Vote to legalize MMA in NY expected Tuesday

June 22, 2015

It appears that there will finally be a vote in the New York State Assembly on a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York on Tuesday.  The legislative session in Albany has extended its session and the MMA bill should be addressed before the legislators close out 2015.

According to veteran MMA Journalist Jim Genia, the Assembly should vote on the matter Tuesday as the legislature is off on Monday.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle indicated that he was hopeful that a vote would occur this week.  It is believed that there are enough votes for the MMA bill to pass.  The bill was revamped earlier this month to appease some with concerns over safety issues.  The bill would regulate both amateur and professional MMA in the state.

Payout Perspective:

We are getting closer and closer to the possibility of the UFC promoting fights in New York State.  If the bill passes the Assembly, it would go to the governor for signature.  Governor Andrew Cuomo could veto the bill although all indications would seem to point to the governor signing it.  In its lobbying efforts earlier this session, the UFC’s Ronda Rousey personally visited Governor Cuomo to talk to him about the bill to legalize MMA in the state.

USADA posts UFC policy online

June 21, 2015

In an effort to provide transparency for its new anti-doping policy, the UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) have made its year-round Anti-Doping Policy available online.  The policy will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

The online policy is broken down into 4 sections:  UFC Anti-Doping Policy, UFC TUE Policy, UFC Whereabouts Policy and UFC Arbitration Rules.  As indicated in its news conference earlier this month, USADA will administer the UFC policy and its penalties.

Notably, the Whereabouts Policy provides that fighters must be a part of the UFC Registered Testing Pool (“UFC RTP”).  Among the responsibilities for the fighters, they must provide a mailing address, an email address, a primary phone number for the athlete, consent by the athlete to the sharing of his/her Whereabouts Filing and other anti-doping information with athletic commissions and other Anti-Doping Organizations, a temporary address for the athlete if they are training away from their home and the name and location of the place where the athlete will be training as well as the time-frames they expect to be in the gym.

A violation known as a “Wherabouts Failure” may occur if an athlete fails to be available for a drug test.  Also, if there are 3 failures to provide an athlete’s whereabouts, it will be considered an anti-doping policy violation.  USADA may also take into consideration Whereabouts Failures declared by an Athletic Commission.

If a fighter appeals a violation of the drug testing policy, it agrees to arbitration per the policy.  As for the Arbitration rules, McLaren Global Sports Solutions, Inc. (“MGSS”) will administer the Arbitration Rules.   The organization is a Toronto, Canada consulting company “offering differentiated sport services to clients in professional and elite amateur sport” according to its web site.  MGSS will provide a list of Arbitrators to hear appeals.  Of note, MGSS will only utilize arbitrators who are or have been Court of Arbitration for Sport arbitrators and those that have expertise in anti-doping policy violations.

If a fighter is to appeal an alleged violation, the fighter (or his representatives) must file a Notice of Appeal within 10 days of the notice of violation from USADA.  In addition to the notice, they must also file a request for Arbitration form and a filing fee of $2,700.

Despite the international fighters in the UFC, the rules state that all arbitrations must occur in English.

Payout Perspective:

In this post we focus on two areas of interest if you are a fighter or represent one.  First, the Whereabouts Policy provides what a fighter needs to know to abide by the drug testing protocol.  In reading the protocol, it does not seem too restrictive.  Then again, if you are independent contractor, you have to wonder why you have to provide your known whereabouts to a contractor.  Of course, the argument in support of the Whereabouts Policy is that if you are in support of drug testing in the UFC, you should be willing to let them know where you are even if you are not fighting.  As for the appeal provision, the $2,700 fee a fighter must pay is steep but is the price that one must pay if a test is positive for a banned substance.  It is interesting that despite not being a signatory of the WADA Code, it would request its arbitrators have experience with the Court of Arbitration for Sport – a requirement of using the CAS is that it be a signatory of the WADA Code.  It appears that through this it has an eye to international enforcement of its policy.  Overall, the transparency is a step in the right direction.  We still must see how it will work with athletic commissions domestic and international in enforcing the UFC policy.

UPDATED: RE Filing fee, a fighter may request a waiver or fee reduction of $2,700 based on financial hardship.

UFC Fight Night 69 attendance and bonuses

June 20, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses for Saturday’s UFC Fight Pass only event from Berlin, Germany.

Joanna Jedrzejcyzk and Jessica Penne earned Fight of the Night honors while Mairbek Taisumov and Arnold Allen drew Performance of the Night bonuses.  Each earned $50,000.

UFC Fight Night 69 drew 8,155 fans from the O2 World Arena in Berlin.  The attendance figure was announced at the post-fight press conference although no gate was announced.

The last time the UFC visited the O2 in Berlin it drew 8,000 fans for UFC Fight Night 41 in May 2014.  At that time, the UFC indicated it was pleased with the turnout.  Notably, the O2 World houses between 14,000-17,000 for a variety of concerts and sporting events.

Payout Perspective:

This should be the last time that Joanna should be on a “Fight Pass Only” event.  It was a dominant performance and she should be on a wider stage next time out.  As for attendance, the improvement since last year should be a positive considering much of the card had no known fighters and was headlined by a women’s fight without the name “Rousey” as one of the fighters.

White downplays fighter concerns about Reebok deal

June 19, 2015

In a recent Periscope chat, UFC head Dana White downplayed the outcry from fighters about the Reebok deal.  White indicated that the fighters are “freaked out” about the change.

White answered a variety of questions including stating that he estimated that UFC 189 should do over 1 million PPV buys.  He also stated that they are filming a new reality show.

Jose Aldo is among the vocal UFC fighters as he states that he is losing a lot of money with the new deal.  White shot back at Aldo stating that Reebok wanted to sign him to an individual sponsorship deal but he chose to stay with Venum.

Payout Perspective:

So is it the contracted fighters’ resistance to change or the reality that the change will affect them financially that is the cause for so many to speak out against the new policy?  It would seem that fighters have a legitimate gripe and speaking out about it may shed light on the issue and affect change.  Or, it will not.  Based on White’s comments, it seems like the UFC is sticking to its policy with Reebok and the UFC is not concerned about opposition at this point.

TUF 21 Episode 9 draws 322,000 viewers

June 18, 2015

The Ultimate Fighter 21 episode 9 drew 332,000 viewers on Wednesday night per Sports TV Ratings.  The first showing of the episode on FS1 was down 22% from episode 8.

Notably, a same-day replay on FS1 at 10:00pm PT (1:00am ET) drew another 72,000 viewers.

In the fight of the episode, Kamaru Usman of the Blackzilians earned a unanimous decision of ATT’s Steve Carl.  Usman now has a chance to fight in the finale July 12.

TUF 21 Ratings through Ep 9

TUF 21 Ratings
Live + SD Live +3 Increase
Episode 1 490,000 704,000 214,000
Episode 2 454,000 646,000 192,000
Episode 3 364,000 524,000 160,000
Episode 4 286,000 415,000 129,000
Episode 5 340,000 512,000 172,000
Episode 6 350,000 586,000 236,000
Episode 7 371,000 625,000 254,000
Episode 8 425,000 566,000 141,000
Episode 9 332,000

Also of note, the DVR + 3 ratings from Episode 8 drew it up to 566,000 viewership reflecting an increase of 141,000 viewers which is way below the average increase (191,000) from live to DVR.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, it’s the first episode where TUF did not have to worry about NBA or NHL playoffs as both are over.  Yet, TUF lost ground in ratings.  Live viewership is averaging approximately 380,000 viewers.

How will Bellator 138 do on Spike TV Friday?

June 18, 2015

Bellator 138, the organization’s latest “tent pole” event occurs Friday night on Spike TV with Kimbo Slice taking on Ken Shamrock in the featured event.

Last Friday, Spike TV aired “Countdown to Unfinished Business” which drew 215,000 viewers according to Nielsen sources.  The shoulder programming was preceded by a PBC event which drew 446,000 viewers.  The ratings are less than prior shoulder programming for Bellator events.  For example, last year’s “Rampage vs. King Mo” shoulder program hyping their fight at Bellator 120 drew 460,000 viewers.  While we do not have the ratings for shoulder programming for Bellator 131, one might make the assumption that Tito Ortiz-Stephan Bonnar drew more than 215,000 viewers in the days before their big fight last November.

Still, there is some positive buzz for this event despite the fact the two main event fighters are past their prime.

Fortunately for Bellator, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday ending the NBA Finals.  A Game 7 would have put the NBA up against Bellator on Friday which could have proven disastrous for the organization.  With boxing’s big event this weekend occurring on Saturday, Bellator will go unopposed aside from regional MLB broadcasts and those wanting to watch the US Open.  However, the latter likely skews to an older demo not targeted by Bellator.

Scott Coker indicated in an MMA Fighting article that he believed that Slice-Shamrock could beat the ratings record of Ortiz-Bonnar.  Bellator 131 last November drew an overall record 1.24 million viewers on Spike TV climaxing with a peak of 2 million during the Ortiz-Bonnar fight.  The adjusted viewership for DVRs drew the telecast to 1.4 million for the overall event and 2.246 million for the main event.   Of course, Ortiz-Bonnar included some pro-wrestling promotion which drew notoriety for better or worse.

It’s undeniable that Kimbo Slice is, or was, a ratings draw.  His EliteXC days drew huge ratings on CBS and season 10 of TUF (on Spike TV) was the last time that the TUF series drew notable ratings.  Of course, aside from Kimbo, that season was sparked due to the rivalry between Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson.  Ken Shamrock is a legend in MMA and his name is tied to famous rivalries throughout the years.  But, will this fight garner ratings?

Payout Perspective:

Without the NBA Finals opposing this event, we could see a very good ratings number for Bellator 138.  I doubt we see ratings like Ortiz-Bonnar.  The fact is that both Slice and Shamrock are past their primes and this may deter some viewers from tuning in.  Yet, the names might intrigue a casual viewer just to see if they still have “it.”  We shall see Friday if their name recognition should be past tense as well.

WSOF to air on NBC in July

June 17, 2015

WSOF announced that it is returning to network television on Saturday afternoon July 11th preceding UFC 189.  The show will feature its “Unstoppable” series which will show highlights of WSOF fights rather than offer a live event.

“We are excited to deliver another hard-hitting compilation of the most memorable, recent bouts featuring WSOF’s collection of dynamic world champions and other superstars,” said WSOF President, Ray Sefo in the WSOF Press Release.

According to the press release, all of the WSOF champions will be featured including Justin Gaethje, Rousimar Palhares, Lance Palmer and Blagoy Ivanov.

The two-hour program will air on NBC from 1pm PT/4pm ET giving fight fans an hour or so before the UFC 189 preliminary fights start.

Payout Perspective:

You might recall that WSOF aired a live event last July 5th which drew 781,000 viewers.  It went on the same day as UFC 175.  This time around we get a compilation show which may be a cost effective measure.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad for the WSOF.  Certainly, it’s good in that WSOF is able to control its brand by putting on the best fights for presumably its biggest audience of the year.  Then again, not having a live events misses out on a chance for the organization’s fighters to showcase their skills.

UFC 188: Payout Perspective

June 17, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 188 taking place from Mexico City, Mexico.

Werdum Undisputed HW Champ

Fabricio Werdum defeated Cain Velasquez to earn the undisputed Heavyweight title.  It was a submission that ended the long-running win streak of Fedor Emelianenko.  It was another submission that ended the Heavyweight title reign of Cain Velasquez.  Werdum’s guillotine choke ended the night for Cain who seemed gassed despite continuing to come forward during the fight.  It was one final lunge at Velasquez that spelled his doom as it seemed that Werdum had a smile on his face as Cain attempted a takedown but was caught by Werdum.

It has been two years since Cain Velasquez had been in the Octagon. It probably was not rust from not fighting but the altitude of Mexico City that could have been the issue.  He spent two weeks in Mexico City but Werdum had been there for over a month.

Werdum could face Andre Arlovski or Stipe Miocic next.

ufc 188 poster

Alvarez escapes Gil

Eddie Alvarez scored a split decision over Gilbert Melendez in an exciting co-main event.  Despite having his left eye almost shut after round 1 due to a Gil elbow strike, Alvarez came back in rounds 2 and 3 to eke out the win.  It must have been a relief for Alvarez to finally get a W in the Octagon after his ordeal with Bellator and losing in his UFC debut last fall.

The decision could have gone either way and these two probably do not lose too much (Eddie #4, Gil #5) in the rankings after the fight.

Next up for Eddie Alvarez?  Possibly Benson Henderson since they were originally scheduled to fight earlier this year.  We could see this in South Korea in November.

Attendance and Gate

The event drew 21,036 which was 36 more than the UFC’s event last year in the same venue.  No gate was announced so we do not know if how many comps were provided.


Fabricio Werdum, Patrick Williams, Yair Rodriguez and Charles Rosa earned the $50,000 fight bonuses.  Werdum and Williams earned the Performances of the Night and Rodriguez and Rosa earned the Fight of the Night.

Promotion of the Fight

UFC Embeddeds provided some controversy as Werdum accused Cain of being a “Fake Mexican.”  Essentially, Cain is American first and not from Mexico.  It was an interesting accusation that reminded me of Oscar de la Hoya-Fernando Vargas from years past.  Of course with recent news events about identity, it would be topical if not for the fact that no one seemed to care.

Similar to UFC 180, Doritos advertised for this fight by having the fighters’ likenesses on Doritos bags.  It also offered a contest for fans to meet and greet UFC fighters.

Doritos bag (pic via Josh Sanchez twitter)
The Octagon sponsors included MetroPCS, the movie Self/Less, Doritos, DraftKings, Bud Light, Cinemex, BetCris, UFC Mobile from EA Sports and Monster Energy Drink in the center.

BetCris is a Mexican online gambling company. Self/Less is a movie from Universal Studios. It received a little promo featuring Forrest Griffin.

Cain added Monster Energy Drink to his list of sponsors which included Affliction, Oak Grove Technologies and American Ethanol.

Notably, Werdum was sponsored by Reddot.

Odds and Ends

Alvarez’s Underground King shirt, originally made by Jaco, is already on sale (i.e., reduced in price) at the store.

Two fights ending in the first round on the UFC Prelims meant a very short night of fights on tv. Speaking of which, it was on FX instead of FS1 due to scheduling conflicts.

UFC 188 was shown in select theatres once again. It would be interesting to know how many people actually went to theatres to watch it.

Is Henry Cejudo ready for Demetrious Johnson yet?


In looking at the success of this event perhaps we look at how it did in comparison to past June PPVs. Traditionally, June PPVs have been terrible. The average PPVs from 2012-2014 is 132,000 buys. Google Trends for UFC 188 showed interest from Mexico by mediocre interest from the United States. Still, one would think that it had to improve on last June’s PPV of 115,000. I have an optimistic estimate of 200,000 PPV buys.

Amended MMA Bill passes New York Senate

June 17, 2015

Newsday reports that an amended bill seeking to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York passed the Senate last night by a vote of 49-13 which is up from 47-14 when it passed last March.  The final goal is for a vote in the Assembly before the legislative session ends in Albany this week.

While the session officially ends Wednesday, it is anticipated that the legislative session will be “extended a day or two.”

The bill still needs 76 votes in the Assembly in order pass and be sent to the governor for signature.  Jim Genia (a recommended follow if interested on updates) indicated that prior to amendments to the bill, it had 70 votes.

Payout Perspective:

It’s going down to the wire and we shall see if the amendments to the MMA bill mustered enough votes to pass the Assembly.  If it does, the governor may veto the bill but indications seem to be that he would not.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

HBO, Showtime produce lower ratings for Saturday events

June 16, 2015

ESPN Dan Rafael reports the ratings from this past weekend’s boxing events on HBO and Showtime.  Notably, the ratings are much lower for the Showtime broadcast of Deontay Wilder’s first title defense drew 678,000 viewers.

The rating for just the fight between Wilder versus Eric Molina drew 678,000 viewers.  In the first fight of the telecast, Jose Pedraza defeated Andrey Klimov and drew just 381,000 viewers.  The overall Showtime event drew 482,000 viewers.  The ratings are considerably lower than Wilder’s last fight in which he won the heavyweight title against Bermane Stiverne.  January’s Showtime airing of Wilder-Stiverne drew 1.24 million viewers.

HBO’s boxing card which featured Nicholas Walters taking on Miguel Marriaga drew 588,000 viewers.  Walters earned the victory.  Prior to the Walters fight, Felix Verdejo defeated Ivan Najera in a lightweight fight.  The Verdejo-Najera fight drew 611,000 viewers.  The overall event drew 562,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

An off-night for boxing on the premium networks.  The UFC and NHL were other alternatives for sports fans Saturday night but HBO’s offering was purely for the hardcore boxing fan.  Nicholas Walters is not a big name that many of the casual viewers would know unless you recall that he knocked out Nonito Donaire.  Based on the ratings, it looks as though the opening bout drew more than the Walters fight.  Still, what may be more disappointing is the ratings for Deontay Wilder’s first title defense.  The heavyweight is being marketed as the next great U.S. heavyweight champion and while fighting in front of his hometown crowd was great, boxing fans did not tune in.  Of course, a part of this might be due to the competition for Wilder.  If, and when, Wilder gets a more formidable opponent, we shall see if viewers tune in.

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