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.

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.

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