Bellator 208 draws 521,000 viewers on Paramount

October 17, 2018

Bellator 208 on Paramount Saturday night drew 521,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Fedor defeating Chael Sonnen in the last semi-final of the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

It was the second of back-to-back nights for the promotion.  The event also aired on DAZN.

In addition to Fedor and Sonnen, Benson Henderson defeated Saad Awad.

Payout Perspective:

Although 521,000 viewers does not seem that impressive, it is the best viewership since Bellator 199 this past May.  One might infer that there were more viewers since DAZN was an optional way to view the event.  The viewership suggests that Fedor is still a draw for many MMA fans.

DAZN signs Canelo to richest contract in sports

October 17, 2018

Canelo Alvarez has signed a 5-year, 11 fight deal worth $365 million with new streaming service DAZN according to ESPN.  The deal begins with Alvarez’s December fight against Rocky Fieldinng.

The deal is the richest athlete contract in sports history.  According to the ESPN story, HBO had the right of first negotiation and a “last-look” provision for Alvarez’s December fight and it made an offer for an HBO PPV event but decided not to match DAZN’s offer.

Alvarez fought Gennady Golovkin this past September on PPV.  It was his last fight under his promotional agreement with Golden Boy Boxing.  The event drew 1.1 million viewers for at a suggested PPV price point of $84.95.  DAZN’s streaming service is $9.99 per month and offers boxing as well as Bellator MMA.  It started its service in North America this past September featuring an Anthony Joshua fight.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps following PBC’s strategy of paying up front in hopes of earning money in the end, DAZN has made a huge investment in Canelo Alvarez.  Arguably, he’s the only PPV draw in boxing since Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.  Signing with the streaming service marks another sign of the shift of how consumers watch sports.  The question will be how DAZN will be able to recoup on its investment and how soon.

ESPN Top Rank Boxing reports strongest telecast of 2018

October 16, 2018

ESPN Top Rank Boxing on Saturday night drew 2.245 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The event was the highest-rated live boxing telecast of 2018.

Ring.tv reports that the peak of the telecast drew 2.7 million viewers.  The main event saw Terrence Crawford put away Jose Benavidez, Jr. in the 12th and final round of their fight.

It drew 1.038 million viewers in the A18-49 demo according to Nielsen.

The ratings reflect the highest rating for an ESPN Top Rank Boxing telecast since Manny Pacquiao took on Jeff Horn in the first telecast of the partnership.

Payout Perspective:

This is good news for boxing and boxing fans as we have seen an expansion of boxing viewership.  While HBO has foreclosed its time in the sport, PBC on Fox, Top Rank on ESPN and now DAZN’s latest coup of signing on Canelo Alvarez for his next fight this December shows that the sport continues to grow.  With these latest ratings, we will see if Terence Crawford can make the next step in his career: pay-per-view star.

UFC welterweight accepts 2 year sanction for cocaine use

October 16, 2018

USADA has announced that UFC UK fighter Bradley Scott has accepted a two-year sanction for violating the UFC Anti-Doping Program.  Scott tested positive for cocaine metabolites per an in-competition test.

Via USADA press release:

Scott, 29, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, as the result of a urine sample he provided in-competition on May 27, 2018, at Fight Night 130 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Cocaine is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Stimulants and prohibited in-competition under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

USADA conducted a thorough investigation into Scott’s case and determined Scott had not provided verifiable evidence regarding the circumstances that led to his positive test. Scott’s two-year period of ineligibility, the standard sanction for a first offense involving a non-Specified Substance, began on July 3, 2018, the date his provisional suspension was imposed.

The former TUF Smashes contestant will not be able to return to the UFC until July 2020.

Payout Perspective:

The finding should be a disappointment for the 29-year-old welterweight who is 3-5 in the UFC and on a 2-fight losing streak.  Arguably, cocaine should not be considered a PED but a recreational drug.  It would be interesting to know if Scott would be required to attend some sort of education regarding the drug to ensure he does not have an issue with the drug.

Boxer Austin Trout case moved to arbitration, casts concern on future of Ali Act

October 16, 2018

A Federal Court in Puerto Rico has dismissed boxer Austin Trout’s lawsuit against the World Boxing Organization for claims of violating the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.  The court determined that due to the signed contact, Trout must submit to arbitration.

Austin Trout Case Order on … by on Scribd

Trout claimed that the WBO had dropped him from the promotion’s ranking arbitrarily which affected his ability to receive a title shot.

The lawsuit landed in Federal Court in Puerto Rico after the boxing promotion moved the case to Puerto Rico where its offices are located.  Originally Trout filed the lawsuit in state court in New Mexico.  The WBO moved the case to Federal Court in New Mexico and then requested the venue change to Puerto Rico which the Court granted.

The WBO claimed that Trout was bound by the terms of his WBO contract which required that he arbitrate any disputes he had with the contract.  According to the contract, the WBO would handle the arbitration and any appeal would be heard by a grievance committee put together by the promotion.

Trout argued that the lawsuit should remain in court for two reasons.  First, Trout’s attorneys argued that the WBO waived its right to arbitration as it already appeared in the case and filed procedural motions for the case to be moved to federal court and then to Puerto Rico.  Secondly, Trout argued that his claims were based upon violations of the Ali Act which should be litigated instead of arbitrated.  Furthermore, it argued that the arbitration clause was invalid because the WBO would effectively “be both a party and a judge.”

The WBO moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the lawsuit.  In siding with the WBO, the Court indicated that the WBO’s contract which included the arbitration clause was valid and related to the dispute alleged by Trout and therefore it was a valid arbitration clause.  Trout unsuccessfully argued that there was ambiguity in the contract and with contracts of adhesion, they should be found in favor of the non-drafting party.  Here, Trout argued that the arbitration clause related to disputes with third parties whereas disputes directly with the promotion could be litigated.  Part of this argument was due to the WBO serving as the arbitrator in the matter.  However, the court found no ambiguity and that the contract availed the parties to arbitration on all matters.

As to the argument that the lawsuit was litigated by the WBO and as a result, it had waived its right to arbitration, the court argued that the sole responses made by the promotion in court were procedural and not substantive.  Hence, it had not participated in litigation of the case and did not waive its right to an arbitration.

There is no indication that Trout will appeal this decision at this point.

Payout Perspective:

The underlying issue in this decision is that claims under the Muhammad Ali Act could be arbitrated based on a contract signed by the parties.  This does not bode well for the possibility of the Ali Act Expansion to combat sports.  The reason being is that if the party drafting the contract (e.g., Zuffa) includes a provision that all disputes under the contract shall be resolved via arbitration, it might mute the effectiveness of the Ali Act.  While arbitration is a faster way to resolve disputes, in the Trout case, he was concerned with the ability for the WBO to be judge and a party.  One might foresee an MMA promotion including in its contract its ability to choose an arbitrator.  We have already seen that the UFC Anti-Doping Policy has chosen its own vendor and arbitrator.  It would likely do the same for any case claiming a violation of the Ali Act.  Unless there is an appeal, look for this decision to rear its head in the future.

Eddie Alvarez signs with ONE Championship

October 15, 2018

ONE Championship has signed Eddie Alvarez to a contract making the former UFC and Bellator lightweight to the Asia-based company.  According to the promotion’s press release, it’s a multiple bout contract.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Payout Perspective:

The signing is a coup for ONE Championship who may seek to extend its reach to North America.  Thus far, the company has grown exponentially since its start in the early 2010s.  It has Ben Askren and former UFC star Brandon Vera on its roster as well as several top fighters in Asia.  Alvarez joining the promotion should bolster fans of Alvarez in the U.S. which may, in turn, mean a foray into North America.

At 34, its probably the best possible deal for Alvarez.  He’s nearing the end of his peak earning as an MMA fighter and ONE is likely paying him much more than the UFC or Bellator would offer.  This may serve as an option for other fighters that may be nearing the end of their deal in the UFC or Bellator that there are other options in the industry.

Bellator 207 draws 416,000 viewers on Paramount Friday night

October 15, 2018

Bellator 207 on the Paramount Network Friday night drew 416,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It was the first of back-to-back shows on the network.

The event featured the semi-finals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix as Ryan Bader made easy work of Matt Mitrione to make his way to the finals of the tournament.

Also on the card, Sergei Kharitonov looked impressive in his KO of Roy Nelson.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings have to be a little disappointing considering this was one of the semifinals for their Heavyweight Grand Prix.  Saturday night’s event will be an interesting look to see with PFL and Top Rank Boxing on ESPN going on at the same time.

Crawford-Benavidez fight draws big ratings on ESPN

October 15, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew a 1.6 metered market rating according to Nielsen which made it the highest-rated boxing telecast in 2018.  The main event which featured Terence Crawford scoring a 12th round KO of Jose Benavidez averaged a 1.8 metered market rating.

The main event was the highest-rated Top Rank bout and main event on ESPN.  The event took place in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  The main event between the two unbeatens was heated as Crawford took a swing at Benavidez at the weigh-ins.

In the co-main event, Shakur Stevenson defeated Viorel Simion via TKO in the first round.  The event drew a metered 1.3 rating according to Nielsen.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast was the second-highest rated Top Rank event on ESPN to the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight which kicked off the Top Rank-ESPN partnership. The event went up against Bellator on Paramount and though we will not get the overall ratings until later on Monday, boxing beat MMA on Saturday night.  The question becomes whether Crawford can draw on PPV and outside of Omaha.

UFC 229 draws 2.4 million PPV buys

October 12, 2018

UFC 229 has delivered the best PPV buy rate in company history according to multiple reports including The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer.  The event featuring the return of Conor McGregor and arguably the best lightweight in the world, Khabib Nurmogomedov drew 2.4 million buys.

Broken down, it drew 1.9 million PPV buys from traditional satellite and cable outlets and another 470-480,000 from internet sales on UFC’s web site.  The combined buys surpass UFC 202 which drew a reported 1.5 million PPV buys.

Despite the lack of a long lead-up for this event, it delivered and ensures a rematch between the two despite the lopsided victory by Khabib and the fallout post-match.

Payout Perspective:

The first thing to glean from the news is the number of purchasers online.  This could be due to the use of the “second screen” while watching other events (i.e., college football) Saturday night.  It also means that the UFC likely made more money from the event since more online purchases would not be shared with satellite/cable companies.  All of the indicators including Embedded and press conference views, prelim ratings and google searches pointed to big buy rate.  There was some skepticism with the number of people interested in the fight but the casual fans came out to watch the PPV.

PFL 7 draws 136,000 Friday night

October 11, 2018

The Professional Fighters League did 136,000 viewers on Friday night on NBC Sports Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  Friday night was the start of the promotion’s playoffs.

Kevin Hart, one of the famous silent investors in the PFL, did a promo for the show.

PFL 1: 116,000 viewers

PFL 2: 150,000 viewers

PFL 3: 146,000 viewers

PFL 4: 101,000 viewers

PFL 5: 112,000 viewers

PFL 6: 138,000 viewers

PFL 7: 136,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Unfortunately for the PFL, UFC 229 overshadowed the start of the playoffs.  136,000 viewers is a decrease from the last show this past August.  Hopefully, the company will be able to gain some traction as the playoffs continue.

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