December 19, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that Tito Ortiz was asked, but declined to participate in the current UFC lawsuit filed by three fighters alleging violations of antitrust law.
Ortiz’s attorney, George Prajin, informed Junkie that the current Bellator fighter would not participate in the lawsuit which seeks class action status. According to the Junkie article, Prajin and Ortiz met with Rob Maysey, one of the attorneys leading the charge for this lawsuit a year and a half ago. Although intrigued by the proposed litigation at the time, Ortiz declined to be involved. Ortiz’s attorney indicated that he was contacted recently about the lawsuit but maintained to stay out. However, Ortiz indicated that he may change his mind if the class is certified by the court.
The Ortiz information is interesting and may be one of the hurdles the plaintiffs will have in getting fighters to join the lawsuit. It appears that Ortiz would most likely not want to actively participate for several reasons. He indicated in the article that he doesn’t want his name used just for publicity. Also, there is a storied past with Ortiz and White and perhaps he is looking down the road at does not want to get caught up in messy litigation. Regardless of being a named plaintiff, if this lawsuit enters the discovery stage we will see if one of the sides attempts to depose Ortiz about his past with Zuffa.
December 2, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that Wanderlei Silva will appeal the Nevada State’s Athletic Commission’s lifetime ban. Silva’s lawyer filed a petition for judicial review in Clark County, Nevada on Monday.
The process for appeal of an administrative hearing ruling such as the NSAC’s, is usually through filing for judicial review in superior court. Goodman’s lawyer believes that the legal issue was not given full review by the NSAC.
Although Silva did not appear at the NSAC hearing which handed out the ban and fine, his attorney appeared to argue Silva’s case. The legal theory asserted by Silva’s lawyer was that the NSAC could not discipline him because the commission did not have jurisdiction over an unlicensed fighter. Silva was not licensed by the NSAC at the time it attempted to take a drug test from him. You may recall that Silva eluded the test which was preceding his match against Chael Sonnen at UFC 175.
It’s interesting that Silva has decided to continue pursuit of this claim. Although it may be just to clear his name, it seems like a moot point based on Silva’s advanced age and the fact that he is likely banished forever from the UFC. Although it appears that Bellator would welcome him, due to contractual issues, he’d have to sit out for some time. Still, it’s likely Silva could work around the Nevada suspension if he wanted. According to the report, there should be a court date and briefing on the issue in the new year.
November 25, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Friday night’s encore presentation of Bellator 131 drew an average viewership of 617,000 viewers peaking with 821,000 viewers.
Bellator 131 featured Tito Ortiz narrowly defeating Stephan Bonnar in the main event. The event was the largest for the promotion as it drew the highest attendance in franchise history with 8,243. Bellator 131 drew 1.4 million viewers including Live + 3 viewership (1.2M viewers in overnight viewership)
The 617,000 viewers is a very good replay rating considering it was the third on Spike TV. Still, it shows that the promotion of the event and Tito Ortiz can draw fans to watch an event.
November 18, 2014
Bellator 131 on Saturday night drew a record 1.8 million viewers and peaked at 2 million during the Tito Ortiz-Stephan Bonnar fight per a Spike TV press release. The average for the overall event drew 1.24 million viewers.
Via Spike TV press release:
Bellator 131 knocked out the competition on Saturday, November 15 with record ratings for the emerging MMA franchise under new president Scott Coker. The Bellator 131 main event between Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar (11:50pm-12:16am) drew 1.8 million viewers, peaking at 2 million, making it the most-watched and highest–rated MMA fight on cable in 2014.
The Ortiz-Bonnar fight ranks as 2nd highest-rated MMA fight telecast in all of television with Men 18-34 and Men 18-49, including broadcast, in 2014. Also, Ortiz-Bonnar ranked #2 in its timeslot in all of cable with Men 18-34 and Men 18-49.
Bellator 131 ratings breakdown:
Bellator 131 – Ortiz vs. Bonnar – 11:50p
1.8 million viewers
Bellator 131 – 10:11p
1.3 million viewers
Bellator 131 – 9p
Overall, the entire fight card (9:00-12:16) delivered 1,241,299 viewers, a record for Bellator MMA on Spike TV.
UPDATED: More breakdown of ratings from Bellator’s big night:
King Mo-Joe Vedepo fight which started the show drew an average of 1.1M viewers (Bell in R1 9:13pm)
Mike Richman KOs Nam Phan was next and drew 1.1M viewers (Bell in R1 9:50pm *Note that the UFC 180 Prelims on FS1 peaked during this quarter hour at 771K average viewers Live +SD)
Joe Schilling KO of Melvin Manhoef drew 1.6M viewers (Bell in R1 10:11pm)
AJ Matthews KO of Kyle Bolt drew 1.3M viewers (Bell in R1 10:30pm)
Will Brooks TKO of Michael Chandler drew an average of 1.3M viewers (Bell in R1 10:59pm)
Tito Ortiz split decision of Stephan Bonnar drew 1.9M viewers (up from initial press release. Bell in R1 was at 11:50pm)
The event did well on social media as well per the release as it was the most tweeted Bellator event in Spike history. Despite how “pro wrestling” the Ortiz-Bonnar lead-up was, it worked. Spike and Bellator heavily promoted this event and it drew. The release obviously buried the real news which most folks want to know which was the overall viewership of the entire event – 1.24 million. Its interesting to see the updated ratings per fight as you can the audience remained over 1 million for the fights.
It was a good night for Bellator as it was the clear winner of the night where the UFC and WSOF were options for MMA fans.
MMA Payout will have more on this. Stay tuned.
November 17, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 180 from the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City.
Werdum wins interim Heavyweight title
It was to be Cain Velasquez fighting in Mexico City against Fabricio Werdum. However, an injury to Cain allowed Mark Hunt the chance to step in and seize the title. Hunt looked good until a well-timed knee spelled the beginning of the end for Hunt.
Werdum wins the title and will eventually get to face Cain Velasquez to unify the titles.
Gastelum ascends while Ellenberger descends
Kelvin Gastelum defeated Jake Ellenberger with a rear naked choke in the first round. The win should propel the former TUF winner into the top 10 of the welterweight division while it showed the Ellenberger maybe a broken fighter. Gastelum secured a rear-naked choke with ease as it appeared that Ellenberger did not defend his neck despite his back being taken. The win should mean a step up in fights for Gastelum while Ellenberger is teetering on the cusp of being cut.
Initial reports in August had UFC 180 a sell out in just 8 hours after the announcement of Velasquez-Werdum and the launch of TUF in Mexico (which drew 7 million viewers on Televisia according to Yahoo! Sports). The announcement made post-fight had the attendance at 21,000 although no official gate was given.
The bonuses of $50K were given to Werdum, Gastelum, Henry Biones and Guido Cannetti. Briones and Canetti put on the Fight of the Night. White indicated that Ricardo Lamas would also be given a bonus although that was unofficial.
Promotion of Fight
Once again one of the main drivers of the promotion was the UFC Embedded series which followed the fighters on the main card. It caught the best moment of the pre-fight hype with Werdum-Hunt singing together.
The UFC also did a photo op with the NBA as the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves played a game in Mexico City earlier in the week.
The Octagon sponsors were without UltimatePoker.com, the Stations Casinos online poker site which was closed down last week. Notably, one of the Octagon sponsors for UFC 180 was Costa Rican online gaming company, BetCris. The sponsors included the UFC Network, UFCStore.com, UFC Fit, MateFit.me, MusclePharm, Toyo Tires, video game FarCry 4, the aforementioned BetCris and Bud Lite in the center of the Octagon.
Gastelum wore the UFC Network logo as did Werdum during pre-fight activities and but wore Bad Boy to the Octagon.
Hunt wore his own clothing brand Juggernaut on his shorts. It’s interesting that Hunt does not have more sponsors. You may recall he had zero as a fill-in when he fought Junior dos Santos at UFC 160. Werdum most prominent sponsor was clothing brand Torque.
Doritos was a prominent sponsor for this event as it banked heavily on the Werdum-Velasquez matchup including producing in-store placement of 2.5 million bags with the fighter likenesses on them. It was described as a “360 degree activation” around UFC 180. With Cain falling out, the campaign likely fell short of its goal.
Post-UFC 180 Headline
Werdum-Velasquez should be next although White indicated that if Cain were to have another injury that forces him from action, he could be stripped of the title.
Odds and Ends
- The WWE collaborated with the UFC during the UFC Prelims on FS1. To be exact, a 2K Sports commercial for the WWE video game, WWE2K15, infused images of the video game and UFC action.
- The main event ended at 8:50 pm on the west coast. Only about an hour and a half of fights before the UFC showed the prelims to fill the time.
- Bellator used the footage of Melvin Manhoef knocking out Mark Hunt from 2008 during its pre-fight hype package to put over Manhoef.
- Jessica Eye almost took Leslie Smith’s ear off but Smith still wanted to fight.
- Google Trends revealed that the top countries searching for UFC 180 were Mexico, Canada, Brazil and the United States in that order.
- The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) ran a story on the Fertittas and Dana White and their ties to Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School in last week’s Sports Business Journal. It was placed “below the fold.” Prominent placement for a rather evergreen story during UFC 180 week.
- Chael Sonnen began his duties with ESPN as an analyst.
It was a good night of fights but the lack of brand-name power was one of the detracting factors about this event. When the Werdum-Velasquez fight was initially announced and the two were TUF coaches, there was much hope that UFC 180 would be one of the bigger PPVs of this year. Entering a new market and the quick sell out appeared to be good signs for the PPV. But, Velasquez’s injury was a significant blow to any hopes that this PPV would do well. Without a good undercard, the UFC was placing its hopes on Cain’s drawing power. Based on Google Trends, we are looking at a buy rate comparable to UFC 174 or 177 which drew between115-125K PPV buys.
November 16, 2014
The California State Athletic Commission released the salaries from Saturday’s Bellator 131 show from San Diego, California. As you might expect Tito Ortiz topped the Bellator roster earning $300,000.
Bellator 131 Fight Salaries:
Tito Ortiz: $300,000
def. Stephan Bonnar: $100,000
Will Brooks: $62,000 (includes $31,000 win bonus)
def. Michael Chandler: $25,000
Joe Schilling: $25,000
def. Melvin Manhoef: $10,000
Mike Richman: $30,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Nam Phan: $5,600
Muhammed Lawal: $10,000
def. Joe Vedepo: $10,000
Joao Faria: $5,000 (includes $2,500 win bonus)
def. Ian Butler: $1,500
A.J. Matthews: $10,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus)
def. Kyle Bolt: $2,000
Jonathan Santa Maria: $4,000 (includes $2,000 win bonus)
def. Ron Henderson: $2,000
Andy Murad: $8,000 (includes $4,000 win bonus)
def. Bubba Pugh: $2,000
Nicolas Garcia: $8,000 (includes $4,000 win bonus)
def. Matthew Ramirez: $2,000
Jordan Bailey: $5,000 (includes $2,500 win bonus)
def. Alex Higley: $1,500
Rolando Perez: $2,000
def. Mark Vorgeas: $2,000
Although Ortiz earned $300,000, it was reported that he was fined $2,500 for his post-fight behavior after flipping off Bonnar and throwing water on him after the decision. If you were wondering Ortiz made $250,000 in his last UFC appearance at UFC 148 in July 2012. Bonnar’s last official reported salary was $34K/$34K for his win at UFC 139 three years ago this month. He also fought Anderson Silva at UFC 153 in October 2012 but we do not have an official salary reported. Also, King Mo only received $10K with no reported fight bonus. Lawal’s fight was one of four that received no fight bonus.
November 12, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that Wanderlei Silva will not participate at a pre-party Friday to promote Bellator 131 due to a contractual issue with the UFC. The announcement comes just a day after Bellator sent a press release announcing his appearance.
Due to prior contractual obligations, Wanderlei Silva will not be able to participate in #Bellator131‘s pre-promotion this week
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 11, 2014
Silva was to appear with other former UFC veterans including Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock and Randy Couture.
It’s an obvious failure to communicate on behalf of Bellator and Silva. Certainly, Bellator should have checked out whether or not Silva could legally make an appearance at a Bellator event. Without seeing Silva’s actual Zuffa contract, he likely had a non-compete clause or some language within the contract stating that he could not make an appearance for another organization while still under contract with the UFC. And, it’s highly unlikely that the UFC would have granted Silva the opportunity to appear at Friday’s event and waive any legalities. Even though he has been suspended by the NAC, it does not mean his UFC contract has been terminated yet. It’s apparent that the UFC
November 10, 2014
Wanderlei Silva will be a part of the Bellator 131 “Pre-Party Kickoff” as he will appear at Dave & Buster’s this Friday, November 14th according to a Bellator press release.
Via Bellator press release:
The festivities surrounding Saturday’s #Bellator131 continue to grow as Bellator will host a pre-party kickoff event from San Diego’s Dave & Buster’s on Friday, November 14. After weigh-ins, fans are invited to take pictures and have autographs signed with MMA legends Royce Gracie, Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, and now MMA icon Wanderlei Silva beginning at6pm PST. Silva will join the other MMA legends in attendance for #Bellator 131 on Saturday, November 15.
“After we saw just an overwhelming response to our Bellator Fan Fest a few weeks ago, we wanted to once again give our fans a chance to be a part of something special and give everyone the opportunity to spend time with a group of fighters that built the sport we all love,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “We have events taking place all week around the San Diego area as we prepare for the biggest night of fights in company history, and we want everyone to be a part of it.”
The press release announced Silva as “The Axe Murder.”
This is an interesting move on behalf of Bellator. If you recall, Scott Coker came out against performance enhancement drugs after four of the company’s fighters tested positive for illegal substances after Bellator 127. Per a Bellator press release, Coker stated, “I want to make very clear that under new management, Bellator will simply not stand for performance enhancement drugs inside our cage.” Silva fled a drug test earlier this year and was subsequently banned by the Nevada Athletic Commission and levied a $70,000 fine. And yes, we understand, Silva will not be inside a Bellator cage, but making an appearance on behalf of the organization.
But, if we disregard this fact, Silva will provide some name notoriety for the lead-up to this Saturday’s big Bellator event which will go up against UFC 180. Silva will join Royce Gracie, Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock at D&B this Friday.
November 7, 2014
Bellator announced on Thursday that it has landed a television deal with U.K. broadcast network, Viacom-owned 5*. It will air next week’s card, Bellator 131, which will feature Tito Ortiz facing Stephan Bonnar.
Via Bellator press release:
The highly-anticipated “Bellator 131: Tito vs. Bonnar” fight card will air in the U.K. on Sunday, November 16 at 9pm on Viacom’s 5*. This marks the first time a Bellator event will air on the popular British broadcast network.
“We are very pleased to have one of the UK’s most popular free-to-air networks airing one of the biggest fights of the year,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “With Tito Ortiz, Stephan Bonnar, Michael Chandler, Will Brooks, King Mo and Melvin Manhoef all featured on this card, our friends in the UK are in for an unforgettable, action-packed night. We look forward to making Bellator an MMA fixture for our fans in the UK.”
“Bellator 131: Tito vs. Bonnar” will feature one of the biggest grudge matches in the sport as MMA icons Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz and “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar battle at light heavyweight, while San Diego’s own Michael Chandler faces Will Brooks for the Bellator Lightweight Title. The event takes place at the San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center and will broadcast LIVE in the U.S. on Saturday, November 15 at 9:00pm.
The UK channel’s demo targets youth so Bellator hopes that next Saturday’s event will grab some of that demo in hopes of returning consumers. Clearly, the Viacom connection helped with this deal. No word on future telecasts airing on the network although one might assume that if it does well next Saturday, there will be more Bellator in the UK.
November 5, 2014
MMA Mania reports that the California State Athletic Commission has handed out fines and suspensions for the four fighters that failed post-fight drug tests at Bellator 127. The event took place in Temecula, California.
The punishments are as follows:
Rob Emerson (use of Modafinil): 9 month suspension and $2,500 fine
Fernando Gonzalez (marijuana): 1 month suspension and $265 fine
Keith Berry (elevated testosterone levels, marijuana): 10 month suspension and $2,500 fine
Nick Moghaddam (elevated testosterone levels, marijuana): 10 month suspension and $1,500 fine
Gonzalez had his TKO victory over Karo Parisyan overturned and ruled a no-contest. Similarly, Berry’s win was ruled a no-contest as well. Emerson and Moghaddam lost their bouts and the result remains the same.
It appears that each fighter will accept the penalties and there will be no appeal of the decision.
The fines and suspensions appear reasonable if they are based on the fighters’ actual pay for the event. Certainly, the suspensions and the fallout from Bellator are equally devastating than the monetary fine. Scott Coker issued a strongly worded press release about PED use so we shall see if any of these fighters suffer additional penalties.