Le tops fighter payouts for UFC 139

November 21, 2011

The California State Athletic Commission released the payroll for UFC 139. Notably, Cung Le topped the list of fighter payouts with $350,000.

Le also received a $70,000 bonus for being co-fight of the night.

The fighter list via MMA Junkie:

Dan Henderson: $250,000 (no win bonus)
def. Mauricio Rua: $165,000

Wanderlei Silva: $200,000 (no win bonus)
def. Cung Le: $350,000

Urijah Faber: $64,000 (includes $32,000 win bonus)
def. Brian Bowles: $19,000

Martin Kampmann: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus)
def. Rick Story: $19,000

Stephan Bonnar: $68,000 (includes $34,000 win bonus)
def. Kyle Kingsbury: $10,000

Ryan Bader: $48,000 (includes $24,00 win bonus)
def. Jason Brilz: $13,000

Michael McDonald: $14,000 (includes $7,000 win bonus)
Alex Soto: $6,000

Chris Weidman: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Tom Lawlor: $12,000

Gleison Tibau: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Rafael Dos Anjos: $16,000

Miguel Torres: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Nick Pace: $4,000

Seth Baczynski: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Matt Brown: $12,000

Danny Castillo: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Shamar Bailey: $8,000

Payout Perspective:

Most people would have believed that Dan Henderson would have been the top draw here. Le’s salary is surprising considering he hasn’t fought in over a year and his last fight in Strikeforce it was reported he made $100,000. Le was a hometown draw, somewhat of a movie star and a marketable fighter but the salary seems quite high. Le signed a 6 fight deal with the UFC but with movies on the horizon, its unlikely the 39 year old will finish the contract.

UFC 139: Payout Perspective

November 21, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This week we look at UFC 139 at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California where Dan Henderson defeated Maurico Rua in a 5 round battle.

Henderson defeats Rua in instant classic

It appeared that Dan Henderson would make short work of Mauricio Rua as it appeared that Rua was a goner in the first round. However, Rua survived, the referee did not stop it prematurely and fans saw an epic back and forth fight. Rua came back in rounds 4 and 5 but it wasn’t enough. While both fighters were gassed at different points of the fight, this is probably the reason why the UFC wanted main events to go 5 rounds. Both fighters showed a warrior mentality and left it all in the octagon.

Silva KOs Le

Sandstorm may be heard again in the UFC. Wanderlei Silva defeated Cung Le in front of Le’s hometown crowd. The win likely ensures that Silva will fight once again in the UFC. For Le, it appeared that he lacked the cardio needed to fight three rounds. A disappointing debut.

Faber submits Bowles; another rematch with Cruz next

Urijah Faber choked out Brian Bowles to earn another shot at Dominick Cruz. It seemed as though Faber’s presence on this card was undersold. Yet, there are rumors that Faber and Cruz will be the next TUF coaches. Based on Faber’s post-fight trash talk, this isn’t a bad idea considering the solid ratings this season’s TUF. The animosity between the two fighters and its debut on the FX channel should propel next season’s TUF.

Attendance and Gate

MMA Junkie reports attendance of 13,173 for a gate of $1.268 million. In comparison, Fedor vs. Werdum in June 2010 drew 12,698 fans for a gate of $1.1 million at the HP Pavillion in San Jose.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports the bonuses for UFC 139. Each fighter received $70,000. Interesting that there was a tie for Fight of the Night. In my opinion, Rua vs. Henderson was the clear winner for FOTN honor. If there was a tie, I would have given the bonus to Chris Weidman for Sub of the Night.

Fight of the Night: Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva; Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson
Submission of the Night: Urijah Faber
Knockout of the Night: Michael McDonald

Sponsorships

-The usual suspects were in the octagon for UFC 139. Xyience, Dodge, Tapout, Harley Davidson, MusclePharm and Bud Light had the center of the Octagon a well as the side pads. The UFC also advertised its Ultimate Fight Collection just in time for the holidays.

– Clinchgear was featured via Dan Henderson. I really like Henderson’s branded DH apparel.

– Tom Lawlor was sponsored by XBox as part of its Kinect Sports 2 launch. He sported a t-shirt at weigh-ins and XBox 360 on his shorts. It was the only sponsor on his shorts. According to an XBox rep, this is just a one-time opportunity as it was specifically for the launch. Pat Barry had a similar sponsor opportunity with XBox 360. Demetrious Johnson remains as the only UFC fighter to continually be sponsored by XBox 360.

Twitter

Notably, Dan Henderson and Shogun were trending an hour after the PPV. In Brazil, Rua and Wanderlei Silva were trending topics after the PPV. The Henderson-Shogun battle received a lot of buzz via twitter. On another note, Bellator’s Chandler-Alvarez fight received its share of twitter buzz too.

Post-UFC 139 Headlines

– What’s next for Hendo? Does Dan Henderson fight at 205 or 185? Either division would present interesting title match-ups. At 205, Henderson would come up against Jon Jones, a guy almost 20 years his junior. At middleweight, Henderson could get a rematch with Anderson Silva.  Or, a Team Quest alum fight with Chael Sonnen. Either middleweight match-up seems more attractive than Jones.

– Cruz-Faber trilogy. Can this rivalry assist the lighter weight divisions? Certainly this season’s TUF is helping draw a steady viewership. A possible TUF with the animosity of these fighters should propel next season’s version.

Odds and Ends

– Talking about a guy’s widow’s peak and hair gel is pretty personal Mr. Faber. This rivalry is heating up and that’s a good thing.

– I wrote about the interesting weigh-ins this time around and the opportunity for a fighter to create their own personal branding. It also helps to make weight.

– Was Stephan Bonnar’s post-fight apology attempting to mitigate any possible lawsuit from Josh Koshcheck about making t-shirts with his likeness?

– For as good as Hendo-Rua was Dana White stated that the fight would have been too violent if it had aired on Fox as the UFC is still in the “education process.”

-UPDATED: Fighter Wear and fighter entrance music here courtesy of FighterxFashion.

Conclusion

After the big UFC on Fox airing, UFC 139 seemed like an afterthought. It was a very good card but lacked the buzz. One reason may be that Fuel aired the one hour countdown show instead of Spike TV before Spike aired it late Thursday night. Second, many casual viewers may not know Dan Henderson or Mauricio Rua. Certainly, these guys showed that they could put on a good fight. Yet, they aren’t known names. Finally, there is a level of fatigue the casual viewer (or perhaps every viewer) has with these PPVs. It seems like every other week fans are spending money on fights.  With the holidays coming up, some budgeting has to take place and that may mean a decline in PPV purchases. Based on the last couple of PPVs (UFC 136-225K buys, UFC 137-280K buys), it would not be out of line to state that UFC 139 is in the neighborhood of 250K buys. With that being said, it may be time to recalibrate how many PPV buys makes a card successful.

UFC weigh ins provide comedy, branding opportunity

November 19, 2011

UFC 139’s weigh-ins last night provided some comic relief and three overweight fighters in preparation for tonight’s PPV. With some of the weigh-in comedy, one wonders whether the weigh-ins are now a place to work on fighters’ personal branding.

Remember when putting on a Jabawockeez mask to intimidate your opponent at the weigh-ins caused a near riot? It seems like the weigh-ins are becoming much more entertaining than just that.

Here are some highlights from yesterday:

-Danny Castillo wearing a tux which you could zip off from the back scored major points in the creativity department
-Tom Lawlor going Steven Seagal (shooting glasses and all). He also did his best Baron Von Raschke impression during the staredown as he gave the infamous claw. He also sported an XBox 360 shirt. In speaking with an XBox rep, Xbox is sponsoring Lawlor for its launch of the Kinect Sports 2. Demetrious Johnson remains as the only UFC fighter to be exclusively sponsored by XBox.
-Kyle Kingsbury and Stephan Bonnar hammed it up with a WWE-type posedown on the scales. With his patented fanny pack, Kingsbury is Zubaz and doo-rag away from being a 1980s wrestler from the Mid-South region.
-I’m not sure why more t-shirt sponsors of fighters allow the sponsored fighter to throw out free shirts to the crowd at weigh-ins. It gets your brand out there to the fans with the hopes of them coming back to purchase shirts. Of course the other side of that is the crowd is a considerable distance from the fighters. Thus, you get the Rick Story problem as he was unable to reach the crowd with some of his t-shirt throws. Since the NBA is out for some time, could the UFC borrow some of those t-shirt cannons to shoot out into the audience?
-Was Nick Pace confused in what division he was fighting in? Six pounds over really means that he should fight at 145 not 135.

Payout Perspective:

The weigh-ins seemed unorganized in terms of the actual weigh in. Whether there were issues with the scale or operator error, the weigh-ins seemed much more of an issue. Even though there were several fighters overweight, it usually doesn’t stop the pace of the weigh-ins. Also, it didn’t seem like the woman operating the scale knew about the one pound weight allowance as she grimaced each time she had to move the scale.

Similar to how the UFC wants its fighters to use twitter as a way to market themselves, the weigh-ins seem like an opportunity for fighters to promote themselves as well. Yes, the weigh-ins are usually something people pass over as its just guys getting on a scale. But, with a little more personality, it could be something that can be capitalized on in the future.

Silva appears in Ford Commercial

November 18, 2011

Anderson Silva stars in a Ford commercial in Brazil. The Spider does not speak in the commercial but is proving to be an identifiable spokesperson.

(H/t: Cage Potato)

Payout Perspective:

With the UFC Brazilian market growing, it looks like Silva is taking advantage of all the publicity. As we’ve seen, Silva is drawing many mainstream sponsor and his face is becoming more and more identifiable. This is a good thing for Silva personally and could prove to open up mainstream sponsor deals for other UFC fighters (e.g. Junior dos Santos).

 

UFC on FOX Network Debut: Payout Perspective

November 18, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at the UFC on FOX network debut headlined by the UFC Heavyweight Title bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.

The event took place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and featured the HW title fight between Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos. This was the only fight scheduled to air on the FOX network (60 minute time slot reserved from 9:00 pm-10:00 pm ET). The prelims portion was headlined by Ben Henderson vs Clay Guida, which aired on Facebook, FOXSports.com, and on Fox Deportes in the USA.  FOX Deportes aired Velasquez vs Dos Santos, Guida vs Henderson, and Garza vs Dustin Poirier. Facebook.com and FOXSports.com aired the rest of the prelims.

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 $666,000.

Junior Dos Santos: $220,000 (includes $110,000 win bonus)
def. Cain Velasquez: $100,000

Ben Henderson: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Clay Guida: $40,000

Dustin Poirier: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Pablo Garza: $8,000

Ricardo Lamas: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Cub Swanson: $15,000

DaMarques Johnson: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Clay Harvison: $8,000

Darren Uyenoyama: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto: $15,000

Robert Peralta: $16,000 (includes $ win bonus)
def. Mackens Semerzier: $8,000

Alex Caceres: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Cole Escovedo: $6,000

Mike Pierce: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Paul Bradley: $18,000

Aaron Rosa: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Matt Lucas: $6,000

 

Attendance and Gate

MMAJunkie reports that UFC on FOX held at the Honda Center in  Anaheim officially drew 11,607 in attendance for a $1.07 million gate. 1,700 tickets were unsold and 1,743 were comps. The average paid ticket price was $108.70.

It was not a great event in terms of gate and attendance, but that was to be expected as the UFC purposely lowered the ticket prices to try and pack the event as much as they could to give the UFC on FOX event a great atmosphere. In terms of gate and average paid ticket price, it will probably be one of their lowest numbers for a domestic event with the caliber of fighters on the card.  These numbers reflect what typical Ultimate Fight Night or UFC on Versus events would do, though those have a considerably lower payroll and don’t typically have title fights with much smaller venues.  This event also had the benefit of being held in Southern California where Cain Velasquez won the HW title against Brock Lesnar and had the novelty of being the UFC’s first network TV event, so by those standards, not selling out has to be a bit of a disappointment.  On the other hand, the main event was going to be televised for free on Network TV and all prelims were streaming for free on Facebook, so it may not be as bad of a number as it seems.

 

Ratings

MMAPayout reported this weekend that the UFC on FOX event on Saturday night averaged 5.7 million viewers (3.1 rating) and peaked at 8.8 million viewers. The demos were: M18-34: 4.3 (peak rating 7.19) and M18-49: 4.0.  This was the largest audience ever to watch an MMA event in the United States, breaking the record of 5.3 million (3.7 rating) by The Ultimate Fighter episode on Spike TV which featured Kimbo Slice vs Roy Nelson back in 2009.

Other notable high rating MMA shows include Ken Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz on Spike TV in 2006 which averaged 4.3 million viewers (3.1 rating) and UFC 75: Henderson vs Rampage in 2007 on Spike TV did 4.7 million viewers (3.1 rating).  The reason why the rating numbers don’t match the viewers is due to the increase of reach Spike TV has increased in the past few years.

On Network TV, the previous rating champ was the EliteXC Primetime event which featured Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson, which avaged 4.85 million viewers (3.0 rating).

 

FOX TV Rating Breakdown (Quarterly):

– UFC on FOX (9:00 pm-9:15 pm): 5.25 million viewers

-UFC on FOX (9:15 pm-9:30 pm): 5.48 million viewers

-UFC on FOX (9:30 pm-9:45 pm): 7.09 million viewers

-UFC on FOX (9:45 pm-10:00 pm): 4.88 million viewers

– Overall: Average of 5.7M viewers watched the fight live or via DVR playback within the same day. (Nielsen)

 

FOX TV Rating Notes:

– If you combine the FOX and FOX Deportes telecasts (one in Spanish, one in English), it would have received close to a 3.5 rating with 6.2 million viewers and a peak of 8.8 million and a M18-34 rating of 4.7. It is believed a peak close to 9 million was achieved combining both.

– The 4.3 rating in Males 18-34 beat every college football game this season except the LSU vs Alabama game on CBS.

– The 4.3 rating in Males 18-34 beat 65% of the playoff and World Series baseball games this season on FOX.

– The 4.3 rating in Males 18-34 was the third highest rated television show of the year for FOX Deportes.

– The show drew 1.7 million women over the age of 18.

– The median age of viewers for the telecast was 35 years old.

– The 5.7 million viewers was the most watched fight in broadcast on US television since HBO’s Lennox Lewis vs Vitali Klitschko back in 2003

– UFC programming delivered a total of 6.7 million impressions across all FSMG television networks.

– The peak of 8.8 million lasted as long as the fight did, which was 1 minute (fight started at 9:40 pm).

– By 9:45 pm, the viewership had dropped to 5.9 million. Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson peaked at 6.51 million and lasted for 10 minutes and 38 seconds. (Sports Illustrated) … about 25% of the audience had left at the end of the main event.

– UFC on FOX began with 5.2 million viewers and dipped as low as 4.4 million before viewership started to climb around 9:36 pm, as the fighters were starting to make their way to the Octogon. (Sports Illustrated)

 

Fuel TV Ratings:

– Two Hour UFC Pre-Fight Show (4:00 pm-6:00 pm ET) averaged 77,000 viewers (0.21 rating) making it Fuel TV’s highest rated program of the year. The prefight show also drew an average of 58,000 viewers in the M18-49 demo, the largest since the network become nationally rated.

-The UFC prefight show ranked as a top 20 show in the time period for Men 18-34 (.29), performing about as well or better than widely distributed networks like History Channel (.31), USA (.25), SyFy (.19) and AMC (.13).  FUEL TV also performed well in the Men 18-49 demo (.31), close to or matching ubiquitous networks like Discovery (.36), Comedy Central (.35) and MTV (.31).

– The One-Hour UFC postfight show (7:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET) drew 37,000 viewers.

 

FOX Deportes Ratings:

– Nearly 500,000 average viewers watched the event on FOX Deportes.

– The quarter-hour from 9:30 to 9:45 did about 900,000 viewers on Fox Deportes in Spanish.

– The Velasquez-dos Santos fight delivered a 3.9 coverage area HH rating, 487,000 viewers, and 352,000 A18-49 making it the highest-rated fight of any kind in Spanish language cable history.

– Saturday’s undercard coverage ranks as the second highest-rated fight-event in FOX Deportes history with a 3.4 HH rating, 365,000 viewers, and 237,000 A18-49 viewers.

– Saturday’s fight ranks as FOX Deportes’ highest-rated program since the Manchester United vs. Chelsea Premier League soccer match (5.0) on Sept. 18.

 

Spike TV Counter Programming Ratings:

– Spike TV’s Saturday night telecast of “Dos Santos vs. Velasquez: Unleashed for the Heavyweight Title” between 9:00-10:00 pm ET drew 719,000 viewers and a 0.6 rating with Men 18-34. List of ratings for “Unleashed” episodes pre and post UFC on FOX are listed below:

– At 8:00 pm: Before UFC on FOX went live, “Unleashed” drew 923,000 viewers .

– At 10:00 pm:  After the UFC on FOX had gone off air, “Unleashed” drew 787,000.

 

Brazil Ratings on TV Globo:

– The event peaked at 22M viewers in Brazil, and during the fight (1 minute), it reached a 20 rating and a 52% share (percentage of homes with TV’s). The ratings were above average for a Sunday morning. (Globo)

 

FOXSports.com:

– Tallied 257,000 total live streams for the nine undercard matches, while all the UFC content during and around the event generated over 1 million streams.

– Other than Super Bowl related content, this was the biggest video event in FOXSports.com history.


Top Rated MMA Shows (Average Viewers):

5.7M viewers (8.8M peak), “UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs Dos Santos”, FOX (11/12/2011)
– 5.3M viewers (6.1M peak), “The Ultimate Fighter: Kimbo Slive vs Roy Nelson”, SPIKE TV (09/30/2009)
– 4.9M viewers (6.5M peak), “EliteXC Primetime: Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson”, CBS (05/31/2008)
– 4.7M viewers (5.9M peak), “UFC 75: Dan Henderson vs Rampage Jackson”, SPIKE TV (09/08/2007)
– 4.2M viewers (5.7M peak), “UFC: Ken Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz 3”, SPIKE TV (10/10/2006)

Top Rated MMA Shows (Ratings):

– 3.7 Rating, M18-34: 6.9, “The Ultimate Fighter: Kimbo Slive vs Roy Nelson”, SPIKE TV (09/30/2009)
– 3.1 Rating, M18-34: 6.0, “UFC: Ken Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz 3”, SPIKE TV (10/10/2006)
– 3.1 Rating, M18-34: 5.7, “UFC 75: Dan Henderson vs Rampage Jackson”, SPIKE TV (09/08/2007)
– 3.1 Rating, M18-34: 4.3, “UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs Dos Santos”, FOX (11/12/2011)
– 3.0 Rating, M18-34: 3.2, “EliteXC Primetime: Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson”, CBS (05/31/2008)

– What we can take from these numbers is how impressive Spike TV has performed over the last several years with UFC content.  The 3.7 rating with a 6.9 M18-34 rating is almost unheard of at the moment, and even the UFC on FOX couldn’t top that, although FOX has a bigger reach than Spike TV, which is the reason why viewership is higher for FOX with the same or lesser ratings.

 

General Rating Notes:

– FOX scheduled the Velasquez vs Dos Santos bout to start at 9:40 PM, which was exactly when Stanford vs Oregon – a top 10 college football game – was going into halftime in order to acquire some extra viewers who may have been flipping channels.

– By starting at 9:40 p.m., if the fight went passed 3 rounds, it would go well past 10 p.m., when the local news was scheduled to start for FOX affiliate stations. At that point, a ton of new viewers would be watching the final rounds of what on paper expected to be an exciting fight a bump the ratings. A five round fight would have ended past 10:10, not accounting for reading the decision, nterviews, and wrap up, which would take you closer to 10:20.

– FOX was selling ads based on predictions of 4.5 million viewers, which means they easily met their goal (5.7 million). (Yahoo Sports)

– The strongest markets for the show were Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tulsa, San Diego, Greensboro, New Orleans and Los Angeles. It aired in Las Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles out of prime time.

 

Storylines

FOX Flexes Promotional Muscle for UFC

Sports Business Daily did a great story on the FOX’s promotional efforts heading into the UFC on FOX event.

The early returns have been strong, Fertitta said. The “UFC Primetime” preview show that Fox aired after its NFL telecasts two Sundays ago drew a 1.3 rating, which equates to about 2 million viewers. That about doubled the audience for similar UFC preview shows on Spike. Saturday night’s prime-time debut was close to sold out shortly after it hit the street, Fertitta said. Fox typically gets about $50,000 for a 30-second spot during its Saturday night programming, according to survey results published by Ad Age. ABC gets about $85,000 for spots on Saturday night college football.

While Fox Sports co-President Eric Shanks would not discuss specific rates for the one-hour, one-fight show, he said they exceeded expectations.

“The first fight out of the gate, there is tremendous interest,” Shanks said. “We had no problem selling at a good rate. And we haven’t even started the seven-year clock yet.”

–  Not Airing Guida vs Henderson Proves Costly for the UFC. Did they Have A Choice?

Guida vs Henderson was exactly the type of fight that would have drawn plenty of viewers for the UFC before the big HW Title matchup.  It had all the ingredients needed to build up a viewing fanbase and could have possibly served as their new version of Griffin vs Bonner, which propelled their popularity over on Spike TV.  It was an exciting and technical fight, which breath-taking back and forth between the two which resulted in a Fight of the Year candidate. It also lasted 3 rounds, which is exactly what was the dynamic needed to show to the new MMA spectators tuning in: a fight can last all 3 rounds or 1 minute, but it will be exciting either way.

The question is who’s call was this and did they have a choice? According to Ben Grossman from Broadcasting and Cable, “For those wondering, Fox did not have the rights to show the rest of the fights Saturday night on air, as Spike TV technically still owns those rights until the end of the year, so what turned out to be the best fight of the night – the one before the main event — was only available online.” I believe this is the reason why prelims, including the Guida vs Henderson fights were only shown to international viewers and on FOX Deportes, a Spanish broadcast.

–  Culinary Workers Union Picketing UFC Headquarters During Weekend

Over the weekend, the Culinary Workers Union was picketing UFC headquarters in Las Vegas and trying to mobilize people to send messages to FOX to cancel its TV contract with the UFC.  They have already made their voice clear sending a letter to the FTC regarding the UFC’s practices and also creating multiple websites highlighting Dan White’s past rants and vulgar language as well as “Unfit for Children” propaganda. The has also been activity by the union to back the anti-MMA legislators in New York as well as sending letters to major UFC sponsors encouraging them to drop the MMA promotion.

Critiquing UFC on FOX Broadcast

Luke Thomas of MMA Nation had a great article on some of the things UFC and FOX can tweak in order to improve future broadcasts (10 Steps To Improving UFC On Fox Broadcasts) … Loretta Hunt gives her own opinions and suggestions on SI.com (Three thoughts on UFC on Fox 1). Having Dana White as an analyst in the post-fight wrap-up provided some cringe-worthy moments for fans, as both Thomas and Hunt mentioned. It has been a common complain heard from within the MMA media circle, how Dana White criticized Valasquez plan and questioned Dos Santos stamina, as he appeared nervous and angry at the outcome.

Social Media Activity Backfires on the UFC

FightOpinion has done a great job documenting the Penn State sex scandal and how Forrest Griffin’s jokes on Twitter were not taken very kindly by various media outlets and anti- sex and child abuse organizations.  The Culinary Workers Union was also quick to point the controversy out on their anti-UFC website. Loretta Hunt was invited to NPR to talk about the matter. The segment’s title was “Misogyny in the UFC” (45 minute mark).

 

Odds and Ends

– The UFC painted over the blood on the Octogon before going live on FOX, per FOX’s request.  Dana White said they wanted to go on air with a nice clean presentation package and that it had nothing to do with FOX reacting negatively towards blood on the mat.

– For a brief moment at the beginning of the UFC on FOX broadcast, FOX flashed the following message: “The following might be the most exciting live sporting event in the history of television, and it’s our duty to say: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED”

– Bellator purchased some ad spots during the UFC on FOX broadcast in the Florida market in order to promote an upcoming event.

– The next UFC on FOX event has been scheduled for January 28th, 2012 being held in the United Center in Chicago.

– The first UFC on FX event will take place on January 20th and will be headlined by Jim Miller vs Melvin Guillard. Sydney, Australia and Nashville Tennessee have both been rumored as potential sites to host the event.

– FOX Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill stated that FOX specials would be 90 minutes, airing from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday nights with two or three fights. The UFC on FX live cards will take place on Fridays and would be 2 hour shows. Fuel TV events will be 3 hours in length and will also air all prelims.

– UFC 2012 Target Schedule:  14 PPV events, 4 UFC on FOX events, 6 UFC on FX events, and a minimum of 6 UFC on FUEL TV events. The Ultimate Fighter will also have around 24 live events on FX, Friday nights.

 

Mainstream Thoughts on UFC on FOX

Notes And Thoughts About UFC On Fox (Broadcasting & Cable)

UFC on Fox could have gone better but it definitely could have gone much worse.  The fact of the matter is Saturday night showed that Fox is exactly what UFC needed, and UFC can be a major player for Fox, FX and whatever Fuel ends up being down the road, for a long, long time.

Quick KO good or bad for UFC on Fox? (ESPN)

Fox Sports chief executive David Hill admitted he and president Dana White discussed the “tactics” of booking a single, heavyweight fight in hindsight, but added he was overwhelmingly satisfied with the product.

“It absolutely delivered everything I hoped it would,” Hill told ESPN.com. “I spoke to Dana and maybe, tactically, Dana didn’t play it the right way. But this is what you get in this sport. This is world heavyweight champion action.”

UFC’s Fox debut neither home run nor strikeout (Yahoo)

Saturday night was a similar step, just on a larger scale. Instead of Spike TV, it was the Fox network. Instead of two unknown scrappers, it was the two best heavyweights in the sport..

Unfortunately, MMA is unpredictable. As president Dana White said over-and-over in promoting the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos heavyweight title match, the company’s live network TV debut on Fox, it could end in 30 seconds, or it could go five rounds.

UFC’s network TV debut a success, despite lasting all of 64 seconds (Sports Illustrated)

That doesn’t go just for the Fox telecast, either. While the early undercard was playing out to a smallish crowd of diehards inside the arena, there was a brightly lit red carpet set up outside, where celebrities from MMA to the TV B-list — most from Fox programs, naturally — passed through a gauntlet of cameras, asked the same questions by every microphone wielder, smiling the same smiles for every lens. Inside, once the preliminaries were out of the way, the building had filled with a deafening roar, the octagon mat was cleaned of undercard blood stains. Don’t want to make a bad first impression with squeamish new viewers.

UFC on Fox: What the Media Is Saying (Hollywood Reporter)

The bout lasted a little over a minute, with Dos Santos knocking Velasquez to the ground with a punch to the temple and a beat down that followed until the referee stopped the fight.

Reaction to the broadcast ranged from the humorous to the general consensus that Fox has a winner with the franchise.

A few thoughts about tonight’s UFC fight … (San Francisco Chronicle)

No mercy, indeed. The heavyweight Junior Dos Santos/Cain Velasquez fight ends with Dos Santos knocking out Velasquez after just over a minute in the first round. I would say that was the second-worst case scenario with UFC’s historic first fight on network TV. (Worst case scenario by far was a gruesome injury.)

Fight Night in America (Esquire)

The hype on Fox was nothing short of lunatic. Dana White, the bald genius UFC president and probably the smartest sports executive in the country, wore a black suit. So did Brock Lesner, and so did Alistair Overeem when they cut to him octagon-side, which doesn’t sound so good, as if we were going to look back in thirty years on them as the new Ali and Frazier, which doesn’t either. Junior Dos Santos made his ring walk to “Gonna Fly Now,” which is the theme from Rocky. Cain Velasquez walked into the cage, petrified, and they stared at each other and they kicked some little kicks and then, a minute into the kicking and the staring, Dos Santos sent a loopy and rather laughably slow right hook to Velasquez’s left ear. Velasquez dropped to the canvas and then Dos Santos went and hit the shit out of him eleven times. The referee took his sweet time to stop it. It was over. There was no blood. It wasn’t very exciting.

Ultimate fighting is too brutal to be considered a sport, even if it’s on TV (Washington Post)

Excuse me, but ultimate fighting is not safer than cheerleading. I’ve watched some ultimate fighting. It’s a brutal sport. In fact, I don’t think ultimate fighting is a sport at all. It’s violence presented as entertainment..

By showing fights on Fox, UFC is trying to turn ultimate fighting into a regular sport and to make kicking someone in the face as normal as shooting a free throw. Close to 6 million people watched the Saturday night fight. Fox plans to show more ultimate fighting in the next few months.

Ultimate fighting is too brutal to be considered a sport, even if it’s on TV (Deadspin)

I’d planned to write something about the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos fight today. But the fight lasted all of 64 seconds. Gotta feel for anyone who sat through eons of buildup only to make for the suds and miss the action. The UFC’s debut on Fox was a flop. A disappointment on a grand scale. A few leg kicks from Velasquez, one overhand right from Dos Santos and that was the end of it. Dunzo. The card in its entirety.

UFC proves it’s here to stay (The Globe and Mail – Canada)

Rarely sticklers for journalistic purity, Fox used White himself as an analyst (Imagine Gary Bettman as the star of Coach’s Corner). Even as the main card tanked with headliner Cain Velasquez succumbing in just 64 seconds to challenger Junior Dos Santos, White and co-analyst Brock Lesnar kept pitching the gospel. White savaged Velasquez’s passivity. “I don’t understand why Cain wouldn’t go in for the shot, pressure him and not stay in his range. But what the hell am I? I’m not anybody’s coach or trainer.”

Right. Resistance is futile. UFC is here to stay. Or, as our mother used to say, until somebody loses an eye.

UFC Was Never Meant For Network Television (IBTimes – New York)

It’s not the management of the UFC that will prohibit the sport from moving forward. The UFC will continue to expand its brand name recognition, and people will continue to tune in and watch the big fights. Mixed-martial arts isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and, therefore, UFC won’t be going anywhere either. But as for UFC being part of a dinner conversation in most American homes, that will never, ever happen. The sport is too volatile on too many levels.

Dos Santos claims Velasquez’s UFC belt in Fox show (Chron)

The brief fight was the only event on a one-hour broadcast on Fox, which signed the UFC to a seven-year broadcast deal earlier this year. Any newcomers to the sport who tuned in got a taste of MMA’s violence, but not much else — particularly if they returned late from a commercial break.

Or even if they blinked.

All Up in the Videos (The Classical)

And that’s how a typical display of MMA’s chaotic nature and dos Santos’ signature power were recast as a bad, stupid thing—the natural result of Velasquez fighting foolishly against a one-dimensional foe—which in turn recast a heavyweight title fight as an anti-climactic scuffle pitting an idiot against some non-athlete. At the risk of belaboring things, the person doing this was the president of the UFC, whose job is supposed to be spinning any result into a story that makes the viewers care. I’ve followed the sport for over a decade, and even I was starting to wonder if I should keep caring.

 

Social Media – Sports Business Circle Reactions After KO

Michele Steele: “Huge night for UFC debut on Fox — hard to believe that UFC started w $2M investment 10 years ago, now $2 BILLION brand”

John Ourand: “Wow. A knockout in the first minute?? Bad news for Fox. … What’s Fox’s filler programming now?”

Bill Simmons: “UFC loses its network virginity to Fox and it’s over in under 90 seconds. Just like real life!”

Darren Rovell: “UFC had the same problem years ago when ESPN put Chuck Liddell on SportsCenter & ESPN Mag. Then he lost in minutes.” … “If you’re a UFC newcomer, how do you feel after tonight? 46.2% less likely to watch, 32.4% more likely to watch, 21.4% have to see more.”

 

Twitter and Google Trends

Social Media on that Saturday was quite peculiar. There were literally no sporting events trending on that day (usually some of the hottest trends occur during sporting events). “Bendo” and “Clay Guida” were all trend topics for the night.  In fact, airing all of the prelims on Facebook seemed to have hurt the buzz for the show as these were the only two topics to trend before the UFC on FOX broadcast.  During the event, #UFCONFOX, “Cain Velasquez“, and “Dos Santos” were all trending along with “Pacquiao” and “Marquez“.

In Google under the “Hot Searches” section, “Cain Velasquez vs Dos Santos” (#17) and “UFC on FOX” (#20) were the only two items in the top 20 relating to the event on November 12 while “Manny Pacquiao” and “Marquez” were 4th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 14th on the list.  College Football’s “Oregon vs Stanford” was #16.

From looking at some of these social media trends, it can be speculated that having no fights on a TV platform in addition to the Pacquiao fight and the head-to-head college football game affected some of the UFC’s buzz going into the event.  It can also be assumed that although the ratings were good for Fuel TV’s standards, it did not help build up and carry momentum into the UFC on FOX event.  Facebook fights still appear to have very little effect on getting more viewers to order or watch the fights at this point.

Airing the fights on FX and carrying the audience over to FOX on their next event should pay dividends for them and create more social media buzz that could bring more eyeballs into their next broadcast.  Social Media was heavily underutilized for this event.

 

Sponsor, Promotion and Marketing Watch

UFC on FOX Sponsors in the Cage: Uncharted 3 (PS3 Video Game), Muscle Pharm (Supplements), Xyience (Sports Drinks), SafeAuto (Insurance), Marines, G’zOne (Casio Phone), Bud Light (Anheuser-Busch), UFC Undisputed 3 (Video Game- THQ), and the main sponsor of the event was Dodge (US Automobile).

UFC on FOX TV Spots: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (video game), Tapout (with kids practicing MMA inside a cage, which was an interesting choice of a spot to expose to the mainstream audience considering recent debates on that subject), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (movie), UFC 139 promo, Jack in the Box,  AMPM, & a GOOD number of local spots.

Cain Velasquez Sponsors: Dethrone (apparel), Milwaukee Tools, MicroTech, Oak Grove Technologies, Lugz (footwear), BSN (supplements), California Wheels, and AKA (gym).

Junior Dos Santos Sponsors: TOTVS, Gillette, Renato Saraiva, Analise, Team Nogueira (gym), Pretorian (apparel), Siciliano, Bony Acai (sport drink), and his own brand Cigano… all were Brazilian based sponsors.

TUF 14 Episode 9: 1.4 million viewers

November 17, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that episode 9 of TUF 14 received an average of 1.4 million viewers. It scored an overall 1.1 household rating, as well as a 1.44 rating among men ages 18-49 and a 1.71 among men 18-34.

Episode 1: 1.5 million
Episode 2: 1.6 million
Episode 3: 1.3 million
Episode 4: 1.5 million
Episode 5: 1.5 million
Episode 6: 1.6 million
Episode 7: 1.5 million
Episode 8: 1.4 million
Episode 9: 1.4 million

Payout Perspective:

This week’s episode included the customary “coach’s challenge” which involved skeeball at the Ghost Bar. I frankly thought it was one of the weaker coach’s challenges until Bisping fell off the table. It would not have been funny if he would have hurt himself and would have had to pull out of the Dec. 3rd fight with Miller. A slight decrease in the last couple weeks but the ratings have been overall consistent.

Spike TV’s UFC on FOX Counter-Program Nets 719,000 Viewers

November 16, 2011

MMAPayout.com has learned that Spike TV’s Saturday night telecast of “Dos Santos vs. Velasquez: Unleashed for the Heavyweight Title” between 9:00-10:00 pm ET/PT drew 719,000 viewers and a 0.6 rating with Men 18-34. List of ratings for “Unleashed” episodes pre and post UFC on FOX are listed below:

– At 8:00 pm: Before UFC on FOX went live, “Unleashed” drew 923,000 viewers .
– At 10:00 pm:  After the UFC on FOX had gone off air, “Unleashed” drew 787,000.

Spike TV’s Saturday night counter-programming efforts included the following “Unleashed” lineup:

8PM Unleashed
Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader
Junior Dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin
Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar

9PM Unleashed
Junior Dos Santos  vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic
Tyson Griffin  vs. Hermes France
Thiago Silva vs. Keith Jardine

10PM Unleashed
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira
Matt Serra vs. Frank Trigg
Pat Barry vs Antoni Hardonk
Mark Munoz vs Kendall Grove

***

Spike TV must be very happy with those numbers, as they put their UFC library rights to good use airing UFC content around the UFC on FOX network debut.  Amazing to think that the 8PM airing of “Unleashed” which featured Brock Lesnar vs Cain Valasquez drew 923K viewers.  Last seasons TUF typically drew around 1 Million viewers and featured Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos as head coaches, which makes these rating numbers for taped fights that much more impressive.

Spike TV to air “MMA Junkie Live” in ‘12

November 16, 2011

Spike TV announced today that it will unveil a prime time mixed martial arts news magazine show in 2012: “MMA Junkie Live.” Spike TV will partner with the recently acquired MMA Junkie web site for this half hour show starting this January.

Via Spike TV press release:

Spike TV will debut its first ever prime time mixed martial arts news magazine show, “MMA Junkie Live,” in January 2012, it was announced today by Jon Slusser, senior vice president, sports and multi-platform programming, Spike TV. Broadcast live from the iconic MTV Studios in Times Square, the heart of New York City, this half-hour, multi-platform show will feature a look ahead at the weekend’s big mixed martial arts fights, and a look back at the action from recent bouts.

Partnering with the award-winning MMA news website, “MMAjunkie.com,” part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group, the half-hour show will be hosted by an all-star team of MMA experts and journalists who will engage in discussion and debate regarding the latest news from the sport. “MMA Junkie Live” will also feature live in-studio interviews with many of the world’s top fighters, in-depth features, action-packed highlights, as well as viewer interaction via Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.

“The goal of the series will be to create the must-see destination for MMA fans who crave news, discussion, information, and expert opinion about the sport they love in a unique and entertaining way,” said Slusser. “Building on our multi-platform success, this show will be an experience that takes advantage of social and mobile platforms to engage viewers in real time and make them a part of the live show.”

Payout Perspective:

So we now see one of the reasons for the purchase of MMA Junkie. The move increases the presence of MMA on Spike TV and shows the network’s commitment to the MMA business. MMA Junkie Live also shows an extension of coverage of MMA. It joins InsideMMA on HD Net and MMA Live on ESPN as shows covering news around the world of MMA. It will be interesting to see how Junkie will be presented and how it will distinguish itself from the others.

Bellator 57: 129,000 viewers

November 16, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Saturday night’s Bellator 57 on MTV2 received a low 129,000. Bellator 57 ran opposite the UFC on Fox, the Pacquiao-Marquez fight and college football Saturday night.

Despite changing its time slot to avoid conflicts, the 129,000 viewers average shows that MMA fans were watching the UFC online, the JDS-Cain marathon on Spike TV, free fight prelims on the Audience Network or college football.

Payout Perspective:

Hopefully in 2012 Bellator can plan ahead during weekends it will run up against UFC PPVs and UFC on Fox. The 129,000 viewers is a low turnout but expected considering the huge event in the UFC. We will see if Bellator can gain some traction with the hype of MMA from the UFC on Fox. It will be interesting to see if it can rebound next week despite competing with a mediocre UFC 139.

Ratings for Fuel TV’s UFC on FOX Pre and Post-Show

November 16, 2011

MMAPayout.com has learned that Saturday night’s two-hour UFC on FOX Pre-Show drew 83,000 viewers on Fuel TV. The network’s one-hour post-show drew 37,000 viewers.

While far short of the number posted by the event itself, the numbers compare favorably with the Fuel’s average prime time audience for the previous week of 18,000.

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