Cro Cop’s end around his USADA drug suspension

March 10, 2018

Should Cro Cop have served his USADA suspension in full?

Bellator announced that Mirko Cro Cop would be facing Roy Nelson at Bellator 200 in London on May 25th.  Cro Cop “retired” in November 2015 in lieu of serving a two-year ban for violations of the UFC’s anti-doping program.  Cro Cop admitted to the use, attempted use and possession of human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test.  He was eventually released from the company.

But, Cro Cop did not retire, and in fact fought for Rizin FF in Japan.  Despite the inference that the USADA ban would be honored by other promotions and athletic regulators, it has not happened.

According to an MMA Junkie article, it’s still unclear on whether there will be an issue with Cro Cop obtaining a license.  Association of Boxing Commissions and Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation president Mike Mazzulli noted that he still considers Crop Cop “in the process of being licensed, and therefore subject to immediate drug tests.”  Yet, that does not answer the question about the USADA suspension.  Mohegan will be the regulator for Bellator in May for the London event.  It’s not clear as to if a fighter sits out a sanction but fights in an unregulated promotion, then comes back after the time of the sanction if they must adhere to the remaining time suspended.

Mazulli assumes that if they are able to drug test Cro Cop, the commission is likely to view the suspension served.

Payout Perspective:

Cro Cop’s suspension was issued in 2015 and since its March 2018, one might argue that the USADA suspension has been served.  Or has it?  Cro Cop was active during the two-year period in which he was supposed to be inactive.  So, we see the end-around with drug testing.  While one might not think this is an issue, it could come to a head with Bellator as more and more past-UFC fighters become available.  There is no consistent, regulatory drug-testing protocol or policy in place to deal with these issues.  While it is a product of the UFC’s proactive drug testing policy, Bellator must address what it will do in these grey areas.  Or, if it will not do anything at all.

Bellator 195 peaked at 745,00 viewers

March 8, 2018

Bellator 195 peaked with 745,000 viewers on Friday night on the Paramount Network.

The event featured Darrion Caldwell’s defense of his featherweight title as he submitted Leonard Higo in the very first round.

The ratings are on par with the past three Bellator telecasts, none of which surpassed 500,000 viewers.  The peak viewership is on par with the last 3 as well.

Bellator 195 draws 465,000 viewers

March 5, 2018

Bellator MMA Live 195 on Friday night on Paramount drew 465,000 viewers according to Nielsen.  The event featured Darrion Caldwell as he faced Leandro Higo.

Caldwell successfully defended his Bellator bantamweight belt against Higo with a guillotine choke submission in the very first round.

It’s the third straight Bellator telecast drawing less than 500,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Once again there seems to be a disconnect with MMA fans and Bellator Friday nights as we are seeing a decrease in overall viewership.  While Bellator will get some viewership numbers back in DVR ratings.

Bellator 194 draws 476,000 viewers on Paramount

February 20, 2018

Bellator MMA Live 194 on the Paramount Network drew 476,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event featured the second fight in the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix with Matt Mitrione defeating Roy Nelson.  The telecast also featured Patricky Friere as he stopped Derek Campos in the first round.

Bellator
Event Rating DVR + 3 Peak
192 770,000 1,000,000 1,500,000
193 470,000 534,000 715,000
194 476,000

Payout Perspective:

The event did slightly better than last month’s Bellator 193 but is below of 2017’s average of 614,000 viewers.  Through just 3 events this year, the average is down to 572,000 viewers.  One would have suspected this event doing better than 476,000 viewers since it featured the Heavyweight Grand Prix.   But, it was going up against the Winter Olympics so that may have come into play.

 

 

Bellator 193 draws 470,000 viewers on Paramount

January 29, 2018

Bellator 193 drew 470,000 viewers on Paramount Television Friday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Lorenz Larkin as he picked up a win over Fernando Gonzalez.

The event drew 0.16 in the A18-49 demo.  Last week Bellator’s tentpole event drew 770,000 viewers on Paramount.

The ratings are the lowest since last month’s Bellator 190 which drew just 394,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Notwithstanding the tentpole events, the Bellator shows are drawing less viewers.  Last year, there were 7 events which drew less than 500,000 viewers.  The year before there was just one.  Two events in, we see one of the two events already south of 500,000 viewers.

Bellator 192 DVR ratings bump event average to 1M total viewers

January 26, 2018

Bellator 192 averaged 1 million viewers peaking with 1.5 million during the Chael Sonnen-Rampage Jackson fight according to Nielsen in DVR + 3 ratings.  The numbers reflect the combination of Paramount and CMT.

The average viewership for the Sonnen-Jackson fight drew 1.4 million viewers while the Rory MacDonald-Douglas Lima fight drew 1.2 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The numbers do not divide out the Parmount and CMT ratings although I would suspect that Paramount’s peak viewership would include most of the former Spike TV audience.  In Live + Same Day Viewership Bellator 192 drew 770,000 viewers on Paramount and 161,000 on CMT.  The Sonnen-Rampage first round averaged 1.2m viewers while MacDonald-Lima averaged 1.1 million viewers.  The numbers do show that this event was recorded in light of the UFC and/or boxing events on at the same time.

Rampage, Sonnen top Bellator 192 payouts

January 22, 2018

MMA Fighting reports the salaries from this past Saturday’s Bellator 192.  Four fighters made six figures including the main event competitors, Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson.

Both Sonnen and Jackson earned $300,000 each.  Sonnen, who defeated Jackson did not receive a win bonus. Rory MacDonald earned $100,000 in defeating Douglas Lima who also made $100,000.  MacDonald did not have a win bonus attached although he picked up a cryptocurrency sponsor.

The other payouts as produced by the California State Athletic Commission via MMA Fighting:

Michael Chandler ($50,000 + no win bonus = $50,000) def. Goat Yamauchi ($23,000)

Aaron Pico ($30,000 + $30,000 = $60,000) def. Shane Kruchten ($10,000)

Henry Corrales ($20,000 + $20,000 = $40,000) def. Georgi Karakhanyan ($26,000)

Joey Davis ($7,000 + no win bonus = $7,000) def. Ian Butler ($1,500)

Jose Campos ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Haim Gozali ($10,000)

Devon Brock ($1,000 + 1,000 = $2,000) vs. Khonry Gracie ($10,000)

Guilherme Bomba ($40,000 + no win bonus = $40,000) def. Ivan Castillo ($2,500)

Johnny Cisneros ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Marlen Magee ($1,500)

Kyle Estrada ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. David Duran ($2,250)

Roosevelt Roberts ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. Tommy Aaron ($2,000)

Arthur Estrazulas ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Mike Segura ($2,000)

Jalin Turner ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Noah Tillis ($1,500)

Gabriel Green ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Christopher Padilla ($2,000)

Chad George ($3,000 + $3000) def. James Barnes ($2,250)

Cooper Gibson ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Andrew Lazo ($1,500)

Payout Perspective:

The payouts are more than a usual Bellator show.  With Sonnen and Jackson, the payouts were expected to high.  MacDonald and Lima reflect the Bellator pay scale increasing to the level of fighter.  The obvious disparity here is Aaron Pico earning more (reportedly anyway) than Michael Chandler.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are low payouts for some of the prelim fighter with the lowest pay being $1,500-$2,000.

John McCarthy to join Bellator announce team

January 9, 2018

Bellator MMA announced that it has signed “Big” John McCarthy to serve as color commentator.  McCarthy will start his duties on Saturday, January 20th on a big Bellator card to start the year.

Although not confirmed, the signing might infer that McCarthy is done as a referee.  But, his quotes in the Bellator press release seems to make it sound like we will not see him in as the third person in the cage or Octagon.

Via Bellator press release:

“I first want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity I have been given to work with the incredible team Bellator has assembled. It is always so hard to leave something you love, but I have always wanted to step away based on my terms rather than someone else’s. My goals are to work as hard as I can to meet the expectations everyone will have for me and to hopefully someday exceed them.” McCarthy said. “I cannot think of anyone I would rather be working with than Scott Coker. Scott has always been a person I admire because of his honesty, loyalty and love for the martial arts. I want to thank everyone from Bellator and Viacom for the trust you are bestowing upon me to keep the commentating of Bellator MMA at the highest levels of the sport.”

The release also announced that it has signed Chael Sonnen to an extension to remain a part of “select Bellator broadcasts.”

Payout Perspective:

Late last year, it was announced that Jimmy Smith would no longer be with Bellator and now we see the reason why they let him go.  It will be weird not having McCarthy refereeing a big fight again but the commentating spot might be something that he was looking forward to do.

MPO Year in Review: No. 8 Bellator among the parties pulled into UFC Antitrust Lawsuit

December 28, 2017

Bellator MMA found itself a part of the UFC Antitrust lawsuit as the two companies were opposing sides in a discovery dispute.  Bellator sued the UFC in Los Angeles, but the Court determined that the dispute should occur in the Vegas court handling the case between former fighters and the UFC.

Prior to the filing of the lawsuit in February, Bellator claimed that it had “produced in excess of two thousand pages of responsive documents.”  Yet, the UFC argued that it needed more which included payouts for Bellator fighters, contracts and financial information.

Bellator Motion to Quash Subpoena by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Zuffa Opposition to Bellator Motion to Quash by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The Vegas court issued a ruling in June.  Some of the findings are below:

Bellator was ordered to produce:

  1. A random sample of at least 20 percent of fighters under contract with Bellator between January 1, 2010 and the present. This will include any “amendments, modifications, side letters, or extensions that may exist with respect to any contract that is produced…”
  2. Bellator will produced “Anonymized contracts” with a unique identifier although identifying information “may be redacted.”
  3. The contracts “shall include the fighter’s gender, weight class, number of fights during term of agreements and any compensation to be paid.
  4. The Court limited and modified Bellator’s request for production to the following
    1. A list of all MMA events it promoted or co-promoted from January 1, 2010 through the present.
    2. An unaudited profit and loss statement through the quarter ending March 31, 2017 which will include Revenue, Expenses, Operating Income and Net Income.

In addition, Matt Hume, had a similar discovery issue in which the Plaintiffs sought information from OneFC (Hume is an executive for the company).  A lawsuit in Washington state ensued in which a motion to compel the documents of Hume in July included a request for attorney fees in the amount of $21,000.  Similar to the Bellator lawsuit, the federal magistrate dealing with the dispute decided to kick the case to Vegas for the trial court to handle.  The Plaintiffs demanded certain documents from Hume’s involvement with OneFC as well as to take his deposition.

Motion to Compel Depo of Matt Hume by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion to Quash Hume Subpoena by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The Washington state court decided that it did not want to intervene in the lawsuit and kicked the case to Vegas.

These were not the only two discovery issues in this case.  Zinkin Entertainment was ordered to produce documents related to the representation of its fighters.  Top Rank also came to terms with the UFC in the lawsuit over discovery.

Zuffa was ordered to hand over a study on fighter pay.

In addition, Zuffa filed a lawsuit to dismiss the claims of plaintiff Nathan Quarry due to statute of limitations.  The Court has yet to issue an order on the motion.

The UFC Antitrust lawsuit was a “discovery year” for the case as depositions were taken and fact discovery took over most of the year.  As expected, there were fights over the discovery of documents which seemed to have resolved.  In 2018, we will see the expert discovery phase start as the wheels of justice move slow on the civil side.

MPO Year in Review: 10. Bellator continues to sign former UFC stars

December 27, 2017

Another year, another group of UFC fighters are testing the other league with former Zuffa indy contractors heading over to the Viacom-owned company.

Michael McDonald, Gegard Mousasi, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Valerie Letourneau and Ryan Bader all signed with Bellator in 2017.  Rory MacDonald made his promotional debut for Bellator in May with a successful victory over Paul Daley.

The “Red King” might be the only one from the above group that the UFC may have wanted to hold onto.  MacDonald’s defection to Bellator was the best acquisition thus far (excluding Tito Ortiz) from the UFC fighters testing free agency waters.  Mousasi may be another although it seemed as though the UFC could not capitalize on his international appeal.

For Bellator, the acquisitions help builds up their roster.  Even though most of the fighters the UFC let go are past their prime and/or deemed not entertaining, the UFC brand has pull with the casual fans.  We shall see if Scott Coker will make a push for more former UFC fighters in 2018.  For the fighters, it provides a fresh start and a chance to capitalize on earning opportunities (i.e., sponsors).

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