Cyborg signs with Bellator

September 3, 2019

Bellator announced the signing of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino on Tuesday.  According to the promotion, it’s the largest contract in women’s MMA history although financial details were not disclosed.

Cyborg will compete in the women’s 145-pound weight class according to Bellator’s press release announcing the signing.  The contract is a multi-year, multi-fight contract.

Cyborg’s last fight in the UFC was this past July at UFC 240 against Felicia Spencer.  Dana White announced that it would not resign the former champion and the company waived its 90-day exclusive period for negotiating a new contract.

Payout Perspective:

The writing seemed to be on the wall for Cyborg as the UFC did not want her anymore.  Moving to Bellator will bring some notoriety to the women’s division that includes former opponent Leslie Smith.  But Cyborg’s signing should infuse some energy into the women’s division which has not been heavily promoted.  It is interesting that Bellator announced the signing as the largest in women’s MMA history considering the pay received by Ronda Rousey.

Show Money 29 talks unredacted expert report, Endeavor IPO, Zuffa Boxing and more

August 7, 2019

It’s another edition of Show Money with Paul Gift and John Nash.  As the expert report hearings are looming later this month, we talk about the newly revealed information in Hal Singer’s expert report, Endeavor’s IPO the inevitable Zuffa Boxing and more.

You can listen here.

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.

McGregor signs 6-fight deal with the UFC

September 20, 2018

Conor McGregor has signed a 6-fight deal with the UFC according to a report from ESPN.  Although financial terms were not disclosed, Dana White indicated that the new contract could make McGregor the highest-paid athlete in the UFC.

The deal includes a sponsor agreement with McGregor’s new venture, Proper Whiskey.  McGregor sold his new product during Thursday’s press conference which was closed to the public.

McGregor was likely the highest-paid fighter even before the new contract.  His last reported purse at UFC 202 in August 2016 against Nate Diaz drew him $3 million although he likely made much more due to his PPV buy rate.  Last August against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., McGregor made $30 million without considering the buy rate upside.

Payout Perspective:

Although it is not disclosed, its clear that McGregor is the marquee athlete in the UFC and the promotion is happy to have him back.  McGregor is far from retiring as one can see from Thursday’s press conference is that he likes the attention and the confrontation.  He was the fourth highest-paid athlete according to Forbes from his boxing match.  He made $85 million in winnings and another 14 million in endorsements.  One might expect McGregor to eclipse this mark if he does 2-3 fights in one year.

Rockhold awaiting right contract from UFC to fight Weidman

August 16, 2018

UFC middleweight Luke Rockhold indicated that he will not fight Chris Weidman until he has a new contract. The rumored rematch between the two was set for one of the big events this fall at UFC 230 in New York but Rockhold is making a stand for better pay.

Rockhold spoke with reporters at an event with his sponsor American Ethanol in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  He indicated that he had to be shown the right contract.  “Business is good,” Rockhold said inferring that his other interests outside of the Octagon were lucrative enough that a UFC fight was not a necessity.

Rockhold seemed to intimate that athletes have learned how to game the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and he does not like it when fighters like Brock Lesnar or Jon Jones are able to be inserted into the main event after a long time away.

H/t: MMA Junkie

Payout Perspective:

You might recall that Rockhold agreed to fight Yoel Romero despite Romero not making weight at UFC 221.  He lost via TKO and his chance for a middleweight title shot.  So, you can see why Rockhold may be wanting more money to get back into the Octagon.  Rockhold is playing it close to the vest as he indicated that he’s almost ready for a return to fighting after being injured but won’t fight without it making sense.  He stated that he was not “going to lose money fighting” which goes to say that he’s been able to make money outside of the Octagon.  Certainly, it’s a good thing for Rockhold to establish other business ventures that don’t include getting punched in the face.  While it seems that his competitive fire is still there for fighting, he is sick of the politics in the promotion.  I think that Rockhold does come back against Weidman and that his interview is just venting his frustration.

Did UFC satisfy its part of deal for Brian Ortega at UFC 226?

July 20, 2018

UPDATED 7/20/18, 10:19pm PT:  According to MMA Junkie report, a financial deal was struck between the UFC and Ortega).  Brian Ortega was not compensated despite being ready for his fight with Max Holloway at UFC 226 underscores anl issue with bout agreements which allows the UFC to provide an opponent in order satisfy its terms of the contract without additional remedy for the athlete.

Ortega spoke about a meeting he had with White in which the challenger was told he would not be compensated for his time promoting his fight with Max Holloway. The lightweight champion had to pull out of the fight just days before his showdown due to concussion-like symptoms.  According to his interview with Brendan Schaub, Ortega was given the option of fighting Jeremy Stephens or Frankie Edgar on short notice for an interim belt.  Ortega had just beat Edgar and he did not want to fight Stephens as his sole goal was to fight for the belt.

Ortega noted that White claimed that the UFC had done its part in offering a substitute and since he did not want the Stephens fight, their duty to fulfill the contract was done.  White, who Ortega claimed was upset during the meeting to discuss fight options, was upset.  The UFC did not offer to cover expenses for his training camp due to Ortega not taking the substitute fight.

In his meeting with White Ortega noted that he had taken fights on short notice including offering to fight Khabib Nurmogomedov when his fight fell through with Holloway this past April.  He also stated that he had spent extra time doing media for UFC 226 in English and Spanish.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the Bout Agreement allows for the UFC to come up with a fight alternative in the event that the original fight does not go through.  After the UFC has provided a fight, it is up to the athlete to take the fight or decline.  But, if the athlete declines, it’s the UFC’s position that they have fulfilled the terms of the Bout Agreement.  Ortega was adamant that he wanted to fight Holloway for the belt, or the belt itself.  He did not want the interim belt since it was not the same.  From the UFC’s perspective, one might infer that this (fighting for the title) is not written into the contract.  Rather, it’s an alternative to the original fight (or perhaps adding the moniker of being for the ‘interim’ title).  There’s some ambiguity in contract law as to the duty of a party to “cover” in the case of an “anticipatory breach.”  Basically, if it’s clear that the bout could not happen because one of the participants could not fight, the promoter has a right to provide the athlete a substitute.  If the participating athlete declines the substitute, the promoter has fulfilled its obligation of the contract.  In this case, it seems that is the UFC’s position since it gave Ortega an option of Stephens or Edgar.  Of course, the counter to the right to “cover” is whether the substitute is on par with the original Bout Agreement.  Ortega and his camp agreed that any fight outside of Holloway would not be the same and declined the alternatives.  But, it would seem that there would be no real legal remedy for Ortega since the UFC offered him an attempt to remain on the card.  It’s a real sticky situation for Ortega because he has not trained for Stephens or Edgar and a loss would derail his real goal of facing Holloway for the title.  While the UFC may argue that you will eventually fight these challengers, one might assume Ortega would have a whole fight camp to prepare.

Obviously, this hurts Ortega and his trainers and training partners who may be financially affected too since the athlete was not paid, they may not be paid as well.  Unless fighters have the ability to alter Bout Agreements to place clauses which ensures payment regardless of whether fights go forward, this practice will continue.

The Interview: USF Law Student Zachary Tomlin

June 17, 2018

I had the opportunity to speak with University of San Francisco Law School student Zachary Tomlin.  He recently won an award in the annual Sports Lawyers Association student writing competition for a paper he wrote about the NLRB and the UFC.

Tomlin SLA Submission by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

During my talk with Zack, we reference an 11 part test applied by the NLRB to determine whether or not workers are employees or independent contractors.

The NLRB 11 Factor Test

  1. Extent of control by the employer
  2. Whether or not the individual is engaged in a distinct occupation or business
  3. Whether the work is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision
  4. Skill required in the occupation
  5. Whether the employer or individual supplies instrumentalities, tools, and place of work
  6. Length of time for which individual is employed
  7. Method of payment
  8. Whether or not work is part of the regular business of the employer
  9. Whether or not the parties believe they are creating an independent contractor relationship
  10. Whether the principal is or is not in the business
  11. (New:) Whether the evidence tends to show that the individual is, in fact, rendering services as an independent business

Also discussed is the NLRB decision in the case of the Northwestern Football player case.  The board unanimously decided to decline jurisdiction.

The Velox decision is below:

Administrative Law Judges Decision in re Velox Express, Inc. by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

I also apologize for the abrupt ending.  I am still working on my editing skills.

Dodson will not be paid after Munhoz fails to make weight

February 2, 2018

John Dodson will not be compensated for traveling to Brazil, making weight and being ready to fight Pedro Munhoz Saturday after the Sao Paulo native did not make weight.

MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz confirmed with UFC officials that Dodson will not be compensated.  Munhoz was unable to make weight for his fight at 135 pounds.  According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the hotel that Munhoz was staying at ran out of hot water which prevented him from cutting the necessary weight.

Regardless of the reason why Munhoz missed weight, the issue of the other fighter has surfaced once again.  Last month Vitor Belfort was not paid due to the fact Uriah Hall had to go to the hospital due to complications with weight-cutting.  The UFC did not compensate him.  It was noted that they attempted to get him a replacement or a fight on a card the next weekend.

Here, Dodson traveled to Brazil for the fight, had to pay for a fight camp and perhaps some of his coaches.  You might recall that UFC heavyweight Tim Johnson set up an online fund so that his full coaching stuff could travel to Brazil.  So, it’s a huge financial undertaking for the fighter if they are to fight in another country.

Payout Perspective:

I’ve always wondered why UFC contracts do not allow for the fighter that makes the weight to obtain their show money.  It could be that the contractual language allows the UFC to terminate the contract if one side fails to fight for whatever reason.  If that were the case, it would create a huge issue for fighters since the contract would favor the UFC who may unilaterally pull the plug on a fight and not have to pay anyone.  Also, if another fight were to be offered, it would seemingly force the fighter to make weight to have to take the match even if they did not want to do it.  We will see if the UFC addresses it from a PR standpoint and compensate Dodson for traveling to Brazil.

Belfort asks for pay after Hall pulls out of UFC St. Louis

January 15, 2018

MMA Fighting reports that Vitor Belfort has asked the UFC to pay him for being ready to fight at UFC St. Louis but it appears that Dana White is claiming that due to the fact that he turned down replacement fights, he will not be compensated.

Belfort’s opponent, Uriah Hall, was unable to weigh-in on Saturday before Sunday’s event and the fight was cancelled.  White blamed Hall for not being able to fight as he claims that he was not taking training seriously.

On social media, Belfort asked for his pay as he trained for the bout and made weight.

Antes de qualquer coisa só gostaria de dizer OBRIGADO! Obrigado a todos! Todos que me acompanham, torcem por mim e minha família! Mas hj especialmente quero fazer um agradecimento especial ao colunista @chicobarney pela matéria q publicou no Site Lendo o q escreveu me fez lembrar de cada momento descrito no texto. As críticas, meus sentimentos, sonhos, ideias etc… Em um momento como hj, em q o agora não me faz muito sentido… Difícil entender depois de tanta dedicação e sacrifício. De ter me preparado psicologicamente para me aposentar de um esporte q basicamente ajudei a criar… e simplesmente isso não ter acontecido…Tenho sentimentos conflitantes a respeito do q aconteceu… Mas como disse, lendo a matéria também me lembrei de q muito do que fiz, muitas das ideias e muito do q disse anos atrás, não faziam pleno sentido para mim. Eu simplesmente acreditava q daria certo… Q o Vale Tudo na época se tornaria um esporte. Que nós lutadores, não éramos bárbaros se digladiando e sim atletas. Que tínhamos potencial de sermos “uma empresa” de representarmos marcas e valores. Nada disso fazia muito sentido na época, mas dentro do meu coração, sempre fez … Minha luta de despedida não ocorreu como havia planejado, mas no meu coração sei q de alguma forma lá na frente, TUDO isso fará sentido. Mais uma vez, como sempre fiz e muitas vezes fui ridicularizado por isso. Entrego a minha vida nas mãos do meu Pai q está no Céu. Pq Dele sempre veio a minha paz… Bjo no coração de todos vcs. Agora uma mensagem para o @ufc . Estou à espera do meu pgto @ufc afinal de contas, fiz o que tinha que ser feito ( treinei , estive presente na semana da luta, bati meu peso….) Onde está o respeito!?

A post shared by Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (@vitorbelfort) on

White rebutted the notion of paying Belfort by claiming that he had turned down a replacement fight and another for next week in Boston.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that there must be an actual policy for payment which should be in a fighter’s contract that the fighter is guaranteed at least his purse (and maybe win bonus) if he or she is able to make weight and their opponent cannot fight.  Offering a replacement is a solution but a flawed one for the simple fact that Belfort has trained specifically for one fight and is now presented with another.  Moreover, a loss would impact their ranking and earning potential.  Not to mention loss of win bonus.  From the UFC perspective, it’s the best that they can do.  But, it would seem fair that since the fighter did everything possible to fulfill the terms of the contract, there should be some sort of mechanism where they are compensation in the event the other party fails to fulfill their terms of the bout agreement.  It would seem finding a replacement would put the fighter in a “take it or not get paid” position.  I’ve been told that this scenario does not just happen in MMA but also in boxing which is unfortunate.  The solution, of course, is to push for a better deal in the bout agreement.  This is easier said than done because the bargaining leverage is skewed toward the promoter.

UK court orders Bisping to pay over $400K to former manager

December 15, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Michael Bisping will have to pay more than $400,000 in unpaid commissions to his former management team after a Manchester court determined that soon-to-be retired former UFC middleweight champion will need to pay up per an agreement between 2005 and 2011.

The lawsuit was reported on by the UK’s Daily Mail back in May of this year.  Bisping’s former manager Anthony McGann, owner of the Wolfslair Gym claims Bisping owed him management fees dating back 10 years.  Bisping denied the claim.

After an 11 day trial, Judge Richard Salter ruled Bisping owed McGann approximately $426,313 U.S. dollars in back pay for managing the UFC middleweight.

As one might expect, this was a contentious lawsuit with rumors that the two side got into a “scuffle” outside the courtroom.

This is not the only legal issue Bisping has going, as he is being sued by a 24-Hour Fitness patron from an incident this past summer.

With the judgment, there will now be a fight for attorney costs as it appears that the prevailing party will be able to recoup fees.  More litigation to come.

Payout Perspective:

I would expect an appeal of the court verdict but I do not know the court system in Manchester.  It does seem like this battle between Bisping and his former manager/gym is one where the fighter becomes successful and moves on while the people that started with him wants their share of what they invested.  It might be that McGann had Bisping sign a contract that favored Wolfslair.  Or, Bisping determined that he could do and/or wanted better representation and refused to pay commissions.  It seems that the court favored McGann although the fight over who pays the attorney fees will be another battle.

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