October 17, 2016
Georges St.-Pierre is a free agent according to the former UFC welterweight titleholder in an interview on The MMA Hour.
Rumors of GSP’s imminent return were strong but according to GSP his lawyer terminated his UFC contract after the UFC failed to offer him a fight.
GSP’s last fight was in November 2013 at UFC 167 against Johny Hendricks. GSP has remained active despite not being in the Octagon. According to the interview via MMA Fighting, GSP was offered Robbie Lawler but Lawler is taking time off from fighting after losing his title in July.
Obviously, there are two sides to each story and we will have to see if the UFC confirms that St. Pierre is indeed released from his UFC contract. If so, this would be big news for other organizations such as Bellator. GSP is a popular fighter despite being away from active competition since 2013. His return to MMA would spark interest with any promotion he might land with in the near future. Now let’s hope this does not get pulled into litigation which might keep GSP from returning.
October 17, 2016
MMA Fighting reports that Nevada’s Athletic Commission’s executive director Bob Bennett has clarified the fine assessed to Conor McGregor from his bottle-throwing incident. He states that the fine is $75,000 and not the $150,000 as previously reported.
Despite the fact that the $150,000 number was indicated at an open hearing of the commission, Bennett clarified that the fine was $75,000 and the value of a public-service announcement McGregor must do for the commission is valued at $75,000.
McGregor reportedly made $3 million from UFC 202 not counting undisclosed bonuses or PPV points.
The state attorney general originally recommended a $25,000 fine, 25 hours of community service and media training. The commissioners believed that amount was not enough.
McGregor was not a fan of the $150,000 fine stating that he would not fight in Nevada in the foreseeable future.
The backtracking to clarify the fine and then blame media seems like a mishandling of the situation by the NSAC and a way to reduce the fine without drawing an appeal. The $75,000 value seems like it was pulled out of the air without any evidence that a PSA would cost this much.
October 15, 2016
The UFC announced changes to its USADA arbitration rules which go into effect on November 1, 2016. The changes include a refund schedule for those that might appeal an arbitration.
Thus far, under the current arbitration rules, no athlete has taken their case to arbitration. However, Jon Jones is scheduled to arbitration his positive drug tests which kept him from competing at UFC 200 on October 31st.
The protocol and rules for challenging a flagged test by USADA are relatively the same and are outline here from our initial review of the rules.
The addition reflects the potential for a refund of the $2,700 fee to file for arbitration. An athlete that might file for arbitration, but decides to settle or withdraw their case prior to an appointment of an arbitrator may have the fee refunded up to 100% (minus a non-refundable $250). It could be refunded up to 50% minus the non-refundable $250 if the arbitrator is chosen but prior to the pre-hearing scheduling conference. 25% of the fee could be refunded minus the $250 if the arbitrator is chosen after a pre-hearing scheduling conference but prior to any contested motions being heard or pre-hearing briefs.
In addition, 13.7 was added which allows for a full refund of the arbitration fee if there is an arbitration finding that there was “no violation” or “no fault or negligence.”
Perhaps there was reason to hold Jones’ arbitration hearing prior to the new changes. Maybe not. But, the additions to the existing USADA arbitration rules seem to create more opportunity for an athlete to contest a drug test as there is a possibility to seek a refund of the fee to appeal. Of course, a fighter can also seek a waiver of the fee and/or reduction based on economic condition. So, the refunds might not be that big of a deal. Then again, it clarifies the fee portion of the appeal process.
October 14, 2016
Jon Jones will be the first UFC fighter to have an arbitration hearing pursuant to the UFC anti-doping policy. His hearing is set for October 31st according to MMA Fighting.
Jones’ hearing against USADA will be held in Los Angeles. The hearing is based on his positive drug test which pulled him out of his unification bout against Daniel Cormier three days before UFC 200. The fighter, beset with a multiple out-of-octagon issues, denied knowingly taking any illegal substance. The Nevada Athletic Commission revealed that the banned substances found in Jones’ samples were hyrdoxy-clomiphene and Letrozole, anti-estrogen agents.
Jones faces a maximum one-year suspension from USADA.
Unless there is a last-minute settlement between the parties, this will be the first and last arbitration under the current UFC-USADA format as the company sent a letter to all its contracted athletes detailing new procedures for the USADA appeals process. Just a few months ago, Jones seemed upbeat about a possible return sooner than later. We will see if that holds up at arbitration.
October 13, 2016
The Ultimate Fighter 24 Episode 7 drew 439,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night per Sports TV Ratings. It was the second-highest ratings of the season for the show.
The episode featured the coach’s challenge which involved golfing this season. It gave a chance for the showcase TopGolf in Las Vegas.
In the fight of the show, Tim Elliott submitted Charlie Allianz with a bulldog choke.
The episode drew 253,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo. It’s the highest rating in the demo this season.
It was the start of the NHL season but there was no MLB playoffs for TUF to compete with on Wednesday. This season’s episode improved from last year’s TUF 22 ep 7 which drew 379,000 viewers. Last season, ep 7 drew 377,000. The 439,000 viewers is second in ratings this season only to episode 3.
October 13, 2016
Dave Sholler, the UFC’s Vice President of Public Relations, Athlete Marketing and Development, is leaving the UFC to take on a role with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Dana White first broke the news on UFC Tonight and Sholler confirmed his departure on twitter.
Sholler worked in PR with the WEC and came over to the Zuffa-owned UFC brand upon the merger in 2009. Sholler is best remembered for his attempt to stop a face of altercation between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones in August 2014.
Sholler’s last event with the UFC will be the November 5th for UFC’s debut in New York.
Back when Sholler was with the WEC he pitched a story for a local Seattle outlet that I wrote for about an up and coming WEC fighter that was originally from Federal Way. The fighter was Benson Henderson. Through the years he has helped get access to Henderson and a couple others for the local Seattle outlet. Overall, he’s been very fair and from what most say is an overall good guy.
October 12, 2016
The Ultimate Fighter 24 Episode 5 increased to 574,000 in DVR +3 adjusted viewership via Nielsen.
Last week’s episode drew 366,000 viewers in live plus same day viewership on FS1. It increased 37% from last Wednesday.
The average DVR + 3 rating is 594,500. It averages an increase of approximately 40% from the Live + SD rating.
October 12, 2016
Dana White announced on the Colin Cowherd show on FS1 that Ronda Rousey will make her return to the Octagon on Friday, December 30th at UFC 207 to take on women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes.
It will be over a year since Rousey fought in the Octagon since she dropped her title to Holly Holm last November. Since the loss, Holm lost in her first title defense to Miesha Tate and Tate dropped the title to Nunes this past July at UFC 200.
This will be an interesting fight at we will see if the Rousey star is still big enough to carry a PPV. The show will be on Friday since New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year. The last time this happened was at UFC 141 with Brock Lesnar headlining against Alistair Overeem. Overeem defeated Lesnar and the show did 535,000 buys which is low considering Lesnar was on the card. You might expect that this card may do much more with Rousey’s return. Moreover, I would guess that there would be another title fight on the card to boost the promotion for this end of the year card.
On another note, the announcement on FS1 as opposed to ESPN which might be seen as a sign of future announcements.
October 11, 2016
The UFC 204 Prelims drew 678,000 viewers on FS1 on Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings. It is the lowest rated FS1 PPV Prelims thus far this year.
The event, which was held in Manchester, England featured Brad Pickett and Iuri Alcantara in the final event of the FS1 Prelims. Alcantara won via submission. The event also was featured at the end of the PPV telecast.
The event also scored 368,000 viewers in the Adult 18-49 demo.
*Note that in the above chart UFC 201 aired on FS2 and not FS1.
The PPV prefight show which aired prior to the prelims on FS1 drew 277,000 viewers and 114,000 in the Adult 18-49 demo. The post-fight show which aired on FS2 from 12:25am-2:00am drew 37,000 viewers and 16,000 in the Adult 18-49 demo.
The viewership was down which may be due in part to college football and the card. It is a decrease from the other prelims which have averaged over 1M viewers (minus 201 and thanks to some big cards this year). FS1 had bundled the prelims along with college football in its ads leading up to Saturday. However, it appears that a lot of the casual viewers watched college games.
October 10, 2016
ESPN reports that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has fined Conor McGregor $150,000 for his part of a water bottle-throwing incident at the pre-fight press conference leading up to UFC 202.
The commission decided to fine McGregor 5% of his fight purse and the funds will be disbursed between the state’s general fund and an anti-bullying campaign proposed by McGregor and his attorney at the hearing. In addition to the fine, McGregor is to do PSAs to benefit children. The Featherweight champion attended the hearing via phone.
The attorney general’s recommendation was to fine McGregor $25,000, community service and media training. But that was not enough for the commission. Their original proposal was to fine McGregor 10% of his fight purse, which would have amounted to $300,000. However, the commission deemed it too hefty a fine. Instead, it came to $150,000 plus the community service.
The arrival of the punishment seemed to be something done on the fly and without much logical reasoning behind it. While the AG recommendation seemed too low to them, they felt that they needed to exact more out of McGregor which was 6 times the recommended amount. Certainly, they could have suspended McGregor from fighting in the state to send a message. But, they realize that he’s set records in the state for attendance and gate in Nevada and that would be detrimental to the state. Although McGregor can appeal the punishment by appealing in court, it seems unlikely.