Bellator 47: 277,000 viewers

July 26, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 47 received its second highest rating ever on MTV2. Saturday night’s event garnered an average of 277,000 viewers,

An immediate replay of Bellator 47 drew 261,000 viewers making it more watched than 10 original Bellator episodes on MTV2 this past spring.

Payout Perspective:

The numbers are promising considering the “Summer Series” did not have much fanfare and a day after Legacy Fighting and Strikeforce Challengers ran events. A lot of non-UFC MMA for a July weekend. Although it went up against the Khan-Judah fight on HBO, the viewership reflects the start of a stronger Bellator following on MTV2.

UFC to air Cruz versus Johnson on Versus

July 25, 2011

Late last week NBC Sports reported that the UFC will hold its first title fight since 2007 on cable television October 1st when Dominick Cruz defends his title against Demetrious Johnson. The title fight is a good way to showcase the smaller fighters and attract more viewers to Versus.

Coming off his first title defense with a victory over Urijah Faber, Cruz will have the chance to showcase his skills before a bigger audience than the regular PPV crowd. Although he’s fought in the WEC on Versus, this is different. Johnson has had some successful fights in the UFC and its nice to see him get a shot.

Payout Perspective:

It would be the hope of the UFC that the Cruz-Johnson fight is an action packed five round affair that will promote the lighter weight classes. While Cruz-Faber was an exciting match, the PPV numbers were less than impressive with preliminary buy numbers between 350K-375K buys (via Metzler).  Hopefully for fighters 155 and under, the additional exposure on cable television will get fans to buy the PPVs. The October UFC cards set up nicely to showcase the lighter weight classes as Cruz-Johnson will lead into the big card in Houston later in October with Aldo-Florian and Edgar-Maynard III.

The title fight should bolster Versus ratings of the UFC as the UFC on Versus 4 lost out to reruns of the UFC on Spike TV. Certainly, if Versus ends up as a landing place for the UFC next year, it would want to make sure it hits the ground running on the channel.

Strikeforce Challengers 17: ratings and payouts

July 25, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that last Friday night’s Strikeforce Challengers 17 garnered an average of 232,000 viewers. The average reflects the fourth highest in “Challengers” history and an increase from 210,000 viewers for Challengers 16.

In addition, the payout list was revealed via MMA Junkie:

Bobby Voelker: $11,000 (includes $5,500 win bonus)
def. Roger Bowling: $4,500

Devin Cole: $10,000 ($5,000 win bonus)
def. Shawn Jordan: $4,000

Ovince St. Preux: $12,000 ($6,000 win bonus)
def. Joe Cason: $3,000

Sarah Kaufman: $10,000 (no win bonus)
def. Liz Carmouche: $2,500

Adlan Amagov: $8,000 ($4,000 win bonus)
def. Ron Stallings: $3,000

T.J. Cook: $5,000 ($2,500 win bonus)
def. Lionel Lanham: $2,000

Anthony Smith: $5,000 ($2,500 win bonus)
def. Ben Lagman: $2,000

Bill Cooper: $4,000 ($2,000 win bonus)
def. Maka Watson: $2,000

Sterling Ford: $6,000 ($3,000 win bonus)
def. Brian McLaughlin: $2,500

Payout Perspective:

A very good showing for the Challengers series as it appears that it may have found a home base in Vegas. The ratings on Showtime are very good considering it competed with HD Net’s offering of Legacy Fighting Championships. Kaufman’s win does not include a win bonus because there’s a clause in her contract that states that she does not receive a win bonus unless she finishes her opponent (via Chris Nelson of Sherdog). A pretty tough clause to have, but it promotes exciting fights.

The Hispanic market and MMA

July 23, 2011

This past week’s issue of the Sports Business Journal focused on the increasing importance of the Hispanic market. The numbers reveal that MMA is one of the most watched sports by the demographic.

Research compiled by ESPN shows that households that speak Spanish, or mostly Spanish, are fans of MMA. MMA and wrestling (the study couples the two sports) is the second watched sport to soccer in households that speak Spanish. In households that speak mostly English, MMA and wrestling fall to third behind the NFL and NBA. Notably, MMA and wrestling fall off the survey in households that speak only English. The top sports in that segment are NFL, NBA and college football.

One of the takeaways from the feature is that for Hispanics, the median age is 27, there are 17 million Hispanics under the age of 18 and three out of four speak English and Spanish. Univision ratings are strong as a result of its soccer coverage.

Fox Deportes is attempting to cater to this burgeoning market with the help of Alex Rodriguez and Cain Velasquez. The NY Yankee and the UFC Champ are featured in branding spots for the channel. They are described as “slick and edgy spots” with the tag line: “Its our moment.” SBJ remarks the backgrounds of both Rodriguez and Velasquez as American born but embracing their heritage. As you recall, Velasquez has included Spanish in his appearances. Although it seems that he is not fluent, the attempts are well-received.

For its part, the UFC introduced UFCLatino.com to capitalize on this growing market. The UFC will be able to leverage its fighters to cater to the Hispanic market. Not only Velasquez, but Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz should be ready for a push in the coming year. With his win over Urijah Faber, he is slated to defend his title against Demetrious Johnson on Versus this fall. This is a great chance for the UFC to promote Cruz and get many of the Hispanic demographic to have the chance to watch Cruz without the need to invest in a PPV. The hope would be that with a strong showing from Cruz, a fan base will grow.

Payout Perspective:

The SBJ article is an interesting study on the Latino market. Already, Cain Velasquez is reaping the benefits of the growing interest in marketing toward the Hispanic population. In boxing, Victor Ortiz is on the cusp of something big if he were to upset Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Regardless, the September PPV between the two should be a huge PPV buy.

Certainly, the UFC is monitoring these types of trends and acting accordingly (e.g., UFCLatino.com). Cain Velasquez (and hopefully Dominick Cruz) should be able to garner more sponsors as a result of the popularity of the sport. With the numbers showing that many Latinos will be entering the UFC demographic in the near future, you could see more integration of Latino influence in the marketing of the UFC.

Yahoo! Sports features Evans in Elite Athlete Workouts

July 22, 2011

Yahoo! Sports has a feature on its web site on Elite Athlete Workouts. This week it features Rashard Evans as he trains, mentally and physically for his upcoming fight. It also looks into Evans’ diet and nutrition.

Broken into three videos, the workout feature looks at Evans and his workout regimen in preparing for a fight. The three minute workout video goes into several exercises Evans performs during training. Mike Van Arsdale describes the workouts which seem to be geared toward workout fans wanting to see how a top athlete trains. Van Arsdale also talks Evans through the mental aspect of fighting. In the third video, Evans talks with Summer Sanders about nutrition and supplements.

Workout Routine

Mental Game

Nutrition and Diet

 

NFL players Maurice Jones-Drew and Larry Fitzgerald will be featured in upcoming weeks.

Payout Perspective:

A good mainstream piece on the rigorous mental and physical training needed to be an MMA fighter. Ironically, it features a guy that has not fought in over a year.  The UFC Countdown shows give you a small snippet of workouts in preparation for a fight and I’ve always been a big fan of learning the workouts for fighters. These three videos gives a little more detailed look at what Evans goes through in training. Notably, the nutrition video with Summer Sanders is interesting for the fact that Evans takes so many supplements each day.

Two other interesting notes. Not sure if Evans is sponsored by the company, but I noted he was wearing coordinated Adidas gear during his workout. Coincidence or is the three stripes an Evans sponsor? Also, the videos were presented by Dodge. Also a UFC sponsor.

MMaterial Facts (7/22/11): White visits Mr. McMahon, Marquardt finds a job, Munoz does the “Dougie”

July 22, 2011

Welcome to this edition of MMAterial Facts, where we feature articles from around the MMA community.

***

This week’s MMAterial Facts:

Dana White Talks UFC 133, Alistair Overeem and Meeting Vince McMahon (MMA Fighting)

Bjorn Rebney: If Nate Marquardt wants to fight Hector Lombard & Ben Askren, fight in a Bellator tournament (Fight Opinion)

UFC 133: Rich Franklin turned down a fight against Alexander Gustafsson (MMA Mania)

Cub Swanson saved $50,000 by switching to HCIC (MMA Convert)

Mark Munoz and Nonito Donaire do the “Dougie” (Middle Easy)

Nate Marquardt signs multi-fight contract with BAMMA (5th Round)

Filho vs. Ishii Targeted for AFC’s Inaugural Event in Brazil Sept. 14 (Cage Potato)

Cruz to defend Bantamweight title on Versus (NBC Sports MMA)

Urijah Faber going back to Cali in November for bout with Brian Bowles (Five Ounces of Pain)

Ovince St. Preux: I’m content with working my way up (Exclusive Interview) (LowKick)

Bob Sapp pitches new reality show, truly is ” Big  in Japan” (The Fight Nerd)

UFC: 10 Upcoming Preliminary Bouts You Don’t Want to Miss (Bleacher Report/MMA)

Boston Pizza and UFC Canada enter into sponsorship agreement

July 20, 2011

Canada’s number one casual dining brand and sports bar, Boston Pizza, has entered into a multi-year sponsorship agreement with UFC Canada. Its the first major marketing partnership for the UFC in Canada.

Via Showdown Joe:

This new agreement gives Boston Pizza locations in Canada the opportunity to provide guests with an enhanced UFC experience when watching Pay-Per-View events at participating restaurant locations across the country.  As the official sports bar and pizza of the UFC in Canada, Boston Pizza also gains premium access to tickets and other unique experiences available only at Boston Pizza.

The pizza chain has been showing UFC PPVs for years. Boston Pizza’s executive VP of marketing, Steve Silverstone, stated that the UFC fit in with its core demographic of “dads and dudes.”

Boston Pizza is also an active sponsor of Hockey Canada, the NHL and NFL.

(H/t: Marketing Mag Canada)

Payout Perspective:

Its a little surprising that the UFC has not had more partnerships in Canada especially since the sport is almost as popular as hockey. This is a good partnership as Boston Pizza shows UFC PPVs and the UFC can take advantage of this through various promotions and giveaways during showings of its PPVs. The partnership will enable the UFC to market to its demographic and for Boston Pizza to associate itself with the UFC.

Overeem out of Strikeforce HW Grand Prix

July 20, 2011

News came out Monday that Alistair Overeem was removed from Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix set to continue in September. Overeem, appearing on the MMA Hour this week, acknowledged that he was scheduled to fight Bigfoot Silva on September 10th, but thought that the date was too soon.

He tells MMA Fighting that he was promised a date in October or November and planned his training accordingly. Then, he was told September.  He also stated that he was threatened with being cut from the tournament if he didn’t agree to the September fight date with Bigfoot Silva. Zuffa later announced Overeem’s removal from the card and announced Daniel Cormier as his replacement.

Payout Perspective:

The latest lineup change may be the final nail in the coffin for the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix. While the initial buzz for a HW Grand Prix was positive, the execution behind the tournament has been a disaster. Strikeforce intended this to begin and end in 2011 and include the top HW in its division. But, logistics with attempting to hold a show in Japan, the trouble in licensing Josh Barnett, the purchase of Strikeforce and the delay between cards have prevented any positive momentum for the tournament. Bigfoot Silva’s upset of Fedor and now Overeem’s removal makes the grand prix less appealing to fight fans. One might have speculated that the tourney was set so we would see a Fedor-Overeem final.

It appears that with the purchase of Zuffa, the tournament has less appeal. The only thing that would regain fan interest would be if the winner would receive a shot at the UFC champion. However, its unlikely that this would happen. Its too bad for Overeem. He could be a big star for Zuffa. However, his first fight with Fabricio Werdum was disappointing.

Xyience introduces Jones collector can, advises not to mix with alcohol

July 19, 2011

Xyience, the official energy drink of the UFC, announced the launch of its second in a series of its collector cans, this time featuring light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones. In addition, the back of the can will caution that the drink not be mixed with alcohol.

Via Xyience:

XYIENCE’s powerful affiliation with the UFC is a contributing factor to its year over year sales growth that checks in at a more than 38 percent increase. John Lennon, XYIENCE’s president, says that approximately half of that growth is due to the expansion of XYIENCE’s distribution network.  “The strength of our partnership with the UFC and its athletes, like Jones, has had a favorable impact on our sales,” says Lennon. The full-size energy drink category is up 13.4 percent in the past 52 week period, ending May 15.

Along with Jones’ image, XYIENCE has made another addition to its packaging, one that it feels will further validate its position as the energy drink of choice for athletes and active adults. “We are including a recommendation on the back of the can advising consumers not to mix Xenergy with alcohol,” Lennon says.

Lennon goes on to explain that unlike some of its competitors, who specifically target teenage energy drinkers, XYIENCE is reaching out to a different demographic. “XYIENCE targets a young, upscale adult consumer leading a healthy active lifestyle, and Xenergy supports his or her way of life in a very authentic way. It is sugar- and calorie-free, with a moderate amount of caffeine- as much as a cup of coffee,” Lennon says. “So its sustained energy without the calories.”

The collector cans will be available September 1, 2011.

Payout Perspective:

An interesting strategy by Xyience to distance itself from the recreational drinker (Red Bull and vodka anyone?) and focus on the young, active adult. It markets itself as the “pick me up for the health club.” Perhaps not the pick up drink at the night club. Indirectly, it is a public service announcement warning against drinking. Of course, there will be those that will try Xyience with Vodka(or alcohol of choice) just because.

[UPDATE] Another reason why Xyience may have included its recommendation is to distinguish its brand from Four Loko, a controversial energy drink that has been banned in states and is receiving scrutiny in others for the potential health risks associated with the drink. Xyience’s recommendation on the can may also ward off any potential investigation by state AGs that may group the energy drinks together.

It appears that the Xyience-UFC relationship has helped Xyience sales and the growing popularity of the UFC and its stars like Jones can only mean continued growth for Xyience.

Ranger Up “Out” As Sponsors for Strikeforce/UFC Fighters: Kennedy, Carmouche

July 19, 2011

MMAPayout recently reported that Zuffa had imposed a sponsor “fee” – similar to the UFCs – that impacted several Strikeforce fighters heading into the Strikeforce HW GP: Overeem vs Werdum event. This time, the sponsor fee will prevent MMA fighters Tim Kennedy and Liz Carmouche from wearing the Ranger Up brand during their upcoming bouts.

Ranger Up President Nick Palmisciano spoke to MMAPayout regarding the current situation between Strikeforce/UFC and Ranger Up:

“We are in fact “out” [as sponsors], but are still supporting all of our athletes financially as if they wore the Ranger Up logo into the cage. We also completely understand and have no issue with Strikeforce’s position. It is a sign the sport is growing. We hope to be back in Strikeforce and the UFC soon, but until then continue to support and sponsor military athletes at all levels, and are very proud to have been able to advance the sport in the military community these past 5 years.”

 

Payout Perspective:

You have to feel bad for sponsors who have grown their brand side-by-side with their sponsored fighter from the small shows to the “big stage” and have continually supported their endeavor to pursue MMA. Most fighters would not have reached the “big stage” without those sponsors who gave them a revenue stream when they were just starting out.  In terms of MMA as a business, it makes perfect sense for Zuffa to apply the tax, though it becomes a tough and critical transitional stage for many fighter-sponsor relationships. For most smaller-scale sponsors, it just doesn’t make any fiscal sense to be paying the Zuffa sponsor fee, specially someone as unique as Ranger Up, who specializes in helping the troops and is not just focused on increasing brand exposure through the signing of numerous fighters.

“Sponsoring a guy does not do anything for you,” he asserted. “It’s sponsoring people, over time, that you believe in, that share your values, that are going to represent the brand well. Taking care of them, they will take care of you. It’s building something that has substance. No one event is going to make you a successful company.”

Ranger Up stressed that supporting the troops will always be the primary focus of Ranger Up, whether it’s through sponsorship in MMA or other events, such as the All-Army Combative Tournaments where Tim Kennedy has made a name for himself over the years. Ranger Up is currently sponsoring over 100 troop members pursuing MMA in smaller events.  “Anyone who has honorably served or serves our country will get our support. Whether it’s inside the cage or just personifying what Ranger Up stands for” said Palmisciano. Ranger Up currently sponsors notable UFC/Strikeforce fighters Tim Kennedy, Liz Carmouche, Brian Stann, Jorge Rivera, and Tim Credeur to name a few.

Note: Although Ranger Up will not be sponsoring Tim Kennedy for his upcoming bout, it is believed that the National Guard may step in and make it’s debut on the Strikeforce: Fedor vs Henderson July 30th event by sponsoring Kennedy.

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