Judge orders UFC hand over fighter pay documents

June 12, 2017

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen issued a 26-page ruling on Friday in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit which requires the UFC to hand over a study related to fighter pay.  There were three document requests demanded by Plaintiffs which included information related to a fighter pay study.

Order on Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd


Mercer is a third party human resources consultant.  The primary dispute is over a study commissioned by Mercer to produce a “fighter pay assessment” to guide “future compensation and benefits program design, including fighter pay (base and incentives) and benefit levels.”

The UFC produced 6 documents to requests by Plaintiffs and there are 3 documents in dispute.  Two were created by Mercer and the third was an email chain between the UFC’s in-house counsel and its outside lawyers Campbell & Williams regarding setting up a phone call with “outside consultants.”

After the documents were received by Plaintiffs, a subpoena and deposition notice to Mercer regarding the fighter pay study.  At that time, the UFC notified Plaintiffs are “clawing back” the three documents in dispute citing work product.  Clawing back is a request made of the inadvertent waiver of alleged privileged documents.  The claw back is usually dictated by the protected order the parties agree to at the start of litigation.

Of the three documents in dispute, the first is a memo from a Mercer employee regarding statement of work for the fighter pay study, the second is the aforementioned email chain between the UFC’s lawyer and Campbell & Williams and the third is a draft presentation entitled, “Fighter Pay/Project Update and Methodology Discussion dated March 18, 2014.

As the judge’s order notes:

“The presentation discusses a comparator group of other sports organizations including NASCAR, MLB, the NBA, and the NHL whose compensation practices Mercer proposed to study to “provide an external basis for understanding how UFC’s fighter pay structure and practices compares to similar companies.”

All three documents claimed that the information was work product.

The key term to understand when determining work product is whether the documents were created in “anticipation of litigation.”  The Court determined that they were not.

Notably, the UFC argued that a previous “quite contentious” interaction with Bellator as reasons why the current information was work product.  They cited the Eddie Alvarez lawsuit which produced a contract that has been used time and again.

The Court did not buy the UFC’s argument that the documents were work product.

Under the Court Order, the UFC must produce the documents.  The Court did not intervene on another issue regarding privilege log designations from UFC – a list of documents that a party must produce to show the opposing side what it is withholding and what privilege it is claiming to withhold.  The Court wants the parties to conduct a meaningful “meet and confer” prior to judicial intervention.

Payout Perspective:

This is a loss for the UFC as it wanted the documents to be privileged.  With the documents in Plaintiffs hands, they will likely conduct a deposition of the Mercer employee(s) that produced the study as well as use the information in deposing UFC officials.  Will this facilitate any settlement?  Probably not, but the information may reveal information for the overall theme of the case for the Plaintiffs.

Finding the flow with Rener Gracie

June 9, 2017

Rener Gracie visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time in over three years as he conducted an all-day Seminar on Sunday, June 4th in Seattle and then another smaller seminar at the Gracie Academy in Issaquah, WA on Tuesday, June 6th.  For the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, Rener’s seminars are amazing and an introduction to the philosophy and mind of one of the best in the world.

The Gracie name is royalty in the realm of the martial art of jiu jitsu.  Grandmaster Helio Gracie, along with his brother, Carlos Gracie, founded the martial art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.  Jujutsu was a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon or just a short weapon.  It was introduced to the Gracie family in Brazil around 1914 by Esai Maeda.  According to the family history, Gastao Gracie befriended Maeda and taught his oldest son, Carlos Gracie the art of jujutsu, which became jiu-jitsu.  Helio learned soon thereafter and due to his frail physique, he modified the techniques to accommodate his strength and used leverage and timing.  As a result, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was born.

The 33-year-old Rener is the grandson of Helio and carries on Gracie Jiu Jitsu along with his brother Ryron oversee the Gracie Academy in Torrance, California.  There are over 100 Gracie Certified Training Centers on 6 continents around the world.  As vast as the Gracie reach, Rener conducts seminars across the globe and followers flock to them to experience Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in person.

Rener Gracie

This sunny Sunday in Seattle (technically Burien), people flew in from various states and drove from Vancouver, B.C. and Vancouver, Washington to learn from Rener.   In fact, Rener acknowledged that one of his students from Torrance flew up from California to attend.  The reason, as his student explained to Rener, was that the seminars provide vast details that are can rarely be covered in a 1 hour class.  A huge percentage of those in attendance were serious about this seminar as well as many took copious notes and filmed themselves doing the techniques so that they would not forget.

The seminar was set up by Craig Hanaumi, a Bellevue Police Officer and Purple Belt under Rener.  It took place at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.  There was a lot of mat space as it was the gymnasium where officers train.

Rener is a tall, unassuming young man that is very passionate about teaching and the art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.  While jiu jitsu is taught by many schools and academies in many different ways it’s easy to understand the appeal of the Gracie philosophy. Rener mixes traditional teachings with a mix of new school terminology which you can suspect is from his southern California roots.  He mixes in a “dope” and encouraging “come on bro” every now and then when walking around the mat inspecting moves.  One of the techniques he dubbed was, “Weak Side For Life” which is a reminder to the practitioner which way to go when taking someone’s back.  He not only teaches white and blue belts with mastering moves but also helped out brown and black belts tweak their techniques.  Rener would provide subtle advice to the black belt that he would demonstrate moves with to perfect the technique for those watching and the black belt he was working with.

Rener emphasized that “mindset” was the greatest contribution that his grandfather provided to the art of jiu jitsu.  He deconstructed the mindset of most of the participants in the room when he explored different positions and identified areas of strength in positions where the perception is an area of weakness.

Instead of giving maximum effort in the practice of jiu jistu Rener preached muscle conservation.  Assuming that you will practice jiu jitsu the rest of your life, Rener suggests this preserves longevity.  He’s seen burnout among fighters and BJJ practitioner’s due to the fact they expend all of their energy when they were young.  “By the time that you’re 50, you will feel like you aren’t who you were supposed to be and you should quit.”

“Start dedicating 10-20% of your time today to rolling like you are 70-year-old black belt,” Rener advised those in attendance in order to continue practicing into your golden years.  Despite the perception that this is absurd, it falls in line with the philosophy and mindset.  Going through the day-long seminar and learning the techniques, you realize that with repetition and practice, the Gracie Jiu Jitsu philosophy is an effective way to practice the martial art.

The all-day seminar was broken down into 4 2-hour sessions.  Many people stayed the whole day while others that could not make the over 8-hour time commitment took in as many sessions as they could.

There were 8 “slices” to each two-hour session in which Rener discussed a move that he would go over and then the participants broke off to attempt the maneuver with Rener going around and helping out.  He embraced all types of questions.  He explained that there were no questions about the technique that were out of line as it was his responsibility to teach and the questions helped him dissect what he needed to focus on with the individual to facilitate the learning.

The first two sessions encompassed escaping from side mount and passing the guard.  These two sessions were a good primer for those starting in jiu jitsu as many will find themselves here.  The sessions helped with answering the basic question of how do you get someone off of you?

“You don’t want to be one step away from misery,” Rener explained about dealing with an opponent that is on top of you in side mount.  He added, “[y]ou want to be at least two.”

Rener provided the thesis statement that the person in control in side mount is the person on the bottom as opposed to the one on top.  The reason, explained Rener, was that it is on the person on top to make an affirmative move to improve their position whereas the person on the bottom has the ability to counter the movement.

The philosophy is contrary to jiu jitsu competitions due to the time constraints where points are essential in a matchup to win.  Rather than a competitive mindset and the use of force and incessant pressure to force oneself out of a bad position, Rener preached to focus on making the best out of the position.

Water was used throughout the day as analogy for how to flow in jiu jitsu.  “He chooses where to put the rocks, the water always finds the way,” explained Rener about the flow in jiu jitsu.  It explains the fluidity of the art and the ability to think and move when presented with an obstacle.  The art is supposed to provide advantages for the smaller and less strong practitioner.  Flowing like water is an acknowledgment that there will be strong opposition, but like water, it continues to come forward finding ways to pass.

After a lunch break, the last two afternoon sessions were dedicated to more offensive maneuvers with mastering the triangle and “triple threat” mastery which involves getting the back of an opponent.

Again, the two afternoon sessions provided different ways of approaching standard issues in jiu jitsu.  The first afternoon session looked at positioning your opponent so you can submit them with a triangle choke.  The second afternoon session evaluated the methods of submitting someone when having their back.  Each technique during the afternoon session included Rener’s emphasis on the setup as much as the finish.

Throughout the day, Rener’s energy never wavered.  Like a scientist, he analyzed, dissected and deconstructed every move and made it easy to follow while patiently answering questions.  I was impressed at how he was able to articulate the moves and provide finite detail as if the human limbs were a jigsaw puzzle.

Jiu Jitsu is an acquired taste.  Many have a love/hate relationship with the martial art as it is difficult to start, tough to master, takes a long time to get promoted in rank, but easy to quit.  Yet, there are so many devotees to the sport.  I met several individuals who only picked up the sport within 3 months and were already interested enough to sacrifice a weekend day to learn at a seminar.

Overall, it was a productive Sunday to learn more about jiu jitsu and the philosophy of Rener Gracie.  There was an overload of information but no one seemed to complain.  For those dedicated to their own journey in the martial art, it was a valuable experience.

UFC 212: Payout Perspective

June 6, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UC 212 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where the Featherweight title was unified.

Holloway scores TKO over Aldo

Max Holloway scored an impressive stoppage of Jose Aldo to unify the UFC Featherweight Title (technically Aldo held the title and Holloway won the interim belt in December).  Holloway stopped Aldo in the third round.  It was an impressive showing of Holloway’s talent and his “no fear” attitude in going to Brazil, embracing his surroundings and winning.

Holloway is probably hoping Conor McGregor returns to division for a rematch of their first fight which took place the first day of FS1 in August 2013.  It was Holloway’s last loss in the UFC.  If that doesn’t happen a showdown with Frankie Edgar or perhaps Cub Swanson should happen.  My only bias, but I’d like to see that fight happen with the UFC going to Hawaii.  The logistics and expense would be tough but it would be a great visual to see the fans go crazy for the first Hawaiian fighter to win a UFC title since B.J. Penn.

The UFC covered the homecoming for Holloway which was a great visual and a sign that the company will get behind the new Featherweight king.

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53169658

Claudia Gadelha submits Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Gadelha looked impressive in submitting Kowalkiewicz.  The problem for the UFC is whether they can really have her face Joanna Jedrzejcyk for a third time when she lost the first two.  Perhaps they go with Rose Namajunas against Joanna before Gadelha gets another shot.

It was a disappointing performance for Kowalkiewicz as she previously had a good showing against Joanna.

Attendance and Bonuses

The event took place at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and drew 15, 412 as reported by the UFC.  The attendance likely means it was a sellout as the capacity is set at over 14,000.  UFC 134 was held in the same arena and drew 14,000.

The bonuses went to Max Holloway, Jose Aldo, Claudia Gadelha and Brian Kelleher.  Holloway-Aldo drew Fight of the Night and Gadelha and Kelleher drew Performance of the Night.  One could argue that Yancy Medeiros, Paulo Borrachinha or Matthew Lopez could have drawn a $50,000 bonus for their performances.  Also, Medeiros-Erick Silva could have been a FOTN candidate.

Sponsors

Budweiser was a prominent sponsor in Brazil as it had the center of the Octagon as well as the fighter prep point and the Embedded episodes.  Kingdom on Audience, UFC Mobile game, UFCStore.com, Hudson Shipping Company, Nissan, General Tires, Manguinhos, a previous UFC sponsor, was on the mat on Saturday.

The Nissan and General Tire sponsors are probably ‘one-offs’ for the Brazil event.

No Monster Energy in the Octagon.  Recall that TNT Energy Drink had the Brazil market at one point as the UFC sponsor.  Aldo was a big sponsor but it looks like that is no longer true.

Odds and Ends

Here is the local coverage in Hawaii for Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros.  The report states that a lot of the UH Football team showed up to see him.

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

The UFC Prelims were late on FS1 as baseball ran over into the time slot.  The event had to be put on FS2.  This may have had an affect on the ratings as it drew 732,000 viewers on FS1 for the bulk of the telecast.  The beginning part, shown on FS2, drew 218,000 viewers.

The Brazilian Commission did not adopt the new unified rules of MMA.  Fortunately, the rules did not come into play.

The UFC 214 promo came out and they look pretty good.

It was interesting that there was promotion for the UFC Fight Night Singapore event two weeks from now but not this week’s Fight Night from New Zealand.

The first Japanese UFC Champion, Sakuraba, will go into the UFC Hall of Fame.  The announcement was made during the PPV.

The “UFC Unfiltered” Podcast ran commercials throughout the PPV Prelims on FS1.

UFC 212 drew 200,000 google searches on Saturday.

Conclusion

200,000 google searches the day of the event, the MLB overrun on FS1 for the Prelims and the fight card in Brazil probably means that this PPV draws somewhere between 150K to 200K PPV buys.  In comparison, UFC 134 (ASilva-Okami) drew 335,000 buys in the same venue in September 2011.  Aldo-Mendes 2 in Maracanazinho, Brazil drew 180,000 buys.  The event took place in October 2014 at UFC 179.  Holloway’s last PPV in December against Anthony Pettis drew 150,000 PPV buys although a replay on Fox during Christmas Eve did well.  Still, we’re talking about buys for PPV and with a string of UFC events coming up for June and July’s International Fight Week coming up this PPV may have been one that the casual fan skips.

Proposed Order outlines documents Bellator to produce to parties in Antitrust lawsuit

June 5, 2017

The Federal Magistrate has ruled on Bellator’s Motion to Quash the Subpoena and its Motion to Modify the UFC’s Subpoena.  According to a Proposed Order drafted by Zuffa, the Court has denied Bellator’s Motion to Quash and granted its Motion to Modify.

Although the Court has not yet signed the Order, barring an objection or request for an Amendment from the Plaintiffs and/or Bellator’s counsel as to the form of the order, it is likely that this is the Order that will be entered.  One would think that the parties would have hashed the language out prior to filing with the Court.

As you might recall, Bellator filed its motion in Los Angeles Federal Court but the magistrate granted transfer to the court in Nevada.  On June 1, the Court heard oral arguments and issued a minute order.

Outlined in Bellator’s Motion to Quash, 5 document demands which Bellator summarized below:

  1. Bellator’s confidential contracts and negotiation with MMA athletes (Plaintiffs’ Demand No. 4; UFC Demand No. 1); and
  2. Bellator’s detailed revenues and expenses from operations (Plaintiffs’ Demand No. 12: UFC Demand Nos. 7 and 12).

Zuffa had “requested unredacted contracts and documents regarding its negotiations with athletes, and limited financial information including profit/loss statements and financial projections.”  Bellator claimed that it is “confidential commercial information, that the documents are irrelevant to the claims and defenses at issue in the Nevada Action, that producing the information would be an undue burden, and that Bellator may suffer competitive harm from disclosing the information.”

The Proposed Order would require for Bellator to provide the following:

  1. “[a]ll agreements between Bellator and its athletes for a randomized sample of athletes” with the names and other identifiers (i.e., addresses, social security numbers, etc.) redacted.
  2. A database of these [in No. 1] athletes with information identifying: athlete gender and weight class by year/the number of bouts completed/any discretionary or “locker room” bonuses paid any athlete as well as any signing bonuses.
  3. Quarterly profit/loss statements covering the period from January 1, 2009 to present;
  4. Event-level profit/loss statements for all events from January 1, 2009 to present for each event which Bellator contends UFC adversely impacted its events.

Bellator will have to give up documents but the original request was modified by the Court.  These documents will be provided to the parties by June 23, 2017.

Proposed Order Re Bellator by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Obviously, a loss for Bellator as it will have to produce documents despite being a nonparty.  However, it could have been worse.  Number 4 on the Proposed Order puts some pressure on Bellator as it is essentially calling for Bellator to make a decision on which events were impacted by the UFC.  Of course, the decision on what to produce and what not to produce might impact the litigation since its the UFC’s argument that Bellator is a competitor.  In the end, Bellator is a nonparty that is now needing to incur legal expense to produce documents as well as evaluate the documents they are producing considering that the information is highly sensitive.  Moreover, the need to redacting documents is not a quick process despite the online tools to streamline the process.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Demetrious Johnson tears into UFC

June 5, 2017

Demetrious Johnson is speaking out about his claimed mistreatment in the UFC.  In a statement issued to MMA Fighting he talked about how the UFC has not pushed him and being told that “smaller fighters” do not sell.

According to the statement, Johnson stated that he was given an ultimatum that he fight T.J. Dillashaw or the UFC would close down the 125 pound division.

He outlined the issues he had with the UFC:

In summary:

I agreed to their tyrannical demand to fight Ray Borg and Ray also agreed.

UFC has refused to give me PPV points on any future flyweight bouts, and has never given me any PPV points on previous bouts. My request was fair and the matchmaker in charge of the flyweight and bantamweight division agreed.

I gave UFC fair conditions to change the fight to TJ Dillashaw and they refused.

Dana and Sean have told me that they have no interest in marketing me or the smaller divisions, so when they say that I will make PPV money vs. Dillashaw, they leave out the fact that I have to hit certain numbers of buys, which will not be hit if they fail in marketing me like they have in my previous fights.

If TJ doesn’t make weight, I can’t break the record for the most consecutive title defenses and they have denied paying me in that circumstance.

Dana has made an effort to bully me in the media as well as in private, in order to get what he wants, even though it is not what is best for me or the sport.

If Dana says this will be a big PPV fight for me, and that they will promote it properly, then he can pay for it up front and explain to Ray Borg why he is being taken out of the fight that the UFC matchmaker in charge of the division put him in. Otherwise, it is just another lie and attempt to bully me to do something that Dana wants, but is not the right thing to do for the sport or my career.

UFC’s track record in making an effort to promote my fights, and Dana’s claim that this is a big chance for PPV dollars for me tells a different story than what Dana is stating to the public.

Will the squeaky mouse get the cheese?

Payout Perspective:

We will have more after his interview today on The MMA Hour.  But Johnson has a legitimate gripe and is speaking out.  He’s been a good “company man” and didn’t make a big issue with losing XBox as a sponsor due to the Reebok deal only to see the UFC partner with the company.  From the UFC’s perspective, they are making business decisions based on the results (i.e., ratings/buy rates) they have received.  You can argue that Johnson has not been marketed by the UFC.  He is one of the best pound for pound fighters ever.  Yet, there’s little to know buzz about him as he does not sell fights like a Conor McGregor.  If XBox felt that DJ was worthy of an exclusive sponsorship, why didn’t the UFC push him or continue to find ways to connect him with UFC fans?  It seems that at one point, they decided to shift focus on which fighters to push and moved on from DJ.  There is the argument that the “smaller fighters” do not sell.  I do applaud Sean Shelby (if true) for telling DJ the truth.  But, he had to have known that this would come out to the public.

Below is a summary of DJ’s career in the UFC with applicable pay (only the official purses reported are below), bonuses and Reebok pay as well as ratings and buy rates.  It’s clear that he received a bump in pay as a champion but is not commanding the dollars up front.  If he’s not receiving PPV points (and he wouldn’t make that much anyways), it does appear he is underpaid for his accomplishments.

UFC 126 (appeared on Facebook prelim)

$5,000 to show/$5,000 to win

UFC 130 (Spike TV prelim card)

$6,000 to show/$6,000 to win

Ratings: 325,000 PPV buys (Rampage-Hamill main event)

UFC on Versus 6: vs. Dominick Cruz

Ratings: 729,000 viewers on Versus TV

UFC on FX 2 vs. Ian MacCall

$50,000 Fight of the Night Bonus

Ratings: 1.4 million viewers on FX

UFC on FX 3: Rematch with McCall

$40,000 to show/$40,000 to win

Ratings 1.1 million viewers on Fox

UFC 152 vs. Joseph Benavidez

Ratings: 452,000 PPV buys (Jones-Belfort main)

$50,000 Fight of the Night Bonus

Ratings:  4.4 million viewers Live + SD

UFC on Fox 8 (Seattle): vs. John Moraga

$29,000 to show/$29,000 to win plus $50,000 submission of the night bonus

Ratings: 2.38 million viewers Live +SD

UFC on Fox 9 vs. Joseph Benavidez II

$125,000 to show/$50,000 to win plus $50,000 KO of the night bonus

Ratings:  2.8 million viewers Live + SD

UFC 174 vs. Ali Bagautinov

PPV buy rate: 115,000

UFC 178 vs. Cris Cariaso

$131,000 to show/54,000 win bonus

PPV buy rate: 205,000

UFC 186 vs. Kyoji Horiguchi

$50,000 Performance of the Night

PPV buy rate: 125,000

UFC 191 vs. John Dodson II

$133,000 to show/$58,000 win bonus

Reebok pay: $40,000

PPV buy rate:  115,000

*Xbox sponsors the UFC, but not DJ for the first time in years during his time in the UFC.

UFC 197 vs. Henry Cejudo

$135,000 to show/$60,000 win bonus

Reebok pay:  $40,000

Performance of the Night $50,000

PPV buy rate 322,000 (Jon Jones-OSP on top)

TUF Tournament of Americas Final vs. Tim Elliott

$350,000 flat

Reebok pay:  $40,000

UFC on Fox 24 vs. Wilson Reis

$50,000 Performance of the Night

Reebok pay:  $40,000

Ratings: 1.74M viewers (lowest Fox rating ever)

Hunt files First Amended Complaint against UFC, White and Lesnar

June 2, 2017

Mark Hunt has filed his First Amended lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar.

A Motion to Dismiss was granted in part and denied in part on May 22, 2017 and Hunt had 10 days to file an Amended Complaint.  It was filed on Thursday, June 1st .

Mark Hunt has filed his First Amended lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar.

A Motion to Dismiss was granted in part and denied in part on May 22, 2017 and Hunt had 10 days to file an Amended Complaint. It was filed on Thursday, June 1st .

First Amended Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Despite what most people thought about the Complaint, the First Amended Complaint contains more allegations including the RICO claim.  Only the claim for negligence appears to be the only subtraction from the original complaint.  Originally, I thought that this was due to the fact that you cannot claim tort damages out of a contract.  Yet, the First Amended Complaint cites the cause of action with Battery against Lesnar and Aiding and Abetting Battery for the UFC and White.  Battery is the intentional and voluntary bringing about an unconsented harmful or offensive contact with a person.  In its amended complaint, Hunt states that he “did not consent to about with a doping competitor.”  Thus, therein lies the claim for battery despite the fact both competitors consented to the physical contact.  The lawsuit notes that Lesnar had 137 total strikes and 51 significant strikes in their UFC 200 bout.

Claims in Hunt’s Original Lawsuit against UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar:

  1. RICO 18 U.S.C. sec 1961 et seq.
  2. Conspiracy to Commit Crime Related to Racketeering NRS sec 207.350 et seq.
  3. Fraud
  4. False Pretenses
  5. Breach of Contract (UFC only)
  6. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (UFC only)
  7. Negligence (UFC only)
  8. Unjust Enrichment (UFC, Lesnar & White)

Claims in Hunt’s First Amended Complaint:

  1. RICO
  2. Conspiracy to Commit Crime Related to Racketeering
  3. Common Law Fraud
  4. Civil Aiding and Abetting Fraud
  5. Breach of Contract (UFC only)
  6. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (UFC only)
  7. Unjust Enrichment
  8. Battery (Lesnar)
  9. Civil Aiding and Abetting Battery (UFC and White)
  10. Civil Conspiracy

The Ameded Complaint is similar to the original complaint, but with more specific facts, Hunt claims that he lost out on opportunities for his brand due to his loss at UFC 200 to Lesnar.  He also provided a list of appearance fees he earned prior to and after UFC 200.  The post-UFC 200 appearance list includes cancellation of appearances, a commercial and a movie shoot.  The estimated losses total $162,500.  $152,500 of that is in Australian Dollars.

He also notes reduced ad revenues from his website traffic.  He also claims he lost revenue from his clothing brand, Juggernaut.

The First Amended Complaint notes that in April 2016, Hunt and the UFC agreed to “an early renewal” of Hunt’s exclusive contract.  This would have occurred right after an impressive KO win against Frank Mir in March 2016.  He originally wanted $1 million per fight for 6 fights but the UFC declined.  The Amended Complaint states that he is one of the only fighters to have a contract which is paid in lockstep regardless of whether he wins or loses.  At UFC 200, his reported purse was $700,000.  At UFC 209, he made $750,000.

Payout Perspective:

Although there was no order issued by the Court in the Motion to Dismiss, the First Amended Complaint reflects the fact that only the negligence and false pretenses claims were dismissed while the other claims, including the civil RICO claims, remained unscathed in the Amended Complaint.  The First Amended Complaint provides more specific facts but does that mean that it will survive another attempt at a Motion to Dismiss?  Even though Hunt has amended his Complaint, it does not mean it is precluded from a lawsuit.  There seems to be a lot of speculation in the theories of the lawsuit for it to survive a dispositive motion (i.e, Motion to Dismiss or Motion for Summary Judgment).  Perhaps a settlement could happen considering the RICO violation (with treble damages) is still a possibility.

The phone texts will likely mean another lawsuit where Dana White’s cell phone usage will be at issue.  MMA Payout is the only source that will keep you updated with actual legal insight on the matters.

Fact discovery issues over White’s phones to be heard Thursday

May 31, 2017

On Thursday, the parties in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit will conduct a hearing to determine a number of discovery issues, most importantly, the status of Dana White’s phones.  The hearing will take in federal court in Vegas before a magistrate which hears these types of discovery disputes.

Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Compel the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information seeking information from four phones from Dana White.  For those wondering, the phones identified are an iPhone 4, an iPhone 6 and two Nokia flip phones.  It believes that the phones all include information for which White conducted business which may be related to Plaintiffs’ claims.  The motion and reply to Zuffa’s opposition suggests that Zuffa did not comply with the discovery process, violated the Court Order regarding discovery and did not preserve evidence when it was notified that information would likely be requested.  As it appears that certain information from White’s phones are no longer available, the Plaintiffs request an order to serve subpoenas on White’s telecommunications service providers in an effort to obtain communications logs to show the “times and dates messages were sent and received in White’s devices.”

Plaintiffs Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Plaintiffs claim that Zuffa has used the fact discovery cut-off to “stonewall” discovery.  Fact discovery was due on May 1, 2017, but it was clear that due to the continued meeting and conferring over documents and the issues with obtaining documents from non-parties, it would not be complete.  Realistically, this may not be any parties’ fault, and therefore it is left to the Magistrate to decide what is fair.

Plaintiffs Reply to Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

In its opposition to the Motion to Compel, Zuffa states it “has produced over 650,000 documents, including 44,928 text messages to Plaintiffs.”  The tone of the opposition is of a party that has made its best efforts to comply with discovery while making Plaintiffs appear overbearing and zealous in its request for additional discovery.  This includes Zuffa claiming to have to “re-reproduce” all text messages due to the fact that Plaintiffs claim that some text were not originally produced.  Zuffa hired vendors to conduct forensic analysis of the information from White’s phone in preparing to turn over the information to Plaintiffs.  Moreover, it states it has complied with the standing order from the Court and the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure.  It also claims that Plaintiffs failed to “meet and confer” in good faith.

Defendant’s Response to Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

As suggested in its Reply Brief (the seconded embedded document above), it would appear that the request to serve a subpoena on White’s telecommunications provider (e.g. Sprint, ATT, Verizon) would add another layer to the discovery process and add more time to discovery.  Moreover, one would think that with other parties objecting to the subpoenas that a telecommunications provider would object to the same.  One would think privacy matters and that the request would be overbroad and produce non-relevant information would be obstacles Plaintiffs would have to obtain the information.  Plaintiffs are hoping that the Magistrate will see that Zuffa attempted to stall discovery and will allow this request (or some version) as a way to “make things right.”  We will see on Thursday.

USPTO refuses registration of Broken Matt Hardy TM application

May 29, 2017

Matt Hardy was handed a potential setback from trademarking “Broken Matt Hardy.”  The USPTO issued an Office Action which is denying the process for the “Broken Matt Hardy” trademark application.  The good news is that Hardy has a chance to respond to the initial decision.

Hardy applied to register his “Broken Matt Hardy” gimmick with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on March 1, 2017.  Last week, the USPTO issued a response initially denying the Trademark.

Hardy identified the first use of the trademark from April 20, 2016.  With existing use of an applicant’s trademark, you must provide what’s called a “specimen.”  This is to show the use of the trademark in commerce and your prior use (of the trademark before applying with the USPTO).  But the digital images include two YouTube video images showing  the use of Broken Matt Hardy in two promotions, and the third is an “EventBrite” screenshots for tickets to a talk featuring “Broken Matt Hardy.”  While all of these show the use of the name, these do not give rise to a trademark.

The Office Action notes:

Personal names (actual names and pseudonyms) of individuals or groups function as marks only if they identify and distinguish the services recited and not merely the individual or group. In re Mancino, 219 USPQ 1047 (TTAB 1983) (holding that BOOM BOOM would be viewed by the public solely as applicant’s professional boxing nickname and not as an identifier of the service of conducting professional boxing exhibitions); In re Lee Trevino Enters., 182 USPQ 253 (TTAB 1974) (LEE TREVINO used merely to identify a famous professional golfer rather than as a mark to identify and distinguish any services rendered by him); In re Generation Gap Prods., Inc., 170 USPQ 423 (TTAB 1971)(GORDON ROSE used only to identify a particular individual and not as a service mark to identify the services of a singing group).

Matt Hardy USPTO Office Action by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd


As an example of a successful trademark of a wrestler’s name, the WWE applied for the trademark of “Daniel Bryan.”  The WWE registered the character name as a “Service Mark” and a Trademark.

The specimen for the Bryan service mark is one from the talent roster on NXT.

The trademark specimen for Bryan included an image of the character toy action figure.

Payout Perspective:

The Broken Matt Hardy trademark application can still be successful if Hardy’s representatives amend the application to include a specimen showing a service mark using Broken Matt Hardy.  Of course, if that has not happened yet, they could always convert the application to an “Intent to Use” application which means they plan to use the trademark at some point in the future.  Notably, the Daniel Bryan Service Mark is a web site screen shot of his NXT bio whereas you can argue it is similar to what Hardy submitted.  Hardy should have six months from the date of the issuance of the Office Action to respond or the application will not go forward.

Hunt lawsuit will continue after Motion to Dismiss hearing

May 25, 2017

The Las Vegas Court hearing the Mark Hunt lawsuit has denied the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss in part and granted portions of the lawsuit.  The upside for Hunt is that it has 10 days to file an amended complaint.

The hearing occurred on Monday, but the order was not posted until today.

Hunt filed this lawsuit in early January against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar claiming RICO violations, breach of contract, negligence and other allegations stemming from his UFC 200 bout against the current WWE star.

The Minute Order is as follows:

Full docket text for document 63:
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS – Motion Hearing held on 5/22/2017 before Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey. Crtrm Administrator: Danielle Cacciabaudo; Pla Counsel: Scott Ingold, Joseph Gonnella; Def Counsel: Colby J. Williams, Donald Campbell, Howard Jacobs, Kendelee Works, Peter Christiansen; Court Reporter/Recorder: Felicia Zabin; Time of Hearing: 1:58 p.m. – 3:08 p.m.; Courtroom: 6D;

The Court makes preliminary remarks and hears oral arguments on the motions to dismiss [11] and [30]. For reasons stated on the record, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motions to dismiss [11] and [30] as stated. Plaintiff has 10 days to file an amended complaint.

The Court further DENIES the motion to stay [47] without prejudice as stated on the record.

The minutes of this proceeding and the transcript will serve as the Court’s official order. No written order to follow

Payout Perspective:

This was the likeliest of outcomes with respect to dismissal of Hunt’s Complaint.  Parties have a right to refile and the interesting issue will be to see if the amended complaint will include RICO claims which carry treble (3x the proven amount) damages.  Additionally, the Court determined that the Motion to Stay Discovery is denied.  Since Hunt has the opportunity to file an amended complaint, there is no need to halt discovery since all indications is that Hunt will refile and this lawsuit will continue.

New Jersey Athletic Commission writes open letter to ABC

May 25, 2017

The state of New Jersey Athletic Commission, sent a letter to the American Boxing Commissions (ABC) requesting that it reconsider the rules regarding a downed fighter and kidney strike rule amendments.  New Jersey wrote the letter to urge all athletic commission to one rule set for the sport.

The open letter dated May 22, 2017 was written with the anticipating that it would be discussed at the upcoming 2017 ABC annual convention in Connecticut in late July.

“Other major sports are implementing changes to make the sport safer while the ABC has rushed through changes that could increase danger,” the letter states.

New Jersey claims that there are at least four different sets of rules regarding a downed fighter and cite three instances in the UFC (Means-Oliveira at UFC 207, Weidman-Mousasi at UFC 210 and Alvarez-Poirier at UFC 212) where there has been confusion on what rules were being used.

The letter states that the 2016 ABC convention presentation on these matters “opened the floodgates to multiple disjointed rule sets in play dependent upon venue.”  The letter claims that the two rule changes were rushed to passage by the ABC as they “were not distributed to the membership for advance review as past rule changes had been,” according to the letter.  New Jersey claims that is was not made aware of the rule changes until they were alerted to them by a media member moments prior to the convention start.

As for the downed fighter rule the four interpretations per New Jersey’s letter is as follows:

  1. Prior rule (still rule in at least 20 jurisdictions): Anything but the soles of a fighter’s feet on the mat made that fighter a grounded opponent, which allows for a competitor to just place a finger on the mat to be considered a grounded opponent.
  2. ABC recommendation: A referee that believed that a fighter was “gaming the system” and “playing the rules” could be considered a standing fighter “even if a finger or hand was touching at the time of the strike’s contact.”
  3. At least three jurisdictions: One full hand down to define downed fighters.
  4. Herb Dean stated that he analyzes whether the downed opponent is “supporting weight.”

Kidney strikes are being questioned by Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  The reason being that kidney strikes are prohibited in other combat sports and the query is why they are allowed in MMA.

Payout Perspective:

The letter makes it sound like that ABC and the commissions will have things to discuss in late July.  The conference takes place at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.  With the amount of confusion that occurred in the three UFC events identified in the letter, one has to think that the rule with a downed opponent should be clarified.  As pointed out by New Jersey, there should be some uniformity in the rules to avoid confusion.  Even though the ABC does not have authority over commissions, they are a great influence in producing the unified rules.

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