McGregor featured in latest GQ

February 16, 2017

Conor McGregor is featured on the cover of the latest GQ magazine.  In the interview, he talks about Floyd Mayweather and the continued rumors of their proposed fight.

The interview talked about Mayweather, the possibility of an MMA fighter union and his impending fatherhood.

Notably, GQ featured Cody Garbrandt last week and now has McGregor on the cover this week.

Payout Perspective:

One has to think that the new exposure in GQ is aided by WME-IMG.  The McGregor features sure feels like additional marketing for a proposed fight while he is on paternity leave.  Otherwise, there’s no reason for the feature at this time.

NAC to vote on rehearing of McGregor disciplinary case

February 16, 2017

MMA Fighting reports that Conor McGregor requests a rehearing of his NAC disciplinary case.  In an unprecedented move, the NAC plans on putting McGregor’s request up for a vote at the March 22nd meeting.  Notably, NAC executive director and chairman Anthony Marnell recommend the request be granted.

According to a statement released by the NAC on Tuesday, McGregor met with Marnell and Bennett.

In October, the NAC determined McGregor’s original fine to be $75,000 plus 50 hours community service and a public service announcement that would be $75,000 in value.

Since then, McGregor has filed for a judicial review of the NAC ruling in Clark County Superior Court.

As we all know, McGregor is aiming for a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.  With the intent that the matchup happens in Las Vegas, McGregor would have to obtain a license.  However, the disciplinary fine precludes McGregor from receiving the boxing license.

Payout Perspective:

A rehearing is a clear indication that the NAC wants to reduce the disciplinary charges for McGregor.  Moreover, they want to grant him a license so, if a fight with Mayweather actually occurs, it can happen in Vegas.  This rehearing is not how due process should occur as the appeal should go to the court.  But, if McGregor agrees to dismiss the judicial review in lieu of settling the case at the NAC, I’m sure that could happen.

GSP is back in UFC according to report

February 15, 2017

MMA Fighting reports that Georges St. Pierre has agreed to a new contract with the UFC.

GSP, the former UFC welterweight champion, has been out of action since UFC 167.

Last year, GSP proclaimed himself a “free agent” after an impasse on a new contract with the new owners of the UFC. GSP’s attorney, Jim Quinn, stated that the existing contract St Pierre had with the UFC was terminated although the UFC disagreed.  Legal action seemed almost a given.

Notably, GSP was one of several fighters at a news conference late last year to announce the formation of MMAAA, an effort to organize MMA fighters.

No word at this point if St Pierre will continue those efforts after signing with the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

If you listened to The MMA Hour on Monday, Michael Bisping indicated that GSP may be his next opponent.  Now, this makes sense upon learning word of the signing.  GSP has business acumen and he knew that if he wanted to fight he’d want to sign with the UFC.  The company needs another top draw with the prolonged absence of Conor McGregor and the uncertain future of Ronda Rousey.  The report indicates that GSP is looking to fight in the third quarter of the year.  However, one might think that if a fight with Bisping can be made for July’s International Fight Week that would be the best case scenario.

For the second time, Lesnar retires from UFC

February 14, 2017

Brock Lesnar has retired from the UFC according to multiple reports and first reported at MMA Fighting.  Lesnar notified the company on Tuesday.

Lesnar was serving a 1 year suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission and USADA.  If he returns to MMA, he will have to serve the rest of the suspension.

The suspension was issued after Lesnar settled with the NSAC and USADA issued a 1 year suspension for failing an out-of-competition test and an in-competition test for UFC 200 this past July.

In addition to the suspension, he was fined $250,000 which is 10% of his reported $2.5 million purse for his win over Mark Hunt.  Currently, Hunt has filed a lawsuit against Lesnar, Dana White and the UFC.

Lesnar is scheduled to appear at Wrestlemania on April 2nd.

Payout Perspective:

With Lesnar retiring for the second time (his first was after his loss to Cain Velasquez after UFC 121) in the UFC, it means that he will no longer be tested by USADA and included in the UFC Anti-Doping Program.  We shall see if Lesnar will decide to return but if he does its likely he will be tested heavily by USADA and given no waiver.

UFC 208: Payout Perspective

February 14, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at the UFC’s second PPV in New York. This time at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.

New champ of new women’s division

Germaine de Randamie narrowly defeated Holly Holm to win the inaugural UFC women’s Featherweight Division.  The decision did not go without controversy as de Randamie won 47-48 but was not deducted a point after two clear shots after the bell.  Joe Rogan was apoplectic that the referee did not deduct one point on the second shot after the bell.

Regardless, the title goes to de Randamie.  She has offered up a rematch with Holm due to controversy but one would think that Cyborg gets the next shot if she is given a retroactive TUE.

Silva turns back the clock, Brunson

Anderson Silva showed he still has it with a victory over Derek Brunson.  Perhaps Silva won via show but Brunson seemed too tentative.  It was a very emotional scene for Silva post-fight as he has come to terms with his role as a fighter that will not compete for a title.

Attendance
The Barclay’s Center was a sellout for UFC 208 with 15,628 fans for a live gate of $2,275,10.  It was the highst grossing sporting event in arena history.

Bonuses

There were only 3 bonus winners since there was only one finish.  Dusin Poirier and Jim Miller won for Fight of the Night while Jacare earned a Performance Bonus for stopping Tim Boetsch.

In tying in a sponsor, the UFC tweeted out the winners and included a link to Netflix’s new realtiy show Ultimate Beastmaster.  It sounds like American Ninja Warrior.

Notably, Anderson Silva co-hosts the Brazilian version of Ultimate Beastmaster.

Promotion of the Fight

Holly Holm appeared on “Live with Kelly” to promote the event.

There was no sponsor for the Embedded series this time around and perhaps sponsors knew that this was going to be a dud this time around.

Sponsorships

The usual sponsors were in the cage including MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Budweiser, Halo Wars 2, the movie Fist Fight, Netflix’s The Ultimate Beastmaster and Monster Energy had the center.

Also, Microsoft’s Halo Wars 2 had the fighter prep point.

The movie Fist Fight starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube was featured during UFC 208.  They also included a tweet associated with the event.

Odds and ends

It was the first time, in a long time that a PPV did not have Mike Goldberg as Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier joined Joe Rogan.  The three still need seasoning.  If it was up to me, I would like Dominick Cruz in place of Cormier.

New walkout song for The Spider.  Hard not to associate him with DMX’s “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  But, the song that replaced it was performed by his son Kalyl.

Dana White went on Instagram during UFC 208.

Jacare Souza should get the next shot at Bisping.  Period.

Tony Parker, whose San Antonio Spurs played the New York Knicks on Sunday.  The Spurs lost.

UFC 208 drew over 200,000 google searches on Friday.  Anderson Silva drew 50,000 on Saturday.  Likely, the searches for Silva occurred after news that he had won.  So, it’s likely those aren’t due to wanting to buy the PPV.

Conclusion

It’s hard to think that this will be a big buy rate.  None of the fights were compelling from a causal viewer standpoint.  UFC 206 had over 200K google searches this past December and I think that 208 will do a similar buy rate.  Look for this event to do between 150,000 to 175,000 buys.

Court agrees to seal certain documents in Hunt v. Zuffa

February 13, 2017

The U.S. Magistrate in the Hunt v. Zuffa, LLC, et al. case has granted Mark Hunt’s request to seal documents in his lawsuit.  The ruling means that the general public will not be able to view certain documents.

The purpose of the seal according to plaintiff as noted in the order was to “allow him [Hunt] to proceed with this action while not violating the confidentiality agreement.”

When Hunt filed his lawsuit, certain exhibits attached were not included as he was requesting to file them under seal.  He claims that he signed a confidentiality agreement and filing the documents without a request to seal might be a violation of the agreement.

Motion to Seal Granted by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

What the order means is that the public will not be able to see certain contracts Hunt entered into with Zuffa, LLC.  This is unfortunate for the public as it would show what type of contract Hunt signed to fight Lesnar as well as other agreements he had with the company.

 

 

Cyborg requests retroactive TUE

February 12, 2017

Cris “Cyborg” Justino is requesting a retroactive Therapeutic Use Exemption  according to an ESPN report.  Justino’s out-of-competition drug test was flagged by USADA this past December.

Justino tested positive for the banned substance spironolactone although she claims that a doctor had prescribed it to her.  Thus, the reason for the retroactive TUE.

According to the UFC Anti-Doping Program:

USADA will consider late filed or applications for retroactive TUEs; however, the Athlete does so at his or her own risk as USADA makes no guarantee regarding the processing of a TUE under such circumstances. Furthermore, in such instances, the Athlete may be charged up to the full cost for processing the TUE application where such filing, in the determination of USADA, is not attributed to factors outside the Athlete’s control.

Justino’s attorney is Howard Jacobs.  He was the attorney that represented Jon Jones in his USADA appeal and subsequent arbitration.  Jacobs also represented Brock Lesnar.  USADA has requested additional information for Justino’s condition which required the prescribed banned substance.

Payout Perspective:

As we know, the new women’s division is specifically for Cyborg and one would think that she will be granted this retroactive TUE despite the “at his or her own risk” language from USADA.  It really makes no difference whether or not the “full cost” for processing the TUE application is assessed to Cyborg as she is much more important to the organization than the simple cost of an application.

UFC 208 attendance, gate and bonuses

February 11, 2017

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 208 in Brooklyn.

Notably, there was only one Performance of the Night bonus.

Jacare Souza earned the only POTN bonus with his first round submission of Tim Boetsch.  The first fight of the PPV, Dustin Poirier-Jim Miller drew the Fight of the Night.  All three earned $50,000.  There were no other performance bonuses.

The Barclay’s Center was sold out: 15,628 fans for a live gate of $2,275,10.  The bonuses, attendance and gate were announced post-event.

Payout Perspective:

Only 3 bonuses which reflects the lack of finishes on the card.  Although Holm-de Randamie was a good fight, Poirier-Miller was better.  The attendance and gate is a good sign that New York is hungry for MMA despite the card’s lack of star power.

UFC 208: Will you buy it?

February 10, 2017

UFC 208 will be the third time that the company has held a show in the state of New York since it legalized professional MMA last fall.  Are fans interested in this PPV?

In the main event, Holly Holm takes on Germaine de Randamie for the new UFC women’s featherweight title.

Also, Anderson Silva returns to action taking on Derek Brunson.

UFC 208 will be the second time a UFC card was headlined by women without Ronda Rousey as one of the main eventers.  The other, UFC 200, featured Amanda Nunes and Miesha Tate.  Of course, that was by necessity with Jon Jones being pulled from that event.

One must surmise the UFC had hoped for another title fight (possibly Diaz-Conor III) to headline this card with Holm as a strong semi-main.  With McGregor taking a prolonged paternity leave and Nate Diaz trying out boxing since he claims the UFC put him on ice, fans get the matchup for a new title.

Perhaps this slot was to be for Cris “Cyborg” Justino.  But, she was flagged by USADA.

So, it comes down to Holly Holm.  While Germaine de Randamie might be a promising fighter, she has only 2 fights since 2015.

Holm is on a 2-fight losing streak which included losing the title to Miesha Tate in March and then dropping a decision to Valentina Shevchenko in late July.

However, the latter fight, which aired on Fox, scored the highest rating for a summer show since the company has been on Fox.

Her main event loss to Shevchenko peaked at over 4.6 million viewers with the broadcast averaging near 3 million viewers.  Holm defeated Ronda Rousey in November 2015 to tear down the former undefeated champ’s mystique and essentially end her career.

But, is her appeal enough to draw on PPV?

Anderson Silva’s drawing power is now past its prime and marketing efforts are behind the Holm-de Randamie fight.

There are signs that this event will not draw.  There is no sponsor for the Embedded series, which have been lackluster to say the most.  UFC 208 is not trending online and the peak viewership of the weigh-ins on YouTube was comparable to that of UFC 206.  The event featuring Jose Aldo and Max Holloway drew 150,000 buys and was the lowest rate for 2016.

It appears that UFC 208 will be on par with UFC 206 as its truly a card for the hardcore UFC fans.

Shields to be first female boxer to headline on Showtime

February 9, 2017

USA Today reports that Claressa Shields will be the first female boxer to headline an event on premium network television as she will be the main feature on Showtime’s ShoBox series on March 10th.

Shields was featured in the WSJ last November where they drew comparisons to her and boxing as Ronda Rousey was to women’s MMA.  She made her pro debut on the undercard of Kovalev-Ward and is thrust into the spotlight in March.

She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.  Due to her Olympic success, she earned a $40,000 a year stipend from USA Boxing along with her own room at the training center in Colorado Springs.  She also receives meals, training and health insurance.

Turning pro is a gamble considering women boxers make little.  However, her pedigree meant that she earned $50,000 in her first pro fight.

She meets Szilvia Szabados (15-8, 6 KOs) in the main event from Detroit next month.

Payout Perspective:

This was a calculated gamble by Shields and her management team.  Women’s boxing does not receive the publicity as women’s MMA.  Notably, two women headline this Saturday’s UFC PPV.  Shields looks to be the new face of women’s boxing.  Certainly, she is getting paid better than most women MMA fighters.  But her pay is not the norm for women’s boxers.  For Showtime, which usually lags behind HBO in boxing ratings, Shields may bring much-needed interest for its ratings.

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