UFC 244 ticket demand highest since July

October 30, 2019

Ticket demand for this week’s UFC 244 event in New York is running fairly high as of Wednesday with the secondary market at its highest since July’s UFC 239

According to secondary market ticket vendor SeatGeek, the get-in price for the showdown between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal is $266 per seat with the average ticket being $439.  Notably, the average resale price for UFC 241, the last time Diaz fought was $314.

The event takes place at New York’s Madison Square Garden and promises to be at capacity with many stars in attendance as well as President Donald Trump.

The last time that prices on the secondary market have been this high was UFC 239 in Las Vegas when Jon Jones fought Thiago Santos in the main event.  You might recall that Masvidal appeared on the undercard when he recorded the fastest KO in UFC History over Ben Askren.  The average ticket resold for that event was $547.

Notably, SeatGeek indicates that prices have fallen 15% over the last two weeks.

In comparison, the get-in price for the Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev fight taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas is $293 with an average resale price of $688.

Payout Perspective:

The ticket demand has fallen, yet there is still a lot of people clamoring to watch the fight.  One might think there would be a downtick in pricing with extra security for the President.  There’s also the New York Marathon the next day so a lot of people will be in town.  Still, the event will probably be at capacity with a record gate (although secondary market will not be accounted for) for a UFC event at MSG.  As for Canelo-Kovalev, the ticket demand seems about right although one might expect these prices to go down as well.

 

Diaz-Masvidal announced for UFC 244 in New York

September 7, 2019

ESPN reports that Nate Diaz will face Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 on November 2nd in New York’s Madison Square Garden.  The fight was the one Diaz called for after his defeat of Anthony Pettis last month.

White indicated that it was the fight “fans wanted to see.”  Masvidal is coming off of his highlight-reel KO of Ben Askren and the subsequent fame he’s received since the fastest KO in UFC history.

The fight will pit two of the hottest stars in the UFC as both fighters’ profiles have risen.

Payout Perspective:

This main event should bring a lot of buzz.  Diaz has become a superstar and his return to the Octagon last month showed his popularity with fans.  Similarly, Masvidal’s KO is still something fans are talking about since this past July.  The fight should prove to be a slugfest of two athletes that like to fight.  Also, with news that Canelo Alvarez will face Sergey Kovalev on the same night, the Diaz-Masvidal fight should compete with the built-in Canelo fans

Zuffa Boxing makes a hire

July 24, 2019

Zuffa Boxing may be taking another step to becoming a reality and likely a major player in the industry.

Mike Coppinger of The Athletic reports that Zuffa has hired an individual to run Zuffa Boxing.

White has intimated the promotion’s foray into boxing and one might expect Zuffa Boxing to become a disrupter in an industry that is ‘antiquated’ as described by Coppinger.

White was in the middle of the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight in August 2017 which landed the largest PPV buy rate in the history of combat sports.  During that promotion, White collaborated with Al Haymon and Showtime for that fight but will be competing with the likes of PBC, Top Rank, Matchroom, Showtime and DAZN.

Payout Perspective:

Certainly, White is a polarizing figure in the sport of MMA and has received a fair amount of criticism balanced with praise for making the UFC the power it is today.  With boxing on an ascension due in part to content-hungry digital platforms such as ESPN+ and DAZN, the prospects of another promotion entering are good.  Yet, one has to wonder if there is enough talent for White to sign enough boxers to his brand.

The good news for Zuffa Boxing is that it has a built-in infrastructure in place.  The construction of the Vegas-based UFC Apex gym and Performance Institute are enticements for boxers.  One would think that the gym and training facility would benefit boxers and the gym could be a place to broadcast shows either through a television/digital partner or through Fight Pass.  No word on a launch date, but with the announcement of a hire, one would suggest that the move to boxing is happening sooner than later.

The Interview – Rafe Bartholomew

July 17, 2019

I had a great time catching up with Rafe Bartholmew of The Athletic. I first interviewed Rafe back in 2010 about his first published book about the love affair that the Philippines has with basketball.

We talk a little about Filipino basketball, the upcoming Pacquiao fight, Canelo, his latest piece about PBC fans/trolls and his pick to win the 2020 NBA Championship (which is a surprise to me).

4:00 – Filipino Hoops talk

14:15 – Preview of Pacquiao-Thurman

24:10 – Rafe’s Prediction on the fight

28:35 – I ask Rafe if we can appreciate this version of Pacquiao

35:04 – We talk about Pacquiao’s philanthropy

43:30 – Canelo announces he’s not fighting in September

54:45- We talk about Rafe’s latest piece on PBC fans

1:10 – Rafe gives us his 2020 NBA Champion Prediction

Rafe’s books can be found wherever you buy books and you can find him on twitter @rafeboogs.  You can also find his latest on boxing at The Athletic.

Canelo not fighting in September during Mexican Independence Day weekend leaving open date for boxing

July 17, 2019

Golden Boy Boxing sent out a press release on Wednesday informing boxing media and fans that Canelo Alvarez will not fight Mexican Independence weekend this September.

According to the press release, the “decision was made in an effort to secure the right opponent and to do justice to the level of promotion required for a boxing star of his magnitude.”

Alvarez defeated Daniel Jacobs Cinco de Mayo weekend.  One month later, GGG outclassed Steve Rolls to clear the way for the third fight in their trilogy.  But it appears that Alvarez is looking for another opponent.  There are rumors swirling that Sergey Kovalev may be a new challenge for Alvarez as that fight would likely take place at light heavyweight, meaning Canelo would go up in weight class.

As the dominoes go, if Canelo vacates the September date, one would think that GGG would vie for the opening to fight in Vegas.  GGG, a DAZN stablemate of sorts, signed a lucrative deal to be with the digital platform.  A fight possibility may be super welterweight Jaime Munguia.  The 22-year-old rising Mexican fighter would be a great opponent to fill the void of a Canelo fight.

Payout Perspective:

The loss of Canelo is a hit for DAZN as Alvarez’s Cinco de Mayo weekend fight against Daniel Jacobs aided the digital platform with subscriptions and one-off purchases.  The hope is that GGG replaces Canelo this weekend.  With that, it would only fuel the fire for a trilogy later down the road.  At this point, it appears that Canelo will fight in late November or possibly December (opposite UFC last weekend of the year?).  In the short term, the big September boxing event is on a holding pattern.

Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust Lawsuit file brief opposing Top Rank, Bellator and Golden Boy’s objections to use of documents

July 3, 2019

Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit filed an Opposition this past Friday to the objections of Bellator, Golden Boy and Top Rank from producing the use of “potential” confidential information at August’s evidentiary hearing.

The Plaintiffs hope to utilize deposition testimony from Scott Coker related to Coker’s prior employment at Strikeforce, a copy of a standard Golden Boy promotional agreement template with boxers and a single paragraph from the Expert Rebuttal Report of Plaintiffs’’ expert Dr. Andrew Zimbalist which displays Top Rank’s wage share for the years 2013 to 2016.  There is also additional financial information from each of the three parties which Plaintiffs contend is “granular information.”

Plaintiffs’ Oppo to Non… by on Scribd

A set of evidentiary hearings will take place the last week of August and mid-September to determine the evidence provided by experts in the Antitrust lawsuit.  Pursuant to a scheduling order, the parties have produced exhibit lists they intend to use for the hearing.  Objections and responses have now been filed with reply briefs coming soon.

In addition, Bellator and Top Rank have filed objections to the use of information that includes information.  As third-parties to this lawsuit (they are not a plaintiff or defendant in the Antitrust lawsuit), they have filed objections to preserve the confidentiality of the documents.

Plaintiffs point out the standard that Bellator and Top Rank must convince the Court is that there must be “compelling reason” to exclude the documents from use.  Described as a high burden by Plaintiffs they cite to the overarching public policy that there is an “assumption that the press and public have a presumed right of access to court proceeding and documents.”  The only instance in which a party could overcome the policy is if “closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.”

In arguing that Top Rank’s financial information which include the total annual revenues from 2010-2016 and average wage share are not commercially sensitive, they state that neither of the figures sought to use convey “granular, athlete-or event-specific information that could convey competitive advantage.”  Similarly, they suggest that the gross revenues from Bellator and Golden Boy would not provide a competitor advantage.

“Bellator and Golden Boy’s annualized gross revenues do not contain granular information that a competitor could potentially use to harm the Objectors because the figures convey no information that would enable a competitor to, for example, sign one of Objectors’ athletes, counterprogram Objectors’ events, or lure away Objectors’ sponsors.  If Objectors assert another type of harm, they have not articulated it and it is therefore waived.  Similarly, Objectors’ wage shares do not include information that could provide their competitors with an unfair advantage or put Objectors in a disadvantaged position in athlete negotiations or otherwise.”

Plaintiffs argue that Bellator’s annualized top-line revenues provide important context for assessing Zuffa’s dominant position in the market and wage share provides comparison regarding the class wide effects of Zuffa’s anticompetive Scheme.

With respect to the request to seal references to annual revenues and average wage share from 2010 to 2016, Plaintiffs argue that the information is “too old” to contain any competitive value.  Plaintiffs highlight the years in which each wants to seal their financial information from disclosure in arguing that the information is far removed from the litigation of today.

Bellator financial information:  2010-2016

Golden Boy financial information:  2015-2016

Top Rank financial information:  2013-2016

With Bellator and Golden Boy signing deals with streaming platform DAZN, Plaintiffs argue that the financial information is now obsolete.

Also, Bellator is asking to seal two passages from the deposition of Scott Coker.  Plaintiffs contend that there is not a compelling reason to do so.  Specifically, Coker reads from an email Zuffa produced that he wrote while he was Strikeforce president which is supposedly exemplifies Zuffa’s market share and its approach to competition.  The second passage asks the Court to seal identities of three principals in Strikforce’s parent company.

Finally, Plaintiffs claim that the Golden Boy standard contractual template is not a trade secret as it contains nothing specific or identifies an individual fighter.

Payout Perspective:

Top Rank, Bellator and Golden Boy will have a chance to respond to the Opposition Brief and argue the compelling reasons why the documents should remain confidential.  Alternatively, they might argue that the standard for exclusion is less than that proposed by Plaintiffs.  More likely, Bellator and Golden Boy will argue that the release and/or use of the financial information may provide a future template for competitors.  Regardless of how old the financial information is and despite any new partnerships, the information would be trade secrets that should not be disclosed to the public or utilized by Plaintiffs.  There is a lot riding on this ruling as Plaintiffs hope to use the information in late August for the expert hearings.  If not, it would present a big obstacle as they would have to find another way to present their evidence.  For Bellator and Golden Boy, the possible release of information might present more scrutiny on their company from its fighters and public as to the state of their finances as compared to prior statements of the company’s health.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

NAC discloses attendance and gate for Canelo-Jacobs

May 13, 2019

The Nevada Athletic Commission has released the attendance and gate for the May 4th fight between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The event was the sixth largest boxing event at the T-Mobile Arena with the top 5 involving Canelo.  The other event, Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor had the largest gate with $55,414,865.79, drawing 13,094.

The other events included:

Canelo-GGG I, 9/16/17 – 17,318 for a gate of $27,059,850

Canelo-GGG II, 9/15/18 – 13,732 for a gate of $24,473,500

Mayweather-Canelo, 9/14/13 – 16,146 for a gate of $20,003,150

Canelo-Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr, 5/16/17 – 17,143 for a gate of $10,631,850

Canelo-Daniel Jacobs, 5/04/19 – 15,730 for a gate of $8,685,750

Also, of note, there were 1,388 comps for the event.

Payout Perspective:

While it might be the lowest gate of the Canelo events listed above, Canelo-Jacobs did draw more than the second GGG fight. Admittedly, the other fights on this list had more heat and drawing power.  Not that Daniel Jacobs was not a worthy opponent for Canelo, but the others on this list already had a name many casual fans were aware of prior to the fight.  JCC, Jr. rode his family lineage for his popularity and therefore the big attendance and gate for that fight.

Payouts from Canelo-Jacobs; Canelo nets $23.6M after fees, license and taxes

May 7, 2019

MMA Payout has obtained the payout sheet from the Nevada Athletic Commission from this past Saturday’s Canelo-Jacbos fight. Canelo Alvarez earned the most for the night as he grossed $35 million.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez: $35M
Daniel Jacobs: $2.5M

Vergil Ortiz, II Jr.: $75,000
Mauricio Herrera: $75,00

Joseph P. Diaz, Jr.: $100,000
Freddy L. Fonseca: $10,000

Lamont Roach, Jr.: $75,000
Jonathan Oquendo: $50,000

Sadam Ali: $150,000
Anthony Young: $45,000

John P. Ryder: $100,000
Bilal Akkawy: $30,000

Aram Avagyan: $12,500
Francisco Esparza, Jr.: $13,000

Alexis Espino: $6,000
Wiliamm R. Wagner: $2,000

Yamguchi Falcao: $50,000
Christopher Pearson: $20,000

Steven Butler: $70,000
Vitali Kopylenko: $15,000

Erik Bazinyan: $50,000
Alan Campa: $17,000

Alexis Salazar: 23,150
Abraham Cordero: $5,850

Richard Acevedo: $3,900
Mario Sosa: $1,600

According to the payout sheet, Canelo netted $23.6M as a result of the fees, license and taxes associated with his payout. Jacobs netted $2.27M although, as reported by many, he is guaranteed over $10M for his part in Saturday’s fight.

Disgruntled May-Pac fans get oral argument in appeals court

March 12, 2019

On March 7th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal of the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs that purchased the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.  The case was dismissed but appealed by the plaintiffs.

The underlying facts of the lawsuit brought by multiple individuals and consolidated into one case claim that they were victims of fraud when they purchased tickets and/or PPV for the fight without the knowledge that Pacquiao had an injured shoulder.  The details of the dismissal of the lawsuit were covered by MPO this past September.

Three parties representing the plaintiffs, the defendants including HBO and Showtime and separate counsel for defendant Floyd Mayweather and his company argued their briefs before the Night Circuit.

The appeal came down to two differing theories.  Plaintiffs viewpoint that the case is a consumer protection action where fans were duped into thinking that they were purchasing tickets and/or a $100 PPV to watch a healthy Paquiao and Mayweather.  But it was not revealed that Pacquiao was fighting with a significant injury.  As a result, consumers were taken advantage of by the promoters and those with business interests tied to the event.  Plaintiffs, in part, infer that the defendants were not going to cancel or postpone the event regardless of Pacquiao’s condition.

Defendants maintain the District Court ruling and uphold the ruling that the case is premised upon a revocable license.  The fans paid for what they received and despite the fact that they did not get the fight they wanted, they received the fight that they paid for.

The appellate court seemed to probe the question of whether Charpentier could be distinguished from this case based on the business-side of sports.  Charpentier was premised upon the fact that in the mid-1990s the Los Angeles Rams franchise was leaving for St. Louis, and despite its knowledge that it would, stated that it was staying.  While in Pacquiao, he indicated that he felt fine going into the fight, Mayweather asserted he knew everything within his opponent’s camp yet did not speak about a shoulder injury pre or post-fight.  HBO and Showtime did not claim to know about a pre-existing injury and promoted the fight as the Fight of the Century  It believed it to be so big that it set the ticket prices and PPV price point at astronomical prices.

Hart Robinovitch, arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs, stressed that facts were intentionally concealed from consumers set against the backdrop upon quotes from commentators inferring that the fight less that what was expected.  He portrayed the plaintiffs as the little guy that paid big prices for the event.

The Court asked about where the line might be drawn on a failure to disclose theory, here the omission of Pacquiao’s injury, where it is common that athletes play with injuries at all times.  Plaintiffs argued that the failure to disclose Pacquiao’s injury was material to this case.  Notably, Pacquiao did not publicly disclose the injury until 30 minutes into the PPV based on his request to the commission for a pain reliever for his shoulder. The Court grilled Robinivitch on the claim that Pacquiao omitted any claim of injury prior to the fight.  But, premised upon the omission, there must be a duty to disclose.  The Court also asked about “puffery” claims made by athletes (i.e., “I feel great,”) and whether something like this would give rise to a claim.

Plaintiffs argue that the license approach is premised on a contract claim, which differs from what it is arguing here.

They claim that the district court erred when it did not interpret Plaintiffs claim that Pacquiao concealed his injury for the sole business reason of making money.  Plaintiffs argue that there is a material fact, which cannot be dismissed on a Motion to Dismiss stage.

During oral arguments, Plaintiffs stressed the Charpentier case which was central to its case.  The case was brought by Los Angeles Rams season ticket holders that claimed the franchise publicly denied moving while concealing material facts that its intention was to move.   The court in that case stated, “Defendant knew these statements were false, but defendant made them purely to maintain and manipulate the sales of tickets.”  In that lawsuit, the court dismissed the contract-based claims but maintained the plaintiffs’ fraud claim.  The distinction is important when set upon the footprint of the Pacquiao case because plaintiffs argue that the material misrepresentation of Pacquiao’s injury in addition to the affirmations that he was fine is sufficient for this case to go forward.

While the question of disclosing an athlete’s injury is a debatable question, Plaintiffs cited the NFL’s policy of injury reports which discloses the nature and reason a player does not practice in the week prior to the game.  It notes this as an example of an affirmative

Daniel Petrocelli represented the defendants except the Mayweather defendants.  He argued that there are reasons why an athlete’s private health information is not disclosed.  First, there is a right to privacy issue regarding health issues.  Second, there should not be an expectation to know an up-to-date status of an athlete’s physical condition.  Finally, its common knowledge that boxers do fight with injuries.

The Court questioned Petrocelli if whether there are cases where there are material misrepresentations or omissions that give rise to a consumer claim.  But, Petrocelli argued that the cases are segmented between off the field business cases versus athletic case.  He argued Charpentier was based on the misrepresentation of the business aspect of sport and differed from Pacquiao’s shoulder.  He claimed that the case was extrinsic to the case and this was where the line can be drawn.  He gave the example of an announcement that a team had signed LeBron James and consumers made purchases based on the representation but in actuality it was another individual, not the famous basketball player.  In that instance, would there be an issue regarding a material misrepresentation.

While the Court did not side with either about the ultimate question of the veracity of the case, it did question Petrocelli if there were material facts about the omission of Pacquiao’s injury with respect to whether or not consumers were defrauded.

Mark Tratos, the attorney for Defendants representing Manny Pacquiao, Bob Arum, Todd duBoef, Top Rank, Inc. and HBO argued that the district court correctly dismissed the lawsuit arguing that the license approach applied.  They also claimed that there is no carve-out exception to the license approach where there is a fraudulent inducement to purchase an event.

Notably, the Defendants argued an alternative scenario in which Pacquiao was cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission which would relieve any liability on behalf of the defendants since a third party allowed the fight to occur.  This would place some level of liability on the commission.

During oral arguments, Tratos argued a floodgates of litigation scenario if there is a duty of a fighter to disclose an opponent injury.  The implication here would be that it would be implausible for a fighter to know whether or not there is a pre-fight injury of an opponent.  But there would be hundreds of lawsuits filed if there was an affirmative duty for a fighter to know another’s injury.

Payout Perspective:

One can expect an opinion in this case later this year.  If the court were to side with Plaintiffs, it would go back to the district court and continue as the lawsuit was dismissed just at the pleading stage.  If it sides with the defendants, the case would likely go away.  While most from the outside would see this as an easy case to decide in favor of the defendants, it brings up interesting theories with respect to consumer fraud.

Plaintiffs claim that there are material facts that would overcome a motion to dismiss the case purely on the filed lawsuit.  This is the initial goal of the Plaintiffs. Will this actual happen?  It would be surprising.  The Court seemed to wrestle with the necessity of disclosing an athlete’s injury prior to an event.  While Plaintiffs attempt to carve out the analytical argument that Pacquiao’s omission of disclosing the injury to generate sales as a business reason which would buttress its fraud claim, defendants argue that this is purely athletic strategy.  Defendants note that consumers are only entitled to watch an event and cannot dictate if its exciting or not.  It stresses that Pacquiao fought all 12 rounds and even won certain rounds based on the scorecards.  The cases argued before the court are carved out between a license approach (fans entitled to watch an event and nothing more) and those which follow the Los Angeles Rams case (Charpentier) where the court allowed a fraud claim when the Rams misrepresented that it would not move but did.  It does seem that the case will be decided upon whether there is a belief that there are material facts to determine whether the defendants had a duty to disclose the alleged injury.

The Court will be setting a new precedent when it decides this case as it will guide future lawsuits where sports fans feel duped by sports teams and/or events.

MMA Payout Year in Review: No. 8 – Golden Boy promotes first MMA event

December 27, 2018

Golden Boy Boxing made its debut promoting mixed martial arts this past November with a card in Inglewood, California.  The event was headlined by Tito Ortiz taking on Chuck Liddell.

The event was centered around the main event which was a farce to begin with as it was clear that Liddell was in no shape to fight.  The California State Athletic Commission, the one that issued a license to Jon Jones, provided Liddell with the license to fight Ortiz.  Based on the looks of Liddell, the 48-year-old was in no shape to fight, yet, CSAC granted him the opportunity.  To no surprise, Ortiz put Liddell out of his misery in the first round.

Maybe the only good thing that came out of the event was the UFC signing Deron Winn. The 5’7 205-pound Winn earned a victory over former UFC light heavyweight Tom Lawlor.

The pre-fight press conference was one of the worst showings to promote an event as Oscar De La Hoya appeared to be preoccupied with something else.

De La Hoya hopes to be a disrupter in the world of MMA and become an alternative to the UFC as he took aim straight at White.  The head of the UFC went right after the Golden Boy and even included salary and PPV specifics in a piece authored by Yahoo! Sports Kevin Iole.

For his troubles, Liddell made $250,000 while Ortiz earned $200,000.  The rest of the payouts, attendance and gate from the event are below.

11-24-18 GB MMA Payouts by on Scribd

11-24-18 GB MMA Box Office by on Scribd

The PPV was originally priced at $49.99 but was reduced by $10.00 to $39.99.  According to multiple reports, it was estimated at 40,000 PPV buys and as low as 30,000 PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

Despite the low PPV numbers, Golden Boy professes to continue promoting MMA events.  While the competition may be beneficial for fighters, I’m not sure its debut was something to redo.  If it can be a place for entertaining fighters that no longer want to be in the UFC or Bellator, there could be a place in for it in the MMA stratosphere.  The question will be if Oscar De La Hoya will be engaged enough with this venture to ensure that he develops a quality product rather than attempting to “hot shot” events with something like Ortiz-Liddell.

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