Jesse Taylor notified of potential anti-doping violation

September 13, 2017

The Ultimate Fighter Redemption winner, Jesse Taylor, has been notified by USADA of a potential anti-doping violation and has been pulled from his fight at UFC Fight Night 121.

He was notified of a flagged out-of-competition sample collected on August 22nd.

Taylor was to face Belal Muhammad in Sydney on November 19th.

Payout Perspective:

This is bittersweet for many that rooted for Taylor as he was infamously kicked off of the 7th season of TUF prior to the Finale.  After one loss in the UFC, he was cut and spent most of his career traveling the world fighting in different promotions.  This TUF season, he made it back to the Finale and was successful this past July.  Now, it appears that he may be looking at another departure from the UFC based on the results of this violation.  We shall see what becomes of JT.

Jon Jones B sample comes up positive for Turinabol

September 12, 2017

ESPN reports that the “B” sample from Jon Jones’ failed drug test was positive for the banned substance Turinabol.  Jones has a right to appeal and it appears that his team is working with USADA and UFC.

USADA notified Jones of a flagged in-competition test in leadup to his fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in July.  If deemed guilty of the banned anabolic steroid he would face a maximum ban of 4 years as this is his second offense.  The first USADA test was appealed by Jones and he lost his arbitration and was banned one year from the UFC.

USADA stressed that due process should play out prior to anyone drawing conclusions.

Jones actually faces a potential sanction from the California State Athletic Commission and USADA.  He could appeal both rulings if he is not satisfied with each.

Jones denies use and is trying to determine the source of the banned substance and is looking at potential tainted supplements.

Payout Perspective:

Realistically, the B sample finding is not surprising considering that it is taken from his original sample that failed the test.  Still, Jones has options in terms of appealing the decision and/or working with USADA to trace the contents of the alleged tainted supplement.  Even if they discover the source, it is ultimately Jones’ responsibility for what goes into his body and he will suffer some sanction and away from the Octagon.  While USADA is cautioning everyone not to jump to conclusions, it’s an effort to ensure that there is no appearance of unfairness in the process.

Mighty Mouse doesn’t know if he’ll be paid for being ready to fight at UFC 215

September 12, 2017

In an interview with MMA Fighting on Monday, Demetrious Johnson stated that he did not know whether or not he’d be paid as a result of Ray Borg having to pull out last minute.  While the fight by reset soon, there is the issue of whether Johnson is compensated for being ready.

Johnson recently retained First Round Management to handle his business dealings which include negotiating with the UFC.  In the interview, Johnson said that First Round Management (the agency owned by Malki Kawa) was working with the UFC in terms of compensation.  The UFC indicated to Johnson that they don’t usually pay athletes with they can get the rebooked quickly.

MMA Junkie notes that “the UFC is not contractually obligated to pay fighters whose opponents are unable to compete, the promotion often pays out show money when last-minute issues cancel a fight.”

You might recall that Tony Ferguson was not paid $250,000 show money when his fight with Khabib Nurmogomenov fell through due to Khabib’s needing to be hospitalized.  Ferguson was offered a replacement fight but was not going to be compensated the same.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the standard UFC bout agreements do not address issues if one of the fighters has to pull out during fight week.  The fact that the UFC sometimes pays fighters, and sometimes it doesn’t, but nothing is specifically written shows its leverage in the contract.  One would have hoped that Johnson’s management would have guaranteed his pay entering into the fight in the case that his opponent could not fight.  They could have taken the Tony Ferguson incident as a lesson.  Appears they did not.

Johnson is a champion and this is a disservice to him and shows the utter disrespect he has been talking about.  Of course, he may be partly to blame here since his representation didn’t get written confirmation of payment.  Even if the fight were to be given a quick turnaround date, there are expenses Johnson (as an independent contractor) incurred in the lead-up to this fight.  What happens if the next date, Borg injures himself and has to pull out again.  Are you going to hope for another quick turnaround?  Bear in mind, Johnson is a world champion and not a guy opening an event on Fight Pass.

GSP invests in Montreal Esports organization

September 11, 2017

Georges St. Pierre is expanding his out-of-octagon business as he announced his ownership interest in a new Montreal Esports, a new organization based out of the fighter’s hometown.

St-Pierre was present at Quebec’s largest esports convention this past weekend where he made the announcement.

GSP is not the first professional athlete to invest in esports, which is essentially competitive video gaming. A variety of athletes have placed a financial stake into esports teams and/or leagues including former NBA players Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal and current NBA players, Jeremy Lin and Gordon Hayward.

Of course, GSP returns to the Octagon against Michael Bisping in New York on November 4th.

Payout Perspective:

Esports is a “sport” that is on the rise. An annual tournament has competitors vying for $24 million in prizes. I attended Dota 2, the International, this past August and it was interesting to watch although I didn’t know what was going on. Still, GSP’s investment is likely based on his fame and notoriety for the UFC. The organization seems to be an upstart with no clear direction thus far. We shall see how involved GSP gets with this deal.

With Fox deal ending, could Showtime be a landing place for UFC?

September 11, 2017

MMA Fighting reports that Showtime is interested in jumping back into partnership with the UFC once the company’s current rights fee is up.

In an interview last week with MMA Fighting, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza stated that it would reach out to the UFC about being one of its broadcast partners.  Of course, since its likely that the UFC will have events on multiple platforms and multiple networks, Showtime’s concern would be what level of events it would receive for the network.

And, of course, how much it would need to pay.

Showtime worked with Zuffa in brokering a deal for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight last month.  It appeared that there the working relationship went fairly well as the two sides were able to put together the deal in a relatively short time span.  Compare that to the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight in May 2015 which seemed to have taken several years to put together.

Payout Perspective:

There are obvious details that would have to be hammered out aside from the financials.  Dana White had issues with Showtime and its production of Strikeforce once Zuffa took over.  Whether or not White has softened his stance on Showtime based on his dealings with The Money Fight is yet to be seen.  Of course, with the new ownership, we can see if WME-IMG is willing to work with Showtime.  Then again, this upcoming rights deal will be something the company expects to be lucrative and whether Showtime is willing to pay for it is something to be seen.  I would expect other bidders competing including Fox (which ended or is at the end of an exclusive negotiating window), Turner Sports, NBC Universal and Amazon.

UFC 215 draws sellout

September 10, 2017

UFC 215 on Saturday was a sellout with 16,232 in attendance at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  The event created a live gate of $2,028,307.14.

The event was headlined by Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko after the original main event of Demetirous Johnson and Ray Borg was scratched due to the challenger’s health issues.

It was the second time that the UFC made it to the province.  UFC 149, which featured Urijah Faber versus Renan Barao drew 16,089 for $4.1 million.  The UFC 149 event took place in Calgary.

Payout Perspective:

Despite the controversy with the death of Tim Hague, the UFC is willing to come back to Edmonton after a sell-out on Saturday.  The attendance reflects the popularity of the sport in the area and the gate shows that it makes business sense to return.

Main card fighters draw UFC 215 bonuses

September 9, 2017

Rafael Dos Anjos, Henry Cejudo, Jeremy Stephens and Gilbert Melendez drew the Fight of the Night Bonuses for UFC 215 on Saturday night.

The $50,000 bonuses were announced by the UFC post-fight.

RDA made quick work of Neil Magny in an impressive outing in the former lightweight champion’s new weight class.  He took out Magny with a head and arm choke.  Cejudo ended the night for Wilson Reis with a 2nd round stoppage and Stepehens and Melendez put on a good show with Stephens winning.

It was the first time the promotion held an event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  The event took place at Rogers Place.

Payout Perspective:

A nice night of fights with some very good performances on tonight’s card.  RDA, Cejudo and Stephens were really strong tonight and made up for the cancellation of the Borg-DJ main event.

UFC 215 main event off due to Borg illness

September 7, 2017

The main event between Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg set for this Saturday at UFC 215 has been canceled due to an illness to Borg.

According to the initial report by MMA Fighting, the cancellation by Borg was not related to weight-cutting.  However, doctors believed that he was unfit to fight this Saturday.

Ironically, Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko will be the new main event for this Saturday in Edmonton.  Nunes fell ill this past July and pulled out of UFC 213.

Payout Perspective:

This card was not likely to do well and the removal of Johnson-Borg does not help.  Johnson had the chance to break the title defense record held by Anderson Silva but we’ll have to wait on that.  With college football, a good fight on HBO and Canelo-GGG PPV next week, the casual combat sports fan may skip this event.

Lorenzo and Frank cashout their UFC shares per report

September 7, 2017 reports that Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta have divested fully from the UFC.  According to sources from, the Fertittas have sold the remaining shares they owned in the UFC this past August.

The Fertittas had 5.8% of the shares in the company WME-IMG purchased last July.

With the sale, the Fertittas are no longer owners of the company they saved from bankruptcy and built into an empire.  According to the report, Zuffa is now valued at $5 billion.

Last month, it was reported that it received $1.1 billion in capital infusion.  It looks like this deal may have coincided with the cashout by the Fertittas.

Payout Perspective:

We should note that the Fertittas nor Zuffa responded to the story so this may still be speculation as far as the sale of shares.  You may recall that the Fertittas were due earn outs at certain benchmarks.

From Moody’s:

WME Parent is subject to a $175 million contingent acquisition payment upon the achievement of $275 million in EBITDA (but not earlier than June 30, 2017) and $75 million payable upon achieving $350 million of LTM EBITDA (but not earlier than December 31st 2018).

It’s not know if Zuffa achieved these goals.  Still, a great financial decision by the Fertittas and the capital will likely help its other endeavors.  Despite a down year for PPV, it looks like the valuation of the company has gone up since the purchase with a $5 billion valuation.

UFC Fight Night 115 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 3, 2017

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 from Rotterdam.

The $50,000 bonuses went to Alexander Vokov, Stefan Struve, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Mairbek Taisumov.  Volkov and Struve earned Fight of the Night and Magomedsharipov and Taisumov drew Performance bonuses.  All 3 of the fights ended with stoppages.

As for the attendance, the Fight Pass only event drew 10,224 fans for a live gate of $900,000 per the UFC post-event.  The UFC’s previous event in The Netherlands drew 10,421 for a gate of slightly over $1.5M.

Payout Perspective:

Struve was the headliner for the event and fell short to Volkov in a very good heavyweight matchup.  The event scored about the same in gate and attendance.  The debut event of UFC Fight Night 87 featured Alistair Overeem which may have been a bigger draw for the Dutch crowd.

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