Brazilian heavyweight set for UFC debut flagged by USADA

September 19, 2017

The UFC was notified that heavyweight Carlos Felipe failed a USADA out-of-competition drug test from a sample collected on July 29th.

As a result, Felipe has been taken off the UFC card in Sao Paulo, Brazil on October 28th.  He was set to face Christian Columbo.  The UFC will seek to find a replacement for Columbo.  This would have been Felipe’s debut in the UFC.  The 22-year-old is undefeated in his pro career going 8-0.

The UFC provided its standard statement upon notification from USADA:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Carlos Felipe of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on July 29, 2017. Because of the proximity to Felipe’s upcoming scheduled bout in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on October 28, 2017, against Christian Columbo, Felipe has been removed from the card and UFC is currently seeking a replacement.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Felipe. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

Payout Perspective:

The Brazilian prospect was outstanding on the regional circuit but the failed test may leave him on the sidelines for a couple years if he does not have a good reason for the failed test.

UFC Fight Night 116 draws 872K, Prelims 653K on FS1

September 19, 2017

UFC Fight Night 116 drew 872,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night.  The prelims drew 653,000 viewers via Nielsen per ShowBuzz Daily.

The 170-minute main card featured Luke Rockhold taking on David Branch.  The former middleweight champion looked impressive in dominating Branch.  It drew 0.32 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.

The 120-minute prelims which preceded the main card on FS1 Saturday night featured Olivier Aubin-Mercier has he defeated Tony Martin via split decision.  It also featured 3 stoppages on the prelim card.  It drew 0.23 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.

In addition, the post-fight show on FS1 which started at 12:50 am ET and lasted until 2:00 a.m. ET drew 361,000 viewers and 0.15 in the A18-49 demo.  The pre fight show which started at 7:00pm ET drew 224,000 and 0.08 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

These are very good ratings considering a lot of combat sports fans were interested by the GGG-Canelo fight happening at about the same time.  Also, college football is in full tilt and the ratings do not reflect a large drop-off from the competing events.  The ratings on Saturday were the best since UFC Fight Night 110 in June.

UFC partners with nonprofit as part of national campaign

September 18, 2017

The UFC announced a new national charitable partnership with Miracle Flights, a nonprofit which provides free commercial air transportation to critically ill children in need of medical care far from home.

Via a portion of the UFC press release:

“UFC athletes are some of the toughest in the world, but what happens inside the Octagon pales in comparison to the obstacles these children face on a daily basis,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ike Lawrence Epstein said. “We are proud to partner with Miracle Flights and support its mission to help children receive the life-changing medical care they need.”

This partnership is supported through UFC’s ‘We Are All Fighters’ initiative, which celebrates the fighter in all of us and is a symbol of how everyone fights every day to overcome challenges large and small.

Now in its 32nd year, Miracle Flights has provided more than 110,000 free medical flights to help children with rare and life-threatening conditions gain access to specialized, out-of-state medical care.

UFC’s support of Miracle Flights includes a joint PSA featuring UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin and 11-year old Levi Krystosek. Levi, a native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, suffers from Jansen’s Metaphyseal Chondrodysplasia, an exceptionally rare form of dwarfism with only 24 known cases worldwide. Since initially contacting Miracle Flights, Levi has been flown to see medical specialists in both Chicago, Illinois, and Wilmington, Delaware, 16 times, which included the nonprofit’s historic 100,000th flight in 2016.

Payout Perspective:

As with any big company, there are philanthropic endeavors that each undertakes as a part of its corporate social responsibility.  This appears to be a very worthy cause and working with children as part of their “We Are All Fighters’” Initiative.

Byrd still set for UFC 216

September 18, 2017

Coming off of a controversial scorecard in the main event of the GGG-Canelo Alvarez fight on Saturday, NAC head Bob Bennett has stated he has yet to make a decision as to if she will be removed from the upcoming UFC 216 card in Vegas October 7th.

Byrd scored the big fight in Vegas 118-110 for Canelo Alvarez, while Judge Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for GGG and judge Don Trella scored it a 114-144 draw.

Byrd’s lopsided scores which gave Canelo 10 rounds to GGG’s 2 is contrasted with the overarching popular belief that GGG was the aggressor in most rounds and won more than 2 rounds in the fight.

In addition to boxing, Byrd has judged UFC cards in the past.

There were conflicting reports as to whether or not Byrd had been relieved of her anticipated duties for the UFC event but Bennett indicated to MMA Fighting that she was not taken off the card.

Payout Perspective:

Adelaide Byrd received over 1 million google searches on Saturday night due to her scorecard.  In an otherwise “Fight of the Year” candidate, her score which did not compare with the other two scorecards which reflected a close, competitive fight was the hot button issue.  Judging in combat sports can be one of the more controversial parts of this sports and it highlights the subjective nature of being a judge.  Obviously, any fight she will judge in the near future will be scrutinized more than others.

UFC Fight Night 116 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 18, 2017

UFC Fight Night 116 drew just 7,005 fans for the event at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  UFC officials announced the attendance and gate post-event which took place Saturday night.

In addition, the $50,000 bonuses went to Mike Perry, Uriah Hall, Gregor Gillespie and Jason Gonzalez.  Perry and Hall earned Performance Bonuses while Gillespie and Gonzalez earned Fight of the Night.

The attendance at the event was the lowest for a UFC event this year with just 7,005 fans and the gate drew $396,190.  The figures were announced post-event by the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

UFC Fight Night 112 this past June in Oklahoma City had similar attendance figures but this past Saturday’s event was the lowest gates of the year.  With Canelo-GGG on the same night as well as college football, this may have been a tough sell for the UFC.  But, this is what to expect of the lower-tier Fight Night events.

TUF 26 Episode 3 draws 220,000 viewers

September 16, 2017

The Ultimate Fighter 26 episode 3 drew 220,000 viewers on FS1 on Wedndesday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The third episode in the new season feature coaxhes Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez coaching women to be placed in the new 125 pound women’s division.

The fight of the telecast featured Ariel Beck and Montana Stewart.  Stewart defeated Beck to move on in the tournament.

Payout Perspective:

It was the lowest rating for a first-run telecast in the history of TUF.  The show is relying more on its DVR audience than the live audience but this is a low water mark for the show.

UFC 214 Prelims draws 418,000 for an hour on FS1

September 14, 2017

The UFC 214 Prelims drew 418,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims on Fox Sports 1 were pre-empted for the first hour due to golf.

The main event on the FS1 prelims featured Sara McMann and Ketlen Vieira.  The Brazilian surprised McMann with an arm-triangle choke in the second round.

Payout Perspective:

Opposite college football and other sports Saturday night the partial rating (only 62 minutes on FS1) is not surprising.  It probably hurt that if you wanted to turn in and saw golf, they were unlikely to tune back in to FS1.  It is the lowest of the year and it does not bode well for the buy rate for this event.

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.

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