UFC Fight Night 104 draws 1.158M viewers, Prelims 834,000

February 7, 2017

UFC Fight Night 104 drew 1.158 million viewers on Saturday night on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings.  The prelims which preceded the main card drew another 834,000 on FS1.

Sports TV Ratings indicates that the main card (airing from 10pm-12:59am ET) which featured the return of The Korean Zombie as he KO’d Dennis Bermudez drew 590,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims, which aired from 8-10pm ET drew 420,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

The main card peaked at 1.286 million viewers during the 11:15-11:30pm quarter hour.

The ratings are less than the 1.3M viewers that watched UFC Fight Night 82 last Super Bowl weekend.  You may recall that event was taken off PPV and made an FS1 card and featured Johny Hendricks-Stephen Thompson.  The prelims drew 1.093M viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Despite being lower than last year, the 1.158 million is strong considering the main card featured KZ-Bermudez.  Obviously looking at the attendance, this card resembled more of a lower-tier Fight Night card than a bigger draw.

USADA declares “no fault” finding for fighter’s use of meldonium

February 6, 2017

Daniel Omielańczuk has agreed to a “no fault” finding of his positive test for Meldonium this past July.  The result is based on a January 2016 out-of-competition test.  But, due to the change in WADA policy, he was kept on his last fight in July 2016.

A portion of the USADA news release reads:

Omielanczuk, 34, tested positive for meldonium as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample he provided on January 21, 2016. Meldonium is a non-specified substance that was added to the WADA Prohibited List in 2016. It is in the category of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the WADA Prohibited List.

During USADA’s investigation of the case, Omielanczuk presented evidence establishing that his use of meldonium was limited to a three-week span, from mid-August to early September 2015. Omielanczuk and his advisors confirmed that Omielanczuk did not resume his use of the substance after September 2015 because they became aware that the substance would be added to the WADA Prohibited List in 2016, and subsequently banned under the UFC Anti-Doping Program.

After a thorough review of the case, USADA concluded that the extremely low meldonium concentration in the athlete’s urine sample, combined with the available documentary evidence and the athlete’s explanation of use, was consistent with ingestion prior to the substance being officially prohibited on January 1, 2016. Accordingly, based on the results management guidance offered by WADA for cases involving meldonium, Omielanczuk will not face a period of ineligibility for his positive test.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps coincidence, but the Wilder-Povetkin case we’ve been following suggests that Povetkin used Meldonium for a two-week period in August-September 2015.  As that case starts, it’s clear to see that the substance is hard to regulate.  Fortunately, for Omielańczuk, it looks like he won’t miss any time off from the UFC.

GSP and MMAAA lawyer leaves Weil for boutique and open own consulting practice

February 6, 2017

James Quinn, the lawyer for Georges St. Pierre and MMAAA, has moved from to boutique litigation firm Berg & Androphy per Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal.  Quinn has left Weil Gotschal where he worked for more than 40 years.

According to Mullen, Quinn also will open a consulting practice entitled J.W. Quinn ADR.

Per his new firm’s press release, Quinn will continue to work with Weil on MMAAA.

Quinn also served as the lawyer for GSP in his negotiations with the UFC.  Those negotiations reached an impasse last year.

Quinn’s former law firm, Weil, has a mandatory retirement age of 68.  Quinn, 71, received a waiver to continue at the firm.  He now is moving on and will continue to work “in tandem” with Weil on advising MMAAA per a release from his new firm.

Payout Perspective:

It is not uncommon for law firms to have a mandatory retirement age.  This is typically an issue related to malpractice.  It does seem like opening a consulting practice means he is slowly winding down the full-time practice of law. Yet, Quinn appears to be continuing to work with MMAAA and GSP.

Parties agreed to extend time for UFC, White to answer Mark Hunt lawsuit

February 6, 2017

We will have to wait until the end of the month to see the response the UFC and Dana White will provide to Mark Hunt’s lawsuit.  The parties agreed to extend the time for the UFC and White to respond according to a legal filing on Friday.

According to the stipulation, the UFC and White will provide a joint response to the lawsuit filed by Hunt last month.  The UFC Heavyweight sued the company, White and Brock Lesnar as it relates to his fight at UFC 200 this past July.  Among the claims, filed in federal court in Nevada, breach of contract, RICO violations and negligence.

The stipulation is below.  The UFC and White has until February 28, 2017 to provide a response.

Stipulation to Extend Time to Respond to Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The stipulation notes that White had yet to be personally served (a requisite in lawsuits), but will accept service based on his attorneys receiving the lawsuit.  It also notes that the UFC and White will share one response.  This means that Lesnar will need his own attorneys and has yet to respond.

Payout Perspective:

The stipulation only applies to the UFC and White which means that Lesnar has until tomorrow to respond if he was personally served the lawsuit.  Lesnar could seek an extension to respond as well.  Note, the term “respond” as the UFC and White may file a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit.  The rules state that they can do this prior to filing an Answer.  You can expect this to happen and the extension of time may provide them more time to do this.  In the alternative, the extra time may mean they want to either negotiate with Hunt and/or file a response with counterclaims.

Bader receives the UFC’s blessing to go to Bellator

February 4, 2017

Light heavyweight Ryan Bader is headed to Bellator after Dana White confirmed that the company would not match any offer extended by the UFC’s competitor.

“We had told Ryan Bader he was good to go,” said Dana White during his stint on radio row at Super Bowl LI in Houston (via MMA Junkie).  White stated it was “the right move for him.”

No word from Bellator on the Bader signing although it’s likely that the company would scoop up Bader who fought out his contract after a TKO victory against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in November 2016.

Payout Perspective:

Waiving the non-compete window and matching rights is a sign that the company did not believe that Bader was in the future of the light heavyweight division in the UFC.  He also was likely making upwards of $65K-$70K per fight (the last time Bader’s pay was officially revealed was $47K in 2012) plus $20,000 from Reebok payouts (he was entering his 21st fight in the UFC which would have bumped him to $20K per fight).  Whether or not White’s comments were complimentary or a slight at the fact that he was past his prime is subject to interpretation.  One might also see the move as a sign that the company will not hold fighters back from continuing their career.

Abreu retires from MMA after second flagged test

February 3, 2017

UFC middleweight Ricardo Abreu has retired from MMA after receiving another notice of a possible violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  Abreau, already serving a 2-year ban, admits that he’ll probably fail this test and is leaving the sport.  He cites depression as one of the reasons for his downfall.

A portion of the UFC statement on Abreu’s second flagged test reads:

The UFC organization was formally notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Ricardo Abreu of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection taken on December 21, 2016.

Abreu is currently serving a two-year suspension under the UFC Anti-Doping Program, after the anabolic steroid metabolites 19-norandrosterone (19-NA) and 19-noretiocholanolone were detected in a sample collected from Abreu on June 3, 2016. Under his current suspension, Abreu is not eligible to return to competition until July 1, 2018.

According to MMA Fighting, Abreu suffered from depression and his decision to retire is to focus on his health and his family.

Payout Perspective:

Based on the backstory, it appears that Abreu was going through some financial uncertainty as well as career issues.  This might be the excuse for the reason he took PEDs.  Still, that should be no excuse as he put himself and others in danger by taking them.

Ledet notified of possible anti-doping violation

February 2, 2017

UFC Heavyweight Justin Ledet has been notified of a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. Ledet’s fight this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 103 had been taken off the event.

The UFC statement on Justin Ledet:

The UFC organization was formally notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Justin Ledet of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on January 12, 2017.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed.

Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information or UFC statements will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

Ledet was 2-0 in the UFC.

Zuffa files Partial Motion for Summary Judgment to dismiss Nate Quarry from antitrust lawsuit

February 2, 2017

Zuffa has filed a motion for partial summary judgment to dismiss the claims of antitrust plaintiff Nate Quarry based on statute of limitations.

The motion was filed yesterday and requests an oral argument although that is not guaranteed.

The motion seeks to dismiss Quarry’s claims based on his promotional, bout and merchandise agreements with the company and deposition testimony.  The motion claims that Quarry’s claim is barred by the Four-Year Statute of Limitations.  In the alternative, it states that the “continuing violation exception” does not apply to his untimely claim.

“Distilled to its essence, Mr. Quarry’s claim challenges the scope of the UFC Identity Rights he contractually granted to Zuffa, the duration of those grants, and the payments he received in return—all terms in his 2004, 2005, and 2008 Promotional Agreements; his 2008 Merchandise Rights Agreement; and his January 2010 Bout Agreement.”

Zuffa argues that Quarry’s “last relevant agreement with Zuffa was executed in January 2010, but he chose to file suit in December 2014.”

15 U.S.C. section 15b limits antitrust claims to a four-year statute of limitations.

Zuffa also claims that Quarry’s claim should not be allowed through the “continuing violation exception.” This exception would override a statute of limitations defense.  However, Zuffa argues that relevant case law precludes such an exception since Quarry signed his Identity Rights outside the limitations period.  Even if Quarry argues that he received a benefit after the limitations period (i.e. after January 2010 and within four years from the filing of the lawsuit, thus being within the time to sue), there was not a new “overt act” performed by Zuffa which would restart the statute of limitations.

The motion was filed with Quarry’s promotional, bout and merchandise agreements but they were filed under seal meaning that public does not have access to them.

Payout Perspective:

Quarry was deposed by Zuffa and you can see the strategy was to probe him for information to try to dismiss his claims from the lawsuit.  Similarly, we would probably see this happening with other UFC veterans.  Plaintiffs will have until mid-February to oppose the motion.

Paige Van Zant secures book deal

February 1, 2017

Paige Van Zant has signed a deal with Hachette Book Group to release her first book according to Fox Sports.

The Dancing with the Stars alum states that it’s a memoir about her life.  The 22-year-old is coming off an octagon loss to Michelle Waterson at UFC on Fox 22 this past December.

There is no release date for the book as of this time.

HBG has a bestselling authors list that includes Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Malcolm Gladwell among others.

Payout Perspective:

A memoir from a 22-year-old?  Of course. PVZ is capitalizing on her popularity as this time.  Despite losing 2 out of her last 3 fights, her success on Dancing with the Stars, her bubbly personality and looks make her an appealing individual to feature.  It’s similar to the Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor model of utilizing all avenues, including book publishing, for business.

UFC on Fox 23 peaks with over 3M viewers, Prelims draw 619,000

January 31, 2017

The UFC on Fox 23 card drew 2,189,000 viewers in adjusted DVR +3 ratings. The card peaked during the main event between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena with 3,003,000 viewers.

The overnight ratings reflected 2,002,000 viewers.  UFC

UFC on Fox Ratings
Overnights Live + SD
UFC on Fox 1 5,700,000
UFC on Fox 2 4,570,000
UFC on Fox 3 2,250,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 4 2,360,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 5 3,410,000 4,400,000
UFC on Fox 6 3,770,000 4,220,000
UFC on Fox 7 3,300,000 3,700,000
UFC on Fox 8 2,040,000 2,380,000
UFC on Fox 9 2,410,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 10 2,550,000 3,220,000
UFC on Fox 11 1,990,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 12 2,020,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 13 2,270,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 14 2,820,000 3,049,000
UFC on Fox 15 2,430,000 2,745,000
UFC on Fox 16 2,290,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 17 2,280,000 2,781,000
UFC on Fox 18 2,430,000 2,685,000
UFC on Fox 19 2,130,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 20 2,440,000 2,975,000
UFC on Fox 21 2,200,000 1,983,000
UFC on Fox 22 2,690,000 3,178,000
UFC on Fox 23 2,020,000 2,189,000

In addition, the UFC Prelims on FS1 drew 619,000 viewers.  The 3-hour show on FS1 preceded the 2-hour telecast on Fox.  The prelims are down from last month when it drew 679,000 viewers.

The UFC Post-Fight show drew 203,000 viewrs with 75,000 live on FS2 at 7pm PT and 128,000 viewers on FS1 when it reaired after 9pm.

UFC on Fox Prelims – 2016

UFC on Fox 21 Prelims rating: 1.122M (on Fox)

UFC on Fox 20 Prelims rating: 1.261M (on Fox)

UFC on Fox 19 Prelims rating: 1.4M (on Fox)

UFC on Fox 18 Prelims rating: 702,000 (on FS1)

The prelims featured Raphael Assuncao-Aljamain Sterling and Nate Marquardt-Sam Alvey.

Payout Perspective:

The DVR numbers bring up the event slightly but the peak is down from last month’s UFC on Fox 22 which was 4.8 million viewers.  Notably, all 4 fights on the Fox broadcast ended early via TKO stoppage or submission.

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