Show Money Episode 9: McGregor, Ali Act and Antitrust Lawsuit Update

April 26, 2016

In this episode of Show Money, I hop on with Paul Gift and John Nash of BE to talk about the McGregor holdout, the proposed amendment to the Ali Act and we discuss Paul’s recent interview with former FTC Commissioner Dr. Joshua Wright.

UFC 197 payouts: Jones, DJ top the list

April 26, 2016

The Nevada State Athletic Commission disclosed payouts for Saturday’s UFC 197.  Jon Jones topped the list earning $500,000.

Via MMA Junkie:

Jon Jones: $500,000 (no win bonus)
def. Ovince Saint Preux: $55,000

Demetrious Johnson: $195,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus)
def. Henry Cejudo: $60,000

Edson Barboza: $88,000 (includes $44,000 win bonus)
def. Anthony Pettis: $80,000

Robert Whittaker: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Rafael Natal: $41,000

Yair Rodriguez: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. Andre Fili: $18,000

Sergio Pettis: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Kelades: $12,000

Danny Roberts: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Dominique Steele: $12,000

Carla Esparza: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Juliana Lima: $14,000

James Vick: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Glaico Franca: $17,000

Walt Harris: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Cody East: $10,000

Marcos Rogerio de Lima: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Clint Hester: $12,000

Kevin Lee: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Efrain Escudero: $18,000

Payout Perspective:

Notably, Jones made the same ($500K no bonus) for UFC 182.  Mighty Mouse inches up in pay as he last made $191K which included a $58K bonus.  This time around he improves by $6K receiving $195K and a $60K bonus.  Of course, he did receive a $50K bonus for his finish of Henry Cejudo so he made over $200K this time around.

Reebok to revamp fight kits for UFC

April 25, 2016

The Sports Business Journal reports that Reebok will unveil new UFC apparel starting at UFC 200 this July.  Fighters were made aware of the tweaks earlier this month at the UFC Fighter Summit.

Fighters were able to give feedback on the new apparel to people within Reebok’s new combat sports division at the Summit

The Reebok kits were unveiled last July to mixed reviews and were subject to wide criticism.  According to the SBJ article, the new apparel includes a jersey that includes more of the UFC logo across the chest, color to the shorts and grants the fighters more color choices.  A total overhaul is scheduled for 2017.

Payout Perspective:

The article is free to non-subscribers I believe and I think it is an interesting read.  It quotes managers John Fosco and Malki Kawa about the deal and what it means for fighters.  Fosco likes the deal while Kawa does wish there was a way “to compensate the fighters a little bit better…”  The obvious omission from the article I believe was any word whether pay structures would be tweaked as well.  It does not appear so.  While the Reebok brand is changing its kits to appease athlete feedback, it does not address the financial payouts.  The new revamped unis are a positive for Reebok and the UFC as one might consider this may help with retail.  But, the bottom line of compensating fighters still seems to remain status quo.

Congressman announces proposal to amend Ali Act

April 24, 2016

The Washington Post featured former UFC and current WSOF fighter John Howard in a piece about fighter pay in telling the news that an Oklahoma congressman is scheduled to sponsor a bill to amend the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (“Ali Act”) to include mixed martial artists.

Markwayne Mullin, a Republican representative from Oklahoma was a former fighter and will be the legislator leading the charge in Washington D.C.   The Ali Act came with a threefold purpose but with the most known reason being to protect the rights and welfare of boxers.

Although no specifics were given about the amendments to the Ali Act, one would assume that most of the measures would be the same as those that were set out to protect boxers since 2000.

The WaPo article quotes Howard as making $25,000 for his December 2015 fight against Tim Means in the UFC.  NSAC states he made $27,000.  However, Howard goes on to state in the article that he had to pay training partners, his gym and other costs for training which left him with about $12,000.

Preemptively, as an independent contractor for the UFC, Howard still has to pay taxes on the $27,000.

MMA Fighters’ Association hopes that an association can be created to help assist fighters and see that adding MMA to protection under the Ali Act would be a step in the right direction.   Rob Maysey, the founder, is one of the attorneys active in the current antitrust lawsuit filed by fighters against Zuffa.  Maysey’s firm is one of the plaintiffs’ firm litigating the case in Nevada.

Payout Perspective:

I was interviewed for this story but my part was cut out of the story. The news of a possible amendment may actually help fighters.  Would fighters be willing to join an association (which likely means paying fee)?  But, we shall see how the amendment would look and whether the Ali Act will see other tweaks to benefit fighters.  The other question is whether this amendment would have enough support to have this passed.  Also, how much opposition would such an amendment have by the UFC.

UFC 197 attendance, gate and bonuses

April 23, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 197.  The event featured the return of Jon Jones as he took on Ovince St. Pierre.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena drew 11,352 fans for a gate of $2.3 million.

Bonuses were awarded to Demetrious Johnson, Yair Rodriguez, Dannyl Roberts and Dominique Steele.  Each earned $50K.  Roberts and Steele earned the FOTN.

The event numbers were announced by the UFC at the post-fight press conference.

Payout Perspective:

Of the already 4 UFC events this year at the MGM, the event did better than February’s UFC event which was converted to a Fight Night.  It also did better than Lawler-Condit in January.  However, not surprising, it came second to March’s UFC 196 which featured Diaz-McGregor.  Notably, Jon Jones’ last event at the MGM was UFC 182 which drew 11,575 for $3.7M.  Slightly more in attendance but its clear the tickets were more expensive for Jones-Cormier.

Conor McGregor is not retired

April 21, 2016

Conor McGregor is not retired.  Despite a McGregor tweet earlier this week, he sent a Facebook post proclaiming he was not retired.  It all appears to be an impasse between the current Featherweight Champion and the UFC.

The impasse centers around the amount of promotion he was to do for UFC 200.  In the post, which appeared on McGregor’s Facebook page, he indicated he asked for some “leeway” with the media obligations but was denied.

McGregor noted the amount of money he made for the UFC in his last three fights:

I feel the $400million I have generated for the company in my last three events, all inside 8 months, is enough to get me this slight leeway.
I am still ready to go for UFC 200.

Despite taking McGregor off of UFC 200, Dana White did not outright bury McGregor for not complying with media requests.  In fact, White said he was not mad at McGregor on Collin Cowherd’s FS1 show.  He also did not rule out his return to the UFC 200 card.

On Thursday, McGregor sent another tweet which appears aimed at the UFC and the posture that he is not going to give in.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the two sides need each other.  Based on McGregor’s last three events, he realizes what an asset he is to the UFC.  July 9th is supposed to be the biggest event in the company’s history to date.  The UFC would like McGregor on the card.  At 27, McGregor’s career seems far from over and the UFC is the only company that can give him the money he believes he deserves.  We shall see what transpires in the coming days as to whether either side concedes.

TUF 23 episode 1 lowest rated debut on FS1

April 21, 2016

The debut episode of TUF 23 drew 479,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night according to Sports TV Ratings.  It is the lowest rating for a debut episode on TUF since it began on FS1.

The debut episode featured the usual two-hour premiere which showed fights to get into the house.  This season’s coaches are Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha.

Ratings of debut episodes of TUF on FS1:

TUF 22 (Conor-Faber) – 622,000 viewers

TUF 21 (Blackzillians-ATT) –490,000 viewers

TUF 20 (Pettis-Melendez) – 536,000 viewers

TUF 19 (Edgar-Penn) – 595,000 viewers

TUF 18 (Rousey-Tate) – 762,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

It was an entertaining night of fights but the ratings reflect that either people are not into The Ultimate Fighter or they were just so many other things on television.  Spring is always hard due to beginning of baseball, NBA and NHL playoffs.  We will see how this season does in the ratings.

UFC on Fox 19 final overnight rating and prelims

April 21, 2016

UFC on Fox 19 Saturday drew an average rating of 2.5 million viewers on Saturday according to Nielsen.  The prelims which preceded the main card on Fox drew 1.4 million viewers.

The main card peaked with 2.8 million viewers.

The prelims which featured Michael Chiesa submitting Beneil Dariush drew a 0.9 rating in the adult 18-49 demo and a 2 share.  It improved from last April’s UFC on Fox Prelims by 13%.  It was the third time that the prelims for a UFC on Fox event aired on Fox.

The final overnight ratings for the main card is slightly off last April’s UFC on Fox 15 Prelims which drew 2.7 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are good considering this card was hit hard with removals including a fight (Islam Makhachev-Drew Dober) that was taken off after the weigh-ins.  The ratings show the relative stability in knowing what to expect with these cards.

UFC removes McGregor from UFC 200

April 19, 2016

Dana White announced on ESPN Tuesday that Conor McGregor has been removed from UFC 200.  The news comes hours after McGregor announced his retirement via twitter.

White indicated that McGregor was removed from the card after he indicated he would not participate in promotional activities.  White has done something like this before.  When Nick Diaz failed to show up for multiple media appearance, he was removed from his title fight against Georges St. Pierre.  Of course, after being removed, he was immediately rebooked to fight BJ Penn at UFC 137.

Could we see something like this happen again?  Hopefully McGregor doesn’t get rebooked against Penn.  But you get the point.

The UFC did not seem to acknowledge the McGregor retirement announcement.  One might assume that the sides are split over money.  Rumors speculate that McGregor is asking for $10 million for UFC 200.

At this point, the UFC is searching to find a main event for July.  If it doesn’t, it will likely go with Edgar-Aldo.

As for the news, the following tweet reflects the fact that MMA fans are social media savvy.  Also, the casual fan is noticing.  But not sure how much it has to do with impact in the sports world.  Still pretty impressive.

Payout Perspective:

If there was a fighter that had leverage in negotiating with the UFC it would be McGregor.  He has produced records in attendance, gate and the ancillary economic impact he provides to the hospitality industry is huge.  The many fans traveling from Ireland and elsewhere to come to Vegas to see him is huge.  Not to mention, his PPVs are some of the biggest buy rates for the company.  Will the sides get back together or has the UFC moved on?  We shall see.

Conor McGregor tweets he’s retiring

April 19, 2016

The UFC and MMA fans have been thrown for a loop as Conor McGregor sent out a tweet stating that he was retiring.  McGregor was scheduled to fight Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 200.

You think only MMA fans know Conor McGregor?  Per Darren Rovell.

The RTs at this writing is over 87,000 and 60,000 likes.

Payout Perspective:

Either this is a ploy, toying with the fans on social media or the real thing.  If it is for real, then the UFC has a real issue on its hands for its biggest event of the year.  With Aldo-Edgar and Tate-Nunes likely being the co-main event for the company’s biggest event of the year, UFC 200 does not seem like the heralded event it once was thought to be.  We will see in the coming days, weeks if the tweet is true.

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