UFC 141: Payout Perspective

January 3, 2012

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we look at a special Friday night event from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada which featured Brock Lesnar versus Alistair Overeem.

Overeem kicks Lesnar into retirement

There’s a reason why Lesnar went off as the underdog in Vegas. It was uncertain how Lesnar would do considering he came back from diverticulitis once again. The fight was a no contest for Overeem as one kick to the gut and Lesnar was done for the night.

Classy speech by Lesnar at the end of the fight. It was the right thing to do as his last two fights have been very disappointing. For Overeem, JDS is next in what should be one of the bigger cards of 2012.

Diaz boxes out Cowboy

A lot of trash talk before made this co-main event something to watch. Indeed it was the most interesting match of the night. Diaz used the “stockton slap” as the Cowboy just stood in front of him in the first round. Cerrone used some leg sweeps to score some points but did little actual damage to Diaz.

An impressive outing for Diaz as he’s moving up in the lightweight division albeit he came in at 157 pounds.

Hendricks knocks out Fitch

Johnny Hendricks left hand was lethal as he flirted with the UFC’s fastest KO record with a knockout of Jon Fitch. A disappointing end for Fitch who was coming back from shoulder surgery. The stoppage was warranted as Fitch went limp and Hendricks was right on top to deliver more punishment if he the fight wasn’t stop.

Hendricks puts himself in line for a title shot. He’s not in the express line to a shot but is definitely someone that should be taking a step forward in the next year.

Attendance and Gate

MMA Junkie reports that UFC 141 drew a reported 12,158 fans for a reported $3.1 million gate. The figures, as custom, were given by Dana White at the post-fight press conference. The numbers fall well short of the top 5 draws in MGM Grand history but it did much better than last year’s UFC 125.


The bonuses were $75,000 each and went to Johnny Hendricks, Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone. Hendricks was the obvious choice for KO of the night while Diaz and Cerrone earned fight of the night honors. There were no submissions so no sub of the night.

Countdown to UFC 141 debuted on Fuel TV a week before the event and garnered a poor 15,000 viewers. Hopefully, the January 1st UFC marathon helped with marketing of the network as the new place for the UFC.

Salaries were released earlier than normal by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because lawyers for Golden Glory obtained an order to garnish the salary of Alistair Overeem. Of no surprise, Brock Lesnar topped the list. Overeem was set to earn $385K but was asked to garnish roughly 30%. However, it was revealed Monday that no bond was posted to garnish the salary as required by Nevada law. So, Overeem was able to receive all of his earnings. This will make the litigation between Overeem and Golden Glory much more contentious.


Clothing brand RYU and wireless service provider MetroPCS became sponsors of the UFC this month. RYU was a sponsor to the “backstage camera” and MetroPCS had signage in the Octagon. RYU also sponsored Jon Fitch. Unfortunately for Fitch, the RYU walkout shirt was seen much more than on his shorts as the fight lasted just 12 seconds.


With the addition of MetroPCS and Gina Carano’s new movie, “Haywire,” the regular sponsors (SafeAuto, TapouT, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light) were in the Octagon. Speaking of Haywire, Carano was in attendance and was interviewed about the movie.

Harley Davidson pumped up its Hometown Throwdown contest again.

MusclePharm had a special graphic shown during the tale of the tape before Overeem and Lesnar.

The Cowboy has used his hat to put sponsors on each side of the hat in the past and now he’s used under the brim. Way to use the real estate. Maybe that’s why he got so upset that Diaz flicked it off his head.

Jimy Hettes had sponsors AzadWatch.com and Palooka.com as sponsors. I noticed these two sponsors since they were on the back of his fight shorts and maintained dominant position on Nam Pham most of their match. Good placement for the two sponsors.

It was announced prior to UFC 141, that Lesnar signed an endorsement deal with Everlast. I wonder what impact his retirement will have on the deal?

Post-UFC 141 Headlines

Lesnar retires, what now?

With the retirement of Brock Lesnar, the UFC lost its top PPV draw. A Lesnar card meant 1 million PPV buys was a certainty. With his departure, and the absence of GSP for most of the year and Anderson Silva out until at least June, the UFC is in a precarious PPV position as its lost its top three stars for the first half of 2012. Jon Jones could be the next PPV breakout star.

But, perhaps as when teams go without its star, it makes the rest of the team stronger and better. This can be a time that the UFC can build up its existing stars (Jones, Edgar, Diaz). Of course, Rashad Evans is another top PPV draw but will be on the Fox broadcast on January 28th. His next fight (fingers crossed) will likely be the long-awaited bout with Jon Jones sometime this summer (maybe Memorial Day weekend). What will the PPV buys look like in the first half of the year?

Young fighters impress

Jimy Hettes and Alexander Gustafsson made statements in their fights on the main card of the PPV. Hettes was impressive in his fight with Nam Phan and Gustafsson took care of the Vladimir Matyushenko. Both of these guys look to be moving up the ranks of their respective divisions.

Odds and ends

-Why no Joe Rogan post-fight interview for Jimy Hettes? He deserved some mic time.

-After Diaz flipped Cerrone’s cowboy hat earlier in the week, Diaz gave Cerrone his beanie after their fight. It looked like Diaz wanted Cerrone to give him his cowboy hat kind of like an exchange of opponent jerseys in soccer.

-The last live event on Spike occurred with little or no mention that the UFC-Spike relationship was ending. Of course, if you are Spike, you are still showing the UFC library so why mention it.

-I was in Canada last week and noticed Rogers giving a top 5 of Lesnar’s greatest fights. It was interesting to me that the number 1 moment was his win over Frank Mir and they showed his infamous rant after the fight (“going to have a Coors Light because Bud doesn’t pay me” and “get on his wife” comments). That’s something they would not play in the US anymore.

PPV issues

This was the first time that XBox users could purchase a UFC events through its XBox Live platform. As a promotion for this, XBox gave away 30,000 free PPV passes to watch the event.  Unfortunately, technical difficulties destroyed the opportunity for anyone to access the UFC on XBox. To make amends, the UFC promised all that purchased the event on XBox, it would be able to see another UFC event for free. The problem with this, is that consumers are now weary of this method of watching the PPV and less likely to use this platform. We see that there are some glitches in the system and the UFC must fix them, restore trust and address this PR problem as well.

In addition to the XBox problem, I received notice that Rogers in Ontario, Canada had technical difficulties as well. People that purchased the PPV were refunded money as the cable operator acknowledged the problems.

These problems do not bode well for the overall viewership of the PPV. Even with Lesnar at the top of the card, the final number could have been better but for these issues.

22 Responses to “UFC 141: Payout Perspective”

  1. dfdfdf on January 3rd, 2012 12:50 PM

    Overeem will make $6.5M – $8.5M this year with all of his revenue streams
    such as apperances, sponsors, endorsements, etc.

    Overeem made $1.4 -$2.4M from the UFC from this one fight.
    Overeem’s UFC annual fight salary is $4.2M – $7.5M @ 3 fights a year.

    Overeem made
    $264,285.71 to show (bout fee)
    $121,428.57 to win (win bonus)

    Overeem also gets $2 a PPV buy.
    500 buys = $1M
    1M buys – $2M

  2. Diego on January 3rd, 2012 2:37 PM

    Good night of fights but I wonder how the combination of having the Countdown show on Fuel, the fights on Friday and technical issues with PPVs will affect the overall buy rate.

  3. ChrisC on January 4th, 2012 10:55 AM

    Lesnar, the biggest bust in UFC heavyweight history. Good wrestler but thats about it, would have been unstopable in the early UFC, when everyone only had one style.

  4. BrainSmasher on January 4th, 2012 5:28 PM

    UFC Bust isnt he word i would use to describe someone who became UFC champ and beat names like Couture, Carwin, Herring and Mir with no fight experience. Come on now. Brock lost like everyone does. But he got into it to later to make adjustments like others can. There was no point in him taking a beating every other fight so he moved on. If Brock is a bust then everyone is a bust. Even though he loses some fights he is still a dangerous match up for everyone. He lost to guys everyone in the would would lose to but maybe a couple people. That doesnt make him a bust.. I cant stand wrestling and i dont like Brock but calling him a bust doesnt make sense at all.

  5. BrainSmasher on January 4th, 2012 5:30 PM

    BTW, “Bust” means he didnt live up to expectations. Unless you are a Pro Wresting fan boy. No one expected Brock to ever do as well as he did. I think he was a huge success and passed expectations.

  6. TheFightScientist on January 5th, 2012 7:07 AM

    I’ve never seen anyone cite a PPV share number…where does “dfdfdf” get the numbers for Overeem. I’d be very interested to know if those numbers are valid.

    Also, would Lesnar in this case also get a $2 share per PPV purchase as the co-headliner? And what about defending champions more generally – would they get more than $2, and would the challenger get anything similar?

  7. Jose Mendoza on January 5th, 2012 2:09 PM


    Details of Overeem’s UFC contract leaked on the lawsuit filed by Golden Glory. This is a more accurate number for UFC 141:

    Overeem pay based on 800K UFC 141 PPV Buys:
    (23K*0) + (777K PPV Buys * $2) + $385K (disclosed pay) + $333K (signing bonus) = $2.27M

  8. TheFightScientist on January 6th, 2012 7:12 AM

    Fantastic, thanks! Very good data point for the fighter compensation analysis I’ve been doing. Stay tuned.

  9. Dfdfdf on January 6th, 2012 1:14 PM

    UFC vs Boxing 2011 By the numbers:

    Boxing had the top 3 PPV with the most Buys all over 1M Buys
    Pacman, Pacman, Mayweather

    The UFC had the the top 12 out of 17 PPV

    In 2011, 8 out of Boxing’s 13 PPVs did less than 50,000 buys
    In 2011, UFC PPVs averaged 400,000 buys

    UFC PPV buys from 9.1M in 2010 to 5.95 in 2011.

    UFC 141 did roughly 800 PPV buys and Overeem made about $2M.

    Mayweather and Pacman can make $50M a fight or $150M a year
    but every other boxer would be lucky to make $500,000.

    UFC has numerous fighters making $1M – $15M per year.

  10. Diego on January 7th, 2012 3:54 PM

    Good info Dfdfdf. Thanks.

  11. IronMike on January 9th, 2012 1:51 AM

    Amir Kahn, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Magagrito, Bernard Hopkins, Andre ward, Sergio Martinez, , Jean Pascel, Victor Ortiz, Wladimir Klitschko are just a few of the Boxers that made over a million dollars in 2011, the list goes on. MMA is no where close to the numbers that the top boxers make sorry. Also boxing has a much stronger world wide appeal.

  12. mma on January 9th, 2012 5:26 AM

    without brock and st pierre…ufc is going down this year…because the 18 to 25 demographics want a white fighter…

  13. Diego on January 9th, 2012 6:22 AM


    Where is the analysis supporting your conclusions? These numbers are not released by the UFC, but based on the info we’re getting from Overeem’s contract it seems like there are many UFC fighters who are making 7 figures – Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, Brock Lesnar, Alistair Overeem, Jon Jones, Rampage Jackson, Shogun Rua, Dan Henderson, GSP, Nick Diaz (maybe not because he was pulled from the main event), the list goes on. If in fact main event fighters are getting a cut of the PPV, and there is evidence to suggest that this is the case, then the UFC is creating a slew of millionaires as well.

    If by “top boxers” you mean Pacman and Mayweather then yes, those guys make much more than anyone in MMA. But it appears that top MMA athletes make as much as guys like Victor Ortiz, Sergio Martinez and pretty much any boxer not named Pacquiao or Mayweather. Hard to say for sure because again, salary details are not released by the UFC, but based on PPV revenues, and the little we do know about the UFC salary structures, it seems the UFC is minting a lot of millionaires.

  14. Sampson Simpson on January 9th, 2012 10:05 AM

    MMA fighters not in the UFC don’t make anything.

    There are numerous foreign boxers that most of you have never heard of making millions overseas.

  15. Ironmike on January 9th, 2012 11:30 AM

    I’m a fight fan, MMA, boxing it doesn’t matter. All of Golden Boy’s , Top rank and other big promoters all have multiple million dollar fighters. Pacquiao and Top Rank alone make more in a year than the UFC and strike force combined. MMA is a young sport and is trying to grow, Boxing has a 200 year head start. Please don’t kid yourself and believe that MMA pays its fighters more. Also you have one organization which basically controls the whole sport so that strongly limits money to be made by fighters.

  16. Diego on January 9th, 2012 12:05 PM

    “Pacquiao and Top Rank alone make more in a year than the UFC and strike force combined.” – I don’t believe that. Show me the numbers.

    Regardless, again you are mentioning Pacquiao, but if you exclude him and Mayweather, I don’t think the payscales are that different. I agree that the de-facto monopoly by the UFC depresses fighter earnings, but I was still shocked to see how much someone like Overeem is able to earn.


    Yes it’s true that some foreign fighters make a lot of money by virtue of being able to sell out arenas (Arthur Abraham, the Klitschkos, Kessler, Povetkin) but that is not the norm. If you can become a hometown hero in any way, shape or form, whether it’s as by being a pole vaulter, sprinter, boxer or even the world’s strongest man there are ways to monetize that fame, but few are able to do that. Boxing and MMA are predominantly PPV and TV broadcast driven businesses, and the UFC is generating more money in both those categories than any boxing promotion and maybe more than all the top promotions combined.

  17. BrainSmasher on January 9th, 2012 4:17 PM

    You guys need to boaden your MMA horizons a little. There are guys making millions outside the UFC. Not as many as their used to be but i would still bet there is in Japan. They still pay their japanese draws lot of money. I know there were tons making millions when Pride was around.

    As convientient as it is to post all the boxers in the world who get paid well and limit MMA to the UFC. That just isnt the case. Even though i think these numbers are incorrect. I would also say it is more trendy to use MMA fighters over boxers outside of fighting. More MMA fighters are getting movie roles and big endorsement deals that few boxers are getting. That has been the case for a few years now.

  18. BrainSmasher on January 9th, 2012 5:18 PM

    Bisping, Henderson, Shogun, Cung Le, Santos, Diaz, Tito, Rampage, Jones, Silva, Overeem, Mir, Brock, GSP, Belfort, Forrest, Couture.

    These are all guys who can be right around the 1 million mark just off their fights with 3 fights per year off the top of my head. Not including fight bonus’.

    When you factor in endorsements and other income they get off of being a MMA fighter there are many more. You can probabley add Akiyama, Rich Franklin, Frankie Edgar, Penn, Faber, Cain to the list as well. Then there is always a guy who can get around a million with the inclusion of fight bonus’ like Hazelette and Lyltle have.

    Also the middle level and lower level guys in MMA are paid much better than boxers.

    In the end who gives a damn about how much they make anyway? It really is meaningless and greedy athletes is what kills sports. Pac/FMJ wont happen not because either guy is scared of the other. But because FMJ will not risk his $50 million pay days. He makes to much to risk losing all his cred by fighting Pacman so he will not do it unless his appeal starts to decline, he feels he cant lose, or just wants to cash out with his last fight. The fans will never get what they want to see when they want it.

    I never understood why fans want athletes to make more money than they deserve. We have police getting shot for 50k a year and people wiping ass in nursing homes for 15k a year. I can careless if someone with ADHD who fights 3 times a year wants more than a couple hundred thousand a year.

    The UFC runs the sport perfectly. There is a perfect balance between giving the fighters a portion of what they bring in and make a product that gives fans what they pay for. I love knowing that i have seen almost every fighter on a UFC card and that half the card is a top 20 ranked fighter or better. You might be happy that boxing has 1 fight worth a damn on a PPV. You also bitch when the fight sucks and there was no other value on the event. With the last SF card the most interesting fight wasnt even the main event. At UFC 141 the fight i was anticipating was Nate vs Cerrone. That doesnt happen if the main event fighters have control or use up the entire budget for the event.

  19. IronMike on January 9th, 2012 6:10 PM

    Thanks Dana I mean brainsmasher, Everyone has made valid points. let me know when an MMA fighter makes a multi million dollar payday we will be waiting.

  20. IronMike on January 9th, 2012 6:22 PM

    here is a payout not too long ago. This is barley enoughh money to train.
    The full UFC 131 payouts included:

    Junior Dos Santos: $200,000 (includes $100,000 win bonus)
    def. Shane Carwin: $40,000

    Kenny Florian: $130,000 ($65,000 win bonus)
    def. Diego Nunes: $12,000

    Mark Munoz: $60,000 ($30,000 win bonus)
    def. Demian Maia: $43,000

    Dave Herman: $36,000 ($18,000 win bonus)
    def. Jon Olav Einemo: $15,000

    Donald Cerrone: $40,000 ($20,000 win bonus)
    def. Vagner Rocha: $6,000

    Sam Stout: $38,000 ($19,000 win bonus)
    def. Yves Edwards: $12,000

    Chris Weidman: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus)
    def. Jesse Bongfeldt: $6,000

    Krzysztof Soszynski: $24,000 ($12,000 win bonus)
    def. Mike Massenzio: $8,000

    Nick Ring: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus)
    def. James Head via submission: $6,000

    Dustin Poirier: $10,000 ($5,000 win bonus)
    def. Jason Young: $6,000

    Joey Beltran: $24,000 ($12,000 win bonus)
    def. Aaron Rosa: $6,000

    Darren Elkins: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus)
    def. Michihiro Omigawa: $8,000

  21. Sampson Simpson on January 10th, 2012 8:40 AM

    The funniest thing is that MMA fans are marketed to believe that the UFC houses the top fighters in the world…

    Marketing is a powerful thing when your fan base isn’t to keen.

  22. Prince on January 16th, 2012 5:53 AM

    @Sampson – there are very few top fighters left outside of UFC with Strikeforce bought & Japanese MMA dying out

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