UFC 157: Payout Perspective

February 25, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 157 from The Honda Center in Anaheim, California. In the main event, Ronda Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche in the first ever women’s bout in the UFC.

Rousey submits Carmouche, UFC wins

Saturday night’s title fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche could not have gone better unless it had gone 5 rounds…or even 2.  But, Rousey’s trademark armbar with just seconds left in the first round left the crowd and many fans satisfied with the main event.

UFC 157 poster

The fight legitimized women’s MMA.  Rousey did what she does (i.e., armbar) and Carmouche showed that she was not a tomato can.  In the end, the UFC ended up winning as it showed that the women could put on a show.  It took a risk in putting this as the main event and the women came through.  Now the only issue is where it goes from here.

Machida wins, the fans do not

This fight complemented the main event because it was not an entertaining fight.  If Rousey-Carmouche were not on top of the card it would have been this fight.  Fortunate for everyone, the UFC went with the women.  With that said, it was a tactical fight that was slow paced.  Whether it was Machida’s in and out or Henderson’s constant measuring of the Dragon, the fight lacked any excitement.

Machida will get another shot at Jon Jones but after watching this fight, I’m not sure if that excites anyone.

Faber chokes out Menjivar

The details of jiu jitsu.  If you have the fight on DVR, during the finish watch how Urijah Faber uses his non-choking arm to peel back the forehead of Ivan Menjivar which exposed his neck despite Menjivar’s attempts to tuck his chin.  With the neck exposed, Faber slid in his arm and coupled with the body triangle Menjivar was forced to tap. The peel back of the arm is what Carmouche was unable to do with Rousey when the two were in a similar position.

An impressive win for Faber as he looked fresh and reminiscent of his time in the WEC.  However, the rub is that he’s in a place where he’s better than the mid-card but not good enough to claim a title.  We’ll see what the UFC does with Faber.

Attendance and Gate

Announced at the post-fight press conference, the Honda Center was sold out with 15,525 for a gate of $1.4 million.  There was no confirmation on paid attendance versus comps.

As we detailed here, it was the highest attended event at The Honda Center which included UFC 121: Velasquez versus Lesnar.  It also bested the two Affliction events held at The Honda Center although Affliction: Banned earned more ($2.1M gate per MMA Payout’s Blue Book).

It seems as though Anaheim is the “go to” venue outside of Vegas.  This venue worked for this event.  The Honda Center is down the road from Rousey’s home in the LA area and up the road from Carmouche’s in San Diego.  Most fans could travel easily up or down Interstate 5 to support their fighters.  Southern California is a hub for MMA and is more progressive than most areas of the country.  Sure, it’s in Orange County but it’s in Anaheim, not Newport Beach.

Bonuses

As reported previously, the bonuses were $50,000 each and were awarded below:

Fight of the Night:  Dennis Bermudez v. Matt Grice
Submission of the Night:  Kenny Robertson
KO of the Night:  Robbie Lawler

Promotion of the Fight

Rousey was on every media outlet imaginable: ESPN, SI, The Jim Rome Show, Time and HBO Sports to name a few.  The UFC stated that this event received the most media attention ever and Rousey has received more media than Brock Lesnar.  The Rousey media blitz drew support from mainstream notables that gave their support via twitter.

 

 

The UFC pitched gay media to focus on the Liz Carmouche her story.  The UFC did a good job in marketing Carmouche as a pioneer for the gay community without exploiting her sexual orientation.  It also stressed the fact that she was a U.S. Marine.

With Danica Patrick competing at the Daytona 500, media were eager to jump on the women’s weekend.  Realistically, it’s hard to blame the media focus: it is historical, out of the ordinary and an easy lead that would get readers/page views.

UFC Primetimes

The 3 part UFC Primetimes were especially good this time around.  It had more meat to it for the obvious reasons.  Both fighters had compelling stories that drew you in.  It’s what the Primetimes are supposed to do.  It seemed more like the good HBO 24/7s especially the last 5 mins of the first and third episodes.  Good narration and great writing made the shows.

Sponsorships

The night’s sponsors in the Octagon included Xyience, MetroPCS, UltimatePoker.com, Toyo Tires, Dodge Dart, TapouT, new sponsor Head and Shoulders and Bud Light in the center.  Corn Nuts also sponsored the corner cam.

Rousey was sponsored by the UFC as she donned the UFC-Monster headphones and wore UFC sponsored gear although I believe that Lululemon Athletic made the fight gear.  Will double check on that.  She also had a Xyience patch on her shorts.

In addition to inside the Octagon, Rousey also has deal with Fuji gis.

Fuji gis

Carmouche had several sponsors including VA Home Mortgage (which sponsored several fighters on the card), Salesforce and Torque.

Henderson had his Twitter and Facebook handles on his shorts in addition to Clinchgear.

Machida was sponsored by official UFC sponsors Bony Acai and Head and Shoulders in addition to Venum,

Kenny Robertson won submission of the night and also gets the award for best sponsor:  Mason Funeral Home.  A funeral home sponsoring a UFC fighter?  Everyone dies so it is in the UFC demo.

Josh Koscheck and Lyoto Machida are still sponsored by Lugz.  I didn’t know that the company was still around.  But, these two have had long-term sponsor deals with the company.

Post-UFC 157 Headlines

What’s next for women’s MMA – It was a good debut for the women in the UFC.  It was an exciting, competitive match and no blood.  There was the concern of Rousey almost losing her top but the UFC avoided that issue. So, what’s next?  Rousey will be a draw the next time she fights.  But, the bigger issue is what happens when other women fight.  The UFC would not be able to get as much buzz for another women’s fight if Rousey is not in it.  We’ll see how the UFC uses women’s MMA to complement the male card.

Machida next for Jones – Is anyone excited to see this rematch?  Perhaps the UFC hoped for Henderson to win here to get a redo for UFC 151.  I’d rather see Alexander Gustafsson get the shot.

Odds and ends

-  Kenny Robertson will be teaching class on Monday at his “day” job.

- I was sitting on the tweet that Henderson was going to knock the head off of Machida’s shoulders all night.  It didn’t happen.

-  I wonder if there was a proposition bet on whether Carmouche would have gotten out of the 1st round.  If so, that would have been exciting.

-  It’s obvious that the UFC has a working relationship with Invicta as Carmouche’s coach wore the shirt and the logo was seen during the UFC Primetimes.  Zuffa wouldn’t let this happen unless there was a business relationship.  If women’s MMA starts to take off could we see another Zuffa purchase?  More likely I could see the UFC using Invicta like a farm system and call up fighters to fight on a UFC card.

Conclusion

With all of the great media attention the UFC received for Saturday’s event, it will be interesting to see how much of the media attention will convert to PPV buys.  It reached out to more media than usual in getting attention for this event.  Rousey and Carmouche have been great ambassadors for women’s MMA.  But, I think it will boil down to whether the casual viewer can stomach the possibility of seeing a woman busted open and bleeding like Joe Lauzon at UFC 155.  Or, can they watch an arm be broken right in front of their eyes.  These are questions that seem silly but will really determine whether women’s MMA can succeed with the UFC.

With that being said, a low to mediocre PPV buy rate would be disappointing considering the amount of public relations and press buzz the UFC received for this bout.  Yet, how many new viewers can be added for this event?  Would the backstory of Rousey and the novelty of the women’s fight be enough to convert non-UFC followers to pay for the PPV.  Last year’s PPV average hovered around 450,000 buys.  If UFC 157 hit the average it would be a success.

13 Responses to “UFC 157: Payout Perspective”

  1. assassin on February 25th, 2013 9:20 AM

    I highly doubt a PPV of 450k. I think more in line with 275k-300k, which to me would still be a success for the UFC.

    I would have been interesting if either of 2 things happened in the Rousy fight.
    1 – Instead of pummeling Carmouche head with punches, if she dropped some elbows and turned her into a bloody mess. How would that have played out with the media and casual fans.
    2 – Ronda lost her top and we had an R rated show on our hands.

    I am interested to see how Machida changes for his next fight with J Jones. Maybe its just me but I find that fight more interesting than a slow Dan Henderson hoping to land 1 big right hand.

  2. Jose on February 25th, 2013 9:32 AM

    I think UFC is hedging their bets with Invicta. It’s not clear how much of the Rousey hype will translate to broader interest in women’s mma.

    At some point the Rousey hype will die down. Maybe a year from now, maybe several years. Depends on if she loses, or gets injured. Or people just get bored after she’s no longer new and fresh.

    If the fans lose interest then UFC can always pawn off the women’s division to Invicta and fund it the way the NBA funds the WNBA. As long as they keep it on the cheap it can be good PR.

    Problem is even with Invicta being run on the ultra-cheap now, they still lose money. The only plausible business rationale for the Invicta owners is a future payday of being bought by Zuffa.

    Right now there isn’t broad fan interest in women’s mma. There is broad fan interest in Ronda Rousey. But she’s the exception. Carmouche and Cyborg are more the norm for women’s mma.

  3. Jason Cruz on February 25th, 2013 10:09 AM

    @assassin,

    The buy rate will be one of the most interesting things coming out of this PPV.

    I think the 2 things you point out are details that the UFC must now address (really) if it will have women in the Octagon.

    I agree about Machida being a better opponent for Jones. I just don’t think he wins. I think fans hope for the KO of Jones if Hendo was the opponent.

  4. BrainSmasher on February 25th, 2013 10:39 AM

    650,000+

  5. Weezy02 on February 25th, 2013 10:40 AM

    We never really hear the numbers on this but it would be interesting to know the closed circuit sales for Saturday’s event. They’re calculated separate from the domestic buys. I live in a town of about 72,000 people and there are two sports bars that show every single UFC. There is a third that used to show them but stopped about two years ago. Even they showed the fight on Saturday, marking the first time they purchased a UFC event since the end of 2010. I’m not sure how many closed circuit sales Joe Hand Promotions usually makes for UFC events but I’d be willing to bet that they saw a significant uptick.

  6. Henry on February 25th, 2013 3:32 PM

    Great insight Jason.

    I’ve had a hunch about the UFC– Invicta FC ‘relationship’. I would not be surprised if Invicta FC were a quasi-Zuffa company. I say that b/c of:

    1. Althought they’re not a threat, in recent times Zuffa has been reluctant to ‘work’ with another promotion. They buy you or ‘run’ you out of business.

    My suspicions arose on the news that the UFC were offering to ‘incubate’ Cyborg in Invicta FC during her UFC contract negotiations.

    2. Shannon Knapp, Invicta’s President had ties to Strikforce if I’m not mistaken.

    3. Jason, do you think Invicta FC’s PPV was an experiment [Zuffa sponsored] to see how popular WMMA was? Neverheless, I agree with your idea that “More likely I could see the UFC using Invicta like a farm system and call up fighters to fight on a UFC card”

    Needless to say, I suspect the UFC has had an interest in WMMA for longer than DW lets on.

  7. Machiel Van on February 26th, 2013 10:55 AM
  8. Jose Mendoza on February 26th, 2013 1:36 PM

    Thanks Machiel Van,

    Meltzer said “UFC 156 was estimated to do in the low-to-mid 300,000 range.

    If you do math, if UFC 157 did 400K – 450K, it ALSO means UFC 156 did 286K – 321K if we follow the “UFC 157 did 40% better than UFC 156″ rule.

  9. Jose Mendoza on February 26th, 2013 3:16 PM

    Also:

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-ronda-rousey-ufc-pay-per-view-20130226,0,2332775.story

    “While UFC officials don’t publicly share their pay-per-view totals, an official with knowledge of the figures said with replay sales, Rousey’s first-round armbar submission of Liz Carmouche could near 500,000 buys.”

  10. Jason Cruz on February 27th, 2013 11:55 PM

    @Henry:

    I think that UFC is dipping its toes into WMMA and probably had its eye on the popularity of the sport. I doubt it outright purchases Invicta. Its definitely looking at Invicta and scouting fighters that may interest the UFC.

    I’m not sure what Shannon Knapp’s relationship is with SF so I really can’t speak to it.

  11. AK on March 4th, 2013 1:38 PM

    “more progressive than most areas of the country”? I don’t know if it was what you were alluding to, but if you’re talking politics, Orange County is not only NOT one of the most progressive areas of the country, it is not in the state. In fact, it is practically the lone Republican-majority area in the bankrupt socialist state of California.

  12. JerFLA on March 9th, 2013 2:37 PM

    I believe I heard that the payout for Ronda Rousey was only about $95,000, including her win bonus That seems outrageously low, when you look at the gate and PPV of 300,000 to 500,000 at $55 a pop, say $22 million!!! Yes, she has other money-making opportunities, but I think Ronda is being seriously exploited!

    Ronda, you deserve more!!!!

  13. Brain Smasher on March 13th, 2013 4:57 PM

    Exploited? HAHAHA do you realize how much she made in SF? She fights a worse opponent and now she is “worth more”. She drew money just like i said she would because the UFC brand gives her credibility just like it did Brock. No she isnt “exploited”. She is being made famous and wealthy at the same time by the UFC. So stop bitching. It was her first fight in the UFC. She will get more as she earns it. Also this PPV wasnt expected to be so huge. So her contract isnt going to reflect and success of the PPV. There is no boubt the UFC give her extra money. Worry about your own pay and get a life. Im tired of hearing the same stuff non stop since 2001. Even when the UFC was broke and about to go under. There was noobs crying about a fighters paycheck.

    You feel so sorry for her. Then send her some of your money and stop playing arm chair quarterback with someone elses finances.

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