UFC 160 attendance, gate and bonuses

May 25, 2013

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for Saturday’s UFC 160.  Dana White gave the numbers at the post-fight press conference.

Attendance at the MGM Grand was 11,089 for a $2.942 million gate. No word on comps or unsold tickets, but as always the Nevada State Athletic Commission will give official numbers later this week. Saturday’s attendance and gate does not register on the all-time highs for UFC events at the venue.  But, in comparison the last event at the MGM, UFC 155 (Cain-JDS II) drew 12,423 for a gate of $3.286 million.

The bonuses were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Junior dos Santos-Mark Hunt

Submission of the Night:  Glover Texeira

KO of the Night:  TJ Grant

Each received $50,000 in addition to their fight purses.  Apparently Brian Caraway was not there to lobby for $65,000.

Payout Perspective:

It was an entertaining night of fights capped off with a solid main card.  No real controversy for the bonuses as all four fighters had major performances tonight.  And, Cain Velasquez is still the top dog among the Heavyweights.

PPV History – UFC 160 main event fighters

May 24, 2013

MMA Payout takes another look at the prior PPV history of UFC 160’s main event fighters.  The quick conclusion is that the UFC Heavyweight Division is a big draw for fans.

Bigfoot Silva

EVENT OPPONENT DATE BUY RATE/Rating
UFC 156 Alistair Overeem February 2, 2013 330,000 PPV buys
UFC on FX Travis Browne October 5, 2012 1.1M viewers
UFC 146 Cain Velasquez May 26, 2012 560,000 PPV buys

 

It’s a surprise that Silva is in this position – a shot at the Heavyweight title and a rematch with Cain Velasquez.  Everyone thought that Alistair Overeem would have destroyed Silva and we would be looking at a dream matchup with Overeem vs. Cain this weekend.  But, Overeem gassed and Silva’s humongous hands spelled the end to the Demolition Man.  Silva will have to avoid a rerun of last year’s bloodbath where Cain mauled him.

Cain Velasquez

Via Wikimedia

Via Wikimedia

EVENT OPPONENT DATE BUY RATE/Rating
UFC 155 Junior dos Santos (W) December 29, 2012 590,000 PPV buys
UFC 146 Bigfoot Silva (W) May 26, 2012 560,000 PPV buys
UFC on Fox 1 Junior dos Santos (L) November 12, 2011 5.7M viewers
UFC 121 Brock Lesnar (W) October 23, 2010 1,050,000 PPV buys
UFC 110 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (W) February 21, 2010 240,000 PPV buys

 

Disregard UFC 110 and you can see that Cain is a top tier draw for the UFC.  He’s averaged 733,000 PPV buys since UFC 121.  Factor in the great ratings for the UFC’s first network show and its obvious he’s slightly behind GSP and Anderson Silva in drawing power.

Junior Dos Santos

Via Wikimedia

Via Wikimedia

EVENT OPPONENT DATE BUY RATE/Rating
UFC 155 Cain Velasquez(L) December 29, 2012 590,000 PPV buys
UFC 146 Frank Mir (W) May 26, 2012 560,000 PPV buys
UFC on Fox 1 Cain Velasquez (W) November 12, 2011 5.7M
UFC 131 Shane Carwin June 11, 2011 325,000 PPV buys
UFC 117 Roy Nelson (W) August 7, 2010 600,000 PPV buys

 

JDS falls in the Cain Velasquez category of UFC fighters that can draw.  UFC 117 was more Silva-Sonnen than dos Santos and UFC 131 was going to be JDS-Brock except for Brock having to bow out due to his diverticulitis.  So, perhaps that’s why 131 did not do as well.  Still, JDS averages about 583,000 PPV buys excluding UFC 131 (518K if you include the Carwin fight).

Mark Hunt

Via Wikimedia

Via Wikimedia

EVENT OPPONENT DATE BUY RATE/Rating
UFC on Fuel TV: Silva v. Stann Stefan Struve (W) March 3, 2013 485,000 viewers(record for Fuel  TV)
UFC 144 Cheick Kongo (W) February 26, 2012 325,000 buys
UFC 135 Ben Rothwell (W) September 24, 2011 520,000 buys
UFC 127 Chris Tuschscherer (W) February 27, 2011 260,000 buys
UFC 119 Sean McCorkle (L) September 25, 2010 295,000 buys

 

Hunt’s rise to semi-main event status came in part due to an impressive knockout of Stefan Struve.  The fight card, headlined by Wanderlei Silva versus Brian Stann from Japan garnered the biggest rating for a UFC on Fuel TV event.

Hunt defeated Cheick Kongo in Japan at UFC 144.  One recalls that was the return of the UFC to Japan and featured a 4 hour PPV with Benson Henderson defeating Frankie Edgar for the Lightweight title.  UFC 127 featured Jon Fitch v. BJ Penn from Australia in what turned out to be a draw.  We may want to throwout  UFC 119 as the headliner was the ill-timed Mir v. Cro-Cop fight in which everyone was a loser.

Payout Perspective:

The numbers reflect the popularity of the Heavyweight division.  JDS and Cain are at the top of this list as attractive draws for the UFC.  With Hunt and Bigfoot looking to make inroads into the top tier of the Heavyweight division, the recent signing of Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier and Alistair Overeem still around we can see another resurgence of this division.  This annual Memorial Day card is a great way to feature this division and a good way to kick off the Summer.

Cholish and Volkmann speak out about UFC fighter pay, insurance

May 24, 2013

After retiring Saturday, John Cholish has become a controversial figure as he’s spoken out for fighter wages.  Jacob Volkmann has joined Cholish in voicing his opinion about the UFC in speaking out about UFC insurance.

Cholish stated in an interview on The MMA Hour that he lost money in his last fight and would like to see something done so that fighters get a fair wage.  According to an interview on Bleacher Report, Cholish stated that he paid for two of his coaches to travel to Brazil with him as well as for their food bill while they were there.  His contract only allowed travel for one coach.

Also, he stated that his insurance covered his “pre-fight medicals.” Its interesting that the UFC insurance does not cover this.  Cholish indicated that his own insurance at his day job at a commodities firm on Wall Street picked these up.  Jacob Volkmann, a former UFC fighter, stated that the insurance with the UFC includes a $1,500 deductible.  (Bloody Elbow via Above and Beyond MMA)

One thing not addressed by Cholish is how much he gets from sponsors.  Cholish was sponsored by Alienware and MusclePharm on Saturday night among others.  This compensation could assist some of the expenses discussed by Cholish.

When asked about Cholish and Volkmann’s comments, White called them “washouts.”  Cholish has since responded to White’s criticism.

 

Although he initially indicated he had not been paid as of Monday, he has since received his payment from Zuffa and promptly donated to the relief efforts in Oklahoma.

 

A very good move for Cholish from a PR perspective.

Payout Perspective:

The first takeaway is that Cholish only received slightly over $2K for his fight last Saturday.  This is sobering considering he was scheduled to make $8,000 to show.

Cholish’s breakdown of costs is an interesting look at what a fighter must go through to prepare for a fight.  Obviously, the one variable left out (which was noted by Bleacher Report), is the compensation from sponsors.  This could be just a lump sum payment, a payment after the fight or a monthly stipend depending on the relationship between fighter and sponsor.  This could offset some of the pre-fight expenses.  Moreover, there could be some sort of deal if the gym the fighter trains at is the same place he has his coaches (which seems to be the standard).  Cholish also points out the taxes and licensing fees he had to pay for his Brazil fight.

It is hard to blame Cholish for choosing to pay for two additional coaches to go to Brazil with him.  If he believed that he needed the coaches to win, it was necessary.  The fact that he paid out of pocket for their expenses shows the kind of person he is.  Notably, even in Eddie Alvarez’s proposed contract he’s only allowed travel expenses for one coach unless the fight is a Championship fight.

Volkmann also chimed in about the hefty deductible if you make a claim on the UFC insurance.  While insurance is definitely a plus, the deductible is an out of pocket expense that must be paid by the insured.  Its another side of the insurance coverage that has not been discussed by anyone.

Volkmann’s issues are different than Cholish and it might not be fair to lump them into the same boat.  Volkmann has been consistent about speaking out about issues with taxes stemming back from his criticism of President Obama, which got him some notoriety.  The insurance issue is interesting to note and may be something to be on the lookout for in the future.

Its interesting to see the different responses to Cholish’s remarks.  While some applaud him for speaking up about fighter pay, others see him as a malcontent.  The fact is that Cholish has a career, makes enough money at his day job and is therefore not concerned about what his comments may have on him with Zuffa.  This allows him the freedom to express himself without concern about retribution.  He’s also is willing to discuss the issue with White, something I’d be surprised White would do.  From a PR standpoint, Zuffa should at least take the meeting to show its willing to listen.  When people love Chael Sonnen for speaking his mind, remember that Cholish is doing the same.  Cholish is telling it like it is (from his standpoint) and it seems like he’s doing this for the greater good of the sport and not just to get some publicity.

The Wrestling Post – Memorial Weekend Edition

May 23, 2013

Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post.  In this post, we take a look at Hulk Hogan’s ongoing battle with Gawker, the WWE donates money to head trauma research and a Court denies a WWE Motion to Dismiss in a Copyright Infringement lawsuit.

Hogan versus Gawker continues

Hulk Hogan is seeking to eliminate all semblance of his sex tape from the internet according to TMZ.  The professional wrestler is embroiled in a lawsuit with the Gawker web site over the sex tape which Gawker had posted on its site.

Hogan successfully filed a temporary restraining order requiring that Gawker take down the video and the accompanying post describing Hogan’s tape.  Gawker took down the video but left the post describing the video citing the Judge’s decision to grant the TRO as “unconstitutional.”  Gawker also left on its site links to other web sites where one could obtain the video.

Hogan’s lawyers have filed a Motion an Order to Show Cause to determine why Gawker should not be held in contempt of Court for disobeying an Order from the Court. On the other hand, Gawker has filed a Motion for Stay of Hogan’s Temporary Injunction.  In its briefing, it cites a list of reasons why the Judge’s granting of the TRO was incorrect. Two of the more interesting arguments is that the state court judge was “collaterally estopped” from its ruling as Hogan’s TRO was already ruled on in Federal Court in October. In addition, Gawker argues that the state court judge admitted (which she did) that she did not look at the video or plan to do so, yet ruled on the content.

Payout Take:  This lawsuit will be interesting from the perspective of whether Hogan can rid the internet of the offensive tape.  Gawker’s stance on the state ordered TRO is noteworthy considering that Hogan’s legal strategy may have doomed him (i.e., he filed his lawsuit in federal court first and then voluntarily dismissed the case but not before that Court ruled on this same injunction.)  We will see how this legal case plays out to see whether a Court will overturn the injunction based on the prior ruling or whether the issue is moot due to the ruling in the present forum.

WWE donates $1.2 million to head trauma research

USA Today reports that the WWE has donated $1.2 million to head trauma research.

Via USA Today:

World Wrestling Entertainment, known for past stars such as Hulk Hogan and current champ John Cena, says it is making a gift of $1.2 million over three years to further research aimed at developing a treatment for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The brain disease, associated with repeated concussions, has come under scrutiny amid concussion-related lawsuits by more than 4,000 former NFL players against the league. CTE has been linked to depression and dementia.

The donation is being made to the Sports Legacy Institute in Boston, a non profit run by former WWE Wrestler and one time Tough Enough competitor Christopher Nowinski.  Nowinski, a Harvard graduate, whose wrestling career was cut short due to a concussion.

Payout Take:  The donation is a step in the right direction in the continued evolution of the the WWE that recognizes its newfound duties as a publicly traded company and the importance of corporate social responsibility.  While many skeptics may think that the donation is “after the fact” for many wrestlers and/or  preventative PR in light of the NFL concussion litigation, it shows that the WWE is taking steps to ensure that it does not make any further mistakes with the treatment of its talent.

WWE’s Motion to Dismiss Copyright Lawsuit Denied

The Hollywood Report reports that a Texas music composer has won an initial round in the legal battle over the rights to entrance music he composed for wrestlers.  While Papa Berg, the composer that is suing the WWE, had portions of his lawsuit dismissed, the Court allowed him to proceed with his copyright infringement lawsuit.  The WWE attempted to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety or in the alternative, have the lawsuit moved to Connecticut (the WWE’s headquarters).

The bulk of the ruling by the Texas Court was based on jurisdictional issues, the lawsuit alleging that the WWE “misappropriated his songs, caused royalties to be misdirected and interfered with a video game deal.”  In the latter claim, Berg did not discover that the WWE had the rights to his songs until video game maker (pre-Bankruptcy) THQ contacted him about the right to use a song in one of its WWE video games.

Notably, for those old enough to recall the AWA and NWA, Berg composed the Freebirds’ “Badstreet USA” entrance song and Sting’s “A Man Called Sting”

Payout Take:  Although the issue at hand was a civil procedure question concerning jurisdiction, once the lawsuit gets to the merits of whether or not the WWE infringed Berg’s copyright will it get interesting.

UFC on FX 8: 1.3 million viewer average

May 22, 2013

MMA Fighting reports ratings for UFC on FX 8 were down from last event’s high as Saturday’s event from Brazil scored 1.3 million viewers.  The 1.3M figure is on average with ratings for UFC on FX shows.

Saturday’s main event on FX saw Vitor Belfort KO Luke Rockhold with a highlight reel reverse head kick.

In addition, the Prelims on Fuel TV received 156,000 viewers for a 0.35 rating.  It was down from January’s UFC on FX 7 Prelims on Fuel TV.  But, it was up from the 132,000 viewer average.

Payout Perspective:

Average numbers for a card that did not have too many popular fighters known to many in the United States.  The event is the last of its kind on FX as the bulk of UFC programming moves to the new Fox Sports 1 network in August.

Diaz fined $20K, suspended 3 months for tweet

May 21, 2013

The UFC announced that Nate Diaz was fined $20,000 and suspended three months for his anti-gay tweet in reference to Bryan Caraway.  The UFC announced that the fine would be donated to charity.

Diaz’s manager, Mike Kogan, went on The MMA Hour to defend Diaz’s choice of words.  Kogan’s defense made news as it was featured on Deadspin.  Despite what most saw as a losing battle, Kogan said Diaz felt no remorse for the comment.  Kogan felt the same.  The logic was the fact they believe the word Diaz tweeted was not a homophobic slur.

(H/t:  MMA Fighting)

Payout Perspective:

Anyone else think Cesar Gracie could do as good as job as Kogan with this damage control?  While I understand Kogan’s need to defend his client, there is no use in remaining unrepentant about what happened.  It only makes it look worse.  Diaz made only $15,000 for the Josh Thomson fight at was fined $20,000. A $5,000 loss.  All of this happened after switching managers.

Zuffa reveals “Truth” about Culinary Union

May 21, 2013

MMA Mania reports that the UFC has established a web site to address the Culinary Union’s consistent attacks against the organization.  “The Truth About Culinary 226” aims to expose the Union’s issues on this web site owned and operated by Zuffa.

The web site reveals public waste allegedly caused by 226 and  attempts to address the history between Culinary 226 and Zuffa.

Via “The Truth About Culinary 226”:

The Culinary Union has targeted Station Casinos because the company refuses to agree to a “card check” process whereby the Culinary Union may become the representative of its employees without being elected as such through a secret ballot election. Rather than simply following the secret ballot election process that U.S. federal law provides, the Culinary Union’s management has instead waged a dishonest campaign to pressure Station Casinos to capitulate to its demands. As part of that campaign, the Culinary Union has been engaging in harassment tactics that target all of the business interests of the Fertittas, including Station Casinos and the UFC.

Culinary

Payout Perspective:

Bad PR or Zuffa rightfully going on the offensive?  The web site tells the Zuffa side of the story with the constant attacks made by the Culinary Union in light of the continued inability for MMA to become legalized in New York.  Zuffa is up front of what it is doing as it states it owns the web site on the front page.  I am not clear how the web site will sway public opinion but it cannot hurt its efforts for legalizing MMA in New York if it is truthful about its allegations.

“EA Sports UFC” Among Strong Lineup Announced for Xbox One Release

May 21, 2013

Microsoft headquarters today hosted the much anticipated Xbox One reveal, which showcased key EA Sports franchises such as Madden, NBA Live, FIFA, and the newest addition EA Sports UFC.

The video was to show off EA Sports new engine, Ignite, developed for the next generation Xbox console. Though there was no actual gameplay footage, it was a sneak peak of what can be expected in the future. The UFC portion focused on UFC LHW Champion Jon Jones and UFC LW/FW contender Anthony Pettis performing the “Showtime Kick” on current UFC LW Champion Ben Henderson.

 

MMAPayout Perspective:

Not much was “revealed” for the EA Sports UFC game other than it will be available next year for the Xbox One, but to be included with great franchises such as Madden, FIFA and NBA Live is a pretty big deal for the UFC.  In terms of development, it seems that they are still in the early stages, but we will keep an eye on E3 and see if more information about the game will become available.

First “EA Sports UFC” news to be revealed during next generation Xbox launch

May 20, 2013

One day before Microsoft is set to debut the next generation XBOX console, EA Sports announces that it will also release EA UFC news on the same day.

EASportsUFCFirstNews

 

Payout Perspective:

The assumption here is that the first official news coming out of EA Sports regarding the UFC title will take place during Microsoft’s press conference tomorrow, which will unveil the next generation XBOX console.

During a recent EA press conference, it was announced that EA Sports UFC would not be released until after this fiscal year, which ends after April 2014.  That would mean that tomorrow’s announcement could confirm that EA Sports UFC will first be officially available on the XBOX’s new console.  Also confirmed for tomorrow’s event is EA Sports FIFA franchise.

It is expected that various EA Sports titles will have a major role during tomorrow’s conference, which will be used to boast XBOX’s vast on launch  titles as well as developer support, something both Sony and Nintendo have been struggling with as of late.  There are even rumors of exclusivity talks among the two brands with certain titles, but just mere talk up to now.

Mircrosoft’s new generation console, is expected to have some presence in next month’s E3 event in Los Angeles.

Cholish retires, lobbies for undercard fighter pay

May 20, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that John Cholish retired after his match with Gleison Tibau at UFC on FX 8.  Despite leaving the UFC active roster, Cholish lobbied for the undercard fighters that they receive more pay.

Cholish, a Cornell grad, is going back to his day job at a commodities trading firm on Wall Street.  While Cholish’s future is solid, he spoke out for other fighters that live from fight to fight from the UFC and lobbied for better pay.

Cholish indicated that he may not break even regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s fight.  His last reported fight purse was $4,000 $6,000 to show and $4,000 $6,000 to win at UFC 140 (plus a $5K bonus per his interview on The MMA Hour on 5/20/13).  The low pay makes it hard to turn a profit for fighting considering the costs of training.

Payout Perspective:

Cholish pointed out an often ignored financial detail for fighters when looking at fighter payouts- paying for a support staff.  While coaches and training partners receive certain privileges for working with a fighter, the fighter must still compensate them for their time.  It’s interesting to note that Cholish was sponsored by MusclePharm and Alienware, two of the UFC’s official sponsors, yet still stated that he may not break even from Saturday’s fight.

Cholish could not give a solution to the fighter pay issue outside of a fighter’s union.   As we’ve discussed on prior occasions, it’s unlikely that a fighter’s union would occur under the Zuffa banner.  Since Zuffa is a private company, it does not reveal a lot of its finances which would hurt undercard fighters in terms of negotiating fight pay.  Moreover, taking a look at the released pay scales, most of the undercard fighters are slated in at a certain range and then are brought up in lockstep in terms of show and win bonuses.  The allure of fighting for the UFC (and its insurance) does help initially with fighting for less but Cholish points out that many fighters not on the main card are barely breaking even with costs and expenses after a fight.   Most are not as fortunate as Cholish and must cobble together other gigs while waiting for their next shot to fight on a UFC card.

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