UFC 144: Payout Perspective
February 27, 2012
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 144 from Tokyo, Japan with Zuffa’s first show in the country. The fans saw a great main event with Frankie Edgar defending his title versus former WEC titleholder Benson Henderson.
Henderson takes title from Edgar
It was worth the price of the PPV. A back and forth fight that saw the fight turn on a vicious upkick which rocked Edgar. Henderson was the aggressor despite Edgar landing more strikes. Edgar showed the heart of a champion but the size disparity was clear.
For Henderson, the win was redemption from the “Showtime Kick” almost 14 months earlier. How ironic that Anthony Pettis headkick of Joe Lauzon propelled him into a title shot against Henderson…the man he took the WEC belt from with that highlight reel kick.
For Edgar, it seemed too soon to ask about dropping a weight class. If anyone deserves a rematch, its Edgar, the guy that upset the legendary BJ Penn…and then dominated him to prove it wasn’t a fluke in the rematch. We’ll see what’s ahead but the initial outlook sounds like a move down to face Jose Aldo.
Bader gets win against overweight Rampage
A couple fights removed from reviving Tito Ortiz’s career, Bader took control of his own by defeating an unimpressive Rampage Jackson. This was not the best Jackson as he missed weight and claimed a knee injury as the reason. Still, a win is a win and gets Bader back on track.
For a guy that begged to be on this card, Jackson didn’t look like it. He was probably the most popular of the non-Japanese fighters on the card, yet it was clear he wasn’t at his best. Does this mean the end for him or does he get motivated once again for another run in the division.
Tim Boetsch came back from a 2-0 round deficit by knocking out crowd favorite Yushin Okami in Round 3. Okami was dominant in the first two rounds and looked like the guy that was supposed to fight Anderson Silva in Brazil. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish the fight and was upset. It stunned the crowd and Joe Rogan went nuts.
Attendance and Gate
A very good crowd for a Sunday morning in Tokyo. Although no numbers were made official, the UFC indicated that ticket sales were going well. There was a late surge in ticket sales and WOWOW confirmed at least 15K seats were sold (H/t: Tony Loiseleur of Sherdog). The Saitama Super Arena could house 22,000 for an event.
According to MMA Junkie, bonuses were $65,000 each and went as follows:
- Anthony Pettis – KO of the Night
- Vaughn Lee – Submission of the Night
- Edgar/Henderson – Fight of the Night
The Octagon included some Japanese signage (WOWOW, Shindai and Unity) along with the core of Tapout, Xyience, Toyo, Corn Nuts and Bud Light. UFC Undisputed 3 and Jason Staham’s upcoming movie “Safe” also were in the Octagon.
Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion noted the lack of Japanese sponsors. Its interesting considering that in Brazil, there was more of a presence of Brazilian sponsors as they sponsored fighters.
Full Metal Jousting took a more active role as it sponsored the tale of the tape. As an aside, I’ve actually started watching the show after hearing about it. This article thinks it could be the next UFC.
No MetroPCS this time in the Octagon although it was still a named sponsor.
Anthony Pettis had Corn Nuts, Toyo Tires and Xyience as his prime in ring sponsors. Certainly, sponsors think highly of Showtime.
I think if more agents want to get more visibility for his fighter and their sponsors should tweet their sponsors:
— KOreps.com (@ko_reps) February 21, 2012
Although not shown, the tweet includes a picture of Lauzon’s fight shorts. Its a good use of twitter and cuts out having to squint to see the logos.
Frankie Edgar had something similar.
— Frankie Edgar (@FrankieEdgar) February 19, 2012
The Philadelphia Inquirer had a piece on Frankie Edgar prior to Saturday night’s title defense.
The UFC Countdown show was very good and gave a great profile on Benson Henderson’s background including his relationship with his mother. Henderson can definitely be a face for the UFC and his story could be much broader than just North American audiences. Although it dedicated less time to this, the Jake Shields portion was very good as it talked about the death of his father.
As we covered here, the UFC did “person on the street” interviews about the state of Japanese MMA. It also brought back some of the memories of Pride for the hardcore enthusiasts.
GSP paid a visit to a Japanese martial arts school. Also in the video, Dana White visits the mayor. Roy Nelson also took a tour of Japan which included eating some exotic foods.
As we indicated previously, Rampage Jackson was promoted heavily for his return to where he made a name for himself.
NY Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck made a call to Frankie Edgar to wish him luck prior to his fight with Benson Henderson. As I stated in the earlier post, I thought Edgar was a Jets fan.
Post-UFC 144 Headlines
- The obvious headline is who’s next for the Smooth one? It looks like its Showtime although I wouldn’t be mad with a rematch with Edgar. I think Pettis gets the shot because its an easy sell for the eventual PPV. How many times will we see the Showtime Kick as a lead-in to the fight?
- What’s next for Edgar? It seemed like immediately after Edgar lost, he was being ushered into the Featherweight division. It was a close fight and he deserves a rematch for the belt. Yet, it almost was a foregone conclusion that he’ll drop down and get a shot at Jose Aldo. I’m not opposed to this, in fact I think they should actually make this fight at 155. But, I disagree with the circumstances in which Edgar is seemingly made to move on.
- What should Rampage do? When you look at the past couple years, God’s Street Soldier (a reference to his tat) is steadily declining. His return to Japan was promoted but his performance was hindered by a knee injury. Is it a matter of injuries or a matter of discipline? The UFC may have to consider what to do with Jackson next
- The UFC’s visit to Japan brought back memories of Japan’s MMA scene and the problems surrounding it. Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion has much on this subject. It was also featured on both Spike TV MMA Uncensored and HD Net’s Inside MMA. Overall, most believe the UFC’s visit was a success. We’ll have to see whether or not it will make Japan an annual visit. And, what does this visit do, if anything, for the local state of MMA.
Odds and Ends
Disappointing night for Japanese fighters with Kid Yamamoto, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Yushin Okami. Okami especially disappoining considering he looked excellent through two rounds and then fell victim to the punches of Tim Boetsch.
Hatsu Hioki was one of the bright spots for Japanese MMA and is being considered as a potential challenger to Jose Aldo.
The interpreter did a great job at the weigh-ins and at the event. Either she had a great memory at the weigh-ins or she was making it up. At the event, she had a pad of paper to write things down as well as a spiffy pen topper.
Bart Parlaszewski shaved his sponsors and agency into his crooked mohawk. Do you get an extra bonus for this?
Very nice moment post-fight with Henderson finding his mom in the front row and her mom wanting an immediate picture of her son with the belt.
I may travel down to Tacoma and see if the UFC champ is minding the store at Peter’s Grocery this week.
While I was skeptical, the four hour PPV went well with only one match tacked on at the end (the Facebook match) as filler.
We may see a positive buy rate for UFC 144 considering the return to Japan, Rampage Jackson and the Edgar/Henderson title fight. Yet, with Edgar headlining in his past two fights, he’s averaged just 237,500 buys. Perhaps he wasn’t the problem as he faced Gray Maynard in both. But, UFC 136 was a rematch of a great fight and Chael Sonnen returned on the same card. And, it just received 225,000 buys.
The fact is, the lower weight divisions have yet to draw big numbers. Even with Rampage’s return to Japan, this card seemed like one for the dedicated fans and my guestimation would be around 275-300K buys.