Rousey files for “DNB” trademark for apparel

August 22, 2015

Ronda Rousey has filed to trademark “Do Nothing B—-“ and “DNB,” the acronym for her new venture.  The trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office were filed on August 3rd by Rousey’s trademark attorney, Deborah Greaves.

The trademark DNB will be for “Headwear; Hooded sweatshirts; Sweatshirts; T-shirts” according to the application filed with the USPTO.

DNB is the acronym for “Do Nothing Bitch,” a phrase Rousey coined in leadup to her fight at UFC 190 with Beth Corriea.

Rousey sold DNB t-shirts with a portion of the proceeds going to nonprofit Didi Hirsch 501c3 for their work in mental health services & for women with body image issues.

Just landed back in LA from Rio and I’m shocked and moved to see so many of you getting behind my represent.com/ronda campaign. You already know how much this message means to me, and it’s heartwarming that it means something to so many of you too. To say thanks, I’ll be sending some signed shirts to buyers at random in 24 hours! Get your shirt at represent.com/ronda (link in bio!)

A photo posted by rondarousey (@rondarousey) on

The initial goal of the t-shirts (at $24.99 each) were to sell 1,000 but it appears that they have sold 56,798 as the date of this writing.

Payout Perspective:

Both trademark filings will take at least 3 months before they are assigned to a trademark examiner that will assess the marks to see if there is a likelihood of confusion with any other marks as well determine whether they pass other tests.  “Do Nothing B—“ might face scrutiny since the term “b—-“ may be considered “scandalous, offensive or immoral.”  That is likely a judgment call by the examiner and Rousey’s attorney could challenge an adverse ruling.

There are other “DNB” trademarks but they appear to be in other industries (i.e., they are not selling t-shirts, etc.) so it may be unlikely that “DNB” gets stopped due to the other holders of the DNB trademark.  If the examiner deems it worthy of a trademark there will be a period in which it will be open to the public to view it and file any objections to the mark.  If no objections, Rousey will own the “DNB” trademark with respect to clothing.  Based on the trademark we may see more clothing coming out under this brand or perhaps she will guard against anyone attempting to make money off her trademark.

Its not the first time that athletes have trademarked phrases based on things that come up during interviews or while in action.  For WWE fans, the company filed for a trademark of “Suplex City” with the USPTO the day after Wrestlemania this year after Brock Lesnar yelled it out during his main event match.

Rousey announces Holm fight for UFC 195

August 21, 2015

Ronda Rousey announced her next opponent on ABC’s Good Morning America Friday Morning. In a surprise, Rousey announced that she would be facing Holly Holm at UFC 195 on January 2nd.

The news is a bit of a swerve considering most, including Rousey, post-UFC 190 believed she would be facing Miesha Tate in December at UFC 194. However, Rousey delivered the news on GMA.

“She is definitely my biggest challenge to date so I’m super excited about it,” Rousey told GMA.

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Holm was a much heralded pickup for the UFC and many believed she would be groomed to face Rousey someday.  That day is coming sooner than most expected.

Payout Perspective:

Holm is an attractive opponent for Rousey in more ways than one. While many will not believe Rousey’s claim that she is the “biggest challenge” to date (rather the next challenge), Holm has a boxing background that might pose some problems for Rousey’s straight ahead style of standup. If nothing else, there’s the proverbial “puncher’s chance” that Rousey might be caught with a punch. Of course, the actual marketing of the fight will help as well. Holm has a good backstory and is appealing. While looks should not be factored into selling a fight, with women’s MMA it is even though people do not want to admit it. As opposed to UFC 190, there will be a portion of fans that will want to see this fight not only for Rousey but also for Holm.

It should be mentioned that Rousey’s announcement happened on ABC’s Good Morning America instead of ESPN. It’s clear that this is targeting women and the casual fan. One would also think that this is a way to introduce Rousey to more mainstream industry executives that could place here in movies. Perhaps a Disney Captain Marvel role for Rousey in the future?

UFC hires law firm to investigate Johnson incident

August 20, 2015

The UFC has released a statement on the alleged incident between Anthony Johnson and a female gym patron as a result of a social media rant by Johnson.  The organization has retained a law firm to launch an investigation into the matter.

Via UFC.com

“UFC is aware of the situation involving Anthony Johnson. We take these matters seriously and have commenced a formal investigation by a third-party law firm. We will act accordingly once we gather more information.”

Johnson posted, then deleted (and later apologized) a Facebook rant regarding a woman that was in his way at the gym.  In his post, he stated that he threw her yoga mat.  Johnson confirmed an incident at the gym when responding to someone on twitter.

Johnson’s past is the likely reason that there is a third-party investigating this recent incident.  In late 2014, Johnson was suspended by the UFC after domestic violence allegations from the mother of his children.  However, he was reinstated after a civil temporary protection order was voluntarily dismissed.

It appears that the alleged confrontation and not the social media rant is the focus of the investigation.

Johnson is scheduled to fight at UFC 191 on September 5th against Jimi Manuwa.

Payout Perspective:

The ills of social media rear its head again.  For all involved, it’s probably fortuitous that this happened as it sheds light on a potential problem that could have escalated into something more.  The UFC did the right thing in investigating this incident as it is protecting its contracted fighter from possible liability.  There are two sides to every story and it’s interesting that we haven’t heard Johnson’s side especially since he wrote about it on social media.  With Johnson’s fight coming up soon, we will see if the UFC takes any action against Johnson if it is determined that there was any wrongdoing.

Sports sponsorships on the rise but who is benefiting?

August 20, 2015

The International Business Times wrote a feature on the state of sports sponsorships in smaller leagues including the UFC.  Overall, it provides a good overview of the current state of sports sponsorship using the UFC’s recent deal with Reebok as anecdotal information.

The article leads with Stitch Duran’s dismissal from the UFC and includes an explanation from the UFC’s Lawrence Epstein later in the story.

The article addresses the issue of sponsorship clashes between athletes’ personal sponsors and the official sponsors of the leagues and organizations in which they participate.  The most recent example involves track and field athlete Nick Symmonds who was left off the US roster for this month’s 2015 World Championships in Beijing.  Symmonds, a middle-distance specialist won a silver medal in the 800 meters at the 2013 World Championships and is a two-time Olympian.  Yet, the U.S. Olympic team is a Nike sponsor (a reported $500M deal with USTAF) and Symmonds has an individual sponsorship with Brooks Running among others.  As a result, he was left off the team to the consternation of Symmonds.  He estimates that his income is 3 percent from the U.S. Track Team with 10 percent coming from prize money, 10 percent from personal appearances and the rest coming from corporate sponsorships.  The New York Times detailed the sponsorship spat between the runner and the U.S. team as the chasm between the athlete and organization highlights the current push/pull of the business of sports.  It indicated that an athlete like Symmonds could draw $250K-$350K a year which is still below the wages earned by NFL or NBA players.  But, Symmonds’ earnings are probably more than a lot of UFC fighters.

Similar to the UFC-Reebok outfitter policy, the U.S. Olympic Track Team allows for its athletes to wear non-Nike gear but requires them to wear it during designated times (i.e., competitions, ceremonies and other official functions.)  As we know, UFC contracted fighters are allowed to wear other sponsors but cannot wear them during fight week and/or other times where it is promoting a UFC event.

IBT notes that Nike and Adidas (and Reebok since it is owned by the 3 stripes) are spending more money than ever on sponsorships.  Per research firm IEG, in North America, corporate sponsorship spending across all sports jumped 21 percent from $12.38 billion in 2011 to a projected $14.98 billion in 2015.

As IBT outlines in its article, “small leagues” like the UFC and U.S. Track and Field, there is a disparity not readily made up through earnings.  The article notes that the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL negotiate sponsorships and athletes obtain 50% of the revenue via the league’s collective bargaining agreements per sports management professor Dan Rascher.  Of course, the four leagues have unions which represent the players of the league so that there is some facet of representation when leagues enter into these types of agreements.  Any problems with the sponsor deals, the athlete can contact a union rep.

Lawrence Epstein was quoted in the IBT article.  He stated that despite lower payouts versus past individual sponsor deals, “companywide deals provide fighters with stable sponsorship money” as well as facilitate long-term growth for the UFC.  He indicated that 15 UFC fighters will have individual contracts with Reebok by year’s end which indicates that four more UFC fighters will have individual deals.  Currently, 11 fighters have individual deals.

He also stated that Duran wasn’t fired because of his comments about the Reebok deal.

Via IBT:

“Unequivocally, his [Duran] comments had nothing to do with him getting let go. I can’t be more firm on that. There are a variety of reasons that he was let go but nothing to do with his comments on Reebok,” Epstein said. “He’s trying to paint this thing as, he said some stuff about Reebok and as a result, he was let go. It’s just not true. That’s not the reason why he was let go. I can’t be more clear on that.”

Payout Perspective:

The IBT article is an interesting look at the disparity of earnings between established team sports and smaller counterparts.  What should be noted is that sponsorship spending is on the rise in sports which one might conclude that there are good opportunities for athletes to make extra revenue through sponsors.  The UFC, like U.S. Track and Field, have brokered sponsorship deals which include substantial exclusivity that forecloses out opportunities for its athletes.  The response by the UFC, as stated by Epstein, is that these deals provide stability for its fighters and will help the product in the long run.  This is great if most of the contracted fighters are still with the UFC in the long run.

As for the continued repercussions of the Stitch Duran fallout, it is becoming a he said/he said sort of battle.  Epstein contends Durant’s dismissal had nothing to do with his comments about Reebok yet he the timing of Durant’s departure is clearly not coincidence.  Furthermore, White’s “shifting the conversation” about the Stitch departure lends one to think it had to be about Reebok.

UFC to sponsor World Wrestling Championships

August 19, 2015

USA Wrestling announced that the UFC will be an official sponsor of the 2015 World Wrestling Championships.  The event will be held from September 7-12th at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The event is a qualifier of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Via USA Wrestling press release:

“We’ve had numerous athletes that have gone on from our National and Olympic teams to great success in UFC, including trailblazing athletes like two-time Olympians Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier and Olympic champion Henry Cejudo. With UFC located in Las Vegas, it made a lot of sense for both organizations to partner on this historic event,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender.

According to the press release, more than 800 athletes are expected to compete in the six-day competition over three Olympic disciplines, Greco-Roman, women’s freestyle and men’s freestyle.

It will be the first time since 2003 that the United States has hosted a Senior World Wrestling Championship event and the first time in Las Vegas.

12485947-ufc-logo

Payout Perspective:

The sponsorship makes sense based on the number of successful wrestlers in the UFC and the fact that amateur wrestling is arguably the most important discipline in MMA.  Clearly the UFC will be watching the event closely hoping to scoop young and upcoming wrestlers that might have transferable skills for MMA.  In the past, USA Wrestling has sponsored UFC events with octagon signage so this is a type of reciprocity.

Lesnar’s ESPN comments sparked by twitter query

August 19, 2015

Brock Lesnar is making the rounds on behalf of the WWE as it promotes the company’s second-biggest event of the year, Summerslam, at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.  The biggest news to come out of Lesnar’s appearance was his comments that Vince McMahon is a better promoter than Dana White.

The statement itself is not that controversial.  The 38-year-old Lesnar signed a lucrative deal with the WWE and as he said he upon announcing the  re-signing with the WWE he gets paid full-time for working part-time.  So, for him to take the side of the WWE is not that extraordinary.

But the reason for the question by ESPN was based on a twitter back and forth between Dana White and a fan in which White stated that wrestling is “fake.”  Well, of course it is.  And there’s no dispute there.  Yet, we should probably go all the way back to the source for the response: some guy on twitter.  The question asked by the guy to White is to whether UFC PPVs should be priced at $9.99 like WWE PPVs.

Obviously the second half of the tweet may be tongue in cheek as both White and twitter guy know its fake.

One might assume the question was based on whether the UFC should go to the WWE model of placing its PPVs on Fight Pass like the WWE has done or whether the UFC should charge its fans a discounted rate for PPVs that do not have big stars appearing on them.

White told the twitter follower that wrestling is “fake” and one might read into that response that based on its scripted finish the price point should reflect accordingly.  Still, the back and forth seems rather innocuous.

As with most of White’s tweets, it did not go unnoticed.  WWE Champion Seth Rollins chimed in with a response to White’s “fake” comments.

Fast forward to yesterday in which ESPN hosted Lesnar. The question which got MMA web sites to sit up at their keyboards and take notice was the now infamous White tweet that wrestling is fake.  Lesnar responded with perhaps an honest response in stating that McMahon is a better promoter than Dana White and explained the differences between UFC and WWE.

Payout Perspective:

I would argue that the UFC and WWE business models are similar but not the same. It’s clear that the WWE has taken a big step with its WWE Network as opposed to what the UFC is doing with Fight Pass.  The WWE received steep criticism from the outset with its plan as it essentially invested heavily into the over the top network while planning on moving its PPVs to the platform. Not only did this deteriorate its PPV business, it put off its previous distributing partners that received a revenue split from the PPVs.  The distributors still receive a PPV cut, but it is less than before.

The question about whether UFC PPVs should be $9.99 needs to be addressed because it’s such an illogical question from the start. The UFC business model is predicated on the success of its PPVs. While the company receives revenue from event gates, merchandise and Fight Pass subscriptions among other revenue streams, PPVs remains one of the biggest pieces of the UFC financial pie. Starting this year, it increased its PPV price point $5 to $59.99 which likely meant an increase in PPV revenue. To suggest it cut UFC PPVs by $50 so more people can afford it seems way off the business model. Yet, it’s not wrong for someone on twitter to ask. And perhaps White’s response was appropriate as he was making the point that its business of real fighting is different from the WWE’s.

But, as with anything on twitter, it exploded into more.  While most web sites, including this one, are picking up Lesnar’s comments, the underlying cause for the news is predicated on non-news.  A question from someone on twitter that escalated.  It’s an obvious commentary on the state of what is news nowadays.

ESPN picked up the twitter back and forth from White and asked Lesnar. Thus, what was an innocuous question about lowering PPV prices turned into Lesnar calling out White on ESPN. Of course, just a few months ago, Lesnar showed up in LA at UFC 184 with White and entertained thoughts of going back to the UFC. So, it’s unknown how personal White will take the slight. In the past, McMahon has taken swipes at the UFC with no response by White. One might expect nothing more to come of this since the WWE would like to have Ronda Rousey make another appearance at next year’s Wrestlemania in Dallas. Thus, a working relationship between the two companies is warranted for that to happen.

But then again, someone might ask another question of White on twitter which may once again be blown out of proportion.

Cosmopolitan features Eye in article on body issues

August 15, 2015

Cosmopolitan recently ran an article featuring UFC bantamweight Jessica Eye where she talked about self-esteem issues with respect to their bodies.  Eye was featured along with Olympic gold medalists Sanya Richards-Ross and Natasha Hastings and fitness models Christmas Abbott and Massy Arias.

The underlying issue for the athletes was reconciling the perception of what a female bodies should be versus their athletic bodies.  The magazine is geared to women and the article addresses many issues that young women have with their bodies.  The overriding issue was the “body-shaming” most of those interviewed endured including people who believe that they are “too muscular” or “masculine.”

Eye talked about being raised like a tomboy as she was raised by her father and did not meet her mother until she was 16 years old.  She also revealed being bullied at a young age and through her early teenage years by her father.

Payout Perspective:

The article is great exposure for Eye and allows her to reveal a little bit about herself.  It also serves a purpose as not only is the interview good PR for Eye and the UFC it also speaks out about bullying and body issues among young women.  These are two initiatives that the UFC could capitalize on to boost the profiles of its women fighters as it moves forward.

Bellator MMA announces November tentpole event

August 15, 2015

MMA Fighting reports that Bellator MMA has announced a November tentpole event set for Saturday November 6th in Saint Louis.  It will be the fourth quarterly event since Scott Coker took over.

The event will feature a featherweight title fight between Patricio Freire and Daniel Straus.  Will Brooks will defend his lightweight championship against Marcin Held.  In addition, Michael Chandler and Bobby Lashley are expected to be on the card as well.

On September 19th Bellator MMA will cross-promote an event with Glory Kickboxing as the event will feature a cage and ring to accommodate both types of fights.

Payout Perspective:

The tentpole events for Bellator MMA have been an overwhelming success on Spike TV.  Last November, Bellator 131 produced the best ratings for the organization and was surpassed by this June’s tentpole event. We shall see if it will continue with the quarterly momentum with September’s cross-promotion and November’s Bellator event.

UFC issues statement after Silva hearing

August 14, 2015

The UFC issued a statement on Thursday’s Anderson Silva hearing before the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Via UFC.com:

Following the Nevada Athletic Commission’s hearing today, Anderson Silva is required to serve a 12-month suspension from competition, retroactive from his last fight on January 31. At the conclusion of his suspension, Silva must present a clean test upon reapplication of a license before his next fight in Nevada. The UFC organization maintains a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by its athletes, and fully supports the Commission’s ongoing efforts to ensure clean competition by all MMA athletes.

UFC recognizes Silva’s great career and looks forward to his return to the Octagon in 2016.

Payout Perspective:

A rather innocuous response to a poor showing before the commission by what many believe is the greatest fighter of all time.  The commission chastised Silva for his “soft testimony” implying that he was not telling truth under oath.  The statement provided by the UFC indicates that he is expected to return despite turning 40.  Despite Thursday’s hearing, Silva is still revered by most in Brazil and the UFC still would like him as an ambassador for the sport after his fighting days are over.

Rousey ranks 8th in highest paid female athletes

August 12, 2015

Forbes.com ranked the world’s highest-paid female athletes in 2015.  According to total earnings for the year, Ronda Rousey ranks 8th on the list with a reported $6.5 million in earnings from sponsorship and purses.

The earnings were measured from June 1, 2014 to June 1, 2015.  Rousey fought twice during this time span.  Against Alexis Davis at UFC 175 and against Cat Zingano at UFC 184.  She reportedly made $150,000 (including $50K bonus) at UFC 175 and $180,000 (including $50K bonus) at UFC 184.  However, it was reported that Rousey made at least $1 million at UFC 184.

Seven of the top 10 females on the list were tennis players with Maria Sharapova ($29.7 million), Serena Williams ($24.6) and Caroline Wozniacki in the top 3 with race car driver Danica Patrick coming in fourth.

Forbes indicates that Rousey has earned $3 million in salary/winnings and another $3.5 million in endorsements.  Per Forbes.com, her “endorsement portfolio” includes Reebok, Metro PCS, Monster headphones, Buffalo David Bitton (jeans) and Carl’s Jr.

Payout Perspective:

Rousey wore a Monster Energy patch on her Reebok kit at UFC 190 so maybe she is sponsored by both Monster Energy and Headphones.  Regardless, the earnings reflect that Rousey is a vital part of the UFC.   Only a couple years ago women were not allowed to fight in the UFC and now it’s clear that she is one of the highest-paid fighters in the organization.  With her book selling well and her movie projects out one would think that Rousey may move up this list next year.

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