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

Zuffa close to sale of UFC

June 16, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that Zuffa, LLC is close to selling the UFC.  An ESPN report states that the UFC has received two bids in the range of $4.1 billion.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, the two groups with the highest bids are WME-IMG in conjunction with Dalian Wanda Group and China Media Capital.  Per Rovell, the groups are finalizing the financing for the buyout.  The bids are for the whole company meaning that the Fertitta brothers, Dana White and Abu Dhabi’s Flash Entertainment would cede their ownership interests.

This news comes a month after Rovell reported that Zuffa was actively shopping the company.  There was speculation as to whether the sale would be for a portion of the company or not.  It appears that the transaction would encompass the entire company.

The Fertitta brothers purchased the UFC for $2 million in January 2001.

Last year, Lorenzo Fertitta told CNN Money that the company made “about $600 million.”  MMA Fighting’s sources indicated that the UFC drew $608,629,000 in total revenue and profited $157,806,000.

Payout Perspective:

The much rumored sale appears to be close to fruition.  It’s too early to tell whether or not the sale will mean anything in terms of changes of the brand or product.  There is speculation that White will be asked to stay with the company while the Fertittas may bow out of the sport.  Certainly, White has not been as much as a public figure in recent months.  The sale has yet to go through but you have to think that the business is so volatile that a $4.1 billion sale for a company that made $600 million last year is a great coup for Zuffa.

Will Brooks signs with UFC, debuts July 8th

June 15, 2016

The UFC has signed former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks.  His first fight comes in less than a month as he faces Ross Pearson on July 8th at the TUF 23 Finale in Las Vegas.

Brooks replaces James Krause.  Off of a two fight win streak, Krause pulled out of the fight earlier this week.

Despite being the lightweight champion of the promotion, he was released last month.  Brooks had been vocal (mostly via social media) about his stay with the promotion.  Many perceived the fighter as a malcontent.  Scott Coker terminated Brooks’ contract and waived all negotiation rights which allowed Brooks to pursue a UFC contract and fight with the promotion almost immediately.

The last reported salary for Brooks was $36,000 to show and $36,000 to win in April 2015.  He had another fight in November 2015 although I was unable to obtain that salary.  So, he may have made a little more than the $72K total from last April.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what type of salary Brooks will make in the UFC.  I don’t think he will be paid as much as Eddie Alvarez received from the outset when he began with the company.  One has to think it will be a pay cut at the start.  However, if he is truly a top fighter in the lightweight division, I would think that he would be able to ascend in salary sooner than later.

Mendes flagged by USADA, Means takes reduced penalty

June 13, 2016

Chad Mendes was flagged by USADA of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation related to an out-of-competitions sample collection.  Also, Tim Means accepted a reduced sanction after he was pegged for using a banned substance.

The UFC provided its standard comment acknowledging it was notified by USADA of the potential violation.

No word on the substance that was discovered in Mendes’ drug test.  Mendes is coming off a KO loss to Frankie Edgar this past September.  He had no fights scheduled upcoming.

In other UFC-USADA news, Tim Means agreed to a 6-month suspension after he was flagged by USADA in February.  Means tested positive for ostarine, a banned substance which is akin to anabolic steroids.  The welterweight claimed that the he did not intentionally take the substance.  Rather, it was from a tainted supplement.  Means provided the supplement he claimed to have taken to USADA which was the reason for the mitigated sanction.  Per testing by USADA, there was an undisclosed prohibited substance in the product although it was not listed on the label (i.e, Ostarine was not listed as an ingredient in the supplement).

Payout Perspective:

Mendes is just one fight removed from his big spotlight fight against Conor McGregor last July.  We will see if Mendes will seek to appeal the violation.  As for Means, his situation should be concerning since the banned substance was not listed on the supplement label.

McGregor makes Forbes’ annual “World’s Highest-Paid Athletes”

June 12, 2016

Forbes released its annual report on the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes from June 2015 to June 2016.  Conor McGregor is the first UFC fighter to make the top 100 list.

McGregor landed at number 85 on the list earning a total of $22 million.  His salary is reported at $q8 million while he made another $4 million in endorsements.

Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo topped the list with total pay of $88 million.  There was $56 million in salary and $32 million in endorsements.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. lost his top spot from the past couple years as with just one fight during the timeframe he earned $44 million for one night’s work this past September against Andre Berto.  Still, he was number 16 on the list.  Manny Pacquiao was number 63 as he earned $24 million for his May fight against Timothy Bradley, Jr.  Canelo Alvarez was 92nd with $21.5 million.  Canelo had 2 fights within the one year from June to June.

Payout Perspective:

McGregor had 3 fights from June 2015-June 2016 (Mendes, Aldo and Diaz).  This would average $6 million per fight.  The endorsement deals are interesting considering the UFC Outfitting Policy does not allow outside sponsors during fight week or event night.  McGregor has an individual Reebok deal and has worn a Monster patch during his fights.

UFC hires Farragut Partners to address Ali Act expansion

June 11, 2016

According to a PR industry web site O’Dwyer’s PR, the UFC has retained a Washington D.C. lobbying firm Farragut Partners to combat the expansion of the Muhammad Ali Act.

The D.C. based firm was formed this year.  They are an offshoot of partners from another firm.  They have a list of clients in the telecommunications, energy and healthcare industries.  Earlier this year, T-Mobile chose the firm to help it push support for the “Wireless Tax Fairness Act.”  The bill would enact a five-year moratorium on any new state or local taxes imposed on consumers for wireless service.

The firm also represents Comcast Corp., Altria Group (Tobacco Industry) and Blue Cross/Blue Shield according to opensecrets.org.  Thus far this year, it has reported $950,000 in lobbying income.

Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin introduced the bill late last month.

The bill would introduce measures to expand the Ali Act protecting boxers to all pro combat sports athletes.

A three-person team at Farragut Partners will handle the UFC account including federal legislative staffers for Republican politicians.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, the UFC opposes federal regulation of MMA and specifically its business practices.  It should not surprise anyone that it has hired a lobbying firm to represent its interests and gain support in opposing the expansion of the Ali Act.  This year it has already spent $110,000 on lobbying firms.  Last year it spent $410,000.  Look for the total for this year to increase due to the Ali Act lobbying efforts.  We shall see if it is money well-spent for the company.

TUF 23 Episode 8: 376,000 viewers

June 9, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter Episode 8 drew an average of 376,000 viewers in Live + SD rating on FS1.

Per Sports TV Ratings, the viewers for this episode in the adult 18-49 demo was 199,000.

The season average increases slightly to 376,000.

In the fight of the episode, Team Joanna finally posted a victory with Josh Stansbury defeating Abel Medjedoub via unanimous decision.

Episode 8

Payout Perspective:

Not a positive sign that the 8th episode did not increase from last year’s TUF 21 (425,000 viewers)  The ratings trend could mean that this season will be the lowest-rated ever on FS1.

Spike TV to air tribute to Kimbo Slice prior to Bellator 157

June 8, 2016

Spike TV will air a one-hour special paying tribute to Kimbo “Kevin Ferguson” Slice who passed away on Monday.  The special will air prior to Bellator’s quarterly tentpole event, Bellator 157: Dynamite 2.

Slice passed away on Monday, June 6th.  He was 42 years old.  According to a report, Slice passed away of heart failure and was in need of a heart transplant.  Notably, Slice was scheduled to fight next month in London, England.

Slice went from YouTube sensation for his street fight videos to an MMA ratings magnet in EliteXC then on SpikeTV as he appeared on TUF and then in Bellator.

Payout Perspective:

Whether it was Slice’s look, his reputation or his fighting style, he was “must see” TV.  While you may attribute the heat between Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson on the show, the season of TUF peaked when Slice was on the show.  Despite losing on the show to Roy Nelson, it was one of the higher rated shows for the series.  His TUF Finale 10 fight against Houston Alexander on Spike TV peaked at 5.2M viewers and the card drew 3.7M viewers.  Although he was a shell of his former shelf, he produced top ratings for Bellator and SpikeTV in his last two fights.

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