Week in MMA & Boxing #40
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
May 20th- May 27th, 2016
Big Update on UFC Sale
The key is that it has been confirmed by a source involved in the bidding that 100 percent of the company is for sale and that the price they are looking for is the exact price ($3.5 billion to $4 billion) in the Darren Rovell article. Wow.
We had known it was a majority interest they were looking at selling, but this means not just the Fertittas stock, but Dana White’s stock and Flash Entertainment’s stock is all for sale with sealed bids coming soon. One is that at least one if not more of the prospective buyers wants assurances that the key drawing cards are under long-term deals (I believe Ronda Rousey has two fights left on her deal, but whatever the number, obviously her situation is a key because right now from the outside it doesn’t appear she’s that hot on fighting).
The bids in play are said to be fluid (in the sense they are ever changing until the actual deadline) and evolving based on due diligence and the companies involved garnering more information. But a second round of the process has just begun.
Joe Rogan was even more clear in an interview with Rolling Stone that if the sale goes through, he’s gone, and even if it doesn’t, he sounds like he’s leaning in that direction. “I don’t know what’s going on. I get conflicting stories about that. But if the sale goes through, I’m a ghost. That’s a fact.” He also said he wouldn’t work for anyone else.
UFC Cracking Down on Weight Cuts
The UFC sent letters to all contracted fighters this week from Jeff Novitzky, the Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance. The letters told fighters that the UFC staff will be monitoring weight of fighters all week and will be checking vital signs, resting heart rate and blood pressure and working with the athletes to make weight.
At UFC 199, in conjunction with the California State Athletic Commission, athletes can weigh-in as early as 10 a.m. on Friday, to give them more time to get rehydrated (the problem is that’s more time to add additional weight). Beginning with the shows on 7/7, 7/8 and 7/9, fighters are being encouraged to weigh in within eight percent of their fighting weight. Anyone at more than eight percent above weight will have their vital signs checked daily and will be strongly encouraged to attend UFC enhanced weight management education before their next fight.
In other words, if you show up having to cut a lot of weight, you have to attend the UFC equivalent of driving school, and who likes driving school. Fighters were given a chart which said they went everyone showing up five days before the fight with strawweights no more than 126, flyweights no more than 136, bantamweights no more than 147, featherweights no more than 158, lightweights no more than 169, welterweights no more than 185, middleweights no more than 202, light heavyweights no more than 223 and heavyweights no more than 289.
Contract Talks for Diaz vs McGregor 2
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz is a rematch of a show that did a reported 1.5 million buys on PPV, one of the two biggest in company history and one of the two biggest non-boxing PPV events in history. A rematch at UFC 200 was expected to be even bigger, but then McGregor and the UFC had a showdown which changed that plan.
Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and McGregor met in Los Angeles on 5/18 to talk future business. The reports were that all were in agreement that McGregor’s next fight would be with Nate Diaz.
On 5/20, they flew to Stockton to meet with Nate Diaz. Things didn’t go well at the meeting with. According to those close to the situation, Diaz insisted that he got paid the same as McGregor. That’s believed to be in the range of $10 million. At one point, stemming from that demand, with White and Fertitta trying to convince him how the fight would be massive for him, and it would be, but him not budging, it was reported White stormed out of lunch.
However, later in the day, the sides made amends as far as the problems went according to some reports, but they were still far apart on finalizing the deal. The belief is that they were looking at UFC 202 on in late August in Las Vegas.
Diaz was on the MMA Hour and said he asked to be compensated because the fight is a big deal. Right now, and this goes throughout much of UFC, there is the feeling when they see the amount of money boxers are getting that are drawing lower or the same PPV numbers that they are, and there is resentment. A couple of headliners have noted to me that why are they getting maybe $1 million for a PPV main event when boxers who draw less are getting $10 million.
Diaz confirmed they were talking about UFC 202 and also said he wanted the same amount of promotional push as McGregor leading to the fight. Since Diaz won the first fight, I’d think he’d want to be paid huge for a rematch. He’s financially well off for the first time in his life stemming from the money he made for the last fight. Obviously UFC wants the fight as soon as possible.
McGregor Sit Down with ESPN
McGregor sat down with ESPN on 5/22 and talked about having second thoughts about missing the Las Vegas press conference after a showdown with Lorenzo Fertitta about a week before where he threatened not to come and they threatened to pull him off UFC 200 if he didn’t, and obviously he felt they really wouldn’t do that given his value to the show. But they did. For whatever this is worth, with that kind of money at stake, most promoters would have done everything to keep it from getting there, and in the end, would have put him back on the show. What’s even more notable is they made that decision with a sale looming, because they’d have destroyed all records if you have the card they have, and would make UFC seem the hottest it has ever been.
McGregor claimed UFC asked him to do New York, Vegas and California press conferences, then said 70 press conferences (actually three), 70 talk shows (don’t know how many but other than Kelly & Michael none were advertised for that week), advertisements (they were shooting the TV commercial that week) and he claimed “I already made you $400 million last week. That was only last week, that fight. I need to get right.” So he’s just wildly throwing crazy numbers around. He said he agreed to do New York (which is a shorter fight from Europe than California and Nevada is) and claimed each side was pushing back and then it blew up on social media. Of course it blew up because he announced his retirement out of nowhere.
“I’ll tell you what. It blew up. I was just kind of having fun at the start. It was kind of half-hearted, and then it just went, and now all of a sudden you’re off UFC 200 and I was like, alright, then f*** you too then. It was fun, seeing it all blow up like that. It was amusing for a while. There were times when I was, seeing the press conference take place, and I was like, ah, I should’ve just jumped on the damn flight. I should have just stuck it out and went with t. But sometimes you’ve gotta do what’s right for you, and not do what’s right for everybody else, and especially if you’ve done what’s right for everybody else a million times over. You should have the right to be able to do what’s right for you sometimes. That’s what I felt.”
McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather
On 5/24, Colin Cowherd of FS 1, who has strong connections these days with UFC, said this on his television show about McGregor vs. Mayweather, transcribed by MMA Fighting:
“News I believe is gonna break here in about two weeks. I have already booked two rooms, September 17th and 18th, in Las Vegas. My intel is Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather is going to happen. It changed late last week. I got a call, then somebody else sent me something (Sunday) and Saturday. We’ve booked rooms in Vegas this September. Mayweather did have a very bad last PPV gate–550,000 people. He tries to get two to three million. So I think this is the most profitable fight for CBS and Mayweather. CBS has been working with Mayweather for eras. That’s why his fights are on Showtime, because CBS owns Showtime. So Les Moonves and the CBS peeps have decided, `let’s talk to the FOX & UFC peeps,’ and you’ve got FOX and CBS, you’ve got UFC, you’ve got boxing, you’ve got Floyd, you’ve got Conor. It’s gonna make a lot of money for people.”
The issue is still whether people will pay high dollars for a joke fight. Plus, if UFC books McGregor vs. Diaz, McGregor could very well lose his second in a row, but Diaz becomes an even bigger star, and really, so does his brother. And McGregor could win. In a boxing match, Mayweather toys with him. In the end, McGregor loses more convincingly on his biggest stage ever. More important, boxing beats UFC at a time when UFC is the product with the momentum. Will the public buy it given the personalities even though it’s not a competitive fight? History would say they will, and if it becomes a big event, they will in big numbers. But if it is viewed as a joke of an event, with a high ticket price, while it’ll do some numbers for sure, you just don’t know the casual sports fan reaction.
There continue to be all kinds of press reports regarding Mayweather vs. McGregor, which are all coming from the Mayweather side. McGregor didn’t push the idea of the match when he was in a sit-down interview on ESPN, saying that he had been told Mayweather wanted $100 million for the fight and he was being offered $7 million. He said that he’s not taking a pay cut to fight Mayweather and talked about boxing not being a real fight but a limited rules fight, and he thought there was all this big money in boxing.
Mayweather’s side is at least in the press pushing for the fight in 2017 over Cinco de Mayo weekend at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which would be a farce. You’d have all kinds of issues including the greatest boxer of the era facing a 0-0 fighter being sanctioned in Nevada, but then again, money does talk. The bigger issue would be UFC, which has McGregor under contract.
When will Rousey Return?
Ronda Rousey’s return is completely up in the air. Right now there is nothing definitive about when she’ll fight, and who depends on things that haven’t taken place yet.
McGregor and Ronda Rousey did a photo shoot together on 5/20. It was rumored by some to be for UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden, but we’re told that it was a new Bud Light commercial. A photo that wasn’t supposed to get out leaked from the taping showing them face-to-face like a fight staredown. While Rousey not having anything scheduled and UFC now talking in more negative terms about November in MSG would indicate her being gone, we’re told by those close to the situation that she’s got a few fight two fights left on her current deal and everyone is of the understanding she’ll do it.
From the outside it appears she’s not mentally into fighting right now which is why she’s not talking about it, and well, that assumption would be an accurate observation in this case.
The Atlanta PPV will have two title fights on top, Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title and Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis for the flyweight title. The latter is notable because UFC is building the next season of Ultimate Fighter over the winner of a tournament facing Johnson for the title in December.
On UFC Tonight, they also talked about a Cris Cyborg vs. Germaine de Randamie fight at 140, but Cyborg then went on Twitter and said she wanted to defend her 145 pound belt in Invicta. Invicta is running on 7/29, the night before. Nobody has ever made worse career decisions that have cost her so much money as Cyborg. When UFC talked about the fight, Cyborg went on twitter and talked about how they were trying to manipulate her fans. She noted that a documentary was filmed of her cutting from 168 to 139 and all the press she did to promote the fight. She also noted that UFC would not allow her to bring her title belt into the cage.
UFC 203 was announced this past week for 9/10 in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena with Stipe Miocic defending the heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem.
B.J. Penn Out
A really strange story saw B.J. Penn unknowingly violate the Wellness policy and he was pulled from his 6/4 fight with Cole Miller. What apparently happened is on 3/25, when Penn was ordered to take a drug test, he listed that he had used an IV in excess of 50 ml. Usage of IVs are banned unless they are cleared ahead of time. The banning of IVs was meant for weigh-ins, not some time months before the fight, but it is technically banned at all times.
Penn said he was unaware of the ban when he disclosed the information, thinking it was only during the week of weigh-ins. He wouldn’t have been caught if he hadn’t disclosed it, and he disclosed it thinking he had done nothing wrong. What’s even more weird is this is kind of an open-and-shut thing as far as it happening, so it if was a violation, it took place two months ago and why did it take so long to get out? UFC announced they’ll get a replacement to face Miller on the show.