Cyborg signs with UFC but with conditions

March 27, 2015

Cris “Cyborg” Justino has signed with the UFC according to a report via Brazilian outlet Combate via Fox Sports.  The move was later confirmed by Dana White but terms of Cyborg’s contract require her to make the 135 pound bantamweight title limit.

The terms of her UFC signing also require her to compete at 135 in InvictaFC before a fight with Ronda Rousey can occur.  Of course, Rousey must beat Bethe Correira at UFC 190 in Brazil.   In order to help Cyborg cut down to 135, it has hired a nutritionist with getting down to bantamweight.

Payout Perspective:

Assuming Cyborg makes weight, the Rousey-Cyborg fight would be the biggest fight in the women’s division in the UFC and all of MMA.  It would likely headline a major card such as Memorial Day 2016 or International Fight Week 2016.  Of course, there are a lot of hurdles in the way such as Cyborg cutting down successfully to 135 and for both women to continue winning.  With the UFC signing, it’s clear that they want it to happen.

Nick Diaz retains law firm for NSAC hearing

March 26, 2015

MMA Junkie reports that Nick Diaz has retained a New York-based law firm to represent him in further Nevada State Athletic Commission hearings as well as to investigate perceived “irregularities” in his post-UFC 183 drug test.  Diaz requested a continuance of his disciplinary hearing and was granted the extension.

In 2012, Diaz sued the commission seeking a preliminary injunction related to his suspension for use of marijuana prior to his UFC 143 fight with Carlos Condit.  Ross Goodman was his attorney at the time.  Diaz lost out on this fight with the commission and served a one year suspension as well as having to pay a fine of 30 percent of his fight purse.

Diaz has changed legal representation for another potential go round with the commission.  This time, the word of potential “irregularities” may mean another lawsuit filed by Diaz.

The new law firm has a variety of areas of practice which includes Labor & Employment Law.  Under this area of practice it states it specializes in “Drug & Alcohol Testing” which entails “developing and implementing drug and alcohol testing policies and procedures.”

Payout Perspective:

One might speculate that the “irregularities” in his drug test was to the procedure and process under which the sample(s) were taken.  Perhaps Diaz’s new representation may be more detailed in how it investigates these matters.  Based on the law firm’s areas of expertise, it may have a more comprehensive understanding of how tests should be conducted.  We shall see.

UFC made last ditch effort to sign Lesnar

March 26, 2015

As a follow-up to Brock Lesnar’s announcement that he will stay in the WWE, he told the AP that he was offered “10 times” what he was making earlier in his MMA career.  Then, the UFC offered was personally increased by Lorenzo Fertitta on the day Lesnar made the announcement that he would stick with WWE.

Lesnar announced on ESPN on Monday that he would return to the WWE.  The AP story adds the detail that the WWE contract is for 3 years.  According to the story, Lesnar remained in contact with the UFC about his decision to stay.  Fertitta increased the UFC offer twofold to entice the former UFC Heavyweight champion to comeback.  Although enticing, Lesnar decided to stick with professional wrestling.

Payout Perspective:

What are we to make of the UFC’s last ditch effort to sign Brock Lesnar?  Does it say something about the need for PPV “needle movers”?  Does the UFC think its Heavyweight division lacks a marketable fighter?  It’s clear that the UFC recognizes the PPV earning potential of Lesnar and believes that even in his late 30s, his health history and on the downside of his career, he can still draw.  The offer by Fertitta appears to have occurred after Lesnar signed with the WWE which would have made it a very interesting scenario if Lesnar changed his mind and decided to sign with the UFC.

WWE-Tapout announce joint venture

March 25, 2015

The WWE and Authentic Brands Group, LLC (ABG) announced a joint venture with Tapout as the brand formerly tied with MMA and the UFC will now be the official fitness and training partner of the WWE.

The partnership is reported as a 50/50 joint venture per the Sports Business Journal.  According to the WWE release, it will integrate Tapout across WWE’s global platforms including TV programming, the WWE Network, pay-per-view broadcasts, live events, digital and social media.

As one might expect, the WWE will create advertising and marketing with its Superstars and Divas outfitted in Tapout gear.  It will also be prevalent through the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida and all “performers, trainers and staff” will don the Tapout workout gear.

The Tapout brand is described as “a newly repositioned fitness lifestyle brand” in the press release.  More from the press release regarding Tapout:

The next generation of Tapout™ preserves the original brand essence and drives a hard-body, fitness-centric message positioned around motivation, discipline and determination. An all new line of men’s and women’s performance apparel and accessories will launch at retail in Spring 2016. New Tapout™ branding and packaging will roll out in key categories throughout 2015 starting with beverages, supplements and fitness centers.

Payout Perspective:

There were many rumors about the partnership and the official announcement coincides with Wrestlemania week.  Although not the same as the UFC-Reebok deal, it accomplishes the same premise of partnering with brands in an effort to increase audience and revenue.  With the fitness industry apparently expanding, the WWE and Tapout will seek to make a dent into the market as well.

Lesnar announces re-signing with WWE

March 25, 2015

Brock Lesnar has re-signed with the WWE and foreclosed any notion that he would return to MMA in an announcement on ESPN Tuesday afternoon.  Lesnar will be in the main event at Wrestlemania 31 on Sunday in Santa Clara, California.  The event would have been his last under his current contract if he did not re-sign with the WWE.

Lesnar indicated it was a hard decision but chose to stick with professional wrestling.  Perhaps the most practical reason Lesnar stayed was, as he put it that he worked part-time for full-time pay.

In the interview, Lesnar stated that he signed with the WWE on Monday night in Los Angeles where the WWE had an event at the Staples Center.  Notably, Dana White was also in Los Angeles promoting the Aldo-McGregor fight.  Certainly, there had to be some bargaining leverage for Lesnar with the knowledge that the UFC was in town too.

Lesnar made a very public appearance at UFC 184 in Los Angeles last month causing speculation that he might be considering a return to the octagon.

Payout Perspective:

All we have to know about Lesnar’s return to the WWE is that he’s being paid well for limited work.  While competing and being a UFC fighter is great, Lesnar recognizes that he is older, with the level of commitment and amount of injuries he’s suffered in the past, it was probably best to stick with WWE.  Lesnar would have still been a draw for the UFC despite being gone from MMA.

The underlying highlight here is that the WWE coordinated with ESPN to break the news.  Obviously this helps the WWE with its biggest event coming up this Sunday.  The amount of time Lesnar’s announcement was given was probably good for the UFC as well.

UFC Fight Night 62 draws 617,000; Prelims on FS2 draw 280,000

March 24, 2015

UFC Fight Night 62 drew an average viewership of 617,000 on Saturday night on FS1. In addition, the Prelims which aired on FS2 drew 280,000 according to Nielsen sources.

The main card which went slightly over its 3 hour window from 7:00pm-10:pm PT featured Demian Maia taking on Ryan LaFlare in the main event from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Maia won via unanimous decision. The prelims preceded the main card and aired on FS2 from 5:00pm-7:00pm PT.

UFC Fight Nights 2015
Main Card Prelims
UFC Fight Night 59 (FOX) 1,700,000 908,000
UFC Fight Night 60 913,000 775,000
UFC Fight Night 61 1,200,000 813,000
UFC Fight Night 62 617,000 280,000
 *UFC FN 62 Prelims on FS2

UFC Fight 62

Payout Perspective:
The ratings are the lowest for Fight Nights in 2015 although it may have been expected considering the card went opposite the NCAA Tournament on TNT and TBS. Moreover, the move of the Prelims to FS2 due to NASCAR was the key culprit in the lower ratings for the undercard. Of course, the lack of known fighters on the Prelims coupled with basketball was the other factor in the lower ratings.

Lombard suspended one year, fined by Nevada

March 24, 2015

Hector Lombard has been suspended one year, fined $70,490 which accounts for his entire win bonus and 33 percent of his show money.  The ruling was handed down at the Nevada Athletic Commission’s monthly meeting held on Monday per MMA Fighting.

Lombard tested positive for the anabolic steroid desoxymethyltestosterone (DMT) after his UFC 182 fight on January 3rd.  Lombard did not contest that DMT was found within his sample.

Lombard expressed regret and apologized for the failed drug test.  He indicated that he took something under the belief that the medication was “all-natural.”  But, the commission did not buy the ignorance argument or the mitigating argument that he never failed a previous test.  The commissioned ruled that the 37 year old fighter cannot fight in the state until January 3, 2016.

Payout Perspective:

A stern ruling from the commission but based on the information it’s clear that Lombard had taken DMT and did not report it.  With the rash of fighter’s testing positive for PEDs, it was natural for the commission to issue the ban without any leniency.  It does not appear that Lombard will appeal so we will see what that means for his career.

Rousey heads to Albany to lobby legalization of MMA in state

March 23, 2015

Ronda Rousey is heading to Albany to lobby the legislature for the legalization of MMA in New York this week. In addition to heading to the state capital of New York, Rousey made an appearance on “The View” on Monday as well as “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Monday night.

Rousey indicated to the NY Daily News that she wanted to make the trip to Albany “a priority” despite her busy schedule of promoting her upcoming movie release, “Fast & Furious 7,” as well as her August fight in Brazil against Bethe Corriea. She also stated that, “[i]t’s pretty ridiculous that MMA is not regulated here [New York].”

Rousey’s appearance on “The View” Monday morning did not mention New York but was more of a general interview in which the show aired her complete fight from UFC 184 (it was just 14 seconds). She did promote her UFC 190 fight this August against Bethe Correia.

Payout Perspective:

As is always the case, the momentum for MMA in Albany picks up steam with appearances by UFC talent, but will it mean that the bill will actually be put to a vote this year. With a new speaker in the General Assembly, and Zuffa picking up some key endorsements in the past couple weeks, this year could be different from years past. Rousey’s appearance in Albany this week will be a good source of mainstream news and perhaps grab a little more momentum for MMA’s cause in the state.

UFC Fight Night 62 attendance and bonuses

March 22, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses for UFC Fight Night 62 from Brazil.  There was no Fight of the Night bonus as four fighters were awarded Performance of the Night honors.

The following received $50,000 bonuses.  Gilbert Burns, Godofredo Pepey, Kevin Souza and Fredy Serrano all earned the awards on a night where there were 9 stoppages.  In addition, Dana White stated that Erick Silva and Amanda Nunes would receive an extra check for their performances on Saturday.

The event drew 7,707 fans at the Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The event was less than Mendes-Aldo II from UFC 179.  That event drew 11,415 in the same venue.

Payout Perspective:

It’s not too surprising that this event did not draw as well as UFC 179.  In fact, it’s the lowest attendance for a UFC event in Rio de Janeiro since 2012.  One could have picked any number of the stoppages for Performance of the Night as the event had many entertaining stoppages.

Zuffa receives support from NYSAC

March 21, 2015

Zuffa received another show of support for a law legalizing MMA in the state of New York with the New York State Association of Counties expressed its support for the bill this week according to the Auburn Citizen.

According to its web site, the NYSAC’s mission is to “represent, educate and advocate for New York counties and thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.”

The NYSAC’s executive director indicated that “legalizing MMA would generate economic for local municipalities and the state.”

This is the second endorsement of the MMA bill this year as the Business Council of New York state expressed its support for the bill in a legislative memo.

Lorenzo Fertitta acknowledged the support of NYSAC citing that its recognition of the economic potential that MMA would provide for the state.

Payout Perspective:

It appears that the UFC is receiving much more support this year from key stakeholders that it has in years past.  Perhaps the key here is the focus on the economic benefits that MMA events would provide for the state.  This would not only be the UFC, but other organizations being able to conduct MMA events all over the state.  We will continue to monitor Zuffa’s efforts in Albany this year.

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