Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley Payout Perspective

April 20, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at the Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley event televised on Showtime and headlined by Strikeforce Welterweight champ Nick Diaz, as he defended his title against UK’s Paul “Semtex” Daley, and Lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez, as he defended his title in a rematch against Japan’s Tatsuya Kawajiri.

The event took place at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego (formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena), and featured the WW title fight between Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley, LW title fight between Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri, Gegard Mousasi vs. Keith Jardine, and Shinya Aoki (DREAM LW Champ) vs. Lyle Beerbohm on the televised portion of the event. The prelims portion was headlined by Robert Peralta vs Hirouki Takaya (DREAM FW Champ) – which was later streamed on, Brett Albee vs Virgil Zwicker, and prospects Joe Duarte vs Saad Awad.


Fighter Disclosed Payouts

Note: that the money reported below is only the money required to be reported by the commission, which does not take into account undisclosed bonuses or “locker room” bonuses, as they are referred to in MMA.

Courtesy of MMAJunkie:

The total disclosed payroll for the event was $769,740.

Champ Nick Diaz: $175,000 (no win bonus)
def. Paul Daley: $65,000

Champ Gilbert Melendez: $150,000 (no win bonus)
def. Tatsuya Kawajiri: $97,612.50

Gegard Mousasi: $150,000
drew Keith Jardine: $25,000

Shinya Aoki: $73,637.50 (no win bonus)
def. Lyle Beerbohm: $10,000

Robert Peralta: $4,000 (includes $2,000 win bonus)
def. Hiroyuki Takaya: $2,740

Virgil Zwicker: $3,000 ($1,000 win bonus)
def. Brett Albee: $1,000

Joe Duarte: $2,000 ($1,000 win bonus)
def. Saad Awad: $1,500

Herman Terrado: $1,500 ($500 win bonus)
def. A.J. Matthews: $1,000

Rolando Perez: $3,000 ($1,000 win bonus)
def. Tom Peterson: $1,000

Casey Ryan: $2,000 ($1,000 win bonus)
def. Paul Song: $750

Attendance and Gate

We are not able to officially report attendance and gate numbers since the CSAC has not officially released them at press time.  Although we have no official numbers, MMAPayout was on the scene and we estimated about 6,5000~7,500 fans in attendance, with an estimated paid attendance of about ~4,000-5,000 as of a few weeks before the event took place.  The event that this would be somewhat similar to this event is the Strikeforce Los Angeles event last year, which drew around 5,200 and had a gate of about $418,000, so we can safely assume that this event did numbers in the same ballpark.

It was not a great selling event, but it was expected in the San Diego market, which did similar numbers when the UFC came to the same venue recently when it hosted UFC on Versus 2 featuring Jon Jones vs Vladimir Matyushenko, which drew 8,132 for a $490k gate.

– 11,757 spectators, “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum” (June, 2010)
– 11,287 spectators, “Strikeforce: Fedor vs Silva” (February, 2011)
– 9,059 spectators, “Strikeforce: Diaz vs Cyborg” (January, 2011)
– 8,635 spectators, “Strikeforce: Houston” (August, 2010)
– 8,196 spectators, “Strikeforce: Nashville (April, 2010)
– 8,136 spectators, “Strikeforce St. Louis: Heavy Artillery” (May, 2010)
– 7,559 spectators, “Strikeforce: Diaz vs Noons II (October, 2010)
– 7,146 spectators, “Strikeforce: Henderson vs Babalu II (December, 2010)
– 7,123 spectators, “Strikeforce: Feijao vs Henderson” (March, 2011)
– 7,010 spectators, “Strikeforce: Miami” (January, 2010)
– ~6,500 spectators, “Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley (April, 2011) *Estimated, no official release*
– 5,259 spectators, “Strikeforce: Los Angeles” (June, 2010)



MMAJunkie reports that Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley averaged 528,000 viewers (1.29 rating) and peaked at 806,000 (2.0 rating). The average number was good enough to make it the fourth most watched (average audience) Strikeforce event on Showtime, only trailing Silva vs Fedor (741K), Carano vs Cyborg (576k), and Diaz vs Cyborg (561k) – which was just set back in January of 2011 .

Interesting to point out that Nick Diaz now has 3 of the top 5 most watched MMA events for Strikeforce on Showtime. It also marks another extremely successful event – on the television side – for the promotion, which has been riding high on momentum in 2011. It is also key to note that the 4 big Strikeforce events in 2011 have placed in 1st, 3d, 4th, and 7th in terms of most average viewership for an MMA event on Showtime ever.

– 741,000 viewers (1.1 million peak), “Strikeforce: Fedor vs Silva” (February, 2011)
– 576,000 viewers (856,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Carano vs Cyborg” (August, 2009)
– 561,000 viewers (853,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Diaz vs Cyborg” (January, 2011)
– 528,000 viewers (806,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley” (April, 2011)
– 517,000 viewers (peak not available), “Strikeforce: Miami” (January, 2010)
– 412,000 viewers (700,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum” (June, 2010)
– 412,000 viewers (520,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Feijao vs Henderson” (March, 2011)
– 367,000 viewers (470,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Houston” (August, 2010)
– 350,000 viewers (509,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Diaz vs Noons II (October, 2010)
– 341,000 viewers (465,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Henderson vs Babalu II (December, 2010)
– 308,000 viewers (448,000 peak), “Strikeforce St. Louis: Heavy Artillery” (May, 2010)
– 164,000 viewers (197,000 peak), “Strikeforce: Los Angeles” (June, 2010) [Special Wednesday Show]



Strikeforce Hosts First Major Show Under Zuffa Ownership

– The April 9th event in San Diego created buzz before the first fight even started. Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta showed up to the event and sat at cage-side to watch the event.  White posted a picture of himself on Twitter wearing a Strikeforce shirt, which was a hot topic for days to come after the event, along with the now famous “business as usual” saying with Strikeforce operations.

– On the April 9th show, most of what Showtime and Strikeforce was already doing in terms of production and presentation stayed the same.  The only visible changes to the average fan was commercials in the arena for the upcoming “The Ultimate Fighter” season and the upcoming UFC 129 event headlined by Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields, who was there to corner his Cesar Gracie teammates Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. Although, when Shields was given the mic and Melendez tried to push him on to the crowd, the fans booed Shields unmercifully.  It appears that neither UFC or Strikeforce fans are very fond of him or his fighting style.  On the other hand, Melendez and Diaz were the crowd favorites during the event.

– When Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, MMAPayout heard that there would be changes behind the scene at Strikeforce events moving on forward, and they began at their Challengers event on April 1st in Stockton.  In the San Diego event on 4/9, it was very apparent that the old WEC crew was watching their every move, offering to assist in any way possible, and learning the ins and outs of their operations.  Former WEC GM Reed Harris, VP of Operations Peter Dropick, Dave Sholler from P.R., and match-maker Sean Shelby were all there for the event and working backstage.

– The credentialing for the event was big news, as ESPN’s Josh Gross, Loretta Hunt representing CBS Sports, and among others were not credentialed for the event, though they were mainstays at Strikeforce events before Zuffa purchased the promotion.  Many columnists and reporters criticized Zuffas move, including Jeff Wagenheim of Sports Illustrated, who called the move bush-league, and LA Times Lance Pugmire. MMAPayout’s Jason Cruz covered the topic on the day of the event, titled “MMA journalists shut out of Strikeforce event”.

– Dave Meltzer over on Yahoo describes how it wasn’t “business as usual” for the event:

But if it didn’t feel like a UFC event on television, behind the scenes, things were much different.

It is no secret that Dropick is being groomed to help run the Strikeforce business going forward. It was expected that Shelby, who is currently the assistant matchmaker for UFC and in charge of the lighter weight divisions he ran at WEC, would oversee the Strikeforce matchmaking in some capacity.

Security was handled by the UFC. Media credentials were handled by the UFC, including a story that came out days earlier where several reporters, most notably Josh Gross of, Loretta Hunt, who was going to freelance the event for, and anyone associated with, one of the largest MMA web sites, were denied credentials. All had been banned by White from UFC events but were fixtures at Strikeforce shows.

– Meltzer even went ahead to point out that the changes actually started at the Challengers show in Stockton, California, when “several of the Strikeforce employees were brought into a room and told they were being let go. They were told they would have the opportunity, if they wanted, to apply for positions in UFC parent company Zuffa LLC”, though that comment was later removed from the story.  According to MMAPayout sources, no one had been let go at the time, but there were plans for changes after the April 9 event.  If staff changes are made, Zuffa will likely make them by early May and hope to run with that new group under Scott Coker from here on out.

– The gift shops at the arena were very interesting to observe.  First of all, Rockstar and Clinch Gear had their own booths for this event.  Strikeforce and UFC apparel were sold together, including UFC gloves next to Strikeforce tees, hats, and posters. It was probably the most merchandising and apparel I have ever seen in one of the Strikeforce events.  Overall, there must have been around 3-4 booths in the arena including Clinch Gears.


Big Focus On Japan During Strikeforce Event

– The Strikeforce event and fans had great reactions towards the Japanese fighters on the card. DREAM fighters Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and to a lesser extent, Hiroyuki Takaya were all treated as stars and crowd favorites.  Many fans had Japanese banners, flags, and shirts on supporting the fighters and the country as it was still trying to recover from the terrible earthquake and tsunami that has plagued their land for weeks.  It was a great site to see the MMA community come together and show great support from a country that has been pivotal in the development of the sport for many years before it took off in the US. (HT: TwitPic)


Post-Event Notes

– Scott Coker mentioned that he is planning on holding approximately 17 live Strikeforce events on Showtime between June of this year and March of 2012.  That’s around the time they hope the HW GP will be done and they could host one or two more major shows.  After that, Strikeforce’s timeline seems a bit shaky.

– With the Zuffa takeover, Scott Coker is pushing for some changes as well.  He has already talked about giving “Fight Night” bonuses, but not decision has been made yet by Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White. He also talks to MMAJunkie about how their employees are learning the UFC’s system in this transition stage.

– A rumored Strikeforce July PPV event has been talked about since the event, supposedly headlined by Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson.  King Mo vs Roger Gracie, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, Tarec Saffiedine, Tyron Woodley, Paul Daley, and Jacare have all been rumored for the event.

– The next major shows was announced during the event, which will be the second leg of the HW GP, which will be headlined by Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett vs Brett Rogers, Daniel Cormier vs Shane Del Rosario, Valentijn Overeem vs Chad Griggs, and Gina Carano vs TBA from Dallas, Texas.


Twitter and Google Trends

Great news for Strikeforce here, as the key words “Nick Diaz“, “Gilbert Melendez“, “Mousasi, and “Keith Jardine were all top twitter trends during the evening of the Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley event.  No members of the events were in the top Google trends for the day.


Sponsor, Promotion and Marketing Watch

– All the usual sponsors where there for this event: FullTilt Poker (who may now not be a sponsor anymore due to the FBI indictment and was just ramping up their promotional efforts with the UFC and Strikeforce), Rockstar, GoDaddy, Clinch Gear, EA Sports MMA.  The new big additions to the event were UFC advertising UFC 129, Showtime advertising their “Fight Camp 360” series for the Pacquiao vs Mosley fight on May 7th,, and MusclePharm, who announced their participation in the event through a press release the day before.

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