Calvillo flagged by USADA for marijuana metabolites

January 17, 2018

USADA has flagged Cynthia Calvillo following an in-competition test taken in conjunction with her fight at UFC 219 last month.  The test showed traces of marijuana metabolites exceeding the decision limit by USADA.

Calvillo lost a split decision to Carla Esparza in a battle of strawweight contenders.  It was her first loss of her professional career.

Via UFC’s statement on Calvillo:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Cynthia Calvillo of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation involving Carboxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Carboxy-THC”) which is a metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected in conjunction with her recent bout in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 30, 2017, UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm.

Payout Perspective:

What a bad turn of events for the 30-year old Calvillo who may negotiate with USADA for a reduction of her suspension.  You might recall that Kelvin Gastelum was given just a 90-day suspension after he was flagged by USADA in April 2017.  This could be a blow for a promising star and the UFC’s strawweight division.  We shall see if she will receive a light sentence similar to Gastelum.

Monster Energy renews deal to be “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC

January 17, 2018

The UFC and Monster Energy have renewed their global partnership agreement according to a UFC press release.  The renewal is a multi-year extension and continues it as the “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC.

The “M” will remain in the center of the Octagon and entrance logo placement inside.  According to the release, the brands will also work in conjunction on retail promotions during UFC events in select markets.

Via press release:

Monster’s logo will also remain prominently located on the UFC FIGHT NIGHT COLLECTION apparel of its sponsored UFC athletes. This current list includes: UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, UFC women’s strawweight Paige VanZant, UFC featherweight Yair Rodriguez and UFC welterweight Donald Cerrone.

Payout Perspective:

No financial terms were released.  Its not known whether Monster Headphones will continue as the UFC’s sponsor to continue the perceived confusion.  Also, interesting to see if Monster Energy will continue working with Bellator and Rampage Jackson.  The renewal is not surprising as the UFC continues to secure sponsors for this year.  Maintaining a relationship with Monster Energy makes sense and we shall see if the companies will try to use more integration in the relationship such as using more UFC stars in Monster Energy marketing/ad campaigns.

UFC Fight Night St. Louis draws 1.285 million viewers; prelims 1.079 million

January 17, 2018

UFC Fight Night St. Louis drew 1.285 million viewers on FS1 Sunday per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims drew 1.079 million viewers on FS1.

The event surpassed last year’s event which took place on the same Sunday of the MLK Holiday weekend in January.  The event, which featured BJ Penn-Yair Rodriguez drew slightly over 1 million viewers and 824,000 for the prelims.

The event featured Jeremy Stephens taking on Doo Ho Choi.  Stephens stopped Choi in the second round for the win.  On the prelim card, James Krause defeated Alex White via unanimous decision.

According to ShowBuzz Daily, the main card drew 0.48 in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims drew 0.38 in the A18-49 demo.

In addition, the post-fight show drew 342,000 viewers and 0.14 viewers in the A18-49 demo.  The pre-fight show drew 147,000 viewers and 0.06 in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims on Fox Deportes drew 104,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are a good sign for the company as the card on its face was underwhelming but still drew 1.28 million viewers for the main card and over 1 million for the prelims.  It could be that people were looking for something to watch and there was not a great alternative.  Still, the ratings are promising moving into the new year.

Belfort asks for pay after Hall pulls out of UFC St. Louis

January 15, 2018

MMA Fighting reports that Vitor Belfort has asked the UFC to pay him for being ready to fight at UFC St. Louis but it appears that Dana White is claiming that due to the fact that he turned down replacement fights, he will not be compensated.

Belfort’s opponent, Uriah Hall, was unable to weigh-in on Saturday before Sunday’s event and the fight was cancelled.  White blamed Hall for not being able to fight as he claims that he was not taking training seriously.

On social media, Belfort asked for his pay as he trained for the bout and made weight.

Antes de qualquer coisa só gostaria de dizer OBRIGADO! Obrigado a todos! Todos que me acompanham, torcem por mim e minha família! Mas hj especialmente quero fazer um agradecimento especial ao colunista @chicobarney pela matéria q publicou no Site uol.com.br Lendo o q escreveu me fez lembrar de cada momento descrito no texto. As críticas, meus sentimentos, sonhos, ideias etc… Em um momento como hj, em q o agora não me faz muito sentido… Difícil entender depois de tanta dedicação e sacrifício. De ter me preparado psicologicamente para me aposentar de um esporte q basicamente ajudei a criar… e simplesmente isso não ter acontecido…Tenho sentimentos conflitantes a respeito do q aconteceu… Mas como disse, lendo a matéria também me lembrei de q muito do que fiz, muitas das ideias e muito do q disse anos atrás, não faziam pleno sentido para mim. Eu simplesmente acreditava q daria certo… Q o Vale Tudo na época se tornaria um esporte. Que nós lutadores, não éramos bárbaros se digladiando e sim atletas. Que tínhamos potencial de sermos “uma empresa” de representarmos marcas e valores. Nada disso fazia muito sentido na época, mas dentro do meu coração, sempre fez … Minha luta de despedida não ocorreu como havia planejado, mas no meu coração sei q de alguma forma lá na frente, TUDO isso fará sentido. Mais uma vez, como sempre fiz e muitas vezes fui ridicularizado por isso. Entrego a minha vida nas mãos do meu Pai q está no Céu. Pq Dele sempre veio a minha paz… Bjo no coração de todos vcs. Agora uma mensagem para o @ufc . Estou à espera do meu pgto @ufc afinal de contas, fiz o que tinha que ser feito ( treinei , estive presente na semana da luta, bati meu peso….) Onde está o respeito!?

A post shared by Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (@vitorbelfort) on

White rebutted the notion of paying Belfort by claiming that he had turned down a replacement fight and another for next week in Boston.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that there must be an actual policy for payment which should be in a fighter’s contract that the fighter is guaranteed at least his purse (and maybe win bonus) if he or she is able to make weight and their opponent cannot fight.  Offering a replacement is a solution but a flawed one for the simple fact that Belfort has trained specifically for one fight and is now presented with another.  Moreover, a loss would impact their ranking and earning potential.  Not to mention loss of win bonus.  From the UFC perspective, it’s the best that they can do.  But, it would seem fair that since the fighter did everything possible to fulfill the terms of the contract, there should be some sort of mechanism where they are compensation in the event the other party fails to fulfill their terms of the bout agreement.  It would seem finding a replacement would put the fighter in a “take it or not get paid” position.  I’ve been told that this scenario does not just happen in MMA but also in boxing which is unfortunate.  The solution, of course, is to push for a better deal in the bout agreement.  This is easier said than done because the bargaining leverage is skewed toward the promoter.

Report: UFC 219 draws in the range of 340,000 to 380,000 PPV buys

January 13, 2018

UFC 219 is estimated at doing between 340,000 to 380,000 buys according to Dave Meltzer writing for MMA Fighting.  It would make it the third-highest selling PPV of 2017.

The event featured Cris Cyborg taking on Holly Holm.  It’s the first event featuring a women’s bout not including Ronda Rousey that has eclipsed 200,000 buys.  Last February, Holm and Germaine de Randamie drew 200,000 buys and Amanda Nunes-Valentina Schevchenko drew 100,000 buys.  Technically, UFC 200 featured Miesha Tate and Nunes, which drew over 1 million buys, but the real draw was Brock Lesnar’s return against Mark Hunt and a match between Daniel Cormier and Anderson Silva.

Cyborg sent a tweet hinting at the event’s success.

The UFC 219 Prelims drew 949,000 viewers on FS1 and had over 1 million google searches for UFC 219 on the Saturday of the event.  These indicators were signs that the event would do well.

Payout Perspective:

While 340-380K PPV buys does not seem like a success, it is if you consider that those fighters that receive PPV upside kick in starting at 200K PPV buys.  So, if fighters did have points above 200K buys, this would be a great result for them.  The mid-300s is not what you would think of a successful PPV but if you were to compare it over the years to other cards without GSP, McGregor, Lesnar, Rousey or Jones-Cormier, it has to be a positive.

Will the UFC hold an event in Russia in 2018?

January 12, 2018

Could the UFC be heading to Russia in 2018?  According to a report from RT Sport, the UFC has secured Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, for an event on September 14th or 15th.

The UFC told ESPN that there is no official event to announce but indicated its interest in the market.

Via ESPN:

“UFC continues to make progress in the Russian market and is actively working on a partnership that could result in the global brand potentially hosting its first-ever event in Russia in 2018.  The statement went on to explain the potential news of the Olympic Stadium date, “As standard operating procedure, UFC strategically holds dates with venues around the world in order to continually develop its brand internationally by bringing fight fans world-class events.”

Payout Perspective:

There was no denial of securing the date(s) for Moscow’s Olympic Stadium but, as the UFC claims, this is standard operating procedure.  It would make sense since securing a venue is important and these are booked well in advance even if the actual event does not come to fruition.  So, the UFC may have secured those dates but similar to a dinner reservation, it may use it or not.  It would make sense that the UFC would want to expand into Russia and a dream matchup between Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Connor McGregor would be fantastic.  Even if that does not happen, having Khabib headline a proposed event would be good for the company and for the extension of the UFC brand in the country.

Jimmy Smith joins UFC broadcast team

January 12, 2018

Jimmy Smith has joined the UFC broadcast team according to a company release.  Smith will be a part of all facets of UFC programming including UFC broadcasts for Fox Sports, PPV events and pre-fight programming.

“I am honored to join the world’s premier combat sports brand in 2018. It is a privilege to call fights for a living and I can’t wait to join the tremendous UFC broadcast team to call the best fights in the world. To the UFC fans, I am thrilled to join you for this wild ride. See you all very soon!”

Smith left Bellator late last year where he served as the company’s color commentator.

Payout Perspective:

Smith’s hiring comes days after Bellator announced the signing of “Big” John McCarthy as a color commentator.  The news is somewhat surprising considering that the UFC has a stable of commentators/analysts including fighters Dominick Cruz, Paul Felder, Daniel Cormier and former fighter Dan Hardy.  Notably, Cruz and Felder have been great in their analysis.  Perhaps Smith’s signing will alleviate the travel of some of the UFC’s commentating team as well as scale back Joe Rogan’s PPV duties.

Modelo to feature Stipe Miocic as part of new sponsor’s ad campaign

January 11, 2018

ESPN reports that Stipe Miocic will be featured in a new ad for beer sponsor Modelo Especial.  The Heavyweight champ and his mother, Kathy Miocic, attended a commercial shoot as part of the new sponsor’s “Fighting Spirit” campaign.

Modelo’s marketing strategy features successful, blue-collar individuals.  As is widely known, Miocic’s job aside from fighting is a fireman for the Valley View Fire Department in the Cleveland area.  The commercial will air in the first quarter of 2018 according to ESPN.

Miocic defends his title against Francis Ngannou on Saturday, January 20th at UFC 220 in Boston.

Modelo signed a multi-year sponsorship deal replacing longtime beer sponsor Budweiser/Bud Light.

Payout Perspective:

One of the things that the new owners wanted from sponsors of the UFC was more integration with the brand.  We see that here as Miocic will be a part of the Modelo marketing campaign.  In 2018, look for more integration of UFC athletes with sponsors in marketing campaigns.  It’s not known if Miocic has agreed to a personal sponsorship deal with Modelo but I would think he will be wearing a patch on his shorts at UFC 220.  I would surmise we see the commercial next week as lead-up to UFC 220 and capitalize on the promotion.  Moreover, it will be the first PPV that we will see the new beer sponsors in the Octagon as it takes over for Budweiser.

Brazilian strawweight, Ribas, accepts USADA 2-year suspension

January 10, 2018

24-year-old Brazilian strawweight Amanda Ribas accepted a two-year suspension from USADA for violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  Her Octagon career has stalled before it even started.

The suspension comes from an out-of-competition test on June 7, 2017 as she was training for the TUF Finale in Vegas on July 7, 2017.  Ribas tested positive for Ostarine.  It is a non-specified substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  According to the press release, “Ostarine is not currently available as a prescription medication in any country, and its unauthorized use may carry serious side effects.”

Payout Perspective:

Prior to her signing with the UFC Ribas was 6-1 in her professional career with 4 KOs and 2 submissions.  In the new year, it will be interesting to see how much of an effort that UFC and USADA does with incoming fighters with education on supplements.  While its not known what occurred with Ribas, there have been several fighters that have been flagged before or immediately after their UFC debut.

Scheduling Order issued in Hunt lawsuit, no trial date set

January 10, 2018

The parties in the Mark Hunt lawsuit have agreed to a scheduling order.  The scheduling order followed a required meeting of counsel via teleconference last Wednesday.

There is no trial date as of yet.  The order states that Zuffa and White are scheduled to begin trial in another case starting on April 16, 2018 with an estimated time of six months.  Also, due to the fact that Hunt lives in Australia, the parties have requested a special scheduling review.

Notably, the parties will conduct fact discovery in two phases.  The first phase will be written discovery on “all non-RICO claims.”  The second phase will be “non-written discovery and RICO claims, subject to the pending motions to dismiss, the outcome of which will likely necessitate the parties revisiting the scope and determining of discovery and corresponding deadlines.”

Scheduling Order by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

The initial disclosure of witnesses will occur on January 31st.  The cutoff for discovery will not occur unitl October 1st.  The deadline for summary judgments (aka dispositive motions) is October 31, 2018.  So, assuming that the defendants Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint is denied, we should be looking for a trial sometime in late 2018, early 2019.

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