By Zach Arnold | May 28, 2014
1. The fallout from The Desert Sun’s articles on Angel Osuna & the California State Athletic Commission
The Desert Sun is part of the Gannett media family. They have tentacles to other newspapers in California and the rest of the country. Enterprising newspaper editors looking for a human interest/health & safety story that is compelling will pick up on the articles. The backlash against Consumer Affairs management is justified.
There is a reason to amend the Business & Professions Code to assist event promoters in buying an additional, catastrophic insurance policy with a $50,000 deductible to help protect financially-vulnerable fighters who will be forced to declare bankruptcy when they can’t pay mounting medical bills due to a serious injury.
An alternative solution, if cheaper for promoters than purchasing catastrophic insurance policies, could involve linking up fighters to California’s quasi-public State Compensation Insurance Fund.
Awet Kidane at Consumer Affairs has a choice. He can be a hero by lobbying for a new catastrophic insurance requirement or he can be a political goat.
2. Cole Miller is one of many fighters who do not want to fight in California again.
The @ufc can go back to Cali all they want.ill never fight there again unless they reimburse the $1500 they stole out of my bank acct. 2day
— Cole Miller (@colemillerATT) May 27, 2014
Cali ignored and never replied to two appeals from my tax attorney for bogus taxes from 2012 fight already paid. They stole $1500 from acct.
— Cole Miller (@colemillerATT) May 27, 2014
3. UFC’s new strategy for running events in California
The back-to-back week Summer strategy is an interesting concept and may stick.
They are going to run a Fox broadcast show on 7/26 at San Jose Arena and then a PPV the next week at Staples Center. The San Jose Arena show is headlined by Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown. The Staples Center event is headlined by Chad Mendes vs. Jose Aldo and will also feature Shayna Baszler vs. Bethe Correia.
This means no winter show. They will run in Phoenix instead.
The good news for California is that the two UFC shows will raise an automatic $70,000 from TV taxes. If the 5% gate tax from the two shows can match that $70,000, then it’s a good day for Sacramento. But the longer-term problem is that more and more fighters do not want to fight in California due to tax issues. Cole Miller is just one example of many fighters who are saying no to California. The fights UFC books on paper for California events are great for hardcore fans but are not the A-level box office type fights. They’ve gone from Royce Gracie/Matt Hughes to Mauricio Shogun/Brandon Vera to Chad Mendes/Jose Aldo at Staples Center. The A-level fights are not going to a venue like Staples where there’s a high income tax, a 5% commission tax, a $35,000 TV tax check due, and a 5% Los Angeles city entertainment events tax.
4. Bellator’s initial PPV numbers
Dave Meltzer reports that the estimated buy rate for the promotion’s PPV debut was 65,000 buys. I had noted before the show that the cut line was 50,000 buys. The purpose of the PPV show was to see whether or not Viacom would open the checkbook in the future to help Bellator expand their operations.
65,000 is not bad. It’s not great, but it’s satisfactory. And I think it buys some more time for Viacom executives to figure out what they have with Bellator and what to do with it long-term. Compared to what TNA did on PPV, Bellator is a juggernaut.
— Brendan (@CursedDiamonds) May 27, 2014
Meanwhile, Ariel Helwani supposedly is saying that Bjorn Rebney is not on speaking terms with him. Ariel can barely get Dana to talk to him at this point, either. Rough business.
5. Will Fox Sports 1 use Jim Ross for more boxing and sporting events?
At times, JR sounded like a fish out of water. Obviously not a ton of research/prep done on the fighters who were participating on the El Paso card. But he is a pro’s pro and it was obvious that his gravity and stature meant something.
Fox Sports thought of this as some sort of gimmick experiment. I don’t know why they would focus entirely on that. Ross is a great storyteller and boxing is full of colorful stories. A tweak in approach and I think Ross could be wildly successful. Dave Bontempo was a good partner for him. I think Rich Marotta would also work well. Someone who can talk extemporaneously and fill in the gaps.
It was really interesting to watch social media on Monday Night. A lot of people disgusted with RAW decided to check out JR on the boxing show. I would say the reaction was 90% positive, which these days on the Internet is a flat-out miracle. Ross gave himself a grade of a B. He was right. He had some verbal ticks, such as calling trunks “tights” and calling Rene Alvarado “Alvarez” several times. But practice makes perfect and JR clearly has a constituency.
The dream scenario, though, would be for Ross to go all homerific and do an Oklahoma football game on FS1. Or have him call a game involving Oklahoma State versus an elite team. The schadenfreude of Ross needling “I’m a man, I’m 40!” Mike Gundy could produce legendary broadcasting material.
As for the El Paso event, it was another rough night for the Texas Department of Licensing (Athletic Commission) when it came to the athletic inspectors allowing shoddy tape jobs on the gloves. If you aren’t fighting in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you better be on the lookout these days for altered/skinned gloves and illegal hand wraps. It is open season, especially in places like Nevada (!), Texas, and California. It was interesting to see Steve Smoger, no-nonsense referee, take charge on the glove taping issue for Rene Alvarado’s corner. Both Ross & Bontempo addressed the issue as grown-ups, too, and didn’t try to make needless excuses about sketchy happenings.
6. The future of Ben Askren
One of the few Top 10 Welterweights currently outside of the UFC universe, the wrestling magician is about to make his debut for One FC. He chose One FC over World Series of Fighting.
I’m really interested to see how his stint with One FC turns out. If Askren can become a big star in Asia, then his value to the UFC is immediately raised. I don’t believe the talk about Ben retiring after his One FC contract expires. He has plenty left in the gas tank and can only get better as a fighter. Plus he will have some options for competition to face in the next year or two.
While I think Jake Shields could bring the fight to Ben Askren, I think Ben wins that bout.
Bellator deciding to take a pass on Askren hasn’t been roundly criticized in the same manner that Dana/UFC has been criticized for getting rid of Jake Shields and Yushin Okami.
7. UFC business matters go public
This article at MMA Junkie notes that the company is asking for fighters to undergo a background check and reveal not only details on any criminal history but also medical records. Between the Will Chope incident and the push for secrecy in Florida, interesting juxtaposition here.
Meanwhile, is Jon Jones now stuck to UFC under the champion’s clause ala Randy Couture? Interesting maneuvers happening publicly with the Alexander Gustafsson re-match announcement without Jones signing a new contract yet. Hard to see Viacom jumping into the fray. The WBC has their “Silver” belts, MMA promotions have “interim” titles, and now we have champion clauses & options & automatic extensions that under normal circumstances could be challenged as legally adhesive. Rough business.