NSAC indicates position on licensing with Aldo injury still uncertain

June 27, 2015

Jose Aldo’s injury appears to be worse than first reported and the main event for UFC 189 on July 11th hangs in the balance.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission indicated that it will rely on the medical information provided to it in issuing Aldo a license to fight next month.

MMA Junkie reports that the commission will rely on the medical records and pre-fight questionnaire submitted by Aldo to determine if he can be issued a license.  The article indicates that the commission will rely on the UFC to inform it if a fighter cannot fight due to injury.

There are conflicting reports on the severity of Aldo’s injury.  It was first reported that Aldo suffered a rib injury during training.  The UFC announced that the injury was a bruise and was cleared to fight.  However, reports are conflicting according to an MMA Fighting article which suggests that Brazilian doctors diagnose Aldo’s injury as fractured ribs whereas American doctors cite bruised ribs.

The Junkie article states that there are no orthopedic tests required for licensing but will have to go through routine examinations to obtain a license.

Payout Perspective:

The drama continues and if you were looking for the commission to step in to decipher whether Aldo should or should not be issued a license to fight based on an injury, think again.  Based on the comments from the commission in the Junkie article, it’s clear that they are going to rely on information provided to them.  While this is based on the standard requirements for licensing, it also identifies a huge problem with the system.  Essentially, you can outright conceal an injury on a pre-fight questionnaire.

We saw a situation like this occur with the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight when Pacquiao did not disclose an injury on his pre-fight questionnaire.  It’s unknown whether disclosing injury would have derailed the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight (although there are still lawsuits out there suing Pacquiao for failing to disclose the injury), he still was able to fight on May 2nd in the biggest PPV event in the history of boxing.

With the commission taking a stronger stance on PEDs in combat sports, perhaps this should be one of the next issues it should address.  Draw your own conclusions on that one.

Hayabusa becomes official glove for Glory

June 26, 2015

Glory has announced that it is partnering with Hayabusa to be the official competition glove for Glory Kickboxing.  The partnership will begin Friday, August 7th with Glory 23 according to a company release.

The gloves will be revealed to the public during fight week leading up to Glory 23.  The gloves will also be used during the co-promoted show with Bellator on September 19.

Via press release:

“The name Hayabusa is well-recognized by the world of combat sports as the ultimate in performance equipment and technical apparel,” said GLORY CEO Jon Franklin, who helped broker the deal. “Our athletes deserve the very best when it comes to not only their performance and comfort, but their safety, and we feel this deal provides the finest gloves available.”

Payout Perspective:

Hayabusa is one of the many combat sports brands in a state of flux as it navigates the new state of sponsorships in MMA.  The company announced that it would not be at the UFC Fan Expo this year as only official UFC sponsors will be allowed at the event.  With the UFC-Reebok deal, Hayabusa will no longer be in the UFC octagon and the company has shifted its focus.  A recent MMA Junkie article wrote about what MMA brands are doing in light of the UFC-Reebok deal.  For Hayabusa, it meant a 3 year deal with Glory.  The company intends to spend some of its marketing and sponsorship budget usually earmarked for the UFC to Glory and its fighters as well as Bellator.  We shall see what it means for Hayabusa and its business.

TUF 21 Episode 10 draws 450,000 viewers

June 25, 2015

The 10th episode of TUF 21 drew an average of 450,000 according to Sports TV Ratings.  It was the third-highest rated show this season.

The College World Series was the highest-rated sports event on cable TV Wednesday night which drew 1.665 million viewers on ESPN.

Episode 10 featured the Harley Davidson promo during the show as Michael Chiesa made an appearance talking up Harley Davidson.  In the fight of the episode, Nathan Coy defeated Valdir Araujo.

TUF 21 Ratings through Episode 10

TUF 21 Ratings
Live + SD Live +3 Increase
Episode 1 490,000 704,000 214,000
Episode 2 454,000 646,000 192,000
Episode 3 364,000 524,000 160,000
Episode 4 286,000 415,000 129,000
Episode 5 340,000 512,000 172,000
Episode 6 350,000 586,000 236,000
Episode 7 371,000 625,000 254,000
Episode 8 425,000 566,000 141,000
Episode 9 332,000 467,000 135,000
Episode 10 450,000

Payout Perspective:

In addition, to Episode 10, MMA Payout has learned that Episode 9’s DVR rating increased to 467,000 making it the second-lowest increase from Live to DVR this season.  The rating this week was a much needed improvement from last week and one would hope that the series end with better ratings.  The current average sits at 387,000 viewers.

With no vote in Assembly, MMA Bill dead in New York

June 25, 2015

A bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York has failed to reach an Assembly vote once again this year.  Despite a concerted effort to attempt to push the bill through, which included revamping the bill to attempt to appease legislators, it appears that it will not make it to a vote on what is the last day of an extended legislative session in Albany.

Jim Genia relayed the bad news.  Genia among other New York MMA supporters gave up to the minute details on the sausage making in Albany and relayed the news to MMA fans that hoped to see the UFC in Madison Square Garden this December.

This year seemed different in Albany due to the removal of Speaker Sheldon Silver and a more MMA-receptive speaker in Carl Heastie.  But once again, the MMA bill was not brought before the Assembly for vote despite an extended session which many thought would produce one.

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, the sponsor of the MMA bill, indicated that it needed 76 votes in the Democratic conference for a bill to come to the floor.  Prior to the revamp of the MMA bill a couple weeks ago, they had 70.

Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout will have more on this as more information comes out but this is a definite blow for MMA and the UFC.  Many believed that this would be the year that MMA would become legal in the state.  But, politics once again rears its ugly head.  As for options, we must wait another year in Albany but the Zuffa lawsuit against New York continues.  Its appeal of the dismissed lawsuit claiming the bill prohibiting MMA in the state is unconstitutional is in the Second Circuit and Zuffa’s briefing is due by August 4th.

Jedrzejczyk signs indivudal sponsor deal with Reebok

June 25, 2015

UFC Women’s Stawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok per the UFC.  Jedrzejczyk also announced the deal via twitter.

She is coming off her first successful title defense this weekend on a UFC Fight Pass only show from Germany.  With the new deal, she joins Ronda Rousey and Paige VanZant as the only other women with individual sponsorship deals with Reebok.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps the only bad news for Jedrzejczyk is that she might not be able to show her sneaker collection to everyone.  This could have been an untapped crossover talking point for her but with the Reebok deal she probably could buy more Air Jordans for her collection (although she probably shouldn’t let the public know).  She showed her personality during the Embedded episodes leading up to UFC 185.  Plus, her fighting style is fan friendly.  With her fight Saturday, and the new Reebok deal, it’s unlikely we’ll see her on a Fight Pass only card again.

Aldo remains on UFC 189 card, Mendes contingency plan

June 25, 2015

The UFC has released a statement on UFC 189 with respect to the injury sustained by Jose Aldo.  The medical report is that Aldo’s injury is not a broken rib but a bruise which should allow him to remain in the main event for July 11th.  In the alternative, it has Chad Mendes ready to take on McGregor for an “interim” UFC featherweight championship.

The news release also indicates that Aldo has “every intention” of fighting McGregor.  Yet, Mendes remains as a stand-in if Aldo’s injury remains an issue leading up to the fight.

A potential fight for an “interim” belt is newsworthy considering that if Aldo cannot compete, the UFC will award a belt to either Mendes or McGregor.

Payout Perspective:

While the news that Aldo should remain on the card, his health remains an issue going into the fight.  Moreover, it’s apparent that the correct and appropriate strategy for McGregor now would be to target Aldo’s ribs (a “sweep the leg Johnny” strategy).  With Mendes on deck, it appears that the UFC will now have to pay him leading up to this fight even if he does not fight (one would assume).

The fight for an “interim” belt is usually meant for a champion that is injured and it is not known when they might return.  Here, Aldo might fight, but if he does not, someone else will share a title in his weight division.  This does not seem right if you are in the Aldo camp.  It’s clear that if he is unable to go on July 11th, he should be able to fight by at least the end of the year.  So, why have an interim title now?  Well, it’s clear that the magnitude of the event and the promotion seemingly demands some sort of title up for grabs.  If Mendes fills in, he has less than a month to train for what we assume would be a 5 round fight against McGregor.  This would favor McGregor immensely.

Does the news of an interim title put subtle pressure on Aldo to remain on the card despite injury?

UFC 189 main event in jeopardy with report of Aldo injury

June 24, 2015

The main event for UFC 189 is in jeopardy as news surfaced that Jose Aldo has an injury and could be scratched from his July 11th fight with Conor McGregor.  There is no official comment from the UFC as the promotion is weighing its options and Aldo’s camp is determining whether he can still fight.

Brazilian news outlet Combate first reported Aldo suffered an injured rib.

If the fight is scratched, it will be a significant blow for the company as the fight has been the center of its promotion around the biggest weekend of the company’s year.   It has spent a significant amount of money on the fight as well as you may recall the lengthy world tour and Embedded recaps earlier in the year.

Although the co-main event is a respectable Robbie Lawler-Rory MacDonald fight for the welterweight title, the UFC has focused on Aldo-McGregor with little attention paid to the “other” title fight on the card.

Payout Perspective:

The worst case scenario is happening for the UFC right now.  It banked on an Aldo-McGregor PPV with White proclaiming it would do 1 million PPV buys.  While Lawler-MacDonald would still be a good fight, the promotion would lose out on a significant amount of PPV buys.  If they keep McGregor on the card, it would mean that the big fight between the two may not happen until the end of the year assuming McGregor does not get injured and Aldo’s recovery time.  If it takes McGregor off the card, it would be a blow as well since McGregor is a draw.

Then there is the case of Jose Aldo.  With his recent comments speaking out against the Reebok deal, he might not be in the UFC’s good graces.  Tack on this injury and you might assume Dana White is not his biggest fan.  If he decides to fight, it will be at less than 100% and you might expect McGregor going for Aldo’s ribs which could mean he loses his title to McGregor.  Similar to Cain Velasquez, Aldo has been saddled with injuries that has constantly kept him off of cards.  Unlike Cain, Aldo has not been a marketable draw until this fight.  Will he be influenced to go through with the fight or lobby to have it moved until he is better?

Vote to legalize MMA in NY expected Tuesday

June 22, 2015

It appears that there will finally be a vote in the New York State Assembly on a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York on Tuesday.  The legislative session in Albany has extended its session and the MMA bill should be addressed before the legislators close out 2015.

According to veteran MMA Journalist Jim Genia, the Assembly should vote on the matter Tuesday as the legislature is off on Monday.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle indicated that he was hopeful that a vote would occur this week.  It is believed that there are enough votes for the MMA bill to pass.  The bill was revamped earlier this month to appease some with concerns over safety issues.  The bill would regulate both amateur and professional MMA in the state.

Payout Perspective:

We are getting closer and closer to the possibility of the UFC promoting fights in New York State.  If the bill passes the Assembly, it would go to the governor for signature.  Governor Andrew Cuomo could veto the bill although all indications would seem to point to the governor signing it.  In its lobbying efforts earlier this session, the UFC’s Ronda Rousey personally visited Governor Cuomo to talk to him about the bill to legalize MMA in the state.

USADA posts UFC policy online

June 21, 2015

In an effort to provide transparency for its new anti-doping policy, the UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) have made its year-round Anti-Doping Policy available online.  The policy will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

The online policy is broken down into 4 sections:  UFC Anti-Doping Policy, UFC TUE Policy, UFC Whereabouts Policy and UFC Arbitration Rules.  As indicated in its news conference earlier this month, USADA will administer the UFC policy and its penalties.

Notably, the Whereabouts Policy provides that fighters must be a part of the UFC Registered Testing Pool (“UFC RTP”).  Among the responsibilities for the fighters, they must provide a mailing address, an email address, a primary phone number for the athlete, consent by the athlete to the sharing of his/her Whereabouts Filing and other anti-doping information with athletic commissions and other Anti-Doping Organizations, a temporary address for the athlete if they are training away from their home and the name and location of the place where the athlete will be training as well as the time-frames they expect to be in the gym.

A violation known as a “Wherabouts Failure” may occur if an athlete fails to be available for a drug test.  Also, if there are 3 failures to provide an athlete’s whereabouts, it will be considered an anti-doping policy violation.  USADA may also take into consideration Whereabouts Failures declared by an Athletic Commission.

If a fighter appeals a violation of the drug testing policy, it agrees to arbitration per the policy.  As for the Arbitration rules, McLaren Global Sports Solutions, Inc. (“MGSS”) will administer the Arbitration Rules.   The organization is a Toronto, Canada consulting company “offering differentiated sport services to clients in professional and elite amateur sport” according to its web site.  MGSS will provide a list of Arbitrators to hear appeals.  Of note, MGSS will only utilize arbitrators who are or have been Court of Arbitration for Sport arbitrators and those that have expertise in anti-doping policy violations.

If a fighter is to appeal an alleged violation, the fighter (or his representatives) must file a Notice of Appeal within 10 days of the notice of violation from USADA.  In addition to the notice, they must also file a request for Arbitration form and a filing fee of $2,700.

Despite the international fighters in the UFC, the rules state that all arbitrations must occur in English.

Payout Perspective:

In this post we focus on two areas of interest if you are a fighter or represent one.  First, the Whereabouts Policy provides what a fighter needs to know to abide by the drug testing protocol.  In reading the protocol, it does not seem too restrictive.  Then again, if you are independent contractor, you have to wonder why you have to provide your known whereabouts to a contractor.  Of course, the argument in support of the Whereabouts Policy is that if you are in support of drug testing in the UFC, you should be willing to let them know where you are even if you are not fighting.  As for the appeal provision, the $2,700 fee a fighter must pay is steep but is the price that one must pay if a test is positive for a banned substance.  It is interesting that despite not being a signatory of the WADA Code, it would request its arbitrators have experience with the Court of Arbitration for Sport – a requirement of using the CAS is that it be a signatory of the WADA Code.  It appears that through this it has an eye to international enforcement of its policy.  Overall, the transparency is a step in the right direction.  We still must see how it will work with athletic commissions domestic and international in enforcing the UFC policy.

UPDATED: RE Filing fee, a fighter may request a waiver or fee reduction of $2,700 based on financial hardship.

UFC Fight Night 69 attendance and bonuses

June 20, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses for Saturday’s UFC Fight Pass only event from Berlin, Germany.

Joanna Jedrzejcyzk and Jessica Penne earned Fight of the Night honors while Mairbek Taisumov and Arnold Allen drew Performance of the Night bonuses.  Each earned $50,000.

UFC Fight Night 69 drew 8,155 fans from the O2 World Arena in Berlin.  The attendance figure was announced at the post-fight press conference although no gate was announced.

The last time the UFC visited the O2 in Berlin it drew 8,000 fans for UFC Fight Night 41 in May 2014.  At that time, the UFC indicated it was pleased with the turnout.  Notably, the O2 World houses between 14,000-17,000 for a variety of concerts and sporting events.

Payout Perspective:

This should be the last time that Joanna should be on a “Fight Pass Only” event.  It was a dominant performance and she should be on a wider stage next time out.  As for attendance, the improvement since last year should be a positive considering much of the card had no known fighters and was headlined by a women’s fight without the name “Rousey” as one of the fighters.

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