July 29, 2015
Zuffa has sued Wanderlei Silva in the District Court of Clark County Nevada. The lawsuit alleges Silva wrote on his Facebook that the UFC fixes fights.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by Campbell and Williams, the law firm representing Zuffa in this matter.
A section of the complaint describes Silva’s “Campaign of Harassment Against the UFC.”
The complaint identifies a September 2014 video where he criticizes the UFC “voicing a number of rambling and baseless complaints against the organization” per the complaint. It goes on to state that it has monitored Silva’s remarks which it largely dismissed but believes he crossed the line when he proclaimed that the UFC fixes fights. The latest statement from Silva came on July 23rd when he wrote about the UFC on Facebook. He ended by stating, according to the complaint: “…fixed fights and I can prove this! I still haven’t dropped the bomb, I haven’t told everything I know!!!” (emphasis added).
The UFC then cites a second post the same day: “[a]nd I’m going to fight until the end, to unmask those promoters, that are eluding people!! And cheating taking the dignity and the honor of our sport! It’s turning into “wwe telecte!!!”…With fixed fights we have to stop Those guys since this is the end of the line for us!!!” (emphasis added). Although both posts were in Portuguese they were easy to translate.
The causes of action include Defamation Per Se and Business Disparagement. The complaint claims that Silva’s allegations of fight-fixing are “even more heinous” considering the Fertittas are linked to Nevada’s gaming industry.
Zuffa is looking for compensatory damages in excess of $10,000, punitive damages to be proven at trial as well as attorney fees and costs.
H/t: Robert Cardenas.
To prove a claim for defamation, one has to prove a statement either spoken or written injures someone’s reputation. Here, Silva posted his thoughts about the UFC on his Facebook page. Clearly, stating that the UFC fixes fights damages the UFC’s reputation. The relevant defenses to a defamation claim are the truth and/or privilege. There are also other carveout defenses such as the alleged defamatory statement was one of opinion and there was consent to publicize the alleged defamatory statement. In this case, there is no privilege, so Silva will need to rely on what he claims he has which is information that the UFC fixes fights. The business disparagement claim is similar to prove. Essentially, there must be an injurious statement that is publicized that would discourage people from dealing with the business. Obviously, claiming the UFC fixes fights would make fans not want to buy its PPVs. As for defenses, they are similar to defamation as the accused party can claim the statement was the truth.
The UFC decided to sue Silva as its reputation and integrity was called into question. While Silva may be disgruntled about a lot of things, claiming the UFC fixes fights goes over the line. He may argue that his statements were a matter of opinion but the posts clearly indicate that the UFC allegedly fixes fights. Does Silva have proof? We will see if this case moves to discovery. At the outset, I believe Silva’s lawyers will attempt to dismiss this lawsuit prior to it getting any further. We shall see.
July 28, 2015
UFC on Fox 16 drew an official live + SD rating of 2.8 million viewers factoring in the complete event which aired from 8-10:30PM ET. In addition, the prelims which preceded the main card on Fox drew 1.3M viewers.
The ratings were released via Fox Sports press release. The numbers show a bump based on the fast overnights of 2.29M viewers which did not account for the last 30 minutes of the event. The peak of the main card was 3.8 million viewers.
In comparison to last July’s UFC on Fox event, this year’s card featuring T.J. Dillashaw defending his bantamweight title against Renan Barao did better than UFC on Fox 12 which drew 2.5 million viewers peaking at 3.4 million. Last July featured Matt Brown taking on Robbie Lawler.
|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|
The chart and graph have been revamped to include the “fast overnights” versus the Live + same day (SD) rating. The overnights do not account for any overruns. The live plus same day rating includes any viewership that may have occurred that day and not just live viewing.
Note that UFC on Fox 1 and 2 we do not have the “fast overnights,” just the Live +SD rating.
The bump in viewership is a nice increase from the original overnight viewership in comparison to the last couple network events. Its peak viewership of 3.8M viewers is the best peak for a UFC on Fox event since UFC on Fox 13 drew 3.8M viewers. The prelims matches the viewership number on Fox for UFC on Fox 12. The only other time the prelims were also on Fox, UFC on Fox 15 drew 1.4 million viewers.
July 26, 2015
UFC on Fox 16 drew an overnight viewership of 2.29 million viewers on Saturday night according to Television By Numbers. The event received the highest share and rating in the adult 18-49 demo for the night.
UPDATED: We will have updated ratings from Nielsen, tomorrow, Tuesday. As pointed out by a reader, Shawn Jennings, the ratings for UFC on Fox 16 are not the final ratings. The graph below, with the exception of UFC on Fox 16 are final overnight ratings. So to be clear UFC on Fox 16 rating of 2.29M viewers is not final. And to Mr. Jennings, we are “amateur hour.” We will repost the ratings and table soon.
The main card featured T.J. Dillashaw taking on Renan Barao with Dillashaw stopping the former champion. Notably, the rating is from the 8-10pm ET time slot. However, the bulk of the Dillashaw-Barao fight occurred after 10pm which is not accounted for in the overnight rating at this time.
UFC on Fox 16 drew a 0.9 rating and 4 share amongst adults 18-49 which was the most for network shows on Saturday night. Overall, CBS ruled the night as it won all time slots on Saturday night. A rerun of NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS drew more viewers in the 8pm time slot with 3.49M viewers and a rerun of Scorpion in the 9pm time slot drew 3.35M viewers. In the 10pm time slot, a rerun of 48 Hours scored the highest viewership overall with 4.11M viewers.
It was a good night of fights and the UFC did well against relatively no competition in network shows.
However, it did not do as well as UFC on Fox 12 last summer (2.5M viewers). It did better than UFC on Fox 8 two summers ago (2.04M viewers). Traditionally, the summer network cards do not fare as well as the other three cards during the year for a variety of reasons.
Based on the initial ratings, it looks as though it should surpass the final overnights of last summer’s UFC on Fox 12 which did 2.5M viewers. It has already eclipsed UFC on Fox 8 two summers ago.
July 24, 2015
The fight attracted a record 16,019 fans to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, plus a $7.2-million live gate and 1 million pay per view buys, proving McGregor’s sizable drawing power. Some 3,000 Irish fans converged on Las Vegas and left deliriously happy.
UFC 189 would be the first PPV hitting 1 million PPV buys since UFC 168 which featured Silva-Weidman II and Tate-Rousey in December 2013. Prior to that, you’d have to look to July 2010 and UFC 116 (Lesnar-Carwin) for a PPV to strike 1 million PPV buys.
If the PPV number is correct, it shows that the ratings from the UFC 189 Prelims were an inconsistent indicator of PPV success. UFC 189 Prelims on FS1 drew only 847,000 viewers. The televised Prelims usually entice “on the fence” fans to purchase the PPV. Here, one might conclude that people already were set to buy the PPV because of McGregor. This would be great for the UFC as it has a confirmed PPV star in the new interim Featherweight champion.
It’s interesting that the information on PPV buys was somewhat buried in the bio of McGregor and not officially announced by the UFC. Usually, when organizations do well business-wise there is some release about the information. For instance, Bellator’s tentpole events 131 and 138 ratings were announced immediately when received as the company was happy with the great ratings. Here, no official announcement. We shall see if we get an official announcement soon.
July 23, 2015
Reebok is feeling the heat after the UFC let go of cutman Stitch Duran. The official clothier of the UFC sent out a tweet in apparent response to UFC fans outraged by his dismissal.
UFC fans: We have no input on decisions of UFC employment or fighter compensation. Our focus is providing the best gear for fighters & fans.
— Reebok (@Reebok) July 22, 2015
Not even one month into its official partnership with the UFC, it is feeling the brunt of criticism from the fans. The dismissal of Duran after he spoke out about losing out on sponsorship money due to the Reebok deal has angered the MMA internet community and Reebok felt compelled to respond.
MMA fans were not happy with Reebok taking over as the company’s primary clothing sponsor which eliminated many MMA brands from the octagon. It also angered fans and fighters when the UFC revealed payouts from the sponsorships which were below those that fighters received and now Duran’s departure has drawn the ire of many that follow the UFC.
For those that believe that Reebok is looking for a way out of this deal think again. Despite the harsh criticism, the brand needs the UFC as much as the UFC needs Reebok. Reebok is seeking to establish a niche in the fitness market and boost sales for its parent company, Adidas, in the U.S. The uniforms are a big deal for the brand even though public opinion seems to be negative overall. If nothing else, Reebok can say it is an official outfitter for one of the biggest female athletes today, Ronda Rousey.
As many know, Adidas is owned by Reebok and there was speculation that it wanted to sell off Reebok due to poor profits. There were earnings warnings in 2013 and 2014 for Reebok and shareholders were concerned. Add to that, Adidas has fallen for the first time to number 3 in the U.S. sportswear market behind Nike and Under Armour. Even the creator of Crossfit made it known in a ’60 Minutes’ segment this year that Reebok should be sold to “someone young, fresh, excited and willing to enter into the modern era of things.”
However, it appears that profits have turned around in 2015 for the brand and the future of the fitness market is looking bright. According to a report by CBS Marketwatch earlier this year, Adidas indicated that it would not sell Reebok. Could some of the brand’s newfound momentum be from the UFC deal? Even if there is pushback from fans, Reebok will likely ride out the wave of discontent in hopes of a promising future.
July 22, 2015
MMA Junkie reports that UFC cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran was let go by the company after revealing that the cutmen were not part of the Reebok sponsorship deal and that he lost all revenue from his sponsors. Duran detailed this in an interview with Bloody Elbow and despite putting his contractor in a positive light, he was let go.
Duran first revealed the information in a tweet responding to someone asking about whether cutmen were a part of Reebok sponsorship.
@InMyMMAOpinion Brother, I lost everything regarding sponsors from pay to a nice vest! Now I have no fees and a generic vest.
— Jacob Stitch Duran (@StitchDuran) July 13, 2015
He then gave an interview with John Nash of Bloody Elbow in which he clarified the situation. He indicated that he was an independent contractor for the UFC although it was “highly recommended” not to work for another MMA promotion stating it was “an unwritten rule.” He told Nash that cutmen were told that they were “given sufficient warning” that they were not a part of the Reebok deal. In support of the UFC, he stated he didn’t think “they [UFC] did this out of malice.” Duran claimed that he thought that the cutmen were “doing too good of [a] job where they just maybe forgot about us.”
An interesting sidenote from the interview was that Duran stated that in boxing, boxers pay cutmen directly whereas MMA promotions pay its cutmen.
Duran was let go shortly after the interview as he indicated via twitter. MMA Junkie confirmed with an unnamed source.
The situation smells of a lawsuit waiting to happen…perhaps. Duran talks about his work status and is immediately let go by the company. Unless there was something in Duran’s contract that prevented him from speaking about sponsors, the Reebok deal or his pay his dismissal is very suspect. Obviously, the UFC can rely on the fact that Duran’s contract can be terminated at any time.
The other part of the situation that puts the UFC in a bad light is the brazen way this looks as how it seeks to control its message. The Reebok deal has caught major scrutiny and criticism. And despite efforts by the UFC to use its fighters to promote the deal, many fight fans see the dismissal of Duran (and Burt Watson although that situation was different) as the UFC disregarding the people that helped get it to where it is today. Duran’s dismissal appears to be a sign to others within the organization that they should remain in line with the company or else.
July 16, 2015
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take you to UFC 189 which was the biggest event in years for the company taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
McGregor wins interim Featherweight title
The gamble for the UFC paid off. Conor McGregor stopped Chad Mendes with just seconds remaining in the second round to win the interim Featherweight title. McGregor was in trouble early as he could not stop takedowns and was being held down by Mendes. But, McGregor was able to escape a guillotine attempt and used his power to KO Mendes.
McGregor actually has a coaching spot on TUF this fall and then it’s likely Jose Aldo. Mendes showed well for himself considering he did not have a full camp. He is still at the top of the list of challengers for the Featherweight title.
Lawler outlasts MacDonald in bloody war
It was the best fight in some time and likely a prime example of why this sport can never gain mainstream acceptance. Robbie Lawler’s lip and Rory MacDonald’s nose exemplified the dedication, discipline, heart and fearlessness it takes to make it to the top of this sport. Although MacDonald was ahead on the judge’s cards, he succumbed to the pain and crumpled to the mat in the fifth round after another shot from Lawler.
For Lawler, Johny Hendricks seems like the next opponent for Lawler. Many have said that this fight may have changed the trajectory of MacDonald’s career forever. We shall see.
Attendance and gate
It was the biggest attendance and gate for a UFC event ever since UFC 129 in Toronto. Attendance stood at 16,019 for a gate of $7.2 million. Dana White stated that ticket sales actually surged after Jose Aldo pulled out of the fight getting the gate over $7 million.
On the secondary market the “get in” price at the start of the Fight Pass Prelims was $665. According to Darren Rovell, the median price paid on Stubhub was $500 which was the highest since Silva-Sonnen II ($450).
Conor McGregor, Thomas Almeida, Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler earned the $50,000 bonuses.
McGregor and Mendes topped the salaries making $500,000 each. The full list is here.
Promotion of the Fight
The promotion of the fight started with the expensive and well-chronicled world tour with Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. The Embedded episodes were entertaining as those occurred this past spring. Most of us were hoping that July would come soon. Of course, the fight did not happen and we were given Chad Mendes. More Embedded episodes occurred to promote the fight and even some controversy as it appeared that an episode featuring Conor training in wrestling was edited out. The theory was that it would give Mendes some advantage.
Dana White appeared on ESPN, the Jim Rome and other outlets. Notably, he stated in a radio interview that Aldo would have made $4 million at UFC 189. He also stated on Jim Rome that McGregor wanted to bet him $3 million that he would knock out Mendes. Apparently, he knew what he was talking about.
This was the first event where Reebok uniforms were exclusively used. Overall, it was not as bad as I had thought although I am sure there are some fight fans that will miss the aesthetic of different sponsors on the shorts as well as fight banners.
The official UFC sponsors were in the Octagon including the movie “SouthPaw,” Draft Kings, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Fram,Bud Light, Corn Nuts, Metro PCS, Musclepharm and Monster Energy Drink had the center.
Reebok presented the Embedded episodes featuring McGregor and Mendes.
In addition to announcing an individual deal with Reebok, Rory MacDonald had a Monster logo on its shorts. Same for Conor McGregor. McGregor also starred in a commercial for Game of War.
Toyo Tires also sponsored Chad Mendes and sent out an eblast about the challenger.
Although it was announced in early June, the UFC announced a partnership with Las Vegas Monorail making it the “Official Las Vegas Transportation of the UFC.” While this seems silly, the fact that so many people from out of town (especially Irish McGregor supporters) likely took it as a method of transportation probably made the sponsorship worth its while.
Odds and ends
The changes in production were subtle but great. While there might be a lot of criticism about spending 6 months and who knows how much money to change the “C” in the UFC, the presentation at the weigh-ins and the actual show were top-notch.
The live singing entrances for the main events were an interesting touch.
It was interesting that this fight was not offered in movie theatres like other events before it.
One critique about new UFC production, rounds now noted by filled in marks like balls/strikes in baseball. I like numbers to tell me rounds.
The uplighting and other stage enhancements for the weigh-ins were great. It gave UFC 189 that big fight feel. Of course, the atmosphere with so many Irish there made it feel that much more electric on television.
This was the first event with the USADA drug testing protocol.
It appears that cutmen have lost their sponsor deals when Reebok took over this month but are not a part of the Reebok deal. We will see where this goes.
Mendes has been stopped in two championship fights with seconds left in a round.
I already booked my hotel for UFC 200 which will be in the new MGM-AEG Arena July 2, 2016
1M Google searches for Conor McGregor and UFC 189 related searches. Another 100k for Robbie Lawler.
— Adam Swift (@AdamMSwift) July 13, 2015
Much has been scrutinized about what the PPV buy rate will be for UFC 189. Despite Aldo pulling out late, it appears that it did not hurt PPV sales. The pre-buys for the event appear to be strong which is based on the number of people that purchase the PPV prior to the day of the PPV. The google searches appear strong but the Prelim rating was under 1 million viewers. So, we shall see. My gut reaction is that the PPV did between 550K and 600K buys which solidifies McGregor as a legitimate PPV star.
July 15, 2015
An early investor in Bellator MMA is suing Viacom in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that the company has diverted revenue from the organization while leaving investors in the dark about its finances. The Hollywood Reporter provided details of the lawsuit.
Koloni Reklam, Sanyi, Tcaret LTD/STDI (“Koloni”), a Turkish company, invested $1 million in Bellator in March 2009 according to the lawsuit. At the time, the company was owned by Bjorn Rebney.
In December 2010, Viacom purchased a 50% stake in Bellator. It made an additional purchase of a controlling interest in Bellator in December 2011. It also made further purchases in January 2013, April 2014 and June 2015 per the Complaint. Based on its purchases it amassed a 97% interest in Bellator. Viacom, the plaintiff in the lawsuit and two others not named in the lawsuit comprise the ownership of Bellator. Viacom owns a 97% controlling interest while Koloni has a 1 percent interest.
An Operating Agreement manages the structure of ownership. Koloni claims that Bellator “acted in a manner contrary to the Operating Agreement by causing Bellator to breach provisions of the Operating Agreement to Viacom’s benefit and at the expense of the remaining members.”
Specifically in the Operating Agreement, Koloni claims that Viacom was to provide unaudited financial information to its members which included “unaudited balance sheets, unaudited income statement, cash flow statements, and changes in the Members’ equity.” This information was to be supplied to Koloni on a “monthly, quarterly, and year-end basis.” Koloni claims that prior to May 2015, they had not been provided a report in a year and before that there was a 15 month gap in statements.
The Complaint claims that in May 2015 Viacom “hastily provided financial statements that only highlight Viacom’s failure to pursue all profits Bellator would be entitled to if Viacom had been acting in Bellator’s interests rather than its own.”
In addition, Koloni claims that Viacom diverted sponsorship revenue from Bellator to its own interests and subsidiaries. Essentially, Viacom is using its subsidiary to breach a licensing agreement which would divert revenue tied to Bellator in-show sponsorship integrations. Per the terms of the licensing agreement Bellator should receive 50% of “net sponsorship revenue” received from ads that “integrate multiple methods of promotion, such as televised commercial break advertisements combined with in-show logo placement on cage mats” according to the Complaint. Koloni claims that ad revenue for in-show sponsors “run tens to hundreds of millions of dollars” and that Viacom has obscured the terms of these ad contracts so as to divert money owed to Bellator to its other affiliates.
It also requested Spike TV to reduce the number of Bellator-produced events.
The causes of action includes breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, judicial dissolution and equitable relief for LLC member oppression.
The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial and request monetary damages which include an accounting of finances. As indicated in the cause of action, one of the requests is for a judicial dissolution of Bellator and/or the request that Koloni is paid out his share of the company. At this point, dissolving Bellator seems like a far-flung claim.
A copy of the lawsuit is provided by THR’s Eriq Gardner
The lawsuit boils down to Koloni believing that it is not receiving as much as it should be from its investment in the company. The claim that it has not received updates and there were gaps in reporting from Viacom regarding Bellator’s finances seems to highlight its lawsuit. Notably, Rampage Jackson’s attorneys are likely interested in this lawsuit for the financial information that might be obtained through the discovery process of the lawsuit. Also of note is the indication that Koloni received financial information in May 2015. A couple months earlier, Jackson filed a lawsuit against Bellator claiming that he had not received information from the company. Certainly Viacom will deny these allegations in defending the lawsuit. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
July 12, 2015
The UFC announced plans for next year’s UFC International Fight Week main card as it plans to hold UFC 200 at the new MGM Arena set to open early next year. The announcement was made at the beginning of this year’s Fan Expo.
UFC 200 will take place at the new MGM Arena on Saturday, July 2, 2016.
While UFC 189 was touted as one of the biggest event’s in company history, the UFC expects UFC 200 to be the biggest in company history.
The MGM – AEG Arena is a $350 million, 20,000 seat indoor arena which broke ground on May 1st of last year. It will replace this year’s venue and it appears that the UFC will be the first event held in the new arena. Completion of the new arena is scheduled for some time in the spring 2016.
The arena is a possible destination for an NHL expansion team.
Get ready for next year’s UFC International Fight Week. UFC 200 will be the biggest event in company’s history as it hits the 200 milestone. You can expect the UFC to pull out all the stops for this event and the week leading up to the event. McGregor, Rousey, Weidman and others should be expected to be a part of this card. Get your tickets early.
July 10, 2015
Based on the MGM Friday, the crowd for Saturday’s UFC 189 should be amazing. The question as we always like to speculate is how well will it do on PPV?
Jose Aldo pulling out of the fight had to hurt some of the momentum the event promotion had gained from the initial world tour this spring where we all saw on Embedded episodes the rivalry build. The venom between the two seemed to mount and most MMA fans couldn’t wait until July.
As we all know, Aldo had to pull out and a replacement was picked. Interesting enough, Chad Mendes was picked over Frankie Edgar to face Conor McGregor for the interim Featherweight title as Aldo seemingly was shelved due to an injured rib.
The UFC had little time to build the heat for this matchup. Fortunately, McGregor is his own heat source. But, the question remains as to whether he can carry a PPV.
If you want evidence of his appeal, we need only look to this past January where UFC Fight Night on FS1 received one of its best ratings ever drawing an average of 2.7 million with a peak during McGregor’s fight against Dennis Siver of 3.1 million. This all happened the night of Championship Sunday in the NFL when everyone is supposed to be watching football and nothing else. The ratings were aided by NFL-supported marketing and utilizing Conor McGregor as the primary marketing tool.
Still, it does not translate into PPV buys. In fact, McGregor’s only PPV showing came this past September at UFC 178 where he was not the main event but the main attraction as the card featured Demetrious Johnson. UFC 178 drew only 205,000 PPV buys.
With that being said, I did not believe UFC 182 would do as well as it did and the fight featured Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. Similar to UFC 189, until Aldo was injured, 182 was centered and promoted on just the main event. UFC 182 drew 800,000 buys. It was a surprise when you consider that Cormier was not a draw and Jones was not a strong PPV star despite being one of the most dominant fighters in the sport.
Without MacDonald-Lawler being heavily promoted until this week, it was really up to McGregor to promote this card.
UFC 182 received a lot of buzz pre-fight and there was a big fight feel and appeal to it. Even with Mendes replacing Aldo, UFC 189 has the same big fight feel…but does it have the appeal? Certainly the beginning of this year showed that people are willing to buy UFC PPVs as the first three events this year exceeded expectations. UFC 189 will be the first PPV where the lighter weight division is at the top of the card and expects to produce PPV numbers. The UFC has marketed McGregor as a top draw and sponsors have followed suit. One has to think that they (meaning all involved) know what they are doing. Is McGregor the next great PPV star?