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.


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)*


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.

12 Responses to “UFC 128: Payout Perspective”

  1. GSP Fan on March 22nd, 2011 11:36 AM

    You know the robbery stoppage by Jackson, Jones, and the other dude is a HUGE PR win for Jones. Not only did he catch a robber, but, won the UFC Light Heavyweight Title in the same night.

  2. BrainSmasher on March 22nd, 2011 3:34 PM

    I and everyone i watched the event with agreed this was the best UFC event in a very long time. Great finishes on the smaller fights. Great fights from the big names and a great main event. You had the Jones spinning elbow, his finish, Cro Cop KO, The Capoeira spinning head kick, Assunção KO win. Some great endings all around.

  3. BrainSmasher on March 22nd, 2011 8:15 PM

    Wow just watch the Jones news piece above. That was the worst news program ever. Never seen anyone more unprofessional. The interviewer stumbled over his words from the start. People butting in and interupting and acting childish. Never seen a news program that chaotic. Jones come off very well. I would advise him not to mention how many states legalize MMA. Saying 25 legalize it makes it sound like half the country bans it and that isnt the case. Some just dont have rules for or against it or a commission. So it is allowed. Its is better to just say the states than ban it. They would really show New Yorkers how behind the times they are on the subject. Some people will think its strange that NY is one of only a few states to ban it and maybe they will wonder why and seek the facts.

  4. Jason Cruz on March 22nd, 2011 9:08 PM

    BSmash: I agree re the “news” piece. I think there’s a line between having fun with a guest and making fun of a guest. It was close. I thought Jones did well with the interview and that’s why I have great hopes for him on the Leno show.

  5. Diego on March 23rd, 2011 4:56 AM

    Brain and Jason,

    The show is the morning show on the Fox affiliate in New York metro and that performance is pretty much par for the course. It’s just another episode of “Buffoons Gone Wild”. Jones did about as well as he could under the circumstances.

  6. Jason Cruz on March 23rd, 2011 6:54 AM

    Unfortunately, I think every city has a terrible morning show like that. I’m sure broadcast journalism is turning over in its grave.

  7. Machiel Van on March 23rd, 2011 7:09 AM

    C’mon guys, it’s really just a talk show, not a legitimate news show 🙂

    When did it become taboo to tell fans where your after-party is? I remember Chuck Liddell used to do that after every fight.

  8. Machiel Van on March 23rd, 2011 7:11 AM

    Was anyone else at least a little disappointed by how bad they gassed in the main event? I gave Jones a pass on that one, since it was his second fight in six weeks, and for the title no less (as well as the robber chase). But Shogun? I guess the beating he took just really sucked the wind out of him, but it did seem a little odd.

  9. Steve on March 24th, 2011 5:32 AM

    Shogun didn’t gas so much as he was on queer street for the entire fight. Jones hurt him with that flying knee about five seconds into the fight and never let him recover.

  10. Jason Cruz on March 24th, 2011 9:35 AM


    The UFC put a stop to post-fight announcements of after parties because club promoters would pay the fighter without having to pay the UFC sponsorship fee. I think if you watch closely, its rare you hear anyone talk about an afterparty whereas it was commonplace a couple years ago.

  11. Machiel Van on March 24th, 2011 11:07 AM

    Thanks Jason, that makes total sense given Zuffa’s tight policies on sponsorships.

    Steve, you’re probably right. He was being battered pretty incessantly. He showed a ton of heart I’ll give him that.

  12. mmaguru on March 25th, 2011 10:08 AM

    Early buy rate projections are out and are in the high 400K range.

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