After UFC release, Michael McDonald signs with Bellator

March 24, 2017

ESPN reports that Michael McDonald has signed with Bellator.  The Bantamweight was granted his release from the UFC despite having fights left on his contract.  He stated that he felt like he could trust the UFC’s motives.

In an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto earlier this week, he detailed the reasons why he turned down a fight with the UFC.  He has been outspoken about not going into debt to train for a fight.  He stated he needed $10,000 to put on a training camp.

In the interview with Okamoto, McDonald stated that he was making more money woodworking than fighting.  McDonald made approximately $53,000 from his last fight in July 2016.  McDonald stated that he talked to the UFC’s Sean Shelby as to why he could not take a fight.  The negotiations were prolonged and Sean Shelby offered McDonald $10,000 more for win and show (so $20,000 total assuming a win) than his current contract but he’d have to take a fight within two months.  If he could not do so, his salary remained the same.  McDonald, who had not been training, stated that he could not take the fight at that point so there was no real help being given to Mayday.  He eventually received his release.

McDonald now goes to Bellator where you’d think he’ll be a part of the June 2014 card in New York.

Payout Perspective:

The release and immediate signing shows that Bellator is taking advantage of the UFC letting fighters walk or not matching their contracts once they become free agents.  McDonald is only 26 and with a 17-4 pro record can still be heading into his prime as a fighter.  You have to think that McDonald is getting more money to head to Bellator which is good news for the fighter since it sounded like he was just getting by with work.  Certainly, for a fighter, maximizing his earning potential for the short time that you are in the business is important.

More on Bellator’s debut in New York

March 23, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator will promote its June PPV separate from Bellator 180, which will be at the same venue on the same night.

The PPV, which is being branded as “Bellator:NYC” is scheduled to be 5 fights which is headlined by Chael Sonnen taking on Wanderlei Silva.  In addition, the rescheduled bout between Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko will serve as the co-main.  Also on the PPV portion will be a lightweight title fight between Brent Primus and Michael Chandler.

Bellator 180 will preceed the PPV fight card at MSG in New York City.  It will be a 2-hour card on Spike TV on Saturday, June 24th.

Payout Perspective:

This won’t confuse anyone.  Essentially, Bellator 180 will serve as a “UFC Prelims-type” show to entice viewers to purchase the PPV.  With the 5 fight PPV card taking shape, one hopes everyone stays healthy and can make the fights.  Also not yet announced, expect newly signed Ryan Bader to make his debut on the PPV or on the Bellator 180 card in addition to Bellator’s top names including King Mo, Rampage Jackson (assuming they are healthy to turnaround that quickly) and Spike TV’s ratings magnet Cheick Kongo.  Notably, Lance Pugmire reports that Lorenz Larkin will face Douglas Lima on the June 24th card.

War Machine found guilty on 29 charges in beating of former girlfriend and another

March 20, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that former MMA fighter War Machine (born Jon Koppenhaver) was found guilty on Monday of 29 charges from the brual beating of his ex-girlfriend Christy Mach and her male friend Corey Thomas in 2014.  The jury delivertated for a day and a half before finding War Machine guilty of most charges although the jury deadlocked on two charges of attempted-murder.

War Machine could face up to life in prison.

Mack testified for eight hours on the witness stand detailing the gruesome details of being beaten and raped by War Machine in the months before the attack.

War Machine, 25, was arrested on August 18, 2014 after spending 10 days on the run.

War Machine declared his innocence from jail.

War Machine fought for the UFC and was a member on a season of TUF.  He last fought in Bellator but was released in October 2013 after reports of the assault.

Sonnen-Silva headline Bellator’s second PPV

March 20, 2017

Bellator returns to PPV with Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva as the main event.  The event will take place on June 24th at Madison Square Garden in New York.

It will be the second PPV in the company’s history.  In May 2014, Bellator 120 featured Rampage Jackson-King Mo and Michael Chandler-Eddie Alvarez.  The event drew 100,000 PPV buys.

Sonnen is coming off a loss to Tito Ortiz this past January in Los Angeles.  Silva has yet to fight for the promotion as he is serving a three-year suspension retroactive to May 24, 2014.  He will be eligible for reinstatement to May 25, 2017.

The Associated Press first reported the event.

Bellator intends to debut some of its free agent signees in New York as well.

The event comes a week after a UFC Fight Night in Singapore and two weeks before International Fight Week.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement is a departure from the company intending to stay on cable TV.  Sonnen-Silva is a long-time grudge match dating back several years and if the two remain healthy and available, the promotion and fight should draw more than the last time Bellator was on PPV.  The news comes on the same day that Ryan Bader officially signed with the promotion.  Expect Bader, Rampage and other former UFC fighters to be on the card.

Federal magistrate in LA transfer Bellator’s Motion to Quash UFC Subpoena to Nevada

March 18, 2017

A Los Angeles Federal Magistrate Judge has transferred Bellator’s Motion to Quash Zuffa’s Subpoenas to the Nevada court hearing the antitrust lawsuit.  The decision to transfer venue was made on Friday March 17th and done without oral argument.

Citing “exceptional circumstances” pursuant to the federal rules governing subpoenas, it determined that the “interests in favor of transfer outweigh the interests of Bellator in obtaining local resolution of the subpoena-related motions.”

Bellator, a non-party in the antitrust lawsuit, sought relief from a UFC subpoena requesting certain documents including information related to specific fighter contracts including information related to negotiations, terminations, cancellations and transfer of contracts.  Bellator has provided the UFC with documents but reached an impasse on certain information.

The federal magistrate, which ordered the transfer, pointed to the looming May 1, 2017 fact discovery deadline, the Nevada court issued the protective order and the Nevada magistrate had been active in previous discovery as reasons for the transfer.

Moreover, the court determined that Bellator would not be inconvenienced by having to appear in Nevada citing the possibility of appearing telephonically.  Alternatively, the proximity between California and Nevada would make the travel negligible.

Payout Perspective:

If you were to ask me, it appears that California did not want anything to do with the Motion.  Rather, it kicked it back to Nevada to deal with the details of the Motion and the lawsuit.  In most instances, Bellator did the appropriate thing in filing for relief where their business is primarily located but the court found reasons to negate the inconvenience.  For the UFC, it’s a win as the issue will go before the magistrate that has been dealing with the UFC and plaintiffs since the case was transferred from a Norther California federal court back in June 2015.

MMA Payout will have more on this.  Stay tuned.

Zuffa files opposition to Bellator motion to quash subpoena

March 9, 2017

Zuffa has filed its opposition to Bellator’s Motion to Quash Subpoenas issued by the company in its lawsuit filed by former fighters.  Zuffa argues it is in need of three requests it made to Bellator and made exhaustive attempts (over 18 months) to work with the company on narrowing the scope.

Zuffa claims it does not normally seek non-public information from a competitor but they must have access “to defend against the antitrust lawsuit…”

A Federal Magistrate will hear the arguments from both sides on March 29th in Los Angeles.

The three requests at issue are:

  1. Bellator’s unredacted contracts;
  2. Documents regarding its negotiations with athletes; and
  3. Limited financial information including profit/loss statements and financial projections.

Zuffa claims that the request for contract documents will show the “intense competition” within Plaintiffs’ “Elite Professional MMA Fighter services” market.  Documents regarding negotiations with athletes will also demonstrate that the UFC is not the “only game in town” and there is competition for fighters.  It will also show that Bellator offers its athletes competitive compensation.  Additionally, argues that Bellator’s Financial Information will reveal that it has not been foreclosed from the alleged market set by Plaintiffs.

It also argues that the requests are proportional to the needs of case.  Essentially, Zuffa is asking only what it needs from Bellator and rebuts the Viacom-owned company’s assertion in its Motion to Quash that the requests are not proportional.  In its brief, Zuffa cites the importance of the documents indicating “…issues at stake in the Nevada Action have the potential to fundamentally reshape the entire MMA industry.”

Zuffa attorneys argue that confidential information would not be made public or even disclosed to Zuffa.  The protective order currently in place allows Bellator to designate its information with the title HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL – ATTORNEYS” EYES ONLY.  This would ensure that the public or Zuffa employees would never see the information.  This discovery designation is sometimes utilized in highly sensitive cases with company documents.  In addition, Zuffa cites case law (notably, no cases in the 9th circuit, the controlling authority for this court) citing that motions to quash are “routinely denied”  when there are “adequate protections for the commercially sensitive information.”

It also argues that in the antitrust lawsuit in Nevada, Zuffa has produced over 651,000 documents with 241,00 identified as Highly Confidential.  The Plaintiffs, according to Zuffa, have produced approximately 64,000 docs with 4,300 docs identified as highly confidential.  Third parties have produced 241,000 docs with 2,800 being designated as highly confidential.  Zuffa makes the point that none of the highly confidential documents were disseminated to anyone other than attorneys and experts in the lawsuit.  Thus, Zuffa and/or the Plaintiffs have not seen any of the documents flagged highly confidential.

The opposition briefing includes two declarations.  One from one of Zuffa’s attorneys highlighting the account of how it attempted to work with Bellator on accessing the documents under the subpoena requests.  Another declaration is from a Zuffa-retained expert citing the need for the documents requested to address the issues in the antitrust lawsuit.

Payout Perspective:

You can expect the Federal Magistrate that will hear this motion to weigh the benefits of producing the documents against the business trade secrets of Bellator.  If you are Bellator, you are fighting this to the end because there is always a chance that someone (knowingly or unknowingly) violates the terms of a protective order.  At that point, you can’t unring the bell.  Zuffa wants to appear reasonable to the magistrate and indicates that it is willing to continue to work with Bellator to get the documents it needs.

The hearing is March 29th in LA.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Zuffa Opposition to Bellator Motion to Quash by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Bellator 174 peaks at 1.1M viewers

March 8, 2017

Bellator 174 this past Friday on Spike TV drew 755,000 viewers and peaked at 1.1 million viewers according to Nielsen.  The ratings reflect the adjust DVR+3 ratings.

The overnight rating drew 686,000 viewers and 255,000 in the adult 18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings.  The event featured the inaugural women’s featherweight title bout as Julia Budd defeated Marloes Coenen.  Budd is now champion and Coenen, a women’s MMA pioneer, decided to retire after the fight.

Payout Perspective:

Not big numbers here as the card did not have any big names.  However, to get the peak over 1 million viewers is still a testament to the fact that Bellator continues to garner a core audience.

Bellator 173 draws 557,000 viewers

February 28, 2017

Bellator 173 on Friday night on Spike TV drew 557,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings.  The event also drew 237,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

The event featured Liam McGeary and Brett McDermott with McGeary taking the decision in the light heavyweight matchup.  The event took place in Belfast, Northern Island.

The rating is the lowest since Bellator 168.

Payout Perspective:

It wasn’t the best event and did not receive a back-to-back week boost from last week’s Bellator event.  The Bellator viewer average for 2017 sits at 865,000 viewers.

Bellator 172 peaked at 1.2M viewers

February 23, 2017

Bellator 172 this past Saturday on Spike TV drew 873,000 viewers in DVR +3 ratings per Nielsen.  The event peaked at 1.2 million viewers.

This past Saturday featured Patricky Freire and Josh Thomson as the original main event was scrapped due to an injury to Matt Mitrione.

Bellator
Overnight A18-49 Peak DVR + 3
Bellator 170 1,374,000 703,000 1,850,000 1,500,000
Bellator 171 720,000 310,000 1,100,000 795,000
Bellator 172 807,000 407,000 1,2,00,000 873,000

More on Bellator Motion to Quash UFC Subpoena

February 23, 2017

On Wednesday, Bellator filed a Motion to Quash a Subpoena served on it by the UFC in its antitrust lawsuit filed in Nevada.  MMA Payout has obtained the documents related to the motion to quash.

Bellator is not a party to the lawsuit.  There is no date set for the hearing.  Since the pleading was filed in California, it’s not known at this point whether Zuffa will make Bellator file in Nevada or make an appearance in California.

The motion essentially is a court order relieving Bellator of its duties under the UFC-issued subpoena.

The requests are outlined by Bellator in its motion.  It made attempts to compromise by providing certain information but the UFC would not do it.

The filing includes a Declaration of Scott Coker.  In the 8 page Declaration he states that the reasons why Bellator cannot provide the requested information to Zuffa.

Notably, he states that providing athlete contract information, competitors would be able to anticipate Bellator’s recruitment strategies.  Also, “[d]isclosure of Bellator’s fighter contracts to the Plaintiffs…and to other MMA athletes would place Bellator at a grave competitive disadvantage in its negotiations with athletes.  With comprehensive knowledge of Bellator’s existing deals, price points, negotiating tactics, and business development priorities, athletes and their management would have more leverage to drive their own desired deal terms and precipitate disputes among athletes already under contract.”

Declaration of Scott Coker by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

This is the general dealing in discovery fights.  The subpoena request is broad, the one producing the documents wants to limit, while the requester always wants more information.  The Motion to Quash is the relief that Bellator has to avoid the subpoena in order to not be in violation.  From Bellator’s perspective, it does not want to release the information as the UFC and other competing organizations can use it in the future.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

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