Bellator files Statement on Ali Act for Congressional Hearing

November 12, 2017

Bellator MMA submitted a statement to last week’s Subcommittee Hearing on MMA.  The Statement was written by Tracey Lesetar-Smith, Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at Viacom Media Networks and supports the expansion of the Ali Act to combat sports.

The statement, which becomes part of the Congressional record on MMA, gives a brief history of the boxing and MMA ecosystems.  Lesetar-Smith states that boxing had a pre-existing, sanctioning-body architecture while MMA “organically developed” under a “league” system.  This is described as a different business model than that of boxing.  Unlike the UFC, Bellator states that it “co-promotes events with smaller domestic local promoters and international fight promoters to enhance [its] events and allow them [local promoters] opportunities to showcase their league talent.

Lesetar-Smith made it clear that boxing and MMA use “multi-year, multi-fight, exclusive promotional contracts” and it is not prohibited in the original Ali Act.  There was a distinction made between these contracts and those “coercive contracts” addressed in the Ali Act.

She explained why the organization uses exclusive contracts.  “Bellator invests a great deal of time, resources, and capital into promoting and marketing each long-term athlete and therefore the exclusivity and duration of each contract reflects a desire to seek a return on investment.”  The multi-fight contracts also allow for Bellator to plan and budget for events in advance.  There is also an “outlay” of money for fighters that they do not immediately recoup.

The Statement notes that the UFC “utilized tactics that made competition in the MMA industry very challenging.”  This has made it a challenge to compete with the UFC.

The “unimpaired movement of skilled athletes to organizations” is one of the primary things that can overturn UFC market share according to Bellator.

Bellator states that it relies upon State and Tribal Athletic Commissions to regulate its events.  However, lack of funding, staff and resources have made regulation a challenge.  Bellator requests that the federal government “advocate for and support the work of these Commissions.”  It also champions the health and safety of its fighters and expressed concerns regarding traumatic brain injury and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and pushed for further safeguards.

Bellator Statement in Support of Ali Act by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

The issue of fighter safety as it relates to TBI or CTE is not addressed in the proposed legislation although Bellator advocates for it.  The requests that the federal government support further health and safety measures is admirable but it also would mean a budget and allocation of federal spending which may not be feasible in this present economic client.  Whether or not you believe that free agency over time will level the field for which Bellator may catch up to the UFC, it is plausible but may not be possible especially with the mainstream appeal of the brand and its new owners.  Yet, Bellator’s statement is the flip side of the UFC’s position on the Ali Act.  It’s an interesting position but remember, among other key differences between the organizations, Bellator does not rely on PPV revenue as much as the UFC nor does it pay its fighters as much.

Rampage Jackson re-signs with Bellator, enters into Grand Prix HW Tourney

November 11, 2017

Bellator announced that Quentin “Rampage” Jackson has re-signed an exclusive multi-fight deal with the company according to a company release.  He is expected to return to the Bellator cage as part of a Heavyweight Grand Prix event ran by the company in 2018.

Jackson was to return to the UFC as a part of a deal with the company relating to a lawsuit between Rampage and Bellator.  According to reports, the UFC renounced its right to Jackson allowing for the former UFC light heavyweight champion to return to Bellator.

Scott Coker announced that Bellator will host an eight-man heavyweight tournament known as the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018.  The winner will get the vacant Bellator belt.  Fedor, Frank Mir, Matt Mitrione, Roy Nelson, Ryan Bader, Mo Lawal, Chael Sonnen and Jackson will compete.  No date has been set for the first round of fights but the final is targeted for December 2018.

Payout Perspective:

Jackson’s re-signing is not surprising as the UFC likely did not want to sign him to a big deal.  Moreover, it’s clear based on his recent performances, he was not in the company’s future plans.  But, for Bellator, he can still be of value especially with the Grand Prix tourney.  Jackson will not have to cut weight and can still draw for the company.

Bellator 185 draws 476,000 viewers

October 23, 2017

Bellator 185 drew 476,000 viewers on Friday night on Spike TV according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured the debut of former UFC middleweight Gegard Mousasi as he defeated Alexander Shlemenko.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are a modest boost from the last Bellator show but you would have expected a little more considering the debut of Mousasi.  But, the MLB game between the Yankees and Astros on FS1 which drew over 8.2 million viewers probably had something to do with it.

Bellator’s Hardy allowed to box and fight in MMA

October 16, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator women’s flyweight Heather Hardy’s second fight in the Viacom-owned organization won’t preclude her from stepping into a boxing ring.  Hardy revealed in an interview that her two-year contract with Bellator allows her to continue her boxing career.

Currently, Hardy is working with boxing promoter Lou DiBella but states that there is more opportunity for her in MMA.  The 35-year-old who debuted with Bellator this past June is not limiting her options.

According to the Junkie article, Hardy is guaranteed a minimum of 4 fights in Bellator.

Hardy is a boxing coach and trainer when she is not getting ready for a fight.

Payout Perspective:

The flexibility of Hardy’s contract seems to be something that all MMA fighters want nowadays.  While many wait for their next bout, they want to keep busy some other way.  But, underscoring the flexibility give to Hardy is the likelihood that she is not being compensated well for either job.  It’s like having two part-time jobs.  You have to make ends meet whereas if you were paid well for one you would do it.  On the other end, Bellator or Hardy’s promoter would likely require exclusivity if she was a draw or became one.

Bellator 184 draws 437,000 viewers on SpikeTV

October 9, 2017

Bellator 184 drew 437,000 viewers on Friday night on Spike TV according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The ratings are the lowest for 2017 on Spike TV.

According to Nielsen, the telecast drew 0.16 in the A18-49 demo.

The event was headlined by Darrion Caldwell taking the bantamweight title away from Eduardo Dantas.

Payout Perspective:

In all honesty, I forgot that this event was on this past Friday.  Whether it was my oversight or the lack of marketing for this card, there was not much made about the card despite a title fight.  Bellator’s telecast was followed by Bellator Kickboxing which drew only 250,000 viewers.  Not the best of night’s for combat sports on Spike TV.

Pitbull tops Bellator 183 paydays

September 26, 2017

MMA Fighting reports the salaries from Bellator’s event held in San Jose on Saturday night.  With his win, Patricky Pitbull was the top earner for the night making $110,000 for his split decision over former UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson.

The California State Athletic Commission released the purses for the San Jose, California event.

Via MMA Fighting:

Patricky Freire ($65,000 + $45,000 = $110,000) def. Benson Henderson ($50,000)
Paul Daley ($50,000 + no win bonus = $50,000) def. Lorenz Larkin ($40,000)
Roy Nelson ($30,000 + $30,000 = $60,000) def. Javy Ayala ($50,000)
Aaron Pico ($25,000 + $25,000 = $50,000) def. Justin Linn ($4,000)
Goiti Yamauchi ($16,000 + $16,000 = $32,000) def. Adam Piccolotti ($18,000)

Tony Johnson ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. Mike Ortega ($1,500)
Kaytlin Neil ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Brooke Mayo ($3,000)
Brandon Laroco ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. Gaston Bolanos ($4,000)
Corina Herrera ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) vs. Jaymee Nievara ($1,500)
Fernando Gonzalez ($6,000 + $6,000 = $12,000) def. Alex Lopez ($2,500)
Ricardo Vasquez ($1,000 + $1,000 = $2,000) def. Justin Tenedora ($1,500)
J.J. Okanovich ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Luis Jauregui ($1,500)
Daniel Gonzalez ($1,000 + $1,000 = $2,000) def. Anthony Castrejon ($1,000)

Payout Perspective:

Notably, Henderson made just $50,000 in a losing effort.  Roy Nelson made $30,000 to show and another $30,000 to win.  Nelson’s last official reported payout was in July 2016 when he lost a decision to Derrick Lewis.  Nelson made $100,000 that night.  Similarly, Henderson’s pay has dropped as well since being the UFC lightweight champ.  Also, Lorenz Larkin’s second fight in Bellator gave him $40,000.  His last fight at UFC 202 gave Larkin $39,000 to show and another $39,000 to win

Bellator 183 draws 598,000 viewers on Spike TV

September 26, 2017

Bellator MMA 183 drew 598,000 viewers on Spike TV Saturday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event featured Benson Henderson as he took on Patricky “Pitbull” Freire.  Pitbull defeated Bendo via split decision dropping Henderson to 1-3 in Bellator.  Henderson’s only win was against Freire in August 2016 when Pitbull suffered a leg injury.

Payout Perspective:

Bellator did slightly better in the ratings this weekend that the UFC show from Japan on Friday night.  The 598,000 viewers is below the average of 2017 shows but is better than the two previous shows.  It also competed with college football and HBO Boxing on Saturday night.

Bellator introduces Flying Cage Saturday

September 21, 2017

Bellator announced that it is revealing the Flying Cage” at this Saturday’s show in San Jose according to a press release.

Via Bellator press release:

A must-see spectacle, the steel structure is suspended from above and lowered to the platform beneath allowing the Bellator Kickboxing ring to completely transform into the Bellator MMA cage in less than 15 minutes. Having been featured at previous events in Florence, Italy, Torino, Italy and Budapest, Hungary, the Flying Cage has never before been utilized in the United States. Bellator is proud to bring this unique experience to its Bay Area home at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. on September 23.

Payout Perspective:

 In the press release, the Flying Cage has a TM next to it indicating it is a trademark that has yet to be filed with the USPTO.  Notably, upon reviewing the USPTO web site, I could not find the application for the Flying Cage.  It’s not that Bellator will not file for the trademark (or has), it’s just that it is not on the web site yet.  Maybe a novelty that will be visually pleasing on television, it does not do anything to add to what happens inside the cage.  Yet, Bellator believes that the addition will be something for the production on television.

Bellator 182 peaks at 825,000 viewers

August 30, 2017

Bellator 182 on Spike TV Friday night drew 481,000 in the overnight ratings and increased to 565,000 in the DVR +3 adjusted viewership.

The peak viewership for the Friday night live event was 825,000 viewers during the main event.  The live telecast featured Andrey Koreshkov defeating Chidi Njokuani via TKO.

Payout Perspective:

With the hype from the Mayweather-McGregor fight going on during this live event, some may have overlooked this card.  The 481,000 was the lowest mark since Bellator 176 in April.

UFC 213 and Bellator NYC underwhelm in PPV returns

July 20, 2017

MMA Fighting reports the estimated buy rates for UFC 213 and Bellator NYC.  Both shows did not do well with each not getting close to 200,000 PPV buys.

UFC 213 earlier this month drew in the range between 125-150,000 PPV buys.  Due to a late scratch by Amanda Nunes, the main event was Robert Whittaker taking on Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title.  Initially, the hope was that this show would be headlined by Georges St. Pierre-Michael Bisping and Cody Garbrandt defending his bantamweight title against T.J. Dillashaw.  Both fights were scratched leaving Nunes to defend against Valentina Shevchenko.

Bellator NYC, which took place late last month and featured Chael Sonnen taking on Wanderlei Silva drew in the 90-130,000 PPV buy range.  Bellator’s previous PPV in 2014 drew 100,000 buys.

Payout Perspective:

For those wondering, according to sources that I have been in touch with UFC 212 (Aldo-Holloway) did better than UFC 213 but only slightly.  The buy rate for UFC 213 is not surprising after the card fell apart although I would have expected it to hit 200,000 PPV buys.  Based on the number of google searches and the ratings from Bellator 180 which preceded the event, the buy rate was expected.  However, it sounds that Bellator is looking to continue to explore more PPV shows.

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