UFC hints at two events in one night

September 30, 2011

Yahoo! Sports reports that the UFC may hold two events in one night according to UFC president Dana White. The UFC would rely on multiple UFC teams to logistically handle events on the same night.

While promoting UFC 139 in San Jose earlier this week, White let it be known of his vision for two UFC events in one night.  “When we go to Japan next year, we are going to be putting on a show at the same time in Las Vegas,” he said.

White indicated that the UFC would be running multiple shows in the future. However, White did not elaborate on the details.

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC would have the capability to have two teams cover each event. Former WEC head Reed Harris hosted the UFC on Versus 6 pre-event press conference and touted the fact that the UFC’s multi-team approach makes hosting two events in one night possible.

There is still the question of airing both shows. The UFC wants to air both live and same-day-delayed shows in prime time slots. UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi is an example of this. While the PPV played in its usual prime time slot, it was offered live during the day.

Payout Perspective:

PPV saturation or a forward looking plan for global expansion of the UFC? At this point, holding a show in the US and in Japan seems to be hedging its bets. Simply put, if the Japan show does not go well, it could be overshadowed by the US show. And if Japan does well, then that’s the story. But, it seems like the plan is to expand the brand globally. The question is whether holding two shows in one night is too much. Will the UFC have two PPVs in one night or will it have one event free and the other on PPV? For an average UFC fan on a budget, purchasing two events in one month is expensive. Will we see a day where we may pay over $100 for one night of PPVs?  The other question is whether its too much. There is not much being made about the fact that in three straight weeks, there will be three UFC title defenses. It seems like it may be too much for the casual UFC fan as there is lukewarm interest in UFC on Versus 6 and much skepticism in the PPV buy rate for UFC 136. Time will tell to see how the UFC executes two events in one night.

UFC lobbies in Ottawa to open provinces to MMA

September 30, 2011

The CBC reports that UFC stars Mark Hominick and Yves Jabouin lobbied Parliament requesting a change in the Criminal Code in Ottawa. While Canadian MMA fans are some of the most dedicated to the sport, only 6 of the 10 provinces sanction the sport due to uncertainty with federal law.

The article focuses on the lobbying efforts of the UFC and while no one could deny that UFC 129’s mainstream exposure and monetary success is a definite factor for the push to change the code, the UFC stressed the “safety and cross-country consistency” as reasons for amendment to the law.

Via CBCSports.ca:

Current federal law says anyone who engages in or aids, abets, umpires or reports on a prize fight “is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.”

The only exception to the “prize fight” definition in the law are provincially sanctioned events in which “the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass.”

Judging from Thursday’s reception, there appears to be all-party support for changes to the federal law, so the event was less about lobbying legislators than it was about swinging a skeptical public over to the merits of the latest “sweet science.”

Canadians Hominick and Jabouin, were part lobbyists and part celebrities as they posed with locals as they fielded questions about their sport.

Payout Perspective:

While the UFC stresses the safety regulations as the reasons for the change in the laws, its obvious that the economic impact is an overwhelming reason why Canadian provinces should warm to MMA regulation. Realistically, reading the article it appears that the code is in need of an update as the legislation likely occurred in a time when MMA did not exist. Certainly the economic success of UFC 129 in Toronto has helped sway people on the fence about allowing the sport in its province. Still, having its fighters come out and answer questions about its sport help educate those skeptical about it is a good piece to the road to opening MMA to all of Canada.

*Apologies to Canadians as I originally mistook Ottawa as a province and not the capital of Canada. I have corrected the report.

The Ultimate Fighter 14 Ep. 2: 1.6 million

September 29, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that episode 2 of The Ultimate Fighter 14 scored an average audience of 1.6 million viewers for a household rating of 1.22. The average is slightly better than the 1.5 million debut last week.

Notably, the episode included the product placement of NormaTec compression suits used by Team Miller. The sports performance and recovery industry is a growing area as exemplified by NormaTec, VersaClimber and Training Mask. I believe all 3 have sponsored fighters in the UFC. The episode also saw another way to use training tires as Team Miller played a prank on Team Bisping.

Episode 1: 1.5 million

Episode 2: 1.6 million

Payout Perspective:

A slight improvement from last week. We’ll see how well the audience will get into this season. Seems like there will be more fireworks between the fighters based on the previews. As the MLB playoffs start, we’ll see if there is any overlap between TUF 14 and baseball.

Mayweather-Ortiz gate: $9 million but over 3,000 tickets unsold

September 28, 2011

The Nevada Athletic Commission last week announced the official gate and attendance for the Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Victor Ortiz fight. The fight received a $9 million gate with 13,364 tickets sold which made it the 14th largest fight in Las Vegas history.

The Nevada Athletic Commission confirmed the numbers via email to MMA Payout.

Gate – $9,000,000

Tix sold – 13,364

Unsold – 3,052

Comps – 1,268

Payout Perspective:

Showtime’s Al Bernstein tweeted some reasons this fight might not have been a sellout: expensive tickets, Ortiz not a known name outside of hardcore boxing fans and the co-promoted fight at the Staples Center.

The Staples Center event, held in conjunction with Mayweather-Ortiz, was to enhance the SoCal audience by having people come watch live fights then watch Mayweather-Ortiz on the big screens at Staples. However, it could have harmed some of the live gate in Las Vegas if you assume that some fight fans would have taken the short flight or take the drive to Vegas. Still, 3,000 tickets unsold and over 1,200 comped seems like a big figure for tickets not purchased.

Despite these numbers, the PPV revenue could level this disparity although there are rumors that PPV sales may be weak.

Brazilian Billionaire Interested In Entertainment Company Responsible for Bringing UFC Back to Brazil

September 28, 2011

Brazilian billionaire entrepreneur Eike Batista – who has made a good portion of his wealth from  resource companies – such as mining, energy, petroleum, logistics, real estate and off-shoring – wants to get involved in the Sports & Entertainment industry, seeking to purchase “Brasil1“, the company responsible for bringing the UFC back to Brazil last month.

Batista, who is listed by Forbes as the 8th richest person in the world in 2011, has many companies under his ownership. Batista’s IMX group – which is a partnership of IMG Worldwide inc. and Batista’s EBX Group Co Ltd – is said to be closing the deal to purchase Brasil1, which is a Sports and Entertainment company specializing in consulting, content development, and major event management.

The purchase was first reported by Veja Magazine, a respected media source in Brazil.  UFC Rio was not only a huge success for the UFC, but also for Brasil1 and the city of Rio de Janeiro.  The event drew more than 14,000 fans to the HSBC Arena for a gate which is believed to be in excess of $4M.  Not only was the event a huge success as a live attending event, but it is also speculated that “Nearly 30 million Brazilians” likely watched UFC 134 from their homes.

Due to the UFC’s 13-year absence and the sports boom in the last few years, their return last month caught the attention of many high profiled figures in the country such as soccer legend Ronaldo and MMA pioneer Royce Gracie. Politician’s including Rio de Janeiro’s governor Sergio Cabral, and a cast of other rich and famous socialites were ringside as well. One of those high profiled figures in attendance was Eike Batista.

Due to the success of UFC Rio, the UFC stated shortly after the event concluded that it would return to Brazil with multiple events in 2012.  With Batista’s purchase of Brasil1, it’s no doubt that through IMX and Brasil1, those groups will be involved in future UFC events scheduled for Brazil.

Batista’s IMX group is also getting involved with the upcoming FIFA 2014 World Cup, trying to sell luxury box seats for the event as it negotiates a potential deal with Match Hospitality AG, who has an exclusive contract to sell tickets for FIFA-organized events.

Mir signs sponsorship with Xyience

September 28, 2011

UFC Heavyweight Frank Mir has signed a sponsorship deal with UFC’s official energy drink maker Xyience. Mir will be a brand ambassador for Xyience through 2012.

Via Xyience press release:

Like XYIENCE, Mir is based in Las Vegas and will be a key component of the brand’s marketing initiatives throughout the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. The endorsement deal also includes a series of personal appearances at key MMA and beverage trade events throughout the United States, as well as the use of Mir’s image on the brand’s website and in its advertising campaign.

Payout Perspective:

I’ve always thought Mir to be an articulate and affable guy from his days as an WEC commentator. This will help him as brand ambassador during personal appearances for the company. The partnership makes sense considering Mir and Xyience are based out of Vegas and Mir is a known persona in the area.

Bellator 51: 158,000 viewers

September 27, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 51 held Saturday night drew an average of 158,000 viewers on MTV2. The results were up from last week but still an overall disappointing rating.

The opening of the bantamweight tournament for Bellator featured a highlight reel knockout of Joe Warren by Alex Vila. But, it faced stiff competition from UFC 135 as well as the usual slate of college football.

Payout Perspective:

According to MMA Junkie, the 158,000 viewers were ranked 14th out of 17 Bellator shows on MTV2. Its a tough spot for Bellator considering it went up against UFC 135. If you consider the fact that the UFC 135 prelims had strong ratings, you can infer that most MMA fans were going to be focused on the UFC Saturday night.

UFC 135 Prelims: 1.6 million viewers

September 27, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that the prelims on Spike TV for UFC 135 grabbed an average of 1.6 million viewers with a peak of 1.73. It marks the third best audience of all time.

Via MMA Junkie:

Of the 22 “UFC Prelims” specials Spike TV has aired to date, UFC 135’s tied for the third-largest audience. Additionally, the one-hour broadcast was the highest-rated “UFC Prelims” special ever among men 18-34. It also was the No. 1 rated cable program in its timeslot among men 18-34 and men 18-49.

Payout Perspective:

Despite the array of television choices for the night, the UFC 135 Prelims did exceptionally well especially with its key demographics. This should add to the strategy for Spike as its obvious that it will begin to leverage its UFC library rights against the UFC to force its hand to either pay for the rights or allow it to go up against itself when it moves to Fox. The strong ratings could be seen as a sign that viewers inherently link Spike and the UFC; something that the UFC is weary of as it begins its transition.

Spike TV to air Cain-JDS marathon opposite UFC on Fox 1

September 26, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Spike TV will air a Junior dos Santos-Cain Velasquez marathon opposite UFC on Fox 1 on Saturday, November 12th. The counter-programming efforts by Spike is another sign of the unhappy ending between the network and the UFC.

Via MMA Junkie:

On Nov. 12, Spike TV will air a “UFC Unleashed” marathon – dubbed “Dos Santos vs. Velasquez: Unleashed for the Heavyweight Title” – featuring past fights with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.

Payout Perspective:

The move comes as no surprise considering the ending of the Spike-UFC relationship and the fact that Spike beat Versus in ratings when Spike ran a Nate Marquardt marathon opposite UFC on Versus 4 in June. Notwithstanding the Marquardt issues for the live event, Spike beat Versus in the ratings using reruns as counter-programming. Not sure how much affect the counter-programming will be considering Fox’s marketing efforts and the Pacquiao-Marquez fight. Still, the hope for Spike is that it takes some viewers away from the live event and/or there is viewer confusion as to which channel the live UFC will be on. Regardless of the Fox marketing efforts, there is still the concern that some viewers will not get the message of the UFC move to Fox. The counter-programming is an example of things to come if Spike maintains the UFC library in the coming year. Looking at the schedule, there are some very good fights that many MMA fans may have missed on PPV and can see now on Spike.

UFC 135: Payout Perspective

September 25, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. In the main event, Jon Jones defeated Quentin “Rampage” Jackson to retain the Light Heavyweight title.

Jones stops Rampage

Jon Jones handled Rampage Jackson to retain his Light Heavyweight title. Its becoming apparent that Jones’ length is his greatest attribute. Jackson looked motivated, in shape and had the correct game plan to deal with Jones. However, Jones was ready for Jackson and it was apparent that Jones could do whatever he wanted with Jackson. The 3rd round after the bell throw of Jackson and eventual choke served as notice that Jones is here to stay.

As for Jackson, it was weird for a loser of a bout to call out someone else. But, Rampage vs. Shogun Rua would help a UFC Japan card that has its share of skeptics.

Kos KOs Hughes

The fight was entertaining until the last few seconds of the first round when Koscheck poured it on and KO’d Hughes. For Hughes, the KO is the second of its kind as BJ Penn did the same to him last year. Its hard to say if Hughes will or should retire, but for a Hall of Famer to be knocked unconscious like that is not good for a legacy. For Koscheck, it was a nice return from December’s injury. The win should put him back into the welterweight title picture.

Attendance and Gate

Although not verified by the Colorado state athletic commission, Dana White announced the attendance at the Pepsi Center as 16,344 for a gate of $2 million. (h/t MMA Junkie)

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports that the following fighters were awarded $75,000 each for their fights.

Fight of the Night – Jones vs. Jackson
KO of the Night – Koscheck
Submission of the Night – Nate Diaz
Diaz displayed his jiu jitsu proficiency in submitting Takanori Gomi. It was a textbook transition. Hopefully, in a push for an exciting fight, the UFC does not stray from its roots.

Promotion of the Fight

UFC Fight Night 25 featured a Jones-Rampage head to head debate. The same was done on ESPN. I have to say I am not a fan of these head to head debates. I know its supposed to draw heat but it seems forced.

More and more, UFC fighters are getting their chance on late night television. Jones and Rampage on Jimmy Kimmel to sell the fight.

It was a little weird to see the two sitting so comfortably close to each other and sharing their couch with Dr. Phil.

Press Conference

The Jones-Rampage press conference had its share of funny moments. The best being the picture of Rampage clowning Jon Jones’ “stare into the distance” when they both did the staredown at the initial press conference.

The drama of the alleged “spy” in Rampage’s camp brought some intrigue to the matchup. But, most people were interested in the matchup regardless of the “spy”.

Sponsorships

MMA Elite, Harley Davidson, MMA Authentics, Edge, Musclepharm, Xyience, Toyo Tires were all in the Octagon with Bud Light taking the center again. Video game Gears of War3 (for XBox 360) signage was also present in the Octagon. It also was the presenting sponsor for UFC 135. Noticeably a lot of different sponsors in the Octagon this time around.

Musclepharm – Not only did it announce its new partnership with the UFC earlier in the week, but its gym was featured during the UFC Countdown show as Rampage trained for the fight there. It also was the spot where Rampage discovered the “spy” from the Jones camp. Notwithstanding the implication that a MP exec was a spy, it was a good week of activation for MP. The MP gym was adorned with its memorable logo.

The US Marines maintained its Keys to Victory segment featuring Koscheck and Hughes.

FighterxFashion has a good rundown of the walk out wear from UFC 135 including Rampage “chains”. Just in time for Halloween…or your next street fight (j/k, I hope).

Interesting that Jon Jones did not have any special brand activation with any of his sponsors. If I missed it, let me know.

Odds and ends

– The high altitude coupled with the Heavyweight match-ups lead to two matches that slowed down considerably as the match progressed. Maybe some booking info to learn from in the future.

– Whenever Rashard Evans steps into the Octagon with a suit, he receives boos. It reminds me a little of Ric Flair. The pinstripes did add to the “heel” status he received last night. Notwithstanding, it was a little awkward for Evans after the stare-down with Jones since it looked like he wanted to leave but Rampage was still in the Octagon. It was like he was trapped a bit. It was a good spot but

– Don’t mean to talk about pro wrestling too much, but did Ben Rothwell come out to the Monday Night Raw theme?

– Did anyone notice Rampage’s corner-man whisper in his ear prior to his Rogan post-fight interview. It was like he reminded him to challenge Shogun in Japan.

UPDATE re PPV Buys

MMA Supremacy did an informal poll on the anticipated PPV buys for this pay per view. With Rampage, Jones, Hughes and Koscheck at the top of the card, many believed this to be between 500K-700K in buys with a smattering of people believing it to be 300-400K in buys. It will be interesting to see. Although Jones is the biggest rising star in the UFC, he has yet to become a PPV draw. The UFC hopes that this will change soon.

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