August 18, 2016
The water bottle flinging episode which ended the UFC 202 press conference on Wednesday provided some buzz for an event that lacks previous big fights. But, will Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor be punished for their actions.
If you have not seen the press conference, McGregor showed up about 30 minutes late to the press conference. Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Glover Texiera were present and on time. Shortly after McGregor made his appearance, Diaz left with his team. Shouting and finger gestures were exchanged and that’s when the throwing of objects began.
Things just got real between Diaz and McGregor at the UFC 202 press conference. pic.twitter.com/cxD8yYBl4W
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 17, 2016
According to the NAC 467.885(5), the Nevada Athletic Commission “may suspend or revoke the license of, otherwise discipline or take any combination of such actions against a licensee who has, in the judgment of the Commission:
- Conducted himself or herself at any time or place in a manner which is deemed by the Commission to reflect discredit to unarmed combat;
The UFC Code of Conduct states that the company can impose discipline for “Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety or well-being of another person.” In addition “[c]onduct that undermines or puts at risk the organization or promotion of a UFC event, including without limitation, failure to deliver, engage in or otherwise execute any and all promotional responsibilities…” Also, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the UFC.”
You can say that McGregor and Diaz’s actions yesterday were violations of all of the above. While it may have been an indirect way to promote the fight Saturday, it put at risk those that were nearby.
The news conference ends crazily with Diaz leaving room and his camp throwing things, including a tape roll that hit Conor’s girlfriend arm
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) August 17, 2016
Short plug, I was on with Josh Nason of The Wrestling Observer and we talked about the press conference in depth as well as the UFC 202 card.
I don’t expect the revocation of a license but a fine will likely occur. What will be interesting the commission hearing which will likely happen as a result. Obviously, there’s a part of MMA fandom that likes to see this intensity. But, when does it become sideshow, not sport. I understand that this is a part of the promotion but the throwing of objects can carry liability if a bystander were to be hit or injured.
August 12, 2016
With the news that the Professional Fighters Association is seeking to organize UFC Fighters, it has drawn the concern of long-time organization Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association.
According to a Forbes piece on the issues, MMAFA is taking issue with the fact that PFA did not reach out to its organization. MMAFA has been on the front lines of trying to organize fighters. Rob Maysey, one of MMAFA’s founding members, is quoted in the Forbes piece that they question PFA’s motives.
Maysey’s firm is one of the plaintiffs’ firms currently involved in the UFC antitrust lawsuit in Las Vegas. MMAFA has several current and former MMA fighters involved in the organization.
One of the concerns is that PFA is led by an agent, Jeff Borris, who has represented baseball players. As argued by Maysey, there is a conflict of interest with agents representing individuals and secondly the inherent competition with other agents will make it hard for other agent-represented athletes to join. In addition, PFA’s exclusivity to UFC fighters (it has stated it is seeking to organize UFC athletes), may hurt other organizations.
This was inevitable. The business of organizing MMA fighters. While Maysey makes salient points, there’s the obvious issue that he is partial to MMAFA since he is/was a part of the organization. Aside from these two organizations, there are other groups that are seeking to organize fighters. While this should be good for fighters overall, one can’t help but foresee an internal struggle between groups as to how to organize and what steps are best in ensuring better wages for fighters.
August 8, 2016
The letter-writing battle between parties in the Wilder-Povetkin lawsuit is heating up as the parties have exchanged terse letters with the court about Wilder’s Motion to Dismiss the Povetkin lawsuit.
For background on the lawsuit, you can look here. Long story short, a bout between Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin set in Russia for this past May was called off by the sanctioning body due to the fact that Povetkin tested positive for Meldonium. While the positive drug test is a factor in the subsequent events that transpired, it was not the key trigger which the parties are seemingly battling over.
At this point, the parties are fighting over Povetkin’s request to release over $4 million in funds lodged in an Escrow Account related to the WBC calling off the fight. Wilder’s attorneys notified the escrow agent not to release the funds. Povetkin’s attorneys claim that this was against the terms of the agreement and as a result it constituted a breach which triggered a liquidated damages clause of $2.5 million. Povetkin’s attorneys also claim that the fight was called off due to the fact that Wilder never intended to go to Russia for the fight. Thus, it was Wilder that breached his contractual duty to the escrow agreement as well as the bout agreement. In addition, Povetkin filed a defamation claim against Wilder and his promoter as a result of the comments regarding failing a drug test.
While the Motion to Dismiss was filed in late July, the court in which the lawsuit is assigned has a rule in which the parties must submit a 3 page letter as part of Pre-Motion Conference prior to filing of a Motion to Dismiss. The letter is to outline the reasons for the motion and give the non-moving party a chance to amend (change based on the argument) the Complaint. Povetkin’s attorney identify this misstep last week as well as arguing its claim to the court.
While Wilder’s attorney gloss over their missteps in a letter to the court dated August 5th they take direct aim at Povetkin’s attorneys for its substantive arguments to the Court. Povetkin’s attorneys responded to the letter and requested a Pre-Motion Conference.
August 8, 2016
It was anticipated that A.J. Daulerio was to file for personal bankruptcy as well.
In March, a Florida jury awarded Hogan $140.1 million including $25.1 million in punitive damages. Despite the fact that the judge presiding over the jury trial advised the jury to not award punitive damages that would bankrupt the defendants. Nevertheless, the jury awarded the damages to the former pro-wrestler. The court determined that Gawker had $48.7 million in gross revenues las year and a net worth of $83 million.
Although Gawker is appealing the trial court decision, that would not stop Gawker’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. The company filed for protection when the trial court judge upheld the jury verdict this past May.
Denton listed his stake in Gawker and his apartment in Manhattan as his only two assets. The combined value he estimates is less than $50 million.
While the settlement discussions have been ongoing, they have led to nowhere. One would think that Hogan might take less than the jury award to cut off the constant waterfall of legal fees that he will surely have to pay at some point. For Gawker, settlement would not stop a bankruptcy auction of the company. But, it could mean that they would have money left over after the sale.
August 4, 2016
Deontay Wilder and Lou DiBella have filed a Motion to Dismiss the claims of Alexander Povetkin and his promoter. The motion reflects what might be a long, hard fight in court.
As you may recall, in June Wilder and his promoter, Lou DiBella and DiBella Entertainment filed a lawsuit against World of Boxing, LLC (“WOB”) and Alexander Povetkin in New York. The lawsuit claimed that Povetkin breached a Bout Agreement when Povetkin tested positive for Meldonium, a banned substance. Due to the finding, the World Boxing Council (“WBC”) issued a ruling that the fight, set for May 21, 2016 in Russia, would not go forward.
When news of the positive test surfaced, Wilder’s attorney notified the Escrow Agent, that the $4,369,365 deposited by Povetkin’s promoters should not be disbursed back to World of Boxing until a joint instruction from the parties “or a non-appealable order from a court of competent jurisdiction” advised the Escrow Agent it could disburse the funds.
Shortly after Wilder’s lawsuit, WOB and Povetkin filed 3 counterclaims. Two claimed breach of contract regarding the Bout Agreement. It claimed that Wilder was never in Russia on the date of the fight and this was the reason for the WBC announcing a postponement. Secondly, it claimed breach due to the fact that Wilder’s attorney instructed the Escrow Agent not to release funds.
The third allegaton for defamation claims that Wilder’s camp stated “falsely” that the fight was “canceled rather than postponed.” Also, there are accusations that Wilder’s camp stated Povetkin “cheated” due to the Meldonium finding. Notably, the Meldonium issue is downplayed in the motion.
Wilder submitted a declaration which claims that he was in England training for his fight when he learned of the drug test but did not intend to return to the US until after an announcement from the WBC. He claims he did not travel home until May 16, 2016. He includes his boarding pass home as evidence. They also submit the declaration of the travel agent that arranged Wilder’s flight back to the United States. Wilder’s attorneys also cite a tweet from Povetkin’s promoter which stated that the fight was not going forward prior to the WBC announcement.
This evidence is meant to prove that Wilder’s absence from Russia during the timeframe of the fight did not cause the postponement of the fight.
As for the defamation claim, Wilder’s attorneys cite the fact that “truth is an absolute, unqualified defense” to a defamation claim. In addition, opinion or rhetorical hyperbole is not actionable. It also argues that WOB and Povetkin cannot prove that any statements made were done with “actual malice.” This would relate to the comments about the positive test regarding Meldonium.
Wilder’s attorneys argue that Povetkin, as a public figure, must show the statements were made with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard of its falsity.
WOB and Povetkin’s complaint cite 13 statements of purported defamation. Each of which Wilder’s attorneys strike down.
In addition, Wilder’s attorneys argue certain procedural issues which would preclude the lawsuit from going forward.
WOB and Povetkin’s attorneys argue that the motion was filed in violation of the court rules in a letter to the court.
Wilder’s attorneys were out of town and indicated that they would respond once they are backwhich is Friday, August 5th.
MMA Payout will keep you posted.
July 30, 2016
The lawyers for Golden Boy have requested a continuance in the antitrust trial against Al Haymon. The date, originally set for the end of January 2017, is going to be pushed to March if the court agrees with the unopposed motion.
A declaration by Golden Boy’s lead counsel, Bertram Fields, requests that the trial date set for January 31, 2017 is continued until March 13, 2017. The reason being is that Fields is teaching a class at Stanford Law School during winter quarter. He advised the court that it would include the need for Fields, who practices law in Los Angeles, to fly to Palo Alto each week to teach.
Notably, Fields states in his declaration that the court had advised that the entire case should take just 4 court days to complete while Golden Boy believes that the case is a complex antitrust case that would take at least 10 court days to complete. He states in his declaration that even his original estimate of 10 days may have been conservative.
The motion went unopposed according to Golden Boy’s court filing and if this is correct, it pushes the date to at least March 2017. This probably give Haymon some extra time and something in their pocket to use if they need to request something from Golden Boy or the court. Fields, the savvy lawyer that he is, includes some argument in his own declaration to contend the need for extra time.
July 28, 2016
On Thursday, the WWE announced its second quarter earnings for the year. Despite record revenues, the company’s Q2 profits missed expectations.
According to the WWE earnings call held Thursday morning, revenues grew 32% to a record $199M. Profits are off due in part to spending which included Wrestlemania.
The WWE Network hit 1.52M average paid subscribers which is up 25% over Q2 last year. The Network revenues generated $51.8M in revenues. Per the WWE earnings release, the average monthly churn declined 20% to 9.9% for the first six months of 2016 from 12.3% for the comparable period in 2015.
The release of its earnings comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed earlier this month by over 50 former WWE performers related to head injuries. S&P Global Ratings warned on Thursday that sports-related brain injuries are among the biggest new area for insurance claims.
Of the other numbers indicated in the earnings release was that live events were up from this time in 2015. In 2016, live event net revenues were $51.9M versus $26.4M in 2015. This is due in part to increased ticket prices.
Notably, there were no questions about Brock Lesnar and his failed USADA tests in the UFC. Of course, this may not have a direct impact with the financials. Then again, the fact that the information has surfaced that he was not subject to the WWE Wellness Policy which tests its performers for banned substances might raise questions. In addition, a question about the UFC came about during the call. Essentially, the WWE noted that the UFC is a private company and the sale reflected “the value people are putting on branded live content.”
July 27, 2016
UFC has renewed its broadcast rights partnership with United Kingdom and Ireland provider BT Sport per press release.
The deal allows for BT Sport to the exclusive right to air live UFC events throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The deal allows for BT Sport to show over 150 hours of live UFC coverage including all of the numbered UFC PPVs and all EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) events. Terms of the deal were not disclosed although the deal will run through 2018.
According to the Daily Mirror, there was some competition for the UFC rights deal with Sky.
The timing comes prior to the big Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz rematch at UFC 202 which should garner a lot of viewers in the UK and Ireland due to Conor. The deal solidifies the UFC’s broadcast deal in an area with which they hope to grow with the new ownership.
July 22, 2016
Former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko had his three-year suspension and $10,000 fine from the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) reduced per a judicial court ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court this past Wednesday. The fine was reduced by the court and he should be able to return to fight in the state upon paying the reduced fine of $5,000.00. His suspension was deemed to have ended on February 28, 2016 per court order.
Schlemenko was represented by Howard Jacobs. Notably, Jacobs is representing Jon Jones with his recent drug suspension which caused him to miss UFC 200.
Per the CSAC, Shlemenko tested positive for steroids after Bellator 133 on February 13, 2015.
In a court ruling filed on July 18, 2016, the court sided with Shlemenko’s argument that the CSAC violated his due process rights by increasing his suspension from 1 to 3 years following his appeal. It also sided with Shlemenko that the CSAC was wrong in assessing two $2,500 fines for providing a false statement on an alleged application for license.
Shlemenko argued that the CSAC violated his due process rights because it increased his penalty following his appeal of the initial suspension. The court sided with Shlemenko as it stated: “Petitioner [Shlemenko] could not have known that by appealing the suspension of his license he was reopening the issue of the length of the suspension.”
CSAC increased Shlemenko’s suspension from 1 to 3 years after his appeal of the original punishment. The court notes that a 3 year penalty “was not even discussed until the closing briefs on the penalty issue, and by that time Petitioner was unable to respond.”
As for the fines, the court agreed with Shlemenko’s argument that the CSAC wrongly imposed two fines on Petitioner for false statement in his pre-bout questionnaire and lab intake form relating to his non-use of drugs. The court agreed that the statements were not made in connection with an application for a license.
In addition, Shlemenko claimed that the CSAC’s decision should be overturned because it “denied his right to have a second “B” sample of his urine taken to be opened and tested in his presence if the “A” sample tested positive for a banned substance. The court denied Schlemenko’s argument stating that it was not required for the CSAC to take a “B” sample to validate the test of an “A” sample.
The court also denied Shlemenko’s claim that he was denied a fair hearing because “the Commission improperly conducted its own research and exhibited bias against Petitioner and his counsel.” The court stated that there must be “concrete evidence” of bias and prejudice which they did not find in this instance.
The court ruling means that Shlemenko has served a suspension of over a year. But the legal process saved him an additional two year suspension and CSAC fine. The due process ruling clarifies some of the administrative issues with the process of fines and suspensions.
July 20, 2016
The Zachary Light-Bellator lawsuit in California is getting personal. Bellator has filed a Cross-Complaint against Light stating that he stole money from the company and did not pay back a loan given to him due to the fact he was in financial trouble.
Light filed the lawsuit claiming wrongful termination back in May in Los Angeles Superior Court. Bellator was granted an extension to respond to the Complaint and it’s also filed its own Complaint against Light filed July 12th.
The cross-claim digs right into Light stating that Light told Bellator, that, “despite his sizable income, he had difficulty managing his family budget and was experiencing financial distress.” Bellator loaned Light $9,403.00 and entered into a written agreement to pay back the loan. Bellator attached a copy of the alleged agreement as an Exhibit to its Cross-Complaint. The company also claims that Light stole $4,600 in cash from VIP ticket sales from Bellator 136. Bellator claims Light now owes $5,050.00 plus interest.
Conversion, the civil claim alleged by Bellator, is essentially stealing. It also claims theft under California law and a breach of written contract which alludes to the purported failure of Light to repay the loan.
Bellator claims that as part of his job, Light “would collect the money he received from the sale of consignment and VIP tickets in connection with Bellator events, and remit the money to Bellator personnel shortly after he received it from purchasers.” He would then give the money to Bellator’s Chief Financial Officer, Michael O’Roark or Jane Estioko, Manager of Talent Relations. However, Bellator claims that Bellator remitted to Bellator “at least some of the money” he failed to give “thousands of dollars he collected.” The Monday after the event, Bellator 136, Light did not report for work citing medical reasons.
With respect to his financial issues, Light and Bellator entered into an “Authorization for Deduction” on December 18, 2014 for $6,974.57 in which he would repay the loan in monthly installments of $240.50 from his paychecks. It also appears that Bellator was charging him interest on this loan. The exhibit to the Cross-Complaint is below.
Light will have an opportunity to respond to these allegations. Obviously, these claims were filed as a result of Light’s lawsuit. The lawsuit is turning personal as Bellator infers the fact Light has had financial difficulties throughout. The loan was from December 2014 and the alleged theft occurred in April 2016. Were there any other issues in between this time that Bellator is holding back for the lawsuit or are these two issues the only claims against Light? Certainly Light will deny both claims.
The one question is why would Bellator give Light the responsibility of handling money on the company’s behalf if it believed he had an issue with finances. MMA Payout will keep you posted.