December 1, 2016
MMA Fighting reports that Conor McGregor has obtained a boxing license from the California State Athletic Commission. However, he was not issued a boxing license in Nevada.
California State Athletic Commission executive officer Andy Foster confirmed the news that McGregor has a license.
The news comes after McGregor was stripped of the UFC Featherweight title. Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis will vie for the interim Featherweight title with the winner likely facing Jose Aldo to unify the Featherweight title. McGregor has not defended the title.
However, the Las Vegas Journal Review reports that McGregor was denied a boxing license in the state of Nevada. In part, the denial is due to the outstanding fine assessed McGregor from the bottle-throwing incident at the UFC 202 press conference. In addition, Bob Bennett, NAC Executive Director, stated that he would have to assess McGregor’s boxing ability.
Obtaining a boxing license appears to be the next move in McGregor’s strategy to gain more leverage with the UFC. The never-ending rumor that McGregor may fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr. with this news. Will it happen? I doubt it unless there are substantial monetary guarantees and legal hurdles are addressed. From a legal standpoint, the UFC would likely step in to prevent a McGregor boxing fight from happening since he is under contract with the company. Of course, McGregor would fight this. But, I would suspect that the license is more of a way to annoy UFC management.
November 30, 2016
Kevin Gastelum has settled his suspension with the New York State Athletic Commission and can now compete at UFC 206 next week.
Gastelum was issued a six-month suspension due to not making weight for his scheduled fight against Donald Cerrone. Technically, Gastelum did not stand on the scale at the weigh-ins but it was due to the fact he was not going to make it. Gastelum paid a $2,000 fine in lieu of the suspension.
As a result, he should be cleared to fight Tim Kennedy at UFC 206 next Saturday in Toronto. The fight was announced prior to the issue with New York being cleared. However, the settlement should allow for Gastelum to obtain a license to fight in Ontario.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto first reported the settlement.
Gastelum makes out pretty well considering he’ll have to pay $2,000 in order to make his show money for UFC 206. In his last fight at UFC 200, he made $53,000 to show and $33,000 for his win. Thus, the $2,000 fine is not much to make the fight at UFC 206.
November 30, 2016
UFC Fight Night 101 drew 686,000 viewers on Saturday night on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings. The prelims which preceded the main card drew 654,000.
The main card (10:00-12:56 am ET) was headlined by Robert Whittaker taking on Derek Brunson. Whittaker won via first round stoppage. The event drew 342,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo. The 2 hour prelims (8:00-10:00pmET) drew 296,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
The ratings are somewhat surprising considering the UFC weigh-ins on FS1 Friday drew a very good 297,000 viewers which is above average for a weigh-in on the network.
Notably, the Kovalev-Ward replay on HBO drew more viewers, 834,000 (391,000 in A18-49), than during the main card. Also, the live fight of Lomachenko-Walters drew more viewers (761,000, 347,000 A18-49) than the live UFC event.
It was the first time in a while that boxing on either HBO or Showtime drew better than a UFC event on FS1. It was a free preview weekend for the premium cable channels which may be a reason although I am not sure if the Nielsen numbers include those not subscribed. Still, good numbers for HBO, while the UFC event numbers were lower than the Fight Night average. It is interesting that the main card and prelims were so close in viewership numbers.
November 29, 2016
Leslie Smith has written an open letter in which she states she is no longer supporting the Professional Fighters Association. Per MMA Fighting, labor lawyer Lucas Middlebrook is also severing ties with the organization he helped found with agent Jeff Borris.
The information of a possible board of fighters was leaked to the media which appears to be the reason for the parting of ways. Eleven names of current UFC fighters were revealed.
Smith stated that she helped compile a list of potential fighters to target for the board. The list, according to Smith, was to be confidential but the names as well as other information about the PFA appeared in an MMA Junkie article. She was also upset at the fact that the PFA intended to set up an agent advisory board in addition to the fighter board.
Smith wrote a letter about the situation in which she proposes the next steps in organizing MMA fighters.
Middlebrook left for the same disclosures made. Borris does not know how the leak of information happened.
Altruism or naivete on the part of Smith? Smith is passionate about organizing fighters but it appears that there was a misunderstanding regarding her role with PFA. Whether or not there was an understanding about the confidentiality of the information passed on by Smith is a question that someone at the PFA could answer. Obviously, the Junkie article revealed a lot about PFA’s goals as well as the potential for a board. This might be seen as showing its hand too early. It also might be a way to gain some PR for the organization at a time when it needed to gain traction with fighters. The concern about disclosing names for a board is that it might cause discord between the fighters and the UFC. Middlebrook leaving PFA also reflects a lack of cohesion in the organization less than 3 months into its venture. With the anticipated announcement of another attempt to organize fighters coming up on Wednesday, PFA may lose steam even before it begins.
November 29, 2016
The penultimate episode of TUF 24 drew 304,000 viewers on FS1 this past Wednesday per Sports TV Ratings. It was the first time that the series scored over 300,000 viewers in 3 weeks.
The episode featured 2 semifinal fights which leads to the reveal of the winner of TUF 24 and faces Demetrious Johnson this Saturday. In the first fight of the episode, Hirmasa Ogikubo defeated Alxandre Pantoja. In the second episode Tim Elliott defeated Eric Shelton. This sets up the final between Ogikubo and Elliott.
Per Sports TV Ratings, the event drew 155,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
The ratings are down from last year’s 528,000 for TUF 22 Episode 11. The ratings are good for this season especially when you consider that the episode was on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
November 28, 2016
The Sports Business Journal reports that the UFC is angling to ask potential buyers for $450 million per year over 10 years in its next round of media rights fees. The company’s current deal, which ends at the end of 2018 is for $115 million for 7 years.
The article also states that the deal will seek to have the successful bidder to produce the UFC events. In the past, the UFC had produced its shows in-house. One of the under-the-radar things about Zuffa was the control of the brand for the UFC which included the production of the events. You might argue that it’s this control that gave it such a strong brand awareness which may have gone to the eventual sales price for the company.
Via Sports Business Journal:
The package the UFC will take to market will include the rights to four annual broadcast windows that Fox now holds, six annual cable events and weekly programming on Fox Sports 1, plus the UFC’s over-the-top Fight Pass service. It is not expected to include the UFC’s lucrative pay-per-view business, which will likely be retained by WME-IMG. But some media executives believe any winning bidder will have more of a say in what matches will be part of the UFC’s pay-per-view events. Whether a network will share in some of the PPV revenue is a deal point that will be negotiated, sources said.
Despite the retraction in spending by networks such as ESPN and the lukewarm ratings for Fox events this past year, the UFC is banking on the allure that its demo of young males with disposable income and the somewhat DVR-proof live sporting event will give it leverage in the new negotiations. But will the UFC be able to broker a 75% increase over its first media rights deal. The deal would include additional cost to the network that purchases the rights as it will need to provide production costs for the events. However, the article indicates that the network may have more influence on what events it may have. This might provide some incentive for potential buyers. I am surprised that Fight Pass will likely be included in the deal as there might have been opportunity to sell those rights on its own as is contemplated by the NBA’s LA Clippers.
November 28, 2016
A press release sent out Monday indicates that there will be a major MMA announcement this week. Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez, T.J. Dillashaw, Donald Cerrone, Tim Kennedy and former MMA promoter Bjorn Rebney are linked to an “industry re-defining” announcement on Wednesday.
A conference call Wednesday afternoon will reveal the details of the announcement.
The speculation is that another MMA Association may be in the offing. Notably, GSP, Cain, Dillashaw and Kennedy are represented by CAA. Although I can’t confirm, Cerrone may be represented by CAA as well.
This will be an interesting announcement to learn about. If it is another take at organizing fighters, it will be the first with big-named fighters putting their name to it. MMAFA have had support from the likes of Jon Fitch, but GSP is one of the top-tier fighters in MMA. The other fighters are current UFC fighters. We may be seeing the rivalry between top Hollywood power brokers (WME-IMG and CAA) seeping into the world of MMA.
November 27, 2016
UFC Fight Night 101 drew 13,721 for a live gate of $2.2 million Australian dollars from Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. In addition, Robert Whittaker scored a double bonus on Saturday night.
It was the second event in Melbourne as the first event was last November’s UFC 193: Rousey v. Holm. It was the company’s first event at Rod Laver Arena as 193 took place at Etihad Stadium.
According to its web site, the record attendance at Rod Laver Arena is 16,183 for a Justin Timberlake concert in November 2007.
As for the bonuses, Robert Whittaker earned a Fight of the Night bonus with Derek Brunson for their main event battle. Whittaker also received a Performance Bonus for his stoppage of Brunson. Newcomer Tyson Pedro earned a Performance of the Night bonus for his submission of Khalil Rountree in the first round. All received the standard $50,000 bonus.
The numbers were announced post-event.
Aside from the main event and Pedro, there was not much to say about Saturday night’s event. Most of the fights went to a decision and there was not much to say about any of the other fights. The attendance does show that Melbourne fans deserve to be in the rotation for annual events in the city.
November 26, 2016
MMA Fighting reports that the new main event for UFC 206 will be Max Holloway versus Anthony Pettis for the interim featherweight title. The news brings an eventual shakeup in the UFC featherweight division.
Conor McGregor is the current featherweight and lightweight champion having won the lightweight title earlier this month in New York. However, McGregor has not defended the 145 pound title since winning it last December. Jose Aldo won an interim featherweight title this past July at UFC 200 due in part to McGregor refusing to fight at the July event.
It is unknown whether McGregor will be officially stripped of the title or if this will set up a matchup with the winner of Holloway-Pettis fight…or not.
If another interim title is the plan for the UFC it seems short-sighted unless they have already contacted Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo about this decision. I doubt this has happened. McGregor has made it clear that he will not relinquish the 145-pound title. Unless he’s made a 180 degree change of mind since winning on November 12th, the UFC is in for a PR fight (and maybe more) over the title.
November 25, 2016
MMA Fighting reports that Daniel Cormier is out of UFC 206 with an injury. His title fight with Anthony Johnson is off although the initial plans appear to keep Johnson on the card.
This is the second time this year that Cormier has pulled out of a fight due to an injury. Cormier is coming off of a win at UFC 200 against Anderson Silva.
UFC 206 loses its main event and will have to find another. At this point, there is a featherweight matchup between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis and a welterweight bout between Donald Cerrone and Matt Brown as the top fights on the PPV.
Losing Cormier hurts the PPV as well as puts Johnson in a bad position. He is likely being asked to stay on the card to help the business-side of the event but will have