UFC 126: Payout Perspective

February 8, 2011

Welcome to another addition of Payout Perspective. Today we look at UFC 126 held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Super Bowl weekend show featured a trio of fights: the much-anticipated Anderson Silva facing Vito Belfort, Forrest Griffin taking on Rich Franklin and Jon “Bones” Jones faced Ryan Bader.

Silva KOs Belfort

After an intense weigh-in face off where both fighters had to be restrained, the fight ended abruptly as Silva’s front kick to Belfort’s chin stunned “The Phenom.” A couple shots on the ground by Silva ended the evening in the first round. Although he credits Steven Seagal for teaching him the kick, the Spider is still pretty good.

Next up for Silva is a potential superfight with GSP. Certainly everyone, except Yushin Okami, would like to see it next. As we’ve talked about, a GSP-Silva fight could surpass 1.6 million PPV buys. The anticipated fight should have an international appeal and it will be interesting where the UFC will have the fight. Look for this fight to happen in December.

Griffin beats Franklin

In a fight between fan favorites, Forrest Griffin fought off the Octagon rust to beat Rich Franklin. In the post-fight interview,  Joe Rogan helped Griffin “push product” as Griffin put it, by plugging Griffin’s two books. Unfortunately for Griffin, MMA Junkie reports that he is out until August with a foot injury unless he is cleared by a doctor. It will be interesting what Franklin will do next. He is still a quality fighter but his future may not be in the Light Heavyweight division. If Anderson Silva decides to leave the middleweight division, I could see Franklin moving back in.

 Jones submits Bader, earns title shot

Jon Jones submitted Ryan Bader in the second round and leapfrogged into a title match versus Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. With Rashard Evans out with a knee injury, and Rampage Jackson not ready for the shot, the UFC decided to give it to Jones. The announcement came via Rogan in the post-match interview. A good ploy by the UFC as you got to see Jones’ reaction as he first heard he was getting the shot. Even though Jones is getting the shot on relative short notice, Rua cannot be happy with the matchup especially since he will be facing a Pro-Jones crowd in New Jersey. Only Matt Serra had it worse for a title defense.

The Rua-Jones fight should bolster ticket sales and PPV buys. Not only is Jones’ popularity at a high, the native New Yorker will get home field advantage in Newark, New Jersey.  Obviously, the UFC is playing up the local ties and hopes that the event shows the folks in New York what its missing.

 Fighter Payouts

Via MMA Junkie:

Champ Anderson Silva: $200,000 (includes no win bonus)
def. Vitor Belfort: $275,000

Forrest Griffin: $275,000 ($150,000 win bonus)
def. Rich Franklin: $75,000

Jon Jones: $140,000 ($70,000 win bonus)
def. Ryan Bader: $20,000

Jake Ellenberger: $32,000 ($16,000 win bonus)
def. Carlos Eduardo Rocha: $8,000

Miguel Torres: $56,000 ($28,000 win bonus)
def. Antonio Banuelos: $9,000

Donald Cerrone: $36,000 ($18,000 win bonus)
def. Paul Kelly: $19,000

Chad Mendes: $19,000 ($9,500 win bonus)
def. Michihiro Omigawa: $8,000

Demetrious Johnson: $10,000 ($5,000 win bonus)
def. Norifumi Yamamoto: $15,000

Paul Taylor: $36,000 ($18,000 win bonus)
def. Gabe Ruediger: $8,000

Kyle Kingsbury: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus)
def. Ricardo Romero: $10,000

Mike Pierce: $28,000 ($14,000 win bonus)
def. Kenny Robertson: $6,000

As always, the payouts are not inclusive as certain fighters receive “locker room bonuses” from the UFC and paid from their individual sponsors.

It’s interesting to see that Jon Jones gets paid like a top star. His base was only $5K less than the more-established Rich Franklin. It looks like the base salaries has increased from a $3,000 minimum to $6,000 minimum.

Bonuses – each fighter received a $75K bonus

Paul Kelly versus Donald Cerrone – Fight of the Night

Jon Jones – Submission of the Night

Anderson Silva – Knockout of the Night

No complaints on any of the fighter bonuses. I have been a proponent of giving the benefit of the doubt to a lower-tier fighter for Sub or KO of the night but both Jones and Silva deserved their bonuses.

Attendance and Gate

Saturday’s “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” event drew a reported 10,893 attendees and generated a live gate of $3.6 million. This did not include an additional $45,100 in revenue generated by the 1,046 attendees who viewed the fight via closed-circuit broadcast. (h/t MMA Junkie)

Sponsorship Watch

Xbox 360 – Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson was sponsored by the Microsoft video game console maker. Johnson’s gym in Kirkland (recently featured on Inside MMA) is 15 minutes from the Microsoft campus in Washington. Not sure if this was the tie-in to get him sponsored, but it’s a theory. Not only did Johnson use his twitter to ask his followers to demand that his fight be televised, he used it to promote Xbox 360’s  Twitter and Facebook page.

Xyience – The energy drink of the UFC was in full force with signage on the mat and on every bottle of water used by the fighters. It also sponsored an Ultimate Access Sweepstakes where two fans could win the VIP treatment at UFC 129 in Toronto which includes meeting Jon Jones. A great form of brand activation.

Tapout – A new fashion statement coming to the ring replacing the regular fight shirt – the track suit top. Not a lot of design and it looked great.

Form Athletics /K-Swiss – Jon Jones signed a multi-year deal with K-Swiss which promised a Jon Jones shoe. Jones wore the K-Swiss tubes at the weigh-ins. Also, Jones will have a signature line of clothing with Form Athletics. It probably includes this hoodie.

MusclePharm – Despite its past troubles, it sponsored three fighters (two in one fight – Ellenberger v. Rocha) including Anderson Silva.

Speaking of Silva, he reportedly made $100K from Brazilian brand Bonanno for wearing it during the fight. In addition, Silva signed with Brazilian sports marketing agency, 9ine. Although relatively new, the agency is owned by WPP, an established, worldwide advertising firm.

Facebook and Twitter

The UFC utilized its Facebook page to live stream another fight. It first used its page at UFC Fight for the Troops 2. This time, Demetrious Johnson faced Kid Yamamoto. Johnson had campaigned, via his twitter, to have his fight televised. And behold, he gets the opportunity to have fans see his fight via Facebook. Johnson also forged a nice sponsorship deal with Xbox 360.

The UFC also introduced a fight game on Facebook: UFC Fight Nation.

Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva made waves on Twitter as both were trending prior to weigh-ins. The fight was especially popular in Brazil. After his big KO, Silva remained trending in twitterverse hours after the fight.

UFC 126 Prelims: 2 million viewers

MMA Junkie reports that Saturday night’s UFC 126 prelims hit 2 million viewers. It earned a 1.2 household rating including a 1.7 for M18-49. It was the highest-rated program in its timeslot among M18-49 and 18-34. It was an all-time high for “UFC Prelims” broadcasts.

HD Net at the UFC Weigh-Ins

HD Net’s Inside the MMA held its weekly show at the UFC weigh-ins. Bas Rutten and Kenny Rice were joined by Mike Goldberg. The show provided insight and did a good job in hyping the fights as the fighters got on the scales. It was surreal to see Joe Rogan host the UFC weigh-ins on one channel and then flip to Inside the MMA and see his PPV broadcast partner on HD Net. I think the HD Net broadcast adds value to the weigh-ins but it cannot go up against the live feed hosted by Joe Rogan. It will be interesting to see what the UFC decides to do.

UFC offers new experience via UFC.tv

The UFC introduced a new technology on UFC.tv which includes control of audio and video, multiple camera angles and interaction with other fans. No news yet on how many people took advantage of it but we will keep you updated.

Storylines Post-UFC 126

“Superfight in the making” – Silva v. GSP: Jake Shields is the only man to stop this from happening.

“Next big thing” – Jones gets title shot on 6 weeks notice: At 23, is he ready to hold down the Light Heavyweight Division?

“Rashad Evans moving?” If Jon Jones wins, Evans stated that he will never fight his teammate and move divisions.

Odds and ends

Look for the UFC to do something more with 3-D. With its new technology initiatives, it’s coming soon.

In its pre-main event fight analysis, the UFC used mini-Belfort and Silva to go over the keys to victory. Pretty interesting.

Aaron Rodgers thanked Dana White via tweet for the Championship belt he had on the podium after the Super Bowl.

If you were wondering where Silva got the mask at the weigh-ins, Sherdog has the info. Before Silva donned the mask, there was Shaq.

8 Responses to “UFC 126: Payout Perspective”

  1. Jose Mendoza on February 8th, 2011 2:31 PM

    Nice job Jason.. looks like Strikeforce is taking over the headlines a bit for this week.

    Looks like some UFC.TV users weren’t so thrilled with its performance:

  2. Paul Gilfoy on February 8th, 2011 6:58 PM

    I have a question –
    When I look at the payout of the fighters after each event, I always wonder what they make in a year. In my head I usually will try and multiply their payout by 2 – 3 (assuming they fight 2 – 3 times a year), and that gives an approximate yearly salary. But, that does not count sponsorship deals and “locker room” bonuses.
    My question is thus: what is the approximate yearly salary of an MMA fighter (a Champion, a top 5 fighter, and a middle division fighter)?

  3. Machiel Van on February 9th, 2011 8:34 AM

    Sorry to be “that guy” in regards to your question, but annual income varies WIDELY from individual fighter to individual fighter. It relates to a fighters’s record and win streak, their drawing power, their relationship with the organization they fight in, their agent, how much effort they put into marketing themselves, etc. There’s just no way to really know. There are fighters scraping to get by on $30,000 or less a year and then there are champions making millions of dollars off of sponsorships and PPV percentages. Since, as you have found, only the fighters’ base salaries and “official” bonuses are disclosed, so it’s really impossible to say. In other words, there’s no clear formula to estimate an MMA fighter’s income, it’s determined on a case by case basis through the choices, inherent personality, and performances of each athlete.

  4. mmaguru on February 10th, 2011 8:02 AM

    PPV numbers are in at 700-750K ESTIMATED. Not bad for a Silva headlined fight. Seems the Chael affect is lingering and Silva is becoming a draw.

  5. Jason Cruz on February 10th, 2011 7:50 PM

    For comtext on the other end of the spectrum, take a look at Jacob Volkmann. In the interview, he talks about pay, expenses, etc. A lot of guys trying to make it have other jobs like coaching wrestling or teaching at the gym they train at.

  6. Lynchman on February 10th, 2011 7:56 PM


    Some top guys take a lower fight purse in exchange for a share of the PPV.

  7. junkie on February 17th, 2011 4:12 AM

    Those payouts are completely and utterly wrong. I’ve personally seen the commission people hand a check to Anderson Silva’s mgmnt for 3 million at an event in philipdelphia. There has to be some loophole where they only have to report a certain payout. Otherwise why would he get 3million in philly and 200 hundred thousand here?

  8. Ortiz makes $500,000 Machida makes $200,000 of course Ortiz did not ask for more $$$$ - Page 5 - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on July 14th, 2011 11:40 PM

    […] Fighter Salaries | Salary Main while Anderson made $200,000 plus 75,000 KO of the night at UFC 126 UFC 126: Payout Perspective : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA. So what was Macihda demanding, because it seems he makes Anderson money, maybe a PPV percentage? […]

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