Bellator 160 draws 725,000 viewers

August 29, 2016

Bellator MMA Live drew 725,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings.  160 represents a slight increase (approximately 8%) from Bellator 159 last month.

The event featured Benson Henderson as he took on Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.  Henderson won via TKO due to a broken leg sustained by Pitbull.  Henderson will take on Michael Chandler in November.

The event scored 327,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  It was an increase from last month’s 283,000 viewers in the demo.

Bellator through 160

Payout Perspective:

A rather light night of viewership in sports TV cable ratings as no event surpassed 1 million viewers.  The live NFL Preseason game on the NFL Network drew 918,000 viewers.  The game was opposite Bellator in the second hour of the Spike event.  Also, ESPN’s College Football Primetime scored 782,000 viewers in the same time frame.  Either the event was not heavily pushed or Benson Henderson is no longer a fighter to watch as the ratings saw a modest increase.

Boxing and MMA come together this weekend

August 26, 2016

The LA Times did a feature in anticipation of this weekend’s MMA/Boxing doubleheader in Southern California this weekend.  With Bellator having a show at the Honda Center in Anaheim Friday and PBC doing an event on Saturday, the story outlines the differences.

Friday night’s card features former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson while Saturday features Robert Guerrero.  The story details how Guerrero is an example of how losses do not matter so long as you can produce great fights.  This is a product, according to the article, of the MMA culture which does not penalize a fighter for a loss.  Rather, the type of style of fighting is more important.

For its part, MMA has evolved into more of a striking sport rather than grappling.  The story points to the lack of submissions at last week’s UFC 202.

Payout Perspective:

I think that boxing and MMA can be complimentary to each other rather than competing.  This weekend’s “doubleheader” in combat sports is a likely test to see if Spike can do another similar weekend.  Bellator has tried to mesh kickboxing and MMA to mixed results.  While the article indicates that MMA is taking from boxing with more fighters standing up and boxing is taking from MMA by producing better quality matchups regardless of Ls, I think the overarching point is that both sports are promoting excitement to entice fans.  That translates to more action which could lead to highlight knockdowns or knockouts.  While neither boxing or MMA will outright say it, there’s the belief that sudden violence that attracts the casual fan to the sport.

Rory MacDonald signs with Bellator

August 24, 2016

Former UFC middleweight Rory MacDonald has signed with Bellator according to FloCombat.  MacDonald’s last fight in the UFC was a June Fight Night loss to Stephen Thompson.

Regardless of the outcome of the last fight on his contract, MacDonald wanted to test the free agency market per multiple reports.  According to MMA Fighting, the UFC did not match the offer by Bellator and allowed MacDonald to head to the Viacom-owned Bellator.

Per MMA Fighting, he is eyeing a Bellator debut in the first quarter of 2017.

Payout Perspective:

MacDonald’s last official disclosed payout was $59,000 at UFC 189 which was a loss to Robbie Lawler.  One would think that he improved greatly on his salary otherwise one would think that the UFC would match it.  MacDonald will find some interesting opponents in the Bellator middleweight division as he joins Benson Henderson as another former UFC fighter joining the organization.  At 27, he is still young although you might say that the Lawler fight really took a lot out of him.  He should be able to ascend to the top of the division sooner than later.

Tax set on MMA events in New York

August 20, 2016 reports that mixed martial arts events and other combat sports in New York state will pay more than 8 percent tax on gross receipts in addition to other tax terms in New York when the sport becomes officially legal on September 1st.

The UFC will debut in New York on November 12th in Madison Square Garden.  On Friday, the company announced it would hold an event in Albany on December 9th.

Per the bill, a tax will be assessed of “eight and one-half percent of gross receipts from ticket sales” and “three percent of the sum of (i) gross receipts from broadcasting rights and (ii) gross receipts from digital streaming over the internet, except that in no event shall such tax imposed pursuant to this paragraph exceed fifty thousand dollars for any match or exhibition.”

The article states that boxing events in New York are assessed a 3% tax on gross receipts with a cap of $50,000.

Payout Perspective:

The 8.5% tax is a hefty bill for a promotion to conduct an event in New York.  One would think that for the UFC, each event in New York in the next year or so would mean they would pay at least $50,000 per event from broadcasting/streaming rights.  Of course, the $1 million accident insurance policy that promoters must purchase for events is another key provision to hold events in the state.  The tax will likely prevent smaller promotions from holding fights in the state although I would expect the UFC, Bellator and WSOF will hold events in New York in the upcoming calendar year.  The fight to legalize the sport in the state likely means promoters will be willing to pay the hefty price in the short term.

Kansas fines, suspends Guillard for failed test

August 5, 2016

Bellator’s Melvin Guillard has been suspended by the Kansas Athletic Commission for one- year following a positive test for a “non-performance enhancing banned substance.”  His win at Bellator 159 has been changed to a “no-contest” and he was fined $10,000.

Via release from the Kansas Athletic Commission:

The Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) has suspended the license of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Melvin Guillard for one year and has fined Guillard $10,000 for the result of a positive test for a non-performance enhancing banned substance. In addition, Guillard’s July 22, 2016bout with David Rickels will be changed to a “no contest”.

The KAC learned of the results August 3, 2016, and Guillard’s suspension will be applied retroactively to July 22, 2016. All fighters licensed by the KAC are subject to random drug testing and must follow the world anti-doping (WADA) code.

“The first and foremost job of the Kansas Athletic Commission is to protect the health and welfare of the fighters we are charged with regulating” said Adam Roorbach, head of the Kansas Athletic Commission. “Banned substances have no place in the world of combat sports, and their usage will not be allowed in the state of Kansas.”

Payout Perspective:

The commission did not identify the drug in Guillard’s system but it could point to a recreational drug since the commission identified it as a non-PED.  Guillard has been in trouble in the past.  Notably, he missed weight at 159 and has had problems in his most recent fights.  Whether or not it is linked is not known but could point to a problem.  This test could spell the end for Guillard’s career if there is no appeal.

Bellator announces overseas broadcast expansion

August 3, 2016

Bellator announced an expansion of its product in multiple countries according to a press release from Electus International.

The multimedia entertainment company Electus International secured deals in Australia (Spike), Japan (AbemaTV), Russia (Match), China(LeEco), Africa (MBC), South Korea (KBSN), Benelux (Spike) and Bulgaria (bTV).

Via press release:

“Bellator continues to enjoy explosive growth overseas where we are now in over 140 countries and have entered into numerous foreign event partnerships,” said Eddie Dalva, Executive Vice President, Content and Program Enterprises, Viacom Music and Entertainment and Bellator MMA.

Payout Perspective:

In my opinion, the key countries to the deal are Japan and China where there are possibilities with drawing the most consumers to its product.  Notably, LeEco in China is ramping up its activities in North America and the rights to Bellator falls in line with its strategy.  The deal probably includes streaming deals which would appeal to the younger demo.  The overseas broadcast expansion is good news for Bellator assuming that these networks that will air Bellator have a broad audience and availability.

Court reduces Shlemenko’s CSAC fine, suspension

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

Bellator files Cross-Complaint against Light

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.

Zach Light Payment

Payout Perspective:

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.

Spike TV announces back-to-back Bellator and PBC cards

July 17, 2016

Bellator and PBC will have an end of summer card on back-to-back nights at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California August 26th and 27th.

Benson Henderson will headline the Bellator card on Friday night while Robert Guerrero will fight in the main event on the PBC card Saturday.  Henderson faces Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Robert Guerrero faces David Peralta.

For Henderson, it’s a return to lightweight after an inauspicious Bellator debut against Andrewy Koreshkov at 170 pounds.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps this is another type of synergy for the two organizations that are on Spike TV.  You could also see it as a sort of mini-weekend for hardcore combat sports fans similar to the UFC with back-to-back live events.  Henderson’s fight against Freire is pivotal for the company as the former UFC lightweight champion was a big signing for the company.  Another loss could mean that the Viacom-owned company picked up another UFC fighter that is past his prime.

Bellator Kickboxing draws 418,000 in second event

June 27, 2016

Bellator Kickboxing on Spike TV Friday night drew 418,000 viewers which is an increase from its debut.

Per Sports TV Ratings, it drew 210,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The event aired (10:59pm-12:40am) immediately after Bellator 157.

In April, Bellator Kickboxing drew an average of 346,000 viewers.  It averaged 464,000 for the first hour and peaked with 730,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

We will update this with more information on the ratings but one might suspect the first hour of Bellator Kickboxing was bolstered by Dynamite 2.  Even though the overall Dynamite 2 rating may have disappointed, an average of 418,000 viewers for kickboxing on Spike TV is very good.  It’s a nice start for Bellator’s Kickboxing promotion and shows that there is a potential market for the sport.

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