Jury finds in favor of CM Punk in defamation trial brought by WWE doctor

June 5, 2018

Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt reports that a jury has found in favor of CM Punk and Colt Cabana in the defamation trial brought by WWE physician Chris Amann.  Per Pratt, the jury deliberated a couple hours before rendering their verdict.

After the podcast, in February 2015, Dr. Amann had sued Punk and Cabana after an infamous podcast where Punk did not hold back in giving his opinion of the physician’s treatment of an injury he sustained.

The doctor brought the suit in Cook County Circuit Court (IL) alleging that Punk and Cabana had made defamatory statements regarding his professional duties as a medical doctor for the company.  Specifically, it was Punk that gave his opinion of the doctor during the podcast.

SI posted an excellent legal analysis of the potential issues of the lawsuit prior to the verdict.  It gave the overarching issue of whether podcasts could be subject to defamation claims.

In closing, the lawyers for the WWE physician requested $3,989,000 in damages which amounted to $1 for ever person who downloaded Cabana’s podcast episode plus additional punitive damages.

Payout Perspective:

Testimony during the trial about the lump on the back of CM Punk appeared to be the key issue.  It was what Punk complained about during the podcast and there was testimony by Punk’s wife (A.J. Lee), massage therapist and others that corroborated Punk’s claim.  Although he may have sensationalized the issue on the podcast, the jury ultimately determined that he was telling the truth and was giving his opinion. Truth is an ultimate defense to defamation.  Notably, SI indicated that Punk was appearing in character on the podcast, which I am not sure was the case and I’m not clear if that hinged on the analysis.  As we know with litigation, it is not over until its over.  There are post-trial motions and the possibility for appeal.

As for Punk, he has his second fight of his UFC career this Saturday in Chicago

UFC Fight Night 131 draws 517,000 viewers

June 4, 2018

UFC Fight Night 131 drew 517,000 viewers on Friday night on FS1.  The prelims drew 322,000 viewers.

The event was highlighted by Marlon Moraes and Jimmy Rivera.  Moraes earned the victory with a stoppage in mere seconds against Rivera.  The prelims saw Sijara Eubanks defeat Lauren Murphy in the featured fight of the prelims.

The post-fight show drew 181,000 viewers and 0.06 in the A18-49 demo.

The fights took place in Utica, New York.

Payout Perspective:

The Friday night event was unusual since most of the Fight Nights occur Saturday or Sunday which may have been the reason for the lower ratings.  Also, the fights featured the “lower-t0-middle class” tier of UFC fighters.

 

UFC Fight Night 131 attendance, gate and bonuses

June 2, 2018

UFC Fight Night 131 took place in Utica, New York on Friday night.  Headliner Marlon Moraes led bonus winners for the night with his first-round stoppage of Jimmy Rivera.

Other $50,000 bonus winners included Gregor Gillespie, Ben Saunders and Nathaniel Wood.  There were no Fight of the Night winners as Gillespie, Saunders and Wood earned their bonuses with stoppages.

The event in Utica drew 5,063 fans for a total gate of $322,825 according to the announcement made by the UFC post-event.

Payout Perspective:

The gate and attendance reflect that of a Fight Night on a Friday night.  The attendance and gate are on the low-end of typical Fight Night events.  Friday night was Moraes’ showcase with a quick end to Rivera.

Yair Rodriguez back in the UFC to face Zabit Magomedsharipov

June 1, 2018

In a turn of events, the UFC has rescinded the termination of Yair Rodriguez’s contract as he is now slated to face Zabit Magomedsharipov in September per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.

Rodriguez was terminated by the UFC after reports had Yair and Zabit facing each other in August in Los Angeles.  But, Yair turned down the offer and his contract with the UFC was abruptly terminated.  Dana White indicated at the post-fight press conference at UFC Liverpool this past Sunday that, “When I offer you a fight, you should probably take it.”

Rodriguez claimed that he was negotiating for better pay and/or a top 10 opponent.  With respect to the Zabit matchup, he stated that he requested more money since the fight would have been a part of a big event in LA this August.  The UFC did not want to give him more money.

Okamoto reported Friday that the UFC has reinstated Rodriguez to face Zabit in September.  Possibly, the event could be a part of the inaugural event in Russia.

Payout Perspective:

The situation is reminiscent of when Jon Fitch was let go by the UFC since he would not relinquish his likeness rights for video games and other merchandise.  White was adamant at the time he let go of Fitch and expressed the same sentiment when asked about Rodriguez this past weekend.  However, it appears that the parties have resolved their differences.  Notwithstanding Rodriguez getting his job back with the UFC, the threat of firing a fighter for not taking a fight and then bringing them back doesn’t seem like a sound way to run a promotion.  It seems like the firing was a show of force to send a message to other fighters to listen when told to do something.

TUF 27 Episode 7 draws 275,000 viewers on FS1

May 31, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter episode 7 drew the highest ratings of its season with 275,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night.

There was no fight on the telecast as Team Cormier’s Richie Smullen suffered a leg cramp and could not fight Team Miocic’s Allan Zuniga.  He was forced to withdraw and give Zuniga the win by DQ.  More bad news for Team Cormier in this episode as Ricky Steele was forced to withdraw from the tournament after he was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms.

The telecast drew 0.10 in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

Payout Perspective:

275,000 viewers doesn’t seem like a huge audience, but it is for this season.  Last spring’s TUF 25 drew 372,000 viewers and TUF 26 scored 316,000 viewers.  As you can tell, the live +SD ratings are gradually decreasing.

UFC Fight Night 130 draws 552,000 viewers Sunday on FS1

May 30, 2018

The main card for UFC Fight Night 130 Sunday morning/afternoon drew 552,000 viewers on FS1 according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The post-fight show on FS1 outdrew the morning prelims.

The post-fight show drew a 2018-high of 392,000 viewers and 0.14 in the A18-49 demo on FS1 Sunday afternoon.  The post-fight show aired for 24 minutes due to the overrun of the main card.

The main card featured Stephen Thompson taking on Darren Till with Till taking the victory.  The event drew 0.20 in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims, which began at 8:00 am on the west coast drew 308,000 viewers and 0.10 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Sunday morning’s event did better than last year’s Memorial Day Sunday event in Sweden as that event drew 496,000 viewers.  The post-fight show likely drew more eyes simply because it was on in the afternoon.  Also, The Indianapolis 500 may have taken away some viewers as it drew 4.91 million viewers on Sunday morning on ABC.

Ray Borg goes after former managers with commission complaint

May 29, 2018

MMA Junkie reports that Ray Borg has filed a complaint against the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department alleging that his former management team was never licensed as a coach or manager.  His former management team sued Borg for unpaid commissions.

Junkie has a copy of the Amended Complaint filed by Wild Bunch Management, LLC in the Second Judicial District Court in the State of New Mexico.  Borg filed an Answer to the Amended Complaint on May 16, 2018 per court records.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department oversees the state’s athletic commission and licenses athletic trainers.  Prior to his official court response, he filed the complaint with the commission claiming he committed multiple breaches of a management contract and was treated unfairly.

Payout Perspective:

The commission complaint is ancillary to the lawsuit filed by Borg’s former management although it seems like a scorched earth strategy as he claims in the complaint that his former manager held unsanctioned fights known as “smokers” illegally.  These claims are unlikely to deflect the claims made against Borg, but it will show that the flyweight is not the only one that may have been in the wrong.

AirAsia sponsorship activation includes UFC-branded plane

May 27, 2018

On Friday, the UFC announced a UFC branded livery ahead of UFC Fight Night Singapore.  The event will be presented by promotion sponsor AirAsia.  The aircraft is an AirAsia Airbus 330-300.

Via UFC press release:

UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, and AirAsia, sponsor of UFC and presenting sponsor of UFC® FIGHT NIGHT SINGAPORE: COWBOY VS EDWARDS presented by AirAsia, today launched the first UFC – branded livery on an AirAsia Airbus A330-300.

The aircraft is the first of its kind in the world to feature UFC branding and is sure to capture the attention of travelers all over the world.

“This exemplary partnership between UFC and AirAsia is a testament to the passion behind these two inspiring brands,” said UFC Vice President, International Marketing Partnerships, Rene Valencia. “Today is a momentous occasion, one that we are very proud of and we look forward as travelers embark on this magnificently branded AirAsia Airbus.”

The launch was witnessed by no. 5-ranked lightweight athlete, Kevin Lee, who was in town to promote UFC® FIGHT NIGHT SINGAPORE: COWBOY vs. EDWARDS presented by AirAsia happening on June 23.  At the launch, Lee said, “This is incredible. Having this aircraft branded UFC is unreal – it’s amazing that AirAsia have taken their sponsorship integration to this level.”

AirAsia Group Head of Branding Rudy Khaw added: “We are pleased to unveil this special livery as the Official Airline of the UFC in Asia. Fight fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of UFC to Singapore, and we are thrilled to be able to present Cowboy vs Edwards for their enjoyment.”

Speaking of the launch, Vice President of Asia Pacific at UFC Kevin Chang said: “This is a special moment for our valued partner AirAsia and UFC. We’re committed to growing the brand and sport in Asia, and this collaborative partnership will continue to help us do that. We have a Fight Night in Singapore in less than a month, and this branded aircraft will add to the excitement of fans traveling there.”

Payout Perspective:

This is Air Asia’s first big sponsorship activation, as it gets ready for next month’s UFC Fight Night where it is the presenting sponsor.  The aircraft is a nice touch that will gain a lot of visibility at airports as it travels throughout Asia.  This is significant for the UFC as it attempts to expand in the region.

 

UFC Fight Night 130 attendance, gate and bonuses

May 27, 2018

UFC Fight Night 130 took place Sunday morning in North America as the promotion went to Liverpool, England.  There were no Fight of the Nights as 4 fighters received the $50,000 Performance Bonuses.

Tom Breese, Darren Stewart, Claudio Henrique da Silva and Arnold Allen earned the “Performance of the Night” Bonuses.

The event took place at The Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.  There were 8,520 in attendance and a gate of $1.3 million.

The UFC announced the attendance, gate and bonuses post-event Sunday.

Payout Perspective:

It was not an exciting morning of fights and the main event of Darren Till and Stephen Thompson was more strategic than action-intensive.  Going up opposite the Indianapolis 500, we shall see how much this will affect the ratings.

UFC issues statement on Nick Diaz

May 27, 2018

The UFC has issued a statement on Nick Diaz in light of his arrest in Las Vegas on Thursday night related to domestic violence allegations.

Via UFC.com:

“UFC is aware of the recent arrest of middleweight athlete, Nick Diaz. The organization does not tolerate domestic violence and requires all athletes to adhere to the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. Every athlete is deserving of due process and this situation, as with any official allegations, will be duly reviewed and thoroughly investigated by an independent party.”

Payout Perspective:

Despite not being active, Diaz is one of the more popular figures in the UFC.  The UFC understands this and it will be interesting to see how this issue is handled.  While there are rumors of the incident surfacing, its ultimately up to legal authorities in Vegas as to whether there is enough information to prosecute Diaz.  The UFC will give Diaz the benefit of the doubt, but there should be a point where the company must draw a line.

 

 

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