October 4, 2015
The numbers were announced at the post-fight news conference. The UFC drew 14,622 fans for a live gate of $1.859 million at Houston’s Toyota Center. It was the fourth event at the venue for the UFC and the lowest output of the four.
Via MMA Junkie:
- UFC 166: 17,238 ($2,500,000 live gate) – main event Cain-JDS
- UFC 136: 16,164 ($2,230,000 live gate) – main event Edgar-Maynard III
- UFC 69: 15,269 ($2,817,200 live gate) – main event GSP-Serra
- UFC 192: 14,622 ($1,859,000 live gate) – main event DC-Gus
In addition, the bonuses were announced at the news conference with Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Albert Tumenov and Adriano Martins receiving the $50,000 bonuses.
No-brainers when it came to the bonuses although Sage Northcutt and Rose Namajunas could have staked claim to bonuses as well. One might expect them getting one of those “locker room” bonuses we hear about. The gate was the lowest of the four events at the Toyota Center despite the relative close proximity Cormier was to his hometown.
October 3, 2015
Johny Hendricks had to pull out of UFC 192 due to “weight cutting issues” according to Dana White on Friday. The loss of Hendricks versus Tyrone Woodley depreciates the entertainment value of the PPV Saturday.
Hendricks appeared at Thursday’s media day per MMA Fighting where he said he weighed 183 pounds – 13 pounds above the 170 pound weight limit (although technically he could have made it at 171 pounds since this was not a title fight). Hendricks said he was happy with the weight which seemed to mean that he expected to cut the rest of the weight prior to Friday’s weigh-ins.
But Hendricks indicated that his body shut down. Notably, Hendricks has had issues with weight in the past but split with nutritionist Mike Dolce.
After the weigh-ins, White indicated that Hendricks was 26 pounds over coming into fight week. This was not the case according to Hendricks’ representation. An MMA Junkie report does state that he may have started the weight cut late per his strength and conditioning coach.
The incident occurs the day after the UFC-USADA ban on IV rehydration took effect. For those wondering, Hendricks was given an IV at the hospital. Under the IV ban, the protocol allows for IV use in exigent circumstances. Still, White was probably correct in taking Hendricks off the card.
The loss of Hendricks-Woodley hurts the appeal of UFC 192. While there is the rumor that Jon Jones may be cageside to “confront” the winner of the Cormier-Gus fight, we’ve all been trained to wait for the highlights and/or find them online. So, a 10 second confrontation won’t do much to get buys. But Hendricks-Woodley would have been an entertaining semi-main event for Cormier-Gus. The loss of that fight may sway some semi-dedicated UFC fans. Moreover, with two boxing events on HBO and Showtime there will be split audiences for combat sports. UFC 192 could be facing stiff competition.
October 2, 2015
Ellen DeGeneres debuted the UFC 193 promo video on her own video channel, ellentube, on Friday. The video features Ronda Rousey as an 11-year-old as she discovers judo.
The daytime talk show host tweeted out the video to her 48 million viewers. The video has been viewed by over 124,000 at the time of this writing. Rousey appeared on “Ellen” a couple weeks ago. During the interview, the women’s bantamweight champ stated that she was a huge fan of Ellen and always wanted to be on the show.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) October 2, 2015
Similar to her appearance on Good Morning America, the promotion of Rousey’s next fight on Ellen’s channel should open up Rousey (and the UFC) to the women’s demo more than ever before. Ellen tweeting the video to her 48 million followers is unprecedented reach for the UFC. The promotional video is well-done and presents much more of a mainstream appeal than the usual UFC promo. Will it help sell the PPV?
October 1, 2015
As discovery begins in the UFC antitrust lawsuit brought by former fighters, plaintiffs attained a favorable ruling Wednesday as the court will allow one of the plaintiffs’ attorney, Rob Maysey, to access documents in discovery. The UFC identified Maysey as a “competitor” and wanted him precluded from access to some of the company’s confidential documents in discovery.
Plaintiff filed a protective order to which UFC attempted to strike. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ruled that the UFC could not keep plaintiffs’ attorney Rob Maysey from certain documents it would turn over in the discovery process.
Zuffa attorneys argued that Maysey was a competitor as part of a Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (“MMAFA”) as he may seek group licensing on behalf of UFC fighters. Maysey stated in a sworn declaration that “he does not own the MMAFA,” nor head the organization.
Maysey stated in his declaration that he was the “principal client liaison” to the fighters. Notably, he did not indicate he was trial counsel. In the end, it appears that the distinction made no difference to the Magistrate.
Judge Leen did not wall off Maysey from any part of the discovery process. There is no official opinion from the magistrate (the magistrate sometimes serves as a discovery ‘referee’ as opposed to the trial court judge in federal cases) as to the rationale behind the decision.
The parties have engaged in discussions related to the exchange of documents between the parties. Obviously, the key information is held by Zuffa. From the exchange of information, it sounds like a voluminous amount of documents will be handed over to plaintiffs’ encompassing an expansive list of areas.
Specifically, based on a back and forth of letters between the parties’ attorneys, the main argument was the retention and eventual disclosure of documents possess by Zuffa from 2000 to the present. Zuffa’s attorneys proposed a timeframe of 2010 to the present. Thus, there was a dispute over 10 years worth of documents. There was also a question over the preservation of emails as in the “parent/child” format or not. Yes, they want to look at a chain of emails and their response…and that response…and the response after that…..
As Bloody Elbow lists, the information that plaintiffs seek relate to financial documents, fight contracts, venue contract files, sponsor contract files, merchant contract files, list of TV contracts, 3rd party/analyst consultant reports, FTC Strikeforce documents and list of litigations/arbitrations.
The document production will be done via some form of electronic discovery I presume. To have the discovery performed via hand would be burdensome, unwieldly, time-consuming and downright difficult.
Thus, while discovery is starting, there is a proposal to have two phases to the production. But before those two phases, there is a likely document compilation that is happening or already happened. Basically, Zuffa has to upload documents into a database and run key word searches to find information relevant to what they are being asked. The company isn’t just going to unload a ton of its private business documents without looking through them. Moreover, it does not want to give plaintiffs more than it is asking for in their requests.
Thus, Zuffa will not just hand over the documents without review of them. Obviously, Zuffa attorneys and/or their personnel will ensure that the documents are responsive and do not reveal confidential, private and/or attorney-client/work product. They may produce docs but redact sections of them for an assortment of reasons.
From a practical standpoint, we presume there will need to be time taken for all of the documents to be amassed and scanned in to some sort of system (e.g., Concordance, KrollOnTrack, etc.). There will be some third party vendor that will create a database for the parties. Hence, providing documents in phases may be more a necessity than a proposal.
At that point, they can transfer them over to the plaintiffs who one assumes will have the same capabilities (i.e., databases) to review the documents and code them for responsiveness as well as make other types of notes. One would assume that they will code them based on subject matter, etc. This will help later on as when they go to deposition, they will run key word searches for relevant material and pull them out without digging around for hours.
In all likelihood, we will see additional back and forth related to the discovery requests.
All of the written discovery and production of documents will occur before any deposition for the obvious reason that attorneys will want to have all of the documents before them before deposing a witness. You only get one “bite of the apple” to depose someone (only in the most extreme circumstances can you get two shots to depose a witness). Expect the depositions of some of the key Zuffa executives such as Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta as well as the fighters to last days.
While many people are very excited for the news of the UFC revealing their financials, I would not expect a “smoking gun” document or an “a ha” moment any time soon. Assuming there is information that Zuffa believes should remain confidential, and that plaintiffs believe they should have, there will be extensive “meet and confers” and even motions before the magistrate. Get ready and wait.
October 1, 2015
USADA has provided the names of the UFC fighters it has tested in the first round of its drug testing protocol. Ronda Rousey tops the list with the third party drug testing agency testing the women’s bantamweight champ 5 times.
Aside from Rousey, there was a tie for second-most tests with Bethe Correia, Thiago Alves and Antonio Silva being tested 4 times since the start of the UFC-USADA anti-doping program that commenced July 1.
Alves last fought in Brazil in May, losing to Carlos Condit. He slated to fight Benson Henderson at UFC Fight Night 79 in Korea this November. Silva fought at UFC 190, defeating Soa Palelei. He is scheduled to fight Mark Hunt at UFC 193 in November.
Rousey faced Correia at UFC 190 on August 1st. Rousey is slated to headline the UFC 193 card in Australia.
Notably, Josh Barnett was tested which we presume was related to his fight this past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 75 in Japan. Prior to the fight, Roy Nelson, Barnett’s opponent, noted he had not been tested at all. A USADA rep indicated that officials were in Japan to test fighters. The USADA database notes Nelson was tested once. We might presume he was tested post-fight this past Saturday.
In total, 50 fighters were tested and 81 tests were administered. The database provides transparency to who is (and who is not) being tested. There have yet to be any reports of a fighter failing a drug tests since USADA took over in July. Do you think that more fighters should have been tested during this period? Was testing Rousey excessive, or right as she is one of the top faces for the organization? This will be interesting to track.
September 30, 2015
The UFC surprised many with another lawsuit in federal court in New York challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban on professional MMA. This time, the UFC is seeking a preliminary injunction to hold an event in the state this April.
The news of a new lawsuit comes when the original lawsuit is in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Paul Clement, the renowned appellate lawyer and former U.S. Solicitor General is representing Zuffa and filed their appeal brief this past August. New York’s response is set for the beginning of November.
But perhaps the road map for the lawsuit filed this week was provided by Judge Kimba Wood, the trial court judge that dismissed Zuffa’s case.
In deciding to dismiss Zuffa’s case, it offered the following in its conclusion (click to enlarge):
The opinion is mere “dicta” meaning that Judge Wood’s suggestion is not law or precedent which others may cite as guiding authority. Yet, it created the opportunity for the UFC to open up another line of action in attempting hold an event in New York.
Unlike the November 2011 lawsuit, the UFC is the only plaintiff. The UFC focuses on the claim that the New York law, the Combative Sport Law (“CSL”), violates due process rights as it is unconstitutionally vague as to its application.
The UFC points out that the CSL exempts “martial arts” from its ban stating that “martial arts shall include any professional match or exhibition sanctioned by any” of the organizations listed in the statute.
It notes in the Complaint that “standing,” the right to bring an action in the court, “could not be clearer.” This directly addresses the previous lawsuit in which Judge Wood determined that there was no standing due to the fact that the UFC had not suffered injury and did not contact a promoter to hold an event in New York. In its Complaint, it now states that it is working with WKA.
Based on setting a UFC event for April 2016, the UFC states that it will lose “millions of dollars in ticket sales.” It also will lose a source of marketing for its UFC-branded gyms in New York, as well as for the DVDs, consumer products, video games and other products that it sells.
Notably, the UFC indicates that it has “lost sponsorships and has suffered reputational damage around the world because of its inability to hold professional MMA events in New York.” It will be interesting to see what evidence it may bring to prove these allegations if it comes to that point.
The UFC Complaint cites the differences from the beginnings of the CSL indicating that the legislature was concerned with “no-holds-barred fighting.” In her opinion Judge Wood states “MMA has changed substantially since the Ban was enacted.” This provides some guidance as to what a court may decide with respect to the CSL.
It’s clear that the roadmap was provided by Judge Wood for this lawsuit with the exception that it has filed the lawsuit in federal court as opposed to state court as suggested in her opinion. The lawsuit is premised upon the determination by the prior court as this filing is tighter and a shorter (only 37 pages as opposed to 100 plus pages) complaint. It appears that there is a better chance for the UFC in this lawsuit although you should expect stiff opposition from New York. The state will likely argue what it did in the prior lawsuit which is that laws need not change over time. And despite the change within the sport of MMA, it will focus on the intent of the law with its primary purpose to ban MMA.
September 30, 2015
The UFC filed its motion for preliminary injunction on Tuesday. It argues that the UFC is likely to prevail on its claim and should be granted the injunction to hold its event at Madison Square Garden this April. Notably, it has already spent a non-refundable $25,000 for the anticipated event in April.
No hearing date has been set and we’ll likely see opposition from New York.
Similar to its complaint filed on Monday, it stresses the contention that the statute banning professional MMA in the state is inherently vague.
“Much of the law’s problems stem from its failure to explain with any reasonable degree of clarity what exactly a “combative sport” is,” reads the moving papers submitted by the UFC. “Rather than define the term expressly, the statue attempts to reverse engineer a definition by exempting from its prohibitions certain sports, including “martial arts.””
Again the UFC stresses its belief that any issues on standing are now answered: “Whatever uncertainty may have existed on the matter in the past, it is now crystal clear that the estate interprets the law to prohibit Plaintiff from doing so.”
The UFC utilizes deposition from the Jones v. Schneiderman lawsuit to provide evidence that even NY officials provided contrary testimony to how they interpreted the statute.
In addition, the UFC notes that it has contracted with the World Kickboxing Organization, an “exempt organization” allowed to hold events in the states. The motion states, “To eliminate any potential concerns about the imminence of its injury, Plaintiff has contracted to host a live professional MMA event sanctioned by an Exempt Organization.”
It also indicates that it has committed $25,000 as a non-refundable deposit and stands to lose millions of dollars in ticket sales and media revenue.
As we’ve learned from previous injunction requests in MMA, there are hurdles the injunction-seeker must prove that “the probability of his prevailing is better than fifty percent.”
- “a likelihood of success on the merits [of the lawsuit],”’
- That it will suffer “irreparable harm” with a preliminary injunction, and
- “that a preliminary injunction is in the public interest.”
We should also note that the UFC also challenges NY Liquor Law as it did in the November 2011 lawsuit as that law mirrors the Combative Sports Law (or “CSL” as it is referred to in the pleadings).
This will be an interesting, and an important injunction for the UFC in its fight to hold an event in New York. I believe that the first element, “likelihood of success on the merits,” is the biggest hurdle for the UFC. Obviously, the monetary investment in holding an event reflects the “irreparable harm.” You can argue the “public interest” element. Despite the ban, and the inability to get a law passed in Albany to legalize MMA, there is still a lot of support for the sport in the state. The “likelihood of success” could be a toss-up and based on the court’s interpretation of the CSL ban.
September 29, 2015
Jon Jones appeared in a Albuquerque, New Mexico courtroom today regarding last April’s hit and run accident which injured a pregnant woman. Jones will not receive any jail time as part of a plea agreement.
Jones agreed to plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing great bodily harm. He will serve community service hours and be placed on 18 months probation. The plea agreement was made in part due to the fact that Jones had no prior felony convictions.
The penalty for Jones’ charge carries a jail sentence of not more than 18 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine followed by one year on parole. Jones will avoid this if he abides by the terms of the plea deal.
Via the District Attorney News Release:
On September 29, 2015 Jones entered into a Pre-Indictment Plea with the State of New Mexico pleading Guilty to Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Great Bodily Harm), a fourth degree felony offense. He was granted a Conditional Discharge, and ordered to serve a term of up to 18 months on Supervised Probation.
Appearing in court, Jones apologized and stated he accepts full responsibiulity for his actions. Jones was ordered to complete 72 appearances, one for each of the 72 weeks in the 18 month Probation period. Second Judicial District Court Judge Charlie Brown ordered those appearances should be at local martial arts academies, grade schools, and middle schools. There, Jones will speak with Bernalillo County children about the importance of making good choices and how oine wrong decision can ruin everything for which they work so hard.
Jones offered an official statement expressing regret for his actions:
With regards to today’s decision made by the court, I am very happy to now be able to put this incident behind me. My actions have caused pain and inconvenience in the lives of others and for that I am truly sorry and I accept full responsibility. I have been working hard during this time away from my sport to grow and mature as a man and to ensure that nothing like this happens again. I have learned a great deal from this situation and I am determined to emerge a better person because of it. I apologize to those who were affected by my actions in this incident and I am hopeful that I will be given the opportunity to redeem myself in the eyes of the public, my family and friends as well as my supporters. I am not sure what the future holds for me but I plan to continue to do the work needed to be productive and successful in every aspect of my life. “
Dana White was present in the courtroom during the hearing. The UFC offered its own statement (via MMA Fighting) in which it indicated that Jones was still suspended but their law firm would review the plea prior to a possible reinstatement.
The UFC organization is aware that Jon Jones reached a plea agreement with authorities in Albuquerque, New Mexico this morning stemming from charges associated with a motor vehicle accident earlier this year. As a result, UFC, through Las Vegas-based law firm Campbell & Williams, will thoroughly review the agreement before discussing Jones’ possible reinstatement to return to competition.
More information will be made available following completion of this review.
This is likely the best outcome for Jones and the UFC. Jones avoids any jail time (subject to following the terms of the plea agreement) and the UFC will likely reinstate him. With this being Jones’ first offense and no major injuries from the accident, no jail time was a likely result. White being in the courtroom was no surprise. Despite the suspension, Jones is a vital part of the company’s success.
September 29, 2015
UFC Fight Night 75 drew an average viewership of 841,000
863,000 viewers on Saturday night on FS1 via Sports TV Ratings. The rating reflects a slight increase from Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 74 from Saskatoon. In addition, the prelims drew 270,000 viewers.
UPDATED: TV By Numbers notes that UFC Fight Night 75 drew 841K viewers. The 841,000 viewers is correct.
In the main event, Josh Barnett defeated Roy Nelson via unanimous decision.
|UFC Fight Nights 2015|
|Main Card (Live +SD)|
|UFC Fight Night 59||2,751,000|
|UFC Fight Night 60||913,000|
|UFC Fight Night 61||1,200,000|
|UFC Fight Night 62||617,000|
|UFC Fight Night 63||389,000|
|UFC Fight Night 66||575,000|
|UFC Fight Night 67||813,000|
|UFC Fight Night 68||950,000|
|UFC Fight Night 70 (prelims on FS2)||909,000|
|UFC Fight Night 71||801,000|
|UFC Fight Night 72||508,000|
|UFC Fight Night 73||1,159,000|
|UFC Fight Night 74||796,000|
|UFC Fight Night 75||841,000|
Decent numbers considering that the event which aired from 10-1:15am ET went up against 3 Pac 12 college football games on ABC (2.38M avg over course of game), Fox (3.4M) and ESPN (2.1M) (all 3 turned out to be blowouts) as well as crossing over with PBC on NBC. The event is a slight increase from the last event but a drop off from an early August event that occurred on a Saturday night. The average viewership for the years is at 946,000.
We will update with prelims soon.
September 28, 2015
The UFC has announced per press release that it is filing a new lawsuit in federal court in New York once again challenging the legislative ban on professional MMA in the state. In a show of confidence, it has also scheduled an event on April 23, 2016 in New York’s Madison Square Garden assuming that the court will grant a preliminary injunction.
Via UFC press release:
“We believe fight fans have waited long enough to experience live UFC events in the state of New York and we are thrilled to announce our first event at Madison Square Garden,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “Professional MMA is legal around of the world and it is about time New York followed suit.”
In August, UFC filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit – the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over New York – stating that New York’s prohibition of regulated professional MMA events violates the First Amendment rights of athletes and fans throughout the state.
On September 28, UFC filed a new case in federal court, reiterating its claim that the New York law banning MMA events is unconstitutional. This out-of-date law is too unclear for the public to understand, and has allowed regulators in New York to pick and choose arbitrarily what events they will permit. Events featuring every combat sport except MMA seem to be allowed in New York, though this is not explicitly stated in the law. The statute, and the state’s pattern of enforcing it, violates the Constitution’s prohibition on unconstitutionally vague laws.
Later this week, UFC will ask a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction against New York state officials enforcing its unconstitutional law. Without such an injunction, the event at Madison Square Garden will not be able to proceed.
The appeal by the UFC of its original lawsuit against New York filed in November 2011 is still ongoing with Paul Clement filing a brief on behalf of the UFC in early August and the state set to file its brief at the beginning of November. The lawsuit filed by the UFC today looks to be different than the appeal currently pending.
A preliminary injunction seeks equitable relief (as opposed to monetary damages) from a court prior to a final determination of the merits. A key distinction here for the UFC to get an event in New York by this spring.
In general the factors determining whether a court will grant a preliminary injunction are:
- The substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case;
- The party seeking the injunction faces a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted;
- The threat is immediate;
- The balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction;
- There is no other available remedy;
- The grant of an injunction would serve the public interest.
Notably, MMA has seen its share of preliminary injunctions recently. Eddie Alvarez sought a preliminary injunction in a New Jersey state court case when he sought to be released from Bellator to fight in the UFC. He lost. However, as we now know, he made it to the UFC.
Bellator MMA filed a preliminary injunction in New Jersey attempting to prevent Rampage Jackson from fighting at UFC 186. The trial court granted the injunction but the state appellate court overturned the injunction and allowed Jackson to fight at UFC 186.
It’s a risky gamble by the UFC. Before the event can even happen in April, the court must grant a preliminary injunction to allow the company to hold it. Thus, the UFC could be out a lot of money. But that’s the strategy. Planning the event in April will shows there’s a “threat of irreparable damage,” it is “immediate” and “would serve the public interest.” Thus, three of the requisite 6 factors (possibly more) to grant a preliminary injunction would be satisfied. The legal strategy seems to hang on the opinion which dismissed the original lawsuit as Judge Kimba Wood seemed to entertain the argument that the statute banning professional MMA was vague but since no event actually occurred in the state, there was no harm. Judge Wood stated that Zuffa could not establish “injury in fact.” However, in what probably precipitated this new effort, Judge Wood indicated that it might have a claim based on events occurring after the filing of the November 2011 lawsuit. But, Judge Wood stated that a re-filing likely would be better if it was in state court. According to the press release, the new lawsuit is in federal court.
We have not seen the lawsuit as since it was filed today, it is still not up on Pacer. MMA Payout will keep you posted