Penn receives 6 month suspension for anti-doping violation

June 27, 2016

B.J. Penn has agreed to a six-month suspension as a result of a violation of the UFC anti-doping policy.  The suspension will be retroactive to March 25th, the date he admitted using a banned IV.

Penn admitted to the violation during an out-of-competition sample collection.  Penn claimed he did not know of the rule.  As a result, his return to the octagon at UFC 199 was scrapped.  Due to his admission and full cooperation with USADA’s investigation, he received the reduction in suspension.

Payout Perspective:

A fairly short suspension for Penn as he could return this fall.  We are seeing that its beneficial to settle with USADA rather than fight a suspension.  One would think Penn’s admission and cooperation helped with the relatively short penalty.

UFC-Snapchat announce partnership

June 24, 2016

The UFC announced a multi-year partnership with Snapchat in which the company will provide coverage of event via its ‘Live’ product.  The partnership will launch at UFC 200 on July 9th.

Via UFC.com:

Fight fans at UFC events, that also have the Snapchat mobile app on their iOS or Android devices will have the opportunity to contribute their unique experiences through photo and video Snaps to one collective, curated Snapchat Live Story. These Live Stories will then be available for Snapchatters globally to view for 24 hours following the event.

UFC currently has more than 46 million followers across all social platforms around the world. On Snapchat, UFC captures press conferences, athlete and celebrity Q&A’s, open workouts, media day events, weigh-ins, behind-the-scenes moments during Fight Nights and first-person accounts by athletes. UFC also hosts a weekly show on Snapchat entitled “Cookin’ with ‘The Menace’ featuring UFC featherweight Dennis Bermudez.

Following UFC 200, the two global brands will next produce Live Stories during UFC® 202: MCGREGOR vs. DIAZ 2 on Saturday, August 20 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and UFC® 205 on Saturday, November 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The number of Snapchat users is unknown although estimates are over 100 million.  The primary people that use Snapchat are under 35 which is within the UFC’s target demo.

Payout Perspective:

I do not use Snapchat but the demo of young people that the UFC targets are the same people that use Snapchat.  Launching the product at UFC 200 makes sense since it should make a big splash with the big event.  Coverage of future big events will enhance the social media coverage of the events.

TUF 23 Episode 10 draws low ratings due to soccer

June 23, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter Wednesday night was pushed back and moved to FS2 due to the Copa America soccer match delay.  On FS2 it just generated 43,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings.

It aired from 11-12am on FS2 and drew 27,000 in the Adult 18-49 range.

This was probably not the best time for the sudden time change since the first semifinal was aired on Wednesday.

Payout Perspective:

Not a lot that could be done for this episode since it was moved last minute.  Even DVR viewership may not help since everyone recorded soccer instead of TUF.

TMZ reports UFC sale “isn’t even close”

June 22, 2016

TMZ Sports reports that the imminent sale of the UFC is not close to happening.  The news comes after lawyers on behalf of the company sent a letter to Jeremy Botter dismissing his report that the UFC was in the midst of being sold for $4.2 billion.

The news from TMZ is peculiar considering the unnamed author citing an unnamed source in the report stating that there are negotiations to sell the company but that “a deal isn’t even close.”  Also, TMZ states that there is no agreement as to whether 100% of the UFC will be sold or a sale price.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that there is a component of public relations going on with this report.  This report occurs right after Jeremy Botter, who first reported the potential sale, was sent a letter by UFC attorneys which may or may not have intimated legal action for his report.  We shall see if TMZ Sports gets the first official report on the sale.  That is, if the sale happens.

UFC Fight Night 89 draws 964,000 viewers, Prelims draw 369,000

June 21, 2016

UFC Fight Night 89 drew 964,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night according to Sports TV Ratings.  The overnight rating reflects a 22% increase from last month’s Memorial Day weekend Fight Night.

One should note that UFC Fight Night 89 was on a Saturday night.  The last Fight Night held on a Saturday night was the converted UFC Fight Night 82 (which drew 1.3M viewers) held Super Bowl Weekend.

In the main event, Stephen Thompson defeated Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision.  The main event ran over approximately 30 minutes from the estimated time.  Also, the start of the main card was late due to US Open Golf.

UFC Fight Night 2016
Main Card Prelims
UFC Fight Night 81 2,288,000 1,767,000
UFC Fight Night 82 1,300,000 1,093,000
UFC Fight Night 83 983,000 829,000
UFC Fight Night 85 1,149,000 766,000
UFC Fight Night 86 781,000 443,000
UFC Fight Night 87 656,000 494,000
UFC Fight Night 88 757,000 469,000
UFC Fight Night 89 964,000 369,000

The Prelims which aired on FS2 due to US Open Golf on FS1 drew 369,000 viewers and 145,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

In addition, the post-fight show which aired from 1:35am-2:30am ET drew 306,000 and 165,000 in the adult 18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings.  The prefight show on FS2 drew 109,000 viewers and 42,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Good ratings for a Saturday night with golf, boxing and baseball.  Also, the prelims posted good ratings considering it was moved to FS1.  Its notable that the night before WSOF and Bellator had disappointing ratings.  Although popular among MMA fans, MacDonald-Thompson isn’t a main event the casual viewer would tune in for so we might assume that people are gravitating to the UFC brand just because it is UFC.

Company refutes UFC has been sold

June 21, 2016

MMA Junkie reports that Zuffa has sent an email to its employees refuting the story that the UFC has been sold.  Dave Sholler has made an official statement denying the report from FloCombat that the company has been purchased.

Sholler told MMA Junkie that, “FloCombat.com’s report indicating that the UFC has been sold is false.”

An internal email sent to Zuffa employees was obtained by Junkie addressing the rumors and report of the sale.  “A report today by FloComat.com indicating that the company has been sold is false,” read the email obtained by Junkie.  It went on to state that the company’s attorneys would “investigate and take all appropriate legal actions against the parties publishing and contributing to these false stories.”

The report stated that Zuffa had accepted a bid for $4.2 billion to sell the UFC.  No formal announcement has come forth despite the news that 4 entities had submitted bids to purchase the company late last week.

Payout Perspective:

This is semantics but it seems that the internal email refutes that the UFC has been sold.  The question is whether it will be sold.  The company has to cover itself at this point since the concern is that anything could unravel the deal (if the news is accurate).  The internal email and public denial is to ensure employees that their positions are secure.  As for whether lawyers for the UFC will come in to file a lawsuit against the alleged “false” report seems to be posturing on the part of the company.  Defamation would seemingly be the only claim the company might have although we do not have all of the facts at this point.

Report: Zuffa to sell for $4.2B

June 20, 2016

Zuffa, LLC has reportedly accepted a $4.2 billion bid to sell the UFC.  The report also states that Dana White will remain in his role with the UFC despite the sale.

Jeremy Botter of FloCombat first reported the sale.  A group consisting of WME-IMG, the Dailan Wanda Group, The Kraft Group and Tecent Holdings may have made the successful bid.

As of the time of this writing, the sale has not been formally announced.  As of a couple days ago, the groups that submitted bids were in the midst of obtaining financing for the purchase.

It is anticipated that Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta will bow out of the MMA business while Dana White will likely stay on with the new owners.

Payout Perspective:

The imminent sale is significant for what the Fertittas and Dana White have done to build something out of nothing but one would suspect that most things regarding business practices will not change.  The UFC has made significant upgrades to the look and feel of the company in the past year or so.  While most its revenues are derived from pay-per-view, UFC Fight Pass has become a valuable asset for the company that has provided a wide-ranging benefit to showcase the product.

Cerrone comments on his UFC pay

June 19, 2016

In Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 89 post-fight press conference, Donald Cerrone sent a not-so-subtle jab about his pay.

In response to a question which listed his accolades, Cerrone stated, “According to my pay, I don’t mean sh*t to the UFC. But we’ll see. Maybe I’ll talk to [UFC president] Dana [White] after this and see if we can figure that out.” (via MMA Fighting).  Cerrone did make the statement with a smirk and laughed about it.  Of course, that does not mean he was kidding.

Cerrone stopped Patrick Cote in the third round of his fight last night which earned him a $50,000 bonus.

In February, Cerrone made $79K/$79K in addition to his $50K bonus, Reeebok payout and any other undisclosed bonuses.

Cerrone donned the Monster logo on his Reebok shorts and cowboy hat which likely means additional compensation added into his purse, win money, bonus and Reebok payout.

Prior to the Reebok deal, Cerrone commented that he would be losing out on $60,000 in outside sponsors.  He was fined late last year for violating the Reebok outfitting policy.  Cerrone has picked up a Monster deal.

Payout Perspective:

Cerrone is a UFC favorite for his willingness to take a fight at a moment’s notice.  Obviously, attaining fight bonuses means that his fighting style is appealing as well.  Should he be paid more?  Sure.  But how much more would the UFC be willing to pay is another question. If he’s in the middle of a contract, it would be hard to renegotiate at this point, but he could receive preferential paid opportunities outside of the Octagon.  As we noted, he has been outspoken about losing money from the Reebok deal and then was flagged for violating the terms of the policy.  Of course, maybe we are just overblowing the comments from a fighter that is always willing to find a payday.

Muhammad Ali Expansion Act revealed

June 17, 2016

The initial draft language for the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act was made public last week.  The language, while likely not the final version, amends the existing act which protects boxers.

The UFC opposes federal regulation of its sport.  Lawrence Epstein, the company’s Chief Operating Officer told ESPN, “We continue to believe the federal government would have no productive role in regulating MMA promotions or competitions.”  This is not the first time the company has lobbied against regulation.  According to Fox Sports.com, Zuffa hired lobbyists to help them oppose Senator John McCain’s proposed amendments to the Ali Act.

Officially the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 amends the Muhammad Ali Act.  It was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Energy and Commerce in late May.

Muhammad Ali Expansion Act by JASONCRUZ206

Payout Perspective:

The language essentially expands the current law to include combat sports.  The language and sections are changed but there is nothing wholly different from the existing law other than combat sports are now a part of the proposed law.  Certainly, the expansion of the Ali Act could cause the UFC, Bellator and other organizations to change its business practices to ensure that it is in compliance with the law.  However, the utility of the law has proven to be a difficult obstacle for fighters that have sued under the Ali Act.

The UFC has retained a lobbying firm to oppose the regulation.  A letter to the committees which will evaluate the proposed law, signed by mainly Republican-backed groups, has been circulating opposing the expansion.  On the other end, MMAFA has released a letter in support of the law.  The letter is signed by many fighters in support of the bill.

TUF 29 Episode 9 draws 409,000 viewers

June 17, 2016

The 9th episode of The Ultimate Fighter season 23 drew 409,000 viewers Wednesday night on FS1 according to Sports TV Ratings.  The ratings reflect a slight increase from Episode 8.

In the fight of the show, Kate Jackson defeated Ashley Yoder via unanimous decision securing another win for Team Claudia.  She now owns a 7-1 lead for the show.  In addition, the semifinals were announced.

Episode 9

Payout Perspective:

On a night when the OJ Simpson documentary on ESPN was the top-rated cable sports show of the night (and ran opposite TUF), TUF did a respectable rating.  It beat last spring’s TUF 9th episode of 332,000 viewers.  The average for this season is approximately

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