Posts Tagged ‘future’

Next month’s UFC on FOX 20 co-headliner has been officially scrapped.

After the recent scratch of light heavyweight Anthony Johnson (21-5 MMA, 12-5 UFC), the promotion has pulled fellow ex-title challenger Glover Teixeira (25-4 MMA, 8-2 UFC) from the card.

The UFC initially sought a replacement opponent for the Brazilian slugger, but now seeks to rebook the fight at a later date, the promotion today announced. It was also revealed Johnson was removed “to tend to a serious family matter.”

UFC on FOX 20 takes place July 23 at Chicago’s United Center. The card airs on FOX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t been finalized.

With the removal of Johnson vs. Teixeira, who are respectively No. 3 and No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light-heavyweight rankings, a lightweight bout between Edson Barboza (17-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC) and former title challenger Gilbert Melendez (22-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) now co-hadlines the show.

When it’s rebooked, Teixeira and Johnson’s bout still carries title implications. Since falling short to Daniel Cormier in a fight for the vacant belt at UFC 187, Johnson has gotten back to his concussive ways, stopping Jimi Manuwa and Ryan Bader in consecutive appearances. Teixeira, meanwhile, has won three straight with a 3-1 record since his loss to former undisputed and current interim champ Jon Jones.

When Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) and Cormier (17-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) meet in a title-unifier at July 9’s banner UFC 200 event, the winner is likely to face the winner of Teixeira vs. Johnson.

The latest UFC on FOX 20 card now includes:

  • Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko
  • Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez
  • James Moontasri vs. Alex Oliveira
  • George Sullivan vs. Hector Urbina
  • Luis Henrique vs. Dmitry Smolyakov
  • Kailin Curran vs. Felice Herrig
  • Bojan Mihajlovic vs. Francis Ngannou
  • Frankie Saenz vs. Eddie Wineland
  • Darren Elkins vs. Godofredo Pepey
  • Tony Martin vs. Michel Prazeres
  • Jim Alers vs. Jason Knight
  • Kamaru Usman vs. Alexander Yakovlev

For more on UFC on FOX 20, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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Although no announcements have been officially made, it appears that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will soon have new owners.

According to Jeremy Botter and, the UFC has accepted a bid in the amount of $4.2 billion to be sold to the ownership group of WME-IMG, the Dalian Wanda Group, The Kraft Group and Tencent Holdings. The sale is not yet reportedly complete, but the bid has reportedly been accepted.

While this isn’t official, the belief is that the announcement will be held off until after the landmark UFC 200 event on July 9th, as to avoid taking any attention away from what is expected to be one of their biggest events in company history, if not the single biggest one-night event ever.

China Media Capital was also in the running, but their bid was said to be short of what the UFC was looking for in the deal.

Additionally, the Flo Combat article states that in 2015, the UFC’s television partner, FOX, made an offer to buy the promotion. The deal was turned down by the UFC, however, when the offer from FOX came in way under what they were looking for.

The belief is that the majority of the money to broker the deal is being put up by DWG and Tencent Holdings. WMG-IMG and The Kraft Group, however, would serve as the public faces of the group, especially in the North American market.

As noted in our previous report regarding the rumors of a UFC sale, the new owners do intend to keep current UFC President Dana White on in a significant role. White currently owns approximately nine percent of the UFC and his shares will be put up as part of the sale, however the belief is he will be offered a certain amount of shares from the new owners as part of a new deal to keep him aboard.

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This Week In MMA Biz: Dana White's UFC Future, Donald Cerrone's Payout Predicament And More
The MMA Biz story of the week was, without a doubt, the sudden impending sale of the UFC. Rumors of the organization's ownership changing hands had been floating around for months, but it wasn't until a few days ago that the sale went from a

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Bellator's Scott Coker: Early weigh-in format 'the future of MMA'
MMA Fighting
The first major promotion to experiment with the new, early weigh-in format is committed to it moving forward. Bellator will use an earlier weigh-in next week for its Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 event in St. Louis, MMA Fighting confirmed Friday with
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Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission Director Cristiano Sampaio indicated that future Ultimate Fighting Championship events in Brazil will follow the new weigh-in protocols — fighters will weigh in 30 hours before the event — that were adopted for UFC 199 in Los Angles and UFC Fight Night “MacDonald vs. Thompson” in Ottawa, Ontario.

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With Ali Act, a long battle for MMA's future is just beginning
Shortly after announcing his intention to introduce a bill that would expand the powers of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to the sport of MMA, Oklahoma congressman Markwayne Mullin found himself sitting in his office having a conversation with a

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Shortly after announcing his intention to introduce a bill that would expand the powers of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to the sport of MMA, Oklahoma congressman Markwayne Mullin found himself sitting in his office having a conversation with a UFC executive who insisted that there was no such thing as a UFC championship.

“He actually said that to me,” Mullin told MMAjunkie. “He said, ‘We don’t have them fight for a championship belt. We bestow an award on an individual for the best fighter that night.’ I said, ‘See, this is exactly why we need this.’”

The executive in this case was UFC COO Lawrence Epstein, who met with Mullin in April to argue against the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act that Mullin has since put forth with support from the bill’s co-sponsor, Democratic congressman Joseph Kennedy III of Massachusetts.

The bill currently waits in committee, where it was referred after Mullin introduced it in May. If passed, it would add MMA and kickboxing to the sports covered under the Ali Act. It would also force major changes upon promoters like the UFC, some of which might profoundly alter the way the UFC does business.

That, according to Mullin, is part of the goal. As a former fighter himself, the 38-year-old Republican lawmaker describes himself as passionate about the sport, while at the same time fearing for its future.

“The fighters today are phenomenal athletes, while we were more brawlers,” Mullin said. “It’s become a professional sport. But would I encourage my kids to try and make it? Would I encourage my kids to go into it? Is it a sustainable career? I mean, for the top one percent, is it even sustainable for them? And the answer is no. No it is not.”

As for whether the Ali Act will change that, and how, that remains a difficult question to answer. According to Erik Magraken, an attorney who writes about legal issues in combat sports on his site, changes as a result of the bill could be far-reaching and dramatic.

“The Muhammad Ali Expansion Act will turn the current business model on its head for many promoters,” Magraken wrote in an email to MMAjunkie. “This will not be limited to the UFC, but also other professional MMA promoters such as Bellator MMA and WSOF, not to mention smaller regional promoters. Additionally this will impact other combat sports promoters such as GLORY and Lion Fight Promotions, Bellator Kickboxing and even professional grappling promoters.”

Jorina Baars and Cristiane Justino at Lion Fight 14

Jorina Baars and Cristiane Justino at Lion Fight 14

Some aspects of the bill would have little to no impact on most MMA fighters and promoters. The original Ali Act contains provisions, for example, requiring judges and referees to be sanctioned by state commissions, already standard practice in most MMA organizations.

But other elements would come as a major shock to the MMA world. For instance, the Ali Act requires promoters to disclose their contracts to athletic commissions. It also requires them to disclose to the fighter all the revenue promoters are contracted to receive from that fighter’s bout.

In a sport where fighters and their managers have often complained about a lack of financial transparency on the part of promoters like the UFC, freeing up the flow of that information could have a major impact.

The Ali Act also places limits on the terms of “coercive” contracts, prevents promoters from also acting as managers for the fighters they promote, and calls for the establishment of an independent body to rank fighters and award titles.

This last element seems particularly important to Mullin, who cited the UFC’s “manipulation” of its own fighter rankings as one of the problems the bill would address.

“The way it works right now, if you get a UFC contract, it’s a take-it-or-leave-it mentality,” Mullin said. “The UFC controls the rankings system. You control the rankings system, you control the fighters. Because the only way you’re going to fight at the top level is if you get ranked by them. This language specifically says that a third party will have the jurisdiction to have a true rankings system. Then if you’re fighting for a championship belt, you’ll know it’s because you deserve it, not because the guy above you wouldn’t sign a contract slanted toward the organization and not the fighter.”

But according to the UFC, which recently engaged to lobbyists to work against the Ali Expansion Act on Capitol Hill, here is where the bill drifts into dangerous territory.

In a statement emailed to MMAjunkie, UFC COO Epstein described this as a provision that “would empower the federal government to play matchmaker” while hindering the ability of individual states to regulate the sport themselves.

“We believed, and continue to believe, that regulation is pivotal to the legitimacy and continued growth of MMA by providing it with the respect and structure needed to make it part of the permanent sports landscape,” Epstein wrote as part of a longer statement. “As such, we don’t oppose thoughtful federal regulation if it’s going to improve the health and safety of MMA athletes and strengthen the sport. The Mullin bill does neither.”

Lawrence Epstein

Lawrence Epstein

According to Mullin, the UFC’s focus on fighter health and safety is a smokescreen. The Ali Act, both in this updated version and its original form, focuses primarily on the relationship between fighters and promoters, mostly relying on the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 to govern issues of health and safety.

The UFC wants to center the conversation on health and safety, Mullin said, in order to avoid substantial changes to its business model.

“This isn’t to attack the UFC,” Mullin said. “This isn’t to go after or bring down an organization that spent a lot of time and money and effort to build this sport that was fixing to die. I commend them for doing that. What this is about is protecting the fighters and making sure the sport is sustainable for the future.”

So far it has enthusiastic support from Rob Maysey, the Arizona real estate lawyer who has been involved in the push for an MMA fighters association for at least a decade. On Monday Maysey sent out a letter signed by dozens of current and former fighters, including former UFC champions like Pat Miletich and Randy Couture, expressing “unwavering support” for the Ali Act.

According to Maysey, the reason critics of the Ali Act see it as something that applies better to boxing than it does to MMA is because of existing differences in how the two sports operate – some of the exact differences that the Ali Act would seek to address, he said.

“The difference between MMA and boxing is that one is operated as a sport, and that’s boxing,” Maysey told MMAjunkie. “The other is operated just like (World Wrestling Entertainment). The only distinction is, the bout results aren’t predetermined. That’s it. It’s still the same business model.”

The provision establishing an independent rankings body is especially important to reforming MMA, Maysey said, in part because of the way the UFC has used its own rankings system in the past. He pointed to instances involving UFC fighters Nate Diaz and Mark Munoz, both of whom were dropped from the UFC rankings during contract disputes.

Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz

With an independent rankings system, Maysey said, the ranking a fighter earns would stay with that fighter, regardless of which promoter he signs with or how that promoter feels about him from one week to the next.

“The Ali Act doesn’t create protection,” Maysey said. “Let’s not kid ourselves; nothing will. But what it does do, without question, is it returns some leverage to the fighters. As of right now, the promoter controls things almost entirely. If I can control who you fight, if you fight, and whether you ascend the ranks or not, you’ll sign whatever I tell you to. You have to. If you don’t sign, I just don’t promote you.”

But since becoming law in 2000, the Ali Act hasn’t exactly been a cure-all for boxing. Fighters in that sport still find themselves complaining about being stuck in long-term contracts. Many have expressed dissatisfaction with the rankings system, and several have complained about a lack of enforcement, particularly when it comes to financial disclosures, which some boxers have argued are incomplete and too reliant on self-reporting on the part of the promoter.

A significant difference is that, in boxing, fighters have a framework for legal action. Since the Ali Act at least sets forth a clear series of rules and expectations, fighters can bring the matter to court – and several have – when they feel those rules have been violated.

But just as in the few MMA contract disputes that have resulted in legal action, boxers are often reluctant to spend the primes of their careers awaiting a legal resolution. Time is often on a promoter’s side once the matter reaches the courts.

Still, according to Mullin, at least the Ali Act gives fighters an outline for what constitutes exploitative, coercive and illegal action on the part of a promoter. It gives them the grounds to bring the lawsuit in the first place. Mullin also hopes it might force the UFC’s hand on certain issues, such as what he sees as the misclassification of UFC fighters as independent contractors rather than employees.

Most of all, Mullin said, it will grant some measure of protection for a group of fighters who currently enjoys very little, which is why he suspects the UFC has “a whole bunch of (lobbyists)” in Washington D.C. to combat it.

“They don’t want to change it because it’s perfect for them right now,” Mullin said. “But is it perfect for the fighters? And I realize there’s not going to be any one solution that’s perfect for everybody, but can we improve where we’re at today? I think we can.”

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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