Zuffa in advanced talks to sell UFC

May 10, 2016

Zuffa is in advanced talks to sell the UFC according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.  The transaction could land the current owners $4 billion.

John Nash of Bloody Elbow and Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report had reported the possibility of the sale earlier this year.

There are at least four bids to purchase the organization including WME/IMG, China Media Capital, The Blackstone Group and Dalian Wanda Group.

Zuffa LLC headed by the Fertitta brothers and Dana White purchased the UFC for $2 million.  The company is being valued at $3.5 to $4 billion.

Payout Perspective:

The fact Zuffa is fielding multiple offers is interesting considering it is still dealing with an antitrust lawsuit filed by former fighters as well as potential lobbying expenditures if an amendment is made to the Ali Act which would include mixed martial artists.  One would think that prospective buyers would be concerned with these issues since it would be there responsibility once acquired.  Of course, the UFC has succeeded in getting MMA legal in New York and withstood another FTC investigation.  MMA Payout will keep you posted on the prospective buyers.

UFC Fight Night 87 draws 656,000 viewers, Prelims 494,000

May 10, 2016

UFC Fight Night 87 drew 656,000 viewers on FS1 Sunday afternoon according to Sports TV Ratings.  The Prelims which preceded the main card drew 494,000 viewers.

The main card featured Alistair Overeem taking on Andre Arlovski.  Overeem, the crowd favorite, stopped Arlovski in the second round.  The prelims were highlighted by Rustam Khabilov as he defeated Chris Wade via unanimous decision.

Notably, the main card ratings were slightly below last month’s Sunday UFC show (781,000) from Croatia.  However, the prelim card was better than last month’s rating (443,000).

According to Sports TV Ratings, the main card drew 340,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The prelims drew 257,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

UFC Fight Night 2016
Main Card Prelims
UFC Fight Night 81 2,288,000 1,767,000
UFC Fight Night 82 1,300,000 1,093,000
UFC Fight Night 83 983,000 829,000
UFC Fight Night 85 1,149,000 766,000
UFC Fight Night 86 781,000 443,000
UFC Fight Night 87 656,000 494,000

UFC Fight Nights through 87

Payout Perspective:

I am not opposed to Sunday morning UFC but due to the international audience and start times that relate to the region, the ratings are affected.  Of course, Mother’s Day may have played a part as well.  It will be interesting to see what the DVR rating is for this event.

Belfort compares Reebok deal to slavery

May 9, 2016

UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort compared the Reebok deal to slavery according to an interview he did with Sports TV Brazil.

Translated by Bloody Elbow:

“MMA is a lot closer to entertainment than sport these days. I’m not satisfied with the way the company is handling sponsorship. We are pretty much living in slavery. We can’t use our own sponsors, they are banned inside the Octagon. We have no properties… I hope I can leave a legacy which fighters can use to raise awareness about a minimum wage pay. It’s a contact sport. I don’t think it’s fair for someone to earn 500 dollars to be elbowed in the face. There has to be a retirement plan, which does not exist now. That’s something for the next generation. They need to save their money and invest. They need to know the athlete life will end.”

Payout Perspective:

Salacious comments from Belfort but the remark is support to evoke some emotion from the reader.  Last year, Belfort’s wife and manager indicated that he has lost millions due to the deal.  The sports agency 9ine, founded by Ronaldo, cut ties with the UFC due to Reebok.  The agency had ties with Belfort and Anderson Silva.  Based on his comments, it’s clear that Belfort was one greatly affected by the deal due to the amount of money he could earn from sponsors.  Since that is no longer happening, he is one of the contracted fighters speaking out.

UFC Fight Night 86 attendance, gate and bonuses

May 8, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC Fight Night 86 from Rotterdam in The Netherlands.

The numbers were announced at the post-fight press conference.

Alistair Overeem, Stefan Struve, Germaine de Randamie and Gunnar Nelson earned Performance of the Night Bonuses of $50,000 each.  There was no Fight of the Night bonus.

Notably, the bonuses went to the four winners of the last four bouts of the event.

In addition, attendance and gate were announced with 10,421 fans coming to the Ahoy Rotterdam to watch the UFC for the first time.  The live gate was announced at $1,523,320.

The venue houses up to 15,818 at its capacity.

2016 attendance and gates from international Fight Nights:

UFC Fight Night 86, Zagreb, Croatia: 13,177, $549,000

UFC Fight Night 85, Brisbane, Australia: 9,552, $1M

UFC Fight Night 84, London, England, 16,734 $2M

Payout Perspective:

It was a good debut for the UFC in the Netherlands.  The attendance and gate are on par with what we’ve seen this year.  The UFC’s expansion of its footprint into other countries seems to be working.  Utilizing fighters in this region with the help of hometown favorites like Overeem in the Netherlands also buoys the strategy.

TUF 23 Episode 3 draws 414,000 viewers

May 6, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter Season 23, Episode 3 drew an average rating of 414,000 viewers Nielsen.  While it’s a modest increase from episode 2 it is a 23% decrease from last season.

In the fight of the night, Tatiana Suarez of Team Claudia defeated J.J. Aldrich of Team Joanna via rear naked choke.  Team Claudia is up 2-0.

According to Sports TV Ratings, the live + SD viewership drew 243,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

After TUF, TUF Talk on FSI drew 156,000 viewers which is a 34% increase over last week’s episode of TUF Talk which drew 116,000 viewers.

Episode 3

Payout Perspective:

The NBA and NHL Playoffs were the most-watched sports programs and cable Wednesday night per Sports TV Ratings.  Through 3 episodes the series is averaging just 427,000 viewers in live + same day viewership.  Last year through 3 episodes, TUF 22 averaged 539,000 viewers.  TUF 21 drew 436,000 viewers through 3 episodes.  It does seem that the DVR viewing is picking up a lot of viewers which may seem to be the better indicator of who’s watching the show.

Investors file lawsuit over PBC investment

May 5, 2016

Earlier this week, it was reported that a lawsuit had been filed in Kansas by two investors that claimed that it was misled about investments made by a fund which helped Premier Boxing Champions with seed money.  Despite the fact that he lawsuit filed in federal court was voluntarily dismissed and filed in state court, the lawsuit reveals information behind the funding of PBC.

Ivy Investment Management, Co. and Waddell & Reed Investment, Co. were sued by three investors in the funds which helped fund PBC in a derivative lawsuit filed earlier this year.  Ryan Caldwell, the portfolio manager, was accused of spending the money for his own intended benefit.

The federal complaint claims that the two funds spent approximately $925 million on “a start-up and potentially criminal” boxing promotion.

The plaintiffs claim that Caldwell’s actions were against the prospectuses for the Funds.

The complaint states that the investment strategy “primarily focuses on securities issued by large capitalization companies” which offered a “high probability of return or, alternatively, can provide a high degree of relative safety in uncertain times, with Strong cash flow streams and “high sustainable cash flow.”  Plaintiffs claim that PBC was a “high-risk venture” which met none of the criteria.

They also claim that as a fund manager he should have been making objective investment decisions.

The lawsuit alleges that Caldwell did not disclose an affiliation with PBC or Al Haymon which plaintiffs infer was either a potential or actual conflict of interest related to the investment strategy for the fund.

Plaintiffs also state that Caldwell resigned as the fund manager to join one of Haymon’s companies.

Courthouse News reports that the funds defend the investments and cite the fact that two similar prior lawsuits were dismissed.

Last year, the Sports Business Journal did a story on PBC which indicated that the Waddel & Reed fund was $40 billion.

Payout Perspective:

One might expect the state lawsuit to mirror the federal lawsuit.  The Complaint takes some information from the Top Rank/Golden Boy – Al Haymon lawsuit.  Notably, the three plaintiffs are not residents of Kansas.  However, Ivy Management’s principal office is in Overland Park, Kansas.  It will be an interesting lawsuit as the funds will defend its investment strategy and likely characterize the plaintiffs as disgruntled investors.  While the complaint is compelling, investor discontent happens especially when money is lost and/or the return on investment is not what was expected.  Last April, the Sports Business Journal did a story on the investment behind PBC and the fact that Caldwell had helped infuse the startup with $425 million in capital from a $40 billion fund.  The story also went on to discuss that Caldwell invested about $1.5 billion in Formula One racing out of the same fund.

MMA Payout will continue to follow.

TUF 23 Ep 2 DVR rating boost rating up 63%

May 5, 2016

Before we report on last night’s TUF 23 rating, we have learned the adjusted ratings from Episode 2 last week.  Despite a very low overnight version, the Live+3 rating boosted the episode viewership up 63%.

UPDATED: Per Nielsen, the debut episode of TUF 23 drew 703,000 viewers in adjusted ratings from DVR viewership.  The rating reflects a 47% improvement from the live plus same day rating of 479,000.

TUF 23 Episode 2 drew just 387,000 viewers but based on the DVR viewership, it is up to 629,000 viewers.  Notably, last season’s TUF 22 Episode 2 DVR viewership saw an increase of 60% (463,000 to 740,000).  TUF 21’s Episode 2 saw an increase of 30% (454,000 to 646,000).

Payout Perspective:

Based on the increase in viewership, you could assume that many people that are interested in the show are recording it for later.  With the NBA and NHL playoffs, it’s clear people that also watch this show are watching the playoffs live and watching TUF later.

VanZant postponing return to Octagon

May 3, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that Paige VanZant will not be a part of UFC 200.  VanZant’s star is budding with her involvement on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

After her loss to Rose Namajunas this past December, the schedule was to have PVZ back in the Octagon for UFC 200.  However, her appearance on the network show has taken off and she is doing well in the competition, she has decided to postpone her return to fighting.

PVZ was one of the first athletes to secure an individual Reebok deal and her looks have made her a marketable fighter on the UFC roster.

The UFC had hoped to use her network dancing notoriety to help promote UFC 200.

Payout Perspective:

I think most people could see this one coming.  It’s clear that the show’s success should propel her into other television opportunities.  Thus, why would she want to go back into fighting where she could get her as well as destroying her face.  I’m sure we recall what she looked like at the Namajunas fight.  Frankly, fighting is a tough sport and if you can make a living not having the risk of getting injured you should not blame her.

Will the Ali Act help protect MMA fighters?

May 2, 2016

With the recent news that there will be a proposed amendment to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to include MMA fighters, I take a look at boxers that have tried to sue under the Ali Act over at The White Bronco.

The Ali Act which serves to protect boxers from unsavory business practices from the likes of promoters and managers has had a handful of lawsuits where a fighter has sued under the Ali Act.  By my estimation there has not been one where a boxer has prevailed.  Only in the case of Jeff Lacy (the name may sound familiar as he was the boxer Nick Diaz was allegedly going to box if his MMA career did not continue) was there a favorable finding from the court.

Andre Ward, Joseph Agbeko, Bermane Stiverne and Mikey Garcia are other fighters that have filed suit under the Ali Act but were not successful in court.  Of course, in the instances of Ward and Garcia, they were granted releases from their promoters but after extended litigation which sidelined their careers.  Stiverne was able to reconcile with his promoter, Don King.

One of the overarching themes in the litigation is the disclosure component of the Ali Act in which requires promoters to disclose its payouts to its fighters.  Most recently, Chris Algieri complained about this issue with his longtime promoter.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what becomes of the proposed amendment and how much support it receives.  While the intent is good, the present Ali Act has its flaws which should be addressed if we are talking about amending the Ali Act.  Of course, we may see opposition to the Ali Act by those not wishing that MMA fighters are covered.

Brain health testing to be required in Nevada; Sen. McCain suggest Ali Act to extend to MMA

April 29, 2016

Earlier this week, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that the Nevada Athletic Commission will require all licensed fighters to undergo regular brain health testing.  Arizona senator John McCain, Spike TV President Kevin Kay and Bellator MMA President Scott Coker were present with an announcement occurring on Capitol Hill.

The Cleveland Clinic will assess the athletes using its iPad app that can help detect the symptoms of concussions.

Senator McCain spoke with MMA Fighting’s Luke Thomas regarding the announcement.  He also indicated that he would be in favor of extending the Muhammad Ali Act to MMA.

For those that did not know, Senator McCain was the original sponsor of the Ali Act.

Payout Perspective:

This is a step in the right direction for the sport as we see that the continued advances in science and technology helping detect brain injury. As for Senator McCain’s comments, I understand the sentiment and the rationale for extending the Ali Act to MMA. The question is whether the law, as presently drafted, is living up to the intent of what it hoped to accomplished.  While Bellator may be behind amending the Ali Act, the UFC appears to not have the same position on this subject.

« Previous PageNext Page »