UFC welterweight flagged by USADA

July 4, 2018

Bradley Scott was placed on provisional suspension by USADA after an in-competition sample was flagged on May 27, 2018.  Scott lost to Carlo Pedrsoli, Jr. at UFC Fight Night 130 on the same date.

Scott has been with the UFC since 2012 and has gone 3-5 during his stint with the company.

The UFC issued its standard statement about the finding:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed athlete Bradley Scott of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected on May 27, 2018.

Payout Perspective:

The welterweight has been on a two-fight slide since a win in March 2017.  We will see if the 29-year-old tested for and whether he will attempt to challenge, mitigate or accept the penalty.

UFC 226 ticket demand as good as UFC 205

July 3, 2018

UFC 226 is looking to be one of the hottest tickets for the company this year.  According to SeatGeek, it’s the hottest ticket on the secondary market for the UFC since New York’s UFC 205.

UFC 226 this Saturday is the big happening for the company’s annual International Fight Week in Las Vegas.  The card is stacked with two big fights.  Stipe Miocic takes on Daniel Cormier in the main event.  The co-main event features Max Holloway defending his Featherweight title against Brian Ortega.

The average resale price for a ticket to Saturday’s event is $514.  The get-in price for the event is $178 as of Tuesday morning.

If the demand continues, UFC 226 will be the hottest ticket on the secondary market since UFC 205 which featured Conor McGregor taking on Eddie Alvarez.  It was the company’s first event in New York after the ban on MMA was lifted.

Payout Perspective:

Barring injury, this looks like one of the best cards for the UFC during International Fight Week in years.  The demand may reflect the great Featherweight battle between two undefeated or Cormier attempting to move up in class to beat the Heavyweight champion.

Bellator 201 draws 466,000 viewers

July 2, 2018

Bellator 201 drew 466,000 viewers on Friday night on The Paramount Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The ratings were an increase over Bellator 200.

The main event featured two women as Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defended her flyweight title against Alejandra Lara.  Macfarlane got Lara to tap to an armbar in the third round.

In all likelihood Macfarlane’s next defense will have her go up against UFC vet Valerie Letourneau who won on the under-card on Friday night.

Payout Perspective:

The event had more viewers than Bellator 200 although that event was on tape delay.  The 466,000 has to be seen as good considering there was not many known fighters on the card.  It did benefit from the lack of other combat sports on Friday night.

Chuck-Tito sign with Golden Boy MMA for fight

July 2, 2018

Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz have signed promotional agreements with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions to fight 12 years after their last match in the UFC in December 2006.

ESPN reports the signed deal via De La Hoya.  There is no date, location or timetable for the fight according to the story.  But, the signing of the two former UFC stars indicates that a fight may be happening.

This past May, De La Hoya met with Liddell to discuss a possible comeback for the fighter.

Payout Perspective:

This announcement seemingly jumpstarts De La Hoya’s foray into the world of MMA promotion.  While Liddell-Ortiz was a great rivalry 20 years ago, will it have a realistic competitiveness in present day?  Both are way past their prime and there could be legitimate health concerns for both fighters.  It is a spectacle, but is it the right one?  People do like nostalgia, but I’m not sure this fight is the right one.  We will see if this fight goes forward and what kind of business it does.

Parties file joint motion on Michael Mersch depo testimony in Zuffa Antitrust Lawsuit

July 1, 2018

This past Friday, Plaintiffs a joint motion in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit filed a Motion to Seal Reply In Support of Its Motion to Seal Plaintiffs’ Class Certification Reply.  The motion, which includes both plaintiffs and defendants’ position seeks to seal certain deposition testimony from Michael Mersch as well as certain confidential information from his deposition.

Zuffa points out that the motion to seal is based on what’s included in its Reply Brief and unrelated to the merits of the case.  Zuffa is requesting to seal information in Mersch’s deposition testimony regarding the purse information of a UFC athlete based on privacy concerns expressed to Mersch.  It claims that evidentiary objections made by Plaintiffs are improper.

Plaintiff asserts that Zuffa has failed to meet its burden to seal portions of the Mersch deposition.  They believe that the earnings that fighters receive and Zuffa’s strategy of preventing its fighters from learning what others maker are not compelling reasons or good cause to seal the information.  The overarching argument is that there is no legal argument for the sealing of the information and the information (i.e., purse information) has been disclosed publicly by other sources.  Moreover, Plaintiffs argue that the information sought to seal is four years old and would have no trade secret value in present day.

Joint Motion Re Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

It would seem that the parties are making more of a battle over sealed information.  The payouts appear to be over two fighters if you infer from the exhibits attached to this joint motion.  Wikipedia pages are attached regarding payouts for UFC heavyweights Ben Rothwell and Alistair Overeem. The declaration of the Plaintiff’s attorney states as much.  Clearly, Zuffa wants to seal the testimony because they believe there is something there that might influence the Court or is previously not publicly disclosed.  Plaintiffs would like this information unsealed because they believe it would be useful.

NLRB sends Smith case to D.C. for further review

June 30, 2018

Leslie Smith’s chances with the National Labor Relations Board filing a lawsuit on her behalf against Zuffa may have taken a detour after the Regional board was instructed to send the case to Washington D.C. for review by the Division of Advice.

On Friday, Smith’s attorney, Lucas Middlebrook announced that the NLRB Investigation on Zuffa based on Leslie Smith’s Charging Letter had merit and would file a complaint against Zuffa in Federal District Court.  Under 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act, the NLRB could file an injunction against Zuffa which would likely prohibit the company from designating its contracted athletes as independent contractors and make them statutory employees.

Still, in that scenario, Zuffa would have an opportunity to defend itself in Court and oppose an injunction and file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

But, late Friday night, Middelbrook stated that post-decision, Region 4 had been instructed to send the case to D.C. for review.  He opined that this was a favor done by the Republican-led NLRB to the UFC.  As you recall, Dana White and President Donald Trump are friends.  There is no timetable on how long it would take for the Board of Advice to get through with its review.

According to its web site, the Board of Advice, “provides guidance to the General Counsel and to the Regional Officers with respect to difficult or novel legal issues arising in processing of unfair labor practice charges. It determines whether charges have merit and, if so, what legal theories should be advanced in support.”

Payout Perspective:

Its an unfortunate turn of events for those rooting for Smith and her cause.  What this means is that despite a green light from the regional office, it was recommended to send to D.C. for further review.  So, while an initial determination was made, it seems as though someone thought it needed another set of eyes.  Could this case get buried and not be heard of a while?  Likely.  Middlebrook told MMA Fighting that it was in a “holding pattern” at this point.  This is not good news for those wishing for swift justice which appeared to be the timeline as Smith filed her letter with the NLRB in May and a determination was made one month later.  Now, we could be waiting months to see when a complaint will be filed.  Or if it will be filed.

TUF 27 Episode 11 draws 156,000 viewers on FS1

June 28, 2018

The penultimate episode of The Ultimate Fighter 27 drew 156,000 viewers on Friday on Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The 11th episode featured the coaches challenge which featured Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic in a hockey shootout.  The fight of the episode saw Team Cormier’s Joe Giannetti submit Team Miocic’s Allan Zuniga.  Giannetti advances to the final July 6th at the TUF Finale.

Ep        Live                 Live+3

1          201,000           298,000

2          186,000           296,000

3          246,000           366,000

4          207,000           357,000

5          176,000           362,000

6          196,000           398,000

7          275,000           437,000

8          248,000           443,000

9          290,000           462,000

10        219,000           402,000

11         156,000

Payout Perspective:

The 11th episode fell off from the past several episodes which hovered around the mid-200s.  The 156,000 is the lowest this season and shows that the season is starting to wear down.  Fortunately, the final episode is next week.

Holloway told UFC 223 trending over 1M PPV buys by White

June 27, 2018

Would UFC 223 have scored over 1 million PPV buys if Max Holloway remained in the main event against Khabib Nurmagomedov?  Dana White told the Featherweight champ this prior to his removal from the main event in Brooklyn.

Al Iaquinta filled in at last minute to face Khabib.  The event reported between 250,000 to 310,000 PPV buys.  Nurmagomedov easily handled Iaquinta to win the interim Featherweight title.

MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn reports that Holloway told him that prior to his removal, White indicated that it was trending to over 1 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

Do we believe White?  Probably not, since White is promoting not giving accurate estimates.  There are a lot of measures used to estimate PPV buy rate and its difficult to give a precise number since there are many variables leading up to an event.  So while most would not have agreed with White’s assessment, he may have had the data to suggest it was “trending” over a million.  More likely, it was a motivational tool for Holloway to keep working.  Yet, these types of tactics do not seem fair to athletes.

UFC Fight Night 132 attendance, gate and bonuses

June 24, 2018

UFC Fight Night 132 took place in Singapore early Saturday for most viewing on UFC Fight Pass in North America.  The event drew 6,419 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.  It was the third time that the promotion has visited the country.

No gate was announced post-event by UFC officials.

Bonuses were awarded to Ovince Saint Preux, Song Yadong, Shane Young and Rolando Dy.  OSP earned his $50,000 bonus for a straight arm bar submission of Tyson Pedro. Yadong stopped Felipe Arantes in the second round.  Fight of the Night went to Young and Dy who had a back and forth fight until Young’s pressure forced Dy to drop after a flurry of punches.

Payout Perspective:

Yves Edwards earned the victory over Cowboy Cerrone in the main event of the card.  I’m a little surprised that there were not more in attendance for the event.  Still, those receiving bonuses definitely earned them.

UFC sponsoring Outsports LGBTQ Pride March in New York

June 22, 2018

MMA Fighting reports that the UFC is sponsoring the LGBTQ Pride March in New York for SBNation web site Outsports.  It is the presenting sponsor of the Outsports NYC Price March.

Outsports covers LBTQ athletes and is a sister-site of MMA Fighting and Bloody Elbow.

Tecia Torres, Nina Ansaroff and Sijara Eubanks will be part of the march this weekend.  All 3 are openly gay.

Payout Perspective:

The sponsorship for the event makes sense considering the number of openly gay athletes in the UFC.  Perhaps there’s a scheduling issue but I’m surprised Amanda Nunes is not a part of the event.  Ansaroff and Nunes are engaged.  Torres also is dating fellow UFC fighter Raquel Pennington.  A couple years ago, the UFC made an effort to reach out to the LGBTQ community and its nice to see them lend their support once again.

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