Politics not usual: UFC campaigns for Reid in Nevada

October 31, 2010

When the mid-term elections are held Tuesday, the UFC will be an interested party when voters hit the polls.

The UFC gave a helping hand to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as he attempts to defeat challenger Sharron Angle. Reid, a notable UFC fan, has received received help from Dana White, Chuck Liddell, Frank Mir and Randy Couture. Recently, White and Liddell made an appearance with Reid at UNLV. Reid is a fan of the UFC and has even used tickets to sit with him and Dana White at a UFC event as a fundraiser.

UFC fighters were not the only sports figures endorsing Reid. As you may have seen on HBO’s 24/7 Saturday night, you saw Manny Pacquiao take a break from training to make an appearance on behalf of the Democrat from Nevada (according to the show, the appearance was made at the request of Bob Arum).

The Political web site, Politico, wrote about Reid using White, et al. as campaign endorsers.

Reid’s partnership with the UFC comes at a time when Democrats are delivering harsh criticisms of World Wrestling Entertainment under former CEO Linda McMahon, now the Republican Senate nominee in Connecticut.

But, the UFC’s support of Reid makes sense since he has been an ally of the UFC in its efforts to legalize the sport in New York.  Politico adds,
New York legalization is UFC’s “holy grail,” said Ted Butryn, professor of sports psychology and sociology at San Jose State University who studies the sport. “It makes perfect sense that Dana White would look for powerful friends like Harry Reid.”

Payout Perspective:

White and the UFC are new to political campaigns. However, politicians see the popularity the UFC has with the 18-34 male demographic and hope that its endorsement will help. Conversely, the UFC hopes its involvement in politics will curry favor for its interests (e.g., NY regulation).

It is interesting to note that Republican Randy Couture actively came out to campaign for Reid. His endorsement makes valid sense since Reid’s support could help the expansion of the UFC.

It may be hard to judge to see whether the UFC influence helped or hurt Senator Reid, but the partnership of Reid and the UFC reflects the popularity the UFC has with the 18-34 demographic.

Smooth on Ice: Henderson to appear at NHL game to promote last WEC bout

October 30, 2010

WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will make an appearance at Saturday night’s Tampa Bay Lightning versus Phoenix Coyotes NHL hockey game. According to a WEC press release (released prior to news of the UFC merger) he will drop the ceremonial pre-game puck as well as sign autographs.

Many MMA fighters have made appearances at other sporting events to promote the UFC. Most have thrown out first pitches at baseball games such as Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Rich Franklin and Jon Jones to name a few. Booking fighters to participate in pre-game festivities at mainstream sports is good for MMA. It creates visibility and credibility that MMA is a real sport. Henderson is an all-around nice guy and meeting with fans and signing autographs at an NHL game can change people’s perceptions of the sport and its fighters.

Payout Perspective:

Henderson’s appearance at the Coyote’s game makes sense since he trains in Glendale and the fight will take place at the Jobing.com Arena. The fact that Saturday may see an increase in attendance due to special Halloween activities prior to the game is also helpful in promoting the December 16thmatchup. 

 The appearance is bolstered even more by the news that Henderson will be appearing in the last WEC ever and winning his match against Pettis vaults him into a spot into a UFC championship match (and likely main event of a PPV).

Strikeforce Challengers 11: Payouts, Attendance, and Ratings

October 29, 2010

The California State Athletic Commission has released fighter payouts for Strikeforce Challengers 11, held at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. Billy Evangelista ($10,000) and Lavar Johnson ($10,000) were the top earners of the event. In total, Strikeforce paid out $52,000 in disclosed payouts.


Payouts

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

Courtesy of MMAJunkie.com:

Main Event

Bobby Voelker: $9,000 (includes $4,500 win bonus) def. Roger Bowling: $3,500

Main Card:

Lavar Johnson: $10,000 def. Virgil Zwicker: $3,000

Billy Evangelista: $10,000 def. Waachiim Spiritwolf: $2,000

Julia Budd: $3,000 ($1,500 win bonus) def. Shana Olsen: $3,000

John Devine: $4,000 ($2,000 win bonus) def. Brandon Cash: $3,000

Under Card:

David Douglas: $3,000 ($1,500 win bonus) def. Dominic Clark via TKO (punches): $1,500


Gate and Attendance

MMAJunkie reports that Strikeforce Challengers 11 drew 3,656 attendees for an official live gate of $60,885.  The numbers were much lower than the Challengers 7 event held in the same venue back in March, where it drew 4,963 attendees for a $109,222 gate.


Ratings

MMAJunkie also reports that Strikeforce Challengers 11 ratings peaked with 260,000 Showtime viewers. Overall, the show averaged 178,000 viewers (0.59 rating) and peaked during the main event  between Bobby Voelker and highly touted Strikeforce WW prospect Roger Bowling, which pulled a 0.86 rating.  In contrast, the  Challenger 10 show averaged 237,000 viewers, peaking at 280,000.

This event was the lowest rated Strikeforce Challengers event this year, but it is of no surprise considering the competition they had surrounding them.  They went up against the Rangers vs Yankees MLB Playoff game on that day, not to mention the Bellator 33: Eddie Alvarez vs Roger Huerta event the day before, and last but not least, the huge UFC 121: Lesnar vs Valaszquez card the following day.  Not surprisingly, it received little buzz going into the event.  The silver lining here is that the show peaked at 260K with no real big names on the cards and had some serious competition from MLB, Bellator, and the UFC, which is a good number for a Challengers card.

MMAPayout.com on Toronto Fan 590’s “The Showdown”

October 29, 2010

MMAPayout.com’s Kelsey Philpott sat down with Toronto Fan 590 Radio’s Showdown Joe Ferraro on Thursday, October 28 to discuss the UFC-WEC merger and UFC 121. Be sure to give it a listen and also stay on to hear from the UFC’s latest Canadian signing, Sean Pierson.

TUF 12, Episode 7: 1.3 HH

October 29, 2010

MMAPayout.com has learned that episode seven of TUF 12 scored a 1.3hh rating on the strength of 1.9 million average viewers. The broadcast also fared well in the M18-34 and M18-49 demographics with a 2.2 and 1.84, respectively.

Quarterlies: 1.27, 1.30, 1.21, 1.27

Payout Perspective:

This is the fourth week in a row that TUF has generated a 1.3hh rating and that looks to be where this season will average out when all is said and done. The peak of the series was obviously TUF 10 with Kimbo Slice, but it’s encouraging to see that TUF 10 may have shaken things up enough to give a permanent .2-.3 boost to the HH ratings; good for an extra few hundred thousand viewers every episode beyond what TUF was doing before Season 10.

2010 MMAPayout.com Media Rankings # 1 – Sherdog.com

October 29, 2010

Sherdog.com is the longest running, largest, and most recognizable website in MMA. Despite an often contentious relationship with the UFC, the site consistently delivers top notch coverage of the sport. Its content partnership with ESPN has expanded its reach even further in recent years. The forums are the most trafficked among MMA news sites and it features perhaps the most well known and widely listened to audio content in the space.

Ranked # 1

Reach # 1

Content # 4

Features # 1

Influence # 2

Quality # 4

Browse previously ranked sites in the Media Rankings category.

Pacquiao fight grabs mainstream exposure

October 28, 2010

While most of us watched UFC 121 last Saturday, HBO began another installment of its 24/7 series featuring Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao.  The three-part series chronicles the fight camps leading up to their fight on November 13th  in Dallas.

Sports Business Daily (subscription required) details the mainstream leadup:

Pacquiao (will make an) appearance on the November cover of American Way, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines. The magazine debuts on Monday, with circulation of about 315,000 across the entire fleet. That night, Pacquiao is slated to appear on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” along with Will Ferrell. Pacquiao also will be featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Nov. 7, with Bob Simon reporting a story that has been in the works since February. In addition to shooting in the Philippines, Simon and the CBS crew have shadowed Pacquiao since he arrived in L.A. Saturday night, joining him for sparring, road work and meals with his vast inner circle. Interviews with Pacquiao, promoter Bob Arum and trainer Freddie Roach are scheduled for this week. Meanwhile, Pacquiao is scheduled to appear at a campaign rally for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Friday night in Las Vegas. Pacquiao, who was elected to Congress in the Philippines in May, will endorse Reid, who is locked in a tight race with Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle.

Payout Perspective:

It is interesting that Harry Reid has enlisted Dana White, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Frank Mir and now Manny Pacquiao to attract voters. This is a sign that Reid, 70, is trying to reach out to the 18-34 male demographic. In a tight race with the Republican candidate, Reid will need every vote.

As for the Pacquiao fight, we have seen the mainstream PR before. He is boxing. It seems like the only things that can really defeat him are his various distractions away from boxing. As for Margarito, the story will revolve around his infamous Mosley fight and subsequent suspension.

It is too bad that the Mayweather fight never materialized because that fight is the only one out there that could bring back boxing to mainstream consciousness. Pacquiao is a huge draw because he is an icon among Filipinos and has drawn many other fans because of his fighting style. But, he hasn’t had the opportunity to fight a serious contender in a couple years.

UFC 121 Payout: Salaries show Lesnar at the top

October 28, 2010

MMA Junkie reports the salaries from UFC 121. Despite his loss, Brock Lesnar topped the payroll with $400,000 earning more than the new champion, Cain Velasquez. The new UFC Heavyweight champion made $200,000 for his fight in addition to a $70,000 bonus for KO of the night.

The rest of the payouts are as follows:

Cain Velasquez: $200,000 (includes $100,000 win bonus)
def. Brock Lesnar: $400,000

Jake Shields: $150,000 ($75,000 win bonus)
def. Martin Kampmann: $27,000

Diego Sanchez: $100,000 ($50,000 win bonus)
def. Paulo Thiago: $18,000

Matt Hamill: $58,000 ($29,000 win bonus)
def. Tito Ortiz: $250,000

Brendan Schaub: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus)
def. Gabriel Gonzaga: $67,000

Court McGee: $30,000 ($15,000 win bonus)
def. Ryan Jensen: $10,000

Tom Lawlor: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus)
def. Patrick Cote: $21,000

Daniel Roberts: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Guymon: $8,000

Sam Stout: $32,000 ($16,000 win bonus)
def. Paul Taylor: $16,000

Chris Camozzi: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus)
def. Dongi Yang: $8,000

Jon Madsen: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus)
def. Gilbert Yvel: $30,000

Fight of the Night bonuses went to Sanchez and Thiago. Daniel Roberts had the submission of the night and Velasquez earned KO of the night. All earned $70,000.

The total payroll was $1.5 million.

As is the usual disclaimer, the dollar amounts disclosed are base salaries reported to the California State Athletic Commission and do not reflect entire compensation packages for the event.

Payout Perspective:

It is interesting to see that Ortiz ($250k) was the second highest paid fighter on the card. His salary, losing streak and the merger may mean that Ortiz retire, gets cut or takes another role (perhaps a commentator) in the UFC.

Gonzaga’s pay ($67K) also stood out. His loss spelled his doom with the company as he made more than three times than Brendan Schaub.

UFC and WEC Set to Merge

October 28, 2010

Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com has just posted an interview with Dana White in which the UFC President has announced the UFC and WEC will be merging effective January 2011.

Payout Perspective:

This is a topic that I’ve covered almost ad nauseam over the last two years with articles like Exploring a Possible Merger and interviews with WEC GM Reed Harris (Part 1 and Part 2), because I felt it was truly important for the continued growth and development of MMA as a sport and the UFC in particular.

Below, I’ve done my best to distill exactly how the UFC will benefit from the merger and why it needed to happen:

1.) Return on Assets: The company is moving assets like Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo from the WEC platform that is maybe generating 2x to the UFC platform that is capable of generating 10x. I understand that the WEC was profitable, but the UFC will be more profitable using the WEC’s fighters and title belts than the WEC ever could have been.

2.) Title Belts: The UFC uses title fights as PPV anchors and a means to map out their event planning strategy 3-6 months ahead of time. It now has two additional belts to use which should help the company to better withstand injury streaks like those that hit its title holders in the Fall of 2009. And if you still question how much title fights mean to the UFC, I’ll simply say this: The UFC does nearly twice the number of PPV buys with an event  featuring a title fight than it does without a title fight.

3.) More Fighters, More Growth. If the UFC plans to continue increasing the number of events it hosts in a calendar year, it will need the added depth of two new divisions to avoid fight cards like UFC 122 that are more or less unremarkable in the mind of the casual consumer. It’s not just the title belts that count here, but also the two sets of highly skilled fighters and serious contenders that will be used to help better fill out every fight card that are also of material interest.

4.) Television Appeal. The new found depth may also prove valuable if/when the UFC signs a new television deal and agrees to further event commitments on any one of the big four networks.

5.) Attention for the Lighter Weights. This deal finally brings some much needed attention to the fast and furious fighters in the lower weight classes that are every bit as good as the men fighting in weight classes above them. The UFC will now give these guys like Faber and Aldo the mainstream attention they deserve. Moreover, the mainstream now has a better platform to discover just how exciting these guys really are and the UFC is surely to benefit from increased product quality as the result of this integration.

6.) No More Confusion. This merger presents an opportunity for Zuffa to present a single and consistent brand message to the consumer. There is no more confusion or double taking on account of an event that looks, feels, and sounds like something from the UFC but really isn’t (but maybe kind of is). It’s all called UFC from here on out. That consistent message will also help Zuffa to focus internally; there are no more divergent or competing goals between two different brands striving to use the limited resources of the same company.

Please excuse me for what you might believe to be hyperbole for this is not: today will prove to be a watershed moment for not only the UFC but MMA in general. That’s how big of a deal this is.

———

Edit: I imagine I might have several more thoughts on this today:

  • In thinking about the sponsorship situation I have to wonder what now happens with MusclePharm and AMP Energy. The UFC already has official sponsors in those categories; BSN doesn’t have exclusivity but I believe Xyience does (at least the latest GOOD4U ban would intimate that they do). Interesting. Keep an eye on this.

2010 MMAPayout.com Media Rankings # 2 – MMAWeekly.com

October 28, 2010

MMAWeekly.com is second longest running MMA news site and widely regarded for its professional coverage. Weekly’s just the facts approach makes it one of the most respected and influential sites in the sport.

Ranked # 2

Reach # 4

Content # 3

Features # 3

Influence # 1

Quality # 3

Browse previously ranked sites in the Media Rankings category.

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