime Saturday night

July 31, 2018

The Mikey Garcia-Robert Easter fight on Showtime Saturday night drew 680,000 viewers.  The fight peaked at 725,000 viewers.

The first fight of the evening saw Mario Barrios face Jose Roman.  The fight averaged 462,000 viewers and peaked at 530,000.  Barrios defeated Roman via TKO in the 9th round.

The second fight of the night saw another stoppage when heavyweight Luis Ortiz defeated Rozvan Cojanu in the second round via KO.  The fight averaged 583,000 and peaked at 606,000.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings for Garcia’s fight improved compared to his last fight on Showtime in March.  It was less than his Adrien Broner fight last July which drew 881,000 viewers.  But, Broner draws ratings for the network which might explain the higher-than-norm viewership for Showtime.  The network hopes that his popularity continues as the Staples Center crowd was behind the Mexican American boxer.

Zuffa files its Motion for Summary Judgment against former fighters in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit

July 31, 2018

On Monday, Zuffa filed its Motion for Summary Judgment against the Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit.  The filing argues that despite the lengthy and voluminous amount of discovery taken place, the former fighters have not provided factual evidence to support their antitrust claims.  It also argues that the expert opinion of the Plaintiffs should be excluded, and if not, they do not set forth evidence to establish a market, examine the correct wage comparison exhibiting losses and show causal injury.

Zuffa notes that it has filed Daubert motions which seek to exclude the testimony from Plaintiffs’ two economic experts.  If the court grants those motions, Plaintiffs will not have evidence of market definition, causation or damages.  Even without the court granting those motions, Zuffa argues that Plaintiffs’ allegations for monopolization and monopsonization must fail.  Zuffa argues that based on the testimony from rival organizations such as Bellator, PFL, OneFC and ACB that none had issues securing fighters and thus had the necessary inputs to compete.  The company argues that Plaintiffs changed its alleged “scheme” and omitted any monopoly claims.  The new theory is comprised of a “free floating” monopoly “broth” which comprises different allegations and Zuffa argues that the claims fail due to the lack of a sufficient input or output market.

Zuffa cites to the ruling in the Golden Boy-Al Haymon lawsuit in which Haymon won on summary judgment.  Essentially, Zuffa contends “Plaintiffs have not met their burden of proving an input market of buyers (where Zuffa competes with other promoters to acquire athletes’ service) or an output market of sellers (where Zuffa competes to offer sports entertainment to viewers).”

The motion attempts to poke holes at Dr. Hal Singer’s findings in its expert report supporting the former fighters’ argument for an “Elite MMA Fighter” market.  Zuffa argues, “Dr. Singer has not even attempted to define a market using the accept SSNIP [Significant Non-transitory Increase in Prices] test because he has not defined buying promoters to whom a price decrease by a monopsonist would cause a shift in business.”  It once again cites to the Golden Boy-Haymon opinion for the example where a product market for “Championship-Caliber Boxers” is not sustainable where expert fails “to analyze the qualifications or backgrounds of the current managers in the market.”  Zuffa states, “Dr. Singer merely uses the ranking data combined with his own subjective analysis to include or exclude athletes rather than promoters.”

Zuffa goes on to argue Dr. Singer’s definition of the output markets stating that the proper market definition is broader than just MMA and his expert opinion does not consider the reasonable substitutes.

In arguing that the court dismiss its Monopsonization Claim, Zuffa argues that the testimony from competing MMA promoters have access to the inputs needed to compete refutes the monopsony claim that the promotion is a “monopsony purchaser of athletes’ services.”

Zuffa brings across multiple examples of its promoters thriving despite it being a competitor in the same market.  Bellator’s recent “nine-figure deal” with DAZN to produce 22 annual events is used as evidence to argue that other promotions do not have barriers to entry.  They also cite to PFL’s recent deal with NBC Sports and One Championship’s boast that it broadcasts to “1.7 billion potential viewers across 138 countries.”

Scott Coker’s deposition testimony is quoted in the motion stating, “there’s not going to be a free agent fighter that Bellator can’t affor or have access to” to support the claim that other promotions are comparable to the UFC.

In addition, Zuffa claims that Plaintiffs have failed to evaluate the effect of the challenged conduct on actual compensation levels.  It claims that actual compensation for fighters rose during the Class Period in question.  This goes back to the overarching theme of “wage share” versus “wage level.”  Wage share is the total compensation as a percentage of relevant revenues whereas wage level are the actual wages. Here, Zuffa argues that wage share is an unacceptable measure of anticompetitive conduct because it would have the “practical effect of stifling companies’ innovation and investments for fear of incurring treble damages liability based on a lower than average wage share.”

One of the interesting arguments made by Zuffa is that it did not engage in exclusionary anticompetive conduct.  It claims it did not engage in “predatory hiring,” which is the hiring of talent for purposes of keeping them away form a competitor.  The motion denies that the UFC signed Gilbert Melendez and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira to prevent them from leaving for another organization as claimed by Plaintiffs.  It also mentions the “benching” (i.e., “forced periods of inactivity”) of three UFC athletes: Andrei Arlovski, Roger Huerta and another fighter which is redacted.

The motion also argues that Plaintiffs did not prove that Zuffa’s Exclusive Contracts Foreclose a “Substantial Share of Competition.”  Zuffa claims that Plaintiffs contention that the company’s 30-month exclusive fighter contract (including the right to match period) is illegal is wrong.  “Contrary to Dr. Singer’s assertion that 30-month exclusive contracts are unlawful, courts have routinely held that exclusive contracts even up to six years are not anticompetitive so long as there is sufficient opportunity to compete for each contract at the time it is signed.”

Motion for Summary Judgment by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout will continue to examine this motion as we have yet to talk about the plethora of exhibits which were attached to support it.  The arguments are similar to the ones made at the outset with its motion to dismiss. Zuffa’s introductory section which explains its success based on taking risks on the industry, its investment and its business acumen to get where it is today.

Zuffa stresses the competition in its motion utilizing evidence from testimony of its competitors to show that they are competing with the UFC and in certain instances have had no issues in attaining athletes similarly sought by the promotion.  This would seem to contradict the Plaintiffs argument that it had a monopsony over the market for “Elite Professional MMA Fighter services.”  As for its monopoly claim, Zuffa states the plaintiffs have conceded this claim based on inferences from prior pleadings.

Although it notes it is moving to exclude Plaintiffs’ expert, Hal Singer, it takes direct aim in rebutting his analysis which supports the claims made by the former UFC athletes.  It argues that they have wrongly identified the input or output market by attempting to define the market by the athletes and not by the MMA promoter.

Plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond in the coming weeks and MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC on Fox 30 ratings draw 1.678M, prelims 939,000

July 31, 2018

The UFC on Fox 30 main card drew 1.678 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The Prelims drew 939,000 viewers on Fox Saturday afternoon.  It drew 364,000 viewers in the Adult 18-49 demo.

The prelims featured Jordan Mein and Alex Morono with Mein winning the welterweight matchup via unanimous decision.  The Prelims preceded the main card from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The main card drew the lowest UFC on Fox fast overnight rating in the history of the events on the network with 1.46 million viewers despite an action-packed main card with competitive fights.   The main card featured Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez with Poirier earning the stoppage in round 2.

UFC on Fox 30 drew 771,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and received a 1.04 household rating.

The Prelims are not far off the UFC on Fox 29 Prelims from April which drew 970,000 viewers.  But, last July’s UFC on Fox 25 Prelims drew 1.137 million viewers on Fox.  This past Saturday’s ratings reflects that viewership increased gradually throughout the night which is promising news but it still shows that the ratings are decreasing.

Ferreira files lawsuit against supplement makers and supplier for allegedly causing USADA suspension

July 29, 2018

Carlos Diego Ferreira Neves has filed a lawsuit against supplement vendors, manufacturers and suppliers which resulted in the lightweight being suspended for 17 months.

The lawsuit filed last month In the District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas states that Defendants spiked “360 Lean, a “dietary nutritional supplement” with ostarine while also misleadingly adding a prohibited substance known as 7-Keto® DHEA, causing Plaintiff to suffer severe injuries after being banned from the UFC.”

Ferreira notes that the label of 360Lean did not accurately list 7-Keto® DHEA and later changed its description in subsequent batches. The lawsuit states, “[R]epresenting that the supplement contained, 7-Keto®, without indicating the product contained a hormone was wholly deceptive, misleading, and fraudulent.”

7-Keto® DHEA and Ostarine are banned substances and 360Lean was placed on the USADA High Risk List in Februar 2017 “after testing of Lot Number 9004637 revealed the presence of 7-Keto® DHEA and ostarine.

In September 2016, a sealed unopened bottle of 360Lean was sent to a WADA accredited lab where Plaintiff discovered that he had unknowingly and through no fault of his own ingested ostarine from the product 360Lean.  Ferreira was charged with a UFC Anti-Doping Violation in November 2016.

Ferreira is suing Zinpro and Impact Labs as the developers, manufacturers, marketers and distributors of 360Lean.  Vitamin Shack & Shakes sold the 360Lean product.

The lawsuit states a variety of causes of action including negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warrantied and fraud against Zinpro Corporation and Impact Labs.  Ferreira also claims that the Defendants are guilty under the theory of strict liability for products liability.

Ferreira First Amended Petition by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The store where Ferreira purchased 360Lean has filed a cross-claim against the Zinpro and Impact Labs for allegedly misleading consumers with its label.

Payout Perspective:

This is the fourth lawsuit since the UFC Anti-Doping policy was implemented where a fighter has sued a supplement maker, manufacture and distributor.  Josh Barnett, Yoel Romero and Lyman Good also filed lawsuits against supplement makers and the places where they purchased the alleged tainted goods which caused them to receive suspensions as a result of the findings.

In products liability cases (lawsuits where the claim is that a product is defective), there is a higher standard on the manufacturer or seller to ensure that the user is not harmed.  In this instance, one could argue Ferreira was not harmed in the sense of physical injury.  He was harmed since he had to ensure he did not ingest a banned substance per the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The question will be whether the Defendants knowingly misled consumers with the amendment of its description on the label.  This will make a very interesting case as it continues.  MMA Payout will continue to follow.

UFC on Fox 30 draws 1.461 million

July 29, 2018

UFC on Fox 30 drew 1.461 million viewers in fast overnight ratings according to Television By Numbers.  It led its time slot with a 0.6 rating for Adults 18-49 and a 3 share.

The ratings were based on the 8-10pm time slot and does not account for the overrun.  The main event featuring Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez seeped over the 10pm time slot with Poirier earning the TKO victory in the second round.

The 1.461 million viewers for the main card on Fox is the lowest out of the UFC on Fox cards held in the summer since the inception of the network cards in 2012.

UFC on Fox Ratings
UFC on Fox 1 5,700,000
UFC on Fox 2 4,570,000
UFC on Fox 3 2,250,000
UFC on Fox 4 2,360,000
UFC on Fox 5 3,410,000
UFC on Fox 6 3,770,000
UFC on Fox 7 3,300,000
UFC on Fox 8 2,040,000
UFC on Fox 9 2,410,000
UFC on Fox 10 2,550,000
UFC on Fox 11 1,990,000
UFC on Fox 12 2,020,000
UFC on Fox 13 2,270,000
UFC on Fox 14 2,820,000
UFC on Fox 15 2,430,000
UFC on Fox 16 2,290,000
UFC on Fox 17 2,280,000
UFC on Fox 18 2,430,000
UFC on Fox 19 2,130,000
UFC on Fox 20 2,440,000
UFC on Fox 21 2,200,000
UFC on Fox 22 2,690,000
UFC on Fox 23 2,020,000
UFC on Fox 24 1,740,000
UFC on Fox 25 1,640,000
UFC on Fox 26 1,780,000
UFC on Fox 27 1,590,000
UFC on Fox 28 1,820,000
UFC on Fox 29 1,780,000
UFC on Fox 30 1,460,000

Payout Perspective:

UFC on Fox 30 was the only live event and non-rerun in its time slot which may account for winning the night in the adult demo.   It’s hard to know how much the overrun will aid the viewership as it was perhaps 15 minutes into the 10pm hour.  One may spin it as a win for the UFC as it beat out other programming Saturday night for the A18-49 demo.  But, overall viewers were the lowest during its time slot.  Also, the historical outlook of the viewership for Fox broadcast is at its lowest.

UFC on Fox 30 attendance and gate

July 28, 2018

UFC on Fox 30 drew 10,603 for a gate of $1.3 million Saturday night according to promotion officials post-event.

The gate is U.S. Dollars.  The main event featured Dustin Poirier against Eddie Alvarez with the Louisiana native garnering a second-round TKO.  Poirier earned a Performance bonus for his win.  The co-main event saw the return of Jose Aldo in a surprising stoppage of Jeremy Stephens in the first round.

It was the second event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  The first occurred in July 2012 when UFC 149 took place in the venue.  It is heralded as the worst PPV ever according to an ESPN article.  However, on that night, UFC 149 drew 16,089 with a $4.1 million gate.

Payout Perspective:

Although we are doing it, its unfair to compare the first UFC PPV in a city to a televised event, but the promotion’s first event in the city did much better in attendance and gate.  While one might negate the gate due to higher prices, the attendance was much more 6 years ago.  Saturday had a much better main card than the PPV card last time around.  For comparison, last year’s UFC on Fox card in New York drew similar attendance and gate (11,198 for $1.08M gate).

Poirier and Aldo top UFC on Fox 30 bonuses

July 28, 2018

The UFC announced the bonuses for UFC on Fox 30 in Calgary.  Dustin Poirier and Jose Aldo drew $50,000 bonuses for their stoppages during the main card of tonight’s event.

Fight of the Night was awarded to Ross Pearson and John Makdessi.  Makdessi defeated Pearson by unanimous decision.

Payout Perspective:

It was a good night for the co-main and main event on Fox.  Poirier and Eddie Alvarez put on a great fight with The Diamond getting a right hand and a knee to the body that stunned Alvarez.  Despite attempts to fight back, Alvarez succumbed to Poirier’s flurry.  There was a controversial 12-6 elbow thrown by Alvarez which broke up a top position for Eddie which will be talked about as something that could have turned the fight around.  Aldo returned to his old self with a vicious body shot which dropped Jeremy Stephens and eventually ended his night.  Although the stoppage may have been premature, it was a good sign for Aldo who was written off after a losing streak.

Approaching free agency, Alvarez acknowledge UFC fighters underpaid

July 28, 2018

Eddie Alvarez is not new to MMA free agency.  You might recall he was a party in a bitter lawsuit with Bellator that exposed the world to the UFC’s athlete contract which has been used as a template in many instances.  As he nears free agency in the UFC, he is keen to the business-side of the sport and understands that fighters are underpaid.

Alvarez compared free agency to the Olympics as something that happens every 4 years and stated his excitement on what’s to come.

Bellator sued Alvarez in 2013 after it attempted to match the contract offered by the UFC.  In one of the more unique ways to ensure that they matched an offer, Bellator “cut and paste” the UFC contract terms into their contract offer to Alvarez.  Of course, there was a dispute on whether Bellator had truly matched the UFC’s contract.  The court denied Alvarez a preliminary injunction which would have allowed him to bolt for the UFC.  Bellator’s attempt to dismiss Alvarez’s lawsuit against it was denied as well.

Despite proclaiming he would take his case to trial, Alvarez settled with Bellator and appeared on the company’s inaugural PPV.  The lawsuit exposed the business side of MMA and at the UFC on Fox 30 media day, Alvarez talked about the state of the UFC and the sobering fact that athletes have no real control on their careers.

While he did not directly respond to whether or not fighters need to unionize, his statement about lack of power seemed to attest to the lack of leverage for a UFC athlete.

He acknowledged that it is likely that Conor McGregor will likely leapfrog him for a title shot regardless of the outcome of his fight with Dustin Poirier.  “This is what’s happening,” Alvarez stated to the press as he identified the example of Brock Lesnar’s anticipated title shot.

Alvarez stated that everyone is “underpaid” in the UFC.  The lightweight contender is not the only one to have this sentiment.  He acknowledged that he’d like the UFC “to share a little bit more.”  Even when given the question of Dana White throwing a birthday party for his son which cost $1 million, Alvarez did not take the bait as he differentiated White’s personal spending to what the business does.

It’s not clear what is next in store for Alvarez.  He’s still a top-level fighter and would be a great benefit to Bellator but I would anticipate that the UFC makes a strong case to retain Alvarez.

Plaintiff in McGregor thrown can lawsuit moves for partial summary judgment

July 26, 2018

Earlier this month, the plaintiff in the Conor McGregor thrown can lawsuit from the pre-UFC 202 press conference moved the court for partial summary judgment seeking an order that the UFC two-division champion was liable for throwing a can that hit William Pegg.

In the moving papers, Pegg embeds still photographs of McGregor throwing “unopened beverage cans from the stage towards the audience.”  According to the pleading, “[t]he second of two cans thrown hit Pegg in his back, near his left shoulder.”  As proof, plaintiff’s attorney also embeds photos of Pegg’s shoulder showing the bruising.

Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Specifically, Pegg requests that the Court issue an order that McGregor breached his duty of care by throwing the can, that the can hit Pegg, that McGregor committed the tort of battery and that Pegg was not comparatively negligent.

Plaintiff’s attorney argues that McGregor has not produced any evidence showing that Pegg was comparatively negligent and from a legal perspective, it does not apply to intentional torts.  As a result, Pegg argues that certain defenses claimed by McGregor are stricken as potential arguments used by the UFC fighter’s defense later on.

Notably, Plaintiff uses the Nevada Athletic Commission’s Findings of Fact from his hearing on the matter as an exhibit.

Payout Perspective:

While it might seem like good strategy for the plaintiff to obtain judgment on McGregor’s breach of duty and committing a tort, the real issue is that of damages, as in were there any. McGregor’s attorneys could (and probably should) stipulate to liability and argue damages.  This would eliminate any question surrounding the facts which caused the injury but focus on the actual damages as a result. So, if this were to go to trial, you can hypothetically limit evidence of the whole incident and focus on the damages based on a thrown can.  With that being said, the medical damages look minimal in comparison to the amount claimed by Pegg. MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Conor McGregor enters plea deal, will have no jail time…or criminal record

July 26, 2018

Conor McGregor has agreed to a plea deal with the New York District Attorney and approved by the court on Thursday morning.  McGregor pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was handed just community service for the April 5th incident where he hurled a dolly at a bus of UFC athletes.

The district attorney dropped two felony counts of criminal mischief in exchange for pleading guilty of the misdemeanor.  McGregor was ordered to perform five days of community service and take anger management classes.  He will also have to pay for damages.  But, after his completion, he will not have a criminal record.  Further, it will not affect his travel.

Cian Cowley, his teammate, was given a similar sentence but will perform just three days of community service.

According to the Assistant District Attorney Janet Gleeson, McGregor has paid for the damage in the bus attack.

The two appeared Thursday morning at Kings County Criminal Court in Brooklyn, New York.

Payout Perspective:

Just to be clear, the sentence given to McGregor and Cowley would not be given to normal people especially with the viral video of McGregor not listening to security when he picked up the object to throw at the bus.  There still may be a civil lawsuit filed by Michael Chiesa over the matter.  Despite paying restitution, its likely related to the bus damage.  With this escapade over, we may see McGregor return to the Octagon by the end of the year as it seems that the two-division champ is bored.

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