White infers Jones may be back in Octagon soon

August 16, 2016

Jon Jones may be back in the octagon sooner than expected according to Dana White in an interview with Jim Rome on Tuesday.  White indicated that Jones’ removal from UFC 200 due to a flagged USADA test may reveal that the former light heavyweight champion did not knowingly take a banned substance.

According to a preliminary hearing on July 18th, the Nevada Athletic Commission indicated Jones tested positive for Hydroxy-clomiphene, an anti-estrogenic agent, and Letrozole metabolite, an aromatase inhibitor.  These drugs are typically used in after a cycle of anabolic steroids.

Jones, whose case has yet to be heard by the Nevada Athletic Commission, indicated in an Instagram post on Sunday (although it has since been taken down) that he had found out “a lot of good news” and he expected to be back in the octagon “really soon.”

Although the NAC retains jurisdiction over Jones’ case, he is still subject to USADA discipline per the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  Neither organization has commented on Jones or White’s public statements.

Payout Perspective:

If it is determined that Jones’ is clear of any wrongdoing, his case should be a sign that the UFC anti-doping policy should undergo changes.  Requiring expediting results might not cure all the faults with this issue, but Jones was taken off of the biggest card of his career as well as costing the UFC excess money to alter the marketing for the event.  If Jones did not take PEDs, he should have been able to headline UFC 200.  Obviously, this is all speculation as White (who probably should not have revealed Jones’ test results but clearly that was the intent of the interview) was merely speculating to keep fans interested.

Borris talks PFA purpose on The MMA Hour

August 15, 2016

Professional Fighters Association’s (PFA) Jeff Borris was a guest on The MMA Hour to discuss the newly formed PFA which seeks to unionize UFC fighters.  Borris spoke at length about his reasons for his involvement and how his organization differs from MMAFA.

Borris was amazed when he first saw the bout and promotional agreement for Diaz-McGregor I as he saw things that were not valid, unenforceable and needed to be changed.  Lloyd Pierson, a co-worker of Borris and the agent for Diaz, had asked Borris for input on the agreements.

With the seeming tension between MMAFA, Borris indicated that he did not oppose their purpose but believed that it was different from what PFA intendes to do for UFC fighters.

Among its action items once PFA has a bulk of the over 600 UFC contracted fighters on its side were health insurance, pension benefits, a grievance policy and a bargained-for drug policy.

Borris noted the concern existing UFC fighters have had with respect to organizing for fear of retaliation.  He indicated that he will be in Vegas and hold a press conference this week as UFC 202 happens on Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

Borris is a part of the Ballengee Group.  The agency represents the Diaz Brothers which is a point of concern from some as there would appear to be a conflict of interest with organizing a union while representing fighters.  Borris indicated that it would be the fighters that would be in charge of the union.  He indicated that the UFC had not contacted him since the announcement of the PFA.  We will see how/if the UFC addresses this new organization seeking to unite UFC fighters.

Concern, dissentwith new PFA?

August 12, 2016

With the news that the Professional Fighters Association is seeking to organize UFC Fighters, it has drawn the concern of long-time organization Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association.

According to a Forbes piece on the issues, MMAFA is taking issue with the fact that PFA did not reach out to its organization.  MMAFA has been on the front lines of trying to organize fighters.  Rob Maysey, one of MMAFA’s founding members, is quoted in the Forbes piece that they question PFA’s motives.

Maysey’s firm is one of the plaintiffs’ firms currently involved in the UFC antitrust lawsuit in Las Vegas.  MMAFA has several current and former MMA fighters involved in the organization.

One of the concerns is that PFA is led by an agent, Jeff Borris, who has represented baseball players.  As argued by Maysey, there is a conflict of interest with agents representing individuals and secondly the inherent competition with other agents will make it hard for other agent-represented athletes to join.  In addition, PFA’s exclusivity to UFC fighters (it has stated it is seeking to organize UFC athletes), may hurt other organizations.

Payout Perspective:

This was inevitable.  The business of organizing MMA fighters.  While Maysey makes salient points, there’s the obvious issue that he is partial to MMAFA since he is/was a part of the organization.  Aside from these two organizations, there are other groups that are seeking to organize fighters.  While this should be good for fighters overall, one can’t help but foresee an internal struggle between groups as to how to organize and what steps are best in ensuring better wages for fighters.

Shamrock given $2,500 fine, license revoked for Bellator 149 failed drug test

August 11, 2016

MMA Junkie reports that Ken Shamrock has agreed to a $2,500 fine in a settlement with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.  In addition, his license to fight in Texas is now revoked.

The settlement is a part of the post-fight drug test failure by Shamrock from February’s Bellator 149.  Shamrock’s pre-fight urine test came up positive for synthetic opiod methadone and the steroid nandrolone.  The Texas commission initially offered a settlement of a $3,000 fine and license revocation.

Shamrock claimed that the positive test was caused by medication.  But, he decided to settle the case instead of having a contested hearing on the matter.  Per Junkie, the settlement agreement was signed on July 11.  He will be available to apply for another license in Texas in March 4, 2017.

Payout Perspective:

The process in Texas took some time as the event took place in February.  Of course, it appeared that Shamrock thought about mounting a defense to the positive test results.  You might recall Kimbo Slice was found to have tested positive as well.  The question is whether the 52-year-old Shamrock will seek to apply for a license in March 2017, fight overseas or retire altogether.

Professional Fighters Association announces intent to help UFC fighters

August 11, 2016

The announcement of an association geared toward UFC athletes may be another step to a collective effort for fighters to organize.  The Professional Fighters Association (PFA) announced its formation on Thursday.

According to a press release put out by the PFA, its goal is to organize fighters “so that they may collectively bargain their terms and conditions of employment to the National Labor Relations Act.”  The release states that the PFA will be governed by fighters.

The PFA web site is run by veteran sports agent Jeff Borris, labor lawyer Lucas Middlebrook (who you might recall represented Nick Diaz against the Nevada State Athletic Commission last year) and economist Andrew Zimbalist.  The web site has quotes from leaders of other sports players unions praising the start of the PFA for UFC fighters.

MMA Junkie reported that a New York law firm is attempting to recruit fighters for talks about organizing.  With the UFC now legal in New York, it appears that there is an opportunity sought by attorneys to help organize the fighters.

Payout Perspective:

The PFA joins MMAFA as well as other groups out there seeking to organize MMA fighters.  It will be interesting to see how much traction it will receive as well as how much the UFC (and the new owners) may seek to oppose something like this.  Certainly, the disparity outlined by the PFA (fighters receive 15% of UFC revenue versus an almost across the board 50/50 split in leagues) regarding fighter pay might attract fighters to see what PFA could do.

USADA clears bantamweight after positive drug test

August 9, 2016

UFC bantamweight Ning Guangyou did not receive a sanction for a positive drug test.  Guangyou tested positive for trace amounts of clenbuterol but USADA deemed that he ingested it without fault or negligence.

According to the USADA report, the positive test is a result of an out-of-competition test back in May.  Clenbuterol was found in his sample.  It is an anabolic agent prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  However, as the report states, “the illicit administration of clenbuterol to animals destined for food production can result in, under specific conditions, a positive sample from an athlete.”

After review of Guangyou’s whereabouts, dietary habits and the lab reports, it was deemed that it was likely that he consumed contaminated meat in China.

The UFC issued a statement on its web site, a portion of it reads:

In late July, UFC was made aware of USADA’s investigation into the source of the prohibited substance clenbuterol in an out of competition sample collected from Ning Guangyou. Given it was initially unclear as to the timing of the resolution of the investigation, UFC made the decision to move Guangyou’s scheduled bout against Marlon Vera on August 20, 2016 at UFC 202 to UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Condit in Vancouver, BC on August 27, 2016.

Payout Perspective:

The good news is that this case was determined ahead of Guangyou’s fight so he did not lose out on a payday when there was a possibility that he may not be at fault.  The investigation shows that USADA is making an effort to ensure that positive tests reflect infractions rather than no-fault positive tests.  We have seen this with the finding of Meldonium in tests from UFC fighters.  From a business perspective, the investigations as well as the increase in tests this year will mean more investment into the UFC Anti-Doping policy.

UFC Fight Night 92 draw 863,000, Prelims 662,000

August 9, 2016

UFC Fight Night 92 drew 863,000 viewers Saturday night on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings.  The prelims, which preceded the main card on FS1 drew 662,000 viewers.

UPDATED:  The peak for the main card was 1,023,000 from 10:45-11:00pm ET.  This would mean that it viewership peaked pretty early.

The main card featured Alex Caceres and Yair Rodriguez in an entertaining fight in which Rodriguez pulled out the victory.  The event aired from 10:00pm to 1:27am ET.  It scored 428,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The prelims aired from 8-10pm ET.  The prelims also drew 325,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

The post-fight show on FS1 drew 229,000 viewers and 120,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

UFC FIght Night through 192

Payout Perspective:

The event fared better than UFC Fight Night 91 which drew 609,000 and 311,000 (Prelims) respectively.  Of course, that was on a Wednesday night this past July.  Saturday’s event did go up against the first weekend of the Summer Olympics from Rio.  The 863,000 for the main card is lower than June’s Saturday night Fight Night (964,000).  However, the prelims fared well as it scored the highest viewership since UFC Fight Night 85 (766,000) in March.

Report looks at costs, logistics of expedited UFC anti-doping results

August 7, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that USADA test results could be expedited which would allow for UFC officials to know ahead of the event whether or not a fighter fails a drug test.  Of course, the expedited results would come at a premium.

While the Brock Lesnar test results were received within industry standards, it would seem clear that the results could have been expedited if requested.

Expedited results could cost as low as $35 per sample but reach a maximum of $450 depending when the lab results are performed.  Per the article, requesting expedited results does not necessarily mean that they will come back in an expedited time.

Expedited results were not requested for any fighter at UFC 200.  This would include Brock Lesnar who tested positive twice for banned substances.

Andy Foster is quoted in the article.  He thinks that requesting expedited results for out-of-competition testing would be a benefit.

Payout Perspective:

It would seem logical that in order to protect the safety of its fighters, the UFC would request expedited results despite the costs involved.  While the article notes that it Is not definitive that results would come in time prior to an event, there is that opportunity to prevent someone on PEDs not to fight someone not on PEDs.  With USADA ramping up testing of UFC contracted fighters, it does not seem like expedited requests across the board.  But, it would be important for the UFC to look into expedited requests for championship fights and the main card fighters.  While this may get expensive, if they are truly invested in the health and safety of its fighters, it’s a worthy cost.

UFC Fight Night 92 attendance, gate and bonuses

August 6, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses from UFC Fight Night 92 from Salt Lake City, Utah.

The event drew 6,689 fans for a live gate of $481,033.  The numbers were provided to MMA Junkie post-fight by the UFC.  The arena, home to the Utah Jazz, houses 20,000.  It did better than the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Fight Night last month and UFC Fight Night 88 in Las Vegas (4,193, $359,000) this past Memorial Day weekend.

In addition, the $50,000 bonuses went to Yair Rodriguez and Alex Caceres for Fight of the Night.  Marcin Tybura and Teruto Ishihara earned Performance of the Night bonuses.

Payout Perspective:

The event bested Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s attendance and gate in terms of Fight Night attendance in new cities this year.  There was much of a draw for the MMA fans so the allure of a UFC-branded event was the pull to attend.

Moraes tops WSOF 32 salaries

August 3, 2016

MMA Fighting reports the salaries from WSOF 32 this past Saturday in Everett, Washington.  WSOF headliner Marlon Moraes topped the salaries with $180,000.

The salaries were disclosed by the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Via MMA Fighting:

Marlon Moraes ($90,000 + $90,000 = $180,000) def. Josh Hill ($10,000)
Lance Palmer ($28,000 + $28,000 = $56,000) def. Alexandre Almeida ($12,000)
Caros Fodor* ($18,000 + $15,000 = $33,000) def. Phoenix Jones* ($12,000)
Louis Taylor ($6,000 + $6,000 = $12,000) def. Phil Hawes ($5,000)

Hakeem Dawodu ($6,000 + $6,000 = $12,000) def. Marat Magomedov ($3,000)
Rex Harris ($3,000 + $3,000 = $6,000) def. Nicolai Salchow ($3,000)
Andrews Nakahara ($4,000 + $4,000 = $8,000) def. Travis Doerge ($1,500)
Matt Kovacs ($1,000 + $1,000 = $2,000) def. Bill Widler ($1,500)
Brett Malone ($750 + $750 = $1,500) def. Patrick Benson ($750)
Matt Coble ($1,000 + $1,000 = $2,000) def. Colt Hausauer ($700)
Tycen Lynn ($1,000 + $1,000 = $2,000) def. Justin Hugo ($1,000)
Joe Elzea ($1,000 + $1,000 = $2,000) def. Marcos Lopez ($1,000)

*Fodor received 20-percent of Jones’ purses due to Jones missing weight

Payout Perspective:

The payouts reflect the issue with pay among fighters.  Moraes, who the WSOF will want to keep to help attract fans is at the top of the company pay scale making $90K/$90K.  Two fighters (Benson and Hausauer) made $750 and $700 respectively.  It was Benson’s second pro fight.  It was Hausauer’s eighth pro fight although the first with a major organization.  I am not sure what to make of these payouts.  Either WSOF does not have the capital to pay all of its fighters or we should not consider WSOF a major MMA organization.

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