UFC calls report of UFC 225 PPV buys “material misrepresentation”

June 15, 2018

The UFC has refuted an LA Times report that UFC 225 scored just less than 150,000 PPV buys.  UFC attorney Hunter Campbell told the LA Times that the number was a “material misrepresentation” of the actual buys and short by “something in excess of six figures” although he did not provide an actual figure.

UFC 225 featured Robert Whittaker taking on Yoel Romero in a non-title middleweight fight after Romero missed weight.  It also had Colby Covington take on Rafael dos Anjos for the interim welterweight title.

The report of less than 150,000 buys would be a disappointment for the UFC considering it was one of the better cards this year.

Payout Perspective:

In general, the legal definition of a material misrepresentation is the act of intentional hiding or fabrication of a material fact which, if known to the other party, could have terminated, or significantly altered the basis of, a contract, deal, or transaction.  But, truth would be a defense to a claim of material misrepresentation.  Moreover, the UFC would have to prove that the industry source intentionally knew the PPV price and then gave a false number.

Having an attorney come out to refute a report and then provide the legal term “material misrepresentation” is a bit ominous.  Certainly, if the reports were not true, its within the right of the UFC to respond.  But, to provide a response with actually correcting the number seems short of a full explanation.  Being “six figures” short could mean that it did less than 150,000 as well as doing six figures more than 150,000 buys.  The inference here in the response is the possibility for legal action if there are inaccurate reports.  But, how do we know that they are inaccurate if not provided the real number.

Light heavyweight accepts one-year USADA sanction

June 14, 2018

Michal Oleksiejczuk has accepted a one-year sanction for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy per a USADA release on Tuesday.  His victory over Khalil Rountree was overturned by the Nevada Athletic Commission after testing positive for a banned substance.

It was the light heavyweight’s first fight with the UFC.  And now, the 23-year-old will have to wait until December 2018 to return to the UFC.  The Polish fighter was flagged for an in-competition test.

Per USADA press release:

Oleksiejczuk, 23, tested positive for clomiphene following an in-competition urine test conducted on December 30, 2017, at UFC 219 in Las Vegas, Nev. Clomiphene is a Specified Substance in the category of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the WADA Prohibited List.

Oleksiejczuk’s one-year period of ineligibility began on December 30, 2017, the date his positive sample was collected, and is identical in length to the sanction imposed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) on March 13, 2018. In addition, the NSAC overturned Oleksiejczuk’s victory at UFC 219 to a no-contest.

Payout Perspective:

At only 23, the sanction does not detour his career too much although a year away from the organization could hurt.  He had made $12,000 and $12,000 to win according to Nevada Athletic Commission pay disclosures.  It’s not clear whether Oleksiejczuk will have to return the pay due to the overturn to a no-decision.

Report: UFC 225 draws “less than 150,000” PPV guys

June 13, 2018

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that this past Saturday’s UFC 225 drew less than 150,000 PPV buys.

The event featured the anticipated title fight between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero.  But Romero missed weight by .2 pounds and the 5 round fight became a non-title bout.  The co-main event featured a title fight for the interim welterweight title with Colby Covington defeating Rafel Dos Anjos.  The card also featured CM Punk’s second fight in the UFC.  Punk’s last fight on PPV helped the card draw 450,000 buys.

The report, which is included on an article on Conor McGregor’s court hearing, is based on an industry source that informed the paper.

While the attendance and gate were strong from a live event perspective, it failed to yield a huge buy rate.

Payout Perspective:

The news cannot be good for the company which hoped to have a solid buy rate for this PPV.  The card was one of the best PPV cards this year, yet it still did not surpass 200,000 buys.  It’s likely the worst buy rate for this season and does not say much for the draws in the welterweight and middleweight divisions.

Greg Hardy awarded a UFC contract

June 12, 2018

Former NFL player Greg Hardy was awarded a UFC contract after his first round KO on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.  The controversial move looks to be a public relations issue due to Hardy’s past regarding domestic violence.

Hardy took out another former NFL player, Austen Lane.  The 29-year-old former Pro-Bowler will now have a chance to compete in the UFC Heavyweight division.

White indicated that Hardy’s deal may include fights outside the UFC banner prior to an official debut.

Payout Perspective:

Hardy is an elite athlete and is likely more athletic than most of the Heavyweights in the UFC division.  He still is raw but has potential in the sport.  His controversial past, including an arrest on assault of his ex-girlfriend will carry with him when he debuts.  It will also cause many advocacy groups to protest his signing.   The graphic photos showing his former girlfriend with bruises from Hardy caused outrage and he was ex-communicated from the NFL.  Hardy was arrested and convicted but the charges were overturned on appeal and his record was expunged.   The UFC is giving him a second chance because he has the chance to re-ignite an aging Heavyweight division.  His performance Tuesday night proved the point.  Yet, the UFC will have to address a public relations storm waiting for it.

Santa Cruz-Mares draws 600K on Showtime

June 12, 2018

The rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares drew 600,000 viewers Saturday night on Showtime according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The fight peaked at 633,000 viewers which is less than their first fight.

The first fight, which took place on ESPN in August 2016, between Santa Cruz and Mares drew 1.217 million viewers and peaked with 1.614 million viewers.

The Santa Cruz-Mares fight drew 214,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and 0.39 household rating.

The other fight on the telecast took place between Jermell Charlo and Austin Trout.  The event averaged 532,000 viewers and peaked at 575,000.  The fight drew 199,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and drew a household rating of 0.36.

Payout Perspective:

Terrence Crawford and Jeff Horn fought earlier in the night and Santa Cruz-Mares went up against UFC 225.  The fight hype may have been overshadowed by Crawford despite being it being on ESPN +.  Santa Cruz won the rematch via unanimous decision in a very entertaining bout.

UFC 225 Prelims draw 667,000 on FS1

June 12, 2018

The UFC 225 Prelims drew 667,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The featured prelim bout of the telecast saw Curtis Blaydes stop Alistair Overeem with a vicious elbow while in Overeem’s guard in the third round of the fight.

According to ShowBuzz Daily, the event drew 323,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a overall household rating of 0.42.  The event did better than two live telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2.  The College Track and Field Championships drew 311,000 viewers at the same time as the Prelims and a College Baseball SuperRegional between South Carolina and Arkansas drew 583,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

It would have been interesting to see if CM Punk and Curtis Blaydes switched places on the card how that might affect ratings and PPV buys.  The ratings are fair but do not indicate a larger audience for its PPV.

UFC 225 attendance, gate and bonuses

June 10, 2018

Robert Whittaker successfully defended his middleweight title and received a double bonus for his victory over Yoel Romero Saturday night at UFC 225 from Chicago.

Whittaker earned a split decision over Romero after a back and forth 5 round fight.  Charles Oliveira earned a $50,000 bonus with a 1st round submission over Clay Guida.  Curtis Blaydes received the other bonus for his KO of Alistair Overeem in the third round.

UFC 225 drew 18,117 fans for a gate of $2.55 million.  It was the best attendance and gate for a UFC show in Chicago.  The event took place at the United Center in Chicago.  Dana White said post-event that it was the “highest attended non-basketball event in the arena’s history.”

The numbers were announced post-fight by the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

Romero’s inability to make weight sort of diminished a great main event with Whittaker.  The UFC would have been in a bind if Romero would have prevailed as there were instances where Whittaker looked to be out of it.  But, the main event and the CM Punk fight probably boosted attendance for the event.  Will it transfer to PPV buys is another interesting question.

Ronda Rousey selected for UFC Hall of Fame

June 9, 2018

The UFC announced that Ronda Rousey will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this July.  Rousey will be the first women given the honor.

Per UFC press release:

UFC® today announced that former UFC and Strikeforce® women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Modern Wing’ as a member of the class of 2018. The 2018 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 5, at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The event will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS® starting at 7 p.m. PT.

“There would be no women in UFC without Ronda Rousey,” UFC President Dana White said. “Ronda is an absolute pioneer who helped me personally, and a lot of other people, look at women in combat sports differently. She accomplished everything she set out to do with UFC and became a global icon and role model in the process. Today, the women’s divisions are packed with incredibly talented fighters and they produce some of the best fights you’ll ever see. We’re proud to announce Ronda as the first woman to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.”

Rousey will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as a member of the Modern Wing, joining Forrest Griffin (2013), BJ Penn (2015) and Urijah Faber (2017) as the only members of this distinguished category. Rousey also joins Faber as only the second athlete to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame from the bantamweight division. The “Modern Era” category includes athletes who turned pro on or after November 17, 2000 (when the first UFC event under the unified rules of MMA was held), are a minimum age of 35 or who have been retired for one year or more.

“This is an immense honor, to not only take part in bringing women to the forefront of this sport, but now the UFC Hall of Fame,” Rousey said. “May I be the first of many.”

Payout Perspective:

The induction was a matter of “when” not “if” and Rousey’s presence during International Fight Week should bring some notoriety to the event which has suffered the last couple years from the lack of a big attraction.  Regardless of the disdain that Rousey receives from some of the hardcore MMA fan, she deserves the honor for what she did in the Octagon but also how she helped the UFC business when Dana White did not believe that it could happen.  And yes, you can believe that her current

Augusto Mendes is released by UFC, signs with ACB despite pending anti-doping violation

June 9, 2018

The UFC has granted Augusto Mendes his release according to MMA Fighting.  Mendes was flagged back in March for a potential UFC anti-doping violation.  Mendes has signed with Absolute Championship Berkut of Russia.

Mendes claimed that he would appeal the drug test administered by USADA.  However, with one fight left on his UFC deal, he is no longer with promotion.

It is not clear whether he will compete before his USADA case is resolved.

Payout Perspective:

This signing has gone under the radar and may be something to track considering if ACB decides to honor the potential suspension.  One might infer that they will not considering the signing during this time.  Moreover, the UFC’s willingness to let him out of his contract may mean that it will no longer pursue disciplinary action against him but place the burden on other regulatory bodies to decide.  This is a similar situation to the Cro Cop/Bellator issue where a fighter finds alternative ways around the USADA suspension.  We will see what happens and if going to an organization that does not honor an anti-doping violation in another promotion, this may be a strategy by some that will look to circumvent the process.

TUF 27 Episode 8 draws 248,000

June 7, 2018

TUF 27 Episode 8 drew 248,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The episode went up against the NBA Finals on ABC.  The fight of the episode saw Dulani Perry take on Tyler Diamond.  Diamond submitted Perry with a guillotine in the second round. The Team Cormier member moves into the Featherweight semifinals against Jay Cucciniello.

Payout Perspective:

The event was a decrease from last week but improves on last season’s 197,000 for its eighth episode.  Last year’s TUF 25 eighth episode drew 303,000 viewers.  Notably, episodes 5 and 6 saw dramatic increases in DVR viewership with each drawing over 100% the live viewership.  Last week saw the highest viewership after factoring DVR numbers.

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