Bantamweight flagged for potential USADA violation

March 20, 2018

UFC bantamweight Augusto Mendes has been notified by USADA regarding a potential violation from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 7, 2018.  His upcoming fight with Merab Dvalishvili at UFC Fight Night 128 has been scrapped.

Per the web site:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Augusto Mendes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 7, 2018.  Due to the proximity of Mendes’ upcoming scheduled bout at UFC FIGHT NIGHT: BARBOZA vs. LEE in Atlantic City, New Jersey on April 21, 2018 against Merab Dvalishvili , Mendes has been removed from the card and the UFC is currently seeking a replacement.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Mendes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed.  Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

Payout Perspective:

The 35-year-old last fought in April 2017 in a loss to Aljamain Sterling at UFC on Fox:  Johnson vs. Reis.  He is 1-2 in the UFC but also an accomplished BJJ player.  This is Mendes’ first flagged test which could lead to a 2-year suspension.

NAC give Calvillo 3 more months in addition to USADA suspension

March 14, 2018

Cynthia Calvillo received an additional three-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission per MMA Junkie.  She was fined 15 percent of her disclosed $41,000 purse ($6,150) in addition to $436.08 in attorney’s fees.

USADA suspended Calvillo six-months for an in-competition drug test at UFC 219 that revealed marijuana metabolites in excess of the allowable limit of 180 ng/mL.  However, she was still subject to discipline from the NAC

She must now submit a clean drug test for steroids and diuretics 30, 15 and three days prior to receiving another fight license in Nevada.

Under the USADA suspension, her discipline would have been able to be reduced by three months if she had taken a drug education course.

Payout Perspective:

The additional suspension identifies an issue with double jurisdiction.  Even if Calvillo were to complete an approved drug course from USADA, thus reducing her suspension, the question of whether she can apply for a license in Nevada sooner may be in an issue. According to the Junkie article, she cannot apply for another license until September 30th.  Or, can she fight within 6 months in any state aside from Nevada?  The additional 3 months and fines also reflect the stance Nevada has on the use of marijuana which in itself is controversial.


Smith talks Project Spearhead in SBJ article

March 12, 2018

The Sports Business Journal reports on Leslie Smith and her efforts to organize UFC fighters with Project Spearhead.  The effort “by fighters, for fighters,” seeks to collect enough signatures by fighters to obtain an National Labor Relations Board vote to determine the fighter employment states.

Via SBJ:

In order for the NLRB to look at the issue, Project Spearhead must collect cards from fighters representing 30 percent of the UFC roster, or roughly 200 of the organization’s more than 600 fighters. That will give the group what is known as “a showing of interest,” which will meet the threshold for the NLRB to determine whether or not the fighters are employees. Project Spearhead was launched in February and the group has a year to collect the necessary cards.

The article explains why this effort will be different from those that had come and gone in recent memory including the Professional Fighters’ Association which indicated is no longer active.  Smith and current outside counsel Lucas Middlebrook were previously associated with this group.  Also, the MMAAA which included Bjorn Rebney as an advisor and Georges St Pierre and Cain Velasquez as members has not been active as well.  This leaves the MMAFA as the only other group seeking to organize fighters.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how these efforts will go.  Smith, Kajan Johnson and Al Iaquinta are the three fighters that are leading Project Spearhead.  While social media has seen some fighters voice their support, we will see how many actually sign on for this effort and then the bigger issue will be whether they will vote to be considered as employees.


Cro Cop’s end around his USADA drug suspension

March 10, 2018

Should Cro Cop have served his USADA suspension in full?

Bellator announced that Mirko Cro Cop would be facing Roy Nelson at Bellator 200 in London on May 25th.  Cro Cop “retired” in November 2015 in lieu of serving a two-year ban for violations of the UFC’s anti-doping program.  Cro Cop admitted to the use, attempted use and possession of human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test.  He was eventually released from the company.

But, Cro Cop did not retire, and in fact fought for Rizin FF in Japan.  Despite the inference that the USADA ban would be honored by other promotions and athletic regulators, it has not happened.

According to an MMA Junkie article, it’s still unclear on whether there will be an issue with Cro Cop obtaining a license.  Association of Boxing Commissions and Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation president Mike Mazzulli noted that he still considers Crop Cop “in the process of being licensed, and therefore subject to immediate drug tests.”  Yet, that does not answer the question about the USADA suspension.  Mohegan will be the regulator for Bellator in May for the London event.  It’s not clear as to if a fighter sits out a sanction but fights in an unregulated promotion, then comes back after the time of the sanction if they must adhere to the remaining time suspended.

Mazulli assumes that if they are able to drug test Cro Cop, the commission is likely to view the suspension served.

Payout Perspective:

Cro Cop’s suspension was issued in 2015 and since its March 2018, one might argue that the USADA suspension has been served.  Or has it?  Cro Cop was active during the two-year period in which he was supposed to be inactive.  So, we see the end-around with drug testing.  While one might not think this is an issue, it could come to a head with Bellator as more and more past-UFC fighters become available.  There is no consistent, regulatory drug-testing protocol or policy in place to deal with these issues.  While it is a product of the UFC’s proactive drug testing policy, Bellator must address what it will do in these grey areas.  Or, if it will not do anything at all.

USADA issues 6 month sanction for Calvillo

March 8, 2018

Cynthia Calvillo has accepted a six-month suspension from USADA for testing over the limit for marijuana in an in-competition test from UFC 219.  Her suspension may be reduced if the strawweight completes a USADA-approved drug awareness and management program.

The 30-year-old lost a close decision to Carla Esparza on December 30th.  Her in-competition drug test was flagged for marijuana or hashish metabolites.


Calvillo, 30, tested positive for Carboxy-THC, the pharmacologically-active metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected on December 30, 2017, at UFC 219 in Las Vegas, Nev. Marijuana and hashish are in the class of Cannabinoids and prohibited in-competition under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Cannabinoids are listed as Specified Substances on the WADA Prohibited List. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the standard sanction for an anti-doping policy violation involving a Specified Substance is a one-year period of ineligibility, which may be reduced depending on the athlete’s degree of fault.

Calvillo accepted a six-month period of ineligibility, which began on December 30, 2017, and may be reduced to a three-month period of ineligibility, pending the satisfactory completion of a USADA-approved drug awareness and management program. Calvillo’s positive test also falls under the jurisdiction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which may impose additional sanctions, including fines or a period of ineligibility that is longer than the period set forth above.

Payout Perspective:

This is a good outcome for Calvillo as she should be off of suspension by April if she decides to take USADA-approved drug awareness and management courses.  The issue of the use of marijuana is becoming a controversial subject with many taking it to recover from pain.  The fact that there is a threshold limit that is deemed acceptable should tell you that there is some tolerance from regulators regarding its use.

Ion Cutelaba accepts 6-month USADA suspension for ozone therapy

March 8, 2018

Ion Cutelaba has been suspended 6 months by USADA after declaring the use of an alternative therapeutic treatment that is prohibited under certain routes of administration.

Via USADA release:

Cutelaba, 24, declared the use of ozone therapy on his doping control paperwork during out-of-competition tests conducted on October 18, 2017, and October 19, 2017. Ozone therapy is a treatment that can be administered in a variety of methods, some of which are prohibited under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Based on Cutelaba’s doping control paperwork, USADA contacted the athlete to request more information about the route of administration in order to establish whether the treatment was permissible. Cutelaba’s physician subsequently provided documentation indicating that the treatment was administered on October 3, 2017, and October 17, 2017, in a prohibited manner, as it involved a blood transfusion. The WADA Prohibited List prohibits the administration or reintroduction of blood or red blood cell products of any origin or quantity in the circulatory system, unless a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption has been obtained. While Cutelaba was unaware of the violation and declared the treatment on his doping control paperwork, he was unable to refute the documentation provided.

Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code, an athlete’s period of ineligibility for using a prohibited method may be reduced due to an individual’s voluntary admission of a violation and/or pursuant to an analysis of the athlete’s degree of fault for the anti-doping policy violation. Here, after taking both of those factors into consideration, USADA determined that a reduction to six-months from the standard two-year period of ineligibility was an appropriate sanction under the rules for Cutelaba’s violation.

Cutelaba’s six-month period of ineligibility began on November 3, 2017, the date he was provisionally suspended from competition. As a result of his violation, Cutelaba was previously removed from the Card for the UFC 217 event in New York City that was held on November 4, 2017.

Payout Perspective:

A modest suspension which ends in a couple months although it cost the 24-year-old a spot on UFC 217 in New York.  It’s clear that the blood transfusion given to Cutelaba was the primary issue and since there was not a TUE requested, there was a problem.  So, the issue is whether Cutelaba or his management knew the rules prior to the ozone therapy.

Show Money Episode 21 talks antitrust lawsuit, Project Spearhead and more

March 8, 2018

In this episode of Show Money we talk antitrust lawsuit, project spearhead and more with Paul Gift and John Nash of Bloody Elbow.

Korean Zombie sues Venum over use of his name

March 7, 2018

The Korean Zombie, also known as UFC star Chan-Sung Jung filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

According to the complaint, Jung has filed a lawsuit against DBV Distribution, Inc. which appears to be the company which owns the MMA brand Venum.  Jung alleges that he was approached by the defendants with the possibility of licensing his trademark, Korean Zombie for use on its apparel.  Jung has held the trademark since January 2013 having used it since June 2007.

He claims that in December 2013 and January 2014, defendants approached Jung about the license.  However, Jung states that he “unequivocally rejected” the proposals through his representatives.  Nevertheless, in January 2018, t-shirts and other products bearing “Venum Zombie” appeared for sale.

KZ’s reps sent a cease and desist letter on February 8, 2018 but had not received a response.  The lawsuit was filed on February 27, 2018.  The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, Jung’s right of publicity, unauthorized commercial use of likeness and unfair competition under the Lanham Act.

Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

H/t: NorCal Record via Alexandra Roberts

Payout Perspective:

The timeline on the communications seem as though there was a huge gap between January 2014 and January 2018 which seems to need more explanation.  Jung did serve in the military for South Korea from 2014-2016.  He has returned to the UFC since then.  But, that does not explain Venum’s use of the name and likeness which seems to be the case.  Venum may argue that the use of “Zombie” does not necessarily refer to Jung and that is within the purview of Fair Use.  However, evidence of having a license rejected and then using Zombie seems like bad facts.  Of course, there is another side to the story which we should hear from Venum.

Conor McGregor appears in new Burger King commercial

March 5, 2018

Despite no timetable for the return of Conor McGregor to the UFC, McGregor appears in a new Burger King commercial.  McGregor is promoting the new Burger King Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Payout Perspective:

The Burger King commercials adds to the commercial portfolio for McGregor.  Notably, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was accompanied by that creepy Burger King mascot to the ring against Manny Pacquiao back in May 2015.  BK reportedly paid $1 million for the opportunity.  McGregor might not be paid that much for the commercial but he’s still making money even though he’s not fighting.

Stephens tops UFC on Fox 28 salaries

March 4, 2018

UFC on Fox 28 salaries were disclosed this past week.  The event took place last week in Orlando, Florida.

Jeremy Stephens: $126,000 (includes $63,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Emmett: $45,000

Jessica Andrade: $96,000 (includes $48,000 win bonus)
def. Tecia Torres: $36,000

Ilir Latifi: $66,000 (includes $33,000 win bonus)
def. Ovince Saint Preux: $83,000

Max Griffin: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Perry: $40,000

Brian Kelleher: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Renan Barao: $53,000

Marion Reneau: $56,000 (includes $28,000 win bonus)
def. Sara McMann: $38,000

Angela Hill: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. Maryna Moroz: $23,000

Alan Jouban: $80,000 (includes $40,000 win bonus)
def. Ben Saunders: $23,000

Sam Alvey: $92,000 (includes $46,000 win bonus)
def. Marcin Prachnio: $25,000

Rani Yahya: $92,000 (includes $46,000 win bonus)
def. Russell Doane: $22,000

Alex Perez: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Eric Shelton: $12,000

Manny Bermudez: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Albert Morales: $15,000

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