UFC 165: Payout Perspective

September 22, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the thrilling main event title defense of Jon Jones against Alexsander Gustafsson from the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Jones wins unanimous decision over game Gus

Jon Jones’ face told the story as he was battered but was able to do enough to defeat Alexander Gustafsson.  Despite being able to stifle most of Jones’ takedowns throughout the fight, in the end, Gus just ran out of gas in the 5th.

Jones connected on a spinning back elbow in the 4th which seemed to turn the match around.  The judge’s scorecards reflected a 3-2 split with Jones on top although one judge had 4-1 in favor of Jones.  However, most media scorecards had Jones winning with several outlets scoring it 4-1 for Jones.

For Jones, a Glover Texeira fight was set to be next however with such an exciting fight by Gustaffson, we may see a rematch before Texeira’s shot.  Much banter is going back and forth about putting the fight on Super Bowl weekend in New Jersey.


Barao solidifies spot at 135

Despite a slow start, Renan Barao used a spin kick to derail Eddie Wineland in defense of the interim Bantamweight title.  Barao has his eyes set on a date with Dominick Cruz to unify the titles.  Cruz will have his work cut out for him.  First, when will he be back?  Not only will he be coming back from a 2 year absence, he will be going up against one of the hottest fighters in the UFC.

Attendance and gate

In its third time to the Air Canada Center, attendance was down but the gate revenue remained steady from its last visit. UFC 165 did 15,504 with a gate of $1.9 million. At UFC 152, it did more attendance (16,800) but same gate of $1.9 million.

Going into the event, there were concerns of dwindling gate revenue in the Toronto market but it appears that Saturday’s gate was on par with its last visit.  However, the attendance was definitely smaller.


Bonuses were the standard $50,000 each and were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Jones-Gus

KO of the Night: Barao

Sub of the Night: Mitch Gagnon

Brendan Schaub could have received a sub of the night vote for his D’arce choke of Matt Mitrione.  I guess coffee will not be on him in Venice as he had exclaimed during the post-fight octagon interview.  Also, Stephen Thompson could have received a KO of the night for his work.

Promotion of the Fight

One of the more peculiar promos leading into a fight was the fact that the UFC highlighted the reach of Gus versus Jones.  While we’ve seen the UFC highlight size (e.g., Lesnar v. Overeem at UFC 141), I cannot think of a time when reach has been a selling point.  Obviously, the underlying point is that perhaps Gus could do something against Jones whereas others have not.

Jon Jones threw out the first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game.  This would have drew more press and fans if the Blue Jays had held up its end of the bargain by contending for a pennant as was predicted at the beginning of this season. The Jays did play the Yankees and of course Jones is seen talking with Alex Rodriguez.


The Octagon sponsors included Assassin’s Creed IV (the presenting sponsor), Alienware, Tapout, AXS TV, UFC Gym, MusclePharm, , Ultimate Poker, Dodge, Xyience and Bud Light in the center.

Xyience had the fighter prep point for tonight. SafeAuto Insurance sponsored the Tale of the Tape. And, Harley Davidson ran commercials during the PPV for UFC 166 which promoted Project Rushmore.

The big news was the addition of Gatorade as a sponsor for Jon Jones.  This, and Nike were, Jones’ only sponsors. ESPN’s Darren Rovell cast doubt on Gatorade’s sponsorship of Jones but later recanted citing that the sponsorship was a “one off” and unusual for the brand.

Jones was featured in more Nike Pro Training Ads (h/t FighterxFashion) and had a brief cameo in the latest Nike commercial.  He also had more shirts added to his Nike Collection including a “Not Quite Human” t-shirt he wore during the walkout.  Again, Jones threw out his Nike shoes to the crowd at the weigh-ins.

Alexsander Gustaffson thanked his sponsors in his post-octagon interview including Bad Boy. The clothing brand also showed training video of Gus before his fight.

A sponsor that has been around but has yet to be recognized here: Chegg.  An online student textbook store.  The logo is clear and easy to see and comes at a time when some students are heading back to school.  Just needed to know what it was.

Post-UFC 165 headlines

Who does Jones fight next? Glover Texeira was next in line and was even interviewed on the PPV after the fight.  But, how can the UFC not capitalize on the 165 momentum. Jones has been steamrolling over fighters in the division without much damage except for a broken big toe.  At UFC 165, his face was busted and his takedowns were stuffed all night long.  Doesn’t Gus deserve a rematch? Then again, Texeira could be a tougher opponent for Jones and with a game plan to attack the champ, Texeira might be the guy to finally topple Jones.

When will Cruz be ready?  Dominick Cruz has been out of action for the past 2 years.  If he cannot face Renan Barao in the first quarter of 2014, Barao should have the interim tag removed from the title.  Cruz has been a great commentator for the UFC, but if he cannot go, he should retire and allow the UFC to crown Barao the champion.  A Barao-Cruz fight would be interesting but how much has Cruz lost in the two years away?

Odds and ends

–  Not spoken by many, the actual PPV went approximately 3:40.  It hasn’t gone over 3 hours since its return to Japan at UFC 144.

– Rudy Gay and Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors were at UFC 165.  Gay was shown during the PPV broadcast.  Ross tweeted he was there supporting Jon Jones.

–  Something that the Prelims is doing is having the live camera in the corner of the fighters in between rounds while showing commercials in multi-split screen.  Its an interesting way to keep the cameras going while getting the ads in.

– We found out that the thing Khabib wears on his head is a traditional Russian headdress.

–  The event saw two fighters go unconscious from submissions.

–  Maybe Schaub redeemed himself with his BJJ skills from his grappling match this summer at Metamoris.


On Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer podcast, he predicted that the buy rate may be around 380,000 PPV buys.  A part of the explanation has to do with the fact that fans see that October, November and December have great PPV cards and 165 was a little less.  Moreover, many fight fans just spent $75 on Mayweather-Canelo.  Another $55 would put a hefty dent in PPVs for the month.  Thus, a consumer’s choice not to purchase this PPV.  Realistically, aside from Jones, there were no other big names to promote.  The UFC did not highlight the Bantamweight title matchup and Gustafsson going into the fight.  A PPV number around 300-350K is likely here.

17 Responses to “UFC 165: Payout Perspective”

  1. LeonThePro on September 23rd, 2013 4:12 AM

    @ Cruz

    300-350k seems a little low when JBJ average is around 540k. I know there was a boxing event but I always thought it was a different fan-base. Would boxing really have that much an impact on the UFC? I’m guessing 400-450k range.

    On a sidenote: Does anyone know what UFC 164 did yet? Haven’t seen it up.

  2. BrainSmasher on September 23rd, 2013 7:42 AM

    I is in the right ball park on this. This is the least known opponent Jones has had as a opponent. He has sold 450 buys recently but Belfort way much more known and has a history of headlining and selling PPVs. So not only does Gus have the smallest following and name recognition. But with 9-1 odds of winning. He wasn’t getting the people who pay to see Jones lose. So I’m guessing 400K, -/+ 20,000.

    I really hope they don’t set the rematch up next. This could be a huge fight if they let it build up. With it likely not getting huge buys. Not a lot have seen it to be interested in the rematch. But word of mouth has spread and anticipation will only get stronger. Another win for Gus would give him reasonable time to improve and give fans reason to believe this fight could be different. Jones can fight Glover before that fight is lost. Which should be big money in Brazil. There is no reason to rush the rematch with Gus because the way their fight went down makes it an easy sell even if both are coming off loses. Plus these Immediate rematches are devastating to the guy who goes 0-2. Its a career killer. especially in a division with someone as dominant as Jones. Ask Rich Franklin.

  3. Jason Cruz on September 23rd, 2013 8:43 AM


    I realize 300-350K is low and Jones has been averaging more. However, I do think from a consumer standpoint there might be just an UFC overload of events at this point. Just a couple weeks ago we had 2 events in a week plus the debut of TUF. Then, we get boxing at $75. I do think fans crossover. If it does better than my estimate, that’s great.

    But, if we look at it from the standpoint of Gus not known and a huge underdog, folks probably weren’t going to buy to see a 1st round KO. Of course, we should see more for a possible rematch.

    Look for better numbers for October’s card. UFC will run an event on 10/9 but that is from Brazil. Fans will be ready to see some action esp Cain-JDS III on 10/19.

    No word on UFC 164 yet but will get back on that.

  4. aintitthetruth on September 23rd, 2013 9:21 AM

    That poster is hideous .

  5. LeonThePro on September 23rd, 2013 9:45 AM

    Should be interesting to see how this pans out for Jones as literally 1 year ago Bones fought in Toronto (vs Belfort) and pulled in 450k buys.

    Also contrary to some people’s (on this site) beliefs, UFC PPV sales have remained static this year, not gone down. There is still 1 big quarter to go. According to the Blue Book there is only + 1% difference in sales for the totaled first 8 PPVs of this year (2012 vs 2013).

    4th Q 2012 saw 1.3 M in PPVs… can this year do better? Heavyweights, GSP, Anderson/Ronda…..

  6. mmaguru on September 23rd, 2013 2:07 PM

    Its definitely possible that the UFC will exceed last years total. If they can do an average 550K buys over the next 3 events. With GSP fighting, they have more than a shot. With close to 6 million buys last year at about 25$ a pop for the UFC, the company made 150 Million dollars. Not exactly chump change.

  7. Jason Cruz on September 23rd, 2013 9:29 PM

    In addition to Nike and Gatorade, Jones wore Monster Headphones. Monster is an official sponsor of the UFC.

  8. Diego on September 24th, 2013 6:28 AM

    I was one of those crossover fans who decided to pay for the Mayweather fight. I didn’t get the UFC PPV because of the cost, and because Jon Jones rubs me the wrong way and I didn’t thing Gus had a serious chance to win. I watched it online and it wound up being a pretty good fight; I will definitely pay for the rematch.

    I don’t understand why Barao is still “interim” champion. 12 months is the most a champion should be out before he’s stripped of the title.

  9. LeonThePro on September 24th, 2013 8:21 AM

    @ Diego

    I definitely agree with you regarding Barao. It’s not only bad for him but bad for the promotion. I think it was Ariel Helwani that asked this question to Dana White and Dana just got mad and shut him out… didn’t give a real answer.

    No champ should be out for more than 18 months… and even that’s a stretch. The little guys have a hard enough time as it is gathering a following and the interim thing just hurts.

  10. aintitthetruth on September 24th, 2013 4:20 PM

    White is a tarded man-child.

  11. BrainSmasher on September 25th, 2013 4:14 AM

    You guys alwas complain after the fact. Point is no one knew Cruz would be out this long. When he last fought or first got inured. No one knew he would be out this long. IF the UFC knew they would have stripped him. HE kept giving short time tables for being healthy only to get to the time and still not be ready. It just couldn’t be helped. Do you think the UFC likes not having a champ while the interim champ who has a lot more value than Cruz and more exciting gets no attention of credibility? I also didn’t hear none of you asking for him to be stripped 6 months ago. 1/3 of his time off was due to TUF coaching.

  12. Random Dude on September 25th, 2013 8:01 AM

    BrainSmasher making things up again to make the UFC look better.

    I don’t think I have ever heard anybody on any website, let alone this one, talk about how much they love “interim” championships. And everybody has complained about TUF shelving fighters that people want to see fight more often.

  13. aintitthetruth on September 25th, 2013 12:26 PM

    Two weeks ago i knew cruz had been out for well over a year and that the wineland barao fight needed to be for the undisputed championship. nothing after the fact about that.

  14. Diego on September 25th, 2013 2:23 PM

    It’s not after the fact. I have always hated interim titles because I just don’t know what they mean. Either you’re the champ or you’re not. That’s it.

    It sounds like something shady promoters would do to collect higher fees in a fight – and here I’m thinking of the WBA having both Klitschko and Povetkin as champions, one as “super” champion and the other as the “regular” champion. Huh?

  15. BrainSmasher on September 27th, 2013 6:13 AM

    I never said anyone does like them. I don’t like them either. But the fact of the matter is they are good for business. They give the division identity when they champ is out and everyone is taking meaningless ramdom fights with no direction or cause. They are also good business. It gives you a belt to advertise which always boost PPV buys. It also gives the fighter a lebel that helps hype him. There is a reason Bjork Ribney is fabricating the injury of his 205 champ just to crate a interim champ. even if it is for only 2 months. The Imterim title has value weather you realize it or not.

  16. BrainSmasher on September 27th, 2013 6:15 AM

    BTW, I can here Aintitthetruth now if the UFC stripped Cruz when he got hurt and made Barao/Faber for the real title. He would have been on here telling everyone how Dana is trying to give Faber the belt because he is a poster boy. Bla bla bla. Yes I know you would have so don’t deny it.

  17. Diego on September 30th, 2013 6:03 AM

    All I’m saying is that if titles are good for business then give Barao the “real” title and give Cruz an immediate title shot when he gets back. I agree with you that titles are good for business, so just make Barao the damn champion already.

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