MusclePharm signs two year pact with the UFC

September 19, 2011

MusclePharm announced that it will be the official nutritional supplement company of the UFC. The partnership will give Musclepharm space in the Octagon, on the UFC website and its Twitter and Facebook pages.

Via MusclePharm press release:

With the partnership, MusclePharm will now have exclusive in-ring placement, including its trademark MP logo on the Octagon mat and bumpers up to 10 times per year during UFC live events, which are viewed by millions of fans worldwide. The map and bumper placement will be in place for the UFC’s ground breaking network television debut on FOX that takes place on Nov. 11. MusclePharm’s strong presence will be evident on that night, as the UFC makes its network debut with a heavyweight championship fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos that will be seen by tens of millions of fans across the United States and will be one of the most-viewed matchups in UFC history.

In addition, the partnership includes strong digital media activation and will include an exclusive MusclePharm nutritional section on the homepage, which draws millions of visitors each month. The activation will also allow MusclePharm access and visibility on the UFC’s Facebook and Twitter pages, which are considered some of the most popular in the social media world and include more than seven million fans.

Payout Perspective:

Its a turnaround from where the company was last year as it settled outstanding debt from its WEC sponsorship obligations. With working capital to fund new marketing efforts it decided to make a splash. Earlier this year, it signed NFL star Michael Vick to a lucrative sponsorship deal  although it turned into a bit of an issue. The latest move to maintain its sponsorship ties with the UFC is smart considering the UFC’s big move to Fox. The partnership and media activation should aid the company’s presence. Time will tell to see if this new marketing strategy will pay off.

Diaz reportedly losing seven figures due to no-shows

September 18, 2011

Dave Metzler’s Wrestling Observer (subscription required) reported this week that the rebooking of Nick Diaz out of the main event at UFC 137 likely cost the ex-Strikeforce champ to lose at least six figures due to the loss of his PPV cut.

The Wrestling Observer states that Diaz would have been paid seven figures regardless of the outcome of his fight with GSP. Now, he’s likely going to make “very slightly more” than what he would have made if he defended his Strikeforce belt against Tyron Woodley. Diaz made $175,000 in his last title defense against Paul Daley. So, he may be making somewhere around that figure against BJ Penn.

Payout Perspective:

The report is that Diaz didn’t have his passport for the Canadian press conference and didn’t realize the Las Vegas meetup was a press conference but merely a photoshoot. Regardless, these are things that a professional knows and attends. Its inexplicable. The fact that Diaz is going to fight for less on the same card has to be downright painful: emotionally and financially. Yet, it seems like these are the types of situations Diaz wants to find himself in: the establishment holding him down and preventing him from getting a huge payday.

Its still interesting that the UFC pulled the switch on the card. If the UFC wanted to punish Diaz, it could have just withheld his PPV cut and still had the match-up. The two people the rebooking helped were likely Carlos Condit (not clear if he gets a PPV cut) and BJ Penn (who likely was given a bump in pay for the switch of fights).

UFC Fight Night 25 gate, attendance and bonuses

September 18, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that last nights UFC Fight Night 25 drew 7,112 fans for a gate of $685,000. In addition, Junkie reports the bonuses as $55,000 each.

The Battle of the Bayou ranked 10th amongst the 25 Fight Nights held by the UFC. In addition, the bonuses were announced by the UFC and are as follows:

Fight of the Night – Matthew Riddle vs. Lance Benoist
KO of the Night – Jake Ellenberger
Submission of the Night – T.J. Waldburger

Payout Perspective:

A disappointing night for Jake Shields although its likely that he was preoccupied for personal reasons. However, Jake Ellenberger’s career took a major jump. This night was heavily promoted at the start since it was presented by Bud Light. But with the Fox deal, and the rumors of Spike replacing the UFC with Bellator, there did not seem to be a lot of buzz for the event. In addition, looking purely at the fight lineup, there wasn’t much to be excited to see. Also, the Jones-Rampage “confrontation” was embarrassing. In the new Fox era, let’s hope this is scrapped. I think its awkward when HBO has its boxing “face off”. Its just not good if you don’t have two guys that can riff.  Only Evans-Rampage had that feel.

Still, a good attendance and gate on a night when there were a lot of other alternatives to watch.

Pavia sells agency to Paradigm

September 17, 2011

MMA Weekly reports that MMA agent Ken Pavia has sold his agency, MMA Agents, to Paradigm Sports Management. The transaction includes Pavia’s company and his stable of fighters. Pavia is moving on to become Vice President of Business Development at sports agency Takedown Entertainment.

Via MMA Weekly:

Speaking to on Friday, Pavia confirmed that he has sold his company and fight roster to Paradigm Sports Management, but will remain on in a consultant’s role to help the transition for his fighters.

Takedown Entertainment is a publicly traded company that produces and packages MMA shows for broadcast as well as digital release.

Mike Whitman of Sherdog spoke to Pavia about the offer from Paradigm:

“The timing and the opportunity were both right. Takedown represented an opportunity that, in the long run, not only benefits me, but also benefits my clients and the industry,” Pavia said. “The funny thing is that over the last four or five [years], because of my roster and connections, I’ve been offered two or three things a week — whether it’s helping out with a promotion or consulting or advising in some capacity, but it was never the right time or opportunity. With Takedown’s business model, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Pavia indicated that all employees of his company were going to Paradigm or staying with him in his move to Takedown so the transition would not leave anyone without a job.

Payout Perspective:

Its an interesting move within the industry and we will see if any of Pavia’s fighters will seek other representation. The report indicates that Pavia will stay on with MMA Agents for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition so maybe there will be no switching of agents. Based upon the recent MMA Fighting article on the state of MMA sponsorships, the role of the MMA agent can be a difficult task. It appears as difficult as an NFL or NBA agent without the market of sponsors or big financial payoff as the two sports. This could change, ever so slightly, with the UFC-Fox deal. We are not saying that Pavia left for any specific reason, merely pointing out the tough and competitive job it is to be an MMA agent.

Mayweather really is Money with business dealings

September 17, 2011

The New York Times reports on the payout Floyd Mayweather is set to receive from his fight against Victor Ortiz Saturday. With all said and done, Mayweather could be paid $40 million.

In addition to his reported $25 million payout for fighting Victor Ortiz, Mayweather will receive a portion of the gate, concessions, souvenirs and PPV revenue.

Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions explained the structure to the NY Times.

Via NY Times:

To explain the business model, Schaeffer starts with a pie. A little more than half goes to the distributors (Time Warner, DirecTV, etc.). The balance goes to the network, HBO or Showtime, which takes its distribution fees and hands the rest to the promoters.
In this case, Golden Boy has one contract with HBO and another with Mayweather Promotions. But the money, less what distributors and networks take, is under Mayweather’s control; normally the promoter would control it.

In addition, there is the PPV revenue which Schaeffer includes other revenue streams from that:

Those streams include foreign sales for a fight broadcast in 168 territories; closed-circuit revenues (in 2,000 or so bars and restaurants nationwide, in theaters and in rooms at Las Vegas casinos); site revenue (ticket sales, merchandise); and sponsorships.

Its an unprecedented payment structure that rationalizes the opulence Mayweather flaunts.  But for the spoils, there is the risk as Mayweather, or Mayweather Promotions, must put up $10 million in expenses to market the fight.

Payout Perspective:

This is an intriguing structure for payment. It does involve some risk as the astronomical dollar figures would only come at the back end of the fight. Meaning, Mayweather is not guaranteed the reported fight purse until the final numbers are determined. Still, it shows that despite his bombastic persona, Mayweather is a shrewd business person.

Its amazing to see how much money and control Mayweather has over his own fights. It shows how different boxing and MMA is with respect to business model. Even though certain fighters receive a portion of the PPV revenue and/or gate, its not as much as Mayweather will receive for his fights.

Time Warner outlets assist promotion of Mayweather-Ortiz

September 16, 2011

The Sports Business Journal has a report on the Time Warner synergy in promoting the Mayweather-Ortiz fight set to go this Saturday. This was the first time that HBO received help from its other outlets to promote a PPV fight.

Notably, CNN ran HBO’s 24/7 series over its network as well as having Victor Ortiz and Oscar de la Hoya on “Piers Morgan Tonight.” Promotion of the fight was run during Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN and on TBS during its airing of Major League Baseball. More promos were shown online at,, and Mayweather also appeared on TBS’ “Conan” on Monday.

HBO will also bulk up its boxing promotion by adding “24/7 Overtime Live” after the finale of the 24/7 series Friday. It will also include a 6 hour block of boxing as well as 24/7 reruns prior to the PPV Saturday.

In addition, the Audience Network (formerly the 101) on DirecTV has been playing reruns of Mayweather-Mosley and Ortiz-Berto.

HBO aspires to break the sports PPV record set by Mayweather-de la Hoya which did 2.4 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

The article is an interesting look at what will likely be the new model for promotion of a big boxing PPV.  I’ve noticed that on DirecTV the PPV price for this fight has gone up $5 to $69.99 (for HD). The move was definitely fostered by Showtime taking Pacquiao-Mosley away from the HBO franchise this past spring. Not sure how the synergy is adding to the PPV buys but if you were to look at the box office, the extra promotion is not helping attendance as Bad Left Hook reports (via Dan Rafael) that the fight is far from a sell out as the MGM Grand is calling its VIPs to take tickets. Its unlikely that the PPV record will be threatened with this fight. However, the cross promotion of the fight across the Time Warner family is something we should see in the future.

Triple H calls out the UFC

September 16, 2011

WWE star Triple H stated in an interview with AOL Moviefone that the WWE does not need to evolve in response to the growing popularity in the UFC and MMA. In fact, he suggests that the UFC product needs more of an entertainment component.

Via AOL Moviefone (h/t MMA Fighting) :

Moviefone: How do you think WWE and pro wrestling needs to evolve as UFC and MMA grows in popularity?

Triple H: I don’t think we have to evolve. It’s two totally different things. I think now especially there’s this thing like, “oh it’s very similar.”

I don’t see us needing to evolve to what UFC does because quite frankly sometimes the fights are long and boring, guys lying around and sometimes the fights are fast and over in five seconds. I’ve always thought one of the things about us, if you look at us solely from a sports standpoint, is that we always give you a good show. We’re never going to give you a crap game.

I think if anybody needs to evolve, it’s them. Give more of an entertainment standpoint. Give more form; they just have fighters who walk in in T-shirts and shorts and just stand there and then they fight and then they win and then they go “thanks, I’d like to thank my sponsors” and then they leave. The whole world was up in arms when Brock was flipping people off and was cussing at the beer company because they didn’t give him any money and everyone thought, “oh my god, he’s disrespectful,” — the whole world was talking about it. They couldn’t wait to see him get beat up. And then he did well, and he beat some guys and then people jump on his bandwagon going “Brock’s the greatest.”

Payout Perspective:

If you put aside credibility issues MMA fans may have for a pro wrestler critiquing the UFC product, is Triple H’s assessment valid? The one thing that the UFC and WWE have been quick to mention in the past is that the two are not competing organizations. One is sport (UFC) and one is entertainment (WWE). While the latest Diaz (and now Penn) drama may segue into WWE-type drama, comparing the two products is not fair. This criticism may be the start of a rivalry between the two as the UFC heads to Fox.

Triple H’s critique comes from the perspective of an outsider and what one sees on television. Its obvious that the WWE can control the match whereas the UFC cannot. Triple H also calls out the fact that there is no pomp and circumstance with most UFC fighters. No pre-entrance show, no post-entrance show. His theory is that sports is entertainment. And from his perspective, that’s what the UFC is lacking.

Is Triple H’s criticism that the UFC needs to be entertaining something that the UFC is concerned with? The UFC’s move to Fox was great for the business but will there be a concerted push for entertaining fights. We saw exciting fights at UFC 134 in Rio with several knockouts but no submissions. In fact, most fights rarely saw the ground. For those not accustomed to MMA, ground grappling can seem tedious as the fighters work for position.

As far as the outrageous personalities, there are several MMA fighters that are entertaining and can sell fights. MMA fighters do not play characters, they are athletes. It will be interesting to see the first Fox Primetime and how the product is different from Primetime’s of past. How will the show be produced and how will the UFC/Fox sell Cain and JDS?

MMA Promotion ProElite & UFC Hall of Famer Featured on CBS’ Hawaii Five-0

September 15, 2011

It looks like CBS is not completely done with MMA just quite yet.  Los Angeles based MMA promotion ProElite and CBS top rated show “Hawaii Five-0” have teamed up to create an episode based around the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and UFC & MMA Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell.

ProElite’s Head of Fight Operations T.Jay Thompson stated the following on Twitter:

“#1 rated show Hawaii 5-0 shooting an episode based around a Pro Elite MMA event today. @Rich_Chou and I on set at Blaisdell Arena.I think there may be some raised eyebrows when you find out who is playing the role of ProElite fighter opposite McGarret on H50.”

The episode (Episode 6, Season 2) will air this fall and will feature no other than UFC and MMA Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell playing the role of ProElite MMA fighter who takes on Hawaii 5-0 star Alex O’Loughlin (Steve McGarrett).

Hawaii Five-0 Season 2 Preview on CBS:


Payout Perspective:

ProElite held it’s first event last month (8/27) in Hawaii under new Stratus Media ownership.  The event took place at the Blaisdell Arena, which interestingly enough is the same location where the Hawaii Five-0 MMA episode is filming.  The episode is set to air this fall on CBS, which is around the same time ProElite is rumored to host it’s second event from New Jersey.

Thompson informed MMAPayout back in July that the goal was to have a TV deal in place by the second event targeted for early November. The exposure that ProElite will gain from being featured on a top rated CBS show is another step in the right direction for the promotion in achieving that goal. For it’s first event, ProElite was able to sign-on high profile sponsors such as Monster Energy Drink and PayPal without a TV deal and only a stream on in place.  For the second event, the goal will be to land a TV deal that is suitable for a company who is scheduling only their second event under new management and personnel.

Chuck Liddell retired from MMA in late 2010 and was appointed as Executive Vice President of Business Development for the UFC shortly after.  At the time, he still wanted to fight but agreed to retire from MMA to take a job with the UFC. At press time, it is not known whether this project is part of his job with the UFC or independent work, and if so, if he had UFC’s blessing to jump inside the cage promoting a non-Zuffa owned MMA brand.

Global streaming for Bellator on

September 15, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator will be streaming its preliminary fights worldwide on starting this Saturday with Bellator 50.

Last week Bellator and began streaming its preliminary fights online. Bellator sent out the announcement via its twitter account.

Payout Perspective:

This is a good move for the company as it gives it broader exposure for the product. It also is another sign that Bellator will be moving to Spike TV. However, its another stacked weekend of combat sports with UFC Fight Night and the Mayweather-Ortiz fight to compete with in addition to college football (notably the Oklahoma-FSU game). Its interesting that Bellator’s prelim streaming on will be competing with the UFC’s Facebook streaming. Then, the UFC will be airing on Spike TV and Bellator on MTV 2.

The state of MMA sponsorship

September 14, 2011

MMA Fighting had a piece on the state of sponsorships in MMA. It was a revealing look behind sponsoring of fighters in MMA.

Overall the piece depicts the sponsorship game as a huge investment for companies with a tenuous rate of return. For fighters, its a necessity to supplement their fight income as well as keep them financially afloat waiting for their next fight. For agents, its the likely primary goal in helping their clients.

Via MMA Fighting:

If you’re a company looking to sponsor a UFC fighter, the hit to your pocketbook varies depending on everything from the fame and popularity of the fighter you’re doing business with to the location of your logo. Walk-out T-shirts can be among the most expensive items, sometimes edging into the six-figure range, while a small decal on the thigh of his shorts might only run you a couple thousand dollars.

There is also the dreaded sponsorship “fee” or “tax” which the UFC has imposed on sponsors:

…most (sponsors and/or agents reached) put the cost of the tax at about $50,000 per year for the majority of apparel and supplement companies in the UFC, though the fee has been knonw to vary according to the sponsor and the situation…

Then, there is the issue of the return on investment. If a company pays to play, will viewers buy what your selling, let alone know who or what you are. Hayabusa’s Ken Clement told MMA Fighting:

“It’s trackable, but it’s very hard to be objective,” Hayabysa’s Clement said. “It’s the simple question of how many fans watching the UFC saw your logo and recognized it, and of those, who cares? …It can be looked at quantitatively, but there’s a lot of guesswork involved.”

Agent Dean Albrecht breaks down a company’s goals to sponsor a fighter in three categories: advertisement, sponsorship and endorsement. As defined by Albrecht, advertisement is the lowest tier of sponsorship as the relationship between fighter and sponsor is short-lived. The agreement is usually meant strictly for eyes to be on the sponsor’s logo.  These are usually one-time sponsorship deals or done on a flat fee. Sponsorship is more of a commitment between the fighter and sponsor where the sponsor has the fighter wear its logo over a period of time. The idea is to become brand ambassadors for the company. Endorsements are an elite level of sponsorship as the relationship between fighter and sponsor is more exclusive. Its where the fighter will do more than just wear the sponsor’s patch or shirt during fight night. The fighter will exclusively wear the sponsor’s gear in and out of the cage.  They will also make appearances for the sponsor.

Payout Perspective:

An interesting tidbit of the article was the fact that less sponsors are interested in Strikeforce and focus more on the UFC. The fact that Zuffa imposed its tax on Strikeforce seemingly is driving sponsors from the organization. We reported this summer on sponsor Ranger Up as it no longer found it economically feasible to sponsor its Strikeforce fighters. Could this have been a harbinger for the impending demise of the organization?

The article reflects on the work of the agent as they broker the deals with sponsors for their fighters. This is something that is very important for fighters as we all recall the lack of sponsors was the reason Matt Mitrione famously relieved Malki Kawa of his duties.

With the Fox deal, we shall see if the sponsorship industry heats up. While we may see the downturn of certain companies, we could see major mainstream sponsors dipping its toes in sponsorship of fighters, perhaps in the “advertisement” stage of sponsorship. Hopefully, for all involved there could be a time where we see bigger commitments from sponsors.

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