UFC on Fox 18 attendance, gate and bonuses

January 30, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses from UFC on Fox 18

Anthony Johnson, Ben Rothwell, Jimmie Rivera and Iuri Alcantara drew the $50,000 fight-night bonuses.  Johnson and Rothwell won Performance of the Night while Rivera and Alcantara won for Fight of the Night.  The bonuses were announced at the post-UFC on Fox press conference.

In addition, the attendance and gate were announced at the presser with 10,555 in attendance and a gate of $818,000.  The event was 7th out of 7 UFC events at the Prudential Center according the MMA Junkie.

Payout Perspective:

The performance bonuses were well-deserved although you might have thrown in Bryan Barberena who submitted Sage Northcutt.  The comparatively low attendance and gate are not surprising considering the talent on the card.  We  will see how well it did on Fox.

Stations Casino IPO put on hold

January 28, 2016

The Fertitta Brothers will have to wait on an IPO that will provide them with a financial windfall.  Due to stock market conditions, the Red Rock Resorts (RRR) IPO will hold off going public for now.

According to the New York Post, Deutsche Bank delayed the IPO from going public on Thursday.  Deutsche Bank holds a 25 percent stake in the offering.

The newly formed Red Rock Resorts IPO will buyout Fertitta Entertainment, the management company which runs Station Casinos.  The Fertittas own 57 percent of Stations Casino.  The IPO will net $460 million for the management company.

Last week, the Nevada Gaming Control Board signed off on the deal which would allow Stations Casinos to become a public company traded on the NASDAQ under the name Red Rock Resorts with RRR as its symbol.  I’m sure it was not done for “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

With the stock market in flux, the decision to go public was held off.

Payout Perspective:

Despite a slight turn for the better recently which included Facebook (another company trading on the NASDAQ) recording solid profits, the decision to forego an IPO this week was a prudent decision.  One would expect that they revisit launching its IPO once the markets stabilize. One would think that the IPO happens before the summer.

Feb. 6th event becomes UFC Fight Night

January 28, 2016

The UFC announced on Wednesday that UFC 196 originally scheduled for PPV on Saturday, February 6th will now be called “UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson.”  The full card will be shown on FS1 with the exception of the Fight Pass Exclusive prelims.

The PPV was scrapped earlier in the week after both Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum pulled out of the UFC Heavyweight title fight.  Originally Cain was replaced with Stipe Miocic, but when Werdum heard the news of the scratch by the former champ, he pulled out as well claiming injury.

Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson will be the feature bout for this event in Las Vegas.

Payout Perspective:

The de-designation of the UFC event likely preserves the company’s July event of UFC 200.  It also means that the UFC will probably insert another PPV event somewhere in its calendar to account for the loss of this one.  One might see this as a make good for distributors who will lose out on next weekend’s PPV.  Regardless of the shuffle, it was likely the best move for the UFC to move the event to live television.  A short term loss may still be a future gain for the company if it can schedule a card that the casual fan will be interested in purchasing.

UFC files Answer to Plaintiffs’ Complaint, parties fight over discovery process

January 27, 2016

Last week, attorneys for the UFC filed its Answer to Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint in the ongoing Antitrust lawsuit venued in Nevada.  The rather long (27 pages to be exact) goes through each and every paragraph of the Plaintiffs’ Complaint.

After the court denied the UFC’s motion to dismiss, per the rules of federal civil procedure, the company had to file an Answer to the Complaint.  Per rule 8(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the answering party must admit, deny or state that they do not have knowledge to admit or deny the allegation.  However, according the rules stating that you lack knowledge serves as a denial.  It is standard that parties address each and every sentence in a Complaint and even if the statement or allegations may not need an admission or denial, attorneys are ultra-careful and deny most allegations to ensure that there is nothing that might be construed as an admission.

In the Answer the defendant may set forth “Affirmative Defenses” which are facts not within the plaintiffs’ complaint which might defeat the plaintiffs’ allegations.

The Answer filed by the UFC’s attorneys, Boies Schiller and Campbell and Williams does not include many revelations as most Answer’s do not reveal too much.

Zuffa Answer to Plaintiffs' Consolidated Amended Complaint

Here are some of the more interesting parts of the Answer:

  • Probably not too interesting, but Zuffa denies it violated the Sherman Act or engaged in any anticompetitive activity, or that it has injured the Plaintiffs in any way.
  • Zuffa’s annual gross revenues for 2015 exceeded $500 million dollars (page 3, paragraph 7). Although Zuffa remains vague on its revenues, the statement is a conservative estimate from Lorenzo Fertitta’s assertion it made $600 million in 2015.
  • When plaintiffs cited an article or photo included in its Amended Complaint (see paragraph 8 and 12, page 4) and, the UFC did not admit to the veracity of the article or photo. Instead, it indicated the source of the article would be the place to determine the truth of the statement.
  • Zuffa objects to the definition of “Elite Professional MMA Fighter” for being “vague, unclear, confusing, misleading and without any objective or quantifiable basis or any standard usage in any industry.”
  • It notes that the video games UFC Undisputed 2015 sold over 2 million units while UFC Undisputed 2009 sold over 3.5 million units.
  • It notes that Fedor Emelianenko turned down offers to fight in the UFC.

In addition, Paul Gift of Bloody Elbow took at look at the discovery efforts ongoing in the lawsuit.  So far, according to the report 17,909 documents totaling 239,923 pages have been provided from Zuffa’s electronic fighter files.  It is in addition to 108,000 documents provided late last year.  The parties are still haggling over details in the discovery process including custodians (individuals who might have discoverable documents), search terms (the words/phrases used to identify potential relevant documents), relevant time frame among others.

The discovery phase continues as the parties indicate that they have served discovery requests on third parties which should add another level of complexity to this process as the third party lawyers will get into this situation.  Certainly, the attorneys for these third parties will want to ensure that its clients are protected.

Payout Perspective:

Nothing terribly earth-shattering from the Answer.  As in most lawsuits, you want to be as vanilla as possible when providing an Answer.  The Affirmative Defenses do not reveal too much about litigation strategy as well as many are very much form defenses to the lawsuit.  Watch for the discovery fight to continue as third parties were served discovery requests.  Do not be surprise if we see attorneys for the third parties file motions to narrow the scope of discoverable information.

Rousey produces above average ratings for SNL

January 27, 2016

Ronda Rousey’s appearance on Saturday Night Live provided the show with above average ratings this past Saturday night according to Television By Numbers.

Rousey’s appearance on SNL drew a 5.0 household share and a 2.5 share with the 18-49 demo in the overnight ratings for the metered markets.  The show is averaging a 4.6 household share and a 2.2 in 18-49 in overnight ratings.

Although the episode did not provide the ratings Donald Trump commanded when he appeared as a guest on SNL, Rousey is not running for president.

The ratings might have been skewed in part due to the east coast snowstorm which might have had local stations move SNL due to coverage of the snow.

Notably, Donald Trump drew a 6.6 share in November 2015 for his appearance as host.

Payout Perspective:

The above average ratings may be in part due to the east coast snowstorm as people staying inside decided to watch SNL instead of going out.  It also could be due to Rousey as many wanted to see if she could act or not.  She was better than Nancy Kerrigan and was no worse than Trump in the kits where she was a part.  Will she be back on SNL?  If her movie career takes off, it’s not out of the question.

UFC 196 moves to FS1

January 26, 2016

Yahoo! Sports reports that UFC 196 has been switched from PPV to an FS1 broadcast.  After the main event of Cain Velasquez-Fabricio Werdum disintegrated when both fighters pulled out within 24 hours, the UFC made the move to scrap the PPV and move it to its broadcast partner.

The FS1 main event will be a welterweight bout between Johny Hendricks and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.  Despite the fact that several UFC fighters indicated that they would volunteer to fight Stipe Miocic, the initial replacement for Cain, the UFC decided to take it off PPV.

The UFC typically runs a Super Bowl weekend card in Las Vegas to capitalize on the hype for the last game of the NFL season.  The loss of the UFC Heavyweight title fight so close to the event led the UFC to make this decision.

Payout Perspective:

With a UFC on Fox event this week, the UFC can now advertise two consecutive weeks of “free” (we get it, you pay for cable) fights on TV.  With so many events upcoming and the UFC still trying to line up fights for its big show in July, UFC 200, there was no way the company could get a respectable fill-in fight at such short notice.  While there may be some issues with its PPV distributors, the UFC would have probably done

WSOF 27 draws 211,000 viewers

January 26, 2016

The World Series of Fighting 27 drew 213,000 viewers on Friday night on NBC Sports Network according to Sports TV Ratings.  The immediate replay drew 111,000 viewers.

WSOF 27 featured Caros Fodor facing Luiz Firmino in the main event.  Firmino scored the upset over Fodor with a 3 round unanimous decision.

The Friday night ratings reflect a 24% increase from the company’s last event on NBCSN in December 2015.  The event aired 10pm-12am and then the replay ran from 12am-2am.

The NBA game between Indiana and Golden State on ESPN won the time slot with slightly over 2 million viewers between 10:35pm and 1:00am ET.

Payout Perspective:

A promising start to the year for WSOF. 213,000 viewers does not seem much but take a look at the WSOF track record and it is a good showing for a card with a lot of talent many have not heard of unless you follow WSOF.  The 2015 NBCSN average for WSOF programming was 189,000 viewers.

Judge denies UFC’s Preliminary Injunction to hold UFC 198 at MSG

January 25, 2016

Judge Kimba Wood has denied the UFC’s request for a Preliminary Junction which would have allowed UFC 198 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  The UFC will either appeal the ruling and/or seek another venue for UFC 198.

In denying the Preliminary Injunction, Judge Wood cited the Pullman doctrine, a legal case which dictates that a federal court must abstain from ruling on a state court law until that state court had a chance to adjudicate the matter.

The court indicated it would issue a longer opinion, but the one issued today is below:

Zuffa PI – Court Denies PI by JASONCRUZ206

The New York Attorney General cited this argument when it filed its opposition to the Preliminary Injunction.

Via our December post regarding the Pullman doctrine:

New York also claims that the U.S. District Court should abstain under the Pullman doctrine.  Under this case, where a state law is allegedly vague, a federal court should abstain from interpreting the law until the state courts have a reasonable opportunity to construe the statute.

Railroad Commission v. Pullman Co. is a 1941 U.S. Supreme Court Case which dictates that a federal court should stay (i.e., hold off on deciding) a decision on state law when the state court has yet to interpret.  It bases the decision on three factors:

  1. The case presents both state grounds and federal constitutional grounds for relief;
  2. The proper resolution of the state ground for the decision is unclear; and
  3. The disposition of the state ground could obviate the need for adjudication of the federal constitutional ground.

Frankly, the UFC should have saw this coming as Judge Wood indicated a state court might be a better venue for its claims.  She wrote this in her concluding order dismissing the UFC’s original lawsuit against the state:

Kimba Wood opinion

Payout Perspective:

Earlier in the day, we wrote about New York’s response to the UFC’s demand for an order by today.  Looks like the UFC got what it wanted so to speak.  The UFC may appeal the ruling which would mean that the UFC could have two appeals in the Second Circuit related to legalizing the sport in the state.  The other avenue to legalization in New York, is of course, through the legislative process.  We will see what the UFC’s decides to do at this point.  As for UFC 198, it looks like that the UFC will need to find another venue outside of New York.


Werdum pulls out of UFC 196

January 25, 2016

Less than 24 hours after Dana White announced that Stipe Miocic would replace Cain Velasquez as the main event for UFC 196, Fabricio Werdum announced he is pulling out as well.

MMA Junkie received confirmation from Werdum that he is withdrawing.

The move makes Johny Hendricks versus Stephen Thompson the de facto main event of the traditional Super Bowl Weekend card.

The late scratch should be a disappointment for Miocic who looked to be on a roll going into this title shot.

Payout Perspective:

It’s unlikely that the UFC will cancel the card regardless of what you think.  However, a Hendricks-Thompson headline is not an attractive fight.  None of the undercard has any attractive fights as well.  With a UFC event this Saturday on cable TV, it will make it hard to sell the casual fan to buy the following week’s PPV.

New York AG responds to UFC request for PI ruling

January 25, 2016

Monday is the deadline set by the UFC in its hopes to obtain a ruling on its Preliminary Injunction to hold UFC 198 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  It had requested that Judge Kimba Wood rule on the issue lest they need to move the event for marketing and event planning reasons.  New York offered its response to the alleged deadline in a letter to Judge Kimba Wood.

The Office of the Attorney General for the State of New York responded to the letter from the UFC to the court in which the company requested a ruling on the preliminary injunction.  In a January 20, 2016 letter, the New York AG issued its response to the UFC request.  New York argues that moving the April 23, 2016 event reveals that the UFC could have scheduled the event at a later date.  This, according to New York’s contention, means that the UFC “can mitigate if not eliminate the alleged “irreparable” harm it says it will suffer from not holding events in New York.”  Thus, New York argues to the court that the UFC letter “adds nothing to, and indeed detracts” from the UFC’s preliminary injunction request.

New York PI – Letter From NY Respondijng to Zuffa Letter

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps a moot point for the hoped UFC 198 at MSG as the UFC intends to seek another venue if there is no ruling by today (Monday, January 25th).  But, the New York letter offers some legal strategy.  By requesting a ruling from the court and issuing a tacit ultimatum, the UFC indicated that it would move its April event if a ruling had not been issued by today.  Since there appears to be no ruling, it is moving the event to another venue outside of New York.  Capitalizing on this move, New York argues that since the UFC is moving the event, there is no “irreparable harm,” an argument needed to prove a preliminary injunction is warranted.  New York will likely bring this letter up again in later arguments for a PI by the UFC citing that there is no immediate harm to the company as there are comparable alternatives to holding an event in New York.  We shall see if there will be an official statement from the UFC this week about the venue for UFC 198.

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