UFC’s Penne flagged by USADA retesting after biological passport inconsistencies

Jessica Penne is the first UFC athlete to be caught out by USADA’s biological passport program. Iain Kidd explains. Jessica Penne has the dubious honor of being the first UFC athlete we know about to be flagged for a potential anti-doping violation as a result of her athlete biological passport (ABP). Something in her passport caused USADA to retest a sample they previously declared clean, and this retesting found a prohibited substance.
What is an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)?
USADA tracks a variety of biomarkers when they collect samples from athletes. These are primarily hematological (blood) biomarkers and steroidal biomarkers. This allows USADA to build a profile of an athlete’s “normal” levels of specific blood values and hormonal values. A lot of doping involves increasing blood or steroid values because of the performance enhancing benefit increased levels can bring.
The ABP program allows USADA to notice values that are significantly different to an athlete’s normal values, and inform more specific testing of the relevant samples.
Why didn’t the initial testing catch it?
USADA doesn’t perform every single test on every single sample. It’s not practical (or, likely, affordable) to do so, especially when it comes to urinalysis. For instance, growth hormone releasing factors and erythropoiesis stimulating agents aren’t tested for in standard urine tests, nor is IRMS testing always performed as standard, per USADA communications manager, Ryan Madden.
When an odd value is flagged in the ABP, USADA are able to go back and retest samples with tests not performed at the time, or newer tests not previously available, to try to find any evidence of PED use causing the change.
As always, USADA are unlikely to release specific details on the “potential anti-doping violation” until Penne has had the opportunity to contest and appeal the results, unless Penne herself chooses to discuss the details publicly. USADA are also working with the Tennessee Athletic Commission, who oversaw a fight Penne participated in while her sample was being reanalyzed.

Source: bloody

After meeting with UFC brass, Edson Barboza eyes Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson next

Edson Barboza wants a shot at the UFC lightweight championship, lineal or interim, and went to Las Vegas to find out what he needs to do to fulfill his dream.

Two months after scoring his third win in a row with one of the best knockouts of the year, stopping Beneil Dariush with a flying knee in Brazil, Barboza flew to Las Vegas to meet with the UFC brass and discuss what’s next for him.

“I went there with my manager, Alex Davis, to talk to the UFC and see where we’re at, what I need to do to get a chance for the belt,” Barboza told MMA Fighting. “We went there to talk and see what my next steps will be in the company.”

Barboza says he sat down with UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Sean Shelby, but didn’t get a clear answer to his question: after defeating Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez and Dariush in 11 months, what more is needed to earn a fight for the UFC gold?

“When I talked to Sean Shelby and Dana, they said they also don’t know what is going to happen,” Barboza said. “They are waiting, too. There’s this possibility of fighting of the belt, the possibility of waiting, the possibility of fighting one more time. They don’t know. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in this division.

“Nobody knows the next steps for Khabib (Nurmagomedov) and (Tony) Ferguson. I think I’m the only one stepping up to fight. We’ll see what happens.”

Barboza was called out by new UFC signee Justin Gaethje, former WSOF lightweight champion, and was willing to take the fight if no one else was available. However, a left shoulder injury will keep him away from the Octagon a little longer.

“I can do jiu-jitsu drills, wrestling, but I can’t punch,” Barboza said of his injury. “I learned in my last fight that I can’t fight if I’m not 100 percent.”

The Brazilian lightweight will visit his doctor early next week to get a definitive answer about his return. However, a minute after saying it’s too risky to take fights when you’re not 100 percent, Barboza said he would do it again if given the opportunity to face Ferguson or Nurmagomedov.

“I’ll talk to the doctor again and he will let me know what I have to do,” Barboza said. “But I told the UFC I’m ready if they really want to give me a fight for the belt, that I’m ready for any date they want. If they want, I’d fight tomorrow.”

“That’s why I’m here for, to fight for the belt,” he continued. “But it doesn’t even need to be for an interim belt. One of those two, I’d fight them now, for sure. If it’s for the interim belt, even better.”

Currently ranked at No. 5 in the UFC lightweight division, Barboza sees Ferguson and Nurmagomedov as the only fights that make sense for him next. Rafael dos Anjos, who’s also ahead of him in the ranking, has moved up to welterweight, and Eddie Alvarez is not an option since they train together.

“My last fights were against guys ranked below me, and I think I deserve to fight someone ahead of me now, and they are the two only options,” Barboza said. “I’d fight them any time, even with an injured shoulder.”

“El Cucuy” scored a win over Barboza in 2015, part of his nine-fight winning streak, while “The Eagle” holds a perfect 24-0 MMA record with eight Octagon wins.

“I’m positive that I’d beat both of them if I’m there at my best,” says Barboza, who is leaning towards a rematch with Ferguson as the ideal scenario.

“A fight with Tony would be more interesting because it’s a rematch. I accepted that fight on four weeks’ notice — and this is not an excuse — and he landed that weird kick that everybody saw, and I was dizzy, but no excuses. A fight with him, full camp and no illegal kick, I’m sure I’d come out victorious.”

Source: mmafighting

Feature: Where UFC-connected money went in US politics in 2016

The UFC, ZUFFA, Station Casinos, Dana White, and the Fertitta Bros. gave a lot of money to politicians last year. Read on to find out who got what. During a dramatic 2015-2016 election cycle over $3 billion was pumped into political campaigns across the United States. As a part of this action were individuals and organizations with extremely close ties to the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). The following is a breakdown of which candidates, parties, PACs and super PACs got sizeable donations from ZUFFA LLC, the Fertittas, Dana White, and others associated with the world’s premier mixed-martial-arts promotion.
The Rules
Warning, the following is pretty dry. I’ve done my best to keep it succinct, but it’s still quite long. You don’t need to have this memorized to get the gist of what’s to come, but it will definitely help you better understand why certain individuals gave certain amounts to the politicians and political groups that we’ll cover later. Ok, here we go…
In the US the maximum amount of money a single person can give to a political candidate (or a candidate’s campaign committee) is $2,700 per election. In the US last year there was a single presidential election, which occurred alongside elections for the US Senate and House of Representatives. In addition to these, there were also 14 gubernatorial races and a slew of mayoral races.
An individual can donate as much as $5,000 to a Political Action Committee (PAC). PACs are entities set up by groups like labor unions, corporations, or trade associations with the goal of collecting donations from different sources. PACs then make their own donations to politicians or other PACs.
Regular PACs come in two forms: separate segregated funds and non-connected PACs. Separate segregated funds only raise money from individuals connected to the organization that has set-up the PAC. An example of this would be a corporation who starts a PAC for the purpose of soliciting donations from just their employees. Non-connected PACs solicit donations from any and all sources.
In addition to these differences, PACs can also be broken down into two other categories: multi-candidate PACs and non multi-candidate PACs. Multi-candidate PACs have over 50 people contributing money into them and have donated money to at least 5 federal candidates. Non multi-candidate PACs simply don’t meet those listed requirements.
An individual can also give up to $10,000 to a state, district & local party committee per calendar year. This category includes entities like The Republican Party of Alabama or the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. These organizations are focused on getting party members elected in a given territory.
An individual can also give up to $33,400 to a national political party committee per year. The Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee are included in this category.
An individual can also give up to $100,200 to additional national party committee accounts. This means people – rich people, that is – are able to donate large sums to national party committees, earmarked for things like national conventions, party legal funds, or national party headquarters.
So, that all covers how the humble American citizen might get financially involved in the US political process. Serious kingmakers max themselves out on all these tactics. After doing that, they find yet more ways to inject cash into their chosen candidates; like setting up their own PACs.
Non multi-candidate PACs can donate a maximum of $5,000 per election to political candidates or their campaign committees. These types of PACs then have the same rules as individuals governing their max contributions to other PACs, and various parties and committees.
Multi-candidate PACs can donate a maximum amount of $5,000 to a political candidate per election, too. They can also donate up to $5,000 to any other PAC. Whereas individuals (and non-multi candidate PACs) can donate up to $10,000 to state, district, and local party committees per year, multi-candidate PACs can only donate $5,000. These PACs are also limited to $15,000 per year to a national party committee and $45,000 per year to additional national party committee accounts.
Last thing now! Super PACs. This is where the real money swaps hands. Super PACs can accept unlimited donations from individuals, corporations, or elsewhere. However, Super PACs can not give money directly to federal candidates or political parties. What Super PACs can do is spend unlimited amounts of money to independently campaign for or against candidates/parties. They can also make unlimited donations to other PACs.
Ok, thanks for sticking with me… Now we know the rules for how (and how much) individuals like Dana White – or PACs set up by ZUFFA – can give to various entities, let’s look at who got dough in 2016.
Home Cooking
The UFC lives in Nevada. So it’s no surprise that a number of Nevada senators and congresspeople receive regular donations from various sources connected to ZUFFA.
A favorite of the UFC crew is Representative Joe Heck, a Republican from Nevada’s 3rd congressional district. The 3rd covers the southern edge of Las Vegas, the city of Henderson, and a large amount of unincorporated desert. Heck has served the district since 2011.

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images
Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)

In 2016 Joe Heck received over $100,000 from individuals connected to the UFC, according to information available on OpenSecrets.org. Reportedly, both Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta gave him the maximum donation allowed by individuals ($2,700), but they weren’t the only Fertittas to do so. Open Secrets has also logged $2,700 donations from Kelley Ann Fertitta (Frank’s daughter) and Victoria Fertitta (the brothers’ mother). Reportedly, Kirk Hendrick, ZUFFA LLC’s Chief of Legal Operations, gave $2,700 as well, and so did Michelle Epstein, wife of Ike Lawrence Epstein, ZUFFA’s Chief Operating Officer.
In addition to these donations from individuals, Heck also received $5,000 from ZUFFA PAC, a political action committee which has been operational since at least 2009. In the 2016 cycle, ZUFFA PAC received $173,750 in donations. According to Open Secrets, people who donated $5,000 to ZUFFA PAC (the max. an individual can give to a PAC) in 2016 include Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta III, Dana White, Joe Silva, Kirk Hendrick, Ike Lawrence Epstein, John Hertig (an attorney who has worked with Fertitta Entertainment and the Fertitta’s Red Rock Resorts), Michael Mossholder (UFC Senior Vice President of Global Marketing), Craig Borsari (UFC Vice President of Operations and Productions) and Edward Muncey (UFC Senior Vice President of Technology). Other individuals who kicked $5,000 into the ZUFFA PAC pot include Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta’s wives (Jill Ann and Teresa), their mother Victoria, and their four children.
According to donations listed on Open Secrets, Heck received an additional $5,000 each from both Fertitta brothers and their wives for his Full House PAC. Open Secrets also reports that Heck got $81,000 from individuals who listed Station Casinos as their employer. Station Casinos, which is owned by the Fertitta family, raised more money for Heck than any other company last year. Reportedly, Heck also received $40,100 from Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm which is a minority investor in WME | IMG. Silver Lake Partners was – according to Forbes – a ‘strategic investor’ in the $4 billion sale of the UFC between the Fertittas and WME | IMG last July.
Based on the records available at Open Secrets, Dana White did not give to Joe Heck in 2016, though he did make a $2,700 donation to the congressman in 2015.
Reportedly, Heck raised over $12m last cycle to fund his attempt to win the Senate seat vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. However, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto raised $7m more and won the seat in the general election. Interestingly, Cortez Masto also received UFC money. According to Open Secrets she got $2,500 from ZUFFA PAC last year.
After Heck, the next most popular Nevada politician in the Fertitta family checkbook appears to be Republican Senator Dean Heller. According to Open Secrets, around $30,000 of UFC connected funds found its way to his campaign last cycle. This includes $7,500 from ZUFFA PAC, $10,900 from Station Casino employees, and $5,000 each from Frank Fertitta and his wife (who made those donations to Heller’s personal PAC – HellerHighWater PAC).
Other Nevadans who reportedly received notable amounts of money from UFC connected sources (based on records listed on Open Secrets) include Representative Danny Tarkanian (a Republican who lost his district to a Democrat in 2016), Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2), State Senator Michael Roberson (R-NV), and Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1). All those individuals received money from the ZUFFA PAC. Tarkanian also received $2,000 from Kirk Hendrick, $24,550 from Station Casinos employees and $3,000 from Silver Lake Partners. Amodei got $5,450 from Silver Lake Partners, too. Rep. Titus, in addition to $1,500 from ZUFFA PAC, received $5,000 from the Fertitta Entertainment PAC, a PAC which raised around $74,000 in the 2016 cycle. Fertitta Entertainment PAC also gave $5,000 to Roberson.
From Enemy to Ally
According to Open Secrets data, lots of UFC linked money flowed to politicians outside of Nevada last year. One of the most notable destinations for that coin appears to be the war chest of Senator John McCain.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Republican Senator from Arizona has held his seat in Washington since 1987. He famously ran for President against then-Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
McCain’s history with the UFC can be traced back to 1996, three years after the first ever UFC event. It was then that McCain called the burgeoning blood sport ‘human cockfighting’, a label that held MMA back throughout the late nineties. McCain had pledged to have MMA removed from TV and pay-per-view, but his views seemed to have changed by 2007, when he said the sport had made, “significant progress.”
In 2016 McCain – according to Open Secrets – received $2,700 checks from Dana White, Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Feritta, Teresa Fertitta, Jill Ann Fertitta, ZUFFA PAC, Silver Lake Partners, Kirk Hendrick, Edward Muncey, and Craig Borsari. Reportedly, McCain also received $2,660 from sources connected to Station Casinos. These donations total $77,900.
A Friend in Iowa
Another veteran politician who reportedly had money come in from the UFC and their proxies was Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa. A powerful conservative in the Senate, Grassley has served since 1981. He is the current chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and co-chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control. He’s also a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

In 2016 Grassley got $5,000 from the Fertitta Entertainment PAC. That’s the most that PAC gave any senator. Reportedly, Grassley also received $2,500 from ZUFFA PAC, $17,900 from individuals listing Stations Casino as their employee/occupation, $12,900 from Silver Lake Partners, and – based on Open Secrets’ logs – maximum personal donations from Frank Feritta III, Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White, and Teresa Fertitta. Reportedly, Jill Ann Fertitta also gave $2,300 to Grassley’s campaign. These donations total over $50,000.
Table scraps for Democrats
Based on more Open Secrets data, ZUFFA PAC, Fertitta Entertainment PAC, and the individual donations of White and the Fertitta’s are overwhelmingly skewed to Republicans. However, along with Dina Titus in Nevada, there appear to be few Democrats who get donations from those connected to the UFC and the Fertittas.
Open Secrets’ data shows that people linked to Station Casinos gave Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) $16,200 and Silver Lake Partners gave him $30,000. Reportedly, Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta III, Victoria Fertitta, Kelley Ann Fertitta, Jill Fertitta, and Teresa Fertitta all gave Schumer $2,700 each. This all adds up to $62,400.
Another democrat who – according to Open Secrets’ records – received money from the UFC was Assemblyman Keith Wright from Manhattan. In November, 2013 – while MMA was banned in the state of New York – Wright said to UFC.com that, “legalizing MMA in New York is the right thing to do.” Wright also claimed that he would work to educate his fellow politicians in New York about the importance of MMA and the economic impact it could have on the state.
Reportedly, Wright was given $4,000 by both ZUFFA PAC and Silver Lake Partners in 2016. He was running for Charlie Rangel’s vacated seat representing New York’s 13th congressional district. Wright lost the democratic primary to Adriano Espaillat.
Another Dem who received Fertitta money last term, and was unable to win a seat, was State Senator Isadore Hall from California’s 35th district. Open Secrets reports that Hall brought in $8,700 from Station Casinos workers, $1,000 from Silver Lake, and personal donations of $2,700 from each of the Feritta brothers and their wives. Hall ran for congress in the general election last year, but lost to Nanette Barragan.
UFC/ZUFFA related monies are also recorded by Open Secrets as finding their way to the Searchlight Leadership Fund, a liberal PAC associated with former Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who resigned this year. Reid represented Nevada in the Senate since 1987 and served as Senate Minority Leader, Majority Leader, Minority Whip, and Majority Whip throughout his career in Washington.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

ZUFFA PAC gave the Searchlight Leadership Fund $7,500 in 2016. Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III gave personal donations of $5,000 to this PAC, as did their mother, both their wives, and their four children, all according to Open Secrets.
Reportedly, individuals from Station Casinos also gave this PAC $40,000. That represents the largest bundle of donations that the Searchlight Leadership Fund received in the 2015-2016 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. These sums total $92,500. That represents about 6% of the entire amount of money ($1.5m) reportedly raised by the Searchlight Leadership Fund last cycle.
The Searchlight Leadership Fund only made donations to Democrats last year; including Hilary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Dina Titus.
Based on results on Open Secrets, Frank, Lorenzo, Teresa, and Jill Ann Fertitta also gave $15,000 each to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in 2016. ZUFFA PAC also donated $5,000 to the DSCC. The DSCC is an organization dedicated to electing Democrats to the US Senate.
Silver Lake Partners, whose official connection with the UFC began only last summer, has a tradition of supporting Democratic candidates. This isn’t shocking considering that the firm is connected to Ari Emanuel, a well known liberal whose brother Rahm – the current mayor of Chicago – served in President Barack Obama’s White House. In 2016 Silver Lake Partners gave over $200,000 to Democrats and around $130,000 to Republicans.
Big bundles for Republicans
The hundreds of thousands of dollars counted above aren’t really ‘table scraps’, I know, but those amounts are insignificant compared to what the Fertittas appear to have pumped into Republican coffers last year.
Reportedly, through tactics such as bundling individual donations within their family and businesses, the Fertitta’s paid out to current House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner, and Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Roy Blunt of Missouri. However, it appears the Fertittas placed their biggest bets with Republican committees and Super PACs.
Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, with their wives (Jill Ann and Teresa), bundled huge contributions to various state and national Republican parties and committees in 2016. Here’s the full list, including a breakdown of which Fertitta gave what (according to information available on Open Secrets).

$400,800 to the Republican National Committee ($100,200 Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$263,600 to the National Republican Congressional Committee ($68.4K Frank/Lorenzo, $58.4K Jill Ann/Teresa, $10K Kelly Ann)*
$66,800 to National Republican Senatorial Committee ($33.4K Frank/Lorenzo)
$40,000 to Missouri Republican State Committee ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of Wisconsin ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to New Jersey Republican State Committee ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania ($1K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of California ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Connecticut Republican Campaign Committee ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of Louisiana ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of South Carolina ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of Minnesota ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of West Virginia ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to New Hampshire Republican State Committee ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of Kansas ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of Arkansas ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$40,000 to Republican Party of Mississippi ($10K Frank/Lorenzo/Jill Ann/Teresa)
$27,742 to Republican Party of Illinois ($3,871 Frank/Lorenzo, $10K Jill Ann/Teresa)
$23,342 to Republican Party of North Carolina ($10K Jill Ann/Teresa, $1,671 Frank/Lorenzo)
$20,000 to Republican Party of Florida ($10K Frank/Lorenzo)
$20,000 to Republican Party of Kentucky ($10K Frank/Lorenzo)
$20,000 to Republican Part of Iowa ($10k Frank/Lorenzo)
$13,800 to Republican Central Committee of Nevada ($4.6K Frank/Lorenzo/Victoria)
$4,400 to Oklahoma Leadership Council ($2.2K Frank/Lorenzo)

*The National Republican Senatorial Committee also received $10,000 from both the ZUFFA PAC and Feritta Entertainment PAC.
This all adds up to $1,440,484.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Lorenzo Fertitta and Teresa Fertitta

And that’s not even where the Ferititta’s reportedly put most their money in 2016.
Meet the Senate Leadership Fund, a Virginia based conservative super PAC that raised over $116m last year. Reportedly, $1.5m of this came from the Fertittas.
According to Open Secrets, Lorenzo and Frank each wrote checks for $250,000 for this super PAC. In addition to that half-a-million dollars, ZUFFA LLC and Station Casinos each contributed $500,000. Since this is a super PAC there are no limits on how much a person or corporation can give.
The Senate Leadership Fund used its pot of gold to campaign for various Republicans in the 2016 general election. Though (per election rules) the super PAC could not give money directly to candidates. Much of this fund was spent creating independent ads to benefit the Republican party.
The super PAC also donated over $22m to a regular PAC called Granite State Solutions. This is the only other PAC the Senate Leadership Fund donated money to, and it represents one of the biggest expenditures for the fund last year.
Granite State Solutions was a PAC set up for helping sitting Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte keep her seat; in the face of stiff opposition from Democrat Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. Ayotte had been labeled a ‘vulnerable Republican’ after the Koch Brothers-linked group Americans for Prosperity stated they would not support her in the election, because of her stance on climate change (she believes it is real).
Ayotte received more support from UFC sources last year, too. Open Secrets reports she got $1,500 from the Fertitta Entertainment PAC, $24,100 from people associated with Station Casinos, and $6,032 from Silver Lake Partners. She also received $2,700 personal donations from both Fertitta brothers and their wives. Kirk Hendrick also donated $1,000 to her campaign. Despite the $43,432 described here, and the $22m from the Senate Leadership Fund, Ayotte lost her Senate race to Hassan by an extremely narrow margin.
Dana and Donald
Now you know who the Fertittas’ favorite senators appear to be and which members of congress were reportedly smiled upon by Station Casinos. But last year was really all about presidential politics. Everyone knows by now that Republican candidate Donald Trump was victorious after a vicious (and sometimes vile) campaign opposite Hilary Clinton. Guess where the UFC’s money was in this race…

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Donald Trump

Dana White has famously sung the praises of now-President Trump, labeling him a friend of both the UFC and MMA in general. The UFC president even spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention in July, 2016. But did White put his money where his mouth is?
According to Open Secrets, he did not. Reportedly, the only politicians who moved White enough to write a check were the previously mentioned Senators John McCain and Chuck Grassley, who he gave $2,700 each.
White’s friends the Fertittas were a lot more open to betting on ‘the Donald,’ though. Open Secrets has Lorenzo, Frank, and their wives gave the Trump train $2,700 each. The reality star also received $8,388 via people connected with Station Casinos. Silver Lake Partners tossed in $250.
And once Trump had won the White House, he got an additional gift from Frank Fertitta. Per Suzanne Davis (@SoozieCuzie), Frank donated $201,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Davis also reported that Fertitta Entertainment donated $500,000 to the ceremony.
Historically liberal-leaning Silver Lake Partners spent $59,107 on the campaign of Hilary Clinton (per Open Secrets). And folks at Station Casinos contributed $2,746 to the Clinton camp.
Now that we know what UFC connected people, PACs, and businesses spent on politics last year, what can we make of it?
First, it is clear that the Fertitta Dynasty is serious about politics. The family was one of the top ‘bundlers’ in Nevada, utilizing familial bonds, workplace connections, and their own political action committees to flood the 2016 election with money they may have made off of the backs of Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey.
By looking at their publicly reported donations, it’s obvious that the family leans Republican, but not to the point that they won’t donate to a Democrat from time to time. The brothers, and the businesses around them, also seem loyal to a select few politicians, whose campaigns they have been funding for years (such as John McCain, Dean Heller, and Joe Heck).
Compared to the Fertitta’s activity, it’s a little surprising that Dana White made just two donations in the 2016 election. In past years White has been a lot more generous with his funds. According to Open Secrets, in 2012 he sunk thousands into Republican committees in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Vermont. He also gave over $50,000 to the Republican National Committee that year, and donated the maximum personal amount to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Another interesting takeaway from these numbers is revealed when examining Silver Lake Partners. The Californian private equity firm has a long history of supporting the Democratic Party. Open Secrets data states that they gave Dems $181,250 versus just $33,788 to Republicans. In 2012 the gulf between the parties was even wider, with GOP candidates getting just $4,500. Silver Lake gave Barack Obama $27,298 that year.
But in the same year they invested in the UFC, their donation list filled up with the usual Republican suspects who get money from ZUFFA, Station Casinos, and the Fertittas on the regular. Is this a sign that despite the Fertittas walking away from ZUFFA, the company will continue to support conservatives? We’ll probably get closer to an answer this next year, when we see who gets ZUFFA’s money in 2017.

Source: bloody

Dooho Choi returns against Andre Fili at UFC 214

Coming off one of the greatest fights of the year in 2016, Dooho Choi is set to take on Andre Fili at UFC 214, the promotion announced.

UFC 214 is scheduled for July 29 at Anaheim’s Honda Center in California.

Choi (14-2) is one of the rising stars in the featherweight division, but suffered his first setback inside the Octagon in a three-round war with Cub Swanson last December via unanimous decision.

Prior to the defeat, “The Korean Superboy” was 3-0 in the UFC with first-round knockouts over Juan Manuel Puig, Sam Sicilia and Thiago Tavares.

Fili (16-4) last fought in October 2016, bouncing back from a tough loss to Yair Rodriguez with a decision victory over Hacran Dias. The Team Alpha Male talent has bounced between wins and losses since signing with the UFC in 2013.

Source: mmafighting

Jorge Masvidal: UFC today is all about pop stars, WWE, and reality TV

Because of the UFC’s current matchmaking trend, Jorge Masvidal is skeptical about being granted a title shot if he ends up winning against Demian Maia. Number five-ranked Jorge Masvidal is currently on a three-fight winning streak, and is coming off an impressive second round knockout victory against Donald Cerrone at UFC Denver last January. He will be facing top contender Demian Maia this weekend at UFC 211, a fight that holds major title implications.
If he does end up beating Maia, “Gamebred” believes he deserves the next shot at Tyron Woodley’s title. But at the same time, he is expecting the worst situation to come about.
“All I know is if I could God willing get through Maia, and I don’t get a title shot, this sport took a drastic turn for the worst,” Masvidal told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani in a pre-fight scrum on Wednesday. “It’s all pop stars, WWE, and reality TV. And that’s not what I signed up for, man. That’s not what I’m gonna do. You’re not gonna catch me doing that whole sh-t to get there.”
“I’m just gonna fight and continue to be myself. And if that doesn’t get me a title shot by beating the number one clear cut contender, Well then, sh-t. I don’t know what to do, man.”
The UFC has been under heavy criticism as of late because of how it seems to have turned into a popularity contest when it comes to booking title fights. Masvidal feels he would need to take drastic measures, just to get himself into the conversation.
“If I don’t get a title shot (after beating Maia), then I guess I’ll have to get a sex tape with a famous celebrity, and then all of a sudden, I’ve got title shots at every weight class. And that’s kind of like horse sh-t. I’m here to fight.”
UFC 211 takes place on Saturday, May 13th, at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.
Source: bloody

With fighters in nine of 13 fights, UFC 211 may as well be called ‘ATT vs. The World’

DALLAS — This weekend at UFC 211 will be a tad more hectic than the usual fight night for the coaches of American Top Team. Whether by chance or by design, athletes from the Coconut Creek camp will be competing in nine of the 13 fights lining the card of UFC 211, meaning ATT will be represented in roughly 70 percent of the bouts on the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view thus far of 2017.

“I’m busy, man. Busy,” one of the team’s head coaches, Mike Brown, told MMA Fighting with a laugh. “Not sleeping too much.”

Even in today’s era of super-teams often fielding multiple fighters on a single card, what ATT has managed to do with UFC 211 is fairly remarkable.

Not only are nine fighters from the camp competing on the same night, but many of them are doing so in bouts of major importance. All but one of the pay-per-view fights feature an ATT fighter, with the team hitting both title fights (Junior dos Santos and Joanna Jedrzejczyk), one likely No. 1 contender fight (Jorge Masvidal), two fights that could dramatically reshape the UFC rankings (Krzysztof Jotko and Dustin Poirier), and even the fight promoted as the featured UFC Fight Pass headliner (Jessica Aguilar).

Throw in undercard competitors Michel Quinones, Enrique Barzola, and Gadzhimurad Antigulov, plus an army of ATT coaches, and suddenly fight week in Dallas has become a family affair.

“It’s a good atmosphere,” Brown says. “Everybody is training hard together and it’s motivating. People are pushing each other and everybody’s peaking at the same time. So in some ways, that makes things easier.

“The good thing is everybody’s weight is under control, so really, we’re just trying to stagger the workouts. Like, most of our guys are just working out and breaking a sweat early on their own, and then at night we’re just kinda staggering one hour after another. And luckily we have a big team of coaches, so we’ve got three or four coaches to each fighter, so everybody’s set. They’re all getting plenty of attention and plenty of help.”

Brown, alongside fellow ATT coaches Conan Silveira, Ricardo Liborio, Din Thomas, and many others, have grown used to the juggling act. Brown reckons there’s been handful of times the team has worked seven fighters in one night, with Brown having to wear several Reebok kits at once, corner a fighter, then sprint to the back post-fight and strip his outer layer of gear off as the next ATT fighter starts to make that walk. It’s all a little exhausting, and albeit a good problem to have, but never can he remember stacking a deck like the team will on Saturday night.

It’s quite a feat for a team whose roots date all the way back to 2001, but whose run of successes has hit an all-time high over recent years.

“Before we got big like that, we’ve always known that our room, in particular, was dangerous,” says Masvidal, one of the teams OGs. “We’ve always had killers on the payroll there, and it’s crazy. It’s just awesome that the world sees it, and it’s ATT versus the world, baby. We’ve got a lot of guys who come in from different places, and they just train one week and they go, ‘I get it now, why these guys are where they’re at.’ So it’s always awesome to be there. I’ve been there from the beginning, so it’s awesome to see these new generation people that want to get after it like we do.

“Now it’s a superpower, man. I’m just glad to be a part of it from the beginning.”

In many ways, UFC 211 is a culmination of sorts, a celebration of ATT a little over a year after the team opened it’s behemoth new 40,000 square foot facility in early 2016. Masvidal affectionately calls the new gym a “Wal-Mart of training,” a massive facility with a little something for everyone. And now more than ever, the accomplishments of the squad are attracting marquee names like Jedrzejczyk and dos Santos out to Coconut Creek.

For the originals who waved the ATT flag for years, it’s a tad surreal to see how far things have come.

“We have the best gym in the world, so it’s expected, right?” Aguilar says, laughing. “But it’s pretty cool. It’s been a pretty good vibe in the gym, and it’s good to have all the coaches and everybody here (in Dallas). It feels like home. Like, it feels like we’re just hanging out, you know? … It’s been really, really cool. Everybody is on the same page. We all want to get in there and bang and win right and represent for the team. Nine of us on the card, it’s kind of like a whole ATT card.

“I’ve been with ATT for 11 years. I’m the first female that walked into ATT. I walked into the doors wanting to train jiu-jitsu. I became a fighter. I became a world champion. Now I have my own business inside the gym (a juice bar) and we’re all here. Come on. We’re living the dream, man.”

Not surprisingly, things get a little complicated when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of fight night. Some fighters gravitate towards different coaches while other coaches gravitate towards different fighters. In Brown’s case, he figures he’s only cornering three out of the nine fights, with the other assistant coaches and various individuals close to the athletes taking up the reigns for the other six.

It’s a good balance, he says, and even though he’ll have his hands plenty full on fight night, he’s not ruling out the day the team hits double-digits on a single UFC card.

“I think it’s history,” Brown says. “The team has been around a long time, so there’s been a lot of learning that’s taken place here. We’re growing, we’ve got a good system in place and a great coaching staff, and a great group of fighters who are all willing to help other, so it all kind of snowballs and keeps growing. It gets bigger and bigger all the time.”

Source: mmafighting

The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption episode 4 recap – Poetry and purple toenails

Miesha Tate tries to help Johnny Nunez upset James Krause and stop the T.J. Dillashaw Express. Meanwhile in the house, fighters trade verses and make body-hair art. A quick recap of The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption so far:

A bunch of fighters who’ve been on TUF before are back in the TUF house, and they must be behaving, because we’ve seen very little from the house.

Cody Garbrandt grabbed T.J. Dillashaw’s neck.
Perhaps as karmic retribution, Team Dillashaw is 3-0.

And on paper, they should easily get to 4-0 tonight. Dillashaw sends top pick and current UFC fighter James Krause, who’s on the show to get “redemption” for losing his prelim fight on TUF 15, against Johnny Nunez, who was 0-2 on TUF 22. Nunez is on the show as a substitute for Hector Urbina, who missed weight by a considerable margin in Week 1.
But TUF is unpredictable, and Krause has to manage his weight and his emotions. He had cut weight to fight Urbina, only to have that bout scrapped. Dana White insisted on putting Nunez in Urbina’s slot vs. Krause, but he wanted to give Nunez time to prepare. Krause and Dillashaw were not happy.
On to tonight’s show …
We start in the house, where Krause vents his feelings about losing to Justin Lawrence in the fight to get in the house in TUF 15. He feels robbed, but it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Dana White turns up to confirm that Krause did indeed go on a tear, first in other promotions and then tapping out Sam Stout on short notice.
Finally, some house entertainment. The ping-pong table sits empty, as did the cornhole boards. But Team Dillashaw decided to make a birthday card telling T.J. being on the other team would be “unbearable.” They add a bear. To make the bear realistic, they add hair.
From their own bodies.
It’s simultaneously disgusting and charming, and they reassure T.J. that no pubic hair was used to make the card.
“JAMES KRAUSE FIGHT PREP” says the graphic introducing the next segment. Krause says Nunez is pretty much the exact opposite of original opponent Urbina. He doesn’t elaborate. But he’s been working on his striking technique with T.J., who says Krause is going to use his range and his southpaw stance. Krause pledges not to win a boring decision.
Next: a brief segment in which Miesha Tate and another woman go to the house to drink with Cody’s team while Cody talks about hanging with his boyyyyys. Or so the previews would have us believe. This is actually where my computer conked out, which is unfortunate because I was watching on the app. By the time I got to my TV, they were already at the next ad break. I’m told nothing happened. That’s good. I’m still scarred from the horrible decision to bring Ronda Rousey into the TUF Live house and set things up as if the guys were going to fight over her like the kids in South Park. That did not happen.
After the break, we see Dhiego Lima and Hayder Hassan talking friendship, American Top Team and vegetables. Back in the Garbrandt dressing room, the team talks matchups, and Hayder says he’d rather not face Dhiego first so as not to cause drama in his gym. Then he says it would be an easy matchup. That comment might cause some drama in his gym.
Johnny Nunez reveals his strategy: Make it an ugly fight.
Miesha Tate trained with Nunez at Xtreme Couture, so she goes over to chat with Nunez.
“You guys getting paid this time?” she asks.
“That’s awesome.”
This episode is full of the unexpected.
But we’re immediately back to Cody leaving a flaming bag of poop outside the American Top Team door. (Not that he would know where it is — he was unaware that Hayder and Dhiego trained together until Hayder mentioned it. And if we’re being picky, Dhiego actually trains and works at American Top Team Gwinnett, the suburban Atlanta branch of the South Florida mega-gym.) He and his coaches really want Hayder to fight Dhiego. So apparently, this is all building to something.
Quick reminder: No, they’re not telegraphing the winner of the fight. The teams alternate picks this time, and Cody’s team has the next pick.
After the break, more on Krause. His stepdad, who raised him since he was 6 or 7, recently died. Mom’s in prison. So he looks after his sisters. One is 21 and just moved out, but the other is 11.
Off to his home video, where we see a toddler. That’s his 18-month-old daughter. Not typical, but it seems to be working. And he owns two MMA gyms that has produced some fighters, including TUF 24 winner Tim Elliott.
Weigh-in goes smoothly. Dhiego says Krause should be able to deal with Nunez’s wrestling and win.
This must be a short fight, because we’re going back to the house for a Team Dillashaw poetry slam in the hot tub. Yes, a poetry slam in the hot tub. Then Krause says he likes getting a pedicure before the fight.
This is an unusual episode.
Nunez thinks Krause isn’t here for the right reasons, saying he just wants air time and is taking a spot away from someone else who deserves it.
At last, we have a fight. The Nunez strategy of running full-bore into Krause to take him down works briefly, and he lands a couple of shots as well. After 90 seconds, he lands a big punch as Krause slips, but the favorite is back up quickly. Still, Nunez keeps tagging Krause. Might we see a colossal upset here?
Krause starts controlling distance. He has an immense height and reach advantage, and his leg kicks are doing damage. Dillashaw calls for a “spring cross,” but it doesn’t seem as if Krause hears him. But a few seconds later, Krause lands a devastating knee to the head, and Nunez plummets to the canvas. He’s not out, but Krause immediately pounces on his back. We have seven minutes left in this episode, so what do you think happens? RNC, tap, and Team Dillashaw is 4-0.
The fight doctor, a blonde woman we haven’t seen before, asks Krause if his hands are OK. He says yes. How about your purple toenails? Anything chipped? He laughs.
This is not your typical TUF episode.
Tate goes over to console Nunez, who says he got hit in the liver and got sick.
For once, we have a fight announcement with no extracurricular nonsense between the coaches. In fact, we’ve had none of that in this episode.
As telegraphed, Cody picks Lima vs. Hassan. They set a record for the most repetitions of “I love you, bro” in a staredown.
Weird. Weird episode.
Source: bloody

Joseph Benavidez out, Tim Elliott in against Ben Nguyen at UFC Fight Night 110

As usual in this game, it pays to ask for what you want.

Following a callout to the UFC on Twitter, The Ultimate Fighter 24 winner Tim Elliott has been slotted to replace the injured Joseph Benavidez in a June 11 showdown against Ben Nguyen at UFC Fight Night 110. The UFC announced the switch Wednesday night.

Elliott (14-7-1) rides into the bout fresh off a ‘Fight of the Night’ win over Louis Smolka last month at UFC on FOX 24, a performance which marked Elliott’s first official UFC victory since 2013.

Prior to that, the 30-year-old Elliott won a quartet of fights on TUF 24 to earn his second stint in the Octagon and secure a title shot against Demetrious Johnson. While Elliott fought gamely against Johnson, he ultimately lost a unanimous decision to the reigning UFC flyweight champion.

In Nguyen (17-6), Elliott now faces a promising flyweight prospect who has racked up a 3-1 record thus far in the UFC, with Nguyen having scored first-round victories over Alp Ozkilic and Ryan Benoit, as well as a decision over Geane Herrera. Nguyen’s only UFC setback came in a July 2016 contest against Smolka, which Nguyen lost via second-round TKO.

UFC Fight Night 110 takes place at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. A heavyweight collision between Derrick Lewis and Mark Hunt headlines the event.

Source: mmafighting

Joseph Benavidez announces torn ACL, out of UFC Auckland fight vs. Ben Nguyen

Perennial UFC flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez is injured and out of his June matchup with Ben Nguyen. As if Henry Cejudo’s late withdrawal from his UFC 211 showdown with Sergio Pettis wasn’t enough of a hit to the flyweight division, two-time title challenger Joseph Benavidez has also suffered an injury.
On Wednesday (prior to the announcement of Cejudo-Pettis being scrapped), Benavidez posted on his Twitter and Instagram pages that he had sustained an injury and would not be able to fight Ben Nguyen at UFC Auckland on Saturday, June 10th (Sunday, June 11th in New Zealand).

Sad to share that I suffered an injury, will not be fighting June 10th. I’ll focus on what I can do and be back. Thank you for the support.— Joseph Benavidez (@JoeJitsu) May 10, 2017

Benavidez later revealed on an Instagram video that he’d torn his ACL, which marked the first major injury of his career. It’s also the first time he’s ever withdrawn from a UFC or WEC contest for any reason.
The 32-year-old Benavidez (25-4) last fought in December, narrowly edging out Henry Cejudo by split decision in a thrilling fight. He’s won six straight and his only losses at 125 lbs have been against Demetrious Johnson. Nguyen (17-6) bounced back from a bloody, brutal TKO loss to Louis Smolka by defeating Geane Herrera at UFC Melbourne in November.
The good news for Nguyen is that he has a replacement opponent, and it’s none other than Tim Elliott. UFC officials confirmed on Wednesday that Elliott (14-7-1) has stepped up on short notice, as he looks for another win after last month’s triumph over Smolka.
UFC Auckland is headlined by a heavyweight matchup between Mark Hunt and Derrick Lewis. The main card airs live on Fox Sports 1.
Source: bloody