May 16, 2013
The Sports Business Journal reports on Georges St. Pierre’s health and fitness app as the latest in his portfolio of sponsorships. In addition to his recently released book, “The Way of the Fight,” GSP has been tabbed to do voiceover work for the animated film, “Monsters University.”
GSP remains busy despite successfully defending his title last month against Nick Diaz. The app comes due to the collaboration between GSP’s agents at CAA and developer Zolmo. The app, named “Touchfit” is $6.99 and GSP has an equity stake in the venture although specifics were not mentioned.
GSP’s agent at CAA, Nez Balelo, detailed the difficulty he had at first in finding sponsors for GSP as he had to educate them on who he is and what he did. The article notes that Gatorade and Under Armour were the two big deals that separated GSP from other MMA fighters in terms of sponsorship.
In addition, TheStar.com (of Toronto) reports that he will voice a character in the Quebec French language version of the prequel to Monsters, Inc.
The GSP brand continues to roll. The app coincides with the release of his book, “The Way of the Fight.” GSP’s voicework on the Quebecois/French Canadian version of “Monsters University” is his second film this year as he was tabbed to play a villain in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” slated for release next year. GSP has carved out a solid portfolio of work that will eventually carry him to his post-UFC career.
May 14, 2013
The Wrestling Observer (subscription required) reports that UFC fighter Pat Healy has tested positive for marijuana use from testing at UFC 159. As a result, Healy has forfeited his fight night bonuses and win bonus as his contest with Jim Miller has been changed to a no contest.
Healy received Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night bonuses for his performance against Miller. Healy’s management sent out a statement about Healy’s positive test.
Healy’s statement through his management:
“I would like to start off by apologizing to the UFC, Jim Miller, the MMA community, it’s fans, my family, teammates and coaches for my positive testing for marijuana after my UFC 159 fight with Jim Miller. I was fully aware of the UFC and State Commissions drug policies and made poor life choices. I stand behind the UFC and the State Commission’s disciplinary actions. I support efforts to make MMA and sports a clean, safe and fair place to compete. First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge and take responsibility for my mistake. I made a very poor choice to socially use marijuana and now I must face the consequences of that choice. I can assure you that I will do everything the UFC and State Commission asks of me and beyond. I will also make a conscious effort to be a better role model within the MMA community.”
Healy will be suspended 90 days by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission in addition to overturning his win.
The good news is that Healy is willing to own up to his mistake. The bad news is that he had poor judgment by socially using marijuana when he knew of the consequences. Its hard not to feel sorry for Healy but when the rules are clear about marijuana use, how can you argue against the punishment. Certainly, the $135K ($130K in fight bonuses and $5 for the win bonus) taken from Healy is a huge penalty. Healy only keeps his $17,500 show purse.
May 13, 2013
Eddie Alvarez produced via twitter a document he claims Bellator altered after he had agreed to the terms of the renegotiation period. Alvarez stated that Bellator changed the matching issue from “all terms” to “material terms.”
— Edward Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) May 12, 2013
In the October 30, 2012 letter from Bellator to Alvarez sent via email and Certified Mail, the letter states in reference to matching terms with Zuffa: “Upon receipt of such an offer, you are thereafter obliged to produce to Bellator a true copy of the proposed agreement with Zuffa, LLC at which time Bellator shall have fourteen (14) business days from receipt of the full agreement to consider whether it will match the material terms of the offer.” (our emphasis in bold and italics). In a subsequent letter, the sentenced was changed from material to all.
Alvarez had noted this change during his interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and on MMA Junkie Radio. He essentially cited this as an unethical business practice.
Bjorn Rebney responded to Alvarez’s claims in an article on MMA Fighting. The November 1, 2012 letter was produced which stated “all terms” instead of material terms was produced in the article. Rebney refuted Alvarez’s accusations stating that he was aware of the language and that Alvarez’s attorneys were aware as well. Rebney also responded to several issues regarding pay concerning Zach Makovsky, Cosmo Alexandre and whether or not Bellator attempted to sign Leonard Garcia.
The letter produced by Alvarez attempts to show that Bellator amended terms without his knowledge. Rebney indicated that this is not true and that Alvarez’s attorneys had the chance to review the letters. Did Alvarez’s lawyers not see the November 1st letter? Based on what the Court has opined in the Preliminary Injunction, will the “material” vs. “all” terms matter? If you recall, the Court indicated that it would apply a common sense approach to matching terms. Regardless of one might think, this lawsuit is going to start to heat up. Moreover, arising out of the lawsuit are PR issues which Rebney, Bellator and Viacom must address and determine how to put out the fires. By implicating other issues with fighters, we might see Makovsky, Alexandre and Garcia get pulled into this lawsuit as witnesses.
May 11, 2013
The Sports Business Journal reported on an annual survey which tracked the habits of avid fans of boxing, MMA and professional wrestling. The Scarborough survey polled more than 200,000 residents over the age of 18 in 77 of the country’s biggest markets to find out how avid fans are to their particular sport.
The survey determined that of the 48.4% of the U.S. male population, the UFC (74.6% of males polled) is most popular of the three sports among males with boxing a close second (72.4%) and then WWE (62.8%). However, women (52.6% of the female population) preferred boxing over the UFC with the WWE third.
As one might expect, the UFC did well with ages 18-44 while boxing was more popular among 30-44 year olds. WWE did the best with baby boomers 30-44 years old. But, this does not jive with the polling numbers which state that 51.7% of those WWE fans polled have no children.
Most educated fans of the three sports? Its the UFC with 48.5% (of the 55% of the average U.S. population) stated they attended college. However, more boxing fans attended post-graduate school and/or received a post-graduate degree than both the UFC or WWE fans.
Spanish/Hispanics favor boxing over the WWE and the UFC. African Americans favor the UFC the least over the three combat sports.
Boxing is big among Spanish and Hispanics due to the many boxing stars in the numerous divisions. One need only see that the big PPVs each year occur Cinco de Mayo (May) weekend and Mexican Independence Day (September).
18% (of the 20% of the average U.S. population) of UFC fans have household incomes between $100,000 and $249,000. The bulk of its fans, 81% (of the average U.S. population), make between $25,000 and $34,999.
According to the Scarborough survey, 5.3% of the U.S. population indicated that they are avid fans of boxing. 5.1% are avid UFC fans while 3.7% are WWE fans.
Top 3 Markets for the UFC
1) Honolulu, Hawaii
2) Bakersfield, California,
3) El Paso, Texas
Las Vegas ranked 9th for the UFC and 8th in Boxing. El Paso also ranked second in Boxing markets.
Harlingen-McAllen, Texas ranked first as the top Boxing market and second in WWE’s top market. Little Rock, Arkansas ranked first as the WWE’s top market.
The survey does not really have anything too surprising. The UFC fan base is mainly comprised of the younger demographic while boxing skews to the older generation. This can be attributed to the fact that many grew up with boxing on television. One also may look to the fact that ethnicity plays a big role with boxing fans. Boxing fans are fans of certain fighters because of their ethnicity. One can look to Manny Pacquiao as a recent example of nation pride from many Filipinos. Juan Manuel Marquez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. are examples of Mexican fighters that have drawn interest due in part to their heritage.
As for markets, its interesting that Honolulu, Hawaii is the top UFC market among markets polled. This has to be attributed to the big following of BJ Penn. Also,Texas appears to be a focal point for Fight Sports as El Paso and Harlingen-McAllen are at the top of the list when it comes to avid fans of the sports.
One of the more interesting takeaways is that Boxing and the UFC are still neck and neck in fan popularity. Yes, its not a competition between the two but its interesting to note that boxing and the UFC both had 19 telecasts over 1 million viewers in 2012. Boxing had 2 network telecasts over the 1 million mark while all 4 of the UFC on Fox network events went over 1 million viewers.
May 10, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that the UFC has launched a fee-based subscription service with YouTube. The UFC is one of several channels that is part of a YouTube Pilot Program that subscribers can pay a fee to watch its programming.
“UFC Select” offers a 2 week free trial but will be $5.99 per month. Eight fights will be introduced into the channels’ rotation each week. Old episodes of The Ultimate Fighter will also be shown on the channel.
The launch of fee-based subscription services is a step toward a la carte programming.
This is a solid business move, even if advertising will almost certainly remain YouTube’s main source of income. It helps YouTube promote itself as a complete video delivery platform by giving producers yet another way to earn money there.
The article suggests that the subscription model will do well with sports channels such as the UFC.
It will be interesting to see how well the UFC channel does. What does it mean for the UFC programming on Fox Sports 1? Why watch something you will have to pay for if you can get it through cable. Certainly, the pay channel will have some fights not available on television, but will it be worth it to the casual viewer? Notably, the WWE declined having a paid channel and moved to Yahoo! But, TNA Wrestling has a YouTube channel which will have its content.
May 9, 2013
After tweeting his displeasure for his legal troubles, Eddie Alvarez made his appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday to give his side of the story in the Bellator battle. He also made an appearance on MMA Junkie radio Tuesday pleading his case.
Although he said he didn’t know too much about law when talking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Alvarez gave a legal update on his case. To be fair, Alvarez correctly stated that the case was in the discovery phase.
The MMA Hour interview came after tweeting about Bellator and how Bjorn Rebney was a “grunt” and that Viacom and Spike are “idiots.”
But the bulk of the interview on The MMA Hour dealt with the legal case and a rehashing of the contract matching issue which the Court denied in Alvarez’s motion for a preliminary injunction in January. A favorable ruling would have allowed Alvarez to negotiate a contract with the UFC and leave Bellator behind. However, the Court decided that the factual issue of whether or not Bellator matched the terms of the UFC contract would be determined at a later date. Alvarez stated on MMA Junkie radio that he didn’t expect the Court to grant the Preliminary Injunction.
On MMA Junkie Radio, Alvarez indicated that he talked with Bellator in New Mexico in an effort to settle the case but stated that he could not reveal the substance of the communications. Legally speaking, the settlement discussions are confidential and governed by certain evidentiary rules.
Alvarez claimed that Bellator changed words in his original contract which included an addendum which waived a renegotiation period and allowed an exclusive negotiating period with Zuffa. However, Alvarez claims that a term in the addendum was changed from “all terms” in to “material terms.” The documents do not appear to be in the legal filings in the case. Alvarez indicated he would post the documents on twitter which shows the different terms. However, as of the time of this writing, the documents have not been posted.
Alvarez stated his case well but the issues he argues doesn’t do anything other than the possibility of getting him into more legal troubles. The “matching” issue was already decided by the Court at the Preliminary Injunction in that there would be no decision on the matching issue. Its definitely the Court punting on a key issue in the matter but there is a legal basis for waiting to hear the information provided in the discovery process. However, in the Court PI opinion, it did cite that the Court “must apply a common-sense interpretation to the word “match.” This was in reference to the issue of whether Bellator had to match the Zuffa contract verbatim.
But, why go after Viacom? It may not know anything about MMA, but it is investing money into the sport. Without Fox and Viacom investing in MMA, it would not be as popular as it is today. Certainly, I do feel for Alvarez to a certain extent as he’s been put in a tough position. He no longer wants to work for his employer but his employer is pulling him back in. Perhaps he didn’t know that he’d be in this position when he signed his contract with Bellator or didn’t think that Bellator would put up such a fight.
Regardless of whether or not Alvarez is telling the truth, talking (and tweeting) is a risky move especially in contentious litigation. There is the potential for further claims and using tweets and Alvarez’s interviews as evidence in the future.
May 8, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that the initial PPV estimates from UFC 159: Jones v. Sonnen were in the 520-550K range. If the numbers hold up it would make it the second highest PPV in 2013 behind GSP v. Diaz.
According to MMA Fighting, the UFC had predicted that the show would do at least 500K PPV buys. It is significantly better than the 410,000 PPV buys in his last defense against Vitor Belfort. That fight was somewhat tainted considering Belfort was a late fill-in after the UFC 151 debacle.
Could you attribute the buy rate to the salesmanship of Chael Sonnen or the building fan base of Jon Jones? If the numbers hold up, one would think that the card was a success. Unless you were a Michael Bisping fan, there were no other fights on the card that would compel a casual fan to purchase this event.
May 8, 2013
Rousey makes Business Insider’s list of “50 Women Who Are Changing The World.” Rousey ranked 42 on the list and is credited with the fact that women now fight in the UFC.
Only two other athletes are on the list: tennis star Serena Williams (35) and WNBA rookie Brittney Griner (12). Williams is the number 1 tennis player in the world and Griner is arguably the best women’s college player and the number 1 overall draft pick in the WNBA.
Melinda Gates ranked 1st on the list. The list was compiled by Business Insider readers and voted on by its editors and reporters.
In addition to be ranked among the top changing the world, Rousey was picked by Maxim magazine as 29th on the top 100 hot list for 2013. A very different list from the Business Insider list.
Rousey being picked on the Business Insider and Maxim lists shows the overall mainstream appeal of Rousey. Many recognize the athletic achievement and what it means from a business perspective. People also see that she is a draw for her sex appeal. Its obvious that its the perfect formula. If Rousey did not have the looks, she probably would not be as successful or receive as much attention. If she didn’t have the talent, her appeal to the UFC would probably be limited.
May 6, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that Anderson Silva was fined $50,000 for skipping a media obligation for UFC 162 in Los Angeles on Monday. The fine was announced by Dana White.
The media event would have had Silva meeting with local press and media to kick off ticket sales for the Fourth of July card. No word on the reason for missing the event and whether the UFC would have further action against Silva.
Interesting that a fine was announced so quickly but it was the right move for the UFC. A part of being a professional MMA fighter is to participate in the media obligations that go along with fighting. While media may be a necessary evil, it is the media that help promote the fights that make people want to spend money to watch. So, if Silva wants to be paid a lot of money, he needs to work for it…and not just in training for Chris Weidman.
Nick Diaz is the only other fighter of note to skip mandatory media obligations. It’s unlikely that the UFC will take further action against Silva at this point.
May 5, 2013
Eddie Alvarez will be appearing on The MMA Hour Monday to presumably talk about his legal fight with Bellator. The appearance comes after a weekend of tweets in which he went after Bellator, Spike and Viacom.
Alvarez’s official twitter handle, @Ealvarezfight, indicated that he was moving to train with the Blackzillians. It also stated he made money after selling real estate as to imply that money is no issue at this point.
Alvarez tweeted that there would be no settlement and “let the truth come out in the end.” (ed. note: famous last words).
He also wrote to his 9,000 plus followers that he placed blame for the lawsuit with Viacom and Spike rather than Bjorn Rebney.
In a civil lawsuit, most parties position their case toward a favorable settlement. Alvarez proclaiming that there would be no settlement is a bad move from a legal and PR standpoint. Regardless of what you think of what has happened to Alvarez, its not a good move to tweet, write or be interviewed about this lawsuit without gaining clearance from legal counsel. Just like cops say on tv shows, “anything that you may say (or write in this instance) can be used against you.” Even if Alvarez believes what he says is true, what he writes on twitter may be construed differently by Bellator attorneys.
Moreover, if the Court forces the parties into mediation or a settlement conference and the case settles, Alvarez did not speak the truth about going to trial. It just makes him look like he had no understanding about the legal process.
From an overarching perspective, the goal of MMA fighters is to make the most money out of your short career. The reason why the UFC likes the FOX relationship is that there is more money involved and the product is exposed to the mainstream. Alvarez has to look at the situation and determine what’s best for his fight career. Sit and fight a battle he may actually lose, or try to find a resolution as soon as possible. Trials are long and drawn out.
Unless Bellator is unwilling to enter into settlement talks, he should try to settle for a shorter fight deal with Bellator in order to be released from his contract. Alvarez is in the prime of his career and he does not want to end up muddied in a contract dispute. Although under separate circumstances, a similar contract issue sidelined Brandon Vera for some time and he has never been the same fighter since.
Hopefully Alvarez will cancel Monday’s appearance and/or give generalities of his legal situation rather than talk himself into more problems.