TUF 28 Episode 4 draws 205,000 viewers

September 23, 2018

TUF 28 Episode 4 drew 205,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

On the fight of the telecast, Julija Stoliarenko submitted Marciea Allen in the first round in a matchup of women’s featherweights.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps not the most impressive live rating but it’s the highest episode rating thus far.  Based on its increases with the DVR ratings, it should be near 400,000 viewers.  The episodes have been typical of TUF but still pretty entertaining.

Plaintiffs file Opposition to UFC’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Antitrust lawsuit

September 21, 2018

Plaintiffs in the Zuffa Antitrust Lawsuit have filed their Opposition to UFC’s Motion for Summary Judgment.  The 47-page long opposition brief includes over 100 exhibits, many of which are redacted, or include deposition transcripts with redactions.

The main argument in the Plaintiffs’ Opposition is that the UFC is the “major league” of MMA and it has done so through predatory means.  The theory asserted is that it has become the top of the food chain in MMA through its retention of top-level fighters.  It argues that “a critical mass” of elite fighters is necessary to compete with the UFC.  But, the UFC’s scheme has foreclosed this opportunity.

Despite the fact Zuffa argued in its motion that there was ample competition within the industry as evidenced through testimony of rival MMA promoters and fighters that left the organization, Plaintiffs argue that the “supposed evidence of Fighter mobility merely reflects that the UFC is the “major league” of MMA and cuts Fighters who do not meet its standard.”

Plaintiffs argue in their brief that Zuffa’s anticompetive scheme was “designed to lock in current and potential top fighters to exclusive contracts for the most valuable parts of their careers.”

Oppos to MSJ – Plaintiffs by on Scribd

It noted that Zuffa used its market leverage to extend exclusivity over its fighters. This was done through coercion, intimidation and other means of forcible persuasion.  This included four ways outlined by Plaintiffs and evidenced through deposition transcripts.  This included:

  • Move Fighters to unfavorable placement on the fight card for an event
  • Control the timing of a bout (refuse to off Fighters bouts)
  • Delay a Fighter from competing for another promoter through the Right to Match and Exclusive Negotiation clauses in its contract.
  • Deprive fighters of title opportunities

Plaintiffs argue that Zuffa’s scheme impaired competition through locking up the majority of top fighters, deprived rival promoters of the key input of top fighters and relegated other promoters to feeder or minor leagues.  It calls out other promoters cited in Zuffa’s motion that indicated that they could compete “are not credible and are disputed.”  In fact, Plaintiffs show why Bellator, OneFC and PFL’s statements indicating that they are on par with the UFC are false.  Also, noted in a footnote to the motion, Absolute Championship Berkut, also recognized as a direct competitor, noted the cancellation of three events due to “organizational and financial problems.”

The Plaintiffs cite Dr. Singer’s expert report regarding the input and output markets and its showing how Zuffa has suppressed fighters’ wages, restricted the output of fighter services and excluded rivals.  Plaintiffs also argue that the acquisitions of other organizations by the UFC stifled competition and restricted fighter mobility.

Payout Perspective:

There is a lot to digest here and MMA Payout will take a deeper dive into the opposition including the evidence used by Plaintiffs.  The crux of their opposition is that the UFC’s anticompetitive scheme is based upon the retention of top tier fighters through exclusive contracts.  It locked in top fighters during their “most valuable parts of their careers” and was to leverage its market power to extend exclusivity.  As a result, it impaired competition despite the views of rival promoters that indicated it had no problem signing fighters it wanted.  As a result of the scheme, the anticompetitive effects included suppression of fighters’ compensation, reduction of “quality” MMA events and it suppressed marketwide output of MMA Events and inflated prices.  Furthermore, Zuffa cannot show that the contractual exclusivity provided procompetitive benefits which may outweigh the anticompetitive effects.

Zuffa has a chance to offer a Reply to this Opposition which will be submitted on November 2nd.

CSAC handed Jon Jones 3 months of community service

September 21, 2018

The UFC 229 press conference took all the headlines on Thursday but what went under the radar was the California State Athletic Commission giving Jon Jones 3 months community service as a result of his drug test failure last July.  USADA doled out a 15-month suspension to Jones on Wednesday after his second arbitration under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

According to MMA Junkie, the California State Athletic Commission called the punishment “agreeable, in concept.” CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster expected an 18-month suspension from USADA and the 3 months of community service was issued to “close the gap.”

An arbitrator in Jones’ USADA case determined that the former UFC light heavyweight did not try to cheat despite having traces of a banned substance in his system.

In February, Jones was fined $205,000 and had his fight license revoked.

No word on when and what type of community service Jones will have to perform.  But its assumed that he could re-apply for a license to fight in California once complete.

Payout Perspective:

The punishment by California should not be too surprising.  Jones has been out of action since July 2017 and the impetus was put on USADA to hand out its punishment.  The surprise was the arbitrator’s 30 month reduction of the guideline suspension per the UFC anti-doping policy.  Couple that with Jones’ remorse…once again, and California probably was not going to tack on anything substantial which would impede Jones’ career any further.

McGregor signs 6-fight deal with the UFC

September 20, 2018

Conor McGregor has signed a 6-fight deal with the UFC according to a report from ESPN.  Although financial terms were not disclosed, Dana White indicated that the new contract could make McGregor the highest-paid athlete in the UFC.

The deal includes a sponsor agreement with McGregor’s new venture, Proper Whiskey.  McGregor sold his new product during Thursday’s press conference which was closed to the public.

McGregor was likely the highest-paid fighter even before the new contract.  His last reported purse at UFC 202 in August 2016 against Nate Diaz drew him $3 million although he likely made much more due to his PPV buy rate.  Last August against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., McGregor made $30 million without considering the buy rate upside.

Payout Perspective:

Although it is not disclosed, its clear that McGregor is the marquee athlete in the UFC and the promotion is happy to have him back.  McGregor is far from retiring as one can see from Thursday’s press conference is that he likes the attention and the confrontation.  He was the fourth highest-paid athlete according to Forbes from his boxing match.  He made $85 million in winnings and another 14 million in endorsements.  One might expect McGregor to eclipse this mark if he does 2-3 fights in one year.

Joe Silva explains UFC matchmaking in deposition excerpts

September 20, 2018

After a little bit away, MMA Payout takes a look at some of the depositions taken place in light of the Zuffa Antitrust lawsuit.  The depositions were attached to the motion papers in support of Zuffa’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

Joe Silva, former matchmaker for the UFC, was deposed regarding his role with the company.  The deposition took place in June 2017.

Exhibit 52 – Depo of Joe Silva by on Scribd

Silva was asked about the acquisition of Pride and whether after the acquisition did Zuffa have the vast majority of the world’s top fighters.  Silva stated, “I would say we had the most, but not all.”  He added, “As you see that even after the acquisition, we continued to bring in other fighters from other places in the world.  If we’d already acquired all the best fighters, then no more acquisitions would be necessary.”

Silva was asked about when a fighter may be ready for the UFC and the talented 155 division.

There is a back and forth regarding an email from Stipe Miocic’s ex-manager Greg Kalikas.  The email indicates Silva telling Kalikas: “Too many 170s under contract right now.  Keep Stipe winning and we’ll get him in.”

 

Silva explained, “…it was very important for us to not have too many people on the roster.  We wanted to be able to manage it.  We wanted to be able to fulfill all our contractual obligations, so you have to limit the amount of people that you sign at any one time.  So at this time, 170 was particularly full….To maintain a fight for a fighter who didn’t get injured, I will now go to other people on the roster, and go, hey, I’ve got a dropout, fight’s only two weeks away from now, can you do it.  And if they go, no, I can’t make weight in two weeks, I haven’t been training, I’ve got an injury, I go to everybody who is on the roster.  If nobody can do it, I still want to get a fight that other guys, so now that’s an opening…”

Silva testified about a “policy” he had in which he would not release a fighter if they had lost 2 in a row and then lost a third but the last match was taken on late notice.  He also stated that he “never put pressure on anybody to fight late notice…”

He also stated that he left contracts up to the legal department although he knew that they were revised through the years.

He was aware of the fact that there is a provision in Zuffa contracts that extend the terms of the contract if fighters turn down fights.

There is some criticism about former UFC fighter Melvin Guillard.  It was based on an email to Dana White which states, “In the press conference the day before he said he is an A level fighter fighting in a B level show.  Never was the smartest guy.”  Originally, plaintiffs’ attorney thought he was talking about Justin Gaethje.  But, it appears that there is some mistaken interpretation as Silva explains that Guillard was talking about World Series of Fighting.


There is a text where he makes fun of Bellator’s main event of Tito Ortiz versus Rampage Jackson.  He explains about a comment regarding Jackson criticizing Silva for putting him up against fighters with wrestling backgrounds.

He also points to the hypocrisy of Bellator which was tournament based but turned to Ortiz- Jackson to headline their show.

There is also an email show to Silva in which Monte Cox emails Silva about the potential to have one of his fighters on a UFC Winnipeg show.  Silva responds that he could not because “I have to cut a hundred guys.”  Obviously, Silva was exaggerating but he explained about the roster and at the time – March 2013 – he had “too many fighters under contract.”

Payout Perspective:

The deposition testimony reveals a little bit behind the thought making process of Silva as he made the bulk of the matches for the company until he left shortly after the sale of the UFC.  He came off as a reasonable individual and there was not much in testimony that presented red flags.  Plaintiffs’ counsel did discuss some controversial emails which Silva easily explained away.

USADA arbitrator reduces Jon Jones suspension, will be back in UFC by October

September 19, 2018

USADA has handed Jon Jones a 15-month suspension for his failed drug test at UFC 214 in July 2017.  The arbitration decision means that Jones will be eligible to fight in the UFC this October.

Jones was represented at his hearing by experienced doping attorney Paul Greene.  He was also represented by Peter S. Christensen of Las Vegas.  Notably, Howard Jacobs was Jones’ attorney at his first arbitration hearing and at the California State Athletic Commission hearing regarding his second failed USADA test earlier this year.  The arbitrator was Richard McLaren.

Final Redacted Award Jones … by on Scribd

Unlike other arbitration hearings, the parties entered into a Joint Stipulated Factual Resolution and Arbitration Agreement.

Despite the fact that Jones was facing the potential of a four-year suspension for his second infraction under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the arbitrator reduced his suspension by 30 months based on Jones’ cooperation with USADA in attempting to determine the cause for his failed drug test.  McLaren could have reduced it down to 12 months but determined that Jones could have done other things to mitigate his risk.

The arbitrator determined that based on the UFC Anti-Doping Violations rules that it need not determine the source of the finding to determine fault.  Therefore, regardless of how the illicit substance ended up in Jones’ system, it is not necessary to how it was ingested for them to determine fault.  But here, the arbitrator determined that Jones’ liability to be minimal.  Although, the arbitrator does suggest that Jones could have done more to prevent the violation, he does not think the infraction aided him in his performance.  “There was absolutely no intention to use Prohibited Substances on the part of the Athlete [Jones],” wrote the arbitrator.

The arbitrator noted that Jones seemed contrite for his wrongdoing.

There is the possibility that the CSAC still may rule on a suspension for Jones.  It has revoked his license and fined him $205,000.  But, it would seem that any further suspension of time from eligibility

Payout Perspective:

A week ago USADA felt compelled to address rumors that it was being paid off to reinstate Jon Jones.  Perhaps now we know the reasons behind the statement.  The ruling seems to be made in a vacuum when looking at the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and Jones’ prior arbitration hearing.  The decision seemed to neglect his prior indiscretions, his mistakes admitted in the first arbitration and his California State Athletic Commission hearing where he readily admitted that his management team falsified documents on his behalf so that he would not have to do the educational component of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  All that being said, Jones had a viable case but the facts seemed to be against him knowing he had a prohibited substance in his system and this was his second drug test failure which would connote a four-year suspension.

Overall, I don’t think UFC fans mind that Jon Jones is coming back sooner than later to the octagon.  Its just the matter that the policy seemed to bend over backward and then look away from the way it adhered to its policy with other fighters.  Its true that Jones will be suspended 15 months before coming back to the UFC, but this was his second strike and with a history of reckless disregard for the rules this shows flexibility for athletes that can produce the company revenue.

McGregor enters Irish Whiskey Business with Proper No. Twelve

September 17, 2018

Conor McGregor is launching Proper No. Twelve, his own Irish whiskey.  The name is a nod to Dublin 12, the place where McGregor grew up.

Last year during the Mayweather-McGregor hype, it appeared that McGregor was entering the whiskey business with Notorious Whiskey.

But, due to a trademark dispute with another Irish brewer, the name was changed which is a nod to his hometown.  Of note, McGregor has registered Mystic Irish Whiskey with the USPTO so we may see another name for his spirits in the U.S.

The whiskey will be produced by his own company, Eire Born Spirits, and will be released in Ireland and the U.S. later this month.

Payout Perspective:

It’s nice to see McGregor diversifying his financial portfolio with this whiskey investment.  The whiskey and spirits industry is big right now and it looks like McGregor is set to capitalize on this.  The launch coincides with the lead-up for his big fight October 6th against Khabib Nurmogomedov.

UFC Fight Night 136 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 15, 2018

UFC Fight Night 136 drew 22,603 fans for a live gate of $1.84 million in its debut in Russia.  The announced attendance was disclosed by the UFC post-event.

It was the first event ever event in the country and it was the highest-attended Fight Night this year.

According to John Morgan of MMA Junkie, there were 21,273 tickets sold.  The UFC has indicated it is the fight largest crowd in UFC history and the “biggest MMA event in Russia.”

Main eventer Aleksei Oleinik led the Performance Bonuses after he submitted Mark Hunt in the first round.  Jan Blachowicz earned a Performance Bonus with his submission of the returning Nikita Krylov.  Magomed Ankalaev earned a bonus for his KO of Marcin Prachnio.  Finally, Petr Yan earned a Fight of the Night bonus for his win over Jin Soo Son.  Son was not eligible for a bonus since he missed weight.

Payout Perspective:

The attendance at the event ensures a return to Russia.  There were a lot of quality fights on this Fight Pass card.  Notably, one must wonder what the UFC will do with Mark Hunt.  He is one of the top-paid fighters on the roster and is also suing the UFC and Dana White.  It’s hard to cut Hunt without it looking conspicuous in light of the legal issues but it’s clear that his fight skills are diminishing.

UFC-Bas Rutten partner to market Bas Body Action System

September 13, 2018

The UFC announced that it has partnered with Hall of Famer Bas Rutten to launch the UFC Bas Body Action System.  It is the same system that Rutten has marketed in the past.

Via UFC press release:

The agreement, negotiated by IMG, allows Rutten, a former UFC heavyweight champion and three-time King of Pancrase, to produce a UFC branded edition of his patented MMA training device to sell online and at select retailers globally.

Developed by Rutten to maximize and revolutionize martial arts training, the Body Action System has a patented design that incorporates a head pad for strikes, hooks and uppercuts; a torso pad for punches, elbows and knees; and a focus pad to offer greater mass for core training, side-to-side striking, and kicks.

“The UFC | BAS Body Action System combines a complete training device for MMA with the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization,” Rutten said. “This system is the closest thing having a real sparring partner with you inside the Octagon, and it’s a fantastic all-in-one system that delivers a world-class workout!”

Notably, the Bas Body Action System filed for its trademark with the USPTO in March 2018.  An Office Action has been filed for an apparent likelihood of confusion with a registered mark Body Action.

Payout Perspective:

One could see that the system can be used with UFC Gym’s and developed into a class.  The system is similar to the one that Bas has marketed in the past.  The home fitness market is a big industry and this type of training would be much better than actual sparring where injury is imminent.

UFC 228: Payout Perspective

September 12, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 228 which took place at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Woodley submits Till

Tyron Woodley used a D’arce Choke to earn his BJJ Black Belt and retain his UFC welterweight belt.  Woodley submitted Darren Till and earned a performance bonus.  Despite the belief by many that Till was the contender to dethrone Woodley, the champion had little difficulty with him.

Next up for Woodley looks to be Colby Covington.

Mottano stripped of title

The second title of the evening was scrapped due to Nicco Montano being sent to the hospital presumably as a result of trying to cut weight.  As a result, her fight with Valentina Shevchenko was taken off the card and Dana White stripped the TUF winner of her flyweight title.  Shevchenko will have the opportunity to fight for the flyweight title at a yet to be determined date.

Stripping Mottano of the title hurts her pay scale since she now will receive only $3,500 from the Reebok Outfitting Policy.  As the champion, Mottano (who never defended the title) would have made $40,000.

Attendance and Gate

The event drew 14,073 for a gate of $1.7 million at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.  There have been 5 PPVs in Dallas and of that UFC 228 was the lowest gate of the 5 held there since UFC 103.

Bonuses

There were a variety of finishes and stoppage for UFC 228 that could have received the $50,000 bonus.  Woodley, Jessica Andrade and Irena Aldana and Lucie Pudilova earned the bonuses.

Ratings

The UFC 228 Prelims on FX were the lowest of the year drawing only 560,000 viewers and peaking with 683,000 viewers.

The prefight show on FX averaged 271,000 viewers according to Nielsen.

The post-fight show on FS1 drew 64,000 viewers.

Sponsors

Fight week saw the announcement of 3 new “Official” UFC sponsors.  Nemiroff became the “Official Vodka of the UFC,” P3 became the “Official Protein Bar of the UFC,” and Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum became the “Official Rum of the UFC” in the US.  Nemiroff and P3 were in the Octagon for UFC 228.  Also in the Octagon was Motel 6, MetroPCS, Modelo, Toyo Tires, Harley-Davidson the movie Predator was also featured and Monster Energy had the middle of the Octagon.

The movie, Predator also sponsored the Embedded episodes.

Toyo Tires sponsored the backstage interview which was seen on Facebook.

Odds and ends


The visual seems to tell the story that most BJJ practitioners know. It’s hard to be awarded black belt in jiu jitsu.

If you watched the Embedded episodes, you may have noticed Woodley wearing a CbdMD shirt which one might infer, he is a sponsor.  In fact, the company sent out a PR release congratulating him.  I’m sure this is something that Woodley and his camp have looked into and ensuring that he does not cross the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

One of the judges in the Esparza-Suarez fight mistook Suarez for Esparza in the first round and gave Esparza, not Suarez a 10-8.

Xbox put out a tweet gaging interest in the event.

By the way, what was up with the poster? I realize that Till is taller but did they have to make him look like a giant?

This is an ominous tweet with a quote from Shevchenko’s manager.

One might infer that Shevchenko was not paid her fight purse or her win bonus for making weight despite her opponents’ trouble. Once again, this is an overarching issue that manager’s must handle in the contract. Until there is a union, association and/or collective bargaining unit that will address this situation, the athletes are at the mercy of the UFC.

There was a Fan Experience held in Dallas prior to UFC 228 with numerous sponsors and athletes:

There were over 200,000 google searches for Tyron Woodley Saturday.  On Friday, there were over 200,000 google searches for UFC 228.

Conclusion

UFC 228 was an entertaining event with a lot of finishes including Tyron Woodley making it known that he is one of the top UFC stars in the company.  But, going up against two other boxing events on the same night may have hurt PPV purchases.  Also, the big GGG-Canelo fight occurring the following week may have detracted the casual fan on a budget from purchasing this PPV.  It would appear that this event is likely to have drawn around 175,000 to 200,000 PPV buys.

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