UFC Fight Night 140 Prelims outdraw main card in ratings

November 20, 2018

UFC Fight Night 140 drew 632,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night.  The Prelims actually outdrew the main card with 707,000 viewers.

The main card featured Neil Magny taking on Santiago Ponzinibbio.  The Argentinian won via KO in the 4th round and will move up the ranks of the welterweight division.  The prelims saw Michel Prazeres earn a first round submission over Bartosz Fabinski in the feature fight of the night.

The event took place at the Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Payout Perspective:

Impressive ratings for an event that did not have too much going for it.  Notably, according to ShowBuzz, the highest rated cable television show on Saturday night was a Hallmark movie on the Hallmark Channel which drew 4.6M viewers.  The Prelims outdrawing the ratings may be a first and could be attributed to the time of the event as Fight Night main cards tend to drag too late for many east coast fans.

UFC announces construction of Performance Institute in Shanghai

November 19, 2018

The UFC announced that it will build a UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai, China.  The new facility will be three times bigger than the Las Vegas Campus according to the press release.

Via UFC Press Release:

UFC Performance Institute Shanghai will serve as a training hub to develop and support MMA athletes from mainland China and the greater Asia-Pacific region. UFC will also utilize the building as its headquarters in Asia, housing UFC employees and UFC Performance Institute staff, including experts in the fields of MMA, strength and conditioning, sports science, physical therapy and nutrition.

UFC Performance Institute Shanghai will also have built-in advanced production capabilities with spectator seating that will allow UFC to produce and distribute live events and other original programming.

Additional features will include hospitality suites, dining, retail services, and a fan experience area. When completed, the multi-million-dollar facility will span more than 93,000 square feet, approximately three times the size of the original UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

“I could not be more excited about the UFC Performance Institute opening in Shanghai,” said UFC President Dana White.  “We know there is a ton of talent throughout Asia and now we will be able to find them and offer them all the incredible training, nutrition, and physical therapy that UFC fighters are getting in the Performance Institute at our headquarters in Las Vegas, right there in China. This is another game changer for the sport, UFC, and potential athletes throughout Asia.”

UFC Performance Institute Shanghai will serve as a catalyst for athlete development in Asia, aiming to rapidly accelerate the skill level and UFC-readiness of mixed martial artists in the region. A full MMA coaching staff will implement a sport-specific training system developed in consultation with former UFC light heavyweight champion, UFC Hall of Famer, and current UFC Vice President of Athlete Development, Forrest Griffin. This integrated, inter-disciplinary combat sports performance team will offer an unparalleled level of support to athletes.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement comes this week as the UFC prepares for its Fight Night event in China this Saturday. The investment in China shows that Asia, specifically China, is a fertile ground for expansion.  The Performance Institute will serve as a way to scout talent and establish content for the future.

Tape-delayed Bellator 209 on Paramount draws 381,000 viewers

November 19, 2018

Bellator MMA Live 209 drew 381,000 viewers on the Paramount Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The telecast was also available via digital streaming service DAZN.

The event was tape-delayed from Israel and featured Patricio Freire as he defeated Emmanuel Sanchez for Friere’s Featherweight title.

The event drew 0.13 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

You can certainly stick the blame for the ratings on the one-day tape delay.  The ratings this year for Bellator have been disappointing.

Top Rank Boxing on Friday night draws 950,000 on ESPN

November 19, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on Friday night drew 950,000 viewers per Nieslen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The telecast saw Maurice Hooker TKO Alex Saucedo in the seventh round of their title fight.

It was an exciting fight as Hooker went down in the second round of the fight versus the previously unbeaten Saucedo.  Hooker retained his junior welterweight title from the previously undefeated Saucedo.

NBA Basketball was the lead-in for Top Rank Boxing as the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Chicago Bulls.  The game drew 1.7million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Impressive for Top Rank following the NBA on ESPN.  The telecast started close to 9pm PT and still retained a significant amount of NBA viewers.  Hooker and Saucedo are not household names but the ratings are promising for future telecasts.

$39.99 new PPV price for Ortiz-Liddell 3

November 18, 2018

This Saturday’s Golden Boy promoted Tito Ortiz-Chuck Liddell 3 matchup has a new PPV price: $39.99.  The lower price  (originally $49.99) looks to entice casual viewers into taking time away from holiday shopping and purchasing the PPV.

Of course, the fight card underneath Ortiz-Lidell leaves many wondering.  Former UFC veterans Efrain Escudero and Gleison Tibau meet in one undercard fight as well as Tom Lawlor and the rest of the card is mashup of journeyman fighters.

Fite.tv recently ran a promo for people that purchased the event on its app within a certain time the charge would be $19.99.  Notably, that price point is the same as Friday afternoon’s Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods’ golf duel for $9 million.

Payout Perspective:

With UFC PPVs at a $59.99 price point, $39.99 may seem like a bargain until you realize the quality on this card.  I seem skeptical of the Ortiz-Liddell matchup and it seems to be purely based on living in the past.  Both of these fighters do not look like they should fight and its questionable that the California State Athletic Commission is allowing this fight to happen.  Aside from these names, there is nothing else on the card that would entice a casual fan to purchase.  Frankly, if you needed to spend money on PPV this weekend, the greater entertainment value is likely golf.

 

This is the inaugural event by Golden Boy in MMA promotion and it felt that having a “legends fight” would attract fans.  But, with the UFC having a big piece of the promotional pie along with over the top and online events taking place, its hard to promote this event without any other fights under Ortiz-Liddell.  It will be interesting to see how many PPV buys it will receive and what will be the future of Golden Boy in MMA.

Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust Lawsuit try to avoid “hot tubbing”

November 16, 2018

Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit have filed a letter to the Court arguing that there should not be an evidentiary hearing on expert testimony.  The legal slang of “hot tubbing” where “concurrent expert evidence” is being offered and heard by the court at the same time.

Letter November 16 by on Scribd

Plaintiffs see a request by Zuffa to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the expert testimony as an end-around to exclude expert testimony.  The Court denied Zuffa’s Daubert motions without prejudice in late September per Plaintiffs. It’s the position of Plaintiffs that this is a way to ask for the Court to reconsider at this late date.  Plaintiffs also argues that the format of each side presenting its experts on direct and then cross examines the other side would take multiple days.  Notably, this would run into the rescheduled date for the Motion for Summary Judgment of Friday, December 14, 2018.  It would most certainly delay the hearing date once again if the Court were to entertain the hearings.

There is also the argument that evidentiary hearings on class certification are not required.  Plaintiffs cite cases where the Court suggests that evidentiary hearings for these types of complex cases are unnecessary.  Finally, Plaintiffs also argue that evidentiary hearings for summary judgment almost never happen and there’s no extraordinary reason brought up by Zuffa why one should take place now.

Notably, “hot tubbing” is not prohibited, but its not specifically addressed.  There are various opinions on its use and affect.  Judges have wide latitude when it comes to admitting expert witness testimony.  Of the factors a court may consider, the most important tends to be whether or not the testimony is a waste of the court’s time.

Payout Perspective:

And we are now introduced to the term of “hot tubbing” which is a term that originates from Australia according to some research.  It’s the “battle of the experts” and the purpose seems to be a way to flesh out some of the theories asserted by the parties in hopes of scaling down the arguments for the court at trial.  Plaintiffs believe that Zuffa is asking for this type of hearing as either a second bite at attempting to exclude their experts or stall.  I would think that it’s the former rather than the latter.  Zuffa likely believes that if they can knock out some of Plaintiffs experts, there will be little left of Plaintiffs claims.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Monster Energy renews sponsor deal with Bellator

November 16, 2018

Monster Energy will remain in the Bellator cage as the promotion announced a new three-year-deal per company release on Friday.  The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Via Bellator press release:

The partnership with Monster Energy has been an important component of our business since day one,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “They have played a factor in our success and we are thrilled to announce this new three-year extension. The hard work and passion that Hans Molenkamp and the rest of their team have for this sport is unmatched. We look forward to new and exciting opportunities for our brand, fighters and fans that this continued relationship brings to the table.”

Beginning in 2014, Bellator became the first MMA promotion to partner with Monster Energy, which paved the way in creating numerous future sponsorship opportunities throughout the combat sports landscape. Since that time, many of MMA’s most memorable events and elite athletes have been supported by the industry-leading energy drink brand.

“Bellator delivers compelling, high-action, adrenaline-pumping MMA events worldwide,” added Monster Energy Vice President of Sports Marketing Mitch Covington. “We are thrilled to continue our longtime partnership and look forward to evolving our relationship even further, allowing us to further integrate the Monster Energy and Bellator brands.”

Over the years, Monster Energy and Bellator have worked together to host unique and creative activations for fans. Previously, Monster Energy Bellator MMA fight series events have been held during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Monster Energy Supercross races. Drawing thousands in attendance to experience live MMA bouts and fighter autograph signings, these events are expected to continue and evolve under the new partnership.

In addition to Bellator, Monster is a sponsor in the UFC octagon and has forged individual deals with several UFC athletes.

(photo via Bellator press release)

Payout Perspective:

SoCal-based Monster is a big sponsor within extreme sports and MMA as it caters to the young, active demo.  With a new digital deal on DAZN for Bellator, Monster will get another source of visibility.  Not to mention it is heavily involved the UFC which solidifies itself as the energy drink brand in MMA.

TUF 28 Episode 10 draws 152,000 viewers

November 15, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 28 episode 10 saw a slight uptick from its season low from last week with 152,000 viewers on FS1.  The season average for live viewing of TUF 28 is 167,000 viewers.

The fight of the telecast saw Julija Stoliarenko fight Pannie Kianzad in the semifinal to see who would fight in the women’s TUF finale in December.   Kianzad won via unanimous decision.

Also, the telecast saw the continued spiral of Maurice Greene as he tried to curb his drinking problem.  Coach Gastelum and the staff tried to stick with him.  The episode also saw the fighters go to a waterpark.

 

TUF 28 Live + SD
Episode 1 186,000
Episode 2 195,000
Episode 3 183,000
Episode 4 205,000
Episode 5 174,000
Episode 6 173,000
Episode 7 128,000
Episode 8 147,000
Episode 9 119,000
Episode 10 152,000

Payout Perspective:

The 167,000 viewers is a modest increase from last week’s all-time low.  The live viewership is low and it has only surpassed 205,000 viewers once this season.

Former UFC vet and TUF competitor suspended 4 years by NSAC for use of fake urine

November 14, 2018

Former UFC fighter and TUF contestant Cody McKenzie was suspended 4 years by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing to give a urine sample prior to an MMA event in September. McKenzie then tried to provide the commission with fake urine.

The commission decided the 4 years suspension at Tuesday’s hearing. McKenzie did not appear.

According to the commission complaint, McKenzie did not provide a sample to the commission representative the night of his fight. He then provided a fake sample. He then told the representative that he “smoked pot” that day.

McKenzie was ordered to pay costs and fees in the amount of $944.84 associated with the hearing.

Payout Perspective:

If you were to read the commission findings, it sounds that McKenzie attempted to use a “whizzinator” to fake a urine test. The former TUF competitor has had a winding career that has had no direction and clearly suffers from discipline among other issues. A concern about this suspension is that McKenzie will be unable to fight for a living which may be a detriment.

O’Malley gets six month suspension from NSAC

November 14, 2018

Sean O’Malley was handed a six month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing an out-of-competition drug test.  O’Malley may return in March pending a potential additional suspension from USADA.

The bantamweight discovered on Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series will also have to pay costs and fees associated with his hearing before the commission on Tuesday in the amount of $472.42.

O’Malley revealed his flagged drug test via social media as the UFC policy of revealing the names of athletes that have drug tests flagged has been changed.  USADA will not reveal the name of athletes until the resolution of the case.  O’Malley decided to tell his fans despite the new rule to let them know his status.

According to the NSAC ruling, O’Malley may return to action on March 6th pending drug tests prior to his date of return.

O’Malley explained that a dietary supplement containing a banned substance may have been the culprit.  Since O’Malley’s test did not occur post-fight, he was not fined aside from paying costs and fees associated with the hearing.

Payout Perspective:

While there is no written finding that there was a tainted supplement, it appears that this may be the case.  Since O’Malley was cooperative and able to pinpoint the source for the failure, the punishment from the commission was relatively nothing.  Of course, he will have to wait for USADA to finish its official investigation.  It could tack on extra months or decide that the six months is sufficient.  A fortunate outcome for the promising young bantamweight.

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