UFC 171: Payout Perspective

March 17, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time well be taking a look at UFC 171 at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Hendricks wins vacant title

A scare with not making weight did not matter for Johny Hendricks as he defeated Robbie Lawler in the Fight of the Night.  For Hendricks, it was redemption from a controversial loss to GSP last time out.  Lawler was impressive in defeat but just didn’t have enough to win the title.

Hendricks was the top welterweight of the night as he will now look to a smorgasbord of challengers to the title which may include a couple fighters (Lombard, Woodley) on the card and one (Nick Diaz) that was in attendance.

UFC_171_event_poster

Woodley upsets Condit

Tyron Woodley may have moved to the top of the contender’s list for the welterweight division with his victory over Carlos Condit.  While the knee injury to Condit caused the stoppage, it should not take away from the fact that Woodley was impressive and can argue he is next in line for a title shot at Hendricks.

Attendance and Gate

As we reported on Sunday, the UFC announced its attendance at 19,324 for a live gate of $2.6 million.  The numbers reflect the largest U.S. crowd to see a UFC event.  The numbers bested the UFC’s last event in Dallas which did 17,428 for a $2.4 million gate at UFC 103.

There were no information yet on comps and the Texas Department of Licensing will confirm the numbers later this week.

Bonuses

The bonuses were awarded to Hendricks-Lawler, Ovince St. Preux and Dennis Bermudez.

Fight of the Night – Hendricks-Lawler

Performance of the Night – OSP (Von Flue!) and Bermudez.

Each fighter earned an extra $50K.  In addition, Harley Davidson ran a promotion in which one of the bonus winners could win a Harley Davidson based upon a fan vote on the UFC’s Facebook page.  Hendricks won the fan vote and a new motorcycle.

Sponsors

The usual suspects were in the Octagon including the official UFC sponsors of MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Alienware, Corn Nuts as well as Bud Light taking the center of the Octagon.  Fram Auto Filters was the latest addition to Octagon signage.  In addition, Robbie Lawler’s sponsor, the Air Force Reserve also had signage in the Octagon.

The most notable sponsor for Hendricks was Reebok. Hendricks wore a shirt with the hashtag Reebokzquick.  Hendricks co-starred in a commercial featuring the Reebok fitness line in a recent commercial It was the second time that the clothing brand has sponsored him in the Octagon.  With Hendricks as champ, we can expect that Reebok will extend its sponsorship deal.  Hendricks was also sponsored by two official UFC sponsors: Corn Nuts and Alienware.

reebok-johny-hendricks-ufc-171-shirt

Diego Sanchez had a product tie-in where he wore a Training Mask during his workouts on the UFC Countdown show.

Myles Jury was sponsored by a Panini America and Dee Zee truck accessories on the front of his shorts.  According to its web site, Jury will be making an appearance for his Panini sponsor.

mylesjury_headshot

Tyron Woodley signed on with Affliction Clothing prior to UFC 171 (via FighterxFashion).  He also snagged a deal with Monster Headphones.

You don’t f*ck with #TheChosenOne Tyron Woodley (<href=”https://twitter.com/TWooodley”>@TWooodley)! Let’s get that title shot, eh? #UFC171 #MonsterOctagon pic.twitter.com/c1VZnFJSLV

— Monster Products (@MonsterProducts) March 17, 2014

The UFC had a “Vote for the T” Contest where fans had a chance to design a t-shirt for the UFC to market and sell for $30.

Post-UFC171 Headlines

Who’s next for Johny Hendricks?  A lot of debate swirling that Woodley, Hector Lombard or even Nick Diaz should face Hendricks next.  Diaz, who flew to Dallas courtesy of the UFC, was featured on the company’s Instagram account mocking Hendricks when it appeared he had missed weight and needed to retry.  Despite the showings of the other welterweights on the card, the appeal of Diaz is that he can sell a fight without even trying (i.e. we’re not talking Wolf Tickets).  But, the bottom line is that the show revealed that the welterweight is a very competitive division with many challengers to face Hendricks.

Odds and Ends

Unfortunately, the UFC 171 Prelims were on FS2 due to college basketball tournament action as the prelim fights were probably the best in recent memory.

The Von Flue Choke will be the most demonstrated move in BJJ gyms across the nation this week.

Hendricks marketed “BeardHeads” riffing off of his trademark facial hair. There was a sponsor giveaway associated with the gimmick as well.

I am not clear why Diego Sanchez was eating quail egg and steak tartare before a fight.  It seems very suspect.

The top cities that searched the name Johny Hendricks on Google were Oklahoma City and Montreal.

Google trends revealed that Johny Hendricks was not getting as many searches as when he fought Georges St. Pierre but UFC 171 was getting significant traffic.

If GSP does come back against Hendricks, it could be the Cowboy Stadium show that the UFC wants and a 1 million PPV buy event.

Conclusion

While the attendance and gate numbers are impressive for a show not featuring GSP/Anderson Silva or Cain Velasquez (note we excluded Ronda Rousey based on her last outing), it’s hard to conclude a big buy rate.  There was nothing that stood out in the promotion of this event despite it being for the vacant welterweight title.  Still, the Hendricks win puts him in a position to be groomed to be the next big draw for the UFC.  With the lack of a big name at the top, and the minimal buzz for the event, a buy rate of 300,000 would be solid.

Does GSP make $12M a year?

November 21, 2013

Forbes.com ran an article last week on Georges St. Pierre and how he makes $12 million per year.  The article gives a rundown of all of GSPs revenue streams including salary, PPV and sponsorships.

According to Forbes, GSP made “roughly $9 million combined from his past two fights” and another $3 million from “endorsements, memorabilia and licensing.”

If we are to parse out his past two fights, which would be UFC 158 (against Nick Diaz) and UFC 154 (against Carlos Condit) he would have made $870,000 in reported salary and bonuses and an additional $8,130,000.

GSP’s payday for UFC 158 was $400,000 total.  The buy rate was a reported 950,000 PPV buys.

GSP’s payday for UFC 154 was $200,000show/$200,000 win plus $70,000 for Fight of the Night for a total of $470,000.  The buy rate was a reported 700,000 PPV buys.

If GSP received the rest of his pay via PPV revenue for the past two events, he received around $5 per PPV buy. While his $9 million in pay has been reported from sources close to GSP according to the article, extrapolating the numbers from the pay sources (i.e., salary, bonuses, PPV), it’s debatable whether his earnings were $9 million for the past 2 fights. He may have received another lump sum bonus, but once again, this seems like a hefty amount of money to give GSP.

The $3 million in sponsorships is believable as GSP has blue chip sponsors in Under Armour, Coca Cola, Google and MMA brands Affliction and Hayabusa.

Next year, GSP’s earnings will also include his part in a Captain America movie which will open in 2014.

Payout Perspective:

As Dana White told and retold reporters on Saturday night, GSP is rich.  GSPs salary/bonuses and PPV upside has to be the biggest in the company if he could make over $8 million in PPV earnings alone. But making $5 per PPV buy would seem very high for just one fighter.  Whether or not GSP has made $9 million in his last two fights, it’s clear that he’s the highest paid fighter in the company.  The TMZ rumors are bad for business for GSP’s personal brand but should not affect his UFC earnings.  At this point, GSP does not need to fight so long as he’s invested his money wisely.  But knowing that he’s a big draw, the UFC will try to keep him (despite his hefty salary) from taking too long of an absence.

UFC 161: Payout Perspective

June 17, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 161 from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where Rashad Evans took on Dan Henderson in the main event.

Evans edges Henderson

UFC 161

In what was an entertaining fight, Rashad Evans regained some career momentum with a split decision victory over Hendo.  The result could have gone either way with each fighter having their moments.  Hendo was visibly upset after the result and took a jab in the post-fight Octagon interview at Lyoto Machida stating that “at least Rashad fought him.”  For Hendo, its his second straight split decision loss.  This is definitely not what he wanted after he had to back out of his title shot against Jon Jones in September.

For Evans, the speculation is that Glover Texeira would be next.  Gatekeeper or another shot at making a run for the title?  We will see.

Stipe stops Nelson

Stipe Miocic upset Roy Nelson in the co-main event of the evening.  Despite fighting just six weeks prior, Nelson looked sluggish and lacking cardio.  Miocic looked crisp compared to Nelson who desperately needed a first round KO to win the fight.

Miocic gets a quality win under his resume and can continue to build it.  In fact, he’s cracked the UFC Heavyweight rankings.  For Nelson, the fight represented his last under his current Zuffa contract.  It was a risky proposition for Nelson to take the fight on short notice even if his fight with Cheick Kongo ended in the first round.  Now, with a disappointing loss and at 36 years old, Nelson has little bargaining power in negotiating a new contract with the UFC or any other organization.  Nelson turned down an extension earlier this year and another offer prior to 161.  This and we didn’t even touch upon his “Uncle Tom” comments this week during the pre-fight press conference.

Attendance and Gate

As we reported, attendance was 14,754 for a gate of $3.15 million (not sure if Canadian or US dollars – regardless a good gate).  According to Dana White, it was the best gate for the venue and outdid The Rolling Stones at the same venue.

Bonuses

The UFC debut of James Krause was memorable as he not only pulled out a submission in the last seconds of his fight with Sam Stout, he received an additional $100,000 in bonuses for his work. Each received $50,000 each.

Fight of the Night: Krause-Stout

Submission of the Night:  Krause.

KO of the Night: Shawn Jordan

Sponsorships

UFC official sponsor Alienware was the presenting sponsor for UFC 161.  It had signage on the mat and had the fighter “prep point” at the event.  The octagon had its usual sponsors including Prestone, Harley Davidson, TapouT, Xyience, Musclepharm, Dodge, SafeAuto Insurance, UFCFit.com and Bud Light with the center Octagon.  Also, Disney’s The Lone Ranger was a sponsor on the mat and ring posts.  Disney sponsoring the UFC?  Not too surprised considering that it fits within the demo for the movie.

Roy Nelson just signed a deal with Affliction.  Probably not the best signing for the clothing company.

Evans wore a Jaco track suit to the Octagon. He also wore a “Refuse to Be Ordinary” Jaco shirt.

Notable sponsor of the night:  Alexis Davis was sponsored by Purchase Green – an artificial grass manufacturer.  Davis had other sponsors but the Purchase Green logo stood out due to the motto on the back of the shirt – Kickin’ Grass.

Other notable sponsors:  Roland Delorme represented Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. Delorme’s opponent Edwin Figueroa was sponsored by River City Ink and Steel. Sean Pierson was sponsored by Cookin’ Greens – a company focused on helping people eat healthier with fresh, frozen greens.

Post-UFC161 Headlines

– Status of Bantamweight Division.  With its original champion, Dominick Cruz out indefinitely and its interim champion, Renan Barao, injured – what to do with the division? There have been some good fights in the division but there needs to be a title defense soon so that fans don’t forget about it.

– What happens with Roy?  It was a gamble and Roy lost.  Now, with a loss and heading into free agency, what will Nelson do?

– What will Hendo do?  2 losses by split decision is not the kind of resume to ask for a title shot unless your Chael Sonnen.  Hendo is not at the cliff of his career but there can’t be too much time left.

Odds and ends

– “City on Steroids” was the headline in the print edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.  Obvious poor choice for this sport. Yet, Winnipeg Press gave good reviews of the fight night.

– The UFC 162 preview with Jay Z’s music was the second best commercial featuring Jay Z this weekend.  The first of course was the Samsung commercial during The Finals Sunday night (IMO I think Rick Rubin was the key).

– I wondered why Tyron Woodley v. Jake Shields was not on the main card.  I watched the fight and realized why.

– Shawn Jordan’s backflip may have been more impressive than his KO of Pat Barry.

– It’s good to see that Rashad went back to BDP for his entrance music.   Evans’ walkout music wins best of the night although Alexis Davis’ “Its Tricky” by Run DMC runs a close second.

–  Anyone else notice the octagon side camera view near the cage in the Sexton-Davis match during the end of the second round?  I don’t believe I’ve seen it before but it definitely is an added view to what is going on with fighters grappling on the ground.

– MetroPCS ran a new Cain Velasquez commercial during the Prelims.  It seemed like a little more focus on his Mexican roots in this commercial..

– Worst weekend? Jon Fitch or Roy Nelson.  Have to go with Fitch here.  Not only was he portrayed as a malcontent by his former employer, he lost in under a minute and was paid half the amount of his former salary ($30K).

Conclusion

Although it was received well by the local fans, the overall PPV buys will not be good.  Even if the Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland interim championship match and the Shogun Rua-Lyota Machida fight took place, it would not have moved the dial too much.  If there’s anything that can be seen as a positive from this weekend’s event is that it appears that based on the attendance figures and local press, the UFC has grabbed another Canadian city it could rely on if it returned to the area.  Notwithstanding this, a PPV buy rate of 250,000 would be good.

M-1 Global/Affliction settle lawsuit

September 5, 2011

Sherdog.com reports that Affliction and M-1 Global have settled its two year old lawsuit. The federal lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, California, was set to go to trial this October.

Fedor Emilianenko and M-1 Global’s attorneys filed a Notice of Settlement in late August informing the Court that the parties involved in the lawsuit had come to an agreement. The papers filed noted the settlement and requested to vacate all pre-trial deadlines and the October trial date.

As you might recall, this lawsuit stemmed from the failed Affliction PPV, “Trilogy.” More background info is here.

Also, J.R. Riddell of Sherdog.com provides a synopsis:

 [Fedor and M-1 Global’s] complaint alleged that after Josh Barnett refused licensure by the California State Athletic Commission because of a reported positive stroids test, Affliction breached its contract by refusing to promote the third and final fight called for under their “Fight Agreement.” They claimed Affliction did not undertake “all reasonable efforts” to find a fighter to replace Barnett…

One of the claims made by M-1 was that Affliction was trying to repair its relationship with the UFC and no longer wanted to promote its third PPV.

The lawsuit saw key figures in MMA deposed including UFC head Dana White, at the time Strikeforce head Scott Coker, Affliction’s Tom Attencio and Fedor.

This past June, the Court denied the parties’ motions for summary judgment (requests to dismiss the case on a party’s behalf). At the time, the Court advised the parties that they mediate the case in order to settle the matter short of trial. However, the parties did not settle. But, as with most heavily litigated cases where the result may be in doubt, the parties carved out a settlement short of the trial date.

While the Notice of Settlement filed with the court gave the parties the opportunity to reopen the case within 30 days of the notice, it is unlikely that would happen. In most instances, the parties leave this window in the event a party fails to hold up its end of the settlement (e.g., pay the negotiated settlement). More important to the litigants and their clients, the court deadlines were vacated meaning that further legal work (and legal fees) are avoided.

Details Emerge Involving “Affliction Trilogy” Cancellation and UFC/Affliction Deal in 2009

June 16, 2011

The Affliction vs M-1/Fedor Litigation has provided some great insight on the behind-the-scenes dealings throughout the lifespan of the Affliction/M-1 partnership, which includes the cancellation of the Trilogy event and a last minute deal between Affliction and the UFC.

On June 7, 2011, a 55-page decision document was released, depicting in great detail as to what lead Affliction into dropping its MMA promotional aspirations and concurrently signing a deal with the UFC to get back in their good graces after being banned by the promotion in 2008.

 

Here are some of the tidbits disclosed in the decision:

– As of March 2008, Fedor had an oral agreement with M-1 that “obliged him to fight for M-1 for a two-year period in exchange for $2 million per bout, as well as a $1.5 million signing bonus”.  Fedor also has an 8.5% interest in the company.

– In early 2008, Affliction’s Todd Beard informed M-1 that they were going to form an MMA promotion company after their relationship with the UFC had deteriorated.

– On April 14, 2008, Affliction and M-1 agreed that Fedor Emelianenko would be paid a $300k purse which was reported pay, and received an additional $1.2M consulting fee via M-1 Global, which totaled to a $1.5M purse after re-negotiating an earlier contract which did not include the Consulting Agreement (which was set up after considering some financials regarding taxes).

– Vadim Finkelstein invested $1 Million to open Affliction stores in Russia to make Affliction happy in order to form an Affliction/M-1 Global business, which they were also hoping to team up with Japanese promotion DREAM to run some co-promotional events in Japan, but Affliction was worried about the costs of such venture.

– On December 8, 2008, M-1 and Affliction clothing agreed on a $1 Million sponsorship deal that would heavily feature Affliction on the M-1 Challenge broadcasts for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

– M-1 contends that each M-1 Challenge event costs around $250K US Dollars, which includes expenses such as venues, visa fees, travel expenses, stage, refs, and production. Affliction paid the first installment of $500K, never paid the rest ($500K). Affliction claims contract calls for 30 “unique” one-hour episodes of M-1 Challenge and only 27 were provided.

– M-1 claims that Affliction had growing concern, noting that Affliction’s Beard probably that the UFC was ready to sign with Fedor on any terms M-1 wanted, but M-1 held back trying to grow a “competitive promotion” with Affliction, using Fedor as the “trump card”.

– On May 13, 2009, the Trilogy event set for August 1st was presented, with Fedor fighting Josh Barnett.

– On July 9, 2009, Affliction began discussions with the UFC regarding a potential sponsorship deal.

– M-1 used their personal contacts to broadcast the Trilogy event on national TV in Russia, Channel One.

– On July 13, 2009, Affliction’s Bassiri met with UFC’s Lawrence Epstein, UFC’s general counsel, and discussed the possibility that the UFC would assume responsibility of the Trilogy event and postpone the event to September 19, 2009 in Dallas. Affliction wanted to leave the MMA promotion business and re-establish a relationship with the UFC.  … MMAPayout: If you recall, this is around the time Zuffa insider’s were prematurely announcing a Fedor vs Lesnar main-event in Dallas for September, since part of the deal involved Affliction’s belief that they had a good enough relationship with Fedor that either he would follow them to the UFC, or would honor the one fight that was left in their contract. No one in Affliction informed M-1 of the meetings they were having with the UFC.

– After M-1 found out that Josh Barnett failed a drug test on July 21, 2009 from the CSAC, both parties started looking for a suitable replacement for the Trilogy event on August 1st.  Affliction’s Tom Atencio presented M-1 with Brett Rogers, Roy Nelson, and Alistair Overeem as possible opponents for the Trilogy main event.

– Tom Atencio offered Brett Rogers $500k to fight Fedor on July 22, 2009, but Strikeforce – who Rogers was currently signed with – refused.  Strikeforce eventually gave Rogers permission to Rogers to be able to take the fight on July 23, but by that day, Affliction canceled the Trilogy event and on that same day announced a deal with the UFC.

– The agreement between Affliction and the UFC  is detailed as follows:

“Paragraph 1 of the UFC/Affliction agreement provided: “[E]xcept for any rights that [Affliction] has with respect to Fedor Emelianenko (‘Fedor’) and conditioned upon [Affliction] . . . assign[ing] the agreements between [Affliction] and the [Affliction] Fighters to the UFC, the UFC agrees to assume [Affliction]’s responsibility for payment of the entire purse of the Affliction Trilogy Event which [Affliction] represents is not in excess of $741,000 purse and $370,000 win bonus. . . .”  Paragraph 2 stated that “[w]ith respect to Fedor, in the event the UFC is able to come to an agreement with Fedor on terms and conditions satisfactory to the UFC, the UFC shall assume responsibility for payments of Fedor’s purse for the Affliction Trilogy event or cause Fedor to release [Affliction] from its agreement with Fedor.”  Paragraph 6 required that Affliction Promotions cancel the Trilogy event.”

– On July 23, 2009, M-1 didn’t know about the cancellation of the event until after it arrived to Los Angeles with 30 fans from Russia.  Fedor was studying some footage on Vitor Belfort and Brett Rogers on the flight to LAX. … MMAPayout: On June 22, Atencio accused Dana White of tampering and trying to sign Vitor Belfort to a UFC contract to face Anderson Silva. White appeared on a TUF 9 Finale promo on Spike TV making the reference.

Court Denies Summary Judgment Motions in Affliction M-1/Fedor Litigation

June 16, 2011

On June 7, 2011, Judge Margaret M. Morrow denied the parties cross-motions for summary judgment in the Affliction v. M-1/Fedor litigation. I have previously posted about the litigation — most recently here.

The 55 page decision is a VERY interesting read especially with respect to the facts surrounding the “Trilogy” non-event — in particular the discussions and ultimate agreement between Affliction and the UFC.

Below are some of the interesting points — note the chronology.

As set forth in the Court’s decision, at a “July 13, 2009 meeting, Bassiri and Lawrence Epstein, UFC’s general counsel, discussed the possibility that UFC would assume responsibility for the Trilogy show and postpone it to September 19, 2009, in Dallas. Bassiri told Epstein that Affliction Promotions wanted to leave the MMA promotion business and re-establish its relationship with the UFC.”

According to the decision, “[o]n July 21, 2009, M-1 learned from Affliction that the California State Athletic Commission would not renew Josh Barnett’s license because he had tested positive for the use of steroids.”

Then, “[o]n July 22, 2009, Atencio offered [Brett] Rogers $500,000 to replace Barnett as Emelianenko’s opponent at the August 1, 2009 Trilogy event,” but “Strikeforce, with whom Rogers then had a promotional contract, was not willing to release him from his contract to fight in the Trilogy event, however.”

“[O]n July 23, 2009, Strikeforce released Rogers to fight in the event. By that time, however, Affliction Promotions had decided to cancel Trilogy. At 4:00 p.m. that day, Affliction concluded a deal with UFC.”

As set forth in the decision, that agreement provided, in part, as follows:

Paragraph 1 of the UFC/Affliction agreement provided: “[E]xcept for any rights that [Affliction] has with respect to Fedor Emelianenko (‘Fedor’) and conditioned upon [Affliction] . . . assign[ing] the agreements between [Affliction] and the [Affliction] Fighters to the UFC, the UFC agrees to assume [Affliction]’s responsibility for payment of the entire purse of the Affliction Trilogy Event which [Affliction] represents is not in excess of $741,000 purse and $370,000 win bonus. . . .” Paragraph 2 stated that “[w]ith respect to Fedor, in the event the UFC is able to come to an agreement with Fedor on terms and conditions satisfactory to the UFC, the UFC shall assume responsibility for payments of Fedor’s purse for the Affliction Trilogy event or cause Fedor to release [Affliction] from its agreement with Fedor.” Paragraph
6 required that Affliction Promotions cancel the Trilogy event.

According to the decision, “[p]rior to the time M-1 learned of the cancellation, it had put Emelianenko on his scheduled flight to Los Angeles, and given him footage of both Rogers and Vitor Belfort so that he could study the fighters while in flight. Emelianenko did not learn that Trilogy had been cancelled until he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport with thirty fans from Russia.”

Here is the decision:
Affliction SJ Decision

 

Fight Lawyer

Justin Klein is an attorney at Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry. He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website. He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training. Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.

DISCLAIMER

The information in this post and on my site consists of my opinion only, i.e., it is not the opinion of my employer or anybody else. In addition, and because this is my opinion, it is not intended to be (and is not) legal advice or an advertisement for legal services. This post provides general information only. Although I encourage interested parties to contact me on the subjects discussed in the articles, the reader should not consider information on this site to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship. I disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post. Any e-mail sent to me will not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not use this site or my site to send me e-mail containing confidential or sensitive information.

Affliction opens up largest store in Seal Beach

May 25, 2011

MMA lifestyle apparel brand Affliction Clothing is set to open a 5,000 square foot retail location at its world headquarters in Seal Beach, California. According to a press release, the SoCal location is holding a grand opening June 4th.

This will be the 10th Affliction Clothing store.

Via Affliction’s press release:

Consistent with Affliction’s attention to quality and design, the store will exemplify the Affliction esthetic, offering custom made fixtures with signature rivet detail, unique display pieces, such as a custom Rat Rod car and memorabilia autographed by Affliction’s loyal celebrity following.

Payout Perspective:

The opening of Affliction’s largest store indicates that the MMA apparel industry is growing. In this week’s Sports Business Journal (subscription required but more on this later) there is a featured article about the growth and expansion of the UFC. One of the areas that was cited as needing work was the lifestyle component of the UFC brand. While there can be a debate as to where the design and concepts for clothing should go, Affliction has defined its style and based on its growth, it is hitting the mark with its demographic.

GSP v. Koscheck: T-Shirt Edition

December 10, 2010

Before they enter the octagon at UFC 124, pay attention to the walk out of Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck as they will be wearing t-shirts of their respective sponsors: Affliction and Dethrone.

The GSP shirt is touted as a limited edition Affliction shirt with only 500 made. With a price point of $57.99, its more than buying the PPV (if you purchase the PPV on DirecTV HD – $54.95).

Josh Koscheck’s  Dethrone “walkout t-shirt” is not a limited edition, but comes in all black and all red (pictured) and has a “Kos” logo. Koscheck’s shirt is “reasonably” priced at $27.99.

Payout Perspective:

Similar to replica jerseys in team sports, for fight fans, t-shirts are a practical way to support your favorite fighter. Although many people do not like the huge designs, depictions of destruction, skulls or devils, I expect many fans wearing Affliction and Dethrone gear at the fight on Saturday. As for the two shirts above, I think the price point for GSP’s t-shirt is too expensive for an average MMA fan. Even a $28 Koscheck shirt seems a bit high, but is much more manageable on the wallet.

It would be a nice coup for Dethrone if it could claim to have the UFC Heavyweight Champ and the UFC Welterweight Champ. Possible slogan: “The brand of champions”?

*Note: I realize GSP may be wearing his gi during the walkout, but he should have his shirt on at the end of the match.

Affliction Sued for Trademark Infringement

November 22, 2010

On November 16, 2010, a complaint was filed against Affliction, Inc., Affliction Retail, Inc., Affliction Holdings, LLC, Affliction Retail, LLC, and Affliction Entertainment Group, LLC in the United States District Court for the Central District of California by Timothy Sean O’Brien and Livfast, LLC.

According to the allegations in the complaint, “O’Brien is a professional motocross rider and a businessman.”  The Livfast webpage provides that the company “is owned and operated by Tim O’Brien.”

Plaintiffs alleged that “[n]o later than October 8, 2004, Livfast first used the Livfast name on its clothing, including shirts, pants and hats and has extensively used the Livfast Trademark (defined below) on its goods and services on a continuous basis since that time.”  Further, plaintiffs allege that Livfast applied for a trademark registration on July 31, 2003 “for the word mark “Liv Fast” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office [] and the USPTO granted Livfast a registration for its Livfast trademark (Registration No. 2957726) on May 31, 2005 [].”

Livfast claims that it “recently discovered that Affliction bas been infringing upon the Livfast Trademark by using a virtually identical name, the Live Fast name and the Affliction Live Fast name, on its clothing as well as other uses, which is likely to lead to confusion in the marketplace and has actually caused confusion in the marketplace.”

The Affliction website provides the Affliction logo that appears to be at issue as it contains the words “Live Fast.

According to the allegations in the complaint, (1) in March 2010, the USPTO “rejected Affliction’s request to register the ‘Affliction Live Fast’ name as its trademark” because “‘of a likelihood of confusion with the mark in U.S. Registration No. 2957726’”; (2) in July 2010, “the USPTO rejected Affliction’s request to obtain a trademark registration in the name ‘Live Fast,’ stating that the ‘Live Fast’ name and the Livfast Trademark are ‘highly similar overall,’ that the goods are ‘very closely related and some are identical and/or legally identical’ and that the trade channels are similar”; and (3) in October 2010, “after Affliction requested the USPTO to reconsider its position on its use of the ‘Live Fast’ name, and after Affliction submitted specimens showing how it uses the ‘Affliction Live Fast’ name on its clothing goods, the USPTO again rejected Affliction’s request to register the ‘Live Fast’ mark.”

Plaintiffs allege that through “Affliction’s continued use of these names, Affliction has committed and continues to commit willful trademark infringement.”

Plaintiffs assert claims for “Federal Trademark Infringement,”  “False Designation of Origin,” State Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition,” Unfair Competition,” “Unjust Enrichment,” Cancellation of Trademark Registration,” “Accounting,” and Declaratory Relief.”

Affliction is no stranger to litigation.

As I have posted at my Fight Lawyer website, Affliction recently settled a trademark infringement action with Chrome Hearts with similar allegations, it recently settled a copyright infringement action with Freeplay Music, LLC; it recently filed a lawsuit against Oficina De Representaciones Mundiales S.A De C.V. and Eduardo Kurian (and is a counterclaim defendant in that litigation), its alleged “exclusive distributor in Mexico for the Affliction and Sinful clothing brands[],” and its litigation with Fedor and M-1 appears to still be going strong.

Justin Klein is an attorney at Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry.  He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website.  He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training.  Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.

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Fedor Deposed and an Affliction attorney withdraws from M1/Affliction case

August 24, 2010

Last week we gave you an update on the case involving M-1 and Fedor Emelianenko suing Affliction for breach of contract due to Affliction abruptly canceling its third PPV.

According to Marc Hines, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Fedor and Fedor’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein were deposed two weeks ago in Southern California. Fedor’s deposition took one day and he utilized a court interpreter to respond to questions. “I thought our guys came across really well. We are really pleased with their testimony,” said Hines of his clients.

Hines stated that Todd Beard, the former co-owner of Affliction, will be deposed this week.

Also, Judd Burstein, the  high profile New York attorney that served as co-counsel for Affliction has filed a motion to withdraw as its counsel. Burstein had represented Affliction for a little over a month as on July 20th the court granted Burstein’s application to represent Affliction. According to court filings, Affliction determined it “unnecessary to employ two sets of counsel in this matter.” A motion on this issue will be heard on November 1st. Hines indicated that Fedor and M-1 would not oppose Burstein’s motion for withdrawal. The law firm of Silverstein & Huston remains as attorneys of record for Affliction.

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