Nick Diaz petition reaches over 60,000 signatures

September 28, 2015

An online petition to the White House to overturn Nick Diaz’s 5 year suspension rendered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission this month has surpassed 60,000 signatures.

Nick Diaz tweeted the following:

A fan started the petition on September 14th and it is up to 61,283 signatures as of this writing.  It needs to reach 100,000 signatures by October 14th.  What happens if it reaches its goal?

According to the web site, if it reaches the signature threshold the White House will review the petition and then make a decision whether to do something or nothing.

The White House plans to respond to each petition that crosses the signature threshold, which you can view on the Terms of Participation page. In a few rare cases (such as specific procurement, law enforcement, or adjudicatory matters), the White House response might not address the facts of a particular matter to avoid exercising improper influence. In addition, the White House will not respond to petitions that violate We the People’s Terms of Participation. In some cases, a single response may be used for similar petitions.

The web site explains the right and reason to petition here.

Previously, an MMA fan started a petition to have Paige VanZant shave her head after she apparently promised to do so but never did.  That petition only has 139 signatures.  It needs over 99,000 by October 6th for review by the White House.

Payout Perspective:

Realistically, the White House petition will not overturn the NAC decision even if Diaz’s petition reaches 100K signatures.  It is unlikely that the White House will deal with a state administrative matter.  This issue would and should be handled by the state.  We will likely see this in the form of a lawsuit to seek judicial review.  However, the groundswell of support for Diaz may get local Nevada lawmakers to take note and seek to address the NAC.  Moreover, it will educate people about the NAC, its rules and how individuals are appointed to the position.  There is an opening on the Commission and certainly this is an opportunity for a politician to grab the momentum in seeking an appointment from the Governor.

UFC Fight Night 75 attendance and bonuses

September 27, 2015

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses for UFC Fight Night 75 taking place Saturday night from Japan.  Notably, the attendance was the lowest for a UFC show in Japan since March 2013.

Per MMA Junkie, there was no official attendance announced for UFC 144 in February 2012 although it was an estimated crowd of 21,000 and confirmation that at least 15,000 seats were sold for the event at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

March 2013 – UFC on Fuel TV 8: 14,682

September 2014 – UFC Fight Night 52: 12,395

September 2015 – UFC Fight Night 75: 10,137

Uriah Hall led the bonuses of the night with his upset victory, via the help of his spin kick, on Gegard Mousasi.  Josh Barnett, Diego Brandao and Keita Nakamura also received $50K.

Payout Perspective:

Before we bad mouth the attendance figures, we note that this show was being held Sunday morning in Japan.  Last year, the show was later in the day in Japan (late Friday night in the U.S.) to accommodate the fans.  We may be seeing fans starting to decide, based on the card, whether or not they want to see the fight live.  Japan is a prime area for the UFC in its strategy to build an Asian market for the organization and while the attendance figures are down, subtle tweaks could facilitate growth.  One need only look to see what Bellator is doing to understand the Japanese influence in MMA and understand that it’s a prime market.

But, if the cards are inconvenient timewise, fans might not be motivated to buy tickets.  We shall see if the UFC decides to localize the event for a Fight Pass audience and allowing the fans more of a convenience.

Judge denies UFC’s Motion to Dismiss antitrust lawsuit

September 26, 2015

Judge Richard Boulware denied UFC’s Motion to Dismiss the antitrust lawsuit brought by former UFC fighters at a hearing in the U.S. District Court of Nevada Friday.  The lawsuit will continue with the parties hammering out a process to conduct discovery.

The UFC provided a statement after the Friday afternoon hearing:

The United States District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada held a hearing on UFC’s motion to dismiss today.  The Court correctly explained that on a motion to dismiss it must consider all the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and the complaint must be liberally construed in favor of the plaintiffs.  Using that standard, the Court denied the motion to dismiss.  As we have consistently stated, UFC competes in a lawful manner that benefits athletes around the world and has created a premier organization in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).  We look forward to proving that the allegations in the complaint are meritless.

BE’s Paul Gift provided a running commentary on the courtroom arguments.  As the moving party (i.e., UFC’s motion to dismiss), it was the UFC’s burden to prove that the plaintiffs’ motion failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted.

Almost in anticipation that the motion would be denied, the parties filed a Joint Status Report on Friday which outlines the status of the case.  There’s no trial date as of yet as the parties continue to map out discovery which will probably entail a voluminous amount of documents.  It appears that the parties will quarrel over the amount of information to be produced (a standard that occurs in almost every lawsuit).

Payout Perspective:

Good news for the plaintiffs but not a monumental loss for the UFC.  Although people watching this case may see the court’s denial of the motion to dismiss as a huge precedent victory, the plaintiffs are not out of the woods yet.  As we’ve discussed (and maybe someone actually reading this has followed), the Motion to Dismiss was just a standard part of the litigation playbook.  Thus far, the UFC has succeeded in transferring the case to Vegas and the parties are grappling over discovery issues.  At some point, the UFC will once again attempt to dismiss the case on a Motion for Summary Judgment.

But, the plaintiffs will get a chance to probe UFC documents and potentially depose some UFC officials.  This may reveal some information that may help their case as well as paint the UFC in a bad light.  We shall see.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Nelson indicates he wasn’t tested prior to Saturday’s fight; USADA responds

September 25, 2015

MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn tweeted that Roy Nelson was not drug tested prior to his bout with Josh Barnett for Saturday’s UFC event in Japan.  However, USADA indicates that its representatives are in Japan and will test fighters participating at UFC Fight Night 75.

MMA Payout asked USADA whether it was conducting drug testing for Saturday’s event taking place in Saitama, Japan.  USADA’s Senior Communications Manager Annie Skinner stated in an email that USADA representatives were in Japan and “there will be testing occurring there.”

Payout Perspective:

First, USADA was very quick in response to my query.  Second, the fact that USADA reps are at the UFC event, does not necessarily mean everyone was/is being tested.  However, one of the questions that came to my mind after contacting USADA was whether there was out of competition testing prior to the event.  If we believe Nelson’s statement, then no.  USADA has the authority to conduct out of competition testing but it does not necessarily mean it is required for each event and every fighter.

While USADA appears to be conducting the in-competition testing (testing defined as six hours prior to the start of the scheduled weigh-in until six hours after the conclusion of the bout) in Japan, at least one of the main event fighters did not receive out of competition testing.

Certainly there is a presumption that at least the fighters in the main event would receive more scrutiny (i.e., drug testing).  Even though Nelson’s physique does not suggest any enhancements, the anti-doping program was put in place to clean up and monitor the UFC.  Testing fighters, especially in the infancy stages of the program seems like a necessity.

TUF 22 Episode 3 draws 533,000 viewers

September 24, 2015

The third episode of TUF 22 drew 533, 000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night according to Sports TV Ratings.  It reflects an approximately 15% increase over last week’s episode.

In the episode, Team Faber’s Chris Gruetzemacher defeated Team McGregor’s Sascha Sharma.  The episode featured a meltdown by McGregor as Sharma did not listen to his coaching during the fight.

TUF 22 Ratings
Live +SD DVR +3
Episode 1 622,000 902,000
Episode 2 463,000 740,000
Episode 3 533,000

TUF 22 Ratings through Ep 3

Payout Perspective:

Not sure about you, but I like the Conor-Faber back and forth.  Frankly, there was nothing special out of last night’s show but I found the interplay between the coaches entertaining.

The top sports cable show for the night was MLB on ESPN as the pennant race is here.  The Yankees-Blue Jays game drew slightly over 1 million viewers in the 7-10pmET time slot.  TUF came in second in its time slot for sports cable shows as the second game on ESPN, Dodgers-DBacks, drew 557,000 viewers.  The average through 3 episodes is 540,000.  In comparison, TUF 20 last fall drew an average of 514,000 viewers through 3 episodes and last spring’s TUF 21 drew only an average of 422,000 viewers.

Fortune chooses Rousey for 2015 “40 under 40” list

September 24, 2015

Ronda Rousey was chosen by Fortune as one of its “40 under 40,” in its annual list compiled by the magazine.  The list identifies the top young professionals that influence business under the age of 40.

Per Fortune, the list is “a measure of power and influence.”  To find out how they compiled the list, go here.

Rousey, 28, was chosen based on her undefeated record in the UFC and her burgeoning mainstream movie career.  According to Forbes, she’s made an estimated $5 million from fighting this year.  On a recent appearance on “Ellen,” Rousey stated that she was the highest paid fighter in the UFC.  Aside from “Ellen,” the UFC has made inroads into the mainstream TV talk show circuit due to the women’s bantamweight champion.  This includes Rousey appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to announce her latest fight against Holly Holm.

In addition to her movie appearances, the release of her book earlier this year has done well in sales.

The Forbes writeup also highlights a speech she gave about body image and gained more interest after Beyonce used it during a concert.

On another note, Rousey, nor any other UFC fighter made the list of Forbes’ world’s highest paid athletes for 2015.  Of course, if Rousey is the highest paid fighter, there would be no other UFC fighter on the list which has Floyd Mayweather at the top.

Payout Perspective:

While the cynical might note that the list might be PR driven, it still is a remarkable ascent considering the fact Dana White once said he never wanted women to fight in the UFC.  Rousey’s star is on the rise and the Fortune recognition shows her popularity.  Vicariously through this acknowledgement, it provides some good public relations for the UFC.  It will be interesting to see where we are one or two years from now and see if Rousey makes the transition (similar to The Rock, note that they share the same agent) to movies.

Gus speaks out about Reebok deal

September 23, 2015

MMA Junkie reports that Alexander Gustafsson is the latest UFC fighter to speak out about the Reebok apparel deal.  Although Gustafsson chose his words, he advocated for more pay for the lesser-established fighters.

“Pay the fighters a lot more money,” Gustafsson told MMA Junkie.  He also chimed in on the Reebok deal and while he did not criticize the deal, he believed that fighters that make less should benefit from sponsors to help those “pay the rent.”  “I don’t have anything negative to say about it [Reebok deal]. I just think, why take away from fighters who haven’t established themselves in the organization?”

Gustafsson also stated that fighters starting out (that make minimal money) should be supported from local sponsors.  He believes that this would help develop within the sport as being funded by sponsors would allow fighters to spend more time in the gym.

Payout Perspective:

While Gustafsson wanted to make sure that he did not want to be negative about the Reebok deal, he does offer a critique of what he observes is occurring as a result of the deal.  Without sponsors to help fund fighters, it inhibits those on the low end of the salary scale from dedicating the time to cultivate their abilities as most have to take on jobs to pay their bills.  Of course, training for a fight also costs money.  Thus, Gustafsson definitely sees the reasons why the deal does not help younger fighters.  It’s good that fighters like Gustafsson are willing to speak out about the Reebok deal even though they may not be directly affected.

TUF 22 Episode 2 up to 740,000 in DVR +3 numbers

September 23, 2015

MMA Payout has learned that the second episode of TUF from last Wednesday drew an increase of 60% from its initial live airing according to Nielsen sources.  The DVR +3 ratings was up to 740,000 viewers last week.

The increase in DVR viewership is up from the first episode’s DVR increase.  It was up 15% from last spring’s second episode which received 646,000 viewers.

TUF 22 Ratings
Live +SD DVR +3
Episode 1 622,000 902,000
Episode 2 463,000 740,000

TUF 22 Ratings through Ep 2

Payout Perspective:

Small steps, but the adjusted viewership from DVR watching is now better than last season’s average (821,000).  However, it still trails last fall’s TUF 20 in DVR viewership (888,000 through 2 episodes).  It’s still too early to tell if the McGregor-Faber pairing is helping ratings.

NV state senator speaks out against Diaz suspension

September 21, 2015

TMZ Sports reports that Nevada state senator Tick Segerblom is speaking out against the NSAC suspension of Nick Diaz.  He calls the 5 year ban “totally inappropriate.”

Senator Segerblom‘s (D) district includes a portion of Las Vegas and is within Clark County, Nevada.  Per the Nevada state senate web site, he is on the Senate Health and Human Services committee, Senate Judiciary committee and Natural Resources committee.

“[marijuana] is a recognized medicine in the Nevada constitution so how can you punish someone for taking medicine, particularly since it doesn’t enhance your ability to fight?” The state senator also noted, “[T]hey [NSAC] need to rethink this punishment and then ultimately change their rules.”

In addition to Senator Segerblom, Diaz has received support from Ronda Rousey, Henry Cejudo and Leslie Smith.  The latter two (Cejudo and Smith) have vowed not to fight in Nevada until something is done with the commission ruling.  Also, a White House petition started on Diaz’s behalf has grown to over 50,000 signatures.

Payout Perspective:

Senator Segerblom appears to be a progressive politician as he has co-sponsored a bill in favor of recognizing gay marriage and a bill that would allow a person addicted to a prescription drug to sue either the manufacturer of the drug or a medical provider.  He also has entertained the thought of running for Governor of the state of Nevada.  Notably, the Governor appoints the members of the NSAC.  Will the swell of support help with overturning Diaz’s suspension.  Probably not.  Although a lawsuit could change it.  But, it could facilitate change for the future.  Having a state senator involved might be the first step in creating a change to the current laws and/or current commissioners.

USADA responds to Hauser article

September 21, 2015

USADA responded to the article published by Thomas Hauser which criticized the organization regarding its overall administration of its anti-doping efforts and specifically related to Floyd Mayweather.  The organization that also administers the UFC’s anti-doping program provides a thorough, line-by-line dissection of Hauser’s long-form piece which seeks to clarify and discredit the validity of the article.

USADA’s rebuttal includes a 25 page chart which goes sentence-by-sentence and paragraph-by-paragraph through Hauser’s article.  Of note, it identifies Hauser’s association with HBO, which was included in Hauser’s byline from the original piece.  Mayweather, as we know, was under contract with rival Showtime at the time that the article was originally published (which was during fight week of Mayweather-Berto).  Thus, there’s the inference that he has an interest in writing something bad about Mayweather.  It also notes the use of Victor Conte in Hauser’s article.  USADA identifies Conte with the BALCO scandal and thus discredits him as a source for the article.  Throughout the USADA Corrections as the chart is described, it attacks Hauser’s article in any part which attempts to make assertions based upon facts citing areas as “misleading” and “not accurate.”  It also calls out Hauser when it feels that he is lacking a source or where it believes it does not provide a full citation.

Hauser provides a rebuttal to the lengthy USADA response at calling it “long on verbiage and short on documented facts.”  He indicated that he would respond to the response in another longer form article but addressed USADA’s efforts to discredit his work which included a portion of Jeff Novitzky’s interview with Joe Rogan discussing the UFC’s upcoming ban on IV’s.  Notably, in the interview with Rogan, Novitzky stated that the primary reason there will be an IV ban is that it could mask possible performance enhancing drugs.  Hauser also brings up the issue that if the USADA doping control officer that was present when Mayweather was given an IV to rehydrate after the May 1 weigh-in, why didn’t the USADA officer suggest Mayweather drink “several glasses of water.”  USADA paints a bleaker picture of Mayweather’s condition on that day, but one has to wonder if his condition would be similar to that of UFC fighters after a weigh-in.  Yet, USADA will be banning IVs in the UFC starting October 1.

Perhaps the bigger query is Hauser’s assertion that USADA “has yet to explain the medical justification and supporting data that led it to grant a retroactive therapeutic use exemption nineteen days after the fact for a procedure that’s on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s “Prohibited Substances and Methods List.”

Payout Perspective:

The “statement of facts” proof chart provided by USADA appears credible on its face and addresses each and every potential issue that the organization may have with Hauser’s article.  It’s a very organized way to address contrary viewpoints.  The UFC should take note.  One thing that the response seemingly lacks is reconciling Hauser’s query about providing Mayweather with an IV.  Moreover, this practice of providing Mayweather with an IV to rehydrate seems to be contrary to USADA’s stance on IVs as is it seeking to ban the use of IVs to rehydrate in the UFC starting October 1st.   The obvious rebuttal is that IVs will be allowed in “emergency circumstances.”  But therein lies the slippery slope with the ban on IVs.  Athletes may be so dehydrated to the point an IV is needed.  We shall continue with monitoring the Hauser-USADA battle as it remains relevant to the world of the UFC when it comes to issues of drug testing.

« Previous PageNext Page »