Will the Ali Act help protect MMA fighters?

May 2, 2016

With the recent news that there will be a proposed amendment to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to include MMA fighters, I take a look at boxers that have tried to sue under the Ali Act over at The White Bronco.

The Ali Act which serves to protect boxers from unsavory business practices from the likes of promoters and managers has had a handful of lawsuits where a fighter has sued under the Ali Act.  By my estimation there has not been one where a boxer has prevailed.  Only in the case of Jeff Lacy (the name may sound familiar as he was the boxer Nick Diaz was allegedly going to box if his MMA career did not continue) was there a favorable finding from the court.

Andre Ward, Joseph Agbeko, Bermane Stiverne and Mikey Garcia are other fighters that have filed suit under the Ali Act but were not successful in court.  Of course, in the instances of Ward and Garcia, they were granted releases from their promoters but after extended litigation which sidelined their careers.  Stiverne was able to reconcile with his promoter, Don King.

One of the overarching themes in the litigation is the disclosure component of the Ali Act in which requires promoters to disclose its payouts to its fighters.  Most recently, Chris Algieri complained about this issue with his longtime promoter.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what becomes of the proposed amendment and how much support it receives.  While the intent is good, the present Ali Act has its flaws which should be addressed if we are talking about amending the Ali Act.  Of course, we may see opposition to the Ali Act by those not wishing that MMA fighters are covered.

Brain health testing to be required in Nevada; Sen. McCain suggest Ali Act to extend to MMA

April 29, 2016

Earlier this week, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that the Nevada Athletic Commission will require all licensed fighters to undergo regular brain health testing.  Arizona senator John McCain, Spike TV President Kevin Kay and Bellator MMA President Scott Coker were present with an announcement occurring on Capitol Hill.

The Cleveland Clinic will assess the athletes using its iPad app that can help detect the symptoms of concussions.

Senator McCain spoke with MMA Fighting’s Luke Thomas regarding the announcement.  He also indicated that he would be in favor of extending the Muhammad Ali Act to MMA.

For those that did not know, Senator McCain was the original sponsor of the Ali Act.

Payout Perspective:

This is a step in the right direction for the sport as we see that the continued advances in science and technology helping detect brain injury. As for Senator McCain’s comments, I understand the sentiment and the rationale for extending the Ali Act to MMA. The question is whether the law, as presently drafted, is living up to the intent of what it hoped to accomplished.  While Bellator may be behind amending the Ali Act, the UFC appears to not have the same position on this subject.

TUF 23 Episode 2 draws 387,000 viewers

April 28, 2016

The second episode of TUF 23 on FS1 drew 387,000 viewers Wednesday night according to Sports TV Ratings.  It is a drop of approximately 20% from its debut.

TUF drew 228,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

In the second episode of the season, Khalil Rountree  faced Syndicate MMA teammate Cory Hendricks.  Hendricks submitted Rountree in the first fight in the house.

We also saw the friction between coaches Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha.

Bellator 152

Payout Perspective:

Not the best ratings start to a season.  The 387,000 viewers is the lowest episode 2 on FS1 thus far.  The NBA and NHL playoffs.  The Charlotte-Miami and Houston-Golden State games on TNT were the two top-rated sports events on cable

Report suggests McGregor would have boost UFC 200 by $45M

April 27, 2016

ESPN’s Darren Rovell penned an article which estimated that Conor McGregor’s absence at UFC 200 would cost the company $45 million.  While the article gives a ballpark estimate as to the worth and value of McGregor’s appeal, the dollar figures may not be accurate.

The piece spitballs what McGregor would have done for the July 9 show.  McGregor has produced the two top MMA gates in the history of the state of Nevada according to the NSAC.  We could probably throw in UFC 196 but the NSAC web site has yet to be updated.   He’s also produced some of the top PPV buy rates in recent history.  Gate revenue, PPV revenue and not to mention all of the ancillary economic influx from the hospitality industry from the Irish fans helped the UFC surpass previous company records.  With these numbers, he believed he had leverage to negotiate with the company for UFC 200.  However, this was not the case as a power play to not show up for promotional obligations went afoul for McGregor.  Instead of another big payday, Jones-Cormier 2 gets the top spot at 200.

For missing out on this payday, the ESPN article hypothesizes that without McGregor, the UFC 200 PPV will draw about 500,000 PPV buys.  With McGregor, the article predicts it would have drawn 1.25M PPV buys.  Thus, 525,000 x $70 for PPV = $36.7 million.

The article estimates that a gate of $10 million could have happened with McGregor.  Without McGregor, it will make about $3 million.  Thus, a $7 million loss in potential gate revenue.

He also adds $800,000 for merchandise and concession revenue attributed to McGregor’s loss.

This would be an estimated $44.5 million lost in revenue due to one fighter.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, there are liberties being taken with these numbers as there is loose evidence provided in the article.  The first glaring error is the fact that PPV distributors would take a cut of the PPV revenue.  Thus, the PPV loss would not be as great.  It would seem that the estimates are anecdotal so if we are to read this as an economic analysis it probably would not be correct.  The article could have brought out the potential “trickle down” McGregor economic effect as Irish fans traveling to Vegas are less likely to come in July since he will not be fighting.  While the numbers may not be correct, it’s clear that McGregor could have produced more for the company for this event than with a Jones-Cormier 2 headliner.

Jones-Cormier headlines UFC 200

April 27, 2016

The UFC announced on ABC’s Good Morning America that Jon Jones will take on Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas.  The fight will be to unify the light heavyweight championship.

Jones defeated Ovince St. Preux last Saturday to earn the interim belt as Cormier pulled out of the bout due to an injury.  The new main event takes the place of Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz as the UFC 200 main bout.


Despite legal issues, the UFC is turning to Jones (and Cormier) to sell this event.

Payout Perspective:

The new main event is better than the potential for Aldo-Edgar as the top fight of the biggest card of the year (thus far) for the company.  The announcement on GMA appealed to the mainstream and occurs on the same day that tickets become available to the public (Wednesday are for UFC fan members).  Expect revved up promotion for UFC 200 which would rival and probably exceed what was done for UFC 182.

UFC “takes over” Good Morning America Wednesday

April 26, 2016

The UFC will have a distinct presence on the Wednesday, April 27th edition of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”  The appearance is lead-up to the sale of tickets for UFC 200.

According to the UFC, Chuck Liddell, Miesha Tate, Paige VanZant and Dana White will be among the UFC stars announced to make appearances between 7-9am during the show.

VanZant is currently a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Payout Perspective:

Could we see a fight announcement for UFC 200 during the show?  The first UFC appearance on the Disney-owned network (ESPN is also owned by Disney) occurred last year when Ronda Rousey announced that she would fight Holly Holm.  It’s a good promotional appearance for the UFC as tickets to its biggest event go on sale this week.

UFC 197 Prelims: 835,000 viewers

April 26, 2016

The UFC 197 Prelims drew an average rating of 835,000 viewers on Saturday night on FS1.  The event was the lowest since UFC 192 in October 2015.

The UFC 197 Prelims featured Sergio Pettis as he defeated Chris Kelades.

UFC 197 Prelims

Payout Perspective:

For those wondering, UFC 192 featured Daniel Cormier taking on Alexander Gustafsson.  The ratings do not bode well if you believe there is a correlation between the Prelims show on FS1 and the PPV buy rate.  UFC 192 only did 250,000 PPV buys.  Perhaps the buzz dropped off of this event since Cormier pulled out.

Show Money Episode 9: McGregor, Ali Act and Antitrust Lawsuit Update

April 26, 2016

In this episode of Show Money, I hop on with Paul Gift and John Nash of BE to talk about the McGregor holdout, the proposed amendment to the Ali Act and we discuss Paul’s recent interview with former FTC Commissioner Dr. Joshua Wright.

UFC 197 payouts: Jones, DJ top the list

April 26, 2016

The Nevada State Athletic Commission disclosed payouts for Saturday’s UFC 197.  Jon Jones topped the list earning $500,000.

Via MMA Junkie:

Jon Jones: $500,000 (no win bonus)
def. Ovince Saint Preux: $55,000

Demetrious Johnson: $195,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus)
def. Henry Cejudo: $60,000

Edson Barboza: $88,000 (includes $44,000 win bonus)
def. Anthony Pettis: $80,000

Robert Whittaker: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Rafael Natal: $41,000

Yair Rodriguez: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. Andre Fili: $18,000

Sergio Pettis: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Kelades: $12,000

Danny Roberts: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Dominique Steele: $12,000

Carla Esparza: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Juliana Lima: $14,000

James Vick: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Glaico Franca: $17,000

Walt Harris: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Cody East: $10,000

Marcos Rogerio de Lima: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Clint Hester: $12,000

Kevin Lee: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Efrain Escudero: $18,000

Payout Perspective:

Notably, Jones made the same ($500K no bonus) for UFC 182.  Mighty Mouse inches up in pay as he last made $191K which included a $58K bonus.  This time around he improves by $6K receiving $195K and a $60K bonus.  Of course, he did receive a $50K bonus for his finish of Henry Cejudo so he made over $200K this time around.

Reebok to revamp fight kits for UFC

April 25, 2016

The Sports Business Journal reports that Reebok will unveil new UFC apparel starting at UFC 200 this July.  Fighters were made aware of the tweaks earlier this month at the UFC Fighter Summit.

Fighters were able to give feedback on the new apparel to people within Reebok’s new combat sports division at the Summit

The Reebok kits were unveiled last July to mixed reviews and were subject to wide criticism.  According to the SBJ article, the new apparel includes a jersey that includes more of the UFC logo across the chest, color to the shorts and grants the fighters more color choices.  A total overhaul is scheduled for 2017.

Payout Perspective:

The article is free to non-subscribers I believe and I think it is an interesting read.  It quotes managers John Fosco and Malki Kawa about the deal and what it means for fighters.  Fosco likes the deal while Kawa does wish there was a way “to compensate the fighters a little bit better…”  The obvious omission from the article I believe was any word whether pay structures would be tweaked as well.  It does not appear so.  While the Reebok brand is changing its kits to appease athlete feedback, it does not address the financial payouts.  The new revamped unis are a positive for Reebok and the UFC as one might consider this may help with retail.  But, the bottom line of compensating fighters still seems to remain status quo.

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