MMA journalists announce formation of MMAJA

June 14, 2017

A collection of MMA journalists has formed an association calling themselves the “MMAJA” as first reported by SI.  The officers for the MMAJA include writers from MMA Junkie, MMA Fighting, Bleacher Report and The Guardian.

The Board of Directors is comprised of Dann Stupp, Ariel Helwani, Chad Dundas, Marc Raimondi, Ben Fowlkes and Josh Gross.  The goal of the association is to promote a high standard of ethics and professionalism and help navigate working relationships with promoters, fighters and others in the MMA industry.

According to SI article, the thought of an association came out of the UFC 199 incident which Ariel Helwani and two others were ejected by the UFC from the event after a report made by Helwani.

Of course, the other side of the story is that Helwani was being paid by the UFC to cover the company.

According to the web site, MMA journalists are encouraged to join.  There is a fee to join for a one year membership.

Payout Perspective:

This is a good idea as there are these types of associations in other sports like football and baseball.  While it is unknown how much true power the association will yield, collectively coming together and establishing standards is a step toward more of a professional appearance similar to that of other sports.  For the cynic, it does appear that writers from big media companies (Vox, Bleacher, Guardian) control the board but this could change as these are the people that started the association.  It will be interesting to see who will join and how promotions deal with an association.  Certainly, MMA media and bloggers that cover the sport have been a scapegoat when it comes to reporting.

Sonnen and Silva will be drug tested prior to Bellator NYC

June 13, 2017

MMA Fighting reports that Bellator NYC main event participants Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva will undergo drug testing prior to their matchup on June 24th.  The drug tests, which have already taken place, will be conducted by an independent third party and will be paid by each athlete.

The New York State Department of State confirmed that each athlete will pay for the costs of the tests.  No mention of the third-party agency that will administer the tests and the nature of the tests or how many.  Scott Coker stated that the results of the tests are expected to return before the bout.

Both Sonnen and Silva have had drug suspensions related to Performance Enhancing Drugs which is the likely reason for the extra emphasis on the main event.

According to the MMA Fighting report, Sonnen was tested four times prior to his fight against Tito Ortiz in California.  It will Silva’s first fight since he was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.  His last fight was in 2013 in Japan.

Payout Perspective:

Drug testing validates the main event and it should be something the promotion should look to do in the future.  For those skeptical about the fight, the drug tests attempt to ensure that both fighters are clean.  Certainly, drug testing for Bellator athletes is a good idea and makes sense for these two.

UFC Fight Night 110 draws 923,000 viewers on FS1

June 13, 2017

UFC Fight Night 110 drew 923,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which

According to Nielsen, it drew 0.40 in the A18-49 demo and 0.56 for males 18-49.  The event featured Mark Hunt and Derrick Lewis in the main event.

The prelims drew 696,000 viewers on FS1 and drew 0.23 in the A18-49 demo.

Also, the post-fight show on FS1 drew 351,000 viewers and 0.17 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The main card fared well considering it was an international card that was solely sold on Derrick Lewis versus Mark Hunt.  The 923,000 viewers is 4th for ratings for 2017 UFC Fight Night cards.  The Prelims were the 5th highest this year.  Basically, this card is right in the middle of ratings for Fight Night cards.

Could late August be the date for Mayweather-McGregor?

June 12, 2017

A calendar reservation on the Nevada Athletic Commission web site gave people some hope in a Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight as Mayweather Promotions reserved the MGM Grand Garden Arena for a professional boxing event to be televised on Showtime.

Conor McGregor sent out a cryptic tweet which indicated some news was coming soon

As of late Monday night, the request which was to be formally made at Wednesday’s commission hearing was removed and won’t be brought up at the meeting.  But, this may be due to the fact that an agreement on Showtime PPV has not been finalized yet.  Once finalized, a request can be made to the commission at a future hearing.  The request is likely a mere formality.

Of course, the commission also has on calendar a September 16th date for the UFC to hold an event in Vegas.  This would be the same night as GGG-Canelo at the T-Mobile Arena.  It’s clear that the UFC will not be running an event the same night as that fight.

So, there’s still speculation and lots up in the air but the news might mean it’s getting closer.

For those wondering, there’s a Bellator event scheduled on Friday, August 25th and no UFC event scheduled that weekend and it’s likely that this event would be competing with preseason NFL games.

Payout Perspective:

Could this be the date for this fight or just another public game of using media to place blame if/when the fight falls through.  There was a request for the date by Mayweather Promotions but then it was removed which could mean that they wanted to just get people talking.  We will see what happens in the coming days.

Judge orders UFC hand over fighter pay documents

June 12, 2017

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen issued a 26-page ruling on Friday in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit which requires the UFC to hand over a study related to fighter pay.  There were three document requests demanded by Plaintiffs which included information related to a fighter pay study.

Order on Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd


Mercer is a third party human resources consultant.  The primary dispute is over a study commissioned by Mercer to produce a “fighter pay assessment” to guide “future compensation and benefits program design, including fighter pay (base and incentives) and benefit levels.”

The UFC produced 6 documents to requests by Plaintiffs and there are 3 documents in dispute.  Two were created by Mercer and the third was an email chain between the UFC’s in-house counsel and its outside lawyers Campbell & Williams regarding setting up a phone call with “outside consultants.”

After the documents were received by Plaintiffs, a subpoena and deposition notice to Mercer regarding the fighter pay study.  At that time, the UFC notified Plaintiffs are “clawing back” the three documents in dispute citing work product.  Clawing back is a request made of the inadvertent waiver of alleged privileged documents.  The claw back is usually dictated by the protected order the parties agree to at the start of litigation.

Of the three documents in dispute, the first is a memo from a Mercer employee regarding statement of work for the fighter pay study, the second is the aforementioned email chain between the UFC’s lawyer and Campbell & Williams and the third is a draft presentation entitled, “Fighter Pay/Project Update and Methodology Discussion dated March 18, 2014.

As the judge’s order notes:

“The presentation discusses a comparator group of other sports organizations including NASCAR, MLB, the NBA, and the NHL whose compensation practices Mercer proposed to study to “provide an external basis for understanding how UFC’s fighter pay structure and practices compares to similar companies.”

All three documents claimed that the information was work product.

The key term to understand when determining work product is whether the documents were created in “anticipation of litigation.”  The Court determined that they were not.

Notably, the UFC argued that a previous “quite contentious” interaction with Bellator as reasons why the current information was work product.  They cited the Eddie Alvarez lawsuit which produced a contract that has been used time and again.

The Court did not buy the UFC’s argument that the documents were work product.

Under the Court Order, the UFC must produce the documents.  The Court did not intervene on another issue regarding privilege log designations from UFC – a list of documents that a party must produce to show the opposing side what it is withholding and what privilege it is claiming to withhold.  The Court wants the parties to conduct a meaningful “meet and confer” prior to judicial intervention.

Payout Perspective:

This is a loss for the UFC as it wanted the documents to be privileged.  With the documents in Plaintiffs hands, they will likely conduct a deposition of the Mercer employee(s) that produced the study as well as use the information in deposing UFC officials.  Will this facilitate any settlement?  Probably not, but the information may reveal information for the overall theme of the case for the Plaintiffs.

UFC Fight Night 110 attendance, gate and bonuses

June 10, 2017

The main event of UFC Fight Night 110 drew Fight of the Night bonuses as Mark Hunt and Derrick Lewis led the list of $50,000 bonus winners.  In addition Ben Nguyen and Dan Hooker scored Performance of the Night victories.

The attendance, gate and bonuses were announced post-event by the UFC.

The event took place in Auckland, New Zealand and it was Mark Hunt’s first pro MMA bout in his home country.  He earned a stoppage win against Derrick Lewis in the 4th Round of their 5-round bout.  Nguyen upset Tim Elliott with a rear-naked choke in the first round.  Maybe most impressive was Dan Hooker’s knee to Ross Pearson’s chin which earned him the victory.

The event took place at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand and drew  8,649 for a live gate of $1,150,428 NZD (almost $830,000 U.S.) per MMA Junkie.

It was the UFC’s second time in New Zealand as it came to the country in 2014.  UFC Fight Night 43 drew 8,098 in attendance with a live gate of $1.04 million New Zealand dollars which equates to approximately $913,000 U.S. dollars.

Payout Perspective:

Derek Brunson and Vinc Pichel could have earned a $50,00 bonus as well but no complaints on Hooker or Nguyen.  The event numbers are on par with the UFC’s last visit.  It was an entertaining night of fights with a lot of stoppages.

TUF 25 Episode 8 draws 303,000 viewers on FS1

June 8, 2017

The Ultimate Fighter Episode 8 drew 303,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The show drew 0.12 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

The show featured two fights.  Hayder Hassan took care of Joe Stevenson with a first round TKO in the special wild card fight.  In the second fight of the night, Tom Gallicchio submitted Justin Edwards in the first round via RNC.

The show featured the annual coach’s challenge which was a game of tetherball in a pool with each coach having to balance on planks.  TJ Dillashaw came back to win the challenge and the money associated for him and his team.

Payout Perspective:

With Game 3 of The Finals happening the same night as TUF, it was clear that this was not going to be a night for live viewership.  Noticeably, DVR ratings are starting to increase over the course of the show, so we might be seeing people viewership pick up on the recording side.

McGregor moves upon annual list of highest paid athletes

June 7, 2017

Conor McGregor landed on this year’s Forbes Highest Paid Athletes.  It’s a step up from last year’s earnings of $22 million as McGregor registers in with a reported $34 million.

McGregor’s pay of $27 million plus an additional $7 million in endorsements.  McGregor fought three times in 2016 which averages $9 million per fight.  His earnings was enough for 24th on the list.

In boxing Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua made the list. At 43, Alvarez made $28.5 million ($27M fights, $1.5M endorsements) At 88, Joshua made $22 million ($18.5M fights $3.5M endorsements).

Cristiano Ronaldo topped the list again with $93M total.  The soccer star made $58M in salary and $35M in endorsements.  LeBron James was second with $86.2M total, $31.2 salary and $55M in endorsements.

Payout Perspective:

Impressive ascension on the list for McGregor as he made more in 2016 than Canelo.  While Alvarez fought twice and Conor fought three times, I assumed that Canelo would have made more overall and would have cleaned up in endorsements.  Yet, with only $1.5 million in endorsements, Anthony Joshua’s healthy stable of endorsements is better than Canelo.  The $7 million for McGregor is a testament’s to Conor’s ability to market himself as a viable brand.

UFC median TV audience age is 49 compared to 34 in 2006 according to SBJ study

June 6, 2017

The Sports Business Journal reports that television viewer data for 25 sports, including the UFC, boxing and pro wrestling, reflect that the median age of TV viewers have increased from 2006 to 2016.

The commissioned study by Magna Global, shows that pro wrestling, the UFC and action sports have shown the most dramatic increase in median age from 2006 to 2016.  The UFC’s median age is now 49, which reflects an increase of 15 years which means that the median age in 2006 was 34.  For pro wrestling, the median age is 54 which reflects a 21-year increase which makes the 2006 median age for pro wrestling 33 years old.

Of the 25 sports reviewed, only WTA Tennis, decreased in age demo with it going down from 63 years of age to 58.

There’s been no big change to boxing’s demo as its median age has gone up just 4 years since 2000.  It is 49 in 2016 and was 45 16 years previous.

Notably, the youngest viewing audience according to the study was the Mexican football (soccer) league system, Liga BBVA Bancomer (MX), which has a median age of 32 years old in 2006 and 39 years old in 2016.  Second was International soccer, 35 in 2006 and 39 in 2016.  MLS was third youngest audience with the median age being 39 in 2006 and 40 in 2016.

Payout Perspective:

There were several takeaways from the study.  First, soccer seems to have the youngest audience.  I am not a big soccer fan so I do not really understand the fascination with the sport from a younger demo.

Next, the sports properties with which we think are competing demos have shown the aging in their sports.  The aforementioned pro wrestling, UFC and action sports (median age in 2016:  47, median age in 2006: 34).  Also, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series increased by 9 years in the 2006 to 2016 span (49 years old to 48 years old).  This means that the fans (most likely) have been loyal throughout the years which is a positive.

But, one may argue that this means that the sports are not doing a good job in cultivating a younger demo.  Traditionally, the younger demo, which is attractive to advertisers, has more spending power as they aren’t tied down with kids, mortgages, etc.  There are mitigating factors here.  For the younger demo, there are the cord-cutters and cord-nevers (those that never paid for TV) which would not be captured in this study.  Also, the birth of over the top platforms has happened in the past couple years which would not be registered in the study as well.  Finally, the changing landscape of TV viewership has changed over 10 years which may skew the demos.

In the end, the study may mean that the likes of the UFC and pro wrestling may shift its focus on advertising sales to an older demo.  Or, make a stronger pitch to the younger demo to attract those advertisers.

UFC 212: Payout Perspective

June 6, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UC 212 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where the Featherweight title was unified.

Holloway scores TKO over Aldo

Max Holloway scored an impressive stoppage of Jose Aldo to unify the UFC Featherweight Title (technically Aldo held the title and Holloway won the interim belt in December).  Holloway stopped Aldo in the third round.  It was an impressive showing of Holloway’s talent and his “no fear” attitude in going to Brazil, embracing his surroundings and winning.

Holloway is probably hoping Conor McGregor returns to division for a rematch of their first fight which took place the first day of FS1 in August 2013.  It was Holloway’s last loss in the UFC.  If that doesn’t happen a showdown with Frankie Edgar or perhaps Cub Swanson should happen.  My only bias, but I’d like to see that fight happen with the UFC going to Hawaii.  The logistics and expense would be tough but it would be a great visual to see the fans go crazy for the first Hawaiian fighter to win a UFC title since B.J. Penn.

The UFC covered the homecoming for Holloway which was a great visual and a sign that the company will get behind the new Featherweight king.

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53169658

Claudia Gadelha submits Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Gadelha looked impressive in submitting Kowalkiewicz.  The problem for the UFC is whether they can really have her face Joanna Jedrzejcyk for a third time when she lost the first two.  Perhaps they go with Rose Namajunas against Joanna before Gadelha gets another shot.

It was a disappointing performance for Kowalkiewicz as she previously had a good showing against Joanna.

Attendance and Bonuses

The event took place at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and drew 15, 412 as reported by the UFC.  The attendance likely means it was a sellout as the capacity is set at over 14,000.  UFC 134 was held in the same arena and drew 14,000.

The bonuses went to Max Holloway, Jose Aldo, Claudia Gadelha and Brian Kelleher.  Holloway-Aldo drew Fight of the Night and Gadelha and Kelleher drew Performance of the Night.  One could argue that Yancy Medeiros, Paulo Borrachinha or Matthew Lopez could have drawn a $50,000 bonus for their performances.  Also, Medeiros-Erick Silva could have been a FOTN candidate.

Sponsors

Budweiser was a prominent sponsor in Brazil as it had the center of the Octagon as well as the fighter prep point and the Embedded episodes.  Kingdom on Audience, UFC Mobile game, UFCStore.com, Hudson Shipping Company, Nissan, General Tires, Manguinhos, a previous UFC sponsor, was on the mat on Saturday.

The Nissan and General Tire sponsors are probably ‘one-offs’ for the Brazil event.

No Monster Energy in the Octagon.  Recall that TNT Energy Drink had the Brazil market at one point as the UFC sponsor.  Aldo was a big sponsor but it looks like that is no longer true.

Odds and Ends

Here is the local coverage in Hawaii for Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros.  The report states that a lot of the UH Football team showed up to see him.

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

The UFC Prelims were late on FS1 as baseball ran over into the time slot.  The event had to be put on FS2.  This may have had an affect on the ratings as it drew 732,000 viewers on FS1 for the bulk of the telecast.  The beginning part, shown on FS2, drew 218,000 viewers.

The Brazilian Commission did not adopt the new unified rules of MMA.  Fortunately, the rules did not come into play.

The UFC 214 promo came out and they look pretty good.

It was interesting that there was promotion for the UFC Fight Night Singapore event two weeks from now but not this week’s Fight Night from New Zealand.

The first Japanese UFC Champion, Sakuraba, will go into the UFC Hall of Fame.  The announcement was made during the PPV.

The “UFC Unfiltered” Podcast ran commercials throughout the PPV Prelims on FS1.

UFC 212 drew 200,000 google searches on Saturday.

Conclusion

200,000 google searches the day of the event, the MLB overrun on FS1 for the Prelims and the fight card in Brazil probably means that this PPV draws somewhere between 150K to 200K PPV buys.  In comparison, UFC 134 (ASilva-Okami) drew 335,000 buys in the same venue in September 2011.  Aldo-Mendes 2 in Maracanazinho, Brazil drew 180,000 buys.  The event took place in October 2014 at UFC 179.  Holloway’s last PPV in December against Anthony Pettis drew 150,000 PPV buys although a replay on Fox during Christmas Eve did well.  Still, we’re talking about buys for PPV and with a string of UFC events coming up for June and July’s International Fight Week coming up this PPV may have been one that the casual fan skips.

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