Week in MMA & Boxing #25
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
January 20th - January 28, 2016
UFC 196 PPV No More
The entire UFC heavyweight division is in disarray as both champion Fabricio Werdum and challenger Cain Velasquez, pulled out of the 2/6 show they were to headline in Las Vegas.
Due to the loss of the main event, for the first time in UFC history, a scheduled PPV show is being moved to television, as the card will now air on FS 1.
Velasquez pulled out on 1/24 due to back issues. The UFC then announced that Stipe Miocic, coming off his Jan. 2 knockout win over Andrei Arlovski in 54 seconds, would be the replacement in the title match. The next day, Werdum pulled out, telling Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting in a statement hard to figure out at first, that he had a number of injuries, but would have stayed and fought had it been Velasquez, but since Velasquez pulled out, he was going to as well.
Now the show will be headlined by Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, and with less than two weeks notice, they’ve been moved from doing a three round fight to a five round fight.
Besides Hendricks vs. Thompson, the main card fights will also include Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt, Ovince Saint Preux vs. Rafael Feijao Cavalcante and Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky.
The latest pullout is even more an issue since Velasquez’s frequent injuries have been cause of major concern everywhere. Since beating Brock Lesnar for the title five years and three months ago, Velasquez has only fought six times, and in one of those fights, with Junior Dos Santos, which he lost, he had blown out his knee.
UFC had been criticized for giving him a rematch after he lost the title clean via submission in his 6/13 fight in Mexico City. The rematch had been delayed until almost eight months later in this case because Werdum wanted more time off.
At the time, there were no heavyweights really ready for a shot other than Junior Dos Santos, who UFC had booked instead against Alistair Overeem. But now, Overeem and Miocic are ready and are likely to be put ahead of Velasquez when it comes to the next shot.
At the UFC’s press conference this past week for the McGregor vs. dos Anjos and Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate fights on 3/5, to kick off ticket sales, McGregor arrived about 35 minutes late. They held up the start of the press conference. That is just McGregor as he now does things on his own time. It had gotten to the point where if he had a 3 p.m. appearance, the UFC would tell him it was 2 p.m. to hope he’d get there on time.
The first question at the press conference, which started 30 minutes late and with McGregor still not there, was if there was any heat with Dana White and McGregor. There have been reports of it. Of course White denied it, although clearly wasn’t happy McGregor was late, but as he was answering, McGregor walked in. Behind the scenes, there is a lot of talk as to what will happen. The key is McGregor has to keep winning. If he keeps winning title matches, he will continue to draw.
Once Rousey is out of the picture, because nobody else looks on the verge of being an 800,000 buy plus fighter (Jon Jones maybe can do it with the right grudge but not every time out). McGregor has already started his own company with the feeling that he will make the demand of co-promoter of all his fights down the line, or will even leave at the end of his contract (which has a number of fights left) and promote his own fights, with the idea of doing a stadium show in Ireland and making it prime time in the U.K. and doing a PPV aimed at that market working with Sky Box Office.
None of this has happened yet, and if he loses a few times, he won’t have that leverage. But he wants to be the new Mayweather. It’s believed that he is now, by far, already the highest paid fighter in the company, but he’s not in the stratosphere of Mayweather, but UFC can’t afford to pay him in that stratosphere because that level of revenue isn’t coming in
Conor McGregor Talking Shit, like normal
McGregor said that he would beat Rafael dos Anjos in about a minute, saying he’d like to beat the ugly out of him for two rounds but didn’t see it going that long. His talk regarding the fight is that Jose Aldo was a real Brazilian hero while dos Anjos left the country and his people. He called dos Anjos a TV fighter who has never generated any revenue for the company.
He was talking now about holding three titles simultaneously, saying he’d like to get a shot at the welterweight title by the end of the year. McGregor is really flexing his muscle in different ways. There’s lots of talk regarding him wanting to promote on his own or have a promotional company that co-promotes his fights with UFC. The key is with Ronda Rousey looking more and more like she’s phasing out of the fighting end of her career, McGregor is going to have even more leverage unless he starts losing, or unless UFC can find another draw at his level, and I can’t see anyone new with that kind of potential.
Regarding Frankie Edgar, McGregor said: “Frankie has a little bit of desperation about him or something. He went 0-2 at lightweight, got the chance to fight for the featherweight title and got the head slapped off him. Now he’s running around begging. It has a stink of desperation off of it, so I’m just going to let him sit for a while.
Any thought that UFC 197 with the high ticket prices ($1500 down to $200, scaled for the highest gross in UFC history) was going to the well too quickly after the record on 12/12 wasn’t the case. While not sold out immediately, there were only a few hundred tickets left after the first day they went on sale to the public. The cheapest ticket in was $450. The secondary market was slow, however. So it looks like another record level gate in the same market just three months after setting the record, and four months before everyone pretty much knows they are planning one of the biggest shows
UFC in MSG Likely not Happening
The 4/23 UFC show which was planned to be the debut in Madison Square Garden, is even more in jeopardy now because Federal Judge Kimba Wood failed to give the company an injunction it was asking for that would have not allowed the New York Attorney General’s office to stop the show due to the state’s laws that ban professional MMA competition.
At this point it is believed to be highly unlikely the show will take place in New York until legislation passes in the Assembly. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York had put revenue from UFC events into the state budget for this year, which shows his support of the law if it gets through the state assembly, which has blocked it for years. The UFC is also appealing this decision
Condit wants a rematch
Carlos Condit was on the MMA Hour this week and told Ariel Helwani, “An immediate rematch with (Robbie) Lawler is about the only fight that raises my pulse, that I can get interested in.” Condit had talked after the fight on Jan. 2, which he lost via close decision in a fight that could have gone either way that he was thinking seriously of retiring. He now has said if offered a rematch, he’d take it, but past that, he’s not sure if he’ll continue fighting.
He said he has to look at what is right for his long-term health, and his family. It’s been a total change in the mentality of fighters in just the past few years, due to all the knowledge gained regarding the ramification of concussions. You can see it in things like the retirement of Brian Stann, regarding fighters looking at getting out when in the past they’d have continued for several more years
Weidman Rematch Coming
With the likely suspension coming of Yoel Romero, it’s looking like Chris Weidman will face Luke Rockhold next for the middleweight title. It probably would have happened that way, either way. Rockhold said that he was asked about his next fight, and that Romero and Weidman were both suggested as possible opponents. He said he wanted to face Weidman, because Romero couldn’t sell ice cubs in hell, and since, as champion, he’s paid based on PPV sales, he wanted Weidman in a rematch. But it became a moot point when Romero looked to have failed a drug test.
Ronda on SNL
Ronda Rousey hosted Saturday Night Live on 1/23. She was Ok. The show did a 5.0 rating on the overnights, the third highest rating for the show in the last 22 months. The season average is 4.6, with the season high being the Donald Trump hosted show that did a 6.6, and there was a Tiny Fey/Amy Poehler hosted holiday edition that was heavily promoted and did a 5.1. Someone close with the shows noted that she was going to be very carefully protected because they were aware of her limitations and wanted to make sure she looked good.
UFC Drug Testing
The drug testing has gotten a lot more serious since the start of the year. Between 1/1 and 1/20, there were 49 fighters tested and 60 tests done. Rafael dos Anjos was tested twice last week. Between the implementation of the program in July and the end of 2015, there were 353 tests given, with 50 fighters tested between July and September and 131 fighters tested between October and December, some of them multiple times
Mighty Mouse Dreaming Big
Demetrious Johnson reiterated on Submission Radio this week that he’d face Dominick Cruz in a superfight but only if the UFC offered him $2 million for the fight. Johnson said that if UFC can gross $600 million per year, they can afford to pay him $2 million for that fight. He said he has no reason to go to 135, and is focusing no breaking the all-time record for title defenses at 125.
Cruz beat Johnson via decision in an exciting fight for the bantamweight title before the flyweight division existed, but Johnson from a skill standpoint has improved greatly since that fight. He noted it’s a big size difference as he’s walking around at 140 and figures Cruz is probably 160
UFC 195 PPV Numbers
The Jan. 2 UFC 195 show headlined by Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit is estimated at this point at doing 300,000 buys. As always, keep in mind this is an early estimate and the final number could vary from this. It wasn’t a strong sell live, coming off the high priced record gate in December. They sold 5,174 tickets and had 8,797 in the building, very low numbers for a UFC PPV show in Las Vegas, with a gate of $1,998,664. On the night of the show, the UFC announced 10,300 as the attendance and $2,003,986 as the gate.
I’d consider the PPV number as good, which may mean that Lawler as a super action fighter and it on paper looking like a great card helped somewhat. It also could be that UFC made new fans from the huge interest in UFC 193 and 194, plus the holiday show almost always does better than the same show would have done on a different date. Interest was really strong in Australia, which seems to indicate they’ve greatly expanded interest due to all the publicity and success of UFC 193 there
Chael on the Apprentice
Chael Sonnen has been announced for the cast of the new season of NBC's "The Apprentice" television show. The show, which will be hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger and filmed in Southern California.
Its debut on the network has not been announced. Sonnen currently works for ESPN doing analysis of major UFC shows. He is under suspension from fighting for failing two different drug tests for a number of banned substances and has announced his retirement.
Besides Sonnen, competing for the $250,000 first prize earmarked for a charity of the celebrity's choice will be Laila Ali, actress and fitness guru Brooke Burke-Charvet, NFL legend Eric Dickerson, legendary singer Boy George American Ninja Warrior host Matt Iseman, actress and former VH-1 host Carrie Keagan, TV star Carson Kressley, women's basketball legend Lisa Leslie, actor/comedian Jon Lovitz, Motley Crue's Vince Neil, TV reality show star Nicole Polizzi ("Snooki"), Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams, former college and NFL star Ricky Williams and singer Carrie Wilson of Wilson Phillips.
PBC on FOX scores Big
Premier Boxing Champions brought championship boxing back to FOX in prime time Saturday night after an almost 20-year absence and delivered a resounding ratings knockout. The PBC on FOX, headlined by an intense 12-round battle for the vacant welterweight title between victor Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero, delivered PBC’s best audience since April 2015.
PBC on FOX averaged a 1.5/3 household rating/share with 2.5 million viewers from 8:00 – 10:37 PM ET, according to Nielsen, +36% in rating and +39% in audience compared to PBC’s last primetime telecast (1.1/2, 1.8 million viewers on NBC, 12/12/15).
Ratings and viewership built throughout the evening’s broadcast. FOX’s first bout featuring a hard-hitting heavyweight bout between Dominic Breazeale and Amir Mansour delivered a 1.3/2 with 2.2 million viewers, while ratings increased slightly for Sammy Vasquez’s TKO win over Aron Martinez with a 1.4/2, with 2.2 million viewers. Ratings then jumped for Danny Garcia’s spirited win vs. Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision that averaged a 1.8/3 with 3.0 million viewers.