UFC holds Browne out of International Fight Week activities

July 10, 2015

The UFC has suspended heavyweight Travis Browne from all International Fight Week festivities this week after pictures were posted by Browne’s partner, Jenna Renee Webb, alleging Browne caused her bodily harm.  Webb posted pictures and a statement on her Instagram account although it appears that she may not press criminal charges against him.

In a report from TMZ Sports, Webb said the images of her bruises were from a February incident allegedly with Browne.  Browne’s manager, John Fosco, responded on behalf of Browne stating that he denies the allegations of domestic abuse citing that Webb is trying to “smear” his name.  The pictures are a result of anger based on infidelity as Browne was with another woman according to the TMZ report.  Fosco indicated that decision to not take part in UFC activities this week was mutual and his client was happy the UFC was investigating the matter.

The UFC response is below.  It is not clear if the statement was released prior to Fosco’s statement or not.

“UFC is aware of the social media allegations made against heavyweight Travis Browne. The organization requires all athletes to act in an ethical and responsible manner, as mandated by the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. UFC will not tolerate domestic violence or any other violation of the policy. Every athlete is deserving of due process and this situation, as with any official allegations, will be duly reviewed and thoroughly investigated by an independent party. In light of this news, Travis will not be participating in this week’s UFC International Fight Week activities in Las Vegas.

“The prevention of domestic violence and the education of the athletes is of the utmost importance to the organization. UFC holds its athletes to the highest standard and will continue to take appropriate action if and when warranted.”

Payout Perspective:

Domestic violence is a serious matter and the UFC responded appropriately. If the allegations are true, he will likely be suspended, fined or even let go by the company. Even if the accusations might turn out to be untrue, there would not have been anything to gain to have Browne representing the company during the biggest week of its year.  Browne may lose out on some financial opportunities as he was scheduled for appearances.  But, the UFC had to prevent him from doing them as it would only have been a public relations disaster. The UFC has an image to protect and it cannot be one with men who hit women.  Hopefully the truth will prevail here.

UFC 189 main event in jeopardy with report of Aldo injury

June 24, 2015

The main event for UFC 189 is in jeopardy as news surfaced that Jose Aldo has an injury and could be scratched from his July 11th fight with Conor McGregor.  There is no official comment from the UFC as the promotion is weighing its options and Aldo’s camp is determining whether he can still fight.

Brazilian news outlet Combate first reported Aldo suffered an injured rib.

If the fight is scratched, it will be a significant blow for the company as the fight has been the center of its promotion around the biggest weekend of the company’s year.   It has spent a significant amount of money on the fight as well as you may recall the lengthy world tour and Embedded recaps earlier in the year.

Although the co-main event is a respectable Robbie Lawler-Rory MacDonald fight for the welterweight title, the UFC has focused on Aldo-McGregor with little attention paid to the “other” title fight on the card.

Payout Perspective:

The worst case scenario is happening for the UFC right now.  It banked on an Aldo-McGregor PPV with White proclaiming it would do 1 million PPV buys.  While Lawler-MacDonald would still be a good fight, the promotion would lose out on a significant amount of PPV buys.  If they keep McGregor on the card, it would mean that the big fight between the two may not happen until the end of the year assuming McGregor does not get injured and Aldo’s recovery time.  If it takes McGregor off the card, it would be a blow as well since McGregor is a draw.

Then there is the case of Jose Aldo.  With his recent comments speaking out against the Reebok deal, he might not be in the UFC’s good graces.  Tack on this injury and you might assume Dana White is not his biggest fan.  If he decides to fight, it will be at less than 100% and you might expect McGregor going for Aldo’s ribs which could mean he loses his title to McGregor.  Similar to Cain Velasquez, Aldo has been saddled with injuries that has constantly kept him off of cards.  Unlike Cain, Aldo has not been a marketable draw until this fight.  Will he be influenced to go through with the fight or lobby to have it moved until he is better?

Warrant issued for Jones for hit and run

April 27, 2015

An arrest warrant has been issued for UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones as a result of a hit and run incident that occurred on Sunday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The charge indicates that Jones left the scene of an accident involving “death or personal injuries.”  There was not a death, but in the three car accident, a pregnant woman suffered injuries to her arm and wrist.

UPDATED:  Jones in custody.

According to the warrant, an off-duty police officer recognized Jon Jones at the scene as he watches UFC “all the time.”  The off-duty officer was in the area at the time of the accident.  He observed Jones at the driver’s door area of a silver Buick.  Jones was identified as the driver of the Buick.  Another witness at the scene observed Jones leaving the vehicle and then returning as he put cash in his pants from the Buick.

MMA Fighting reports that Jones will turn himself in.  The MMA Fighting article indicates a pipe with marijuana was inside the car Jones was apparently driving.

Jon Jones Warrant

Payout Perspective:

Based on the information at hand, the pregnant woman that was injured does not appear to have life threatening injuries or injuries that might affect the birth of her child.  Of course, that’s based on information we know at this time and this could change.  Hopefully not.  Notwithstanding that issue, the news of the latest trouble for Jon Jones is of huge concern for the UFC.  The UFC will come under fire for whatever decision it may make with respect to his fight next month.  From one perspective, if they keep him on the card while the investigation goes on there will be criticism.  If he is taken off at this point, it hurts the card and the UFC business.  We will see what happens to Jones in the coming days.

Jon Jones sought by New Mexico police for hit and run incident

April 26, 2015

MMA Fighting is reporting that UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is being sought by Albuquerque Police in connection with a hit and run accident that occurred Saturday night.

A police spokesperson for Albuquerque’s police department indicated that Jones is being sought in connection with a woman’s car being struck Sunday morning by another car with the other vehicle leaving the scene.

Despite previous reports Sunday, Jones was not detained by the police nor is a warrant out for his arrest.  Furthermore, it does not appear whether Jones was the driver of the car the fled and whether he is in any way culpable for the hit and run.

Payout Perspective:

What might be just a misunderstanding and a non-issue blew up the MMA twittersphere with rumors running abound that Jones was off of May’s UFC 187 card as well as other speculative information.  Of course, the police have yet to question Jones.  A lot of the conjecture is based on Jones’ prior history which includes a DUI and a one night stint in a drug rehab facility for admitting to cocaine use.  One would hope for all involved, that Jones’ latest incident is a simple car accident.  If there is more to the issue, it could lead to another public relations issue in the weeks to come.

Court opinion in Bellator-Rampage lawsuit made available

April 9, 2015

A copy of the court opinion by Judge Karen Suter which granted Bellator MMA’s injunction in its lawsuit against Rampage Jackson was made public.

After oral argument on April 2nd, the Court issued its opinion on April 7th.  MMA Fighting provides a copy of the lawsuit here.

The court made it abundantly clear that it was not deciding the merits of the case and specifically that it was not deciding whether the contract between Bellator and Rampage was breached.  However, it made clear that Bellator had proved its case

Although the Court referred to several cases involving boxers that sign promotional agreements and then seek additional help from other promoters, the Court distinguished this case based on the exclusivity of Bellator’s agreement with Rampage.  It sided with Bellator in its argument that it was likely that Rampage breached its contract despite the arguments raised.

As previously stated, the Court found “clear and convincing” of the following on behalf of Bellator.  The four factors in determining a preliminary injunction are as follows:

  1. A substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case;
  2. There is a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted;
  3. The “balance of harms” (threatened injury) weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction;
  4. Granting an injunction would serve the public interest.

Some interesting points from the 25 page ruling.

  • The Court emphasized the exclusivity of the contract between Bellator and Jackson. It also stressed the fame and notoriety of Jackson as evidence that Bellator would suffer injury if Jackson were allowed to participate at UFC 186.
  • The Court did not buy the argument that Bellator breached its contract since it did not provide Rampage or his management with PPV summary report. The Court indicated Bellator had substantially complied with the information and that not providing the PPV summary was not a material breach of the contract.
  • Rampage’s claim that his fights were not adequately promoted by Bellator and the need to obtain the PPV summary was necessary fell flat. The Court ruled that there was no marketing provision setting a certain amount of money that was required to promote his fights.  Even without producing the summary report for PPV, there would be no breach since the actual compensation Rampage received was not in dispute.  Furthermore, the Court opined that Rampage offered no rationale for why Bellator would not want to market and promote one of the company’s top stars.
  • The Court sided with Bellator with its argument that if Rampage were allowed to fight at UFC 186, it would harm Bellator more than just monetarily, but from a reputation and brand standpoint. Bellator argued that the “MMA community” would denigrate Bellator if Rampage were allowed to leave for the UFC.  Moreover, Bellator argued that denying the injunction would be a sign to other fighters and their managers that they could just “ignore their contracts” and leave for perceived better opportunities.  Bellator also argued that if Rampage were to leave, Bellator would have lost out on the time and money it had invested in promoting him.
  • The opinion also notes that on December 4, 2014 Scott Coker claims to have notified the UFC that Rampage was still under contract while negotiations by Rampage to the UFC were ongoing. This seems to call into question how much the UFC knew about the Bellator-Rampage contract dispute.  It also calls into question the UFC’s decision to sign him and then put him on a card prior to a legal determination.

Payout Perspective:

In the end, Rampage and his legal team may win this court battle, but the first big decision out of this case falls in Bellator’s favor.  The Court opinion preventing him to fight at UFC 186 is not a good indicator of things to come.  Certainly, the Court made it clear it was not ruling on whether a breach occurred, but the threshold for proving a preliminary injunction is warranted is high (“clear and convincing” as opposed to “more likely than not”).  We will see what Rampage’s legal team decides on whether it will appeal the decision.

Another issue that was raised in passing was the knowledge that the UFC may have known about the contract issues with Bellator.  There could have been potential legal action between Bellator and UFC regarding interference with a contract but it seems as though Bellator did not want to pick that fight just yet.

MMA Payout will keep you posted on this.

UFC distances itself from Jackson injunction

April 8, 2015

The UFC has issued its own statement on the injunction granted against Rampage Jackson on Tuesday which forces him out of his fight at UFC 186 later this month.  In the statement, the UFC indicates that Jackson may consider an “emergency appeal.”

Via UFC.com:

UFC has been advised of the New Jersey state court’s ruling in the matter between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Bellator MMA. The UFC organization was surprised about the ruling because Mr. Jackson represented to UFC on multiple occasions that he was free to negotiate and contract with UFC. The UFC organization is also surprised that Bellator sat on its alleged rights for months before taking action.

In addition, the UFC indicated that it is “also considering action to protect its rights and minimize damages regarding this matter.”

The UFC added that UFC 186 in Montreal, Canada will “proceed as planned.”  There are rumors that the Bell Centre is offering refunds for UFC 186 up until April 10th.  However, others are indicating that the Bell Centre is enforcing the “card subject to change” language in the tickets.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC statement distances itself from Jackson although it does advance the story a bit when it indicates Jackson may consider an “emergency appeal.”  Then again, an appeal is always an option when you lose in court.  Realistically, the UFC should not have been “surprised” about Bellator’s legal maneuvers as this is straight textbook litigation strategy.  What is interesting is how the UFC now takes a “plausible deniability” stance whereas the UFC should have taken into consideration Jackson’s contract status when they decided to re-sign him.  Essentially, it should not have just taken Jackson’s word that he was free to sign with the UFC.  Now, the UFC is in a predicament with its PPV later this month.

UFC 189 world tour set for 8 cities promoting Aldo-McGregor

March 16, 2015

MMA Junkie reports an 8 city press tour to promote the July 11th fight between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo.  The tour is one of a kind considering it features the company’s 145 pound fighters.

The UFC is heavily investing in Conor McGregor once again as he challenges Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title at UFC 189.  The tour, dubbed the “UFC 189 World Championship Tour” includes stops in Rio de Janeiro, Los Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, London and Dublin.

The official schedule via Junkie:

  • March 20: 2 p.m. news conference, Maracanazinho Arena, Rio de Janeiro. Free and open to the public, streaming on UFC Fight Pass
  • March 23: Press tour, Las Vegas
  • March 24: Press tour, Los Angeles
  • March 25: 5:30 p.m. news conference, The Strand Theater, Boston
  • March 26: 5 p.m. news conference, Beacon Theater, New York. Free and open to the public
  • March 27: 4 p.m. news conference, Eaton Centre (MAC Court Fountain), Toronto. Free and open to the public
  • March 29: McGregor to attend 2016 Qualifying round of UEFA European Championship: Republic of Ireland vs. Poland, Aviva Stadium, Dublin
  • March 29: Jose Aldo to attend FIFA International friendly: Brazil vs. Chile, Emirates Stadium, London
  • March 30: News conference, TBA, London
  • March 31: Fan event, Convention Centre Dublin. Free and open to the public

Payout Perspective:

The UFC has done press tours in the past but none with so many cities and focusing on just a single fight (although certain cities will include promotion of other fights upcoming).  As it did with McGregor’s fight in January, the UFC is pulling out all of the stops.  I would look for Fox’s involvement once again with shoulder programming to include filming during this tour.  It will be interesting to see how these two do for the tour and the reception they will receive in each city.  Obviously, McGregor’s persona will carry the tour and we’ll see if Aldo will play along.

Fertitta begins lobbying in Albany

March 12, 2015

MMA Fighting reports on the annual pilgrimage to Albany, New York for the UFC to lobby for the legalization of the sport in the state.  Lorenzo Fertitta has stated that if professional MMA is legalized in the state that it will show its commitment to the fans of New York through an “epic series of major events over the next three years.”

Dana White indicated in an interview on AXS TV’s “Inside MMA” last week that it has reserved Madison Square Garden in 2015.  The UFC has reserved MSG in the past with the hope that the sport would be legal but to no avail.

This legislative session Zuffa has the support of The Business Council of NYS, Inc.  The organization identified that the legislation would likely benefit its cause as many of the organization’s members are resorts and sports venues.  Many of these would benefit from the influx of legalized MMA events as one would presume promoters would seek out these venues to hold MMA in New York State.

Fertitta was in Albany on Tuesday to lobby with legislators and advocate for the passage of the MMA bill.  In an interview with the Auburn Citizen, he indicated that the UFC was “cautiously optimistic.”

The current budget proposal by the state of New York includes legalizing MMA.  There’s no guarantee that MMA will be in the final budget.

Payout Perspective:

Hope renews once again in Albany.  Will this be the year that MMA is legalized in New York?  With the legal case in New York potentially coming to a conclusion, Zuffa hopes that it will not have to depend on the ruling.  With a new speaker that has supported previous MMA legislations, we shall see this spring if MMA will come to New York this year.

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.

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