August 23, 2016
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective for UFC 202. This time we take a look at Diaz-McGregor II at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
McGregor gains revenge on Diaz
It was a majority decision for Conor McGregor as 2 judges scored the bout for McGregor while the third judge determined it a draw. It was a solid back and forth fight with McGregor coming out with a solid game plan but despite a crimson mask, Diaz came back and was able to score a 10-8 round (according to 1 judge). McGregor seemed to tire after round 2 as he attempted to run from exchanges. However, he was able to muster enough to narrowly escape a second loss to Diaz.
Here’s the scorecard for McGregor-Diaz 2. pic.twitter.com/zJTErk9NzZ
— Josh Gross (@yay_yee) August 21, 2016
The question of when the third fight shall happen will likely depend on when McGregor will be available as an injured leg may keep him out until 2017. Could we see Diaz-McGregor III in Vegas in July 2017?
Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz represented 82 percent of the reported salary payouts which we detail below. A definite money fight.
Anrhony Johnson drops Glover
It took one uppercut for Anthony Johnson to end the night for Glover Teixeira. Johnson should get Daniel Cormier next. Johnson is on a roll and it looks like Cormier will need to rely on his wrestling to stop Rumble’s power. This could be one of the main events for the UFC’s debut in New York this November.
Attendance and gate
Although there were reports that the event had trouble selling tickets, it still was a big gate for the UFC. It drew 15,539 for a live gate of $7,692,010 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. A typical McGregor draw.
UFC 196: 14,697 for $8.1M
UFC 194: 16,516 for $10.1M
UFC 189: 16,019 for $7.2M
Ticket prices were slashed for the event per ESPN. There were still tickets available the day of the event.
The $50,000 bonuses went to Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Donald Cerrone. Diaz-McGregor earned FOTN while Johnson and Cerrone drew POTN. There were a lot of stoppages to choose from and there could have been several fighters that could have drawn the bonuses.
Conor McGregor made history by making the most of any reported payout for an MMA fighter when the NSAC disclosed he would receive $3 million for the fight. Diaz came in second in payouts with $2 million. The two drew over 80% of the reported overall payouts.
The full list is here.
Promotion of the Fight
The Pre-Fight Press Conference was a spectacle with bottle throwing and middle fingers everywhere. With McGregor showing up late, it seemed to make Diaz mad as he got up and left and that’s when the presser went off the rails.
Things just got real between Diaz and McGregor at the UFC 202 press conference. pic.twitter.com/cxD8yYBl4W
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 17, 2016
Also of note, Nate Diaz appeared on Conan and Jimmy Kimmel.
Conor McGregor did not do as many appearances but did another CNBC interview.
He also did an ESPN interview post-water bottle throwing and the censors were too slow to catch up with some profanity.
There was also a GQ profile on McGregor.
The promotion of the fight included twitter emojis for Diaz and McGregor when you used their hashtags. Other fighters and famous folks did videos on twitter holding up the hashtag of they believed would win the fight.
— UFC (@ufc) August 16, 2016
The UFC 196 replay featuring Diaz-McGregor I was shown on FS1 Thursday night before the fight and drew over 200,000 viewers despite Olympics and NFL Preseason on the same night. The first fight was available for free online too.
The UFC weigh-ins drew 173,000 viewers on Friday night and was followed by a replay of the “Bad Blood” special on Diaz-Conor which drew 162,000 viewers.
The regular UFC sponsors were in the octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Bud Light, 7-Eleven, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the octagon. The movie “Hands of Stone,” which is about the Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard fight. Bud Light had the fighter prep point.
The octagon also included the twitter hashtags for Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor.
Conor McGregor, who has an individual sponsorship with Reebok, did posts and a video for Reebok promoting himself and UFC 202.
Donald Cerrone had a Monster Energy Drink logo and Bud Light sponsorship on his shorts. He also held the Monster can post-fight after his stoppage of Rick Story.
Odds and Ends
No “Face the Pain” music intro to the PPV. Perhaps a call by the new owners.
Conor McGregor claimed that he spent $300,000 on his training camp in preparation for Nate Diaz. That’s 10% of his reported payout for his fight with Diaz.
Cerrone said that it was his last fight on his contract but his reps stated otherwise. Regardless, he seemed set on re-signing with the UFC instead of testing free agency.
Despite the payout for Nate, Nick remains suspended due to the fact he has yet to pay his fine from the settlement with the commission. As a result, he was banned from the arena and precluded from cornering Nate.
We’ll probably talk about Nate and his post-fight vaping later this week.
The Dominick Cruz-Alpha Male feud continues as Cody Carbrandt stopped Takeya Mizugaki in the first round. Cruz stopped Mizugaki in the first round in his return from injury. Post-fight Carbrandt turned his attention to Cruz who was in the FS1 booth.
Was that Eva Marie or Rando Markos with the red hair?
New thing for fighters. They get to see tweets in the locker rooms:
— Shanda (@UFC_Shanda) August 20, 2016
Mike Perry may be the most-hated UFC fighter already. Not only did he fake a handshake with his opponent at the televised weigh-ins. There is audio of his corner possibly using racial slurs. This, in addition to having a long fingernail going into the Octagon and then, without a clipper in site, he attempted to chew it off.
Gordon Ramsey, Skip Bayless, Dwight Howard and Kanye West were all in attendance at UFC 202.
It was Neil Magny’s last fight on his contract but his upset loss to Lorenz Larking probably does not help his cause when negotiating with the UFC.
No post-fight press conference as fighters had individual scrums. A sign of the times for the new ownership?
The Pro Fighter’s Association held a press conference in Vegas during fight week to establish its potential roll in a fighter’s union for the UFC. It will be a long, hard road for this to happen but we shall see.
5 million google searches on Saturday for UFC 202 might infer that the PPV buy rate will soar over 1M buys. Certainly, the lack of tickets sales may be a concern but realize that the UFC moved into T-Mobile Arena versus most of their other big events taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. T-Mobile holds more people so maybe the UFC overestimated the attendance. While the event seemed to lack the buzz of a typical McGregor fight, it will still produce PPV buy rates. I would expect this event to hit 1M buys.
August 18, 2016
The water bottle flinging episode which ended the UFC 202 press conference on Wednesday provided some buzz for an event that lacks previous big fights. But, will Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor be punished for their actions.
If you have not seen the press conference, McGregor showed up about 30 minutes late to the press conference. Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Glover Texiera were present and on time. Shortly after McGregor made his appearance, Diaz left with his team. Shouting and finger gestures were exchanged and that’s when the throwing of objects began.
Things just got real between Diaz and McGregor at the UFC 202 press conference. pic.twitter.com/cxD8yYBl4W
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 17, 2016
According to the NAC 467.885(5), the Nevada Athletic Commission “may suspend or revoke the license of, otherwise discipline or take any combination of such actions against a licensee who has, in the judgment of the Commission:
- Conducted himself or herself at any time or place in a manner which is deemed by the Commission to reflect discredit to unarmed combat;
The UFC Code of Conduct states that the company can impose discipline for “Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety or well-being of another person.” In addition “[c]onduct that undermines or puts at risk the organization or promotion of a UFC event, including without limitation, failure to deliver, engage in or otherwise execute any and all promotional responsibilities…” Also, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the UFC.”
You can say that McGregor and Diaz’s actions yesterday were violations of all of the above. While it may have been an indirect way to promote the fight Saturday, it put at risk those that were nearby.
The news conference ends crazily with Diaz leaving room and his camp throwing things, including a tape roll that hit Conor’s girlfriend arm
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) August 17, 2016
Short plug, I was on with Josh Nason of The Wrestling Observer and we talked about the press conference in depth as well as the UFC 202 card.
I don’t expect the revocation of a license but a fine will likely occur. What will be interesting the commission hearing which will likely happen as a result. Obviously, there’s a part of MMA fandom that likes to see this intensity. But, when does it become sideshow, not sport. I understand that this is a part of the promotion but the throwing of objects can carry liability if a bystander were to be hit or injured.
August 8, 2016
The letter-writing battle between parties in the Wilder-Povetkin lawsuit is heating up as the parties have exchanged terse letters with the court about Wilder’s Motion to Dismiss the Povetkin lawsuit.
For background on the lawsuit, you can look here. Long story short, a bout between Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin set in Russia for this past May was called off by the sanctioning body due to the fact that Povetkin tested positive for Meldonium. While the positive drug test is a factor in the subsequent events that transpired, it was not the key trigger which the parties are seemingly battling over.
At this point, the parties are fighting over Povetkin’s request to release over $4 million in funds lodged in an Escrow Account related to the WBC calling off the fight. Wilder’s attorneys notified the escrow agent not to release the funds. Povetkin’s attorneys claim that this was against the terms of the agreement and as a result it constituted a breach which triggered a liquidated damages clause of $2.5 million. Povetkin’s attorneys also claim that the fight was called off due to the fact that Wilder never intended to go to Russia for the fight. Thus, it was Wilder that breached his contractual duty to the escrow agreement as well as the bout agreement. In addition, Povetkin filed a defamation claim against Wilder and his promoter as a result of the comments regarding failing a drug test.
While the Motion to Dismiss was filed in late July, the court in which the lawsuit is assigned has a rule in which the parties must submit a 3 page letter as part of Pre-Motion Conference prior to filing of a Motion to Dismiss. The letter is to outline the reasons for the motion and give the non-moving party a chance to amend (change based on the argument) the Complaint. Povetkin’s attorney identify this misstep last week as well as arguing its claim to the court.
While Wilder’s attorney gloss over their missteps in a letter to the court dated August 5th they take direct aim at Povetkin’s attorneys for its substantive arguments to the Court. Povetkin’s attorneys responded to the letter and requested a Pre-Motion Conference.
August 4, 2016
Deontay Wilder and Lou DiBella have filed a Motion to Dismiss the claims of Alexander Povetkin and his promoter. The motion reflects what might be a long, hard fight in court.
As you may recall, in June Wilder and his promoter, Lou DiBella and DiBella Entertainment filed a lawsuit against World of Boxing, LLC (“WOB”) and Alexander Povetkin in New York. The lawsuit claimed that Povetkin breached a Bout Agreement when Povetkin tested positive for Meldonium, a banned substance. Due to the finding, the World Boxing Council (“WBC”) issued a ruling that the fight, set for May 21, 2016 in Russia, would not go forward.
When news of the positive test surfaced, Wilder’s attorney notified the Escrow Agent, that the $4,369,365 deposited by Povetkin’s promoters should not be disbursed back to World of Boxing until a joint instruction from the parties “or a non-appealable order from a court of competent jurisdiction” advised the Escrow Agent it could disburse the funds.
Shortly after Wilder’s lawsuit, WOB and Povetkin filed 3 counterclaims. Two claimed breach of contract regarding the Bout Agreement. It claimed that Wilder was never in Russia on the date of the fight and this was the reason for the WBC announcing a postponement. Secondly, it claimed breach due to the fact that Wilder’s attorney instructed the Escrow Agent not to release funds.
The third allegaton for defamation claims that Wilder’s camp stated “falsely” that the fight was “canceled rather than postponed.” Also, there are accusations that Wilder’s camp stated Povetkin “cheated” due to the Meldonium finding. Notably, the Meldonium issue is downplayed in the motion.
Wilder submitted a declaration which claims that he was in England training for his fight when he learned of the drug test but did not intend to return to the US until after an announcement from the WBC. He claims he did not travel home until May 16, 2016. He includes his boarding pass home as evidence. They also submit the declaration of the travel agent that arranged Wilder’s flight back to the United States. Wilder’s attorneys also cite a tweet from Povetkin’s promoter which stated that the fight was not going forward prior to the WBC announcement.
This evidence is meant to prove that Wilder’s absence from Russia during the timeframe of the fight did not cause the postponement of the fight.
As for the defamation claim, Wilder’s attorneys cite the fact that “truth is an absolute, unqualified defense” to a defamation claim. In addition, opinion or rhetorical hyperbole is not actionable. It also argues that WOB and Povetkin cannot prove that any statements made were done with “actual malice.” This would relate to the comments about the positive test regarding Meldonium.
Wilder’s attorneys argue that Povetkin, as a public figure, must show the statements were made with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard of its falsity.
WOB and Povetkin’s complaint cite 13 statements of purported defamation. Each of which Wilder’s attorneys strike down.
In addition, Wilder’s attorneys argue certain procedural issues which would preclude the lawsuit from going forward.
WOB and Povetkin’s attorneys argue that the motion was filed in violation of the court rules in a letter to the court.
Wilder’s attorneys were out of town and indicated that they would respond once they are backwhich is Friday, August 5th.
MMA Payout will keep you posted.
July 31, 2016
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 201 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The main event featured Robbie Lawler taking on Tyrone Woodley for the welterweight title.
The wait was worth it: Woodley new WW champ
Tyron Woodley waited almost a year and a half for his shot at the welterweight title. What was almost a nothing fight for the first minute exploded quickly as Woodley laid the hammer down on Lawler. It has to be one of the bigger upsets in some time. Then again, it’s yet another title change in the UFC.
So does Nick Diaz actually get the first shot at him? It’s the “money fight” and could happen sometime this fall. But, doesn’t Lawler deserve a rematch? While he got caught, I doubt this could happen in another fight. Lawler should still be near the top of the rankings for this division.
Karolina edges out Rose for chance at Joanna
Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeated Rose Namajunas in the fight of the night. We now get an interesting all-Polish for the women’s strawweight title. Hopefully, the UFC can build this fight for women’s MMA as well as its international expansion. Certainly, this fight with Joanna Champion should take place sometime this fall in Poland.
Attendance and gate
It’s not surprising that this event drew less than the prior two PPV events in Atlanta. The previous two: UFC 88 and UFC 145, had highly anticipated fights in Evans-Liddell and Evans-Jones. The UFC did draw a 1 million gate. Specifically, 10,240 for a gate of $1.07M.
Bonuses of $50K each went to Rose-Karolina, Woodley and Jake Ellenberger. Rose-Karolina earned the Fight of the Night while Woodley and Ellenberger scored the Performances of the Night for their respective stoppages.
The usual UFC sponsors were in the octagon including Bud Light, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, UFC Fight Pass, MetroPCS, and Monster had the middle of the octagon. QT, a software company, shared the post with Monster’s logo.
Also in the octagon was signage for UFC 202 August 20th for Diaz-McGregor.
EA UFC2 had the prep point.
Tyron Woodley wore Monster head phones to the ring. This is something you rarely see any more.
Notably, MusclePharm was all over the UFC Embeddeds. Matt Brown even drove a car with the MP logo on the side.
Odds and Ends
On Friday, UFC 201 drew 500,000 google searches which is corrected from our original report that it drew just 50,000 searches. Still, it did not feel like strong momentum going into this.
Another thing going against this card was that the UFC Prelims were moved to FS2.
Recall this was to be a double title night with Demetrious Johnson defending his title against Wilson Reis. Johnson was injured, so Reis was bumped off the main card. He did record a submission victory over Hector Sandoval.
Why do fighters still strip down at the televised weigh-ins if their official weigh-ins were earlier that morning? No need to be in your underwear in front of the crowd. You can just wear your fight shorts.
It was interesting that Pat Barry, Rose Namajunas’ boyfriend and coach was not a part of the UFC Embeddeds. Rose talked about this prior to the fight.
Speaking of the UFC Embeddeds, this is the first time that I thought most of them were bland. However, the one thing that I enjoyed (aside from the Woodley kids) was that we were introduced to Karolina Kowalkiewicz. The other thing we may have learned from the video series is that Coy Wire and Robbie Lawler look alike.
Ian McCall received his win bonus and show money after Justin Scoggins could not make weight. McCall remained an alternate on the card which may explain him receiving the win bonus. It’s the first time I’ve heard of a fighter receiving a win bonus when they did not fight.
Did Reebok get Erik Perez an official Lucha Libre mask?
Jake Ellenberger was going to be cut but was given one more chance. He won with a liverkick that stopped Matt Brown. It’s not his last fight after all.
This PPV felt like the “forgotten PPV” as it is sandwiched between UFC 200 and UFC 202 (featuring the rematch between Diaz-McGregor). Both of these PPVs will draw over 1 million buys while 201 will fall far short of that. While Robbie Lawler is an exciting fighter and produced some great battles. Does it equate to his PPV average of 333,000 buys? Perhaps. But with the UFC seemingly promoting UFC 202 prior to UFC 201 even happening (e.g., Nate Diaz on Conan as well as the promos starting earlier), the PPV likely drew 285,000-300,000 PPV buys.
July 26, 2016
In a press release sent out last week, Standard & Poor’s Global assigned a rating for the debt involved in the acquisition of the UFC by a group led by WME-IMG. Moody’s Investor Service has sent out its own press release with more details related to the leveraged debt in the acquisition.
Per the July 22, 2016 release, Moody’s assigned VGD Merger Sub, LLC (aka UFC Holdings, LLC) a B2 corporate family rating and the proposed $150 million revolver and $1,300 million first lien term loan a B1 rating. The rating is assigned to those investments with a high credit risk and are based on speculation. The outlook, per Moody’s is seen as stable.
While Moody’s has a pretty optimistic outlook on the future of the company, it will not adjust the rating any time soon until the debt leverage is reduced.
UFC Holdings, LLC will be the rated entity after the transaction is complete. The Moody’s release broke down the money covered in this transaction:
- $1,420 million in new equity
- $325 million in rollover equity from management and existing investors
- $400 million of preferred equity
- $1,300 million in new first lien term loans
- $500 million second lien term loans or unsecured debt.
When the company determines if the $500 million will be in the form of a second lien term loan or an unsecured note, Moody’s will assign a rating to the debt offering.
Moody’s expects that the UFC will maintain a “good liquidity profile over the next twelve months with an expected cash balance of about $30 million following the close of the transaction and an undrawn $150 million revolving credit facility due 2021.”
Similar to the Standard & Poor’s projections, Moody’s cites the upcoming rights fee agreement as a positive for the company when considering its prospective business outlook. Despite the high debt, analysts believe that this shall contribute to an ascending EBITDA.
Also to note from Moody’s:
WME Parent is subject to a $175 million contingent acquisition payment upon the achievement of $275 million in EBITDA (but not earlier than June 30, 2017) and $75 million payable upon achieving $350 million of LTM EBITDA (but not earlier than December 31st 2018).
The stable outlook reflects Moody’s expectation that UFC’s EBITDA will continue to improve following a strong year in 2015 driven by PPV revenues, increased digital revenues, and contractual domestic and international television rights fees. While leverage is very high, we expect it to decline below 7x by the end of 2018.
The report warns of a possible downgrade if leverage is not below 7x by the end of 2018. It also states that there would be negative rating pressure if fee cash flow is used for returns to equity holders instead of debt repayment.
The report notes that the legalization of MMA in New York and the success of UFC Fight Pass improved the outlook for the company. The fact that the UFC is the largest MMA organization in the sport is a positive for analysts that see “high barriers to entry” to competition. It also cites a strong brand and “its large contractually bound pool of fighters with superior opportunities for exposure and profit.” The report also notes that the UFC has mitigated its concern over injured fighters which caused a downturn in PPV revenues in 2014. Overall, despite the amount of debt used to purchase the UFC, it is seen as a good prospective purchase with the belief that the company will continue with its improving revenues.
July 24, 2016
UFC on Fox 20 drew 2.44 million viewers in overnight ratings per Television By Numbers. Its strong showing helped Fox win the night in network ratings.
Per TV By Numbers it drew a 0.9 rating and 4 share in the adult 18-49 demo. UFC on Fox 20 went up against The Bourne Identity on NBC, 20/20 on ABC and Angel from Hell on CBS. Although The Bourne Identity drew more viewers (2.93M) and 20/20 drew more in the 9-10pm block (2.98M), its strong showing in the adult 18-49 demo won the night for the network.
The event improved on last year’s overnight rating as UFC on Fox 16 drew 2.29M viewers and improved to 2.8M in Live + SD ratings. 2014’s July show on Fox drew 2M viewers and ended up with 2.5M viewers.
The event was headlined by Holly Holm taking on Valentina Shevchenko in a women’s bantamweight matchup.
|UFC on Fox Ratings|
|Overnights||Live + SD|
|UFC on Fox 1||5,700,000|
|UFC on Fox 2||4,570,000|
|UFC on Fox 3||2,250,000||2,400,000|
|UFC on Fox 4||2,360,000||2,400,000|
|UFC on Fox 5||3,410,000||4,400,000|
|UFC on Fox 6||3,770,000||4,220,000|
|UFC on Fox 7||3,300,000||3,700,000|
|UFC on Fox 8||2,040,000||2,380,000|
|UFC on Fox 9||2,410,000||2,800,000|
|UFC on Fox 10||2,550,000||3,220,000|
|UFC on Fox 11||1,990,000||2,500,000|
|UFC on Fox 12||2,020,000||2,500,000|
|UFC on Fox 13||2,270,000||2,800,000|
|UFC on Fox 14||2,820,000||3,049,000|
|UFC on Fox 15||2,430,000||2,745,000|
|UFC on Fox 16||2,290,000||2,800,000|
|UFC on Fox 17||2,280,000||2,781,000|
|UFC on Fox 18||2,430,000||2,685,000|
|UFC on Fox 19||2,130,000||2,500,000|
|UFC on Fox 20||2,440,000|
July 23, 2016
Per a Standard & Poor’s Global press release Friday UFC Holdings, LLC will issue a $1.45 billion first lien credit facility. The company was assigned a ‘B’ rating on the WME-IMG acquisition. The outlook is projected as negative per the Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings report.
The financing for the deal to acquire the UFC will consist of the $1.45 billion credit facility which will consist of a $150 million revolver due 2021 and a $1.3 billion term loan B due 2023.
S&P Global Ratings assigned its ‘B’ corporate credit rating to UFC Holdings, LLC. It issued a ‘B+’ issue-level rating to the company’s $1.45 billion credit facility.
Envelope math UFC sale: $1.45B debt + $500M planned debt + $400M debt like equity + $1.75B cash = $4.1B – $460M existing debt = $3.64B net.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) July 22, 2016
The negative outlook reflects significant leverage with the UFC which is based on EBITDA growth to reduce leverage over the next few years (i.e., revenue is predicted to grow to offset the debt load currently taken on).
Recognizing that the revenue from its events fluctuate throughout the yar, the rating is given to ensure the “UFC can reduce total lease and preferred stock-adjusted debt to EBITDA to below 8x” before revising the outlook to stable.
Per S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Emile Courtney, “The ‘B’ corporate credit rating reflects very high anticipated adjusted leverage to complete the acquisition, partly offset by good EBITDA coverage of cash interest expense and an adequate liquidity profile.”
Analysts believe that the company’s EBITDA has a “plausible and robust growth path.” Similar to the SBJ article, the belief is that future media rights revenue will increase with the next television deal.
Notably, the opinion of analysts is that “the risk of marquee fighter injuries, which caused a significant more than 40% decline in EBITDA in 2014, will likely be partially mitigated in future periods due to “a strategy of marketing multiple fights at events and planning back-up matches and fighters in the event of injuries…” The report also states that “remedial training and safety actions” have taken place so that less injuries occur.
The report essentially rates UFC Holdings, LLC the way it does because the acquisition by WME-IMG is predicated on loans and the speculation that the UFC revenue (which remains volatile, yet optimistic) will increase. What is interesting is that the report is bullish on UFC events. While the volatility of the events (i.e., injuries causing cards to change or fights cancelled) have been a concern with its credit rating in the past, this report implies that the UFC has changed its strategy by promoting multiple fights on a card as well as promoting more safety precautions in training. The UFC has invested in helping fighters train smarter. Despite the need to shift fights due to injuries (and now USADA flagging fighters), the report seems to believe that it has improved upon making changes last minute. The underlying notion here is that the UFC brand is much stronger than the individual fighters.
July 20, 2016
The Zachary Light-Bellator lawsuit in California is getting personal. Bellator has filed a Cross-Complaint against Light stating that he stole money from the company and did not pay back a loan given to him due to the fact he was in financial trouble.
Light filed the lawsuit claiming wrongful termination back in May in Los Angeles Superior Court. Bellator was granted an extension to respond to the Complaint and it’s also filed its own Complaint against Light filed July 12th.
The cross-claim digs right into Light stating that Light told Bellator, that, “despite his sizable income, he had difficulty managing his family budget and was experiencing financial distress.” Bellator loaned Light $9,403.00 and entered into a written agreement to pay back the loan. Bellator attached a copy of the alleged agreement as an Exhibit to its Cross-Complaint. The company also claims that Light stole $4,600 in cash from VIP ticket sales from Bellator 136. Bellator claims Light now owes $5,050.00 plus interest.
Conversion, the civil claim alleged by Bellator, is essentially stealing. It also claims theft under California law and a breach of written contract which alludes to the purported failure of Light to repay the loan.
Bellator claims that as part of his job, Light “would collect the money he received from the sale of consignment and VIP tickets in connection with Bellator events, and remit the money to Bellator personnel shortly after he received it from purchasers.” He would then give the money to Bellator’s Chief Financial Officer, Michael O’Roark or Jane Estioko, Manager of Talent Relations. However, Bellator claims that Bellator remitted to Bellator “at least some of the money” he failed to give “thousands of dollars he collected.” The Monday after the event, Bellator 136, Light did not report for work citing medical reasons.
With respect to his financial issues, Light and Bellator entered into an “Authorization for Deduction” on December 18, 2014 for $6,974.57 in which he would repay the loan in monthly installments of $240.50 from his paychecks. It also appears that Bellator was charging him interest on this loan. The exhibit to the Cross-Complaint is below.
Light will have an opportunity to respond to these allegations. Obviously, these claims were filed as a result of Light’s lawsuit. The lawsuit is turning personal as Bellator infers the fact Light has had financial difficulties throughout. The loan was from December 2014 and the alleged theft occurred in April 2016. Were there any other issues in between this time that Bellator is holding back for the lawsuit or are these two issues the only claims against Light? Certainly Light will deny both claims.
The one question is why would Bellator give Light the responsibility of handling money on the company’s behalf if it believed he had an issue with finances. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
July 18, 2016
On Friday, Brock Lesnar was flagged by the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) of a potential violation of the UFC anti-doping policy due to an out of competition test from June 28, 2016. Although testing results of Lesnar’s “B” sample are yet to be revealed, the fallout from Lesnar’s appearance hurts the UFC and possibly the WWE.
On June 5, 2016, it was announced that Lesnar would fight at UFC 200 on July 9, 2016. The signing was unprecedented because he was under contract with the WWE. Yet, the WWE granted Lesnar the chance to fight in the Octagon once again. Despite the fact that the WWE has its own drug testing policy (known as the Wellness Policy – Lesnar has never been flagged for a violation), Lesnar was tested by USADA eight times in just the month lead-up to his fight against Mark Hunt. He took 5 tests in the first two weeks after it was announced he was returning. Multiple tests came up clean.
Despite the tests, the UFC policy handled by USADA dictated that a returning athlete to the UFC most give the company four months written notice so that USADA can put the athlete in the pool of those it may selectively test. But, the UFC anti-doping policy allows an exemption for a returning athlete that may be subject to drug testing. Per 5.7.1 of the UFC anti-doping policy:
An Athlete who gives notice of retirement to UFC, or has otherwise ceased to have a contractual relationship with UFC, may not resume competing in UFC Bouts until he/she has given UFC written notice of his/her intent to resume competing and has made him/herself available for Testing for a period of four months before returning to competition. UFC may grant an exemption to the four-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an Athlete.
The key sentence here is the last sentence: “UFC may grant an exemption to the four-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an Athlete.”
Since the UFC Anti-Doping Policy did not begin until July 1, 2015 and Lesnar’s last fight in the UFC prior to UFC 200 was December 2011, he was considered a new athlete. There has not been an official statement as to whether the UFC granted the 4-month exemption due to an “exceptional circumstance” or if it was “manifestly unfair to an Athlete.” Of course, either waiver could be easily explained.
But, one has to think that Lesnar and the UFC had contemplated his return as he had been training prior to the June announcement of his return to the Octagon. One might suggest that Lesnar could have notified the UFC of his return in the requisite 4 months to allow for the proper testing to occur.
However, it would seem that the parties wanted the Lesnar announcement to be a surprise. Recall, that Ariel Helwani and others from MMA Fighting were thrown out of a UFC event and Helwani was banned for life due to his report of Lesnar’s return prior to the UFC’s opportunity to make it themselves. Helwani along with his colleagues were reinstated a couple days later.
Notwithstanding the notice issue, let’s take a look at what Lesnar could face as a result of testing positive for a banned substance. First, Lesnar’s “B” sample, a second sample taken to determine the validity of the finding in the first sample, must confirm the initial finding of a banned substance. If this happens, Lesnar will face discipline from Nevada and the UFC per the anti-doping policy.
Since the infraction took place in Nevada, Lesnar will have to appear before the Nevada State Athletic Commission to address the drug test failure. At that time, we should know what drug(s) Lesnar tested positive for in his out-of-competition sample. In 2015, Nevada adopted guidelines for combat sports which included a 36-month suspension and 50-75% of the purse for a first-time offender for someone taking anabolic steroids.
In addition, the UFC anti-doping policy would discipline Lesnar.
Under Section 10 for Sanctions on Individuals, Section 10.1 specifically states:
An Anti-Doping Policy Violation occurring during, or in connection with, a Bout may, upon the decision of UFC, lead to Disqualification of all of the Athlete’s results obtained in that Bout with all Consequences, including, without limitation, forfeiture of title, ranking, purse or other compensation, except as provided in Article 10.1.1.
Read broadly, under the UFC-USADA Anti-Doping Guidelines, Lesnar could have his purse for the bout and “other compensation” taken from him. It would hurt enough that Lesnar would lose out on his $2.5 million reported purse but “other compensation” could mean money he makes from his PPV “upside.”
Not only could that happen, but the section further states that UFC could fine Lesnar up to $500,000 per Section 10.10 of the UFC-USADA Anti-Doping Guidelines. In addition, he could have his win against Mark Hunt overturned to a no decision per discretion of the Nevada State Athletic Commission according to section 467.850. This would not sting as much since Lesnar did not have a win bonus to forfeit. Regardless, he still could have a substantial amount of money taken away.
The monetary fine would be the hardest penalty for Lesnar. The $2.5 million is the largest reported payout for a UFC fighter in its history. But, Lesnar was going to make more from his PPV guarantee. It is being reported that the UFC 200 PPV drew 1.1 to 1.2 million PPV buys. In most markets, the PPV for UFC 200 was $59.99 HD and $49.99 SD. Lesnar was projected to make $3-5 million in addition to his $2.5 million.
Mark Hunt, Lesnar’s opponent has demanded that he receive half of Lesnar’s $2.5 million or else he is requesting his release from his UFC contract. Hunt, who made $700,000 for taking on Lesnar, will be disappointed to learn that under the UFC-USADA guidelines, any money forfeited by an athlete would be under the UFC’s discretion “to be applied to offset the costs of the Program or given to anti-doping research.”
The UFC could also fine Lesnar pursuant to its Code of Conduct which imposes discipline based on misconduct. Under its Code, “misconduct” may include, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the UFC.” A violation of its drug program could fall under this.
There is precedent for a fine as Jon Jones was docked $25,000 for failing a drug test in December 2014. Of course, Jones’ drug test failure was for cocaine use. We note that the detection of this drug was done out of competition and should have not been tested for according to the rules.
Lesnar’s only statement related to Friday’s news of his potential violation was a vague “we’ll get to the bottom of this.”
The WWE does not seem to be concerned with the potential violation and has indicated his next appearance will be at its big event Summerslam, August 21st. They have not addressed the potential violation. From its perspective, its an MMA matter, that a WWE matter.
However, the question looms as to whether a Nevada State Athletic Commission suspension would affect his wrestling career. Some state athletic commissions oversee professional wrestling. Most commissions honor suspensions of an athlete in other states. Would a suspension in combat sports carry over to professional wrestling? We will see.