April 27, 2015
An arrest warrant has been issued for UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones as a result of a hit and run incident that occurred on Sunday in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The charge indicates that Jones left the scene of an accident involving “death or personal injuries.” There was not a death, but in the three car accident, a pregnant woman suffered injuries to her arm and wrist.
UPDATED: Jones in custody.
UFC fighter Jon Jones has been booked into Bernalillo County MDC without incident.
— Albuquerque Police (@ABQPOLICE) April 28, 2015
According to the warrant, an off-duty police officer recognized Jon Jones at the scene as he watches UFC “all the time.” The off-duty officer was in the area at the time of the accident. He observed Jones at the driver’s door area of a silver Buick. Jones was identified as the driver of the Buick. Another witness at the scene observed Jones leaving the vehicle and then returning as he put cash in his pants from the Buick.
MMA Fighting reports that Jones will turn himself in. The MMA Fighting article indicates a pipe with marijuana was inside the car Jones was apparently driving.
Based on the information at hand, the pregnant woman that was injured does not appear to have life threatening injuries or injuries that might affect the birth of her child. Of course, that’s based on information we know at this time and this could change. Hopefully not. Notwithstanding that issue, the news of the latest trouble for Jon Jones is of huge concern for the UFC. The UFC will come under fire for whatever decision it may make with respect to his fight next month. From one perspective, if they keep him on the card while the investigation goes on there will be criticism. If he is taken off at this point, it hurts the card and the UFC business. We will see what happens to Jones in the coming days.
April 26, 2015
MMA Fighting is reporting that UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is being sought by Albuquerque Police in connection with a hit and run accident that occurred Saturday night.
A police spokesperson for Albuquerque’s police department indicated that Jones is being sought in connection with a woman’s car being struck Sunday morning by another car with the other vehicle leaving the scene.
Despite previous reports Sunday, Jones was not detained by the police nor is a warrant out for his arrest. Furthermore, it does not appear whether Jones was the driver of the car the fled and whether he is in any way culpable for the hit and run.
What might be just a misunderstanding and a non-issue blew up the MMA twittersphere with rumors running abound that Jones was off of May’s UFC 187 card as well as other speculative information. Of course, the police have yet to question Jones. A lot of the conjecture is based on Jones’ prior history which includes a DUI and a one night stint in a drug rehab facility for admitting to cocaine use. One would hope for all involved, that Jones’ latest incident is a simple car accident. If there is more to the issue, it could lead to another public relations issue in the weeks to come.
April 26, 2015
In addition to Johnson’s submission bonus, Thomas Almeida, Chad Laprise and Bryan Barberena earned $50,000 bonuses.
The event drew 10,154 fans for a gate of $668,000 according to Dana White in the post-fight press conference. The event took place at the Bell Centre and multiple reports indicate it was a disappointing turnout largely due to the changes made to the card.
According to the MMA Blue Book, it’s by far the least attended card for a PPV event in the venue.
UFC 158 GSP-Diaz, March 2013 – $3.71M, 20,146
UFC 154 GSP-Condit, November 2012 – $3.143M, 17,249
UFC 124 GSP-Koscheck, December 2010 – $4.6M, 23,152
As you can see, the constant was that GSP headlined the show, so there’s that factor regarding attendance. The card could have used GSP as this event suffered numerous blows including the shifting of the main event, shuffling of fights due to injury and the Rampage Jackson issues. You can add in the obstacles in trying to garner more fans for Demetrious Johnson and this card was destined to be one of the least-watched PPVs of this year.
April 25, 2015
Conor McGregor has signed a deal with Bud Light according to the outspoken UFC Irish Featherweight. McGregor made the announcement via social media.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 24, 2015
As you may know, McGregor already as an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok.
A long-time mainstay sponsor in the Octagon, you may have noticed it has been replaced in the center by Monster Energy Drink (and likely will be tonight since its biggest backer appears to be Rampage Jackson). But, Bud Light is still sponsoring the UFC and while the company has not made an official announcement it appears that it will back McGregor. If you watched the UFC 186 weigh-ins Friday, you noticed several fighters wearing “Bud Light Living” t-shirts. One would think McGregor will be involved in some sort of some sponsor activation in lead-up to his big fight this July.
April 25, 2015
In a brief litigation update, the parties in the Zuffa Antitrust lawsuit recently agreed to mediation to occur no later than September 30, 2015. The decision was determined as part of a pre-trial case management conference.
The parties met and conferred as to whether dispute resolution was appropriate for the case. The parties have stipulated that mediation is premature at this point due to the upcoming motions related to transferring the venue to Nevada and Zuffa’s Motion to Dismiss which will be determined in July. But, the parties agreed to mediation, and choosing a mediator, by the end of September.
Means nothing at this point since the decision is a perfunctory matter under the local court rules (see CR 16) as litigation in this matter progresses. Based on the decisions in the Motion to Transfer and Motion to Dismiss, one party may be more willing than the other to mediate the case. It would have also been likely that the Judge may facilitate (i.e., force) the parties into ADR (“alternative dispute resolution”) at some point. Even if the parties mediate the case, there is no guarantee that the case would be resolved at that stage and it may continue to trial.
MMA Payout will keep you updated.
April 24, 2015
Before we enter the weekend, via a Nielsen source we report that the Prelims from this past Saturday’s UFC on Fox 15 airing prior to the Fox network drew 1.4 million viewers. In addition, the UFC on Fox main card rating came up to 2.7 million from 2.43 million.
The only other time that the UFC on Fox Prelims aired on Fox was in July 2014 when UFC on Fox 12 drew 1.3 million viewers.
This past Saturday’s Prelims event featured Beneil Dariush defeating Jim Miller by unanimous decision. The 2 hour Prelim event aired from 6:00pm to 8:00pm ET.
Prelims improved from its last airing on the network and we shall if it has another opportunity to do the same in July with what looks to be a stacked card. The Prelims went up against the NBA and NHL Playoffs. The final numbers for the main card fell short of the last two UFC on Fox cards but did better than last April’s UFC on Fox 11 event which drew 2.5 million viewers.
April 23, 2015
Wednesday’s debut of The Ultimate Fighter 21: ATT vs. Blackzilians on FS1 drew an overnight rating of 490,000 viewers with a 0.3 rating in the 18-49 demo. The 90 minute debut was the second most-watched show on the network Wednesday.
In comparison, the debut to TUF 20 did 536,000 viewers, TUF 19 did 476,000 and TUF 18 drew 595,000 viewers.
Soccer came first in terms of viewership on FS1 on Wednesday.
Topping the cable ratings on Wednesday was NBA Playoff basketball featuring the San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers which aired during a part of the TUF debut. The NBA on TNT drew 3.848 million viewers during the Spurs-Clippers game.
(H/t: Sports TV Ratings)
The NBA and NHL Playoffs likely hurt the debut of TUF. But this season of TUF seems to have less buzz than many other seasons. This, despite the wrinkle this season with fight teams going at each other. We’ll see how the season plays out and whether there will be an audience.
April 23, 2015
The legal fight in New York is not over yet. This week, the UFC announced that it has retained former U.S. Solicitor General, Paul Clement to appeal Judge Kimba Wood’s dismissal of Zuffa’s lawsuit in New York.
Via the UFC release:
The judge’s dismissal of the UFC’s case against the State of New York in March was based on a technicality, and the decision confirms the state is misapplying the law. UFC was advised by the judge to “consider filing new vagueness claims.” Wood also stated the New York Attorney General’s “recent statements that the Ban prohibits sanctioned MMA” were made “despite [the law’s] plain language to the contrary.” UFC also believes that Judge Wood erred in failing to recognize the serious First Amendment problems with the New York law.
Clement’s job as Solicitor General required him to be the representative of the federal government before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has argued over 75 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court according to his law firm bio.
If Zuffa were to appeal the judge ruling (which we should know soon), it will go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The retention of Clement certainly means we shall see an appeal of Judge Wood’s dismissal. It appears that the appeal will encompass not only the recent dispositive motion dismissing Zuffa’s claim that the New York law is unconstitutionally vague but also the causes of action dismissed previously by Judge Wood which includes the UFC’s argument that the New York law violates the First Amendment.
Clement has had his share of sports law cases in his past including representing the NBA during labor negotiations in 2011, NFL v. Brady (which was filed during the NFL lockout in 2011) and NCAA v. Governor of New Jersey II (regarding the fight to legalize sports gambling in New Jersey).
April 23, 2015
The UFC issued a statement regarding the situation. The statement in part reads:
Due to contractual issues, DISH Network will not be offering UFC 186: Johnson vs. Horiguchi on Pay-Per-View this Saturday. While all other providers in the U.S. have come to an agreement on renewal terms, DISH Network has elected not to renew its distribution agreement with UFC.
Via MMA Junkie:
The industry leader signed a multi-year deal with Dish that ended on Jan. 31, though an extension was inked for March’s UFC 185, according to a person familiar with the UFC’s agreement. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
A Dish Network rep confirmed the impasse with the UFC and that it would not offer the pay per view to its subscribers. It did indicate that the two sides were in negotiations for further events.
According to this Broadcasting & Cable article in which Dish inked a deal to carry the Weather Channel, Dish Network is a notoriously difficult negotiator. Of course, the UFC probably is seeking a bigger percentage of the PPV revenue. At this point, it has some leverage in a new deal since it had a big first quarter of 2015 with its PPVs and Dish has lost PPV revenue due to the WWE Network. You may also argue that due to the bigger cut HBO/Showtime is taking from PPV revenues from distributors, Dish is not seeing returns via PPVs. Thus, the UFC is seeking a better contract. Of course, UFC 186 is one of the weakest cards (on paper) despite the return of Rampage Jackson to the card. We will see if the two sides will be able to come to an agreement by UFC 187 which looks to be a big show.
April 22, 2015
After extensive oral argument on Wednesday, a Clark County District Court will issue a ruling on or before May 11th as to whether it will uphold a lifetime ban issued by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wanderlei Silva.
Judge Kerry Earley heard oral arguments from Silva’s attorney Ross Goodman and Nevada Deputy Attorney General Chris Eccles arguing on behalf of the NSAC. The petition for review was filed by Goodman on behalf of Silva who was not in attendance at Wednesday’s hearing. It essentially appeals the NSAC ban and fine of Silva stemming from his evading a drug test in lead-up to UFC 175.
MMA Junkie’s John Morgan, who attended and tweeted the proceedings, reported that the primary question was whether the NSAC was correct to order Silva to submit to a drug test “out of competition” although he was not licensed by the state at the time.
As maintained by Goodman in his pleadings and oral argument, the NSAC does not have jurisdiction over a fighter not licensed in the state. Therefore, it had no power to suspend or punish.
Eccles argued that Silva took part in a news conference promoting the event and was thus “an unarmed combatant and contestant who was contracted to appear in the state as such.”
While the question of the severity of the suspension was discussed, it appears that the primary issue is that of jurisdiction.
Judge Earley indicated that she wanted more time to review the relevant statutes and regulations prior to issuance of a ruling.
As always, the issue of jurisdiction must be determined first prior to discussing the substantive merits. This could be a case where the Court knows a wrong has occurred and wants to make sure that the right result is made. But, how do you do it when the law is not in your favor. The relevant statutes appear to favor Silva’s argument but the NSAC makes an artful (and maybe persuasive) argument that the law should be interpreted broadly to include Silva within the jurisdiction of Nevada. We shall see what the Court does on May 11th.