UFC Fight Night Seattle Weigh-Ins

March 26, 2011

MMA Payout had the chance to go to the UFC Weigh-Ins at the KeyArena in Seattle. A fairly good turnout for a sunny afternoon in Seattle.

Outside KeyArena in Seattle.

Live at the Weigh-Ins.

UFC Visa Card

The Seattle Times had three articles for this week’s Fight Night including Dan Hardy’s visit to Bruce Lee’s grave. The latest installment in the Seattle Times is a feature on Dana White. Of note, White visited Microsoft to discuss a potential UFC video game. Also, the fight bonuses for tomorrow will be $55,000. The most ever for a Fight Night.

Odds and ends:

Just like sports teams, the UFC is now offering fans a chance to apply for and own a UFC Visa Card. As usual, the enticement was a free tee-shirt to apply for a card.

The UFC played the tv promos to the fights for Saturday night prior to the weigh-ins. There were also other Spike commercials including one for TUF: Lesnar v. dos Santos. Notably, they played a Syntha-6 (BSN) commercial.

One of the bigger ovations was for local product Mario Miranda who wore an early 90s Seattle Supersonics Shawn Kemp throwback. Nowadays, Kemp owns a restaurant near KeyArena and is on weekly on a local sports radio station.

Aside from Miranda, the Korean Zombie received one of the bigger responses. The main events received their due too.

I thought Dan Hardy’s homage to Charlie Sheen was gratuitous. If he wanted attention he might as well wear a big zombie head on the scale…oh, never mind.

Enjoy the fights!

UFC 127, 128 PPV Buyrate Updates

March 25, 2011

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer (paid subscription) passes along the latest trending estimate for UFC 128: Shogun vs Jones:

Our earliest PPV estimates, and keep in mind anything this early is just an estimate, have ranged from 415,000 to 470,000, with the average being 445,000. If those numbers hold up, that would be considerably lower than most estimates people had going in. Usually UFC outdistances the estimates people have going in based on strong late hype. This didn’t have it. The Countdown special was very good, but it had less of an audience than usual.

It was based around Jones winning the title and while he absolutely has potential to be the next GSP, it’s happened so fast and nothing he’s headlined has put up big numbers yet.

 

Meltzer also passes along the latest numbers for UFC 127: Fitch vs Penn, which took place in Australia:

Latest numbers for UFC 127 are estimated at about 260,000 buys, or almost identical to UFC 125. Not surprisingly, the places with the most interest were Hawaii (because of B.J. Penn, who headlined against Jon Fitch) and Australia (where the show took place). Strongest PPV markets appear to be Honolulu, Sydney, Calgary, Melbourne, Brisbane, Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle.

 

Payout Perspective:

UFC 127 looks to have performed according to expectations, which were low for the event considering that it took place in Australia and John Fitch versus BJ Penn was the main event. Not much here to note, although one may argue that BJ Penn being a draw may have been affected with his last 2 losses to Frankie Edgar and now coming off a draw, taking the immediate rematch with Fitch, which will be interesting to see what type of numbers that card does. We figure the card will be stacked with other great fights, a luxury they did not have for UFC 127.

For UFC 128, many predicted the show would do over 500K PPV buys, that does not appear to be the case. The initial main event between Shogun and Evans was not a hot ticket at all with little hype, which is why the UFC inserted Jon Jones to the main-event after Evans suffered an injury. Jones had a major marketing push after he defeated Ryan Bader and being a  local product of the New York area helped the UFC push to boost ticket sales, buzz, and PPV buys. With the extra push, the event drew an attendance of 12,619 and a gate of 2.43 million.  To this point, everything that Jones has been featured on hasn’t done particularly well in regards of ratings, gate, or PPV buys. With that said, after a dominating performance over former champ Shogun Rua and the continuing marketing push that Zuffa is providing, you would have to figure that his next PPV event he headlines will do much better than the type of numbers he has done before.

 

LATEST PPV BUYS:

UFC 128: Rua vs Jones – 415,000 – 470,000 (~445K)
UFC 127: Penn vs Fitch – 260,000
UFC 126: Silva vs Belfort – 700,000 – 750,000 (~725K)
UFC 125: Edgar vs Maynard – 270,000
UFC 124: GSP vs Koscheck – 785,000
UFC 123: Rampage vs Machida – 500,000
UFC 121: Lesnar vs Velasquez – 1,050,000

Top Rank consolidating Pacquiao’s management team

March 25, 2011

The Sports Business Journal had an interesting front page piece in this week’s edition about Manny Pacquiao authorizing his promotion, Top Rank, to handle sponsorship and endorsement deals.

There has been so much disorganization in the Pacquiao camp as to the point person on business deals that many corporate sponsors could not arrange deals with the champion.

Via Sports Business Journal (subscription required):

It has been a consistent complaint of those who venture into the world of Team Pacquiao, a loosely aligned, often disorganized collection of associates and friends of the world’s most popular fighter, many of whom claim to represent him but few of whom deliver. An iconic superstar of sport, television, music, film and now politics in the Philippines, Pacquiao remains largely untapped commercially in North America, in part because he is from the other side of the globe but also because he has not made it a priority.

On Feb. 25, his promoter, Top Rank, sent a letter to sponsors and sponsor prospects that began: “We’ve heard frustrations from many companies about their inability to explore personal endorsement and/or corporate branding opportunities with Manny Pacquiao.” Signed by CEO Bob Arum and President Todd DuBoef, it went on to explain that in an effort to eliminate confusion, Pacquiao had authorized Top Rank to handle his sponsorship and endorsement deals. It also introduced a new hire, Lucia McKelvey, a former vice president of golf development and sales at IMG, who will serve as the point person on all commercial opportunities for Pacquiao.

“I think we’ve been losing millions and millions in endorsements for Manny,” Koncz said last week from the Philippines. “It’s just confusing to corporate America. … We know there’s a short span remaining in his boxing career. Now we need to look at how to sustain the lifestyle he has now without boxing. That’s a tall mountain to climb. The only way to do that is through endorsements.”

Payout Perspective:

It is clear from watching HBO’s 24/7’s on Manny Pacquiao is that there is no clear direction with Pacquiao’s business affairs. Certainly, Freddie Roach manages Manny in the ring but he has openly expressed frustration with the outside business interests of Pacquiao. The only downfall in Pacquiao’s dynasty is his management team.  The internal struggles are apparent. The SBJ article is disturbing as much as it is informative. It appears that Pacquiao is a victim of his own kindness. As a brand, Pacquiao should be capitalizing on more North American corporate sponsorships. Despite living in the Philippines, Pacquiao could still work with companies in developing marketing campaigns. If nothing else, the revenue earned from some of Pacquiao’s endorsements could be donated back to the people he represents in the Philippines.

We’ve seen Frankie Edgar and GSP drop their manager to hire closer ties. Not saying that their new management will not look out for their interests, but the dynamic of having close ties manage your business interests is a risky proposition. As the SBJ article outlines, there are too many people in Pacquiao’s camp that say they have power that don’t. How much money have Pacquiao’s “friends” siphoned off him by using his name and making promises that Pacquiao is unaware of.

 

Bellator 37 ratings: 173,000 viewers

March 24, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 37 ratings dropped down to 173,000 viewers on MTV2 last Saturday night. Although the lowest ratings of the three showings on MTV2, it faced stiff competition against NCAA tournament basketball and the UFC 128 PPV.

Via MMA Junkie:

Bellator’s season-four first-run ratings include:

  • Bellator 35 ratings: 200,000 viewers
  • Bellator 36 ratings: 230,000
  • Bellator 37 ratings: 173,000

Payout Perspective:

 A slight dip in the ratings for Bellator which may not rebound until next week due to UFC Fight Night Saturday night. As to last weekend, with the UFC Facebook stream, UFC Prelims and PPV a consumer would have five hours of MMA in them before even checking out Bellator. With seven hours of MMA on one night, the dip in the ratings was likely. It will be interesting to see how it does this Saturday and the weekend of April 9th when it goes up against UFC’s Fight Night and Strikeforce respectively.

Exploring Why SVSE Walked Away from Strikeforce & MMA

March 24, 2011

Last week’s shocking Strikeforce sale is still resonating through the MMA landscape as it left fans and media with many unanswered questions. MMAPayout will explore why Strikeforce was sold, SVSE’s future plans, and why they decided to walk away from MMA.

 

In an interview with HDNet’s Bas Rutten, Scott Coker revealed that Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (main financial partner behind Strikeforce) wanted to bring another sports franchise to San Jose, ultimately deciding that in order to do so, they wanted out of the MMA business to focus on that as well as continue to build their San Jose Sharks NHL franchise.

Frank Shamrock told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani the following regarding the relationship between SVSE and Strikeforce:

“I can’t say I saw it coming but I know the demands of Strikeforce were high and I knew the financial partners were strained and weren’t interested in the big risks,” Shamrock said. “I knew change was coming, I didn’t know we were going to change that much.”

According to Shamrock, Coker spent a lot of money to compete in the marketplace. For SVSE, Strikeforce became too much of a risk.

“They got tired of writing big checks and not seeing the big return,” he said. “For them [the older established sports model is] the kind of business they wanted to be in. They didn’t want to be in the visionary, high-risk startup kind of MMA business.”

 

In regards to the sports franchise that SVSE is looking at to bring into San Jose, it has been speculated since the end of 2009 that they have diligently pursued an NBA team to occupy the NBA-ready HP Pavilion.  Former SVSE/San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison, who stepped down from his position in October of last year, was said to be looking at the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise and was in talks with their owners, the Maloof brothers, for a good portion of 2010.

Greg Jamison, chief executive of Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment, which manages the Pavilion and owns the San Jose Sharks hockey team, said his company has talked to “a number of teams” over the last year about relocating to San Jose.

A source familiar with the situation said Jamison in recent months has met with the owners of the Sacramento Kings, who are looking for an alternative to aging Arco Arena.

Though it’s far from certain that the Kings will ever play a game in San Jose, things have apparently moved far enough ahead that the San Jose City Council as early as month’s end will vote on a “memorandum of understanding” that would guide negotiations with any National Basketball Association team.

 

Back in September of last year, MMAPayout reported on rumors of a Strikeforce sale tied to Greg Jamison’s decision to step down as CEO of SVSE. Nearly three months later, Strikeforce was searching for financial partners to keep the MMA promotion going.  It was a clear sign at the time that SVSE was changing their strategy and vision for the future, and they couldn’t sustain high-risk ventures that were not profitable (though both had potential to become profitable investments in the near future) in the San Jose Sharks and Strikeforce.

Jamison, who has worked in the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers in the past, has vast experience dealing with the NBA and was the front man in the negotiations with NBA franchises.  Although he has stepped down from his position as CEO from SVSE, it is said that Jamison still serves as a San Jose Sharks representative for the NHL and is still a minority owner of the team.  Under his ownership, the San Jose Sharks have been widely regarded as one of the best managed teams in the NHL according to Forbes magazine back in 2009. In the NHL, the team earned a league-wide reputation for quality and thoroughness from the bottom up. Without the television dollars and revenue sharing other leagues enjoy, the Sharks and SVSE helped turn HP Pavilion into a top 5 event destination and made some key investments in local ice hockey rinks, the Strikeforce MMA promotion, tennis tournaments, and driving successful merchandising and publishing arms.

Although the news is all positive regarding management, Forbes also noted that they weren’t profiting (something very common in the NHL), and were hoping to be doing so by 2012.  They also point out that the San Jose Sharks brings them $84 million out of the $155 million total revenue accounted for back in 2009 (compared to the $30 million revenue that Strikeforce brings).

Of SVSE’s revenue of $155 million, NHL hockey brings in $84 million. The rest comes from things like a chain of ice rinks, three professional tennis tournaments, a mixed martial arts circuit and an apparel company. Last year the team’s hockey operations lost $5 million, but the profits from the other businesses cut that loss to an estimated $2 million. Gregory Jamison, a Sharks co-owner who’s in charge of day-to-day operations, sees the combined businesses turning a profit in two to three years.

In May 2008 SVSE acquired a 50% position in cage-fighting outfit Strikeforce. Since then revenue for the fighting operation has shot up tenfold to an estimated $30 million. Thanks to the credibility and broadcast experience of the Sharks’ owners, Strikeforce’s fights will now move from a 2 a.m. time slot on NBC to prime time on CBS and Showtime. The TV deal, signed in February, would not have happened without the Sharks on board, says Strikeforce founder Scott Coker.

 

Going after another major league franchise and bringing it to San Jose would easily bring in over $100 million in revenue to SVSE and to the city of San Jose in addition to the $84 million the Sharks bring in, although luring an NBA team has not been an easy task, failing to do so over the past couple of years.  Dropping unproven high-risk investments  in order to focus on acquiring an NBA team and growing the San Jose Sharks makes the most business sense for SVSE and for the city of San Jose, as Strikeforce attendance numbers were dropping since they started to host events back in 2006, when they drew an amazing 18,265 fans for their debut event in the HP Pavilion.

Along with the Sacramento Kings (who are now rumored to be moving to Anaheim instead of San Jose), there have also been talks with the New Orleans Hornets, with the help of one of the richest men in the world – Larry Ellison, who is the co-founder and CEO of the Oracle Corporation (net worth is around $40 billion dollars). According to the Mercury News:

The NBA/San Jose advantages: Ellison’s billions, the handful of teams in financial distress, and the existence of HP Pavilion, which is NBA-ready.

In January, Ellison, one of the richest men in the world, confirmed that he bid on the New Orleans Hornets, but the league chose to take the team over at that time and said it was seeking local ownership.

But it’s probably safe to assume the NBA will wait until after this summer’s labor negotiations, then put the Hornets back up for sale…

Of course, any Ellison/San Jose effort would involve Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment, the company that runs the Sharks and the arena and has sought an NBA co-tenant for years.

 

Although luring an NBA franchise is a huge task to take on, there are plenty of other barriers that would have to be settled before an NBA team could move to San Jose.  One being that the Golden State Warriors, who reside in Oakland (40 miles away from San Jose), have a 75-mile NBA “marketing rights” zone, but could potentially be waived if the NBA Board of Governors chooses to do so. Other concerns include TV deals and splitting the fanbase in the area with two NBA franchises.  Although there are obstacles, there is no doubt that SVSE made up their mind on what their next move was going to be.  MMA and Strikeforce were not in the plans any longer and choosing a more proven and lucrative venture is most likely the right call, but it also raises red flags to any potential MMA investor with deep pockets hoping to jump into a market which is now heavily dominated by the UFC. High-risk, high-reward will continue to be the saying in MMA for years to come.

Dana White web chat with Seattletimes.com

March 24, 2011

Dana White participated in a web chat Wednesday on the Seattle Times web site. The chat was a part of promoting this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Seattle.

White discussed many topics including some interesting business issues:

– White expected the Seattle show to be about 8,000 in attendance but now about 14,000 tickets have been sold. “This thing ended up being a mini-Toronto.”

– White was asked if there would be trouble with “monopoly laws” since the UFC owns all of the “major MMA organizations?” White stated, “There’s no barrier to entry to get into this. All you need is a bunch of cash and a big set of balls. There’s no barrier to entry to get into this thing. It’s not like we make computer chips or something.”

– Someone asked whether the online viewing experience was going to get better. According to the person asking the question, “The PPV streaming is not very good right now, and certainly not worth the television cost, even with the “features”.  White bristled at this question, or the way it was asked:

“I think it depends on your computer. If you’re still watching with dial-up. I can see why you would have a bad experience. We test this stuff. It’s not like we just throw this stuff and say, ‘Oh, I hope this works for everybody.’ And if you don’t have a good computer, but it on TV. Or go to a bar.

– When asked whether the fighters should have a union White responded, “It’s up to the fighters if they want to have a union.”

– Someone asked whether the UFC would go public to which White said no.

– White liked the success of Jon Jones’ “In the Moment” special on Spike TV and the UFC plans to have another one but no one is scheduled to be on next.

–  The UFC will continue with the 3D experience as it first experimented with it at UFC on Versus 3.

– White talks to WWE head Vince McMahon “a couple times a year about the UFC and wrestling.”

Odds and ends

– White can benchpress 315 pounds. If he can do that, I wonder how much Lorenzo Fertitta can bench. He looks much more in shape that White.

-Cain Velasquez won’t be ready until November. If so, it will be over a year since the UFC HW belt will be defended.

– Shane Carwin’s opponent at UFC 131 was revealed.

– White believed that Tito Ortiz could have competed this Saturday despite Ortiz’ injury.

Payout Perspective:

When asked about the “monopoly laws”, White used the term “barrier to entry” which is relevant to Antitrust laws as to whether the purchase of Strikeforce constituted a monopoly in the sport of mixed martial arts.

I thought the Vince McMahon question was interesting since MMA and pro wrestling are compared for better or worse. There are many parallels between White and McMahon and their businesses and it would be interesting to hear what they talk about.

 

Heavy.com introduces Fight Day Live

March 23, 2011

Heavy.com has produced a pre-event UFC show that will air prior to all UFC PPVs. In collaboration with the UFC, Fight Day Live aspires to be the ESPN College Gameday prior to UFC PPVs.

The next pre-show will occur an hour before the first Facebook prelim fight at UFC 129.

Via Crunchgear.com:

Heavy.com’s Fight Day Live first aired before UFC’s January pay-per-view event, UFC 126, held in Las Vegas…[i]t aims to give fans a show behind the show of sorts, to give fans access to UFC fighters who they might otherwise only see talking to Joe Rogan in the octagon, or perhaps during one of UFC’s slick countdown specials on Spike TV, and to have some of the best mixed-martial arts journalists around weigh in on the night’s upcoming events.

[i]t’s heavy.com’s plan to be there, and to give you something to do before the first preliminary fights begin on Facebook.

The first episode, from January, was seen by some 250,000 viewers when you combine live and non-live viewers

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting concept. Although Versus has done similar shows prior to UFC events on Versus, the PPV pre-show should garner more viewers due to the fact that PPV events have better fights. It will be interesting as to the amount of viewers of the show from PPV to PPV.

UFC to gain during NFL lockout?

March 23, 2011

A recent op-ed on CBSNews.com believes that the UFC will be able to gain mainstream acceptance as the NFL muddles in labor uncertainty. It also takes aim at lawmakers that don’t see the sport as a source of revenue for a stumbling economy.

Via CBSNews.com:

The UFC may appear like an upstart against the NFL powerhouse in terms of fan base, revenue and reputation, but securing absolute ownership of the elite athletes of the sport signals that Dana White and company are an entertainment force to be reckoned with. Bringing together the sport under one brand allows greater fan loyalty, more marketing opportunities and exponential revenue growth. It’s a game-changer within an industry historically dominated by the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

But now the UFC has been elevated to the elite club of sports entertainment organizations. And like most grassroots movements, the mainstream media and politicians are the last to realize it.

…The UFC has risen from its humble beginnings in 1993 to surpass the one billion dollar mark; and it’s now broadcasting in more than 130 countries. Fighters Randy Couture and Quinton Jackson are crossover successes and starred in two Hollywood blockbusters last year – The Expendables and The A-Team, respectively. When Charlie Sheen’s fight with Chuck Lorre and CBS erupted, he name dropped the octagon – the UFC’s standard fight structure – as the place to bring his tiger blood and fire-breathing fists. And the UFC is one of the premiere case studies of how social media can deliver when done right. White’s embrace of Twitter showcases his strong personality and fan-appeal and he has personally won over legions of paying followers with his unparalleled direct dialogue. With a rabid and growing fan base, the UFC’s ceiling is nowhere in sight.

As the NFL’s labor situation spirals out of control and with the NBA only a few months from a similar fate, UFC’s owner Zuffa LLC and White are surely brushing up on their history. The redneck, uncouth reputation that’s unfairly been attached to the UFC like a scarlet letter is starting to fade. Don’t let the tattoos, dark music and gallons of blood spilled on the mat fool you, this is a multi-billion dollar industry.

The article goes on to ask why lawmakers have neglected the sport as a revenue stream:

The political elites in Washington, financial whizs on Wall Street and studio heads in Hollywood ignore the sport at their own peril. An economic impact report last year determined the sport could generate $25 million a year in benefits to New York alone if the state allows fights to be held and regulated. That’s based on holding only two events. In the midst of the financial crisis, legislators in Albany and Washington, DC have foolishly failed to ignore the sport. And taxpayers should be outraged.

You don’t have to be a football or mixed martial arts fan to appreciate the spectacle of an American sports entertainment industry rising to world-wide prominence. It’s a uniquely American story that should be celebrated by even government tax collectors.

Payout Perspective:

This is a good piece from a mainstream outlet that understands that MMA is a profitable sport and should be given its due. Its rare to see articles that are willing to accept MMA and realize the economic impact it can have.  It does a good job of calling out Albany in pressuring lawmakers to legalize MMA in NY.

Pettis signs sponsorship deal with Toyo Tires

March 22, 2011

Toyo Tires, U.S.A. announced the signing of Anthony “Showtime” Pettis as a sponsor. Pettis will face Clay Guida in June in his UFC debut.

Via Toyo Tires press release:

Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. announces the sponsorship of UFC® Lightweight fighter, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis as a Team Toyo® Athlete for 2011.

“We are excited to have Anthony Pettis as one of our Team Toyo Athletes for 2011,” said Stan Chen, manager of events and motorsports, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. “Pettis is a great personality in the sport of mixed martial arts and is a top contender for the UFC lightweight championship.”

Payout Perspective:

A nice mainstream sponsor for Pettis. Pettis will wear the Toyo Tires logo on his shorts as well as participate in appearances and other marketing activities. Pettis has a great story and has a look and fighting style that is marketable. Hopefully, someone can take advantage of the Showtime Kick and integrate it into its marketing campaign.

UFC 128: Payout Perspective

March 22, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we look at UFC 128 held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The show was topped by Jon Jones stopping Mauricio Rua to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title.

Jones fights crime, beats Rua

To top off being a favorite , fighting close to his hometown and having his own Spike TV special prior to challenging for the Light Heavyweight crown, Jon Jones helped stop a burglar just hours before the fight.  Although he looked nervous and Rua looked calm, Jones destroyed Rua  to win the belt. Rua looked slow and out of shape, but perhaps that was a testament to the speed and skill of Jones.

For Jones, a matchup with Rashad Evans is next although it may happen late 2011 as it is reported that Jones may have broken a bone in his hand. Thus, Evans will not have fought in the UFC since May 2010.

Faber kisses Rosie, survives to win in UFC debut

Urijah Faber defeated Eddie Wineland and will face Dominick Cruz next. Wineland did well for himself as he stuffed several takedown attempts at the outset, but Faber eventually solved Wineland. After the fight, Faber gave a rather mechanic call out to Cruz.  Perhaps the venom will step up if they become opposing TUF coaches. Whenever the fight happens, it should be a great fight.

I think that the UFC should have Faber-Cruz coach TUF as this can help gain more exposure to the lighter divisions. Plus, it should elevate Faber’s presence to the mainstream. I think Faber (and Jose Aldo) are the two fighters that can give the lighter weight divisions a boost in giving them respect and more visibility on UFC cards.

Not able boos for “The California Kid” coming out to 2Pac/Dre. I guess the East Coast-West Coast rap battle is still alive. And yes, that was Rosie O’Donnell that he kissed walking to the ring. I liked Rosie better when she was a VH1 DJ.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports the bonuses for 128.

Brendan Schaub and Erik Koch earned $75K apiece for their KOs and Edson Barboza and Anthony Njokuani earned $75K each for their Fight of the Night on Spike TV. There were no fights ending in submissions so that can explain the double KO bonus.

Attendance and Gate

MMA Junkie reports that 12,619 fans attended UFC 128 for a gate of $2.14 million. The numbers were not as good as GSP-Hardy and did not draw as many fans as Bisping-Evans. In fact, UFC 128 had a slightly better gate than UFC 78. It is likely that Jones will draw much better in the future.

Via MMA Junkie:

  1. UFC 111 (St-Pierre vs. Hardy): $4,000,000 gate (17,000 attendance)*
  2. UFC 128 (Jones vs. Rua): $2,140,000 (12,619)*
  3. UFC 78 (Bisping vs. Evans): $2,100,000 (14,071)*
  4. UFC 53 (Arlovski vs. Eilers): $1,100,000 (12,000)*

Ratings

UPDATED 3/22/11 – MMAPayout confirmed today with SpikeTV the ratings for the UFC Prelims. UFC 128 Prelims earned a .85 household rating, a .92 in Men 18-49, a 1.03 in Men 18-34, and an average audience of 1.3 million viewers. According to MMA Junkie, the ratings show a strong increase from the UFC 127 Prelims on ION.

The lead-up shows for UFC 128 included the usual Countdown show and a special for Jon Jones, “In the Moment.” The Jones pre-event show did better than the Countdown show. It did very well considering it went up against NCAA Tournament games. It will be interesting to see how he GSP-Shields Primetime series will do in comparison.

Sponsorship Watch

MMAPayout Emiritus Kelsey Philpott was on hand and tweeted about the scene outside the arena pre-UFC 128 where the UFC held a Tailgate Party. This was a great way for sponsors to get out in front of its audience. Tapout and Xyience were among the sponsors outside interacting with fans.  The newest product out there for the MMA fan:  Tapout energy bands.

Sponsors in the Octagon included Harley Davidson, BSN, BoostMobile, Xyience, Affliction, Tapout , Toyo Tires and Bud Light had the center of the Octagon.

The UFCStore.com was actively involved in the PPV as it sponsored the tale of the tape and also ran an ad during the first round of the Jones/Rua fight which I thought was a little annoying.

Jon Jones had Iron Bridge Tools as a fight sponsor on the back of his shorts. According to my count, this is the second time that a challenger has won the UFC title with a tool sponsor on the back of his shorts as Cain Velasquez wore a Milwaukee Tools logo when he beat Brock Lesnar. I don’t think Gray Maynard or Vito Belfort had a tool sponsor on the back of their shorts. Are you listening Jake Shields?

Big night for sponsor Form Athletics as Jon Jones and Urijah Faber won their fights.

Public Relations for 128

The UFC was all over the NY/NJ area promoting UFC 128. Details on some of its appearances are here. Aside from promoting 128, the UFC made an effort to promote the legalization of the sport in New York. Notably, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta appeared on a NY public affairs program to discuss the fight for legalization.

Aside from local media, notable print media stories included Jon Jones in WSJ which asked whether Jones would be the breakthrough star the UFC (and MMA) needs.

Jones appeared on a local morning show in NY where he was asked to display what he does in the Octagon.

UFC Fighter Jon ‘Bones’ Jones: MyFoxNY.com

I think Middle Easy explains my sentiments.

Via Middle Easy:

Hopefully in 2012, we can collectively agree that any form of media asking a fighter to place them in a rear-naked choke needs to come to an end. Actually, that’s not entirely fair. Let’s make a rule that if you ask a fighter to place you in a rear-naked choke, you can’t tap out. The blood running through your neck will have to come to a complete halt and your unconscious body will need to collapse to the floor in order to realize how much of an idiot you were for asking someone to choke you out.

Trending during 128

Twitter was abuzz Saturday night as #ufc128 #Crocop #Schaub #Miller and #Faber were all trending. I’m sure Jones was trending as well although I did not check after the fights.

Odds and Ends

  • MMA is great because it’s the only sport where one of its champs seconds a fighter as Frankie Edgar did at the weigh-ins for Ricardo Almeida
  • The Miller Brothers fought back to back and went 1 and 1.
  • Jon Jones gave a shout out to his after-party during his post-fight interview, a taboo in the UFC. But, Jones quickly amended his announcement to say it was for charity. Perhaps the champ was taking liberties with his newfound position.
  • While there are many MMA fans that loathe the comparisons to pro wrestling, “USA, USA” chants broke out during the main event. The last time I heard that I think The Iron Shiek was wrestling Sargent Slaughter.
  • If Herb Dean did not stop the Jones-Rua fight, Rua was tapping.
  • Faber received his Brown Belt in BJJ after the Wineland match. Not as dramatic as when Randy Couture received his Black Belt for choking out James Toney or when Frank Mir received his after breaking Tim Sylvia’s arm.

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