Ticket sales still strong despite card UFC 223 card changes

April 6, 2018

Fight week for UFC 223 has been full of excitement and ticket prices have gone up and down this week.

SeatGeek reports that ticket sales on the secondary market went up after it was announced that Max Holloway would replace Tony Ferguson to take on Khabib Nurmogomedov.

The median ticket prices according to SeatGeek, saw a 14% increase:

  • 3/31: $351
  • 4/1: $336
  • 4/2: $374
  • 4/3: $406

As of this past Sunday, the get-in price was $273.

After the Conor McGregor incident, prices were still up from March 31st but had come down since the Holloway announcement.  Per SeatGeek:

-Median Listing Price: $384

-Get-in Price: $146

-Avg. Resale Price: $272

Vivid Seats reported tickets after the McGregor incident started at$ 180.50.  The median ticket price was $ 462.98. And its most-expensive ticket is $4554

After Holloway was pulled from the event, SeatGeek reported a lower median price but a slightly higher average resale price.

-Median Listing Price: $356

-Get-in Price: $149

-Avg. Resale Price: $274

There are still tickets on Ticketmaster with a get-in price of $132.50.

Payout Perspective:

Dana White has indicated a $3 million gate which would exceed the last UFC event at the Barclay’s Center.  This may be due to the women’s championship fight and Khabib Nurmogomedov

Iaquinta replaces Holloway in UFC 223 main event

April 6, 2018

Al Iaquinta has filled in for Max Holloway to take on Khabib Nurmogomedov after it was determined that Holloway could not make the required weight of 155 pounds.

Holloway, filling in on less than a week’s notice, was unable to make the weight according to officials.  One has to wonder whether having Holloway come to Brooklyn to fight made sense considering he was coming off an injury and the compressed time to make the weight.

Paul Felder offered to take the fight but the New York State Athletic Commission indicated that since he was not ranked, he could not take the championship fight.  The reasoning falls in line with what many have advocated with the Ali Act – Felder was not ranked high enough to take the fight for the Championship.

Iaquinta, Felder’s opponent steps in to the main event.  And, it appears there’s a discrepancy on whether this is a title fight or not.

Payout Perspective:

UFC 223 seemed like such a great event and the events of fight week have soured some good fights.  If Iaquinta were to pull an upset over Khabib, the heavy favorite, we could see a strained relationship with the New York State Athletic Commission.

McGregor detained by NYPD and more fallout from UFC 223 media day

April 5, 2018

Conor McGregor has been detained by the New York Police Department according to MMA Junkie as of Thursday night which brings an end to a tumultuous day for UFC 223.  Three bouts have been cancelled due to McGregor’s actions at the Barclay’s Center.

The UFC has issued a statement in light of the incident:

“During today’s media event at Barclays Center to promote UFC 223: Khabib vs. Holloway, Conor McGregor and Artem Lobov entered the building accompanied by over a dozen individuals.

The group, which included McGregor and Lobov, vandalized the vehicle that contained a number of athletes competing at the event taking place this weekend. NYPD was immediately alerted and is currently in the process of investigating the situation. UFC is working very closely with the New York Athletic Commission, Barclays Center security and law enforcement authorities. All parties are working together to ensure the highest standard of proper safety precautions are implemented to protect the fans and athletes.

The organization deems today’s disruption completely unacceptable and is currently working on the consequences that will follow. Immediately, Lobov has been removed from this weekend’s card and individuals involved in the incident are not welcome at tomorrow’s ceremonial weigh-in or Saturday’s event at Barclays Center.”

Lobov was set to meet Alex Caceres.  Michael Chiesa was injured on the bus when glass cut him and his fight with Anthony Pettis was taken off the card.  Ray Borg also injured his eye during the incident and his fight with Brandon Moreno was scratched.

Payout Perspective:

There will be a substantial legal fallout from Thursday’s ruckus and most of it will not even deal with McGregor’s criminal issue which will be a relatively minor offense and will be pleaded out (settled) by his attorney.  The question about whether the athletes not involved in the offense will be paid is unknown.  By contract, none of these fighters made weight since that does not happen until Friday.  Moreover, the UFC has been known not to compensate fighters if an injury occurs to their opponent.  Also, what becomes of Alex Caceres whose only fault was that he was facing Lobov.  These fighters may have legal claims against McGregor and the UFC will also have legal issues against McGregor as it was forced to cancel at least two fights due to the attack.  We will see how the UFC deals with these issues and when the fighter lawsuits might occur.

Conor McGregor sought after by NYPD after UFC 223 media day incident

April 5, 2018

Conor McGregor made his presence known at UFC 223 media day as he attacked a bus carrying UFC fighters as they were leaving the arena.  Michael Chiesa was injured and is reportedly off the card this Saturday.

McGregor and his entourage which included UFC fighter Artem Lobov made their way through the Barclays Center in search of Khabib Nurmogomedov.  Footage shows what appear to be McGregor throw a guard rail into a bus, breaking one of the windows.

Dana White indicated that Lobov, who was scheduled to fight this Saturday, is now removed from his fight due to the incident. The New York Police are looking for McGregor and anyone else involved in the incident.

Payout Perspective:

What exactly ignited McGregor is not clear aside from the fact that White announced that Khabib-Max was for the lightweight championship, a title McGregor has held but not defended.  It could have been a confrontation between Lobov and Khabib earlier this week.  Still, if you are a professional and want to keep your place in the organization, there are other ways to go at it.  There will be repercussions from this incident and one has to wonder what in the world was going to be accomplished by these actions.  There is a good possibility that there is legal trouble coming forward especially Chiesa if it is determined that he’s off of Saturday’s card.

Money, proposed date of event derailed UFC in Hawaii

April 4, 2018

Dana White stated at the UFC 223 pre-fight press conference on Wednesday that the promotion is no longer interested in a UFC event in Hawaii.  After Max Holloway urged the UFC to hold a fight in the state earlier this year, White stated that the tourism board shut down the idea of event in the state this year.

According to Hawaii News Now, tourism officials for the state say the UFC demanded a $6 million sponsorship fee in order to host a PPV at Aloha Stadium this summer.  The amount would exceed one which the Hawaii Tourism Authority paid the NFL in order to host the Pro Bowl.  The HTA’s entire annual budget for sports marketing is $5.8 million according to the HTA.  The tourism board countered with a $1 million offer to the UFC.

The event was to take place on August 4, 2018.  Notably, it was announced that the Staples Center in Los Angeles would host a UFC PPV on that date with Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw scheduled to fight on that card.

The UFC estimated that 20,000 people would come to Oahu’s Aloha Stadium to watch the bout.  The HTA did not agree with the August date since it would in the midst of tourism season and preferred a “fall or spring” date.

Payout Perspective:

It’s too bad that the negotiations appeared to be a take it or leave it situation with the parties far apart in fees and a date for the event.  From the HTA perspective, the UFC’s asking price was way over its budget despite the likely sell that the economic boon ancillary to the event would boost the local economy.  While the UFC could have done a smaller venue, the article indicates that the UFC wanted to go big here with a stadium which plays into a concern for White.  The August date would probably ensure good weather while a fall event may bring up an issue with weather.   If Holloway upsets Khabib on Saturday, expect the Hawaiian native to revisit the Hawaii event and for the HTA and the UFC to head back to the negotiating table.

No foolin’: Ferguson out, Holloway in to fight Khabib at UFC 223

April 1, 2018

Tony Ferguson is out of this Saturday’s main event against Khabib Nurmogomedov and Max Holloway has replaced the former interim champ on 6 days’ notice to vie for the UFC 223 lightweight title.  Ferguson suffered an injury to his knee in what appears to be a non-training accident.

The news comes on April 1st, which made the announcement a little confusing for fight fans since many thought it was a ruse.  But, in fact, it was the truth that Khabib and Tony is being scrapped for a fourth time.

The replacement is better than most since it’s the Featherweight Champion Max Holloway.  Of course, Holloway is coming off of his own injury and needed to be removed from last month’s UFC 222 against Frankie Edgar.

Dana White made a video announcement off the change.

Payout Perspective:

The change makes it known that the MMA gods did not want to see Tony and Khabib fight.  It appears that Tony’s interim title is gone and that the fight between Khabib and Max will be for the lightweight title unless Conor McGregor returns.  Holloway taking this fight coming off an injury and on just 6 days’ notice is something fans love but might not be the best strategy for his career.  Khabib is one of the best in MMA and Holloway might not be prepared for this fight unless he was already in fighting shape.  From a business perspective, the fight probably does not lose a lot of traction as having a champion step in to vie for another title makes it appealing.  If Holloway were to win, a fight with Conor McGregor might seem that much more appealing.

Official complaint filed against Canelo Alvarez, NAC hearing set for April 18th

March 29, 2018

Executive Director Bob Bennett of the Nevada Athletic Commission has indicated that he has completed his investigation of the Canelo Alvarez drug-test failures for clenbuterol and filed an official complaint against Alvarez putting into doubt the Mexican superstar’s rematch with Gennady Golovkin.

According to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times, the NAC is seeking a one year suspension.

Alvarez is temporarily suspended pending a disciplinary hearing scheduled for April 18th.  A planned hearing to extend his temporary suspension has been canceled.

Alvarez blames tainted meat in Mexico as a reason for the drug test failures.  Since the findings, Alvarez has moved his training camp to the United States.

Despite past evidence that tainted meat can lead to a positive drug test, GGG’s camp has remained skeptical.

Payout Perspective:

The news is drawing concern from fans about the prospects that the huge Cinco de Mayo showdown will be nixed due to the findings.  Requests for ticket refunds for the fight are becoming more and more a possibility.  With the hearing so close to the fight, it will be a cliffhanger for both Canelo and GGG as to whether a huge, big money fight will be canceled.

Amanda Lemos accepts two-year UFC ban by USADA

March 28, 2018

With just one fight in the UFC, Amanda Lemos has been suspended two years by USADA for a violation of the UFC anti-doping policy.

The suspension comes due to a November 8, 2017 failed test after her promotional debut loss to Leslie Smith at UFC Fight Night 113.

Via USADA release:

Lemos, 30, tested positive for stanozolol and its metabolite 16β-hydroxystanozolol following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on November 8, 2017. Stanozolol is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

Lemos’ two-year period of ineligibility, the standard sanction for a first offense involving a non-Specified Substance, began on November 8, 2017, the date her positive sample was collected

Payout Perspective:

A loss for the 30-year-old as she will not be able to return to the UFC until the fall of next year.  Stanozol is used as a performance enhancing drug and its unlikely that the women’s bantamweight had a viable excuse for why it showed up on her test.

Endeavor purchases NeuLion for $250 million

March 26, 2018

Endeavor has purchased NeuLion for a reported $250 million in cash.  NeuLion provides digital video broadcasts of sporting and entertainment events and has been involved in UFC and boxing matches including last year’s Mayweather-McGregor PPV.

The deal calls for Endeavor to pay $0.84 per share of NeuLion outstanding common stock.  The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018 pending regulatory approval and other closing conditions.  Once the deal is final, NeuLion will become Endeavor’s privately held subsidiary.

According to the Sports Business Journal, NeuLion has experienced “pressure on revenue from the loss” of the NHL as a digital media partner.

Payout Perspective:

NeuLion came under fire during the Mayweather-McGregor PPV as global streams for the fight were not working, or experienced bad streaming.  Class-action lawsuits arose against Showtime, the UFC and NeuLion.  However, it appears that most of those lawsuits have been settled.  The purchase of NeuLion allows for the UFC to utilize its technology and revamp its direct-to-consumer model.  Daniel Cohen, Octagon Media Rights Consulting Senior VP noted that UFC Fight Pass is at more than 400,000 subscribers and is seeking an increase in its media-rights.

Barnett receives only reprimand, no suspension, in USADA Arbitration hearing

March 23, 2018

Josh Barnett became the first UFC athlete to win an appeal through the UFC Anti-Doping Policy as a the opinion issued on Friday gave the heavyweight “no period of ineligibility.”  He only received a public reprimand but no suspension for the flagged drug test.

Josh Barnett wins USADA Arbitration by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Barnett tested positive for a banned substance as a result of an out-of-competition sample on December 9, 2016.  The sample tested positive for Ostarine.

Barnett noted that he was routinely taking dietary supplements “to maintain his conditioning as an elite athlete.”  The opinion notes he took 17 supplements prior to providing the sample that came up positive for Ostarine.  Tributestin 750 was one of the supplements that was supposed to contain only Tribulus Terrestris.  Tribulus is not a Prohibited Substance.  “It is claimed to naturally support the production of testosterone among other positive health attributes.”

Through working with USADA, it was discovered through the process of supplement examination that Barnett’s Tributestin was contaminated with Ostarine.  After testimony at the hearing, USADA conceded that the source of the Ostarine found in Barnett’s out-of-competition samples were from Tributestin as the product was contaminated.  With this concession which USADA seemed to admit from the outset and confirmed with Barnett’s testimony, the case “became one of the Applicant being the victim of a Contaminated Product with a Prohibited Substance.”

Barnett’s prior history of failed drug tests was discussed and the matter of whether this was a second infraction of the UFC ADP.  However, the arbitrator determined that a drug sample taken by the California State Athletic Commission

Notably, Barnett, gave the UFC notice that he was taking a “leave of absence” on December 14, 2016.  Two weeks later, his A sample came up positive for Ostarine.

The arbitration hearing took place on March 6, 2018, 14 months after his sample was taken.  The Arbitrator seemed to be persuaded by Barnett’s testimony as he described his detail in trying to make sure that he was compliant with USADA rules.  Notably, after his dealings with the CSAC, he devised a practice of “keeping each original container of any supplement he used and ensuring that a small portion of its content remained and could be analyzed.”  This seemed to sway the trier of fact.

The Arbitrator noted:  “I find this Applicant to be a very meticulous and careful person.  In my experience as an arbitrator of hundreds of doping cases I have never heard testimony from an individual who has taken so much care to record his supplement regime in order to avoid the very problem he is now experiencing.

Payout Perspective:

Barnett’s prior fallout from drug issues was the reason that saved him here.  It was his cataloguing of what he takes plus the samples he had that persuaded USADA.  Could the system be fabricated?  Yes, but the presentation seemed to be compelling to the trier of fact.  So, it was not just cooperation plus providing all of the supplements to USADA, but the original bottles and samples taken which likely ensured that Barnett would not be suspended.  While it was curious that Barnett announced leaving the UFC for a time two weeks prior to his notice of his drug test results, it seemed to be of no consequence in the final conclusion.

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