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.

Okami upset

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.

Bonuses

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

Sponsorships

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:

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.

Pre-Fight Hype

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.

Conclusion

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.

22 Responses to “UFC 144: Payout Perspective”

  1. Sampson Simpson on February 27th, 2012 10:20 AM

    I hear the estimated PPV buys for this was under 200,000.

    My friend who normally orders this stuff passed on it for an internet stream and watched the HBO boxing instead. Good times!

  2. Michael on February 27th, 2012 1:10 PM

    Did you notice that Quinton Jackson didn’t give a post fight interview? Do you think it had something to do with the fact that rampage talked bad about Joe Rogan before UFC144, and Rogan wouldn’t have him?
    Or maybe he was too exhausted. I couldn’t know. Just saying.

  3. Weezy on February 27th, 2012 1:42 PM

    Sampson, where did you hear about the trending PPV numbers?

  4. Jose Mendoza on February 27th, 2012 2:45 PM

    Michael,

    Haven’t heard any real reason why there was no Rampage interview … only heard he was limping badly as he headed backstage and that he stopped to take pics with fans on the way.

  5. BrainSmasher on February 27th, 2012 3:14 PM

    People still think this event lost money like they were saying when it was announced? Even without PPV it appears to have done well. Not sure how many comps but 20,000+. I guess 3 am on Sunday didnt kill it like i said. Maybe this Zuffa bunch know what they are doing after all. lol

    http://mmapayout.com/2011/10/japan-and-las-vegas-ufc-shows-to-air-live-on-same-night/

  6. BrainSmasher on February 27th, 2012 3:32 PM

    I think the main event was uneventful. Not boring by any means but not excting. Both guys are fast and defensive so almost nothing landed for 5 rounds. There was like 3 meaningful strikes the entire fight. I havent seen so much swinging and missing since Jose Canseco was in the major leagues. Atleast Gray and Frankie hit each other. Hioki landed as many strikes in 3 rounds (175) verses Bart than Henderson and Frankie landed combined in 5 rounds (181).

  7. Assassin on February 27th, 2012 3:42 PM

    I thought this was a very entertaining card. I was on the border to buy originally when the headliner was announced, but Rampage got me close to a buy decision (even with what turned out to be a bad showing) and moving Pettis to the PPV ended up selling me on the purchase. I still wish they would move the start time back to 9pm getting too old to stay up that late and be focused.

    If they do not go back to Japan, I could see them doing a card in the Phillipines. Especially given Dana’s boxing roots. They keep rumoring a TUF in the Phiullipines but one has never been announced.

    No need for a rematch. Champ was outclassed and out fought. Sometimes styles make fights, I do not see Edgar matching up well with Henderson if there was a rematch. No offense to fight metrics, but there is no way 68 of Edgars 81 strikes landed were significant. Let him fight Lauzon, Cerrone, handsome Matt Wiman, or even rematch with Sean Sean and win 2 before a rematch.

  8. BrainSmasher on February 27th, 2012 8:14 PM

    I still had him winning 3 round to 2. Bendo landed an up kick and that was all he did. Yo cant do something in 1 round and use it for grounds to win other rounds. Both guys were pathetically ineffective. But of course both are known to be very weak offensively. Edgar has good boxing but no power. Bendo has good speed but no real striking ability or power.

    But i agree there shouldnt be a rematch. Edgar is always going to struggle with everyone. He has already spend most of his career fighting Gray and Penn. tired of the rematches with him. The 155 division is really weak IMO. Bendo got a title shit but beating two guys who are typically B level guys. Miller and Guida. The division used to be stacked now the B level guys have become the top of the heap with the decline of Penn,Sherk, Franca, etc. Plus all the guys leaving the division. Even though frankie has his number i still feel Gray is the best in the division. But the entire group isnt what 155 used to be. The fact Aldo would move would and beat the top guys kind of shows it.

  9. Marty michaels on February 27th, 2012 8:17 PM

    Full metal jousting ratings were down 35 per cent from week one to week two…it’s not the next ufc…it’s not even the next hillbilly hand fishing…

  10. Jason Cruz on February 27th, 2012 9:45 PM

    @BSmash: I forgot to mention that this was to be the weekend of 2 UFC PPVs. Based on what we know now, that would have been a huge mistake.

    @Marty: Too bad with FMJ, but I could see that one happening. Its no Top Shot (sarcasm).

  11. BrainSmasher on February 28th, 2012 12:32 AM

    I dont think it would have been. The original intentions was for the Japan event to not be PPV. Without PPV it still would have had a great gate. There is no way to speculate on a second events success because we dont know what the card would have been. However a card in Vegas has no impact on the gate in Japan. In fact since all foriegn PPVs seem to take a huge hit in Buys. Having the PPV as a Vegas rather a Japan card which was made to appeal to Japanese would have done much better than whatever buys this card happen to get.

    Why do you think it would have been a mistake?

  12. BrainSmasher on February 28th, 2012 12:38 AM

    I watched one of the first episodes of FMJ. It was neat but it was one of those things you dont need to see more than a couple times. Once you have seen two guys ride at each other and poke each other with a stick all the other times it looks the same. Every match looks the same and there isnt a lot of skill involved. At least no more than anythign else in the world. It is neat a throw back type thing to see done in live action like the middle ages. But once you seen it there is no reason to see it again.

  13. Diego on February 28th, 2012 2:03 PM

    I can’t connect with Ben Henderson. The guy just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like his combination of swagger and proselytizing. When he called for a global “Amen” in his post-fight interview I used a different phrase. And ditch the toothpick already.

    I don’t know how many other fans are like me. I’m not sure he’s a guy who is going to move the needle. He’s fast and technical, but he’s not a finisher. People want to see the massacres that BJ Penn used to treat fans to at 155. I think the division will continue to struggle in popularity until there’s a dominant finisher back at the top or until someone goes on a long run which I don’t expect considering how stacked that division is.

  14. JamesG on February 28th, 2012 3:46 PM

    @BrainSmasher

    Exactly, it was kind of interesting to see how jousting works and the techniques involved, but after a couple of repetitions you’ve got it. There isn’t much variety in what can happen.

  15. BrainSmasher on February 28th, 2012 4:30 PM

    I dont think “stacked” is the word i would use. The division is at its lowest point since the UFC discontinued it some years back. I know lots of people like the personalities of the guys but the skill just isnt there. Look at Miller. There is a reason Dana refused to give him a title shot. He never beat anyone but ran off a lot of wins but nothing that made him #1 contender. Fans confuse winning with being good. I like the guy but he has never been a top guy. I feel he is way undersized and although very well rounded just isnt good enough. Not a great striker, not a great wrestler, not a good BJJ guy from his back. So there is a lot of guys he cant hang with. Cerrone is either on fire or ice cold. He is very good at some things but has huge holes in others. So he will never be consistant. His striking defense and takedown defense leaves his exposed to many guys at 155. Bendo is a better version of Guida but he is running a marathon more than fighting. He out works people but when that doesnt work he has nothign to fall back on. Its the same for every guy in the division.Every one has fights they look great but each guy has holes so big that i feel there are many guys they have to avoid.

    Diaz beat Cerrone beacuse he was quicker and Cerrone is a robot with no head movement. Nate isnt the only one who can beat him like that. Diaz struggles with any sub wrestler who takes him down and he is very easy to get down. The guys simpley are not high enough level all around yet. When Penn was on top there was very few who could stand with him. There were very few who could get him down. Very few who could stay on the ground with him. He didnt struggle verses any one style of fighter. If you have very good skill you could last and maybe out work him. But most couldnt survive him until later in his career. Sherk at his peak could take anyone down and stay on the ground with anyone. There wasnt any one style he had to avoid until late in his career when he slowed and could get people down like he used to. There is no one out there who can fight anyone or any style. They all have huge holes. Edgar isnt very durable or powerful. Diaz and Cerrone and Pettis cant stop takedowns. Guillard cant stop a submission. Miller, Bendo, Guida are jack of all trades guys but not high level at any. Gray Maynard is the closest thing to a top level guy but his chin is suspect(KO’ed himself and got KO’ed by Edgar who never showed power) he also doesnt have the speed to hang with the fast guys past the first round or two. But at least he has high level boxing, wrestling and good enough BJJ. He is the only guy who i dont think you have to hide from a complete style. There is a few fighters he may not beat but that is the case for any fighter.

    There is always a transition period when great fighters decline. GSP filled this period at WELTER WEIGHT when Hughes, trigg, and the gang were at the end of their carrer. That period is over and now you see the level of talent. With at least 10 legit threats to GSP in the division. All the greats of 155 are barely cling to a MMA career. That with the addition of 145 and 135 divisions have thinned the division down in talent. Also the infusion of the WEC added many guys who were not previously UFC level. So now guys who used to be the bottom of the UFC now have people they can beat and move into contender status.

    Maybe its unfair to compare the pre WEC 155 to post WEC 155. But it is a much more watered down division. But unless this is a transition period that may not change for a while.

  16. Diego on February 29th, 2012 5:27 AM

    I think the reason you see so many guys go hot and cold at 155 is because you have so many guys at the top who are evenly matched. On a given night almost any top 5 lightweight can beat any other top 5 lightweight and it’s only slightly less true for the top 10. To me, that’s the definition of “stacked”. Not every fighter has every component, but that doesn’t make them bad fighters. I would take the top 10 UFC lightweights today and put them against the top 10 of any other era and they would clean house.

    All UFC divisions are more stacked than they have ever been and things will only get tighter as more and more top athletes are drawn to the sport. There are four guys in the world who are clearly outpacing the competition right now – Jones, Silva, GSP and Aldo. Aside from them, it is tough for anyone to go on a sustained winning streak because of the amount of talent in every division.

  17. BrainSmasher on February 29th, 2012 4:39 PM

    How can they clean house when they have huge holes in their game. It isnt about being hot and cold. They are not losing because they are cold but because lack well rounded skills. Frankie struggled with a very past him prime Penn. Penn is so past his prime the only win they could get him over a known fighter was a semi retired Hughes. I prime Penn would have murdered Edgar. A Prime Sherk would put a clinic on Diaz and Cerrone and others of that style. To be honest Sanches found out the hard way he couldnt hang with Penn before at 155. But i think he would beat all the top guys now. None of them would rape him like Penn did. So i dont see how you think the division is stronger since the top guys left. 155 lost 3 guys who were still top 5 in the division. Penn, Florian, and Sanchez. Penn could still be the best at 155. For all we know Frankie just has his number but Penn could maybe beat everyone else even the ones Frankie cant. So the division losing its best fighters doesnt make a division stronger.

    Also i ddint say none of them were bad figthers. But the skill level currently at 155 is typical of guys you see of fighters ranked from 4-10 area. There isnt a top 3 level talent in the bunch thus far imo.

  18. Diego on March 1st, 2012 1:07 PM

    What holes does Frankie have? He has great wrestling, boxing and submissions. Not sure the holes you’re referring to. And the BJ Penn he beat was not far removed from the BJ Penn who “raped” Sanchez – your assessment of him as “very past his prime” when he fought Frankie is not accurate.

    Don’t forget what happened when Frankie fought Sherk – and Sherk was not past his prime either.

    Diaz has mediocre take down defense but extremely slick submissions off his back which is why you didn’t see Maynard follow him to the ground in their fight. IMO Diaz would beat an in his prime Sherk on the feet and give him all sorts of trouble on the ground with his submission game.

    Toss Melendez in there as well and I stand by my assessment that the top 10 guys in today’s 155 could beat the top 10 guys of any other era.

  19. BrainSmasher on March 1st, 2012 4:34 PM

    Frankie has no power and a suspect chin. He has been rocked 3 fights in a row by guys with suspect power. Penn for some reason never was able to cut to 155 properly. He was very weak and has no real striking and got destroyed. Penn has 1 weakness. And that is cardio machines who are fast. That is Franke and maybe a couple others. Penn still has better skills than Frankie just Penn is Lazy and slow. There are many fights i can name to back this up. You claim Penn isnt past his Prime. Then why is he retired? Why did he leave 155? Why cant he beat anyone decent? Why does he gas after the first round? You might want to go back and look at what a Prime BJ Penn looked like because he hasnt existed for a very long time.

    As for Sherk i dont believe has been the same since he sat out for his Steroid suspension. He isnt nearly as explosive or fast. He also has been semi retired since then and not looked to impressive.

    Diaz would have never submited Gray from his back. It is hard to do at the highest level and Diaz has no subs from his back verses the last 6 guys who took him down multiple times. He only submited 2 of them and both were guillitine choke. Gray has never been submited. As we saw Gray didnt need to take him down.

    Quote
    “IMO Diaz would beat an in his prime Sherk on the feet and give him all sorts of trouble on the ground with his submission game.”

    Let me get this straight. Sherk while giving up lots of size can beat Nick Diaz in their Primes. He stood with Nick and Nick couldnt submit him and lost all 3 rounds. But Nate who is not as good as his bother in any area including power would beat him in his Prime. I dont think so. Sherks heart isnt even in fighting any more and he would STILL beat Nate Diaz. Why do you think you hide him from anyone with wrestling? He has lost 4 of his last 6 fights he was takedown in. In those 4 loss’ he was taken down 22 times. Sherk has never been submited. He also has only been stopped by strikes later in fights when he was taken down or couldnt get a takedown. There is no way Nate would ever stop his takedowns or take him down.

  20. BrainSmasher on March 1st, 2012 4:36 PM

    “. Penn for some reason never was able to cut to 155 properly.”

    I mean Sanchez. He would have adjusted if he give it more time. But he was very weak starting out.

  21. CodeMaster on March 11th, 2012 11:44 AM

    The opinions above which state that the UFC LW division is the “weakest” it has ever been are rdiculous, and expose the lack of knowledge of those who bleat ill-considered drivel.

    BJ Penn is only 33 years old–and he has not been able to compete in the LW or the WW division for some time.

    When the UFC and WEC merged, the talent pool expanded dramatically for the UFC LW division. Currently, the LW division IS the most stacked right now in the UFC–with a depth of great fighters easily going down past the top ten.

    I think some of the participants on this site would do well to concentrate on Money and Marketing, and leave the fight analysis to those who have a clue.

  22. BrainSmasher on March 11th, 2012 11:55 PM

    I take it that is directed at me. I have trained and followed this sport since it was created. You tell me Peen hasnt been able to compete at 155 for a long time now. Well that kind of proves my point. Frankie just scraped by him and did almost nothing to him. Who else was able to beat him at 155? Keep thinking. This is also the same 155 division the UFC scraped years back because it was in a very poor state. The WEC merger only add dozens of guys at 155 for others to beat that were not even close to being UFC level based on previous standards. The UFC used to have the best 15-20 guys in the world. After WEC they have exapanded the roster to 30-40 guys. Adding more lower ranked and less talent fights for everyone to build on. As a whole everyone has a weaker compeition to fight. Anyone who thinks the WEC fighters werent a step down as a whole are morons who clearly never have followed the sport. The division is thinner than ever and you can see the hles in peoples games. There isnt the beasts there used to be in any single skill. There isnt anyone who is well rounded without huge holes. No one can win more than a few fights in a row because of these holes. Now your tunr to argue against logic and common sense!

    Let go get the 205 fighters from Wild Bills Fight Night and add them to the UFC. Im sure you think that makes the division stronger too. Instead of has beens and over rated guys not being able to win and being replaced by new prospects. Those guys get a healthy dose of Cans to get wins and stay in the UFC. It waters the division down and takes years for it to work itself out.

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