Jon Jones featured in Reebok shoe launch

March 12, 2015

Jonny “Bones” Jones is featured in the latest Reebok commercial which launched March 8th.  The commercial feature Jones running in a variety of conditions to promote the company’s Reebok ZPump Fusion.

In addition to the commercial, it will be accompanied by print, digital and outdoor placements with the tag line, “get pumped” according to Footwear News.  In a press release sent out on Tuesday, Reebok announced the launch of the shoe “that uniquely conforms to any foot.”  The shoe appears to be a new take on Reebok’s “Pump” technology.

The new shoe is set to retail for $110.

Payout Perspective:

I do not know for sure, but if Reebok purchases advertising during the NBA Playoffs, it will probably feature this commercial.  As indicated in this write-up, Jones will appear in other media for the company’s launch of the shoe.  The UFC participated in a press event for the shoe last week in New York.  Jones is one of several UFC fighters to sign individual deals with the soon-to-be official clothier of the UFC.  We’ll see if the campaign will involve other UFC fighters.

WSOF signs “Phoenix Jones”

March 11, 2015

MMA Junkie reports that the World Series of Fighting has signed Ben Fodor (aka “Phoenix Jones”).  Fodor was featured on ESPN this past Sunday night on its Sportscenter telecast.

The well-done ESPN feature told the story of Fodor and his reasons for his alter ego, “Phoenix Jones”.  Fodor roams the streets of Seattle in a modified super hero costume fighting crime.  Ray Sefo announced that WSOF has signed a multi-fight deal with the company.  Fodor will make his debut with the company on April 10th.  Fodor’s brother, Caros, has fought for the UFC, Strikeforce and is currently with ONE FC.

Notably, the ESPN feature indicated that Fodor was the Super Fight League welterweight champion.  Fodor earned the title with a technical submission via rear naked choke on February 21, 2015.  Fodor’s pro MMA record is 5-0-1 according to Sherdog.

Although Fodor’s affiliation on his Sherdog page indicates he is fighting out of Shoreline (WA) MMA, I’ve heard other reports that he is training at AMC in Kirkland (WA).  This is the same place owned by Matt Hume, the trainer of Demetrious Johnson.  If someone knows the definitive answer, let us know in the comments section.

Payout Perspective:

The signing is good for both sides.  If you saw Fodor’s story, it’s clear that he was in need of a steady stream of income.  For the WSOF, it is in need of interest and while one might see the signing as a publicity stunt, Fodor does have an undefeated pro MMA record.  We’ll see how much publicity the organization will receive from the signing.

Silva fails post-fight drug test, 3 other UFC fighters issued penalties by NSAC

February 18, 2015

Four UFC Fighters including Anderson Silva were issued suspensions by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday at its monthly meeting.  Notably, it was revealed that Silva failed a second drug test post-fight according to MMA Junkie.

Silva tested positive for oxazepam and temazepam which are used to treat anxiety and insomnia.  Junkie reported Silva failing a second test although it was not known when he took it.

In addition, Hector Lombard, Nick Diaz and Ashlee Evans-Smith were all fined and suspended by the NSAC.

The UFC has called a news conference for Wednesday to address the spate of failed drug tests.

It will be interesting to see what the UFC will do.

Payout Perspective:

The news of Silva failing his post-fight drug test is disappointing when you recall that he denied any PED use upon the first failed test.  Not only does it appear that he lied, he has taken several banned substances in lead-up to his return to the Octagon.  For someone that was supposed to be an ambassador to this sport, this is a definite public relations issue for the UFC.  Regardless of the cost, it must do something to ensure the integrity of the sport.

MMA Payout will have more on the UFC news conference and the potential implications.

Coker ok with uniform drug testing policy if all support it

February 16, 2015

MMA Junkie reports on Bellator’s Scott Coker addressing the need for uniform MMA drug testing.

Coker indicated his approval for a “worldwide testing policy” for MMA.  However, he stated that “everyone would have to support it” lest it not work.  Obviously, we may infer Coker is alluding to the UFC which is in need of a solution to its recent influx of fighters failing drug tests.

But, the UFC is not the only one with drug issues.  Coker had four of his fighters fail drug tests at Bellator 127 last year.  Coker indicated that the commissions, which regulate the fights in the states where the company holds events, administer the drug tests.  He did not attest to what was done prior to taking over Bellator.  He stated that he reached out to all of his fighters about fighting clean after Bellator 127.

The Mohegan Department of Athletic Regulation (MDAR) will administer the drug tests for Bellator’s next event February 27th.  MDAR conducts “out of competition” drug testing in addition to its standard testing.

Payout Perspective:

While Coker’s call for a uniform policy of drug testing sounds positive, it can do more by being the leader in drug testing for the sport rather than calling for all organizations to abide by the same set of rules.  Calling for a “worldwide testing policy” seems like Bellator is putting the drug issue into UFC’s lap to make a move first.  Certainly, if Bellator adopted a stringent drug policy it would make a statement about its commitment to integrity in the sport.  Coker talking to his fighters about fighting clean is a good thing but I’m sure this will not be a deterrent for some fighters looking for any advantage that they can get.

Silva and Diaz fail drug tests prior to UFC 183

February 3, 2015

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz have failed drug tests.  Silva tested for two types of performance enhancing drugs.  Diaz tested positive for marijuana use.

The report indicates that Silva tested positive for two anabolic steroids: drostanolone and androstane.  The test occurred “out of competition” (as defined by WADA) as the test administered on Silva occurred on January 9th but it was not discovered until today, February 3rd.  Diaz had marijuana metabolites in his system.  Its the third time that Diaz has been caught.

Commission chairman Francisco Aguilar stated to Iole that he does not know why the commission received the test results so late.  If the commission received them prior to UFC 183, Aguilar would have not allowed Silva to fight.

The UFC made this statement on Silva:

“On February 3, 2015, the UFC organization was notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Anderson Silva tested positive for Drostanolone metabolites on his Jan. 9 out of competition drug test. UFC’s understanding is that further testing will be conducted by the Commission to confirm these preliminary results.”

“Anderson Silva has been an amazing champion and a true ambassador of the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC, in Brazil as well as around the world. UFC is disappointed to learn of these initial results.”

“The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by its athletes.”

UPDATED:  The UFC has issued a statement on Diaz:

“The UFC has been notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Nick Diaz has tested positive for marijuana metabolites following his fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, Nev. The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by our athletes. As a result of his positive test, Diaz has been informed that he has violated the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and Promotional Agreement with Zuffa, LLC. The UFC organization will fully respect the Commission’s final decision relating to Diaz at a disciplinary hearing set for February 17.”

Payout Perspective:

Interesting enough, Silva stated this to MMA Junkie late last year about those that use PEDs:

“This is not bad for me, this is bad for the sport,” Silva told MMAjunkie. “People around the world love the UFC, but the kids love the UFC, and the families love UFC. It’s bad for the sport. I don’t think this is good because the sport can change the lives of the kids and the people in the world.”

“When the guys test for the steroids, (they should have) no more fights,” Silva said. “When you use the steroids, you use them for a long time. When you use the steroids for a long time, you have a problem. It’s a drug and it’s not good for the sport.”

Until now, Silva has a documented history of being clean.  Maybe it was recovering from his horrific leg injury that caused him to want to take PEDs but that is not an excuse.  This mark on his career is unfortunate and does not bode well for his legacy in the sport.  For the UFC, this is a disaster as the first two big events of the year, its two biggest stars have failed drug tests.  As Silva pointed out, it’s bad for the sport.  It’s also bad for UFC business.  The Diaz drug test is less surprising but still not good for the company.

A story to continue to follow is how was it that the commission did not receive the test result prior to UFC 183.  We saw a similar mishap with the out of competition testing of Jon Jones.

 

Jones offers his side of story in Fox Sports interview

January 21, 2015

Jon Jones conducted an interview with Charissa Thompson of Fox Sports Live which aired Monday night to explain himself about failing a December 4th drug test.  The interview attempts to provide some answers about Jones and the reasons why he tested positive for cocaine.

Jones stated he “messed up” when asked about why he would do cocaine so close to his big fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.

Jones also explains why his stint in drug rehab only lasted a night.  Jones stated that doctors evaluated him and determined that he could be treated on an “outpatient” basis which meant he did not have to stay in the facility.

Payout Perspective:

Essentially the interview is a form of damage control for the UFC and Fox as it tries to form the narrative for Jones in the days to come.  Obviously cocaine use is not what you want from your top star.  It’s clear that the UFC needs him and wants him active since he was only fined $25,000 for violation of the company’s code of conduct and not also suspended or stripped of his light heavyweight title.  Thompson was likely picked to do the interview over another Fox Sports personality because she adds a professional, yet softer tone than others.

These types of “mea culpa” interviews attempt to paint the individual in a positive light.  The interview made Jones look serious, contrite and as someone that was sorry for his actions.  Did the interview make Jones seem more like he made an honest mistake?

A point in the interview Jones states he did not know if the drug test results found him positive for cocaine use when he was at UFC 182 weigh-ins.  Its also interesting that Jones never attempted to withdraw from the fight after he was told by Dana White that he had failed the December 4th drug test.

It is interesting that he is positive that he is not addicted to cocaine, yet made the decision to do it, knowing he would have to take a drug test for his fight at UFC 182.  Even if he did not believe he would be tested for narcotics, you would think Jones would have to be concerned with the possibility that it could show up.  So, why would a professional athlete that only used cocaine recreationally in college do it now?

One of the underlying issues to keep an eye on in the future is whether Jones will seek any legal action for the release of the test results.  He was noncommittal about this during the interview.

Jon Jones exits rehab after one night

January 13, 2015

A Binghamton, New York station first reported that Jon Jones left rehab after just one night.  The report comes from Jones’ mother who spoke with WBNG’s Travis Eldridge.

The UFC light heavyweight champion is scheduled to be in attendance to watch his brothers Chandler and Arthur Jones play against each other in the AFC Championship game on Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  Coincidentally, he will be at the game while the UFC holds a Fight Night in Boston.

Jones’ mom stated that she was “glad” that her son was caught as it “stopped him in his tracks.”

The article states that despite the one night stay in rehab Jones is getting “more educated on the subject.”

Payout Perspective:

The news is surprising and one may only surmise that his stint in rehab amounted just to public relations.  Do you think the UFC, Dana White and Reebok are really pleased with Jones’ one night stay?  Unless Jones decides to re-admit himself and/or does something more than just “educate” himself, the rehab stint is hollow.

An aside to this news is that Jones will be at the Patriots/Colts game at Foxboro.  As we know, the game runs opposite UFC Fight Night 59 on FS1.  We will see if CBS picks up on the third Jones brother watching his other two playing.  Also, it will be interesting to see if someone attempts to interview Jones at the game.

Reebok issues statement in support for Jones

January 7, 2015

Reebok issued a statement yesterday in support of UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.  The UFC clothing partner recently signed an individual sponsor deal with Jones.

Via MMA Junkie:

“We commend Jon for taking the necessary steps to address this issue, and we will support him in any way we can.  The status of Jon’s relationship with Reebok has not changed.”

You may recall Jones stating that he lost his Nike deal due to the media day brawl with Daniel Cormier.  Then, during a UFC 182 media session, Jones indicated that he misspoke and he actually severed ties with the Beaverton, Oregon company prior to the brawl.

Recently, Jones announced a partnership with Fantasy Sports operator DraftKings.  There has not been an official statement on Jones from the company as of yet.

Payout Perspective:

It’s no surprise that Reebok is supporting Jones at this point.  The recent deal with the UFC and its individual deal with the light heavyweight champ seems to have solidified its position.  It has followed the UFC’s strategy in conveying support for Jones in a time of personal need for him.  From a business and PR perspective, it positions the company as sympathetic of an individual with a problem.  It also allows for a “rebirth” of sorts when Jones returns.

Pettis Wheaties box revealed

December 5, 2014

At a UFC media event this week in lead up to this Saturday’s event, Wheaties unveiled the Anthony Pettis box donning his image.  Pettis won a contest this past summer to determine which next sports star should be the face of the cereal box.

Pettis is the first MMA fighter to have his image on the trademark Wheaties box.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a nice, creative image which takes advantage of Pettis’ GQ good looks yet still puts him in a position where the casual person can tell he’s an MMA fighter. The timing of the event works out as its added publicity for Pettis and the UFC for this Saturday’s PPV.  With the Reebok announcement made on Tuesday, perhaps the Pettis-Wheaties partnership will be short-lived.  But, maybe the UFC could be making inroads with Wheaties to make it an official sponsor.

Varner kicks, chokes Phoenix Gorilla in Suns PSA

November 29, 2014

UFC Lightweight Jamie Varner shot a public service announcement for the Phoenix Suns which aired in the arena during a Phoenix Suns game.  As part of the PSA, Varner promoted the UFC’s upcoming UFC on Fox event in Phoenix.

The PSA is the standard general announcement given before most sporting events.  Varner and the Phoenix Gorilla offer some comic relief in the skit as Varner gives the promo in a cage and kicks and chokes out the Gorilla for not following the rules.

Via UFC’s Facebook page:

Post by UFC.

Payout Perspective:

Good exposure for Varner and his gym which is in the Phoenix area. The PSA is a good tie-in to the upcoming UFC on Fox 13 card coming to Phoenix December 13th. Varner is slated to fight Drew Dober on the prelim card of the event.

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