Week in MMA & Boxing #8 - September 18, 2015
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
September 11 - September 18, 2015
Mayweather vs Berto Bombed
Dan Rafael of ESPN reported that the 9/12 Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Andre Berto PPV in Las Vegas was a big flop.
Rafael wrote: “PPV industry source on Mayweather-Berto numbers tells me they’re very poor relatively speaking. `Being generous it might hit 550,000 buys.’
These numbers were reported on 9/16, which is awfully fast to have what I’d call a strong estimate. All indications were that the show wouldn’t do well, but in the past, not doing well for Mayweather would have been numbers around 900,000. The live event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena didn’t sell out, and when it comes to a big event like that, casinos purchase a ton of tickets. All the closed-circuit locations were canceled.
The Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight was first reported as doing 4.4 million buys, nearly doubling the all-time record set by Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya (2.45 million) on May 5, 2007.
A combination of a boring fight, a public that thought they were suckered when it came out after the fight that Pacquiao tried to fight with a torn rotator cuff, and Berto being an opponent that nobody bought as competition for Mayweather were all factors in the match flopping. There is also the $99.95 price for the Pacquiao fight (the Berto fight was priced at $74.95 for HD) and the psychology of coming back too quickly from a giant show with a main event that the public didn’t care to see.
With Mayweather getting a $32 million guarantee, Showtime likely lost a ton of money, since in the past we’d been told they needed 1 million buys to really make out on Mayweather shows. Berto was guaranteed $4 million. This was the last fight of Mayweather’s contract with Showtime.
Mayweather, 38, had claimed he was going to retire after this fight, which left him with a 49-0 pro record, equaling the legendary undefeated mark of former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. But fake retirements in boxing over the years had the public not buying that for a second, especially with the idea that Mayweather would want to at least break that record.
The Actual Fight
The fight went exactly as most people anticipated. You practically could have guessed the entire fight ahead of time. Mayweather dominated the bout, winning the decision on scorecards of 120-108, 118-110, and 117-111. If anything, the two judges that gave Berto two and three rounds respectively were being generous as Berto showed little by way of skill and was clearly outclassed by a much more talented opponent.
It was clear from round one that Berto had little chance. He barely touched Mayweather throughout the fight and in the twelfth round was actually hurt by a combination of punches by Mayweather in the corner. The two began talking trash late in the fight, to the point where the talk was more intense than the fight and referee Kenny Bayless had to separate the fighters and issue each of them a warning for stalling the fight with all the trash talk.
According to ShoStats, Mayweather connected on 232 of 410 punches for a 56-percent compared to Berto, who connected on 83 of 495 punches for 16-percent. Those stats tell the story of the fight.
Nick Diaz Banned
On Monday, the Nevada Athletic Commission issued a five year suspension to UFC welterweight/middlweight Nick Diaz and fined him $165,000 after a three hour hearing based on his positive test for marijuana on 1/31, the night of his fight with Anderson Silva. The $165,000 was based on 33 percent of Diaz's $500,000 purse for the fight.
The hearing got contentious between Diaz's lawyer, Lucas Middlebrook, and Pat Lundvall of the commission. Middlebrook argued that drug tests taken before and after his fight showed Diaz's marijuana levels below the 150ng/ML which is the current commission's threshold for a marijuana positive. The tests would have been above previous levels. However, a third test showed him at 700ng/ML, or nearly five times allowable levels.
The commission stated the suspension was not as much for this marijuana test failure, but because Diaz had failed tests in Nevada for marijuana in 2007 and 2012, making this a third violation.
Lundvall recommended a lifetime suspension, but the other commissioners suggested five years, which, with Diaz being 32 years old, could end his career.
The five year suspension was the second longest for any MMA fighter in Nevada to date. Wanderlei Silva was banned for life for running from a drug test and the commission said they wanted to make it clear that anyone who does so would not be allowed to fight again in the state.
Diaz immediately was turned into a martyr due to the length of the suspension, which is considered having started on the day of his test failure, on 1/31, the night he lost a decision to Anderson Silva.
The length of the suspension led to widespread complaints about Diaz getting five years for marijuana while Silva got only one year for failing a test for steroids in the same fight, and even some who noted Jon Jones wasn’t suspended at all for a cocaine positive in a Nevada out of competition test a month before his fight with Daniel Cormier.
Francisco Aguilar, the chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission, when they were discussing punishment, said that if it was just another positive test for marijuana, he’d be on the lower end when it came to punishment. Aguilar said that over the years Diaz has shown a complete disregard to the commission, to the sport, to the licensing procedures, and shown a complete lack of being forthright.
“If this was solely a case of marijuana, I think it would be on the lower end for me,” he said. “This is not just a case of marijuana. I think this is a case of a complete disregard for the sport. This is an issue of marijuana, a lack of being forthright. It’s a lack of cooperating to make this sport better. It’s a lack of disregard for the rules, which I think hurts the other athletes just as much”.
UFC at first would not comment on the hearing. But when asked on Twitter, Dana White said, “What I think isn’t important. I have no say in the matter. They don’t give a shit what I think. People who know MMA know that.”
A lot of fighters were publicly outraged. One, Henry Cejudo, said that he would refuse to fight in Nevada because of what happened. His manager, Bill McFarlane, wrote a letter to Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting, and said the issue was not the five year suspension but the process, where he claimed they ignored the negative test results from the SMRTL lab in favor of what he called a questionable result from a non-approved lab was the problem.
He implored the UFC to get involved in the case because Cejudo won’t fight in Nevada because they have no confidence the commission can manage a fair and credible testing process or will act in a fair and unbiased manner.
Ronda Rousey expressed her feelings about the NAC's punishment by saying "I'm against them testing for weed at all. It's not a performance-enhancing drug. It has nothing to do with athletic competition. It's only tested for political reasons. They say, 'Oh, it's only for your safety to keep you from hurting yourself because you're out there.' Why don't they test for all of the other things that could possibly hurt us?"
"Nick is a very close and dear friend of mine, so of course I'm going to defend him, but it’s so unfair if one person tests for steroids that could actually really hurt a person and the other person smokes a plant that makes them happy. He gets suspended for five years, whereas the guy that could hurt someone gets a slap on the wrist. It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all."
"I can’t believe this isn't being said more. I think they really should free Nick Diaz, but it’s not (the UFC's) decision either."
Jake Shields, was given a punishment of 50 hours of community service stemming from him throwing a punch at Rousimar Palhares after submitting to him in the third round of their 8/1 fight for the World Series of Fighting welterweight championship.
Shields claimed that he threw the punch because of repeated eye gouging that Shields felt led to his losing the fight because he couldn’t see well, and then Palhares held onto the Kimura after he tapped, saying that both his elbow and shoudler were torn from Palhares not letting go.
“It’s not excusable,” he said.
Palhares has a reputation for not letting go of submissions, which resulted in him being fired by the UFC, and his future in WSOF. The WSOF gave Palhares an indefinite suspension, and stripped him of his welterweight title.
Palhares was supposed to be questioned by the commission on 9/14, but it was held off for one month because his wife was pregnant.
Doping in MMA and Boxing
We are barely two months into UFC’s new drug testing program with the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) and an article regarding USADA and boxing written by Thomas Hauser at SB Nation has raised a number of uneasy questions.
The key points covered were USADA’s handling of the October 20, 2012, drug test positives of boxer Erik Morales in his title defense against Danny Garcia in New York, a retroactive TUE granted to Floyd Mayweather Jr., after his fight with Manny Pacquiao and allegations from the Pacquiao camp about an agreement suggested, but not agreed to, where drug test failures would be covered up with TUE’s after the fact.
When it comes to UFC and the new USADA drug testing, which came into effect on 7/1, it’s really too soon to make any judgments. Fighters have been told that there will be great transparency with the program. Every three months, starting on 10/1, there will be a list revealed of all the people who have been tested, the types of tests and the results.
In the first two months, there have been no positive tests, which is notable since there were such a high percentage of positives in the past when athletic commissions did out of competition testing.
But along with the date being given when the new out of competition testing was starting, well in advance, came the announcement of much stricter penalties, most notably a two year suspension for a first positive steroid test. Not knowing when a test is coming, and knowing if you try and go on a cycle and guess wrong that you’re getting the next two years taken from your career changes the entire complexion of the sport.
But since July, and this has been evident on a number of fighters, we have seen notable physical changes that would be consistent with getting clean. Some guys have shown up smaller and less jacked up. Others who were formerly ripped coming in soft. After almost every show, you can find the before/after photos on the Internet. While it’s possible a few of those having fingers pointed at changed their training methods or had training injuries that didn’t allow them to train like they had. But there have been too many in a short period of time, starting exactly when the new program started, and the physical changes are notable enough to where the evidence of the changes says exactly what many presume.
In a business like this one, people do figure out who is doing what because people see the changes, and if the program is failing and people are circumventing the testing, it’ll be well known soon enough. And if a lot are, some are going to fail and pay the price.
We will have more on the article in an article this Sunday on the front page.
Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1
The show features the return of an MMA Hall of Famer in Tito Ortiz challenging for a title, a four-man tourney to determine the next championship contender and the Bellator debut of former UFC star and Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson. And that's just the MMA portion of the card. There will Glory kickboxing fights taking place in a 4 sided ring throughout the main card and the prelims, including two title fights for that promotion.
Scott Coker’s goal for Saturday is to hit a peak rating of 3 million viewers (that sounds really high as that’s what Kimbo vs. Ken Shamrock did and Tito Ortiz vs. Liam McGeary, which likely won’t go on until around midnight, is going to be difficult to hit a level that high) and have 12,000 in the building, which would be the promotions’ record.
UFC 194 Sold Out
Tickets for UFC 194, on 12/12, the Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor and Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold show, is either sold out or virtually sold out. After the allotment for the Fight Club sold out quickly, tickets went on sale to the public on 9/11, there were perhaps 100 scattered tickets left after the first day, at the highest ticket prices in UFC history.
The gate should be in the ballpark of the record-setting 7/11 show of $7 million. The resale market is through the roof. The cheapest you could get in at this point is $422 for $175 face value tickets and there were only nine $175 tickets available for less than $500.
Edgar set for Replacement
Frankie Edgar said he’s been told directly that if either Aldo or McGregor are injured in training, he’s the replacement, which makes sense given he’s set to peak the same weekend and Chad Mendes just got a title shot
Dillashaw vs. Cruz
Dana White officially announced that the T.J. Dillashaw vs. Dominick Cruz bantamweight title fight will headline the 1/17 show on FS 1. What’s notable about that is two things. The first is that it’s the first time FS 1 has gotten a title fight, and while Dillashaw vs. Cruz wouldn’t be a giant PPV fight, it is a solid PPV fight.
The second is that UFC traditionally has a show on FOX at the end of January, and this feels more like a FOX fight than an FS 1 fight, plus they also have a PPV in early February that timing-wise, there doesn’t feel like anyone but Demetrious Johnson would be ready for since every other title except heavyweight is booked between now and 1/17.
Cyborg cutting weight
nvicta announced that Cris Cyborg Justino will cut to 140 for her next fight in November. The next Invicta show will take place that month, headlined by a strawweight title fight with Livia Renata Souza defending against Alexa Grasso. For Justino, the plan is one fight at 140, the next fight at 135, and in theory, the fight after that would be for the UFC title.