White replaces judge at UFC Fight Night 48

August 25, 2014

UFC president Dana White relieved a fight judge of his duties at UFC Fight Night 48 this past Saturday.  Not satisfied with the judge’s scores, White replaced him for the rest of the night.

As this was a self-regulated event, the UFC apparently had the authority to do this since Macau does not have a commission to do this.  According to the Junkie article, White admitted it was not a good night for officials and shouldered the blame since they were in charge of appointing the judges for the event.

(H/t:  MMA Junkie)

Payout Perspective:

It was an interesting move and perhaps a subtle sign for the commissions in places like Nevada and California that the removal of a judge during an event can happen if the judge is not doing his or her job.  It also poses an uncomfortable situation where the appearance of impartiality is compromised.  Essentially, if the UFC does not like the outcome of a fight, it switches the judges.  Sure, there are a lot of decisions where the judging is quite poor, but you have to live with the good and bad.  And while the removal of the judge on Saturday could be seen as a proactive move on the UFC’s part, it could also open it up to much more criticism.

Latest round of court filings in Zuffa-New York lawsuit

August 24, 2014

Late last week Zuffa and the State of New York have filed its opposition to each party’s motions for summary judgment.  The responsive briefing is the continued litigation in the UFC’s quest to legalize professional MMA in the state.

As you may recall, both parties filed Motions for Summary Judgment.  New York filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in hopes of dismissing the remaining claim by Zuffa that the New York law that bans professional MMA is unconstitutionally vague.  Zuffa’s Motion for Summary Judgment would essentially strike down the law and preclude New York from its enforcement.

In its opposition to New York’s Motion for Summary Judgment it claims that it has standing to raise its challenge to the New York statute.  The argument is in direct rebuttal to New York’s assertion in its moving papers that Zuffa had no standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place since it could not claim injury.   Zuffa contends that it does have standing since it was the “object” of the state regulation.  Here, Zuffa argues that it was a direct object of the law as it is prohibiting professional MMA in the state.

In addition, it rebuts New York’s contention that there was no injury (and thus no standing).  The first was the claim that Zuffa had no plans to hold an event in New York and thus there was no injury.  The second contention was that Zuffa had no agreement with an Exempt Organization in the statute (which would allow for it to hold an event in the state). However, Zuffa argues that it “has taken all steps – short of violating the criminal law – to hold a professional MMA event in New York and it need not put itself in legal jeopardy to establish standing.”  In fact, in its brief, it indicates it has secured a date at Madison Square Garden for 2015.  It also cites that the UFC had discussions with the WKA (“World Kickboxing Association”), an Exempt Organization under the New York law, about working together to hold a UFC event.  Zuffa contends that there was a “meeting of the minds” about putting together professional matches in New York.

The opposition papers from Zuffa also argue that the statute in question is vague as to whether it is enforceable on Indian reservations in New York.  Specifically, Zuffa argues in its pleadings that “it is interested in promoting events on Indian reservations in New York – particularly if it is unable to do so elsewhere in the state.”

New York responds to this assertion about its enforcement of a state statute on an Indian reservation (which as many know, Indian reservations are governed by federal law).  New York argued that it has dominion over “offenses on Indian reservations within the State of New York to the same extent that it has over offenses commented elsewhere in the State.”

In addition, the papers also argue over the vagueness of the statute as it pertains to amateur MMA and the New York liquor statute which allows licenses at events.

Notably, New York is seeking to strike some of the evidence which Zuffa attached to its initial Motion for Summary Judgment stating that it is inadmissible for a variety of evidentiary reasons (e.g., lack of authentication, hearsay, irrelevance, opinion, etc.).  The court will have to determine New York’s motion to strike prior to determining how to rule on Zuffa’s motion.  Some of the evidence New York would like to have stricken from consideration is the issue with the differing interpretations of the law banning professional MMA in the state by multiple government officials.

AG Brief by JASONCRUZ206

Zuffa's Opposition.PDF by JASONCRUZ206

Payout Perspective:

The legal argument continues.  Zuffa appears to have the clearer arguments in the opposition briefing.  However, New York is seeking to strike the evidence which appears to be the most damaging – the multiple interpretations of enforcement of the law.  This would undercut the argument that the statute is unconstitutionally vague since a portion of the legal argument is that the multiple interpretations of the law by the same officials that are to enforce it is evidence that the law is vague.  If that evidence is wiped from the record, there’s less for the court to consider. We will see how each side responds to the opposition briefing.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC Fight Night 49 numbers

August 23, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that UFC Fight Night 49 in Tulsa, Oklahoma drew 7,119 and a live gate of $452,075.  The figures were announced at the post-event press conference.  In addition, Rafael dos Anjos heads the list of bonus winners for UFC Fight Night 49 on Saturday night from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dos Anjos scored the bonus with an upset victory via first round KO of Benson Henderson.  In addition, Jordan Mein, Thales Leites and Ben Saunders scored “Performance of the Night” bonuses.  For the second time today, no “Fight of the Night” award was given out.

(H/t:  MMA Junkie).

The attendance and gate did not reveal the number of comps.  The Bok Center, where the event was held, holds up to 19,199 although the configuration for the UFC event was not revealed.  The event outdrew UFC Fight Night 48 by 97.

Payout Perspective:

The returning Saunders showed us that the Eddie Bravo “mission control” technique works with the first ever oomaplata submission as he subbed Chris Heatherly.  The attendance for both events fared better than last weekend’s UFC Fight Night 47.  UFC FN 49’s attendance and gate is lower than June’s regional fight nights in New Mexico and San Antonio but appears to be par for the course with these events.

UFC Fight Night 48 attendance and bonuses

August 23, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses from this morning’s UFC Fight Night 48 which took place at the Venetian in Macau off the coast of China.

There was no Fight of the Night bonuses although 4 fighters received the $50,000 Performance bonuses:  Michael Bisping, Tyron Woodley, Alberto Mina and Yuta Sasaki.

In addition, attendance was announced at the post-fight press conference although no gate was revealed.  UFC officials declared the event at The Venetian Macao’s CotaiArena a sellout with 7,022 in attendance.

As indicated by Junkie, there were two other events held at the CotaiArena.  Notably, the last 2 were this year and no gate was reported.

UFC on Fuel TV 6 – November 2012 8,415/$1.4 million gate

UFC Fight Night 48 – August 2014 7,022

TUF China Finale – March 2014 6,000

Payout Perspective:

It’s interesting that the trend is that gate tallies are not being announced for international shows. Although considered a sellout, UFC Fight Night did not have as many in attendance as it did in November 2012.  This could be a seat configuration issue.  There were some good individual efforts on the card but nothing FOTN worthy.

Le contributes sponsor money to orphanage

August 21, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that Cung Le will be donating a large part of his sponsorship money to a Vietnamese orphanage.  Le bought rice, toys, candy and gave money to an orphanage in his native Vietnam.

The 42 year old former Strikeforce champion faces Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 48 in Macau, China. Le put video/photos on his Instagram account commemorating his vist.

Payout Perspective:

The gesture by Le reflects the good that many UFC athletes do for charity and from a public relations perspective it’s good publicity leading to this Saturday’s event.  Although no monetary figure was reported and it’s not clear how much Le would have made from his sponsors, one would hope it would be a generous donation rather than a modest gift to get publicity.  One would think that if his sponsors knew ahead of time it would have matched and/or contributed to the donation by Le as a way to help out as well as piggy-back the press.

 

Payout Perspective:

The gesture by Le reflects the good that many UFC athletes do for charity and from a public relations perspective it’s good publicity leading to this Saturday’s event.  Although no monetary figure was reported and it’s not clear how much Le would have made from his sponsors, one would hope it would be a generous donation rather than a modest gift to get publicity.  One would think that if his sponsors knew ahead of time it would have matched and/or contributed to the donation by Le as a way to help out as well as piggy-back the press.

NAC delays Silva decision due to motion to dismiss

August 21, 2014

At its monthly meeting held on Thursday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission tabled the disciplinary hearing of Wanderlei Silva due to the fighter’s motion to dismiss the disciplinary complaint filed against him.  No date had been set for the continued hearing.

As you recall, at the NAC hearing in June, Silva admitted he evaded a mandatory drug test in leading up to his July showdown with Chael Sonnen.  He also claimed he was taking anti-inflammatories and a diuretic at this time.  Ironically, the fight was scrapped altogether due to Sonnen’s failed tests.  The commission did not have time to properly respond to the complaint due to the late filing of the motion and continued the hearing as a result.

UPDATED:  Per Kevin Iole at Yahoo! Sports, Silva’s attorney Ross Goodman is challenging NAC 467.850 which indicates that the NAC has jurisdiction over a “licensee.”  The argument asserted by Goodman, is that Silva is a “non-licensee” and thus the NAC had no jurisdiction to employ the drug test over Silva at that time.

Payout Perspective:

The continuation of the hearing is a likely formality as the NAC wants to ensure that Silva has due process for this complaint to ensure that there will not be any further appeals from Silva’s camp.  It would be unlikely that the UFC is looking to book Silva any time soon.  From Silva’s perspective, this is reputation management and perhaps a way to mitigate any sort of prolonged suspension since he’s nearing the end of his career.  Of course, Goodman’s argument that the NAC did not have jurisdiction over Silva since he was not licensed at the time is a compelling argument.  But is it persuasive?

Glory appoints new CEO, returns to Spike for ’15

August 20, 2014

Glory Sports International announced that it has appointed Jon J. Franklin as Global Chief Executive via company press release.  It also announced that it has extended its agreement with Spike TV to provide original kickboxing programming through 2015.

Via Glory press release:

GLORY Sports International and its board of directors today [August 19, 2014] appointed Jon J. Franklin as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. In this role, Franklin will oversee management of the world’s premier kickboxing league, with coverage in over 170 global territories.

Since 2002, Franklin has been President of The Sports and Entertainment Company (Sports-EntCo), a sports and entertainment marketing firm that assisted with production, programming, sponsorship, and logistics for GLORY events in the United States.

“I look forward to working with Jon in this new capacity. He has been a big part of our incredible success thus far and is uniquely suited to lead GLORY into the next phase of development,” said Pierre Andurand, GLORY Chairman and Co-Founder. “With Jon at the helm, we are confident that 2015 will be a banner year in the evolution of our brand as a leading combat sports league in the United States and abroad”.

Previously, Franklin spent 15 years in senior roles at IMG-Media and has also served as President of Golden Gloves Boxing LLC and AP-X, a division of America Presents Boxing.

“I’m honored to have been a part of GLORY’s growth into one of the top fight promotions worldwide, but the work is not done,” said Franklin. “I truly believe that we have the best athletes in the world, with production for both live audiences and home viewers that is second to none. As we move into the new year, I can’t wait to share GLORY’s global vision for kickboxing with our fans.”

Andrew Whitaker, who served as CEO previously, will assume an advisory role withGLORY as a consultant for business development.

Payout Perspective:

The big news for kickboxing fans is that Glory will be returning to Spike TV in 2015.  We will see if there will be a new direction for the company in 2015 with the appointment of Franklin.  It will be interesting to see how it intends to increase the brand and whether it will make another attempt at a PPV or focus on events on Spike.

Alvarez given unconditional release from Bellator

August 19, 2014

Bellator has released Eddie Alvarez from his contract with the organization per a company Media Alert.  The media advisory also includes a statement from Alvarez.

Via  Bellator media advisory:

Bellator President Scott Coker has released a statement regarding Eddie Alvarez:

“We’ve granted Eddie his unconditional release. Eddie is free to explore the free agent market, we hold no matching rights, and we wish him the best in the future. We sat down with Eddie and his team a few times, and it became pretty clear early on that he just wasn’t interested in fighting for Bellator in the future. We want guys in this organization that want to be here, and after the history Eddie and the former regime had here at Bellator, we decided to move on. We wish Eddie the absolute best of luck with whatever is next for him. It’s a new chapter for everyone involved.”

Eddie Alvarez has also released a statement:

“This was a long process but it’s a decision that everyone seems happy with. I think it’s important to say that I am genuinely thankful for my time at Bellator. I know that sounds a little crazy given everything I went through, but I’ve fought there since 2009, and have been involved in some really amazing fights. The staff there always treated me great, and I’m going to miss seeing a lot of those familiar faces around for sure. Myself and my team had some really good discussions with Scott, but in my heart I knew I was ready to move on and start the next chapter in my career.”

Payout Perspective:

This move is probably not surprising to most following the situation since it was clear Alvarez wanted out and Coker likely wanted a clean break from the old regime. Releasing Alvarez under “amicable” terms lets Bellator move on without having to answer any more questions about the Alvarez situation and it allows Alvarez to move on with his career.  We’ll see if his career continues in the UFC or somewhere else.  The one negative for Alvarez here is that he loses leverage with the UFC in negotiating a contract since the UFC is the only place (with the money) where he can land.

UPDATED: 3pm 8/19/14.  And just like that Alvarez is in the UFC.

UFC Fight Night 47: 735,000 viewers

August 19, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from Nielsen sources that this past Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 47 received an average of 735,000 viewers. The prelims for the event on Fox Sports 2 received an average viewership of 116,000 viewers.

UFC Fight Night 47 which featured Ryan Bader defeating Ovince St. Preux in the main event was up almost 5% from UFC Fight Night 45, the previous Fight Night on FS1.  Below is a graph of the Fight Nights on FS1 since the beginning of the year.  It excludes those Fight Nights on Fight Pass since viewership numbers for those events are not released.

UFC FN TV Ratings 2014

According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, UFC Fight Night 47 was the top audience on FS1 for the week.

Payout Perspective:

Due to a programming conflict with MLB, the prelims were on FS2 and thus the reason for the low number. Based on Ourand’s tweet, it reflects the value UFC has to the network. The average viewership for UFC Fight Night events on FS1 since the start of the year is a little over 862,000 viewers.

Coker says Bellator going month to month in 2015

August 18, 2014

New Bellator head Scott Coker stated that Bellator is going to focus on a monthly event in addition to four major shows which will likely feature the bigger stars for Bellator.

Coker revealed the news Monday which means that the upcoming 11th season will be the last with tournament formatting…for now.  Coker indicated that he may bring back the tournament if warranted.  In addition to the once a month event on Spike TV, the promotion would also do four major shows.  There was no clear indication whether the plan would eventually mean these shows would be PPVs although Coker stated the focus would be Spike.

(H/t:  MMA Junkie/The MMA Hour)

Payout Perspective:

The reduction of actual shows from 26 to 16 is the opposite of the UFC plan.  We’ll see if this works as Coker’s plan seems to be quality rather than quantity.  Certainly, focusing on a show a month allows for build and focus on the monthly event.  The one hurdle is keeping viewers engaged in the three or so weeks that its off the air.

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