USADA issues 2 year ban for UFC light heavyweight

July 9, 2019

Former UFC light heavyweight Ivan Shtyrkov has accepted a two-year suspension from USADA for violation of the UFC anti-doping rules.  The Russian stated on social media that he tested positive for a banned substance and this was confirmed by USADA on Tuesday.

Despite accepting the suspension, Shtyrkov has signed with Rizin FF.

Shtyrkov accepted a fight against Devin Clark at UFC on ESPN +7 this past March but that fight was scrapped after USADA notified the UFC that two out-of-competition urine samples had returned an “atypical” result.  The samples contained the banned steroid boldenone and its metabolite 5β-androst-1-en-17β-ol-3-one.  Boldenone is a veterinarian drug used on horses but has been used by professional athletes.  Notably, Stephan Bonnar and Josh Barnett had tested positive for the banned substance.

Boldenone 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 (WADA) Prohibited List.

Shtyrkov is undefeated with 16 wins and one draw.  It was initially announced that he was “sick” and hospitalized as a reason from pulling out of his fight with Devin Clark.   Shtyrkov’s manager indicated that a USADA test came back with an abnormal reading and not a positive test for PEDs.

Payout Perspective: 

 Here’s a case where you can argue that the USADA tests were not conclusive for the banned substance.  Yet, evidence was clear enough to pull him from his UFC debut and we are brought back to the argument about how long a substance can remain in one’s system.  We’ve seen this with Jon Jones and this may have been another case.  Despite the ban, Shtyrkov has decided to continue his career with Rizin.

Champs Jones and Nunes top UFC 239 salaries

July 7, 2019

The Nevada Athletic Commission disclosed the salaries for Saturday’s UFC 239.  Jon Jones earned the most guaranteed of the night but Amanda Nunes ended up topping the roster.

With her win bonus and Performance bonus, Nunes drew $550,000.  Jones earned $500,000 with no win bonus and challenger, Thiago Santos, earned $350,000.

As compiled by MMA Junkie:

  • Champ Jon Jones ($500,000; no win bonus) vs. Thiago Santos ($350,000; no win bonus)
  • Champ Amanda Nunes ($300,000; $200,000 win bonus) vs. Holly Holm ($300,000; no win bonus)
  • Ben Askren($210,000; $160,000 win bonus) vs. Jorge Masvidal ($100,000; $100,000 win bonus)
  • Jan Blachowicz($46,000; $46,000 win bonus) vs. Luke Rockhold ($200,000; $150,000 win bonus)
  • Michael Chiesa($52,000; $52,000 win bonus) vs. Diego Sanchez ($103,000; $103,000 win bonus)
  • Arnold Allen($32,000; $32,000 win bonus) vs. Gilbert Melendez ($200,000; no win bonus)
  • Nohelin Hernandez($12,000; $12,000 win bonus) vs. Marlon Vera ($48,000; $48,000 win bonus)
  • Claudia Gadelha($51,000; $51,000 win bonus) vs. Randa Markos ($30,000; $30,000 win bonus)
  • Alejandro Perez($42,000; $42,000 win bonus) vs. Song Yadong ($45,000; $45,000 win bonus)
  • Jack Marshman($30,000; $30,000 win bonus) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan ($16,000; $16,000 win bonus)
  • Ismail Naurdiev($14,000; $14,000 win bonus) vs. Chance Rencountre ($14,000; $14,000 win bonus)
  • Julia Avila($10,000; $10,000 win bonus) vs. Pannie Kianzad($12,000; $12,000 win bonus)

Payout Perspective:

Interesting to note that Melendez earning $200,000 as well as Rockhold.  Due to his tenure with the UFC, Diego Sanchez drew $103,000 with the opportunity to have had doubled the amount.

UFC 239 attendance, gate and bonuses

July 7, 2019

UFC 239 took place Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The promotion awarded four bonuses highlighted by Jorge Masvidal’s record-setting KO of Ben Askren.

Perhaps the theme of the $50K bonuses Saturday were Knockouts.

Masvidal’s knee to Askren’s head ended the fight in just 5 seconds.  In addition, Amanda Nunes garnered a Performance Bonus for her headkick and follow up stoppage of Holly Holm.  Jan Blachowicz silenced Luke Rockhold with a solid fist to the jaw and earned him a bonus as well.  Yadong drew the only bonus awarded on the undercard with his KO of Alejandro Perez.

The event at T-Mobile drew 18,358 for a gate of $6,063,707.11.  The attendance, bonus and gate were announced post-event.

Payout Perspective:

The attendance and gate numbers bested last year’s annual July event in Vegas as UFC 226 drew 17,464 for a gate of $5,677,238.  Perhaps the uptick in attendance may have been due to Jon Jones’ appearance in the main event.  Arguably, last year’s Miocic-Cormier fight looked more competitive on paper.  The bonuses were reflective of the multiple stoppages on the card.

Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust Lawsuit file brief opposing Top Rank, Bellator and Golden Boy’s objections to use of documents

July 3, 2019

Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit filed an Opposition this past Friday to the objections of Bellator, Golden Boy and Top Rank from producing the use of “potential” confidential information at August’s evidentiary hearing.

The Plaintiffs hope to utilize deposition testimony from Scott Coker related to Coker’s prior employment at Strikeforce, a copy of a standard Golden Boy promotional agreement template with boxers and a single paragraph from the Expert Rebuttal Report of Plaintiffs’’ expert Dr. Andrew Zimbalist which displays Top Rank’s wage share for the years 2013 to 2016.  There is also additional financial information from each of the three parties which Plaintiffs contend is “granular information.”

Plaintiffs’ Oppo to Non… by on Scribd

A set of evidentiary hearings will take place the last week of August and mid-September to determine the evidence provided by experts in the Antitrust lawsuit.  Pursuant to a scheduling order, the parties have produced exhibit lists they intend to use for the hearing.  Objections and responses have now been filed with reply briefs coming soon.

In addition, Bellator and Top Rank have filed objections to the use of information that includes information.  As third-parties to this lawsuit (they are not a plaintiff or defendant in the Antitrust lawsuit), they have filed objections to preserve the confidentiality of the documents.

Plaintiffs point out the standard that Bellator and Top Rank must convince the Court is that there must be “compelling reason” to exclude the documents from use.  Described as a high burden by Plaintiffs they cite to the overarching public policy that there is an “assumption that the press and public have a presumed right of access to court proceeding and documents.”  The only instance in which a party could overcome the policy is if “closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.”

In arguing that Top Rank’s financial information which include the total annual revenues from 2010-2016 and average wage share are not commercially sensitive, they state that neither of the figures sought to use convey “granular, athlete-or event-specific information that could convey competitive advantage.”  Similarly, they suggest that the gross revenues from Bellator and Golden Boy would not provide a competitor advantage.

“Bellator and Golden Boy’s annualized gross revenues do not contain granular information that a competitor could potentially use to harm the Objectors because the figures convey no information that would enable a competitor to, for example, sign one of Objectors’ athletes, counterprogram Objectors’ events, or lure away Objectors’ sponsors.  If Objectors assert another type of harm, they have not articulated it and it is therefore waived.  Similarly, Objectors’ wage shares do not include information that could provide their competitors with an unfair advantage or put Objectors in a disadvantaged position in athlete negotiations or otherwise.”

Plaintiffs argue that Bellator’s annualized top-line revenues provide important context for assessing Zuffa’s dominant position in the market and wage share provides comparison regarding the class wide effects of Zuffa’s anticompetive Scheme.

With respect to the request to seal references to annual revenues and average wage share from 2010 to 2016, Plaintiffs argue that the information is “too old” to contain any competitive value.  Plaintiffs highlight the years in which each wants to seal their financial information from disclosure in arguing that the information is far removed from the litigation of today.

Bellator financial information:  2010-2016

Golden Boy financial information:  2015-2016

Top Rank financial information:  2013-2016

With Bellator and Golden Boy signing deals with streaming platform DAZN, Plaintiffs argue that the financial information is now obsolete.

Also, Bellator is asking to seal two passages from the deposition of Scott Coker.  Plaintiffs contend that there is not a compelling reason to do so.  Specifically, Coker reads from an email Zuffa produced that he wrote while he was Strikeforce president which is supposedly exemplifies Zuffa’s market share and its approach to competition.  The second passage asks the Court to seal identities of three principals in Strikforce’s parent company.

Finally, Plaintiffs claim that the Golden Boy standard contractual template is not a trade secret as it contains nothing specific or identifies an individual fighter.

Payout Perspective:

Top Rank, Bellator and Golden Boy will have a chance to respond to the Opposition Brief and argue the compelling reasons why the documents should remain confidential.  Alternatively, they might argue that the standard for exclusion is less than that proposed by Plaintiffs.  More likely, Bellator and Golden Boy will argue that the release and/or use of the financial information may provide a future template for competitors.  Regardless of how old the financial information is and despite any new partnerships, the information would be trade secrets that should not be disclosed to the public or utilized by Plaintiffs.  There is a lot riding on this ruling as Plaintiffs hope to use the information in late August for the expert hearings.  If not, it would present a big obstacle as they would have to find another way to present their evidence.  For Bellator and Golden Boy, the possible release of information might present more scrutiny on their company from its fighters and public as to the state of their finances as compared to prior statements of the company’s health.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC on ESPN 3 draws over 1M Saturday night

July 2, 2019

UFC on ESPN 3 drew 1,091,000 million viewers on Saturday night. The event was the second highest rated cable show for the day.

The event featured Junior dos Santos taking on Francis Ngannou with the Cameroonian-born Ngannou taking a first round KO. The event drew 543,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and drew an overall share of 0.69. The main card peaked at 1.247 million viewers.

In addition, the Prelims aired prior to the event and drew 553,000 viewers scoring 242,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and 0.36 share.

UFC on ESPN 1: 1.463M viewers, prelims 988,000
UFC on ESPN 2: 828,000 viewers, prelims 480,00
UFC on ESPN 3: 1,091M viewers, prelims 543,000

The 3-hour Prelims this past Saturday featured a big KO by Eryk Anders as he took out Vinicius Moreira in the first round. It also saw heavyweight Maurice Green as he defeated Junior Albini in round 1.

Payout Perspective:

Only Women’s World Cup Coverage bested UFC on ESPN’s main card Saturday night. While it did not do as well as the first event back in February, it still has to be considered a great success. The viewership reflects the dedicated ESPN viewer has adjusted to watching UFC and has produced nice ratings.

Daniel Cormier to host Kobe Bryant-produced ‘Detail’ series on ESPN+

June 30, 2019

Daniel Cormier will be featured on Kobe Bryant’s ESPN + show ‘Detail’ in which the Heavyweight Champion will provide analysis of UFC fights.

Bryant and former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning have hosted shows which break down the respective sports of basketball and football.

The UFC equivalent will be a five-part series on the ESPN digital platform and debut on Monday. Cormier will be breaking down the skills of UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. She is scheduled to defend her bantamweight title at UFC 239 on July 6th.

Subsequent episodes will include Conor McGregor, Kamaru Usman, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Israel Adesanya.

Payout Perspective:

This is a great feature involving Cormier and the sport of MMA.  It should help those wanting to know more about the UFC about the technical aspects of the sport.  Cormier is a great analyst on UFC broadcasts and he’s a definite student of the sport.

UFC onESPN 3 attendance, gate and bonuses

June 30, 2019

UFC on ESPN 3 took place Saturday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Main event heavyweight Francis Ngannou led the list of bonus winners with his first round KO of Junior dos Santos.

Also receiving $50K bonuses were Joseph Benavidez, Alonzo Menifield and Eryk Anders.  There was no fight of the night. All 4 finished their respective opponents.

The event took place at The Target Center in Minneapolis.  The event drew 10,123 for a gate of $952,204.77.

The numbers were announced post-event.

Payout Perspective:

Ngannou has righted himself after a terrible fight against Derrick Lewis last year.  He’s now stopped two former heavyweight champions (Cain and JDS) in his last two fights.  The event was well-attended for a Fight Night event.

UFC Greenville attendance, gate and bonuses

June 22, 2019

UFC on ESPN +12 took place on Saturday from Greenville, South Carolina.  It was the promotion’s first appearance in the area.

The event drew 7,682 fans for a gate of $567,930,80 according to UFC officials post event.  The event took place at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.

The bonuses of the night went to Deron Winn, Eric Spicely, Chan Sung Jung and Jair Rozenstruik.  The Korean Zombie scored his bonus with a first round TKO of Renato Moicano.  Rozenstruik earned the second fastest heavyweight KO in UFC history with a 9 second stoppage of Allen Crowder. Winn and Spicely started the evening with an entertaining fight that won FOTN.  Winn earned the decision.

Payout Perspective:

The event in South Carolina was one of the lowest turnouts in terms of gate and attendance but this may have been anticipated as the UFC enters regional markets across the U.S.  Similarly, the UFC had relatively small numbers when it visited Wichita, Kansas earlier this year.  The original plan as believed by most was for native Stephen Thompson to headline which may have provided an extra boost for fans to attend. However, due to injury Thompson was not ready to return to the Octagon.

Sean O’Malley USADA tests come back positive from residual Ostarine levels

June 22, 2019

Sean O’Malley is out of his July 6 fight with Marlon Vera according to the bantamweight in an Instagram post.  Coming off of a six month suspension, O’Malley could be facing another USADA suspension as he stated that a recent test found Ostarine in his system.

O’Malley was coming off of a suspension for a finding of Ostarine in a contaminated supplement.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Punished twice for doing nothing wrong. I have never taken anything illegal. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I will continue to train and get better everyday. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength” -Marcus Aurelius

A post shared by Sugar Sean O’Malley (@sugaseanmma) on

He stated in his Instagram post that two recent tests have found Ostarine.  He claims that USADA believes that his tests are related to residual from last level and “the low level is not providing me with no performance advantage,” per O’Malley’s social media post.

A similar situation occurred with Jon Jones and Turinabol when USADA determined that the trace amounts would not give him an advantage.

Payout Perspective:

O’Malley seems upset with this outcome but one has to wonder if USADA and the UFC are now changing its standard when it comes to drug testing.  As it did with Jon Jones, it is now focusing on whether or not the banned substance in the system would give the athlete a “performance advantage” versus a zero-tolerance standard which would hold the athlete responsible for what they ingested.  Obviously, the issue of contaminated substances may be factored in to consideration which may be O’Malley’s argument.  Yet, it’s still seems like a shift on how USADA addresses drug test failures.

Zuffa files objections to Plaintiffs’ Exhibit in Antitrust Lawsuit

June 17, 2019

Zuffa has filed an objection to Plaintiffs’ Exhibit List Documents.  The objection was filed this past Friday.

The parties in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit have exchanged their exhibit lists according to the Court protocol in anticipation of August’s Court Hearing between experts.

Defendant Zuffa LLCs Object… by on Scribd

Zuffa objected to the use of 28 of Plaintiffs’ 771 exhibits.  The company listed 5 reasons for the objections:

  1. Documents from an unrelated litigation that are inherently unreliable and/or untimely;
  2. Documents generated by third parties that are inherently unreliable;
  3. A document that is irrelevant to Plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions and confuses the issues to be considered;
  4. Documents that are inadmissible on the basis of hearsay; and
  5. Materials that were not timely disclosed

One of the documents that Zuffa objects to relates to a report prepared for the Golden Boy-Al Haymon lawsuit that was filed back in 2015.

One of the documents that Zuffa takes issue with is an expert report from Geen Deetz with respect to his work in the Golden Boy lawsuit.  According to Zuffa, Plaintiffs’ expert economist, Dr. Andrew Zimbalist ignores the data produced by boxing promoter Golden Boy when opinion on revenue share paid to boxers.  Instead, he uses data from the Deetz Report.  That data, argues Zuffa, directly contradicts data produced by Golden Boy in this case, “which shows a drastically lower share of revenue paid to Golden Boy boxers.

The crux of the objection by Zuffa is that Dr. Zimbalist admitted that he could not independently verify the data produced in the Deetz report.  As a result, Zuffa argues that the expert opinion of Dr. Zimbalist is therefore unreliable because the data he premises his opinion on has not been verified as true.

Additionally, there were 11 other documents that Zuffa objected to from the Plaintiffs’ Exhibit List that Zuffa claims are unreliable and not verified by Plaintiffs’ expert.

On other evidentiary grounds, Zuffa argues three more documents lack foundation as to an explanation on how they were prepared or were once again made by third parties not related to this lawsuit.  This includes a presentation (“pitch deck”) prepared by a third party, Banco BTG Pactual S.A.  which relates to the company providing Zuffa the document as “considerations about a potential sale of a minority stake of its operations in Brazil.  Another is from Vinci Partners and is titled, “A View on a Zuffa’s Strategy Toward Brazil.”

Exhibit 14 by on Scribd

Exhibit 13 by on Scribd

There is also a “partial document” from Deutsche Bank regarding the international operations of the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

As we took a look at Plaintiffs’ objections to Zuffa’s Exhibit List, Zuffa takes its turn with its own objections.  A lot of what hangs in the balance with these documents is the legal admissibility of them.  The Federal Rules of Evidence govern these situations in which parties attempt to admit documents to use in support of their case.  However, not all evidence can be used.  There are proper ways to introduce documents and (as argued by Zuffa) certain arguments just cannot be used for lack of authenticity and/or unreliability.

The parties will get a chance to respond to each other’s objections.  MMA Payout will continue to follow.

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