UFC releases photo of sponsors on the canvas for 236

April 12, 2019

The UFC has released a photo of the canvas for UFC 236 on Saturday.  Buffalo Wild Wings is the only non-Official UFC sponsor on the Octagon mat.

Per the UFC release:

Monster Energy: Official Energy Drink of UFC

Modelo: Official Beer of UFC

P3: Official Protein Snack of UFC

Devour: Official Frozen Food of UFC

Nemiroff: Official Vodka of UFC

BODYARMOR: Official Sports Drink of UFC

Warrior: The new original series from Cinemax, premiering April 5

Poker Stars: Official Gaming and Poker partner of UFC

UFC 236 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the State Farm Arena.

Payout Perspective:

It is Devour’s first time as a sponsor for a UFC PPV.  Also, Buffalo Wild Wings gets a slot on the mat.  One would expect similar signage on the posts of the cage which may include Monster Energy sharing a post with a convenience store.  The release of the sponsors pre-PPV is a new thing by the UFC and it seems like another way to help support its sponsors.

HEED sensors in gloves to track punches at UFC 236

April 12, 2019

If you have watched the UFC 236 Embedded episode 3, you learned that HEED will have sensors placed in fighters’ gloves so that viewers will be able to watch stats during the fight on the company’s app.

The real-time sports engagement firm forged a partnership with the promotion back in 2017.  It will be the first time that the real-time tracking will happen during a live UFC fight.  The New York-based company received a $35 million boost in funding last year and it looks like the company has its tech in a position to debut this Saturday.

The company also has a partnership in place with EuroLeague basketball.

Payout Perspective:

The purpose of the sensors is to create fan engagement with the infusion of more stats for viewers to peruse.  We’ve seen the use of additional stats in golf (on a tee shot) and baseball (when someone hits a Home Run) as well as other sports.  The information helps create interest and context for the sport.  Presumably in the Octagon, we will see the speed and power of punches thrown.  In the end, one might infer that these stats will lead to use when gambling is involved.  Regardless, this will be an interesting side note to watch during the event.

UFC lightweight returns from six-month USADA suspension from contaminated supplement

April 11, 2019

UFC lightweight Mairbek Taisumov has accepted a six-month suspension from USADA for testing positive for a prohibited substance.  Taisumov indicated that the failed test was likely due to a contaminated dietary supplement.

Stanozolol metabolites were found in an in-competition urine sample he provided at UFC Fight Night in Moscow, Russia this past September.

Via USADA release:

Following notification of his positive test, Taisumov provided USADA with information about dietary supplement products he was using before and at the time of the relevant sample collection. USADA obtained open packages of the dietary supplements and collaborated with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to source unopened packages from Russia. Although no prohibited substances were listed on the supplement labels, product analysis conducted on both the open and independently sourced, unopened packages of the products by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, indicated that they all contained stanozolol.

The 30-year-old’s period of ineligibility began on October 8, 2018 when he was put on his provisional suspension.

Payout Perspective:

 Taisumov did not miss too much time as he is able to return to the Octagon this month.  The contaminated product was verified by the WADA-accredited lab reflecting that the supplement did not indicate on the label that it had a banned substance, yet it did.  An issue that punishes the fighter despite reading product labels.

Report indicates Fight Pass “not going anywhere”

April 10, 2019

The Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand’s latest In Box email update reports that despite the success of the UFC’s partnership with ESPN, UFC Fight Pass is staying put.  He reports that it has “around 400,000 global subscribers” and will have some changes.

Ourand reports that the hiring of Crowly Sullivan as Vice President and General Manager of the day-to-day operation for the OTT platform means that there will be original content in addition to the expanded library and coverage of regional promotional events.  Sullivan, who owns a Sports Emmy, will likely be working on studio shows and documentaries according to Ourand.  The hire represents the commitment that the UFC has to its own digital platform despite partnering with ESPN +.

Sullivan, who worked for Mark Shapiro while at ESPN will work on attracting and retaining fight fans.

Payout Perspective:

The demise of UFC Fight Pass seemed inevitable if you believed that the UFC would have aired its PPVs on its own digital platform.  But, the UFC announced new additions to Fight Pass and Ourand’s news seems to suggest that the promotion is making an effort to keep its digital platform profitable.  It would seem that it would be in competition with DAZN for OTT combat sports fans and it will need to be creative in bolstering subscriptions while keeping its current subscribers happy.

EPO found in Dillashaw’s USADA tests, accepts 2-year ban

April 10, 2019

T.J. Dillashaw has been suspended by USADA for two-years for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy after testing for the prohibited substance EPO.  The former bantamweight champion has accepted the sanction.

The 33-year-old tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) as a result of an in-competition sample provided on the day of his fight against Henry Cejudo, January 18, 2019.  EPO, as the banned substance is commonly known, is notorious among the cycling community for its benefits with aerobic performance.  EPO is a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys.  However, it can be artificially produced to improve the performance of athletes.  It stimulates the body’s production of red blood cells, thereby increasing oxygen transport and aerobic power.

According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto another Dillashaw out-of-competition test from December 2018 was retested and showed EPO.  The reason it was not noticed previously according to Okamoto was due to the nature of the testing for the drug.

Dillashaw’s acceptance of the sanction likely means that there were no defenses which could save him from penalty.  Moreover, with his attempt to be a double champ and the well-documented weight cut down to 125, it seemed as though Dillashaw was superhuman.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Payout Perspective:

Dillashaw’s legacy is tarnished for now and we will see what becomes of him if and when he returns to the sport.  His tenacity, skill and effort seemed to be at a championship level but with this revelation, it’s tainted.  USADA will need to evaluate whether it is necessary for it to test for EPO since it does not always do that when testing athletes.

Pettis tops UFC Fight Night Nashville payouts

April 9, 2019

MMA Payout has obtained the payouts from the UFC Fight Night event last month in Nashville.  Anthony “Showtime” Pettis earned over $300,000 with his fight purse.

Pettis earned a KO over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.  He received $145,000 to show and another $145,00 for the win.  Thompson earned $120,000 to show and would have doubled that with a win.  Notably, the payout sheet received from the Tennessee Athletic Commission indicated Wonderboy would receive $12,000 to show although I would assume that is a typo.

The rest of the payouts are as follows:

Anthony Pettis: $145K/$145K

Stephen Thompson:  $120K

 

Curtis Blaydes: $75K/$75K

Justin Willis:  $38K

 

John Makdessi: $44K/$44K

Jesus Pineda:  $12K

 

Deiveson Figueiredo: $23K/$23K

Jussier Vieira: $46K

 

Luis Pena:  $8,400/$12,000 (Luis forfeited a percentage of his purse to Petersen for missing weight)

Stephen Petersen: $15,600

 

Maycee Barber: $12K/$12K

JJ Aldrich: $21K

 

Bryce Mitchell:  $12K/$12K

Bobby Moffett: $12K

 

Marlon Vera:  $45K/$45K

Frankie Saenz:  $30K

 

Alex Davis: $35K/$35K

Jennifer Maia: $12K

 

Randa Markos: $25K/$25K

Angela Hill: $24K

 

Ryan McDonald:  $10K/$10K

Chris Gutierrez: $10K

 

Eric Shelton: $14K/$14K

Jordan Espinosa: $10K

Payout Perspective:

Pena had to forfeit a portion of his purse to Petersen thus the $8,400 for the show and $12,000 for the win.  Pettis’ $290K plus his Performance Bonus upped his takeaway salary and Reebok pay to over $350K.  A good night for Showtime who may have found a new home in the welterweight division.

After barrage on Twitter, Conor offers to ‘move forward’

April 3, 2019

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmogomedov escalated their war on social media yesterday which required the UFC to step in which may have spurred an “moving forward” mea culpa by the former double champion.

The social media sparring began with McGregor posting a batch of pictures depicting a beaten Pauli Malignaggi after he had sparred the former lightweight champ as he prepared for his fight for Floyd Mayweather.  This was likely due to the Malignaggi getting into an altercation with McGregor stablemate Artem Lobov.  The showdown preceded Malignaggi and Lobov facing one another in a bare-knuckle boxing bout.

After his salvo against his former sparring partner, McGregor took aim at Khabib.  In two social media posts, he posted pictures of Khabib and his wife and made a derogatory comment regarding his wife.  The tweet was deleted by McGregor. However, the damage had been done.  Ali Abdelaziz, Khabib’s manager sent out a tweet attacking McGregor.

Khabib then tweeted an alleged photo of McGregor with a woman that was not the mother of his children.  The man’s face is blocked but the man in the photo is grabbing the woman.  Khabib claimed Conor to be a “rapist” and a “hypocrite.”  This may be in referenced to the allegations which have finally made public that McGregor is accused of sexual misconduct in Dublin stemming from a December 2018 incident.

Dana White issued a statement via Kevin Iole at Yahoo! Sports:

I am aware of the recent social media exchange between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor. The ongoing situation has escalated to a level that is unacceptable. As such, we are taking the necessary steps to reach out to both athlete camps and this situation is being addressed by all parties internally.” — UFC president Dana White

On Wednesday afternoon, McGregor sent out a tweet which seems to claw back the low-class attacks on Khabib:

Payout Perspective:

One has to think that public relations from the UFC and Conor McGregor worked together on the last tweet.  It’s clear that White was concerned about the social media escalation going on between the two fight camps based on the melee that occurred this past October.  The lack of professionalism by McGregor and the inappropriate response by Khabib is a part of the fight game but it doesn’t have to be.  While the social media fighting has become a way to trash talk opponents, there is a fine line of decorum and it seems like McGregor crossed it and Khabib followed along.  It’s clear that while White issued a warning, he has to tame the fued and it alive for a future fight.

UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2 draws 828,000 viewers, Prelims draw 480,000

April 2, 2019

UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2 drew 828,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The prelims which also aired on ESPN drew 480,000 viewers.

The main card saw Justin Gaethje KO Edson Barboza in the first round of the main event.  The event from Philadelphia drew 330,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.53 share.  The prelims, which preceded the main card drew 196,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.32 share.

Notably, Top Rank Boxing, which had the main UFC card as its lead-in drew 655,000 viewers, 224,000 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.43 share.

Payout Perspective:

There was stiff competition Saturday night due to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on TBS which likely drew away a lot of casual UFC viewers.  The ratings appear to be somewhat low if you consider how well the other UFC cards have done since the partnership began.  The Top Rank rating is promising and may have benefited from the built-in UFC audience.

Show Money 27 talks UFC-ESPN Deal, Endeavor IPO and DAZN price structure

April 2, 2019

Show Money is back as I jumped on with Paul Gift and John Nash to talk the ESPN + exclusive PPV deal, the looming Endeavor IPO and the DAZN price change.

Lifetime ban issued to UFC heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov

April 1, 2019

USADA announced its first lifetime ban as a result of violations of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy as UFC heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov was issued the sanction for his second and third violations.

 

The 32-year old was 3-0 in the UFC but his last fight was in October 2015 as he posted a unanimous decision win over Shawn Jordan.

 

Previously, Magomedov received a two-year sanction from USADA for the presence of ostarine in a September 2016 test.  He had claimed that he was using a contaminated supplement but USADA could not confirm this allegation.  The case (along with that of Zubaira Tukhgov) were consolidated and went to arbitration where USADA prevailed.

Via USADA press release:

Magomedov, 32, received a second violation after he tested positive for methyltestosterone metabolite 17α-methyl-5β-androstan-3α, 17β-diol, as well as stanozolol metabolites 3’-hydroxystanozolol-O-glucuronide, 16β-hydroxystanozolol-O-glucuronide, and stanozolol-N-glucuronide, as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample he provided on October 10, 2018. Methyltestosterone and stanozolol are non-Specified Substances 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 (WADA) Prohibited List.

Magomedov refused to take a sample collection from a request by a doping control officer during an out-of-competition test on February 5, 2019.  As indicated by the release, the refusal or failure to submit to a sample collection without compelling justification is grounds for a doping violation.

Payout Perspective:

This is the harshest penalty doled out by USADA as Magomedov is now permanently gone from the UFC unless he appeals the decision.  One might infer that his refusal to take the February 5, 2019 random drug test meant that he was concerned that he would test positive and instead of submitting to a test he decided not to do it.

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