UFC 159: Payout Perspective

April 30, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 159 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey where Jon Jones defended his Light Heavyweight title against Chael Sonnen.

Jones takes care of Sonnen, now must heal toe

It was the outcome that most had expected.  Despite Sonnen’s promos, Jones did what was needed to stop Sonnen with a few seconds left in Round 1.  It was a good thing, because if he didn’t, it would have been interesting what may have happened for Round 2.  Jones could not have gone out there with his toe pointed in an opposite direction.  

Now, the question is how long will Jones be out and who will be next for him.  Anderson Silva? Lyoto Machida? Alexander Gustafsson?  We will see.

For the “Gangster,” I hope to see him in a suit as an analyst.  


Nelson KOs Kongo

Jones does what he does and Nelson does what he does – knock people out.  While Nelson asked for a title shot, it’s likely he gets at least one more fight before there’s serious consideration.

Bisping beats Belcher after eye poke

Michael Bisping showed once again why he should receive a title shot.  The TUF alum beat up Alan Belcher but the fight was stopped after a nasty eye poke which was the second gruesome thing on the PPV next to Jones’ toe.  

Bisping must now wait in line once again for a shot.

Attendance and Gate

As reported earlier, attendance at UFC 159 placed second in terms of UFC events at the venue with Hardy vs. GSP being first.   UFC 159 reported attendance of 15,227 fans for a $2.7 million gate.


This event’s bonuses were $65,000 each as opposed to the UFC standard of $50,000.  As reported earlier the bonuses were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Healy vs. Miller

KO of the Night:  Nelson

Submission of the Night: Healy


-The Octagon included the usual sponsors:  TapouT, MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UFC Gym, Harley Davidson, Dodge, MusclePharm, Alienware, UltimatePoker.net and Bud Light.  It also included local sponsor Modell’s Sporting Goods.

-UFC Gym sponsored the prep point.  UFC Fit was also prevalent last week at UFC on Fox 7.  The move into fitness is a reason that Reebok may be a potential sponsor.  Could this be one of the reasons why Dana White met with Reebok officials? Also interesting that a potential Reebok deal may happen and just a few months ago Rampage Jackson could not wear Reebok logos in the Octagon for his last fight.

-Representatives from Doritos were also present as it may have a potential interest in sponsorship.

-Ronda Rousey was featured in a MetroPCS commercial shown during the Prelims.  It was also revealed that she signed a one year deal with Xyience

-Jones was sponsored by Nike and had his signature shoes released the week before the event.  The shoes sold out quickly although there were limited quantities.  Jones actually threw out his shoes to the weigh-in crowd on Friday.  He also wore Monster headphones, another UFC official sponsor, at the weigh-ins, to the ring and even when he sat on the stool being interviewed post-fight.  

-Sonnen wore a TapouT blue ring robe with a Modell’s patch on the arm.  It was reminiscent of boxers or pro wrestlers and appropriate for Sonnen.  

-An ironic sponsor for Sonnen was VA Mortgage Lending.  As you may recall, Sonnen plead guilty to money laundering in a mortgage fraud case during his realtor days in Oregon. While Sonnen’s actions were not related to VA Mortgage Lending, its still strange that you would want to have it as a sponsor because it reminds people of what happened in the past.   

-Phil Davis had a couple throwback sponsors:  Affliction and Lugz

Pre-Fight Hype

When you talk about hype, Chael Sonnen comes to mind.  The Ultimate Fighter was to serve as the 12 week promo piece for this fight but it was actually Sonnen’s banter the week or so after the TUF Finale that served as the real promotion for UFC 159.  

I really enjoyed the UFC Countdown show this time around especially the Alan Belcher-Michael Bisping back and forth.  Perhaps, Bisping can pick up the “King of MMA Smacktalk” when Chael Sonnen retires.

This card produced a couple interesting articles on the issue of race.  Tim Marchman wrote an article on Deadspin and Tomas Rios wrote one for The Pacific Standard which explores the issue and whether Chael Sonnen uses race to gain fans.  We explore the public relations aspects of Sonnen here.  When challenged on the subject of race on ESPN’s Dan LeBatard show, Sonnen deflected the direct issue and seemed genuinely uncomfortable about talking about it.  This was something unusual for Sonnen who was on in each appearance he did for the promotion of UFC 159.  

Odds and Ends

– Darren Rovell sent a tweet Saturday night which stirred the pot for defenders of the UFC. Rovell indicated that the UFC may have lost its “edge” based on the fact he knew someone that purchased a ticket for $50 with a face value of $553.  UFC PR’s Dave Sholler tweeted defending the UFC and its attendance indicating that it mattered and then Dana White sent a tweet professing that its numbers are improving and would prove it by sending it to the ESPN Sports Biz guy.  We will see if Rovell gets that information.  We’ll have more on this interesting story later.

– The card was deemed “cursed” by Joe Rogan for the various stoppages due to injury.  This started with two stoppages due to injury during the Prelims and continued with Alan Belcher’s eye poke and then Jon Jones’ toe.  And of course, we get a full on brawl in the stands caught on camera during Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”  No word on the deep voiceover between rounds during Bisping-Belcher but it seemed fitting for what happened during the night.

– Sarah McMann v. Sheila Gaff was aired on the prelims twice on FX as a result of filler.  But, the fight was the first women’s fight not hyped for the fact it was a women’s fight in the UFC.  McMann disposed of Gaff quickly.  

– Leonard Garcia-Cody McKenzie was the only fight not aired.  McKenzie indicated he was going to take some time off for personal reasons.  Garcia may be on his way out of the UFC.


The card was not as interesting on paper as last week’s UFC on Fox 7 and it played out that way in reality.  Sonnen did his usual work to hype the fight but many believed that it was a mismatch from the start.  The unusual issues during the card confirmed its demise as probably one of the strangest in some time.  Although Nelson’s KO and Healy’s submission were highlights, the rest of the night proved so-so.  A buy rate of 500K would be a success here and many probably bought it because they were fans of Sonnen and/or Jones as the supporting card lacked intriguing matchups.

6 Responses to “UFC 159: Payout Perspective”

  1. Sampson Simpson on April 30th, 2013 10:14 AM

    Seems like the Chuck Liddell days were thousands of years ago…

  2. Machiel Van on April 30th, 2013 10:20 AM

    So does this mean we can officially put the rumors about the bonuses being “set”at $50,000 to bed?

  3. BrainSmasher on April 30th, 2013 1:53 PM

    Chael vs Wandy then let Chael retire. It would be a shame if he was to go out on 2 embaracing performances as much has he has brought to the sport the last few years and seeing he will be the John Madden of MMA for years to come. Would be nice to have a chance at going out on a good note. A fight with Wandy has a history and would give him that chance.

  4. Jeremy Lynch on April 30th, 2013 6:45 PM

    I think this will end up closer to 700k. The prelims did a little less than 158 and my UFC bar was quite full, less than for GSP/Diaz, but more than any other card in the last few months.

  5. boozy on May 1st, 2013 3:53 PM

    mckenzie was seen and recorded highly intoxicated just 3 days prior to the fight. his personal reasons for taking time off might be to get help with a drinking problem…

    still won his fight though…

  6. BrainSmasher on May 2nd, 2013 3:26 AM

    I went to UFC 41 in New Jersey and there was a few fights in the crowd. One was right beside me and my brother. Some pretty boy come out of the tunel to get his seat with a smoking hot girl witha very low cut shirt. The drinks in the row behind him say something and all he’ll broke lose 2 feet beside me. It them spilled into the corridor. There was many more fights in the crowd back then Than there is today. Back then almost everyone who followed the sport trained in the sport in some way. Now you have a ton of people who just watch. UFC events are like A powder keg anyway where everyone is just waiting for something to happen. Almost like everyone is hoping some starts some shit with them. I love that atmosphere!

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