March 18, 2017
The UFC announced post-fight bonuses for Jimi Manuwa, Gunnar Nelson, Marlon Vera and Marc Diakiese for UFC Fight Night 107 Saturday afternoon from London. The event drew 15,761 for a gate of $2,015,777.
The event took place at The O2 Arena in London. The main event featured Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson. Manuwa won via KO and drew one of the four $50K bonuses.
— #UFCLondon (@UFCEurope) March 18, 2017
Marlon Vera drew another bonus for his third-round finish of Brad Pickett. Perhaps a bittersweet bonus since Pickett was seemingly ahead on the scorecards in his retirement match.
Gunnar Nelson won via submission over Alan Jouban and Marc Diakiese knocked out Teemu Packalen for the other bonuses. Notably Packalen earned a POTN bonus at UFC Fight Night 84, the last UFC event in London before today.
The attendance and gate were announced post-fight. It was the ninth UFC event in London and the first since February 2016 when Michael Bisping defeated Anderson Silva. The event outdrew the February 2016 event in gate but not attendance.
The Fight Pass only show was well-attended by the London as this UFC event was third all-time out of 9 in terms of attendance and gate for the arena. It shows the great support for the UFC overseas especially in the U.K.
March 18, 2017
A Los Angeles Federal Magistrate Judge has transferred Bellator’s Motion to Quash Zuffa’s Subpoenas to the Nevada court hearing the antitrust lawsuit. The decision to transfer venue was made on Friday March 17th and done without oral argument.
Citing “exceptional circumstances” pursuant to the federal rules governing subpoenas, it determined that the “interests in favor of transfer outweigh the interests of Bellator in obtaining local resolution of the subpoena-related motions.”
Bellator, a non-party in the antitrust lawsuit, sought relief from a UFC subpoena requesting certain documents including information related to specific fighter contracts including information related to negotiations, terminations, cancellations and transfer of contracts. Bellator has provided the UFC with documents but reached an impasse on certain information.
The federal magistrate, which ordered the transfer, pointed to the looming May 1, 2017 fact discovery deadline, the Nevada court issued the protective order and the Nevada magistrate had been active in previous discovery as reasons for the transfer.
Moreover, the court determined that Bellator would not be inconvenienced by having to appear in Nevada citing the possibility of appearing telephonically. Alternatively, the proximity between California and Nevada would make the travel negligible.
If you were to ask me, it appears that California did not want anything to do with the Motion. Rather, it kicked it back to Nevada to deal with the details of the Motion and the lawsuit. In most instances, Bellator did the appropriate thing in filing for relief where their business is primarily located but the court found reasons to negate the inconvenience. For the UFC, it’s a win as the issue will go before the magistrate that has been dealing with the UFC and plaintiffs since the case was transferred from a Norther California federal court back in June 2015.
MMA Payout will have more on this. Stay tuned.
March 17, 2017
MMA Fighting reports that three UFC fighters have failed drug tests and have been sanctioned in the state of Texas. However, USADA has not sanctioned the fighter for their use of marijuana.
Niko Price, Curtis Blaydes and Abel Trujillo tested positive for marijuana in -competition drug tests for UFC 104 in Houston, Texas this past February. The three were fined $1,000 and suspended 90 days by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
USADA only suspends fighters for cannabis if their drug tests come back with more than 150 ng/ml of the substances metabolites per spokesperson Ryan Madden. The rule is from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.
The issue of marijuana is an interesting subject considering the debate on its use varies depends on who you speak with at the time. Notably, Nate Diaz was seen using a vape pen with cannibidiol oil but was not reprimanded by USADA. Diego Brandao was suspend for 9 months when a fight-night drug test turned up marijuana matabolites. A 90-day suspension from Texas likely does not impact Price, Blaydes or Trujillo’s careers but the fine does hurt their pocketbooks. The inference we get from USADA’s lack of invovlement is that the use was not over the requisite amount.
March 16, 2017
UFC Fight Night 106 this past Saturday on FS1 drew 946,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings. The prelims, which preceded the main card on FS1 drew 860,000 viewers.
The main card, airing from 10pm-1:04am on Saturday, featured Kelvin Gastelum defeating Vitor Belfort drew 531,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo. The prelims drew 379,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
|UFC Fight Night 2017|
|Event||Main Card||Main Card A18-49||Prelims||Prelims A18-49|
|UFC Fight Night 103||1,090,000||612,000||824,000||361,000|
|UFC Fight Night 104||1,158,000||590,000||834,000||420,000|
|UFC Fight Night 105||946,000||531,000||860,000||379,000|
The ratings reflect a decrease from the main card in the last two Fight Nights but the prelim viewership is up overall from this past Saturday. Notably, this time last year, UFC Fight Night 85 drew 1,149,000 (prelims drew 766,000) for Frank Mir-Mark Hunt in the main event. For a card from Brazil that did not have too much in terms of names (aside from Vitor Belfort), the ratings are pretty good.
March 14, 2017
MMA Fighting reports that the California State Athletic Commission has enacted a new rule that will fine a fighter’s win bonus in addition to his or her show money when that fighter misses weight.
Commission head Andy Foster announced the new rule at a commission meeting on Tuesday.
Via MMA Fighting:
CSAC fined fighters’ 20 percent for missing weight, with the money coming out of their show money only. Half of that percentage went to the opponent and the other half went to the commission. Now, in addition to that, a fighter who misses weight will have his or her win bonus fined 20 percent, with that full total going to the opponent. The win bonus fine will only come into play, of course, if the fighter who misses weight is victorious in the bout.
Foster indicated that the win bonus for the fighter missing weight should be considered a part of the purse money and should be awarded to the fighter that made weight.
The new rule shall be implemented in bout agreements once contracts reflecting the changes are drafted and approved.
In addition, the committee is looking into ways to address extreme weight-cutting and hope to have more information at their next meeting this May.
This is an interesting twist to addressing the issue of weight-cutting. Of course, the rule might negatively impact the overall goal of ensuring that fighters safely cut weight. Certainly, fighters not making weight should be punished but the commission also wants to ensure the health and safety of fighters. If a fighter knows they will lose more money for not making weight, it might lead to extreme measures which might cause further harm to a fighter trying to make weight. Obviously, for the fighter making weight, the extra money makes sense.
As an alternative to the fine, there could be an alternative of expanding to more weight divisions. But, we will see how this rule plays out in California and if other commissions adopt it.
March 12, 2017
The bonuses went to Kelvin Gastelum, Edson Barboza, Paulo Borrachinha and Michel Prazeres.
The UFC announced a sell-out of 14,069 at Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil. As is custom with the announcements in Brazil, no gate was announced.
The last time the UFC was in Fortzleza was in 2013 for UFC on Fuel TV 10 at a smaller venue which drew over 6,000 fans.
A good night of fights with some entertaining finishes including Barboza’s stoppage via flying knee. The announced attendance is a positive sign that builds on 2013’s appearance in the city.
March 11, 2017
As Vitor Belfort heads into the Octagon to face Kelvin Gastelum on Saturday, we take a look at one of the issues brought up in Mark Hunt’s lawsuit: the UFC had information regarding Belfort’s testosterone levels prior to UFC 152.
As we know, Hunt filed a lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar with a variety of legal claims. Among them was a claim for violation under the civil RICO statute which carries with it treble damages (3x actual damages) if proven at trial.
In his Complaint, Hunt points out that at UFC 152, Zuffa allegedly “willfully concealed” Belfort’s TRT use exemption and that Zuffa allowed him to fight at UFC 152 despite prior knowledge that he had elevated testosterone levels.
In its Motion to Dismiss Mark Hunt’s Complaint, Zuffa addressed the issue of Vitor Belfort’s retroactive TUE use ahead of his fight against Jon Jones in 2012.
The revelation of Belfort’s high testosterone levels was due in part to an inadvertent e-mail blast from a UFC paralegal.
Under federal RICO claims, the e-mail communications constitute acts of wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. sec 1343. The wire component is an inextricable part of the civil RICO claim.
In addition to the use of emails, Hunt’s attorneys argue that Lesnar’s ESPN appearance with Hannah Storm on June 6, 2016 and also promotions via the internet and television promoting UFC 200 satisfy the wire fraud component of 18 U.S.C. 1343.
Hunt claims that when the UFC allowed Belfort to fight it was in violation of state and federal laws. Similarly, he claims that his UFC 200 bout with Brock Lesnar was in violation of state and federal laws when it allowed Lesnar to compete against Hunt when it “caused or willfully permitted a doping fighter to compete against HUNT.” They also cite to Hunt’s fights with Antonio Silva and Frank Mir when both failed post-fight drug tests for banned substances.
According to Hunt’s lawsuit, the conduct represented a “pattern of liberally granting purported use exemptions and other drug testing exemptions, without any additional safeguards to prevent abuse.”
In the UFC’s response to the Belfort claims, it argues that the email has nothing to do with Hunt’s current claim for damages. Since Hunt was not one of the unintended recipients to the emails, nor did he see it at the time or rely on the emails. The UFC argues that the communications stemming from Belfort in September 2012 at UFC 152 has nothing to do with Hunt citing he had “zero involvement.” Thus, it argues that there is no proximate cause to Hunt’s claimed injuries. Moreover, the UFC argues that the ESPN interview and similar communications were not intended for Hunt, nor did he rely on them to his detriment. Essentially, UFC frames the communications as “random” and did not “directly cause” Hunt’s alleged personal injuries or lost opportunities.
Hunt argues that the Belfort incident is a part of the pattern of conduct which jeopardize fighter health and safety for the UFC’s profit and shall satisfy the claims under RICO.
Hunt’s attorney citing and re-telling of the Belfort test and the UFC erroneous email is likely a jab at the company to embarrass and color its reputation. It does create the backdrop for which Hunt brings his lawsuit. It’s undeniable that Hunt’s last 3 fights have taken PEDs. It is also clear that Hunt had nothing to do with the Belfort issue at UFC 152. But, it is not certain whether the incident involving Belfort will be taken as a part of a pattern of conduct by the Court.
Here, the UFC is seeking to dislodge Hunt’s grasp of his RICO claim on the procedural component that Hunt is not directly engaged in these communications, a requisite for his RICO claim. Thus, the underlying legalities of Belfort’s exemption does not matter, nor does the UFC want to have to explain the situation.
From Hunt’s perspective, they will likely argue that the Belfort situation creates a pattern of conduct that allows fighters using PEDs to fight clean fighters. This does seem like a hard argument to make but we will see how Hunt’s legal team responds.
March 10, 2017
Tim Means is not happy with Georges St-Pierre and the MMAAA. In an interview with Bloody Elbow, he accuses GSP and other fighters of turning away from a fighters’ union. He also supports the current Reebok deal as it has provided him with steady sponsor pay.
Means was not impressed by the MMAAA launch and wished that the fighters had briefed more on the organization’s plan before it was announced to the media and public. He had reached out to Tim Kennedy, one of the fighters spearheading the MMAAA effort, but did not receive a response.
In the interview, Means claimed that Donald Cerrone has “jumped off that ship” and that the MMAAA is “a garbage plan.” Means also stated that the fighters involved are “in it for themselves.” He claims that GSP looked the other way once he was offered title fights. GSP has stated that he will continue with MMAAA despite signing with the UFC.
As for issues with the Reebok deal, Means notes that prior to that deal, he would have sponsors but either they never paid or paid late. With the Reebok deal, he is guaranteed pay and receives free gear. Means is in a tier where he receives $10,000 per fight. He is three fights away from an increase in earnings from $15,000 per fight.
Means might be speaking for a lot of fighters in the “middle class” where they do not receive special benefits from the UFC. His concerns address the issues of organizing fighters as the belief is that each organization may have an ulterior motive.
March 9, 2017
Zuffa has filed its opposition to Bellator’s Motion to Quash Subpoenas issued by the company in its lawsuit filed by former fighters. Zuffa argues it is in need of three requests it made to Bellator and made exhaustive attempts (over 18 months) to work with the company on narrowing the scope.
Zuffa claims it does not normally seek non-public information from a competitor but they must have access “to defend against the antitrust lawsuit…”
A Federal Magistrate will hear the arguments from both sides on March 29th in Los Angeles.
The three requests at issue are:
- Bellator’s unredacted contracts;
- Documents regarding its negotiations with athletes; and
- Limited financial information including profit/loss statements and financial projections.
Zuffa claims that the request for contract documents will show the “intense competition” within Plaintiffs’ “Elite Professional MMA Fighter services” market. Documents regarding negotiations with athletes will also demonstrate that the UFC is not the “only game in town” and there is competition for fighters. It will also show that Bellator offers its athletes competitive compensation. Additionally, argues that Bellator’s Financial Information will reveal that it has not been foreclosed from the alleged market set by Plaintiffs.
It also argues that the requests are proportional to the needs of case. Essentially, Zuffa is asking only what it needs from Bellator and rebuts the Viacom-owned company’s assertion in its Motion to Quash that the requests are not proportional. In its brief, Zuffa cites the importance of the documents indicating “…issues at stake in the Nevada Action have the potential to fundamentally reshape the entire MMA industry.”
Zuffa attorneys argue that confidential information would not be made public or even disclosed to Zuffa. The protective order currently in place allows Bellator to designate its information with the title HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL – ATTORNEYS” EYES ONLY. This would ensure that the public or Zuffa employees would never see the information. This discovery designation is sometimes utilized in highly sensitive cases with company documents. In addition, Zuffa cites case law (notably, no cases in the 9th circuit, the controlling authority for this court) citing that motions to quash are “routinely denied” when there are “adequate protections for the commercially sensitive information.”
It also argues that in the antitrust lawsuit in Nevada, Zuffa has produced over 651,000 documents with 241,00 identified as Highly Confidential. The Plaintiffs, according to Zuffa, have produced approximately 64,000 docs with 4,300 docs identified as highly confidential. Third parties have produced 241,000 docs with 2,800 being designated as highly confidential. Zuffa makes the point that none of the highly confidential documents were disseminated to anyone other than attorneys and experts in the lawsuit. Thus, Zuffa and/or the Plaintiffs have not seen any of the documents flagged highly confidential.
The opposition briefing includes two declarations. One from one of Zuffa’s attorneys highlighting the account of how it attempted to work with Bellator on accessing the documents under the subpoena requests. Another declaration is from a Zuffa-retained expert citing the need for the documents requested to address the issues in the antitrust lawsuit.
You can expect the Federal Magistrate that will hear this motion to weigh the benefits of producing the documents against the business trade secrets of Bellator. If you are Bellator, you are fighting this to the end because there is always a chance that someone (knowingly or unknowingly) violates the terms of a protective order. At that point, you can’t unring the bell. Zuffa wants to appear reasonable to the magistrate and indicates that it is willing to continue to work with Bellator to get the documents it needs.
The hearing is March 29th in LA. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
March 8, 2017
In an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour this past Monday, Tony Ferguson sounded dejected and indicated that he had yet to receive his show money of $250,000 as disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It appears he’s still waiting for it.
MMA Junkie reports that Ferguson received less than half his contracted UFC 209 show money.
Ferguson was to face Khabib Nurmogomenov in a battle for the interim lightweight title. However, Khabib faced issues with the weight cut and pulled out of the fight on the Friday before the fight.
Ferguson still weighed in and made weight for the fight. So, he did everything right.
Word got out that Michael Johnson was offered up to Ferguson but he would not be paid as much as his bout agreement with Khabib. It made sense to pass from a business perspective as there was more to lose than to gain.
The latest now is that Ferguson received “less than half” the disclosed $250,000 show purse. Ferguson noted that he spent more on training expenses due to the magnitude of the fight. He now is upset with the company. A UFC official told MMA Junkie that Ferguson was aware of what he would be paid after the bout was canceled. Thus, the pay should have been known to Ferguson.
This is one of the horrible parts of the business side of fighting. The UFC valued Ferguson based upon the interim title fight with Khabib and thus his pay was increased to reflect this. Once the fight was off, the pay decreased. Unfortunately, this means that there was nothing in the contract which made assurances or guarantees to Ferguson that he would be paid show money if the fight did not take place. It would seem that making weight would be contractual and there would be repercussions or alternatives is a fighter does not make weight. Yet, looking at boxing and a standard boxing bout agreement between Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin (a fight that did not take place due to issues related to drug testing), there are no clauses related to whether or not a fighter does not make the required weight.
This is bad PR for the UFC as the least it could do was to compensate Ferguson for holding up his end of the fight. Yet, it appears that there’s nothing illegal about the UFC’s pay to Ferguson.