MMAterial Facts 08/19/10: MMA in Cowboys Stadium?

August 19, 2010

– Texas Two-Step? Like UFC, Strikeforce Considered Cowboys Stadium Show

– Is Paul Heyman on the Verge of Entering the MMA World?

– Strikeforce MMA event Friday may bring more shows to Arizona

– UFC gearing up for Brazilian expansion

– Tom Huggins Talks Not Paying Impact FC Fighters

Texas Two-Step? Like UFC, Strikeforce Considered Cowboys Stadium Show

But according to both sources, the San Jose, California-based promotion did previously discuss the possibility of staging an event at the showcase facility. One of the sources said that at one time, Strikeforce specifically discussed the possibility of an Oct. 16 show, which might have aired on CBS and featured many of the company’s biggest names.

The event, which likely would have included former Dallas Cowboys’ star running back Herschel Walker as a local drawing card, would also have served to help launch the upcoming EA Sports MMA video game, which will be released on Oct. 19 and has a heavy Strikeforce presence.  (MMAFighting)

Note: Read this MMAPayout Perspective for more info about the big plans Strikeforce had and still has for October.  These talks were on going for months and Herschel Walker was a big part along with CBS.  Also, the goal would have been to break the MMA North American attendance and gate records and use the event as a break out party for Strikeforce.  It would have also served as an entire 2 hour advertisement campaign to promote the EA Sports MMA game which is set to release on October 19.

Is Paul Heyman on the Verge of Entering the MMA World?

After leaving World Wrestling Entertainment in 2006, he got together with a group of investors and former K-1/PRIDE producers in attempt to purchase Strikeforce. That deal never materialized because, as Heyman said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, he felt Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker wasn’t getting a fair deal.  (MMAFighting)

Strikeforce MMA event Friday may bring more shows to Arizona

“Strikeforce wasn’t sure how the market was here,” Sarria said. “But this market just hasn’t been tested with a high level promotion. It will work here with Strikeforce and with the UFC. . . . The ultimate goal with this event is to bring the big Strikeforce events here.”

Said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, “I think they’re in the works. We’ve identified Phoenix as a viable market.”  (AZCentral)


Note: During the WEC event last night, they announced that the promotion will be headed to Phoenix, Arizona in December.  The event was chosen by the fans during an Amp Energy Drink contest where fans voted for the WEC to come to their hometown.  The event is expected to be headlined by the local product and WEC champ Ben Henderson most likely against Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.  Another fighter who trains and lives in Arizona is former WEC LW champ Jamie Varner, who fights Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at WEC 51 in September and who will most likely push to fight in his home state.

UFC gearing up for Brazilian expansion

But despite the Brazilians’ success in the UFC, the organization hasn’t hosted a show in their home country in nearly 12 years.

But according to UFC president Dana White, that soon could change.

“We’re spending money in Brazil right now,” White told ( “We’re spending marketing money, PR money, and we’ve got people down there working for us.” (MMAJunkie)

Tom Huggins Talks Not Paying Impact FC Fighters

“We are using a pool of lawyers from the United States, Australia and Brazil. What bothers me most is that [McManus] isn’t paying because he doesn’t have the money, as do some events here, he is very rich, but mainly because I believe that if the show fails, the damage has to be shared with fighters.  We can not accept this nonsense in any way, because if they did, we would be setting precedents for other promoters in bad faith to act the same way worldwide, “concluded Tom. (PortalDoVT – Translated from Portuguese)



  • WEC 50 ratings result in average audience of 316,000 viewers (MMAJunkie)
  • UFC Fight Night 22 lineup in flux again; Matt Wiman likely out (MMAJunkie)
  • After WEC 50, Jorgensen likely for next shot at Cruz; challenger likes his chances (MMAJunkie)
  • Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Goran Reljic targeted for UFC 122 in Germany (MMAJunkie)
  • Lashley Aims to Debut Standup at Saturday’s Strikeforce (Sherdog)
  • Tachi Palace Fights Signs Top Flyweight ‘Formiga’ (Sherdog)
  • No Hard Feelings at Strikeforce Presser (MMAFighting)
  • Kennedy Learned a Lot From Afghanistan Gunfight (MMAFighting)
  • Grabowski, Konrad Advance in Bellator Heavyweight Tournament (MMAFighting)
  • Strikeforce: Houston Pre-Fight Press Conference Quotes & Photos (Heavy)


  • Bellator 25: Hornbuckle vs Blackburn on FSN (08/19/10)
  • HDNet Fights Vault: DREAM at 8:00 PM ET on HDNet (08/20/10)
  • Fighting Words with Mike Straka (Jon “Bones” Jones) at 8:30 PM ET on HDNet (08/20/10)
  • Inside MMA (Forrest Griffin, Antonio McKee, Mark Pavelich) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (08/20/10)
  • HDNet Fights: The Voice vs Tito Ortiz at 10 PM ET on HDNet (08/20/10)
  • Strikeforce: King Mo vs Rafael Feijao at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime (08/21/10)


  • Strikeforce: King Mo vs Rafael Feijao at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime (08/21/10)
  • Bellator 26 on FSN (08/26/10)
  • HDNet Fights: Sengoku Raiden Championships 14 on HDNet (08/27/10)
  • UFC 118: Edgar vs Penn 2 at 10 PM ET on PPV (08/28/10)
  • Bellator 26 on FSN (09/2/10)
  • UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Belcher at 9 PM ET on SPIKE TV (09/15/10)
  • UFC 119 : Minotauro Nogueira vs Frank Mir 2 at 10 PM ET on PPV (09/25/10)

WEC 50: Payouts and Bonuses

August 19, 2010

WEC 50: Cruz vs. Benavidez was held on Wednesday, August 18 at the Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The total amount of disclosed pay was $221,000, with an additional $40,000 being paid in disclosed fight night bonuses.

The following payout figures come courtesy of

Main Event

Dominick Cruz $22,000 ($11,000) defeated Joseph Benavidez $17,500

Main Card

Anthony Pettis $12,000 ($6,000 show/win) defeated Shane Roller $16,000
Chad Mendes $11,000 ($5,500 show/win) defeated Cub Swanson $11,000
Scott Jorgensen $25,000 ($12,500 show/win) defeated Brad Pickett $7,000
Brad Palaszewski $16,000 ($8,000 show/win) defeated Zach Mickelwright $3,000

Under Card

Maciej Jewtuszko $6,000 ($3,000 show/win) defeated Anthony Njokuani $7,000
Javier Vasquez $16,000 ($8,000 show/win) defeated Mackens Semerzier $4,000
Ricardo Lamas $14,000 ($7,000 show/win) defeated Dave Jansen $4,000
Fredson Paixao $6,000 ($3,000 show/win) defeated Bryan Caraway $4,000
Danny Castillo $19,000 ($9,500 show/win) defeated Dustin Poirier $3,000


Fight of the Night: Scott Jorgensen vs. Brad Pickett ($10,000 each)
KO of the Night: Maciej Jewtzusko ($10,000)
Submission of the Night: Anthony Pettis ($10,000)

Note: The above payouts do not represent the full take home purse for each fighter. Sponsorship money and discretionary bonuses also comprise a great percentage of fighter income.

Carwin remains silent on steroid link

August 18, 2010

Last week, Shane Carwin’s name was identified in a steroid distribution case in Alabama. As of this date, Carwin has not made a statement regarding this issue with the exception of a cryptic message put out on his twitter account. In response to whether or not he would put out a statement about his purchase of steroids, Carwin from his twitter account, wrote:

I am fighting that fight currently. Being told I cant I however feel like I should

From this tweet, it sounds as though Carwin has been instructed (by his management team, lawyers, the UFC or all three), not to speak out about the case. This may be due to a pending investigation or fear of implicating himself further.

In the meantime, Carwin is passing the time by entering into a twitter war with UFC Heavyweight Roy Nelson. The TUF winner has been critical of Carwin and has posted several messages on his own twitter account.

Just woke up and was reading the mma news websites and only one had real news ufc champ shane carwin steroids court case.

 I am surprised that athletes in mma do steroids ;( that explains body types.

In another tweet, Nelson pleads that the MMA media investigate the Carwin story. Bloody Elbow believes that the use of steroids is a non-story:

The unspoken assumption among many MMA insiders is that PED use is prevalent if not universal among professional mixed martial artists. There is controversy about the actual health risk of steroids and a recognition that the testing regimes currently used by even the best state athletic commissions is woefully inadequate. 

It also criticizes Carwin’s attack on Nelson as a shift from his good-guy image:

Nevertheless, Carwin is evolving from a babyface to a heel and he’s accelerating that process dramatically by taking cheapshots at Roy Nelson while dodging the steroids issue.

Payout Perspective:

Where would we be without twitter? We would not be able to see this all play out. The strain of the steroid story is causing Carwin to lash out. Roy Nelson has made himself an easy target.

Instead of coming out to the media about this story, Carwin has been advised to lay low and not speak about it. Of course, it does not stop others, like Nelson, to bait Carwin into a twitter fight. For Nelson, baiting Carwin is excellent strategy to promote a future fight down the road (perhaps we call this the “Sonnen Strategy”).  It is fair for Carwin to put out a message to his fans acknowledging the story. But responding to Nelson was not a good idea.

Almost a week has gone by and Carwin has not provided a statement about why his name appeared on a list of athletes that purchased steroids. An answer must be made sooner than later to preserve his image.

You can argue that the steroid issue does not matter. As Bloody Elbow reports, not a lot of the MMA media have pressed the issue in the past week. We will see whether Carwin waits out the media storm or heads out into it.

Update on Fedor/Affliction Lawsuit

August 18, 2010

It has been a little over a year since Affliction had to cancel its third PPV at the last minute. Fedor Emilianenko, the company’s main attraction filed suit as a result of Affliction’s sudden demise. 

In October 2009, Fedor Emilianenko and M-1 filed suit against Affliction for breach of contract in Los Angeles. Fedor and M-1 Global, Fedor’s promotional group, seek damages as a result of Affliction’s cancellation of its third PPV. Fedor’s contract guaranteed three fights. The lawsuit claims that Affliction did not make reasonable attempts to find a suitable replacement for Fedor’s opponent, Josh Barnett. Barnett was taken off the card as he was denied a license to fight due to a failed drug test.

The following are developments in the case:

  • In February, Affliction’s original attorney, Michael Bassiri, was replaced by Judd Burstein of New York. Steven Silverstein of Orange, California is Affliction’s local counsel. According to Burstein’s web site, he currently represents Oscar de la Hoya and has represented boxer Lennox Lewis, Don King and Donald Trump.
  • On July 15th  the Fedor/M-1 legal team filed a motion to depose Affliction co-owner’s Tom Atencio and Todd Beard. Legal filings between the opposing sides show a failure to agree on dates to schedule the depositions.
  • On July 28th, on a motion filed by the Fedor/M-1 legal team, the court moved the trial date from November 16, 2010 to June 7, 2011.

Payout Perspective:

Based upon the recent court filings, the lawsuit aims to be a tough battle inside and outside the courthouse. The depositions of Atencio and Beard should be interesting, if not contentious. The hiring of a New York attorney that has handled high profile figures reveals a possible shift in litigation strategy for Affliction. It will be interesting to see the amount of information that will be obtained through the discovery process.  Hopefully, the information may shed light on the unique contractual relationship between M-1 and Affliction.

Strikeforce Challengers 10 Payouts and Ratings

August 18, 2010

The Arizona State Boxing Commission has released fighter payouts for Strikeforce Challenger 10. Miesha Tate ($18,000) and Joe Riggs ($15,000) were the top earners of the event. In total, Strikeforce paid out $53,250 in disclosed payouts.

Strikeforce Challengers 10

Note: that the money reported below is only the money required to be reported by the commission.

Courtesy of

Main Event

Joe Riggs: $15,000 def. Louis Taylor: $2,000

Main Card:

Miesha Tate: $18,000* def. Hitomi Akano: $4,900#
Ryan Couture: $3,000 def. Lucas Stark: $1,000
Hitomi Akano: (see above) def. Carina Damm: $2,100
Miesha Tate: (see above) def. Maiju Kujala: $1,750
Liz Carmouche: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus) def. Colleen Schneider: $1,000

Under Card:

Chris Gruetzemacher: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus) def. Ryan Diaz: $500
Jason Richey def. Edmund Xehili^
Joel Champion def. Sean Scott^
Rob Anderson def. Alonzo Fears^
Andres Acuna def. Edwin Louis^
Frankie Saenz def. Jace Crawford^

+ – $8,000 ($4,000 to show/$4,000 win bonus) for semis and $10,000 ($5,000/$5,000) for finale
# – $2,800 for semis ($1,400/$1,400) and $2,100 for finale
^ – Amateur bout

MMAJunkie also reports that Strikeforce Challengers 10 ratings peaked with 280,000 Showtime viewers.  Overall, the show averaged 237,000 viewers and remarkably, the peak audience was recorded during the Colleen Schneider vs Liz Carmouche reserve bout, though it most likely received a bump in viewership due to those tuning in to see the main event and the tournament finale bout.

These numbers are good enough to fall behind Strikeforce Challengers 7 (316,000 viewers due to the free preview weekend) and Strikeforce Challengers 8 (249,000 viewers).  These Challenger events continue to do well for Strikeforce as they continue to land around or above the 200,000 viewership number, which was something unheard of for Challenger events when they started airing the events on Showtime last year.

Tapout Generated $200 Million in Revenues Last Year

August 18, 2010

Michael Lev-Ram of CNN Money writes that Tapout earned $200 million in annual revenues last year, which is 16 times greater than the company’s $12 million in revenue from 2006.

Payout Perspective:

I imagine some people will scoff at the $200 million annual revenue claim, but the figure seems probable (or at the very least in the ballpark) when you take into consideration the growth of the sport over the last few years and how Tapout has set about expanding its business.

These guys aren’t just selling t-shirts out of the trunk of their cars anymore. Sure, the UFC has provided a platform to generate awareness for the brand and promote its products. But it’s been the diversification of its product lines and the cultivation of nationwide distribution channels that’s really made the difference for Tapout.

MMA is more than a sport – it’s a lifestyle. Tapout has played a major role in fostering that lifestyle. Making its products available to all those wishing to embrace that lifestyle has proven to be the key to its success.

Kudos to Lewis, Caldwell, Katz and Kreiner for their tremendous vision and hard work. May Charles Lewis also rest in peace.

Who is the Biggest UFC PPV Draw? – Part 2

August 18, 2010

Welcome to the second part of our series on which fighters are the biggest UFC PPV draws.  In part one, we mentioned that using aggregate information can be an advantage or a disadvantage.  In this installment, we’ll break down the overall and fighter-specific average PPV buyrates by year from 2006 to 2010.

Overview: One of the common debates among MMA fans concerns which fighter is the biggest draw.  From the business side, a fighter’s draw shapes PPV expectations (and, subsequently, PPV revenues) and should play a major role in sponsorships for both the given fighter and every other fighter on the PPV.  In this series of articles, we’ll examine several intuitive ways that one can estimate a fighter’s draw and examine the wide variation in these estimates.  We’ll be focusing on the ten fighters that Derek Jenkins identified as the biggest draws in a recent article at Yahoo! Sports.

Today’s Comparison: Average PPV buys versus average PPV buys for cards with a fighter broken down by year

The Number

Average PPV buys are the most basic numbers we can use to determine a fighter’s draw.  Today, we’ll take the average number of buys for all UFC PPVs (including events with all ten fighters) and compare it with the average number of buys for UFC PPVs featuring each fighter.  We used the same approach in part one, but we’ll break down those numbers by year and look for trends that were hidden in the aggregate numbers we looked at before.

The Fighters

As mentioned in the overview, we’ll be using the ten fighters that Derek Jenkins identified as the biggest draws: Brock Lesnar, Georges St. Pierre, Chuck Liddell, Rashad Evans, Quinton Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Lyoto Machida, BJ Penn, Anderson Silva, and Randy Couture.

The Data

We’ll still be using the PPV buys for all UFC pay-per-view events from UFC 57 (Couture-Liddell III) to UFC 116 (Lesnar-Carwin), and we will continue to do so throughout the series.  You can view the PPV buys for events up to UFC 107 in our Blue Book.

2006 –  Average number of PPV buys:  527,000

Fighter Average PPV buys for cards featuring fighter Difference from overall average
Brock Lesnar
Georges St. Pierre 400,000 -127,000
Chuck Liddell 650,000 123,000
Rashad Evans 400,000 -127,000
Quinton Jackson
Forrest Griffin 658,000 131,000
Lyoto Machida
BJ Penn 350,000 -177,000
Anderson Silva 300,000 -227,000
Randy Couture 400,000 -127,000

2007 –  Average number of PPV buys:  449,000

Fighter Average PPV buys for cards featuring fighter Difference from overall average
Brock Lesnar
Georges St. Pierre 523,000 74,000
Chuck Liddell 600,000 151,000
Rashad Evans 375,000 -74,000
Quinton Jackson 538,000 89,000
Forrest Griffin 338,000 -111,000
Lyoto Machida 508,000 59,000
BJ Penn
Anderson Silva 383,000 -66,000
Randy Couture 530,000 81,000

2008 –  Average number of PPV buys:  527,000

Fighter Average PPV buys for cards featuring fighter Difference from overall average
Brock Lesnar 745,000 218,000
Georges St. Pierre 578,000 51,000
Chuck Liddell 480,000 -47,000
Rashad Evans 740,000 213,000
Quinton Jackson 770,000 243,000
Forrest Griffin 770,000 243,000
Lyoto Machida 475,000 -52,000
BJ Penn 350,000 -177,000
Anderson Silva 313,000 -214,000
Randy Couture 1,010,000 483,000

2009 –  Average number of PPV buys:  617,000

Fighter Average PPV buys for cards featuring fighter Difference from overall average
Brock Lesnar 1,600,000 983,000
Georges St. Pierre 1,260,000 643,000
Chuck Liddell 650,000 33,000
Rashad Evans 635,000 18,000
Quinton Jackson 350,000 -267,000
Forrest Griffin 613,000 -4,000
Lyoto Machida 685,000 68,000
BJ Penn 797,000 180,000
Anderson Silva 750,000 133,000
Randy Couture 435,000 -182,000

2010 –  Average number of PPV buys:  600,000

Fighter Average PPV buys for cards featuring fighter Difference from overall average
Brock Lesnar 1,200,000 600,000
Georges St. Pierre 770,000 170,000
Chuck Liddell 520,000 -80,000
Rashad Evans 675,000 75,000
Quinton Jackson 1,050,000 450,000
Forrest Griffin
Lyoto Machida 520,000 -80,000
BJ Penn 525,000 -75,000
Anderson Silva 525,000 -75,000
Randy Couture 275,000 -325,000

Payout Perspective

In part one, we addressed the strengths and weaknesses of the numbers we’re using today.  Breaking down average buyrates allows us to address the issues raised by aggregating all the data into a single average for each fighter and overall average.  Since the general issues still remain in the numbers we’re using today, we’ll ignore those that don’t deal with changes over time.

Average buyrate by year fluctuates, but PPV buys are not cyclical. The average buyrate in 2006 was 527,000, which dropped to 449,000 in 2007.  We then see 2008 reach the 2006 levels, with additional growth in 2009, followed by a dip so far in 2010.  It’s easy to assume from these numbers that MMA follows a cycle where buyrates are up one year, then down the next, and then pick back up in the third year.  However, there’s not really a cycle if you look at the event buys in our Blue Book.

In part one, we discussed how a single fighter’s numbers can drive the overall average (eg. Brock Lesnar).  The same thing is happening in the annual numbers, where the buyrates for individual events generally hover around 300,000-500,000.  In the boom years, however, the annual average is being driven by a small number of events that get significantly higher buyrates.  The difference between 2006 and 2007 is mostly due to UFC 61 (Ortiz-Shamrock II with 775,000 buys) and UFC 66 (Liddell-Ortiz II with 1,050,000 buys).  Aside from those two events, the 2006 and 2007 event buyrates look similar.

We then see the jump in 2008 due to back-to-back events hitting the million buyrate mark in UFC 91 (Lesnar-Couture) and UFC 92 (Griffin-Evans).

The numbers are down for 2010 thus far but may look much better at the end of the year.  The year started off with three events in a row that maxed out at 300,000 buys with UFC 108 (Evans-T. Silva), with 109 (Couture-Coleman) and 110 (Nogueira-Velasquez) doing 275K and 240K, respectively.  Since then, two events have broken one million buys, UFC 114 (1,050,000 buys headlined by Evans-Jackson) and UFC 116 (1,200,000 buys headlined by Lesnar-Carwin).  One or two more big events in 2010 will likely push the number up to or above the 2009 mark, and GSP-Koscheck at UFC 124 should be one of these events.[i] Online rumors are placing UFC 117 (Silva-Sonnen) at around one million buys, which would push the 2010 average above the current average of 600,000 (since the 2010 numbers above only include PPVs through UFC 116).

Fighters look like terrible draws in 2006. Only Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin perform above average among the seven fighters who were active in the UFC in 2006; Lesnar, Evans, and Machida did not fight for the UFC during the year.  The other five active UFC fighters – St. Pierre, Evans, Penn, Silva, and Couture – did at least 100,000 buys below average.  As mentioned previously, it’s important to realize that the 2006 average was strongly influenced by two cards, UFC 61 (Ortiz-Shamrock II) which featured none of these fighters and UFC 66 (Liddell-Ortiz II, with Griffin-Jardine also on the card).  The massive buyrate for UFC 66 drives up the overall average and the average for both Liddell and Griffin.  The other five active fighters all drew 300,000-400,000 buys, which was a normal draw for the UFC with the few notable exceptions we’ve mentioned along with Hughes-Gracie at UFC 60, which featured none of the ten fighters we’re looking at.

You can look and see a similar trend in the 2010 numbers, as most fighters are performing below average, even those in the 500,000-600,000 range.  As was the case in 2006, this is primarily due to two events, with UFC 114 and UFC 116 breaking one million buys.

Single years can give very different impressions about the same fighter. Consider the case of Randy Couture.  He has the fifth highest average among all years with an average of 1,010,000 in 2008, behind only Lesnar twice (2009 and 2010), St. Pierre (2009), and Jackson (2010).  However, he also has the lowest average of all, with 275,000 in 2010.  Couture also only fought once in each year.  His sole fight in 2008 was against Lesnar, and his only fight in 2010 was against Mark Coleman.  In both cases, the choice of opponent likely played a big role in the buyrate.  Also, as mentioned in part one, having only one fight in a year means your average annual buyrate is equal to the buyrate for the one card you fought on.

Another good example of this phenomenon is Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.  He went from an average of 350,000 in 2009 to 1,050,000 in 2010, meaning that his average buyrate tripled in a single year.  We can state this change in a different way – Jackson’s buyrate grew 200% in one year, which is amazing by any standard.[ii] Like Couture, Jackson only fought once in each year, against Jardine in 2009 and Evans in 2010.  The build-up of the Evans-Jackson fight via a combination of a season of The Ultimate Fighter and Jackson’s mainstream appearance in a lead role of The A-Team contributed significantly to this growth, and Jackson may not hit his 2010 number again as a result.

Did the 2006-2007 numbers penalize fighters from a less popular time? In part one, I made the following comment:

Using numbers from 2006 and 2007 may penalize fighters – like Liddell and Couture – who were headlining PPV events when the sport was less popular.

We can now look at the numbers year-by-year and see whether including the 2006-2007 numbers really did make these fighters look less popular.  Let’s put Liddell and Couture’s numbers beside each other year-by-year:

Chuck Liddell / Randy Couture

2006       650,000 / 400,000

2007       600,000 / 530,000

2008       480,000 / 1,010,000

2009       650,000 / 435,000

2010       520,000 / 275,000

Except for Couture’s single 2008 fight against Brock Lesnar and his single 2010 fight against Mark Coleman, the numbers look fairly consistent over time.  In both cases, keeping the 2006 and 2007 numbers actually help the fighter’s overall average buyrate.  While we can’t be certain why the 2010 numbers for both fighters are down, we can reasonably speculate that it has to do with both fighters being in the twilight of their careers and ending up in fights which are interesting to fans but are unlikely to have any relevance to the title.


In the first two parts of this series, we’ve compared the average buyrate for a fighter’s pay-per-view appearances with the overall average for UFC PPVs.  We looked at the aggregate numbers in part one and broke those numbers down by year here in part two.  Breaking down the numbers by year showed us that the growth in buyrates has not been consistent year after year and, more importantly, the averages – annual or aggregate – tend to be driven by single events with buyrates substantially higher than the average.

The primary benefit to using the aggregate numbers from part one is that we don’t see the wild variation due to one great or lackluster card – as we saw here with Couture and Jackson.  The aggregate numbers still give a good indication of draw, even with increased popularity of the sport, since the fluctuation in numbers is relatively consistent over the years.  The annual numbers do provide additional information, but one has to break those down even more and look at the buyrates for each event to fully understand the sources of variation.


Going back to part one, we mentioned the following weakness of comparing fighters to the overall average buyrate (which includes all ten of the fighters we’re looking at):

Makes good draws look worse and bad draws look better. Consider Brock Lesnar, whose worst PPV did 600,000 buys.  His five PPVs in the dataset sold 600K, 625K, 1.01 million, 1.6 million, and 1.2 million.  These PPVs drive up the overall UFC average, which is what Lesnar is being compared to here.  A better comparison for Lesnar is to compare his average PPV buyrate to the average buyrate for all UFC PPVs that do not feature Lesnar.

I added emphasis to the last sentence because that’s exactly what we’ll do in parts three and four.  In part three, we’ll again look at the aggregate numbers, as we did in part one.  We’ll then break those down by year in part four, as we did here in part two.

[i]It should be noted that UFC 120, headlined by Michael Bisping versus Yoshihiro Akiyama in London, will not be a pay-per-view event.  The card would likely draw low PPV numbers and will instead be broadcast via tape delay on Spike TV.

[ii] To clarify any potential confusion, Jackson’s 2010 buyrate is 300% of his 2009 buyrate, but it only represents a 200% growth rate.  Growth rate is equal to (2010 average – 2009 average)/(2009 average).

UFC 117: ~600,000 PPV Buys

August 17, 2010

The Figure Four Weekly is reporting that trending numbers for UFC 117 were off and the early estimates coming in from cable companies now peg the event closer to 600,000 PPV buys.

UFC staff was told early last week that the UFC 117 numbers were looking to be just under 600,000 buys, significantly down from fight night expectations. I had actually predicted 550,000, though when the show was over the feeling I had was that it was an easy 1 million buys show. It should be noted that our trending numbers plus sources outside UFC are tracking it closer to 1 million. Part of the issue is that there are wide variations throughout the country with some systems showing huge numbers and other systems showing much smaller numbers. It’ll be several weeks before we get what we can really call a solid number.

Payout Perspective:

I get the sense that there’s some confusion between trending numbers and estimates numbers, so allow me to explain the difference:

Trending numbers are based upon pre-fight indicators (e.g., live gate, television ratings, or Google search frequency) that are known to have a significant correlation with PPV buy rate numbers. When a fight is said to be “trending” towards a particular number the analyst is essentially saying that the pre-fight indicators are currently at levels that would suggest the PPV buyrate will be X. Trending numbers do not incorporate any sort of actual number received from a cable company.

Estimate numbers are based upon actual reports from cable companies. These typically take a little longer to report, because the cable companies need time to gather the purchase data from their systems. Then, once reliable base numbers have been gathered, the company will extrapolate those initial figures to give an estimate of what the overall card has likely produced from a buyrate perspective.

You may have noticed that we’ve stopped using trending numbers here at MMAPayout. Despite the regression analysis employed, the pre-fight indicators we use have simply become too unpredictable. The fight game is changing too rapidly: new sets of fans are entering the marketplace, and their purchase behavior patterns are increasing the complexity of this giant puzzle. It’s going to take some time before things settle down to the point where we can once again establish reliable indicators based upon publicly available information.

In the mean time, I’ll continue to go with my gut; 500,000-600,000 is more or less what I expected once this fight had ended. The early trending reports of 1 million were a pleasant shock, but seemed almost too good to be true.

Regardless of the actual number, I think we can all agree that this has been an unbelievable stretch of business for the UFC (something we were talking about at in March!).

UFC 111: 770,000
UFC 112: 525,000
UFC 113:  520,000
UFC 114: 1,050,000
UFC 115: 520,000
UFC 116: 1,200,000
UFC 117: ~600,000
UFC 118: …

UFC on Versus 2: Attendance, Gate, Payouts

August 17, 2010

UFC on Versus 2 drew 8,132 fans to the San Diego Sports Arena on August 1 for a live gate of $489,685. The card was headlined by rising star Jon Jones and the experienced Vladimir Matyushenko.

The disclosed fighter (courtesy of and bonus payouts for the card are as follows:

Main Event

Jon Jones ($46,000) defeated Vladimir Matyushenko ($31,000)

Main Card

Yushin Okami ($46,000) defeated Mark Munoz ($22,000)
Jake Ellenberger ($24,000) defeated John Howard ($15,000)
Takanori Gomi ($80,000) defeated Tyson Griffin ($30,000)

Under Card

Jacob Volkmann ($20,000) defeated Paul Kelly ($17,000)
Matt Riddle ($24,000) defeated DaMarques Johnson ($10,000)
Igor Pokrajac $(12,000) defeated James Irvin ($20,000)
Brian Stann ($34,000) defeated Mike Massenzio ($5,000)
Charles Oliveira ($12,000) defeated Darren Elkins ($8,000)
Rob Kimmons ($18,000) defeated Steve Steinbeiss ($6,000)


Fight of the Night: Brian Stann vs. Mike Massenzio ($40,000 each)
KO of the Night: Takanori Gomi ($40,000)
Submission of the Night: Charles Oliveira ($40,000)

UFC 117 Payouts

August 17, 2010

The California State Athletic Commission has released fighter payouts for UFC 117. Anderson Silva and Matt Hughes topped the list with $200,000 each. In total, the UFC paid out $1.029 million in disclosed payouts and another $300,000 in disclosed bonuses.

Note: that the money reported below is only the money required to be reported by the commission. Some fighters receive a percentage of the PPV money the UFC receives, or are paid discretionary bonuses by UFC brass.

Courtesy of

Main Event

Anderson Silva: $200,000 (no win bonus) def. Chael Sonnen: $35,000

Main Card
Jon Fitch: $108,000 (includes $54,000 win bonus) def. Thiago Alves: $60,000
Clay Guida: $56,000 ($28,000 win bonus) def. Rafael dos Anjos: $12,000
Matt Hughes: $200,000 ($100,000 win bonus) def. Ricardo Almeida: $35,000
Junior Dos Santos: $80,000 ($40,000 win bonus) def. Roy Nelson: $15,000

Under Card
Rick Story: $22,000 ($11,000 win bonus) def. Dustin Hazelett: $18,000
Phil Davis: $18,000 ($9,000 win bonus) def. Rodney Wallace: $6,000
Johny Hendricks: $40,000 ($20,000 win bonus) def. Charlie Brenneman: $8000
Tim Boetsch: $32,000 ($16,000 win bonus) def. Todd Brown: $6,000
Stefan Struve: $30,000 ($15,000 win bonus) def. Christian Morecraft: $6,000
Dennis Hallman: $30,000 ($15,000 win bonus) def. Ben Saunders: $12,000


Fight of the Night: Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen ($60,000 each)
KO of the Night: Stefan Struve ($60,000)
Submission of the Night: Anderson Silva and Matt Hughes ($60,000 each)

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