Jones-Cormier showdown postponed to UFC 182

August 12, 2014

It was officially announced on FS1’s America’s Pregame that Jon Jones is out of UFC 178 due to a leg injury and his title fight with Daniel Cormier has been postponed until the January 3, 2015 card.  In its place, Demetrious Johnson will face Chris Cariaso for the flyweight title.

The news of Jones’ injury stalls the momentum between the Jones-Cormier feud which was amplified by last week’s media day brawl at the MGM Grand.  It followed with “hot mics” picking up some unrefined banter between the two which was not to be for public consumption.  Yet, it perked everyone’s interest.

Now, it appears that the UFC will replace this hot feud with another title fight featuring Johnson.  Of course, the last time Johnson headlined (at UFC 174), it was the lowest PPV output in 10 years.

Payout Perspective:

UFC 178 will still have Connor McGregor on the card so there is still buzz to be made.  However, replacing Jones-Cormier with Johnson-Cariaso is a disappointment (and its neither Johnson or Cariaso’s fault).  Unfortunately for Johnson, he has yet to translate into a PPV draw and his June showing at UFC 174 reflects the fact that he is not a main eventer.  On the bright side, both Jones and Cormier will get time to nurse their respective injuries so that they will be fresh for UFC 182 on Jan. 3rd 2015.

UFC 175 draws 500K-545K PPV buys

August 8, 2014

MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer reports that UFC 175 did between 500,000 – 545,000 PPV buys according to various cable sources.  It’s the best showing on PPV since UFC 168.

UFC 175 featured Ronda Rousey defending her title against Alexis Davis and Chris Weidman defending his against Lyoto Machida.  Interesting enough, UFC 168 featured Rousey and Weidman although in higher profile matchups: Miesha Tate and Anderson Silva.

The 500-545K PPV buy rate is the highest for 2014 which saw its lowest PPV buy rate in 10 years in UFC 174.

UFC 2014 PPVs

Payout Perspective:

Initial reports of this PPV hitting 500K buys appeared to hold up.  It should be considered a positive and reflects the successful duo of Rousey and Weidman.  The obvious difference from 168 is that the opponents were higher profile.  It’s expected that we should get them again in December with Weidman-Belfort and the possibility of Rousey-Carano.

New York and Zuffa file Summary Judgment Motions in lawsuit

August 2, 2014

The state of New York and Zuffa filed Motions for Summary Judgment in the ongoing lawsuit which seemingly has no end.  The filings, which were filed Thursday of last week, each hope to bring a resolution to the lawsuit filed by Zuffa in November 2011.

As most know that have been following this legal fight, Zuffa and other named plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General of New York in an effort to strike down the existing legislative ban on professional MMA in the state.  The Court dismissed most of Zuffa’s claims including a legal claim suggesting it infringed against its First Amendment rights.

The remaining claims before the Court are whether the statute is unconstitutionally vague and the state liquor law which allows for liquor to be sold at events.  Both parties have requested the Court to rule in its favor on the remaining claims.

For New York, it is requesting the Court to dismiss the challenges made by Zuffa.  If granted, the case would effectively be over pending an appeal to the Circuit Court.

For Zuffa, it is requesting the Court to strike down the law banning professional MMA in the state.  This would effectively allow for professional MMA in the state since the law would no longer exist.  Of course, we’ll speculate on this later.

The standard for a Court to grant a Summary Judgment has the party filing the motion having to prove that there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact” and that the person bringing the motion “is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Basically, the Court must find that based on the facts presented, there is no reason to hear anything else about the dispute because the facts show there is no dispute.  This certainly can be a tough threshold for any party bringing a motion.

New York’s Summary Judgment Motion

New York strategically argues that most of the named Plaintiffs must be dismissed because they have no standing.  Essentially, they cannot bring the lawsuit because there is no injury (i.e., damages).  In this scenario, if there are no damages, there is no standing to bring the claim.  Plaintiffs cannot bring a claim on hypothetical damages, rather the damages must be “actual and imminent.”  New York argues that most of the named Plaintiffs including Jon Jones, Gina Carano, Frankie Edgar, Matt Hammill and Brian Stann do not have the requisite standing because each have not suffered an actual injury and thus have no damage claim.  The parties had agreed that Jones, et al would not be deposed if they would not provide any evidence of the vagueness allegation.  Thus, New York now brings the motion to dismiss them.

It argues that the “only still surviving Exempt Organization,” the World Kickboxing Association (WKA) has only a “tentative” relationship with Zuffa.  It also points out that Zuffa and WKA have no formal agreement to run an event or future plans to do so.  Thus, Zuffa cannot claim injury.

Arguing that the Plaintiffs have no standing means the Court does not need to rule on the substantive legal issue-whether § 8905-a, the law banning professional MMA (or the New York “Liquor Law” which prohibits licensees who serve alcohol for on-premises consumption) is unconstitutionally vague.

While this may be cynical, arguing the procedural issues rather than the substantive content allows the Court an “out.”  Courts would not have to decide on the constitutionality of a law if the procedures to address the actual issue are not met.  Rather, Courts could allow the legislative branch the chance to address the law.  And, as we know Zuffa has been trying to do this for a while with no success.

If you are looking for a recent case that reflects a Court ruling on procedural grounds rather than substantive, look at the U.S. Supreme Court case which ruled on California’s Proposition 8.  In that case, the Supreme Court did not rule on the legal issues as it determined that the private parties that brought the lawsuit had no “standing” to bring the lawsuit because they had no injury.

Here, New York argues that the Plaintiffs have no “standing” to bring the lawsuit because they lack the requisite “injury.”

Zuffa’s Summary Judgment

Zuffa filed its Summary Judgment motion seeking that the Court determine that Section 8905-a and the New York Liquor Law is unconstitutionally vague as to professional MMA.  It cites the uncertainty of state officials as to the application and interpretation of the law.  It notes oral argument in which the Attorney General for New York admitting that professional MMA could be sanctioned by an Exempt Organization under the law.  The AG later explained away his statement.  Zuffa also argues that the law is vague and it encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.

Zuffa’s moving papers hammer away that the law banning professional MMA has many interpretations and these multiple interpretations even trip up those that enforce the rules.

Payout Perspective:

The following summary is just a cursory look at the papers and does not even delve into the deposition excerpts and exhibits.  At this point, we’ll wait on the opposition briefs which should include more declarations and deposition transcript excerpts.  And then there will be more in the reply to the opposition briefs.  The final pleadings for the motion will not be filed until early September.  Based on the amount of paper to read, one might not expect a decision until December, or early 2015.

But let’s assume New York wins and the case is dismissed.  Zuffa will have to consider its options which may include an appeal to the Circuit Court on the decision.  It would cost more money and take much longer and unless there is movement in Albany, no MMA in New York.

But what if the Court sides with Zuffa and grants its motion for summary judgment?  This would mean that the law banning MMA will be determined unconstitutional and essentially strike down the law.  One might expect a stay and/or the state of New York filing a preliminary injunction to stay the ruling in an effort to appeal the ruling.  The effect of an injunction would be a way to prevent pro MMA in the state before an appeal to the ruling is heard by another Court.  The last time most of us heard about a preliminary injunction was in the Eddie Alvarez case.  In the meantime, legislators in New York that are anti-pro MMA could draft new legislation which would clarify the vagueness issue and have it ready for Albany in 2015.  We could be completely off on this scenario and we haven’t even seen opposition briefs but I thought I’d throw this theory out there.

MMA Payout will have more on these motions in the coming days.

UFC on Fox 12: 2.5 million viewers

July 29, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Saturday’s UFC on Fox 12 main card received a Live plus Same Day rating of 2.5 million viewers.  The rating falls in line with Fox shows during the summer and is better than UFC on Fox 11’s rating this past April.

UFC on Fox 1: 5.7 million

UFC on Fox 2: 4.57 million

UFC on Fox 3: 2.25 million

UFC on Fox 4: 2.36 million

UFC on Fox 5: 3.41 million

UFC on Fox 6: 4.22 million

UFC on Fox 7: 3.3 million

UFC on Fox 8: 2.38 million

UFC on Fox 9: 2.9 million

UFC on Fox 10: 3.22 million

UFC on Fox 11: 1.98 million

UFC on Fox 12: 2.5 million

UFC on Fox 12 received a 1.5 rating and 3 share. The peak occurred during the main event overrun at 3,427,000 viewers.  The event featuring Robbie Lawler defeating Matt Brown was first in all of the key demos for the organization.  Men 18-34 (1.3), Men 18-48 (1.5), Men 25-54 (1.7) and Adults 18-49 (1.0).

ufc on fox 12

Payout Perspective:

The ratings improved slightly from the summer event for Fox the past two years.  Notably, Lawler was on the July 2013 show last year too.  And, even though there was a title fight in 2013, it was Demetrious Johnson.  It seemed like the Lawler-Brown fight had a little more interest.  It also may have helped that the prelims were on the network as well.  The prelims scored an average of 1.3 million and the audience built through the evening.

UFC on Fox 12 overnight rating: 2.02 million viewers

July 27, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that the overnight ratings for Saturday’s UFC on Fox 12 drew an average of 2.02 million viewers in overnight ratings.  According to Television By Numbers, it tied with NBC for highest rated show on network television in its time slot.

UPDATED 07/28/14:

UFC on Fox 12 scored an 0.8 in the 18-49 demo.  Although tied with NBC, it had more viewers.

The ratings only count for the 5:00pm-7:00pm (8-10pm) time slot and does not account for the 30 minute overrun when the bulk of the main event took place.  Its anticipated that the rating should go up with the inclusion of the additional time.

UFC on Fox 1: 5.7 million

UFC on Fox 2: 4.57 million

UFC on Fox 3: 2.25 million

UFC on Fox 4: 2.36 million

UFC on Fox 5: 3.41 million

UFC on Fox 6: 4.22 million

UFC on Fox 7: 3.3 million

UFC on Fox 8: 2.38 million

UFC on Fox 9: 2.9 million

UFC on Fox 10: 3.22 million

UFC on Fox 11: 1.98 million

UFC on Fox 12:  2.02 million

Payout Perspective:

The last two summer events were less than stellar and the ratings reflected this with UFC on Fox 4 (Vera vs. Rua) and UFC on Fox 8 (Mighty Mouse vs. Moraga) doing 2.36 million and 2.38 million respectively.  Saturday’s event had a little more interest with a fight between two fan-friendly fighters.  Before we scrutinize the ratings, we should probably wait for the overrun numbers as UFC on Fox 4 and 8 ratings include the overruns.  At this point, it’s unfair to critique the show since we may see it surpass the ratings of the last two summers.

Nick Diaz back with the UFC

July 24, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that Nick Diaz has signed a three fight contract with the UFC.  Diaz indicated he is looking to return early 2015.

Dana White tweeted out the evidence of the signing.

Best quote from Diaz after signing: “I’ve been doing a whole lot of not getting punched around-type stuff,” Diaz told UFC.com.

The move brings a fighter back with tons of baggage but is someone that people are interested in seeing.

Payout Perspective:

Despite being on a two fight losing streak, Nick Diaz is a fighter the UFC needs and is a PPV quality fighter.  One need only look at UFC 158, his last fight against GSP, where his rant about “wolf tickets” and other musings helped the event garner 950K PPV buys and stellar ratings for its Prelims, weigh-ins and post-fight show.  Sure, GSP was his opponent, but it was Diaz playing the villain that had viewers wanting to see weigh-ins and see what would happen on the post-fight show.

Many are drumming up dream opponents for Diaz (namely Anderson Silva), but we will have to see who he is willing to face before getting too excited.  Regardless, the signing adds “PPV depth” to the roster.

Belfort license allows Belfort-Weidman at UFC 181

July 23, 2014

Vitor Belfort was granted a conditional license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wednesday.  The issuance of the license allowed the UFC to announce Belfort-Chris Weidman at UFC 181 set for December 6th in Las Vegas.

With his attorney, Belfort appeared at the Commission hearing to discuss the application for license.  The Commission asked Belfort about a failed February 7th test for testosterone.  He claims he took a larger dose the day before to compensate for missing his biweekly prescribed TRT treatment due to traveling.

Granting Belfort his license came with conditions.  Namely, the commission could test Belfort extensively including blood and urine for the rest of the career.  Belfort would have to pay for the testing.

The commission voted unanimously to give a conditional license to Belfort.

(H/t: MMA Junkie)

Payout Perspective:

For those wondering, Belfort’s attorney Michael Alonso, works at the same firm that represents the UFC in other matters.  Belfort was told the day before the hearing that he’d have the shot against Weidman so I do not know if there was a feeling that despite his second failed drug test; Belfort would be issued a license.

Was the punishment fair?  Belfort will have to stay clean with the extensive drug testing and with him paying for this the commission will not have to expend additional resources here.  The announcement of the fight seemed almost instant after the license was granted.  I realize the UFC talked with Belfort (and Weidman) about the fight but it seemed interesting timing.

Upon signing, Carano gets next shot at Rousey

July 18, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that Gina Carano, if signed, will be next in line to take on Ronda Rousey in December.  Dana White announced this during a media scrum on Friday.

The announcement means that Carano will be given a title shot even though she has not fought in five years.  White defended his choice of opponents for Carano’s comeback as she has been training despite not actively fighting.

via Wikimedia Commons - The Strikeforce Days

via Wikimedia Commons – The Strikeforce Days

Payout Perspective:

The match makes sense from a business perspective but not from a matchmaker’s perspective. Carano has been gone from active fighting and it’s not clear what type of shape she will be in.  Furthermore, she will be fighting arguably the best UFC fighter right now.  Rousey is on a tear and it seems like Carano would be prudent to take a fight or two before she takes on Rousey.  Then again, the UFC wants to jump on this fight now.  If Carano would take another fight and lose, it would make it that much harder for the UFC to set up Carano-Rousey.  If done, this fight will certainly grab  the attention of a ton of non-MMA press.

UFC 175: Payout Perspective

July 9, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 175 which was the centerpiece for International Fight Week.  The main event from the Mandalay Bay in Vegas had Chris Weidman defending his middleweight title against Lyoto Machida.

Weidman defends belt against Machida

It was a tough title defense, but Chris Weidman did enough to defeat Lyoto Machida and retain his welterweight title.  Machida put the heat on Weidman in the championship rounds but Weidman did enough to win.  Weidman will face Vitor Belfort next.

Gone in 16 seconds

If there was ever a time where a moment overwhelmed an athlete, the look on Alexis Davis face during the walkout told the story.  It took more time for Ronda Rousey to do her mean mug strut to the Octagon than it did for her to finish Davis.  The real action happened post-fight when Joe Rogan seemingly received a question to ask Rousey from a producer in the truck as to whether she would fight next month in Los Angeles.  At that point, Rousey looked as uncomfortable as Davis did heading to the Octagon.  It turns out that Rousey is injured and the UFC cancelled its trip to Los Angeles.

UFC 175

Attendance and Gate

Announced at the post-fight press conference, UFC 175 did 10,044 for a gate of $4.4 million.  Dana White had predicted the gate to do $5 million.  However, he was slightly off.  Notably, the last time the UFC was at the Mandalay Bay (UFC 170) it had a higher attendance but lower gate which reflects the fact that ticket prices were much higher.  In fact, according to SeatGeek, UFC 175 was the most expensive ticket of 2014.

Bonuses

Bonuses were the standard $50,000 each and were given to Weidman-Machida for FOTN.  Rousey and Rob Font won the Performance Bonuses.

Salaries

Weidman ($450K + $50K = $500K) and Machida ($200K + $50K = $250K) were the top earners for the night with Rousey ($120K + $50K = $170K) and Faber ($120K) following behind on the pay scale.

Pre-Fight Promotion

It was International Fight Week and beside the array of events during the week leading up to the fight weekend, it was the annual UFC Expo.

It was likely the best Embedded series so far.  The short vlogs have been a great replacement for the UFC All Access show.

White took over ESPN’s Instagram account for the weigh-ins.

An email was sent out promoting the Fan Expo and the events this past weekend which had the tag line “Sh**t’s Going Down This Saturday.”  Perhaps a little too enthused about the fights.

Sponsorships

The sponsors in the Octagon included Toyo Tires, MusclePharm, UltimatePoker, the EA UFC video game, Corn Nuts, MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, the upcoming movie Sin City and Bud Light in the center.

USA Wrestling owned the fighter prep point as we see more organizations buy space with the UFC.  In the past, Tae Kwon Do and Judo have bought real estate during the PPVs.

UFC Prelims

There was some talk about why Urijah Faber was not on the PPV.  It would have added another name to sell for the show but he was placed on the prelims as the main event of the prelim card against Alex Caceres.  One might infer that putting Faber on the prelims was a way to create enough buzz and promotion for last minute fans on the fence on purchasing the PPV.  It could also be that Fox wanted a named-fighter to close out the show for its ratings.

The Prelim show did average 1 million viewers which is much better than the 174 prelim show.

Odds and Ends

-Subtle and overlooked, the weigh-ins for the big events like UFC 168 and this past weekend have a big time feel with the additional stage and screens.

-One of the better fight posters this time around which highlighted the fact it was going to be International Fight Week.

-The big controversy coming out of UFC 175 was Joe Rogan asking Ronda Rousey post-fight whether she would be available for UFC 176 in Los Angeles on August 2nd.  It put Rousey on the spot and White looked genuinely upset at the question.  In the end, it was a moot point since the UFC cancelled UFC 176 and Rousey could not have fought because she was medically suspended.

-Perhaps the greatest Hall of Fame speech ever came from Pat Miletich this past weekend. It was quick and to the point.  Not many can do that.

-Who looked sadder on their walkout this weekend?  Alexis Davis on Saturday or BJ Penn on Sunday?

-Should we be concerned that Chris Weidman did not remember anything about the fight right after it happened as he told Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview?

Conclusion

It looks like the initial reports from Dave Meltzer have the show at 500K PPV buys although that is not official.

If we are to follow Google Search data, searches were down for Ronda Rousey from her last fight.  The loss of the Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva fight also took away from the buzz of the event. Still, one would have hoped that the combination of Weidman and Rousey would get this card to 450-500K PPV buys.  Anything less should be a concern.  As alluded to at the press conference, look for Rousey and Weidman to stick together on a card.  The UFC probably knows the combination is one of the better shots at a big gate and an above average PPV buy rate.

 

LA Lost: UFC 176 cancelled

July 8, 2014

Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports! reports that UFC 176 has been cancelled due to the lack of a replacement main event for Jose Aldo-Chad Mendes.  Aldo suffered a neck injury during training which forced him out although the UFC plans to postpone this fight until October.

It’s the second time in the company’s history that it has had to cancel a PPV as most recall UFC 151 was nixed due to an injury to Dan Henderson.  All of the fights that were scheduled for the August 2nd event in Los Angeles will be assigned to other events.  In an interview with Fox Sports Live, Lorenzo Fertitta was not optimistic about a card at the Staples Center any time soon.

The cancellation comes on the same day with MMA Junkie reporting that UFC 176 had sold $800,000 in tickets thus far.  Now, those tickets will have to be refunded.

Payout Perspective:

The news of the cancellation has to be a big blow for the UFC as its unlikely it can run another event in Los Angeles any time soon.  But, without a main event, it would have suffered and would have received a buy rate comparable to the rumored buy rate of UFC 174.  Still, the rest of the card has some compelling match-ups (Jacare-Mousasi, Corriea-Basler and Corriea’s quest to run through the Horsewomen, Green-Trujillo and Castillo-Ferguson) which will complement other cards upcoming.

The cancellation indirectly hurts Metamoris’ event on August 9th as it likely would have been able to do some promotion (thinking guerilla marketing) with the UFC in town.

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