January 24, 2016
Dana White announced a change to the main event of UFC 196 with Stipe Miocic getting the title shot against Fabricio Werdum. It was announced that Cain Velasquez is out with a back injury and once again had to pull out of a scheduled fight.
Miocic gets a quick turnaround as he KO’d Andrei Arlovski earlier this month at UFC 195.
Cain Velasquez is out with a back injury. Stipe vs Werdum for the heavyweight championship February 6th. pic.twitter.com/vPRJYJvOjL
— Dana White (@danawhite) January 24, 2016
Interesting enough, White sent the above tweet out during the last drive for the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. As most know, White is a big Patriots fan. The tweet announcing the change occurred right before the 4th and 10 completion for 40 yards from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski.
This fight should be a better battle but will it sell better than Werdum-Cain? The jury is still out on whether Cain can pull in a demo (notably, the Mexican fan base). The underlying issue, of course, is that Cain is beset by injury making his appearance in the octagon infrequent. At 33, Cain may be young for the Heavyweight division, but his body is not.
January 21, 2016
Edmond Tarverdyan will appeal the revocation of his California State Athletic Commission license at next month’s commission meeting on February 2nd. The trainer for Ronda Rousey cornered Travis Browne’s fight last Saturday in Massachusetts but will need to appear before the CSAC to obtain his license from California.
Sherdog’s Greg Savage spoke with CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster who indicated that Tarverdyan’s license was revoked for violation of rule 210(b) which relates to falsifying his application to be a ring second.
Section 210(b) states:
“Falsification in whole or in part of a material fact or presentation on any application for a license shall result in a license being denied, and if previously granted, revoked unless otherwise ordered by the commission.”
It is unclear what the falsification might be. Taverdyan is going through a bankruptcy proceeding in which he claims he has not made a salary or paid taxes in several years.
The bankruptcy trustee, who will decide whether or not Tarverdyan’s Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will go through, has requested that he is given more time to analyze documents and is thus requesting the deadline to determine a discharge continued from February 2, 2016 to May 16, 2016. The trustee has requested that Tarverdyan’s meeting of the creditors hearing continued to provide further documents and/or for time to review documents related to Tarverdyan’s case.
Hard times for Tarverdyan. Although his fighter, Travis Browne, won Saturday night, his personal and professional life is going through turmoil. Without a license to second a fighter in California, it prohibits him from earning money (at least in the state of California). Whether or not the revocation will be honored by other states is unknown. He was able to corner Browne on Saturday so there appears to be no issue with at least the state of Massachusetts. We shall see what Tarverdyan will say at the CSAC hearing on February 2nd.
January 20, 2016
UFC Fight Night 81 drew 2.288 million viewers on Sunday night (10-12:40 am EST) on FS1 via Sports TV Ratings. It was the highest-rated sports cable TV show airing on Sunday night. The Prelims, which preceded the main card on Sunday, drew a big 1.767 million viewers on FS1.
UPDATED: Fight Night peak 2.464 million between the 10:45-11pm ET quarter hour during the main event. It drew 1.410 million viewers in the A18-49 category. The prelims drew 1.025M in the A18-49 demo according to Fox Sports. This, and the 1.767 million viewer rating, made the prelims the highest-rated non-PPV prelim event on FS1 in both categories.
UFC Fight Night featured T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz in the main event with Cruz winning the bantamweight championship via split decision. The main event did not start until midnight on the east coast and although no peak viewership has been announced yet one might assume it occurred during this overrun.
The prelims (airing from 8-10pm EST) featured Patrick Cote-Ben Saunders in the last fight before the main card. Cote won via KO in the second round.
Additionally, the UFC Fight Night Prefight show (7-8pm EST) on FS1 drew 312,000 viewers. Also, the Fox Sports Live on FS1 which followed the overrun of the main card drew 1.391 million viewers making UFC-related programming 3 out of the top 4 shows for sports cable on Sunday (NFL Countdown on ESPN drew 1.87M viewers via Sports TV Ratings).
It was the second year that the UFC and NFL collaborated in promoting a Sunday night Fight Night from Boston. The UFC event served as a dessert for many sports fans after watching NFL Playoffs during the day. The main card ratings, which drew a 1.4 rating, is down from last year’s 2.8 million (1.7 rating) UFC Fight Night 59 which featured Conor McGregor. You might recall that last year’s event occurred during NFL Championship Sunday and that the UFC did an Embedded series to promote McGregor for the event. Despite being lower than last year, it’s a very good rating for a bantamweight fight.
This time around the prelims did vastly better than last year’s 908,000 viewers. The 1.767 million viewers were better than all of the UFC PPV Prelims on FS1 last year with the exception of the 1.9M of UFC 194. MMA Payout will update these ratings with peak viewership numbers later today.
January 20, 2016
Attorneys for the UFC have issued a letter to Judge Kimba Wood of the Southern District of New York requesting a ruling on its Preliminary Injunction request which would grant the company to hold a UFC event at Madison Square Garden in April.
Citing its need to market and plan the event, it is requesting that the Court issue a ruling by January 25. Previously, the UFC had requested oral argument on the matter to argue its Preliminary Injunction request and the opposition filed by New York.
The UFC stated that if no ruling, even a limited order enjoining the Attorney General from interfering with the scheduled event, is determined by January 25th, it will “lock in and market an event outside New York for its April 23rd event.” They indicate that they would try again in the fall and amend its Preliminary Injunction motion papers to reflect the new date.
You may recall that New York was granted two extensions to file opposition to the Preliminary Injunction. Zuffa had requested oral argument but the court had not issued a ruling as to whether it would agree to give Zuffa court time to do so. Courts may issue rulings based on the court filings and not need the parties to argue the matter. Parties must request time to argue if they feel compelled to do so.
Courts usually do not like ultimatums issued to them. Despite the UFC’s need (legitimate or not) to have a ruling soon to determine to plan and market for April, Courts will not succumb to this tactic. We will see if Judge Wood will have something to the parties by this Monday.
January 19, 2016
UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn is coming out of retirement and training for another shot in the cage. But is Penn’s return the best idea for the former lightweight champion and the UFC?
UFC President Dana White stated to MMA Junkie that he “supports the idea” of Penn’s return. But, nothing else has been solidified.
The 37-year old’s last fight was a hard-to-watch loss to Frankie Edgar in July 2014. Penn was thoroughly dominated and did not look like the former UFC Lightweight Champion. Notably, White stated that he would push for the Hall of Famer to retire if he lost to Edgar. Now, he supports the comeback.
Penn is setting his sights on the Featherweight title of Conor McGregor. It appears that he will be training with Greg Jackson.
Does the 37-year-old Penn coming out of retirement makes sense? It seems more like he has not determined a path post-UFC and is coming back to fight as a result. Unless he was hampered by major injuries, the fight against Edgar should prove that he is not a UFC-caliber fighter anymore. Moreover, a move to Featherweight seems more like an aspiration that a reality. In a USADA-regulated UFC, it would seem hard for Penn to make the weight-cut.
Frankly, the Penn news puts the pressure on the UFC. Certainly, White knows that Penn can only tarnish his Hall of Fame status if he puts on a performance like he did against Edgar. Do we believe that Penn has rejuvenated since we last saw him in July 2014? Should the UFC allow him to fight? On Tuesday, Matt Mitrione believed that he should have been saved from himself on Sunday and that the fight against Travis Browne should have been stopped after being poked in the eye. Similarly, it might be up to the UFC to save B.J. Penn from himself. Of course, you can argue that Mitrione is no B.J. Penn. Then again, B.J. Penn is not B.J. Penn anymore.
January 19, 2016
The Boston Herald’s Jack Encarnacao wrote about the UFC’s uniform deal with Reebok prior to the company’s event on Sunday night. The article includes some enlightening comments from UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.
Fertitta addressed the issue of withholding five-figure payments from some fighters after they violated the UFC Outfitting Policy. This stems from December’s UFC on Fox event where Donald Cerrone, Nate Diaz and possibly Rafael dos Anjos were fined for not abiding by the uniform policy. The UFC did not officially name these fighters although it was noted that the three fighters had variations of the uniform (or did not wear a Reebok-sponsored clothing) during fight week.
Fertitta told the Herald that it was not fair for fighters not to comply with the new policy. He also stated that the UFC doles out more money to its fighters than it receives in royalty payments from the Reebok arrangement. The goal is to one day have Reebok synonymous with the UFC.
In addition to Fertitta, the Encarnacao spoke to Reebok brand president Matt O’Toole about the deal. He was bullish about the partnership stating that not only does he believe that the deal will appeal to those who train but as a lifestyle brand.
It’s clear from the article that the UFC and Reebok are dedicated to the partnership. Also clear is that there is no way to fact check whether or not Fertitta’s claim is correct in stating that the UFC is paying out more than it is receiving from Reebok. We do not challenge the veracity of Fertitta’s words, but since the UFC is a private company, there is no independent source to determine its accuracy. The deal as stated in the article and previously by other outlets if worth $70 million.
The first six months of the deal has proven to be a learning experience for Reebok to say the most. We will see if Reebok can right its wrongs in the next six months of the deal. Certainly, the UFC and Reebok are hoping that over time, people will warm up to the deal.
January 18, 2016
The Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports that the overnight ratings have UFC Fight Night 81 on FS1 with a 1.4 rating which projects to be the second highest-rated UFC event ever on the network.
The event, which is the second year in which it was held in Boston on a Sunday night featured a bantamweight title fight between T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz. Cruz won the title via a split decision.
Overnights: UFC Fight Night on FS1 pulled in a 1.4 rating, which projects to be the 2nd highest-rated UFC event ever on the network.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 18, 2016
There are no estimates of viewership numbers at this point but MMA Payout will provide these numbers once they become available.
Last year’s UFC 59 from Boston which featured Conor McGregor drew the highest FS1 rating with a 1.7 overnight rating. Last night’s UFC Fight Night 81 was helped by promotion during the NFL broadcasts including last week’s Wildcard weekend. It’s clear that this Sunday night in January event works and the UFC will continue. The main event, featuring bantamweights, reflects the fact that audiences are tuning in more to lighter weight divisions and/or whatever live event is on.
January 18, 2016
The UFC announced the next season of The Ultimate Fighter franchise on Sunday with UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejcyk coaching opposite Claudia Gadelha. The season will coach light heavyweight and strawweights with the season starting April 20th on FS1.
The series will culminate on July 8th in Las Vegas as part of International Fight Week with a fight between the coaches for Jedrzejcyk’s strawweight championship.
Via UFC press release:
The Ultimate Fighter®: Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia will kick-off on FS1 on Wednesday, April 20 with a two-hour season premiere airing at 10 p.m. ET as 32 competitors fight for one of 16 slots – eight in each weight class – available to be coached by two of the sport’s best. The season will continue with 11 one-hour shows Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET. The series is the highest rated and most watched original program since the network’s inception in August 2013.
The series is a staple of FS1 programming and if the press release is correct, is very popular on the network. Of course, it is not comparing it to TUF when it was on Spike TV. Then again, that was a long time ago when MMA was not on television as much as it is now. The series should help with the profile of Joanna Jedrzejcyk as she is a great fighter and personality which will hopefully show throughout the series. With Ronda Rousey working on outside-MMA projects, Jedrzejcyk and Holly Holm will be pushed to help with the women’s demo. The Polish fighter should help with international fans as well.
The other news here is that we have some news on the events on International Fight Week which culminates with UFC 200. There will be at least one other show the same weekend as UFC 200. We will see if the UFC attempts to hold 3 shows as it did this past December.
January 17, 2016
The $50,000 bonuses went to T.J. Dillashaw, Dominick Cruz, Ed Herman and Luke Sanders. Dillashaw and Cruz won for Fight of the Night while Herman and Sanders won for their respective performances of the night.
UFC Fight Night 81 drew 12,022 for a gate of $1.3 million at the TD Garden. The gate is slightly off of last year’s UFC Fight Night 59 (13,828, $1.34M) which featured Conor McGregor. The all-time TD Garden record was UFC Fight Night 26 (Shogun-Sonnen) which drew 14,181, $1.534M gate. Notably, that show was the first live event on the debut of the FS1 network.
A good event with the main event turning in the best fight of the night. The pacing slowed late with the main event not starting until after midnight in Boston which was almost an hour off from when it was intended to begin. Despite being the lowest at the TD Garden, the gate was not far off of last years even though over 1,000 less people attended.
January 16, 2016
Deadline.com reports that Ronda Rousey and Tina Fey will star in a comedy based on the Rousey trademarked phrase, “Do Nothing Bitches.” Universal Pictures acquired the concept in a “high-six figure deal” according to the web site.
A brief summary of the film states that Rousey to play a “no-nonsense instructor” at a camp where wealthy pampered wives get a rude awakening.
Rousey obtained a trademark to the phrase along with several variations of the name late last year. The phrase was based on an Embedded 190 interview.
Recently, Rousey asked for more time off which put her off of UFC 200 due to the pushing back of filming of the remake of “Roadhouse” which she is set to star in. There is no timeline for the new film with the former Saturday Night Live star since the film company just acquired the rights. It was announced earlier this year that Rousey would host the January 23rd edition of Saturday Night Live.
The good news for Rousey is that her film career is starting to pick up as she is securing future film projects. The bad news for MMA fans is that it means less time in the Octagon and the possibility that she leaves sooner than later. It is clear that she wants to get back to avenge her loss to Holly Holm but the busy schedule and the revelation that you can make lots of money without having to cut weight or be hit in the face might (should) sway her future career ambitions.