May 17, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that Nate Diaz has been suspended pending an investigation for a tweet in which he made a gay slur. Diaz sent the tweet in defense of Pat Healy as he had been stripped of bonuses for testing positive for marijuana use.
Diaz used the slur to refer to Brian Caraway, the UFC fighter that received the submission of the night bonus after the UFC stripped Healy of the bonus. Incidentally, it was Caraway that lobbied Dana White for the raise in bonuses for UFC 159.
We all remember that the UFC suspended Matt Mitrione for statements that he made on The MMA Hour in relation to Fallon Fox. The suspension was short-lived as Mitrione was scheduled a fight after only two weeks of discipline.
Diaz is coming off his second loss in a row as he suffered the first TKO of his career against Josh Thomson. MMA Junkie reports Diaz’s manager, Mike Kogan, advised Diaz not to delete the offensive tweet and that people look up the offending word in the dictionary. He explained that the word is slang in Northern California.
This probably violates the UFC’s Code of Conduct. Maybe the UFC should have another Fighter Summit to refresh its fighters on what is appropriate to tweet or say to the media. Even if Diaz believed the name calling to be benign and not a slur against homosexuals, but more of dissing Caraway (something seemingly explained by Kogan), he should have called him something else. With Kogan supporting Diaz’s stance and choice of words, it will be interesting to see what happens next. Certainly, the standard way to address issues like this is to apologize for the choice of words. Here, we are asked to refer to a dictionary. We will see how this works.
May 13, 2013
Eddie Alvarez produced via twitter a document he claims Bellator altered after he had agreed to the terms of the renegotiation period. Alvarez stated that Bellator changed the matching issue from “all terms” to “material terms.”
— Edward Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) May 12, 2013
In the October 30, 2012 letter from Bellator to Alvarez sent via email and Certified Mail, the letter states in reference to matching terms with Zuffa: “Upon receipt of such an offer, you are thereafter obliged to produce to Bellator a true copy of the proposed agreement with Zuffa, LLC at which time Bellator shall have fourteen (14) business days from receipt of the full agreement to consider whether it will match the material terms of the offer.” (our emphasis in bold and italics). In a subsequent letter, the sentenced was changed from material to all.
Alvarez had noted this change during his interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and on MMA Junkie Radio. He essentially cited this as an unethical business practice.
Bjorn Rebney responded to Alvarez’s claims in an article on MMA Fighting. The November 1, 2012 letter was produced which stated “all terms” instead of material terms was produced in the article. Rebney refuted Alvarez’s accusations stating that he was aware of the language and that Alvarez’s attorneys were aware as well. Rebney also responded to several issues regarding pay concerning Zach Makovsky, Cosmo Alexandre and whether or not Bellator attempted to sign Leonard Garcia.
The letter produced by Alvarez attempts to show that Bellator amended terms without his knowledge. Rebney indicated that this is not true and that Alvarez’s attorneys had the chance to review the letters. Did Alvarez’s lawyers not see the November 1st letter? Based on what the Court has opined in the Preliminary Injunction, will the “material” vs. “all” terms matter? If you recall, the Court indicated that it would apply a common sense approach to matching terms. Regardless of one might think, this lawsuit is going to start to heat up. Moreover, arising out of the lawsuit are PR issues which Rebney, Bellator and Viacom must address and determine how to put out the fires. By implicating other issues with fighters, we might see Makovsky, Alexandre and Garcia get pulled into this lawsuit as witnesses.
May 9, 2013
After tweeting his displeasure for his legal troubles, Eddie Alvarez made his appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday to give his side of the story in the Bellator battle. He also made an appearance on MMA Junkie radio Tuesday pleading his case.
Although he said he didn’t know too much about law when talking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Alvarez gave a legal update on his case. To be fair, Alvarez correctly stated that the case was in the discovery phase.
The MMA Hour interview came after tweeting about Bellator and how Bjorn Rebney was a “grunt” and that Viacom and Spike are “idiots.”
But the bulk of the interview on The MMA Hour dealt with the legal case and a rehashing of the contract matching issue which the Court denied in Alvarez’s motion for a preliminary injunction in January. A favorable ruling would have allowed Alvarez to negotiate a contract with the UFC and leave Bellator behind. However, the Court decided that the factual issue of whether or not Bellator matched the terms of the UFC contract would be determined at a later date. Alvarez stated on MMA Junkie radio that he didn’t expect the Court to grant the Preliminary Injunction.
On MMA Junkie Radio, Alvarez indicated that he talked with Bellator in New Mexico in an effort to settle the case but stated that he could not reveal the substance of the communications. Legally speaking, the settlement discussions are confidential and governed by certain evidentiary rules.
Alvarez claimed that Bellator changed words in his original contract which included an addendum which waived a renegotiation period and allowed an exclusive negotiating period with Zuffa. However, Alvarez claims that a term in the addendum was changed from “all terms” in to “material terms.” The documents do not appear to be in the legal filings in the case. Alvarez indicated he would post the documents on twitter which shows the different terms. However, as of the time of this writing, the documents have not been posted.
Alvarez stated his case well but the issues he argues doesn’t do anything other than the possibility of getting him into more legal troubles. The “matching” issue was already decided by the Court at the Preliminary Injunction in that there would be no decision on the matching issue. Its definitely the Court punting on a key issue in the matter but there is a legal basis for waiting to hear the information provided in the discovery process. However, in the Court PI opinion, it did cite that the Court “must apply a common-sense interpretation to the word “match.” This was in reference to the issue of whether Bellator had to match the Zuffa contract verbatim.
But, why go after Viacom? It may not know anything about MMA, but it is investing money into the sport. Without Fox and Viacom investing in MMA, it would not be as popular as it is today. Certainly, I do feel for Alvarez to a certain extent as he’s been put in a tough position. He no longer wants to work for his employer but his employer is pulling him back in. Perhaps he didn’t know that he’d be in this position when he signed his contract with Bellator or didn’t think that Bellator would put up such a fight.
Regardless of whether or not Alvarez is telling the truth, talking (and tweeting) is a risky move especially in contentious litigation. There is the potential for further claims and using tweets and Alvarez’s interviews as evidence in the future.
May 5, 2013
Eddie Alvarez will be appearing on The MMA Hour Monday to presumably talk about his legal fight with Bellator. The appearance comes after a weekend of tweets in which he went after Bellator, Spike and Viacom.
Alvarez’s official twitter handle, @Ealvarezfight, indicated that he was moving to train with the Blackzillians. It also stated he made money after selling real estate as to imply that money is no issue at this point.
Alvarez tweeted that there would be no settlement and “let the truth come out in the end.” (ed. note: famous last words).
He also wrote to his 9,000 plus followers that he placed blame for the lawsuit with Viacom and Spike rather than Bjorn Rebney.
In a civil lawsuit, most parties position their case toward a favorable settlement. Alvarez proclaiming that there would be no settlement is a bad move from a legal and PR standpoint. Regardless of what you think of what has happened to Alvarez, its not a good move to tweet, write or be interviewed about this lawsuit without gaining clearance from legal counsel. Just like cops say on tv shows, “anything that you may say (or write in this instance) can be used against you.” Even if Alvarez believes what he says is true, what he writes on twitter may be construed differently by Bellator attorneys.
Moreover, if the Court forces the parties into mediation or a settlement conference and the case settles, Alvarez did not speak the truth about going to trial. It just makes him look like he had no understanding about the legal process.
From an overarching perspective, the goal of MMA fighters is to make the most money out of your short career. The reason why the UFC likes the FOX relationship is that there is more money involved and the product is exposed to the mainstream. Alvarez has to look at the situation and determine what’s best for his fight career. Sit and fight a battle he may actually lose, or try to find a resolution as soon as possible. Trials are long and drawn out.
Unless Bellator is unwilling to enter into settlement talks, he should try to settle for a shorter fight deal with Bellator in order to be released from his contract. Alvarez is in the prime of his career and he does not want to end up muddied in a contract dispute. Although under separate circumstances, a similar contract issue sidelined Brandon Vera for some time and he has never been the same fighter since.
Hopefully Alvarez will cancel Monday’s appearance and/or give generalities of his legal situation rather than talk himself into more problems.
May 1, 2013
ESPN Business Reporter and UFC head Dana White went back and forth on twitter on the state of UFC business. The UFC drew the scrutiny of ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell. If you didn’t know, Rovell covers the business of sports and is as active on twitter as Dana White. Rovell sent a tweet out the following tweet after UFC 159.
UFC is starting to lose a little bit of its edge. Might need to have fewer events. Know guy who paid $50 for a $553 face seat tonight.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 28, 2013
This drew the ire of UFC fans, media and eventually got back to Dana White. And in usual form, he escalates the criticism to make it personal.
Rovell didn’t seem pleased about the “ESPN” remark and defended his reason for inquiry.
After a query to substantiate the numbers that the UFC was still on the rise, White indicated to Rovell that he’d get him those numbers
On Wednesday, three days after the initial back and forth, Rovell received his request. It appears to either be a cut and paste of a Fuel TV press release, a hastily put together word document and/or both. You can click on the pic to see it close up. As you can read, White tells Rovell that Zuffa is a private company.
The following tweet is a lesson in making sure you read what you tweet. White’s response to Rovell.
Rovell did concede that the UFC had some strong indicators of improvement.
Rovell then addressed the data White provided to a follower that believed White had shown the reporter up.
Rovell did make a back-handed complement about the back and forth with White.
He then makes the most sense in the following tweets in requesting information that most would ask about a company’s financials.
Prior to receiving the data from White, Rovell ran a poll for his twitter followers. Its something he does periodically to create engagement. The poll asks whether UFC has mainstream potential. As you can read, a little over half don’t think so.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 29, 2013
POLL RESULTS: 55% of respondents say they don’t think the UFC has the potential to go mainstream sprts.bz/17rLdRl
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 29, 2013
You can also head over to Storify to see the original version of this.
Its an interesting back and forth between a mainstream business reporter and White. Certainly, there are errors on both sides of the conversation. Rovell frames the questions differently. He first states that the UFC has lost its “edge” based on the anecdotal evidence that a friend bought a ticket for substantially less than face value. He then asks about the UFC slowing down financially and would like to see its net profits. White responds over the top. Rovell baits him to provide him data that the UFC is doing better and then White gives him something that can’t be substantiated. Being a reporter, Rovell is upset and White relies on the “private company” safe harbor to protect the UFC from having to release its numbers.
At times, Rovell uses financial information to dampen the mood for fans. For example, when a player drops in the NFL Draft, he’s the first to tweet how much money that player is losing. Still, Rovell is being a journalist here and it would have looked better if White could have just said granted him an interview to talk about it or provided him information that did not look like it was a press release.
October 5, 2012
MMA Fighting reports that Jeremy Stephens was arrested this morning on a Felony charge that has yet to be disclosed. Despite the arrest, Stephens will fight his scheduled fight tonight as part of the undercard bout on FUEL.
Although no word has come out yet on the charges, Dana White confirmed to Ariel Helwani that he is still scheduled to fight. He also sent out a tweet about Stephens.
Don’t listen to the media! Nobody ever told them Jeremy isn’t fighting. He is fighting!!
— Dana White (@danawhite) October 5, 2012
Another public relations issue for the UFC and one that appears to be serious considering the gravity of the charges. The UFC is in a bind as to whether to cancel the fight or let Stephens fight. This cannot be good for Stephens as I’m sure his mind may be somewhere else. Conversely, maybe this makes Stephens this much focused in his fight based on the problems. It will be interesting to see how the broadcast team handles this matter and how White addresses this post-fight press conference.
September 23, 2012
Welcome back to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 152 coming from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Jones survives scare, subs Phenom
A first round armbar out of nowhere and Jon Jones almost saw his unblemished (let’s not count Hamill DQ) record go away and one of the biggest upsets this side of Matt Serra. But, Jones survived and does what he does: dominate opponents. This time, it was a Keylock that made Belfort submit.
Belfort gave a lot more than expected but it was a definite mismatch after the armbar attempt. This match showed the beauty of jiu jitsu in the UFC. First, Belfort’s armbar was perfectly executed and he would have subbed, or broken the arm, of almost every other fighter in the UFC. Secondly, Jon Jones’ elbows sliced Belfort’s forehead and as Jones positioned himself for what everyone believed to be a mounted crucifix to reign more elbows on Belfort, Jones saw Belfort’s arm was bent and immediately went for the keylock. Excellent strategy by Jones.
Mighty Mouse wins Flyweight title
Demetrious Johnson won a split decision over Joseph Benavidez to win the inaugural Flyweight title. It was a great technical match up. I had thought Johnson won the fight outright but the judges had it at a split decision.
It’s a great win for a guy with a good backstory as we learned from the Countdown show.
The fans were booing during the end of the match which made no sense to me. Sure, the fight had slowed but its due to the pace in the early rounds. The crowd reaction drew some criticism from Joe Rogan on the broadcast.
The Count includes Stann as win
Michael Bisping used his superior cardio skills and outclassed Brian Stann to stake a claim for the next title shot against Anderson Silva. For as outspoken as Bisping is, he backs it up and did a good job of muting Stann’s offense.
Attendance and gate
MMA Junkie reports that the attendance at the Air Canda Centre in Toronto drew 16,800 for a gate of $1.9 million. In comparison, the UFC 140 which featured Jon Jones taking on Lyoto Machida last December drew 18,303 fans for a gate of $3.9 million.
It’s interesting with the card shuffling that even with the addition of Jon Jones it did not move the ticket sales as compared to last December.
MMA Junkie reports the bonuses which were announced at the post-UFC 152 press conference. Each fighter received a $65K bonus.
KO of the Night: Cub Swanson
Submission of the Night: Jon Jones
Fight of the Night: Evan Dunham vs. T.J. Grant
The octagon sponsors included Edge, Marines.com, Dodge, the upcoming film, “Here Comes the Boom”, video game Assassin’s Creed , UltimatePoker.com, TapouT and Bud Light with the center. MetroPCS, RYU and Corn Nuts also sponsored portions of the PPV.
New UFC sponsor Allfuse had the prep point. This is the second straight PPV where a new sponsor has had the spot where fighters get greased before heading into the octagon. I’m not sure if its being used as a one off for sponsors looking to dip its toe in the sponsorship game.
The biggest new sponsor was Nike as Jon Jones sported the swoosh in the Octagon for the first time. The Bones Knows t-shirts were worn by Jones on each media obligation he had prior to the fight.
In addition, Jones was sponsored by Muscletech. In order to get some notoriety with the sponsorship, it aired a short swim workout Jones did in conjunction with the sponsor. It was tweeted out to Jones’ followers.
Xyience is also a sponsor of Jones. After the fight, one of Jones’ corner men reminded Jones he needed to hold the can when he had his hand raised. But Jones shrugged him off and handed the can back to him. Xyience was probably not happy about that considering a part of the deal is that he have the can. After further review, Jones’ right arm was the one that was armbarred so maybe he couldn’t or didn’t want to hold it.
SKY was a prominent sponsor for Vitor Belfort. Also, Gillette, BMG, Jaco and RVCA were on Vitor’s person. Despite losing the fight, Vitor did well for himself.
Mighty Mouse was sponsored by Xbox once again. Probably, one of the best brands and the strongest outside of the Swoosh to endorse.
UltimatePoker.com had a sponsor tie in with a “Belt the champ” contest in which the winner was able to put the belt on Jon Jones.
SE Solutions sponsored Brian Stann. SE Solutions is an IT company servicing federal agencies focused on protecting America’s security. The sponsorship fits with what Stann has done and who he is and that’s a good thing.
The cutmen were back to TapouT vests as opposed to RYU ones which they had last PPVs.
Here Comes the Boom, the upcoming movie about a mild-mannered teacher becoming a UFC fighter to raise money for his school. The UFC gave James, a huge UFC fan before it became mainstream, license and access for the movie. But, was Kevin James supposed to look that big in the promo for the movie, “Here Comes the Boom.” James is living the dream. Not only was he in the King of Queens opposite Leah Remini (at her best), now he’s opposite Selma Hayek in a role where he allegedly becomes a MMA fighter. I know, we are supposed to suspend reality…
Roger Hallet was sponsored by MMA Bodyguards. The company offers security assistance leveraging their MMA training. Former UFC fighter Josh Neer is on the web site.
Sponsor Assassin’s Creed had a UFC tie-in with Royce Gracie winning a contest voted on by the fans. Sure, we’ll buy it. The contest and the video game. Edge had a similar activation with Joseph Benavidez winning the Edge new “fresh face”
Although the two companies can be considered competitors , RYU sent a welcome to Nike.
Welcome to the #octagon swoosh.
— RYU (@RYUapparel) September 23, 2012
Post-UFC 152 Headlines
What’s next for Jones?
Is a Chael Sonnen showdown really what the UFC needs? Sure, it will sell a PPV but what about the long-range direction of the division. We can argue that the division has been cleaned out and now the UFC should just find the biggest fight. Sonnen can hype a fight. But does he stand a chance on winning.
How much will we see the Flyweight division?
With the crowning of a champion, it will be interesting to see how much we will see this division featured on PPV. I think that the division should start out on Fuel and FX Prelims and eventually gravitate to PPV. But, from the crowd reaction, it may take some time for fans to adjust.
Does Bisping deserve a title shot?
We may hate him as much as Jon Jones but Michael Bisping is a top contender in the middleweight division. He controlled Brian Stann and should be thought of as the next in line for a title shot against the Spider.
Odds and ends
-The initial headliners: Johnson-Benavedez and Stann-Bisping did some promos where they hung off of the CN Tower. All that and they didn’t even receive top billing
-We outlined the PR issues Jon Jones has and the main point from that is Jones needs to mature and be himself with the understanding that he couldn’t please everyone. But his entrance song last night: Bob Marley’s “Could you be Loved” as if it were a plea to his fans to like him.
-I believe it is now mandatory that Ronda Rousey appear at anything UFC related. She was seen in the crowd at the event. Also, Strikeforce fighters Luke Rockhold (wearing black) and Daniel Cormier (wearing white) to which Cormier mouthed to the camera “Ebony and Ivory”. It’s the details that make me laugh.
-Any twitter jokes that the Marines Keys to Victory figures of Benavidez v. Johnson were their actual sizes?
-Can someone tell me the other man that Matt Hume told he should quit his full time job to train as a fighter? Mighty Mouse was one, who was the other?
-We will address Dana White’s post-UFC152 fury at a Toronto columnist in a separate post.
It will be an interesting buy rate for UFC 152. Arguably, the cancellation of 151 could have helped with buys since fans would be Jonesing for UFC fights. Still, the card shuffling and main event of Jones-Belfort didn’t seem like it was a real attraction. A buy rate of 450K-500K would be a success. But think what the buy rate would be if Jones was not on this card.
September 16, 2012
According to Jones’ twitter, Nike filmed scenes for the commercial in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As for Silva, his manager Ed Soares stated that Silva’s sponsorship with Nike has gone from an exclusive Brazil sponsorship to a global sponsorship. This is big news for The Spider as he fights next month.
Its obvious that the commercial will at least feature Jones and Silva. The news of a Nike commercial is good news for the UFC as two of its biggest stars are now sponsored by the Swoosh. This a blue chip sponsor that the UFC needs to grow and attract more mainstream sponsors. We will see how Nike presents MMA in its commercial and how active it will become in the UFC.
August 29, 2012
Georges St. Pierre announced via Twitter that he was medically cleared for his return to the Octagon this fall. GSP will face Carlos Condit to unify the UFC welterweight champion in Montreal.
I’m now medically cleared to compete in professional mixed martial arts events- Rendez-vous le 17 novembre,
@ufc 154, Montréal!!!
— Georges St-Pierre(@GeorgesStPierre) August 28, 2012
The announcement prompted trainer Firas Zahabi to say that UFC 154 in Montreal to break PPV records.
Finally some good news for the UFC. The news that GSP will be back in November in his hometown should give the UFC PPV business a boost. Certainly Zahabi’s comments must be taken in context. He’s hyping GSP’s return. UFC 154 and 155 (JDS vs. Cain II) could help boost the PPV average for the year.
GSP’s return should mean a healthy PPV buy rate although GSP had lost some of his appeal with the criticism that he was not finishing fights. But, the long layoff should draw some interest to see how he does. Add to that the fact that he will be facing the interim champ to unify the title, and we should see a good number of PPV buys.
August 26, 2012
Jon Bones took to Twitter on Saturday to apologize for the cancellation of the UFC 151 card. Jones stated that he takes “full responsibility” for how UFC 151.
Carrying the cross for my company’s decision. If someone has to take the blame, I will accept full responsibility for the way UFC 151
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 25, 2012
was canceled. I want to sincerely apologize to all the other athletes/fans who’s time and money was waisted.
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 25, 2012
I feel terrible about the way that was handled.
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 25, 2012
I haven’t kept up with the various reactions to Jones’ tweets but I imagine there are some that don’t believe the apology. Its usual that “falling on the sword” would be a noble thing. From a public relations perspective, admitting fault grants the admitter some level of immunity from further blame. But does it here? In this instance, it seems that Jones sent the tweet out in defense after White’s public berating of Jones for refusing to fight Chael Sonnen as a replacement.
In his tweets, he says he is “carrying the cross for his company.” An indirect comparison to Jesus? While Jones is trying to do the right thing, it seems as though he is overreaching. I’m not sure how he can take responsibility for how UFC 151 was handled. Realistically, it was White that called out Jones and Jackson. It was the UFC that decided to kill the card and name Machida as the next challenger when (as we know now) Machida had not yet accepted. It is true that he could have taken the Sonnen fight. But, would that fight have been for the title? While Jones’ decision to refuse the fight can be debated, he did what he felt was best for him.
While the UFC framed the cancellation falling squarely on Jones and Jackson, it could have focused on Henderson’s injury and being too late in the game for Jones to prepare for a new opponent. The UFC could have protected one of its top stars. It does not seem fair that one guy should be the fall guy for the entire card. Yet, White framed the issue and it has taken off.