USADA clears Diaz to fight at UFC 244

October 25, 2019

Nate Diaz will fight at UFC 244 next Saturday as USADA has cleared the Stockton-native of a drug test which found elevated levels of a banned substance.  Diaz tweeted about the adverse finding and that he would be out of the bout next week.  But, Dana White said on Friday via twitter that the fight was on.

Diaz’s levels of Ligandrol, a banned substance known as LGD-4033 which stimulates muscle growth, was detected at a “double picogram/mL” level.  The source of the substance was traced back to a legal supplement Diaz ingested, which was categorized as an organic, vegan, plant-based daily vitamin.

The lengthy statement from the UFC can be found via Ariel Helwani’s tweet below:

The UFC emphasized that Diaz had not committed an anti-doping policy violation and has not been provisionally suspended and is not subject to any sanctions.  Similar to what we hear from Jon Jones’ exoneration last year, the UFC stated that there was no “appreciable performance enhancing or therapeutic benefit from the significantly limited amount of LGD-4033 that may be present in his system…”

Diaz should be facing Masvidal next week in the main event of UFC 244.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly the news that Diaz may have had an adverse finding from a USADA test was an alarm to the UFC as it was anticipating a huge payday from its annual New York event.  One has to infer that the expedited nature of these findings were done in order to save the main event and a fighter from having to serve the standard provisional suspension which occurs with an adverse finding.  Many athletes have had their careers and livelihoods put on hold due to a contaminated supplement.  Josh Barnett noted this on social media Friday night.  While its great news that fans get to see Diaz fight, its also shows that there is a process for which USADA can determine these findings without having athletes being put on prolonged suspensions.  Hopefully, the policy changes for the better soon.

Diaz tweets he’s out of UFC 244

October 24, 2019

Nate Diaz sent out a bombshell on social media today when he tweeted out that USADA had found an adverse finding in a drug test and is therefore out of next week’s showdown with Jorge Masvidal on November 2nd in New York.  The news, which has yet to be confirmed by USADA or the UFC as of the time of this writing, means that one of the most anticipated fights of this year looks to be off.

Diaz sent out a tweet of a typed message on his phone.

The message states Diaz, “tested with elevated levels that they say may be from a tainted supplement.” In detesting this ruling, Diaz noted, “I only take Whole Foods or natural foods supplements.”

For his part, Masvidal sent out a tweet in support of Diaz.

Payout Perspective:

If this means Diaz is truly out of the fight, we do not know if Masvidal will take another opponent or if it is just a big blow for the event.  It would be a big gain for boxing casuals that night as it is the same date as the Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev fight.  This may gain some fans that would pay for the UFC PPV to pay for a DAZN subscription.  As for the possibility of a tainted supplement, this looks like it may be the case.  We have seen numerous findings of a tainted supplement where a banned substance is in the product although not named on the label.  This could mean Diaz unknowingly ingested the product without his knowledge.  But to the larger point at this time, it would mean that Diaz is out of the November 2nd fight barring any sort of last-minute findings.

New responsibilities, newborn child and new Bellator contract, Nick Newell looks to keep momentum going

October 22, 2019

With a 10-month-old boy at home, two gyms to manage and training for an upcoming fight, Nick Newell is a busy man.  Yet, with all that’s going on, he’s embracing the responsibilities of being a new father. Newell (16-2 overall, 1-0 in Bellator) is on the main card of this week’s Bellator 232 event against Manny Muro this Saturday.

Newell admitted in a phone interview with MMA Payout that he’s not the best at changing diapers deferring to his wife, but he’s getting there.  One of the learning experiences of changing diapers–he had poop on him and didn’t even notice it.  While Newell is honing in on his diaper skills, his MMA skills had him secure a 4-fight deal with Bellator.

The 33-year-old fight fight veteran has a lot going on in his life.  He now owns two gyms where he deals with the day-to-day things that come up in a business, trains and teaches classes and tries to spend time with his young son.  “I literally never stop,” said Newell.

In the first fight of his four-fight deal with Bellator, Newell is in a good place with the promotion and Scott Coker.  “Bellator is a fighters’ first organization,” Newell added, “They have always worked with me and been super helpful and great to me and have treated me well and not just as a novelty act.”  After what one might call an audition with the Viacom-owned Bellator this summer in which he passed with another submission victory on his record, the organization gave him a deal that could have him a mainstay for the company.

Newell is training out of his two gyms, Fighting Arts Academy, in West Haven, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts.  In addition to his set of coaches, he’s brought in a couple more to get ready for his first fight under his new deal.

Although he believes that his opponent Manny Muro is a “well-rounded” fighter Newell is looking to end the matchup early.  I want to “get it done as fast as I can.” Of his 16 wins, Newell has 13 via stoppage (2 KOs and 11 submissions).  Muro, who has one Bellator fight under his belt (a win in 2017), won his last bout on the regional circuit this past June.  But, prior to that he had dropped three in a row all by stoppages.  Newell look to add a fourth straight stoppage to Muro’s record.

Newell’s arm-triangle choke of Corey Browning in the very 1st round this past August showed Bellator what many observers knew, he’s a beast of a fighter with a top-notch submission game.

Despite losing a unanimous decision to Alex Munoz last July, only his second of his career, during Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Newell has moved on from trying to fight for the UFC a goal.  He proved to Bellator that he could be an exciting fighter that could make a run at a championship like he did in the World Series of Fighting.

He’s also keeps himself prepared to fight at a moment’s notice as with this fight being an example.  “The honest truth was that I wasn’t tired of training and training hard.  I just wanted to hang out with my son,” said Newell of his fight schedule and his initial thoughts of taking time off after his August fight.  But, Newell believes that being busy is a good thing.  Newell said that he has breakfast with his wife, who works as a speech pathologist and his son and then leaves for the gym around 9 in the morning and does not return home until 10:30pm at night.  Newell’s wife does the “brunt of the work” although they do have help to watch their son from family.

If all goes well after this fight, Newell would like to spend some time to be there with his son although he’s always there to answer the call if Scott Coker were to ask.  Yet, he does want to dedicate time to be a dad and with the new security of a fight deal with Bellator, he could do just that. The Connecticut-native looks to make it two in a row this Saturday night at Bellator 232.

Conor McGregor faces another sexual assault complaint in Ireland

October 19, 2019

Conor McGregor faces a second complaint of sexual assault in Ireland according to a report by the New York Times.  There had been several reports about the investigation but McGregor’s name had been left out of the reports.

According to the New York Times, last week a woman in her 20s was sexually assaulted in a vehicle parked outside a Dublin pub.  McGregor has yet to be formally charged related to this complaint.  He has yet to hear about a previous allegation that occurred last December.

Per McGregor’s publicist, he is denying the allegations of the second complaint.

This is just the latest of McGregor’s legal troubles while he contemplates a return to the Octagon.  Last week, McGregor appeared in court related to an assault of a man at a pub in April.  He’s also had run-ins with the law in the U.S. with throwing a hand truck at a bus in Brooklyn and breaking a fan’s cell phone in Miami.

Payout Perspective:

McGregor needs MMA more than MMA needs him at this point.  The continued spiraling out of control of the once face of the UFC is disturbing and sad.  Moreover, the reports suggest he is hurting others which could lead to more legal problems.  He needs to have something or someone in his life steer him in the right direction or else he will just be another cautionary tale of combat sports.

Aspen Ladd loses CSAC appeal as TKO upheld

October 15, 2019

UFC women’s bantamweight had her appeal of her sudden first round KO by Germaine de Randamie denied by the California State Athletic Commission. Ladd attempted to change the loss to a no-contest based on referee Herb Dean’s quick stoppage.

The fight was the main event of a UFC Fight Night in Sacramento this past July.  Ladd, a local to the area, was stopped in the first munite of the fight by a de Randamie punch.  The previously unbeaten Ladd was floored but before she could attempt a defense, Herb Dean called an end to the fight.

Ladd’s manager filed an appeal to the fight claiming that Dean was out of position to make the call that her fighter was in peril.  In further correspondence with the commission, Ladd claimed that the fight was stopped prematurely because she was a woman and if the fight involved men, it would have continued.  Originally, Ladd’s manager filled out the Appeal Form provided by the State of California checking a box that there was collusion involving the referee.  But, it was later changed to another box citing a violation of a rule or regulation.

The referee of the match-up, longtime veteran Herb Dean, stated he did not stop the fight based on gender.

Dean has been criticized for stopping matches too late and/or too soon.  Nevertheless, it appears that this was another judgment call made by Dean.

The below was his official statement sent in to the commission prior to Tuesday’s hearing:

In addition, de Randamie sent her own statement which, as one might expect, supported Dean’s decision to stop the fight.

The Commission entertained the gender discrimination claim citing that it would be a violation of anti-discrimination laws if this were the case.

But the problem with Ladd’s claim as it was presented to the Commission was that it was just anecdotal.  Meaning, she can argue that women fights are stopped quicker than male fights but without valid data proving this theory, its just conjecture.  While the vote was 3-2 in upholding the TKO loss (Ladd’s only blemish), the decision by Dean to stop the fight is a judgment call and unless there was compelling evidence that there was a stoppage based on her gender, there was no evidence suggesting Ladd’s claims were true.  Moreover, there was no rule or regulation cited which would point to evidence that a rule or regulation was not followed.  Simply put, while it may have been a bad referee call, Dean made his decision.  The job of a referee is hard because they are criticized for letting fights go on too long allowing a hurt fighter to suffer unnecessary damage and then, like in this case, they don’t let a fight continue.  In this instance, its likely the right call was made to uphold the appeal.

Hoping for title fight, Pulev asks Court for Andy Ruiz contract

October 14, 2019

Heavyweight boxer Kubrat Pulev asked a New York federal court access to obtain Andy Ruiz’s contract from the short-lived lawsuit in August between Ruiz’s management and that of Anthony Joshua. The Court denied the letter request but left open the question if Pulev were to bring a motion before the Court.

The lawsuit was filed to the parties agreeing to a rematch of Ruiz’s upset victory this past June.  In the lawsuit filed in New York, Matchroom Boxing, Joshua’s promoter, sued TGB Promotions and Ruiz for breach of contract.

Matchroom Boxing claimed that the Provision of Services Agreement entered into by Ruiz included language which allowed Matchroom the right to choose the venue for the fight.  Ruiz claimed that he would have any rematch with Joshua in the United States despite the inference that Matchroom controlled the rights to a rematch.  Notably, the lawsuit has redacted passages from the contract which Pulev’s camp would like to see as a potential next opponent for the winner.

Matchroom claims that TGB Promotions has done nothing to correct Ruiz about solidifying the rematch in terms of place and price.  Moreover, Matchroom claims that TGB has threatened to sue based on defamation charges.

While the squabble over venue has been rectified with the dismissal of the lawsuit, an interesting ex parte motion took place last week when Pulev’s attorney sought the POS Agreement from Ruiz that was filed under seal in the lawsuit.  The Court was to decide the sealing of the contract on August 30th but the parties resolved the matter on August 26th rendering the sealing of the POS Agreement moot.  However, the Court noted that Plaintiffs had failed to show adequate support for sealing of the POS Agreement which Pulev used as argument to unseal the document for public view.

Endorsed Letter Re Pulev – … by Jason Cruz on Scribd

The Court denied the request by Pulev but noted that if it were to bring it with proper notice to Joshua and Ruiz it would consider the request.  This would allow the parties to argue their points to seal or not seal the contract.

Pulev is contending that Ruiz should have to defend the IBF heavyweight title against the number 1 challenger, Pulev, instead of a rematch with Ruiz.  Also, it argues that Ruiz was to have requested and paid the exception fee to allow for a “step-aside” to defend against Pulev.  Pulev claims that Joshua paid the $20,000 exception fee on behalf of Ruiz.

Specifically, Pulev believes that there is a prohibited rematch clause per IBF Rule 3.B:

No contract for a Championship contest shall contain any clause or any provision, whatsoever, guaranteeing or in any way assuring or promising either contestant a return Championship contest where such clause or provision interferes with the mandatory defense of a title.

Pulev appealed the exception allowed by the IBF last week.  One has to believe that this was denied since the $20,000 fee was paid.  Pulev is looking for the contract to see if it might have legal grounds to sue and prevent the Joshua-Ruiz fight from having the fight.  One has to think that the strategy is to seek an injunction of the fight scheduled for Saudi Arabia.  While this may not happen, this uprising by Pulev may get it some sort of assurance to fight the winner of Joshua-Ruiz.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

More documents from UFC antitrust hearing reveal Joe Silva’s negotiations

October 10, 2019

More documents were reveled recently in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit.  The documents reveal email communications between Joe Silva and managers regarding contract negotiations for fighters.  Overall, it would be hard to call it “negotiations” as the UFC flexed its leverage over fighters in making them capitulate.

In one exchange, Silva has a back and forth with the manager for Bang Ludwig when the current coach and former UFC fighter was coming up for new contract.

The crux of the negotiation was Ludwig’s manager attempting to get Silva to pay $18,000 to show and $18,000 to win.  At the time Ludwig was coming off of a split decision win in Germany.  Ludwig’s representative told Silva through email that he had spent out of pocket $4,000 for the fight in Germany.  In addition, he was experiencing monetary issues at the time.   Silva was dead set on $16,000 and $16,000.  He indicated that the win in Germany was a “gift” and that he could not reconcile paying Ludwig more than other similar situated fighters.

Ludwig’s manager had countered his $18,000 and $18,000 request with $17,000 and $17,000 but the email communication did not mean that Silva budged.  In fact, he did nothing but hold to his original offer.

In another email exchange with UFC fighter Ricardo Almeida, Ally Almeida, his wife acting as his manager attempted to negotiate the contract with Silva.

Silva offered a 6 fight deal with 2,000 incremental step-up in pay if he were to win starting at $20,000 and $20,000.  Almeida’s wife countered with $5,000 step-ups in pay if he won.  Also, she inquired about a shorter 3 fight deal.  Silva immediately nixed the conversation.  He indicated that he could only do a 6 fight deal because he wanted to ensure that they could properly build the fighter.  He did offer Almeida a $10,000 signing bonus. The below email highlights the offer.

Almeida decides to capitulate and accept the 6 fight deal.

Payout Perspective:

The email communications are helpful to see the type of negotiation going on with the company.  The fact is there was actual no negotiations going on as most were take it or leave it deals.  More of the emails submitted in discovery saw Silva providing fighters with new deals when going on the last fight of their contract.  These communications happened prior to a time when there were other options out there and fighters decided to fight out the terms of their contract.  Most of the examples offered by the Plaintiffs show that Silva would offer small raises with a $2,000 step in pay if the fighter won their fight.

The question for the case would be whether these instances showed anti-competitive conduct by a company with broad market power. Tough negotiating, or just not negotiating aren’t itself evidence of anti-competitive conduct, but it infers a course of conduct that Zuffa implemented which foreclosed competitive wages.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust Lawsuit file Opposition to Zuffa’s appeal for use of Silva testimony

October 9, 2019

The Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit have filed an Opposition to Zuffa’s Motion for Reconsideration of the inclusion of testimony from Joe Silva.  The Court had sided with Plaintiffs in preventing Silva to testify about wage share at his evidentiary hearing last month.

Zuffa filed a Motion for Reconsideration seeking that Judge Boulware rethink his decision and allow the testimony and an additional Declaration of Joe Silva affixed to the motion.

Zuffa Motion for Reconsider… by Jason Cruz on Scribd

In turn, Plaintiffs filed an Opposition to the Motion which included a Declaration from Joe Silva which indicated that he did not know Zuffa’s event revenues when he negotiated athlete compensation, did not have a budget for athlete compensation or was ever told that he “was spending too much on athletes.”

Payout Perspective:

 From a practical viewpoint, unless the moving party can tell the Court that it overlooked legal precedent when it made its ruling, the motion will likely fail.  The reason is that it goes before the same person that made the initial ruling.  In all likelihood, the Judge is not going to switch course. This could be an issue that may be brought up on appeal if the Court denies (and it likely will) Zuffa’s motion.  While it was a little curious that the Court did not allow the testimony, it does come in line with the determination that Silva was not an “expert” witness but a fact witness with knowledge about how Zuffa paid its athletes.

UFC 243 Payout Perspective

October 7, 2019

Welcome to another episode of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 243 from Melbourne, Australia where the company drew another attendance record and saw Israel Adesanya claim the UFC middleweight title.

Adesanya is King of the Middleweights

The matchup that sold this event, Robert Whittaker versus Israel Adesanya was determined a pick’em by gambling experts.  But, “The Last Stylebender” used his reach and movement to win exchanges with Whittaker and eventually dropped the former champ with a right which sent him to the canvas to be finished.  Coming off of an 18 month absence from the Octagon, Whittaker looked solid but was outmatched by Adesanya’s ability to move in and out.

Adesanya likely gets Paula Costa who was sitting front row at the event.  Costa is a big middleweight and will be a test for Adesanya who will have to rely on his kickboxing skills to avoid the power of the Brazilian.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

The event at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne drew 57,125 with a gate of $5,470,000.  The capacity broke the previous record in Melbourne at UFC 193 in November 2015.  The attendance and gate are impressive considering this event was based on one fight.  Yet, the main event between Whittaker and Adesanya was a dual between two fighters from Australia and New Zealand.  It also featured several fighters from Australia and nearby New Zealand.

The bonuses saw Adesanya, Yorgan de Castro, Brad Riddell and Jamie Mullarkey earned the honors.  Adesanya and de Castro won per their stoppages.  Riddell and Mullarkey had a brutal fight which earned Fight of the Night Honors and saw Riddell earn the victory.

Reebok Compliance Payouts

Adesanya and Whittaker received $40,000 payouts as they were both considered champions here.

Sponsorships

TAB, a sports betting outfit, was touted as the presenting sponsor for UFC 243.  Its logo was visible in the Octagon as well as on the official Reebok wear.

UFC sponsors in the Octagon for UFC 243 included TAB, Nemiroff, Air Asia, Monster Energy and Circle K, Devour and P3.  Also, Bisley workwear, which has been in the UFC octagon in the past, was on the mat.  Also notable, Etoro, a social trading and multi-asset brokerage company that includes the trade of cryptocurrencies was in the Octagon.  Finally, Doom Eternal is an upcoming video game that will be released this November.

Toyo Tires sponsored the post-fight interviews and P3 sponsored the post-fight bonuses

They included cartoon-type posters for Whittaker-Adesanya since it was Marvel Stadium.

MetroPCS had the tale of the tape.  Nemiroff presented the co-main event of Hooker-Iaquinta.

Motel 6 sponsored the UFC Embedded episodes.

Bixler, another UFC sponsor, gave out rings to participants.  Adesanya was seen trying on his ring on a UFC Embedded.

Odds and ends

Obviously, the Adesanya dance routine prior to the fight was something not seen in UFC Championship walkouts in the past.

In a unique move, Dhiego Lima is seeking to overturn the scorecards in his split decision victory Saturday.  In all reality, Lima dominated the entire fight and even the announcers were laughing as to how a judge could have missed that the fight was Lima’s.

New Zealander Dan Hooker did some local media to promote UFC 243.

For some reason, Paul Pierce was on an episode of Embedded and met with Israel Adesanya.

Al Iaquinta wore an American Ethanol t-shirt while training for his fight against Dan Hooker.  Perhaps still a sponsor or maybe just an old shirt from the former sponsor in the UFC.

In perhaps some synergy, Robert Whittaker wore a Doom shirt during episode 1 of Embedded.  The video game was a sponsor for UFC 243.  Whittaker professed his love of gaming as we saw him playing the game.

There were over 1 million google searches for UFC 243 on Saturday night.  Notably, GGG’s fight Saturday night drew over 100,000 google searches.

Conclusion

With 1 million google searches, UFC 243 drew a good share of interest for Saturday.  While the overall card may not have enticed the usual casual fan, a great deal of interest was on the middleweight battle between Adesanya and Whittaker.  I would think that the show grabs 275,000 PPV buys.

The Payout Pick: UFC 243 Main Event Whittaker-Adesanya

October 4, 2019

Robert Whittaker meets Israel Adesanya on Saturday at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia. Sports bettors can’t seem to pick a favorite in this matchup which will unify the middleweight title.

Although odds may have changed since you read this, Whittaker was the slight favorite at -115 while Adesanya sits around -105 making the fight a virtual pick’em. It appears that late money is going the way of “The Last Stylebender” so Adesanya may be the favorite going into Saturday’s fight.   Whittaker is coming off almost an 18 months absence from the Octagon after undergoing emergency surgery due to a hernia.  Adesanya is coming off a solid performance to win the interim UFC middleweight championship this past April.

The good news for those that like striking is that this fight will stay on the feet.  Both have the penchant to stay upright and throw strikes rather than take the match to the ground.  In fact, Adesanya has not landed a takedown in the Octagon and has just 3 attempts.  Whittaker hasn’t ventured much to the ground either but he has completed 4 of the 7 takedowns he’s made. He’s also great at takedown defense, so on the feet this fight shall stay.

Unlike Adesanya, Whittaker has been an underdog in his fights in the UFC whereas Adesanya has been the fight favorite.  Whittaker was last an underdog against Derek Brunson and Jacare Souza.  Those two fights were prior to his back-to-back fights where he was the favorite against Yoel Romero.  This shouldn’t matter much although you might make the argument that Whittaker is the more stoic fighter having faced adversity of being the underdog.

The stats seem to favor Adesanya when it comes to striking defense but its worthy to note that Kelvin Gastelum’s unrelenting come forward style gave him troubles during their fight this past April.  Similarly, Whittaker has a style where he can press the action which may keep Adesanya fending off the Reaper.  He’s also seems to be good at fighting the counter and could find avenues to take advantage of Adesanya’s striking.  Conversely, Adesanya’s length (80-inch reach versus 73.5 for Whittaker) is something to take into consideration.  Adesanya knows how to use his advantage and it will be up to Whittaker to close space between the two to ensure that he’s out of harm’s way.

I’d give the slight advantage here to Whittaker.  I’m a little hesitate considering we don’t know how Whittaker will be coming off such a long layoff from injury.  But, be has the proven chin to withstand Adesanya’s striking and his previous battles with Yoel Romero show that he has the capability to withstand being in trouble.  Moreover, I foresee counters off of Adesanya’s offense which could see a Whittaker stoppage in round 3.

« Previous PageNext Page »