Bellator MMA Live 93: 748,000 viewers

March 22, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that Bellator MMA Live (93) received a 748,000 viewer average on Thursday night.  The numbers are decent considering the live event went up against the first night of NCAA Basketball over four networks.

The replay which aired immediately after on Spike TV scored 394,000 viewers.  TNA’s Impact Wrestling did an average of 1.3 million viewers for a 0.5 rating.  

Bellator 85:  938,000 viewers

Bellator 86:  812,000 viewers

Bellator 87:  705,000 viewers

Bellator 88:  807,000 viewers

Bellator 89:  719,000 viewers

Bellator 90:  737,000 viewers

Bellator 91:  901,000 viewers

Bellator 92:  741,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The numbers aren’t spectacular but the first night of the tournament likely took away many casual viewers.  The Bellator card was highlighted by Dave Jansen’s win over Marcin Held. It also featured the debut of Michael Page in what looked like a glancing blow causing a knockout.  It will be interesting next week as Bellator will once again go up against the NCAA tournament but it will have two tournament finals on the show.

Early PPV numbers for UFC 158 point north of 800K buys

March 21, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that early PPV numbers show that UFC 158 should exceed 800,000 buys.  The caustic mix of GSP and Nick Diaz proved to be the ingredients for people to buy the PPV.

Although it was expected that this event would be the biggest in terms of PPV buy rate since Silva-Sonnen II, the addition of the unpredictable Nick Diaz benefited the hype for the fight.  The viewership for the press conference, weigh-ins and post-fight show reflects the above average interest viewers had for this card.  The hype for this card was done without the usual Primetime series which usually precedes a GSP fight.  

Via MMA Fighting:

The success of the show is even more impressive since it was achieved without a three-week Primetime series as Penn, Hardy, and Shields had to build up their title challenges. The Ultimate Fighter season with Koscheck and GSP had weekly tension between the coaches.

The centerpiece of the hype was Diaz.  From his “wolf tickets” remark at the press conference to his post-fight tax evasion “admission” people tuned in to see what he was going to do or say.

Payout Perspective:

The early indications of the PPV numbers suggest that GSP is still the king of PPV despite not finishing a fight in ages.  Secondly, Nick Diaz will not retire.  Despite what he said about leaving the sport, he still is a top draw.  Also, if it is correct that he owes backtaxes, he will need the money.  Overall, the event was a success and once again confirmed the popularity of GSP.

Golden Boy-HBO part ways

March 20, 2013

Yahoo! Sports reports that HBO has ended its relationship with Golden Boy Promotions.  The decision to leave the highest-rated boxing network will ignite a competition with rival Showtime.

Golden Boy fighters such as Bernard Hopkins, Adrien Broner and Andre Berto will likely move to Showtime.  Former HBO fighters Danny Garcia, Amir Khan and Canelo Alvarez are already on Showtime.

The move was made in part to continued friction between the companies.  Despite an exodus of Golden Boy fighters, Nonito Donaire, Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao will likely stay with HBO.  

Although not under contract with Golden Boy, Floyd Mayweather announced a contract with Showtime this past February.

Payout Perspective:

The decision to break ties means that HBO will be the de facto network for Top Rank while Showtime will house Golden Boy fighters. Although HBO may feel the sting of losing the likes of Broner and Berto, it still has Donaire (who has a big fight in April), Bradley (who had the fight of the year while we watched GSP-Diaz) and Pacquiao.  The good news is that this should bring out better fights on the network.  The bad news is that we may not see cross-promotion fights due to the fact that there will be an impasse on which network would benefit.

UFC 158: Payout Perspective

March 20, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 158 from the Belle Centre in Montreal where GSP defended his welterweight title against Nick Diaz.

GSP dominates Diaz

In a much anticipated match, Georges St. Pierre controlled Nick Diaz for 5 rounds and earned the unanimous decision.  Diaz and GSP shared pleasantries after the fight in which Diaz once again stole the show with the post-fight Octagon interview by inferring that it seemed like GSP knew his game plan and that he was retiring.

It was nice to see Diaz raise GSP’s hand when the final horn sounded and for GSP to put over Diaz.  Of course, this was sullied with Nick Diaz as he later stated he wanted a rematch and that he was not impressed with GSP’s punching power.

Diaz-GSP poster

Hendrix stakes claim to No. 1 Contender slot

Johny Hendrix used a mix of wrestling takedowns and his trademark left hand to turn back Carlos Condit to earn the next shot against GSP.  The fight displayed the high level of competition that the UFC wishes it had in every main event.  Hendrix proved that he should be the next in line to challenge GSP.

Despite losing 2 in a row, Condit is still in the upper echelon of the welterweight division.

Ellenberger stops Marquardt

In another welterweight matchup, Jake Ellenberger showed his power as his stopped Nate Marquardt.  Ellenberger’s impressive victory likely catapults him to one or two fights away from a title shot.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

We listed the attendance and gate here.  UFC 158 ranked fourth among UFC events at the Bell Centre.  Of course, the preceding events were not too bad despite what people think of how poor the undercard may be.  I think people go to see the people at the top of the card.  Just my opinion.

Only two bonuses were given out since there were no submission of the night.  Each received $50,000.

Condit-Hendricks – Fight of the Night

Jake Ellenberger – KO of the Night

Promotion of the Fight

Two Words:  Nick Diaz.  Two More:  Wolf Tickets

We talked about the Media Relations of Nick Diaz previously but his appearance at the teleconference and press conference for UFC 158 was stuff of media magic in a twisted sort of way.  Diaz’s unfiltered stream of unconscious talk went from the informed (a sermon on changes in MMA), to the ridiculous (accusing GSP of steroid use) to the unknown (wolf tickets).  Diaz did not disappoint with his post-fight comments.

I sort of felt like Joe Rogan needed to help Diaz out with the post-fight Octagon interview as he could tell that Diaz did not want to be interviewed.  Still, its Rogan’s job to get the most out of the interview and get out.  It seemed to trail in an uncomfortable sort of way.

A UFC Primetime was thought to happen for 158 but Diaz no-showed the scheduled interviews for the shows.  This had to anger White as he spent a lot of money on producing a show that never occurred.

Still, the usual mundane teleconference and press conferences became musts to see what Diaz would do or say.  For GSP, it looked and sounded like this was all wearing him down.  You could also see it as Diaz rattling him but at times GSP had the look as though he didn’t know what was going on.  Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks had to wonder why they were asked to come to the conferences when they barely said anything.

Despite the lack of the Primetime show, the UFC Countdown show did its usual job of hyping the fighters.

Meanwhile, the UFC Prelims did very well on FX.

Sponsorships

Boston Pizza, Alienware and The History Channel’s new show “Counting Cars” were new addition in the Octagon along with regular sponsors, Harley Davidson, Ultimate Poker, Toyo Tires, Dodge Dart, TapouT, Xyience, Musclepharm and Bud Light.

The broadcast had a preview of the “Counting Cars” show.  Anyone else think it was actually about counting cars.

GSP was sponsored by Affliction and Hayabusa.  He wore an Affliction shirt and a Hayabusa Gi going into the Octagon.  For those like myself that were wondering, Affliction is a lifestyle brand whereas Hayabusa is considered an MMA training brand.  It appears that neither brand paid for exclusive rights to GSP. Interesting that GSP’s cornerman, Firas Zahabi has his own deal with Headrush.

Recently we spoke with Elie Deshe of VFD Marketing who is the marketing firm for Nick Diaz.  He indicated that despite what people may think of Diaz, he doesn’t have a problem with getting sponsors.  As you could tell from Saturday, he had a ton of sponsors on his shorts (more than usual I think), despite just wearing a Stockton pullover to both the weigh-ins and fight.

Sponsor Instaloans was prevalent on many fighters.  Some had the logo placed on the hips which I thought was interesting placement.

Johny Hendricks participated in some good will by auctioning off some of his gear for the Wounded Warrior project.  He also sent out a pic (h/t: FighterxFashion) of his fight shorts which shows a bevy of sponsors including Bass Pro Shops, Wild Wing, Instaloan, Alienware, Sannation, TRX, MGR Construction Services all on his Ecko Shorts.

johny-hendricks-ufc-158-shorts

Its interesting that MGR Construction Services is involved in MMA sponsorship.  It even has a tab on the front page of its web site.

Chris Camozzi made some news by writing a blog post in which he called for UFC fighters to turn down lowball offers from sponsors in order to get what they deserved.  We’ll write about his later but its an interesting take on the state of sponsorships.  It was interesting that he had two black pieces of tape over each shoulder on his walkout shirt.  Perhaps a problem with that sponsor.

Post-Fight Headlines

Tax woes for Diaz. What is becoming a story after 158 is not what happened in the Octagon but once again Diaz’s comments.  He indicated that he hasn’t paid taxes and may go to jail.  The comments took everyone off guard.  Cesar Gracie indicated on The MMA Hour that Nick has paid taxes and that while his brother Nate has an accountant, Nick has not followed suit.  His comments created a mainstream buzz and many brought up the name Wesley Snipes.  Hopefully, Nick will seek some accounting help and straighten everything out with the IRS. Certainly, announcing not paying taxes may make one susceptible to an audit.

What’s next for GSP?  Although I initially thought he would fight Anderson Silva this November at Madison Square Garden, it looks like that Johny Hendricks may get the shot.

Ronda Rousey on the next TUF.  Yes, we could not stay away from mentioning that Ronda Rousey will coach men and women on the next season of TUF.  An obvious move to grab mainstream fans and take advantage of their asset (Rousey).  We’ll see if this will garner ratings as the UFC has tried everything else.  In order to pull some ratings for its Prelims show, the UFC waited until the end of the show to make the announcement.

Odds and Ends

–   The Mike Ricci-Collin Fletcher fight might have been on PPV as a favor to GSP and the Tri-Star Gym.  I do not know why else it would be on the main card and not Patrick Cote.  Speaking of Fletcher, he’s someone that could give you nightmares by just his appearance.

–  Interesting to hear that there was an argument in the back before the main event that Diaz’s camp claimed there was an issue with GSP’s gloves.  Where was Naazim Richardson when you needed him?

–  Nick also inferred that there may have been a “mole” in his camp that told GSP his gameplan.  Unlikely.  Regardless, it wasn’t the reason he lost.

– Did the UFC change the promo poster after Diaz complained of his pic on it?

French UFC 158

–  Best moment of the post-UFC 158 interviews was the Fuel post-fight where GSP was seen caught off guard and eating pizza while being interviewed.

–  Nick Diaz camp posted a video on YouTube of him hitting a speed bag for 23 minutes.  Two questions:  why did they post it and why did I watch the whole thing.

– Dana White and Vince McMahon could have had a match at Wrestlemania according to White.  We’ll have more on this in The Wrestling Post later this week.

–  Did anyone else feel like Diaz was going to slug GSP after the fight because he was being too nice?  The scene post-fight reminded me of pro wrestling where everyone is a friend and then someone turns.

Conclusion

According to initial reports, the PPV buys were strong.  Dave Meltzer had filed a Certification in the Bellator-Eddie Alvarez case where he believed that buys for UFC 158 would range between 750K to 850K PPV buys.  Despite what you think of his style and that he hasn’t finished a fight in years, GSP is still the king of the UFC PPV since Brock Lesnar left.  As many reports indicate, it will likely hover around Silva-Sonnen II range due to the added heat brought by Nick Diaz.  We could see it hitting 900K PPV buys.

UFC 158 Prelims: 1.58 million viewer average

March 20, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that the UFC 158 Prelims which aired on FX scored an average of 1.58 million viewers for a 1.03 rating.  It made it the third highest rated prelims on the FX Network.

The event was widely watched as it was reported that there were a record number of people that tuned into the weigh-ins on Fuel TV Friday as the airing received an average of 215,000 viewers.  The post-fight coverage also received an average of 125,000 viewers.  Not bad after 5 hours of fights.

Via MMA Fighting:

The show also did strong numbers in the key demographics, with a 1.45 in males 18 to 49 and 1.38 in males 18 to 34. The post-fight coverage at 1 a.m., right after the pay-per-view ended, did 125,000 viewers on FUEL. It was the record for most viewers of a post-game show after a pay-per-view card.

MMA Fighting goes on to state that people logged on to watch Thursday’s press conference.  It was the highest viewed press conference second only to Silva-Sonnen II.

Payout Perspective:

The signs point up toward the success of this event.  The 215,000 viewers scored higher than some of the live events on Fuel.  Moreover, the weigh-ins occurred outside of prime time so folks made an effort to watch.  The takeaways from the high ratings have to be a mix of star power (GSP) plus controversy (Nick Diaz).  One would think that Diaz’s antics at the teleconference brought on more folks to watch the press conference, weigh-ins, etc.

South Dakota becomes 46th state to regulate MMA

March 18, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that South Dakota is ready to sign off on a bill that will legalize mixed martial arts in the state.  Gov. Dennis Daugaard stated that he will not stand in the way of a bill that would regulate MMA and boxing.

The bill passed out of committee and the state legislature.  The South Dakota Athletic Commission which will regulate MMA will commence on July 1st of this year.  It has received $95,000 of funding.

While the governor is opposed to the violence in the sport, he recognized the argument that regulation would curtail some safety concerns.

South Dakota become the 46th state to regulate MMA.  Only New York, Connecticut and Montana do not regulate MMA.  Alaska does not have an athletic commission.

(H/t:  Argus Leader)

Payout Perspective:

A victory for mixed martial arts in the state of South Dakota.  While this news will be just a blip on the screen nationally, the recognition by the governor that regulation would protect those participating in the sport should be highlighted.  Even though he was opposed to the sport, one has to think of the safety of the people of the state and the new commission should oversee MMA and boxing events.  

UFC 158 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 17, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that UFC 158 at the Bell Centre in Montreal drew 20,145 fans for a gate of $3.71 million.  Dana White revealed the figures at last night’s post-fight press conference along with the bonuses.

UFC 158 ranks fourth among six events that were held at the venue.  UFC 83 (Serra v. GSP), the night that GSP regained the welterweight title and started his current reign was the main event that night.  It scored 21,390 fans for a $5.1 million gate.

UFC 124 drew the most fans with 23,152 for a $4.5 million gate.  It ranked third behind UFC 97: Redemption, which featured Anderson Silva versus Thales Leites and Chuck Liddell versus Shogun Rua.

French UFC 158

The bonuses announced last night were as follows:

KO of the night:  Jake Ellenberger
Fight of the night:  Hendricks-Condit

There was no submission of the night.  But, if there was a night to hand out multiple KOs of the night, it should have been this one as Jordan Mein and T.J. Dillashaw had impressive stoppages.  Ellenberger, Hendricks and Condit received the now standard $50K each.

Payout Perspective:

With the hype, its interesting that UFC 158 ranked 4th among the events held at Bell Centre.  Still, the events in front of it were impressive as two involved GSP and the third had Silva and Liddell.  Montreal does not get shortchanged with the star power at the top of its cards in its events.

Rousey and Zigano-Tate winner to coach next season of TUF

March 17, 2013

Dana White announced at the end of the UFC 158 prelims on FX that Ronda Rousey would coach opposite the winner of the Cat Zigano/Miesha Tate match on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.  Another twist is that the show would feature both male and female 135 pound fighters.

In a move that might be seen as a grasp at drawing fans for the ailing ratings of the TUF franchise, the UFC will utilize Rousey and the added male/female living in a house dynamic to draw ratings.

One would have to think that most would be pulling for Tate to win to set a Rousey-Tate coaches show to draw that extra heat.

Joe Rogan’s expression when White announced it was priceless.

Payout Perspective:

Although no confirmation yet, it’s likely that the Rousey season of TUF would be on FX to garner some crossover viewership.  If Fox-Zuffa wait until this fall to air it on FS1, there’d be less to possibly obtain from it.  Obviously, this show is another shot at grabbing ratings and there’d be built in tension from the women coaching men and women sharing the same house as men.  The anticipated hope of friction between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen has really fizzled this season as they have been able to get along throughout this season.  For the UFC’s part, TUF 18 is a good way to utilize Rousey and capitalize on her fame. We shall see if it equates to a revitalized TUF.

Media Relations 101 – Nick Diaz

March 16, 2013

Most media and fans think pre-fight press/teleconferences are pretty boring with media asking formulated questions and the fighters answering with formulaic answers.  This goes out the window with Nick Diaz.

Diaz went on a verbal tirade last week at the teleconference at no one and everyone at the same time.  While he expressed disdain for GSP, he also claimed he respected where the champ was at in his career. He also lobbied for change in the sport which would make the sport more entertaining.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Via Wikimedia Commons

At this week’s press conference, Diaz told us who sold “wolf tickets” and inferred that GSP was taking steroids.  Stuff like that could get you sued (ask Floyd Mayweather).

Nick Diaz is a person that has a hard time articulating his opinions but it seems like (most) everyone understands. Diaz is the real Stone Cold Steve Austin from WWE fame.  Yes, Austin was based on real feelings of the man playing the character, but Diaz is real. At both press happenings for this event, he’s brought up the differences in classes; his working class/poverty-stricken background versus GSP’s affluent upbringing.  To be honest, I’m not sure GSP’s childhood can be characterized as affluent.  Yet, it works for Diaz as its not the fuel you put in the tank but how you use it.

Diaz is loyal to his Stockton roots.  He’s proud of where he’s from and revealing how he’s seen his friends shot is a personal tragedy that goes beyond the UFC. Again, it’s what fuels him but not the issue at hand.

As for Diaz’s media relations style, it works.  The controversial comments had many trying to find Diaz’s pressers online.  It would be inadvisable to most athletes to use expletives and infer your opponents use steroids, but that’s him.  For someone to adopt this to get attention would be foolish.

Diaz does his own thing which includes not appearing at mandatory appearances.  Of course its unprofessional but “no-showing” events is something that occurs with professional athletes in other sports.  Diaz is unrefined and genuine and that’s an attribute that makes him popular.  It is also could be the problem.

Diaz is a fighter.  He’s a tortured soul that finds the world always turning its back on him.  But, he uses this to make him successful.  Many people empathize with Diaz’s plight.  His working class roots are seen by many and its one of the reasons why he has so many fans. Also, his “do my own thing” attitude also ingratiates him to many wishing they could do the same to their employer. Its what made Stone Cold such a popular figure in pro wrestling.

Its undeniable that Diaz has gotten under GSP’s skin for the simple fact that he’s pushed GSP over the edge personally.  In the end, if Diaz wins Saturday, his world is going to change and he will be asked (read: forced) to play “the game.” The irony of the situation is that with a win, Diaz’s hard work and dedication to being a martial artist will mean he will become “the man”; which means the money and fame that should come with it.  It would be an interesting next chapter in the life of Diaz.

Looking back at the PPV history of UFC 158 main event fighters.

March 15, 2013

MMA Payout takes a look back at the prior PPV history of UFC 158’s main event fighters.  The quick conclusion is that the success of the PPV boils down to GSP.

GSP

UFC 87     625,000 (vs. Jon Fitch)
UFC 94     920,000 (vs. BJ Penn II)
UFC 100  1.6M        (vs. Thiago Alves)
UFC 111  770,000  (vs. Dan Hardy)
UFC 124  785,000  (vs. Josh Koscheck)
UFC 129  800,000  (vs. Jake Shields)
UFC 154  700,000  (vs. Carlos Condit)

The bell cow when it comes to UFC PPVs.  With Brock Lesnar in the WWE, Georges St. Pierre is the King of UFC PPVs.  I decided to start the list from his first title defense after winning the belt from Matt Serra at UFC 83.  Notably, UFC 87 also marked the first UFC win for Brock Lesnar.  GSP and Lesnar also appeared on the same card at UFC 100.

GSP’s average PPV buy rate since he’s had the welterweight title: ~886K.  Of course, this includes UFC 100 and 129 but that should tell you that when the UFC has a major event, Georges St. Pierre will be on the card.

Nick Diaz

UFC 143  400,000 (Carlos Condit)
UFC 137  280,000 (vs. BJ Penn)

Only two entries for Diaz since he entered the UFC from Strikeforce.  You recall UFC 137 was the event he was supposed to fight GSP and then was taken off the card only to be put back on after an injury to GSP caused a major reshuffle.  Diaz is a polarizing figure and if he ever decides to “play the game” he has an appealing style that the casual fan could appreciate.

Johny Hendricks

UFC 133 310,000 (vs. Mike Pierce)
UFC 141 535,000 (vs. Jon Fitch)
UFC 154 700,000 (vs. Martin Kampman)

Carlos Condit

UFC 132  320,000 (vs. Kim Dong-Hyun)
UFC 143  400,000 (vs. Diaz)
UFC 154  700,000 (vs. GSP)

Not much to say about Hendricks-Condit at this point.  Both were on UFC 154 and Hendricks was on a Brock Lesnar card (141) hence the good buy rate. The winner of this match-up may have to wait until 2014 to get a shot at GSP assuming he wins and goes on to fight Anderson Silva later this year.

Payout Perspective:

GSP should have this PPV around 700K buys.  A ticked off GSP (or rattled depending on how you view it) against Nick Diaz could have it pushing higher.  Diaz speaking at the teleconference and presser could only help the hype for people to buy this event.

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