July 23, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that the Nevada State Athletic Commission issued a two-year suspension as at a hearing held on Wednesday.
Sonnen must pay any and all doctors’ fees for the random drug tests he failed on May 24th and June 5th. Additionally, it is expected that he will become a precautionary tale for others and serve as a “resource” for halting future PED use.
There were differing opinions on the penalty for Sonnen as they ranged from a lifetime ban to the 2 year ban.
Sonnen tested for a total of five PEDs prior to his intended July 5th fight with Vitor Belfort. Initially, he claimed the positive test for PEDs related to him coming off of TRT treatment and the fact that he was trying to have children. After the second positive test, Sonnen was terminated from the UFC and his analyst position at Fox Sports.
Fair penalty? Sonnen’s attorney stressed Sonnen’s cooperation with the investigation and the UFC and Fox Sports terminations when contemplating the penalty. Essentially Sonnen threw himself at the mercy of the commission. This strategy seemed to work. Although it’s unlikely Sonnen will return to MMA in Vegas, the two year ban does leave a slim opening. Moreover, he could have been assessed a stiff fine but seemed to have avoided this.
July 23, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that Alexander Gustafsson is out of UFC 178 due to an injury and Daniel Cormier will get the shot against Jon Jones. Cormier-Jones will be the main event at the September 27th show.
Cormier put off surgery (UPDATED: Per Wrestling Observer podcast, Dave Meltzer stated that DC put off surgery)
apparently had knee surgery to repair a torn LCL and partially damaged ACL in his right knee. in early July after his final wrestling match at the UFC Fan Expo. Ironically, it was a knee injury that sidelined Gustafsson.
— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) July 23, 2014
UFC 178 is looking to be a stellar card with Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier serving as the co-main event as well as Dominick Cruz returning to the Octagon. The insertion of Cormier should help with the promotion of 178. While the event may lose some of the international fans, it should not suffer too much due to the strength of the card as it is right now.
July 23, 2014
Vitor Belfort was granted a conditional license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wednesday. The issuance of the license allowed the UFC to announce Belfort-Chris Weidman at UFC 181 set for December 6th in Las Vegas.
With his attorney, Belfort appeared at the Commission hearing to discuss the application for license. The Commission asked Belfort about a failed February 7th test for testosterone. He claims he took a larger dose the day before to compensate for missing his biweekly prescribed TRT treatment due to traveling.
Granting Belfort his license came with conditions. Namely, the commission could test Belfort extensively including blood and urine for the rest of the career. Belfort would have to pay for the testing.
The commission voted unanimously to give a conditional license to Belfort.
(H/t: MMA Junkie)
For those wondering, Belfort’s attorney Michael Alonso, works at the same firm that represents the UFC in other matters. Belfort was told the day before the hearing that he’d have the shot against Weidman so I do not know if there was a feeling that despite his second failed drug test; Belfort would be issued a license.
Was the punishment fair? Belfort will have to stay clean with the extensive drug testing and with him paying for this the commission will not have to expend additional resources here. The announcement of the fight seemed almost instant after the license was granted. I realize the UFC talked with Belfort (and Weidman) about the fight but it seemed interesting timing.
July 22, 2014
The UFC announced that the UFC Fight Pass would live stream coverage of Wednesday’s Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing on Wednesday starting at 10am PT.
Among other things, the Commission will hear Vitor Belfort’s request for a license and hear the disciplinary complaint of Chael Sonnen.
There are 35 new business items on the agenda although Belfort and Sonnen’s issues will be the most interesting for UFC Fight Pass subscribers.
The UFC has inferred that it would continue to live stream Nevada State Athletic Commission hearings on Fight Pass if they were of interest. Sonnen’s disciplinary hearing will be an interesting one assuming that it goes forward. The NSAC requested that Sonnen appear at the hearing although Sonnen, through his representative, indicated that it would accept whatever punishment he was given
Remember when administrative hearings were aired on a Public Access channel and you didn’t have to pay for them? From the UFC’s side of things, it’s filling a demand and likely an inexpensive way of padding its content. Streaming the hearing makes sense since the Belfort and Sonnen hearings are of interest to many UFC fans.
July 21, 2014
Ronda Rousey is featured in the current issue of The New Yorker. The piece entitled, “Mean Girl: Why the world’s best female fighter loves to be hated” doesn’t break new ground but gives the UFC bantamweight champ more mainstream exposure.
The piece written by Kalefa Sanneh gives non-MMA fans a long-form profile of Rousey. It pointedly talks about MMA web sites as “monomaniacal.” It even name checks Cage Potato. The article delves into the perceived “heel turn” by Rousey as the story begins around the time for her preparation for her February 2014 against Sara McMann.
The New Yorker write-up is the latest in a line of noteworthy press for Rousey. Last week, Rousey won an ESPY for Best Female Athlete. In a piece in the Hollywood Reporter, she said she wanted to become “The Female Rock” (that is former WWE wrestler Dwayne Johnson). By the way, a lot of pro wrestling references in the New Yorker piece based upon Rousey’s fixation on it (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
July 20, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 46 was the ‘biggest’ event on UFC Fight Pass. Dana White stated this in the post-fight press conference after Conor McGregor’s successful stoppage in the main event.
The UFC does not release digital network numbers for viewership or the number of its subscribers but White stated Saturday’s event from Dublin was the most successful event stream for the company’s digital network.
The success is likely due to the popularity of Conor McGregor and the fight week buzz. The UFC aired a three-part series, “On the Fly” with Conor McGregor on Fight Pass as shoulder programming to promote the event.
The digital network has added more content recently including the announcement of a September event featuring women’s fight organization InvictaFC and live streaming of Nevada Athletic Commission hearings. It began airing select overseas live cards exclusively on the network this past January.
The success of Saturday’s event according to White supports the company’s belief that it can create a loyal fan base via its digital network. This equates to paying subscribers and another source of revenue for the company. Fight Pass does help with international fans as events and fights are more accessible. With the localization of the product in different areas of the world, more people would be exposed to the product.
July 20, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that UFC Fight Night 46 was a sellout with an attendance of 9,500 for a gate of $1.4 million. The event took place at The O2 in Dublin, Ireland and featured Conor McGregor.
With the attendance and gate figures, it comes in second to UFC Fight Night 37 in London in terms of non-PPV events for 2014. The last time the UFC came to Dublin, UFC 93 drew 9,369 for a gate of $1.3 million. That card was headlined by Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson.
The attendance and gate is good news for the UFC as it seeks to expand its global footprint. Now, the UFC has a bona fide star it can market to the region in McGregor. It should be able to build on this when it returns. There was debate as to whether this card should have been on FOX versus Fight Pass. Certainly, when you think of the domestic impact of putting it on network TV, McGregor would help with the marketing for the UFC. Then again, if the UFC is seeking to build its digital network with Fight Pass and expand internationally, this card definitely helps.
July 19, 2014
MMA Junkie reports the bonuses from UFC Fight Night 46 taking place from Dublin, Ireland. Connor McGregor led the list of fight-night bonuses.
As mentioned, McGregor won a Performance bonus for his first round stoppage of Diego Brandao. Gunnar Nelson also won a “Performance of the Night” for his work against Zak Cummings.
Fight of the Night honors went to TUF 19 alums Cathal Pendred and Mike King. Pendred took the victory over King with a rear-naked choke.
All fight night bonus recipients received the standard $50,000 bonus.
McGregor’s finish was likely the most satisfying considering the hype behind him. Irish fighters went 5-0 at the event and this is the best outcome for the region. Can the UFC pull off a soccer stadium type event in the future? We will see.
July 18, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that Gina Carano, if signed, will be next in line to take on Ronda Rousey in December. Dana White announced this during a media scrum on Friday.
The announcement means that Carano will be given a title shot even though she has not fought in five years. White defended his choice of opponents for Carano’s comeback as she has been training despite not actively fighting.
via Wikimedia Commons – The Strikeforce Days
The match makes sense from a business perspective but not from a matchmaker’s perspective. Carano has been gone from active fighting and it’s not clear what type of shape she will be in. Furthermore, she will be fighting arguably the best UFC fighter right now. Rousey is on a tear and it seems like Carano would be prudent to take a fight or two before she takes on Rousey. Then again, the UFC wants to jump on this fight now. If Carano would take another fight and lose, it would make it that much harder for the UFC to set up Carano-Rousey. If done, this fight will certainly grab the attention of a ton of non-MMA press.
July 17, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that UFC Fight Night 45 airing on FS1 Wednesday night received an average viewership of 640,000. The Prelims which preceded the main card on FS1 scored an average of 415,000 viewers.
The viewership is comparable to the past Wednesday night shows. In January, UFC 35 from Duluth, Georgia received 629,000 viewers with the prelims receiving just 220,000. In April, TUF Nations Finale from Quebec City received 641,000 viewers with the prelims doing 263,000 viewers.
Maybe it was the lack of promotion or the fact that it wasn’t hammered into fans’ minds that it was on a Wednesday, but I thought there would have been more viewers. This is due to the fact that the Wednesday after the MLB All-Star is considered the slowest day in sports. The day has been co-opted by the ESPY award show but UFC Fight Night was the only live sports programming occurring on national television. The prelims did do much better than the previous Wednesdays. It’s likely that the viewership did boost the average Wednesday viewership for the network.