Ortiz out, Bellator PPV now on Spike

October 25, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that due to an injury to Tito Ortiz, the Bellator PPV is off and now is being switched to Spike TV.  Rampage Jackson will not fight next Saturday although he is expected to fight soon.

Despite having Eddie Alvarez-Michael Chandler moving to the top of the card, Bellator and Viacom decided that it would be best to move the card to Spike TV.  Bellator head Bjorn Rebney and Viacom’s Kevin Kay told the media about the move in a Friday afternoon conference call.

While the cause of the PPV cancellation was an Ortiz neck injury occurring earlier this month, Rampage and Ortiz were promoting the fight yesterday on TSN’s “Off the Record” according to MMA Fighting.

The mediocre PPV card has now become a very strong Spike TV card.  Yet, the news seems very disappointing for the number 2 MMA promotion.

Payout Perspective:

Give it to Bellator for trying to spin bad news into good.  While it made the decision to pull its PPV debut, it placed a very entertaining card on cable television.  But, it brings up the question as to whether Bellator is really equipped for PPV.  This was something that was playing out in the Eddie Alvarez lawsuit before the parties settled.  Even though Bellator had argued that Alvarez-Chandler could headline a PPV in the lawsuit, when faced with the reality, it decided to place the entire card on Spike.

The cancellation of the PPV due to the Ortiz’s injury can be seen a number of ways.  First, it is fortunate as Bellator likely wanted a flawless debut on PPV with its intended main eventers to headline the show.  Since it could not do this, it was likely that PPV numbers would suffer and the inevitable bad press would follow.  It will likely do better ratings on Spike TV than it would do PPV buys.  Simply put, more eyes will be watching Bellator November 2nd than it would if it was on PPV.

On the other hand, the cancellation of the PPV proves that the company is not ready or capable of running a PPV despite the months of planning.  It shows that there was not a viable “Plan B” and that a Plan B was never cultivated (i.e., lack of Bellator to produce/market a fighter that could step in for Ortiz).  Even though Atilla Vegh was mentioned, how many people knew he was Bellator’s Light Heavyweight champion?  Which begs the question, why wasn’t he on the card already?  Sure, the UFC has had problems like this in the past but in only one scenario did it decide to cancel a PPV (While the cynicism in us may say the UFC should have cancelled some more.)  Here, this was Bellator’s big shot.  With the cancellation, it proves that despite the company making strides, it cannot compare to the UFC.

With the PPV cancellation, it begs the question of the Eddie Alvarez situation.  Although Alvarez and Bellator have settled their legal dispute and his current contract has not been released, one has to wonder if Alvarez’s contract included a PPV cut.  And, if so, how does that impact his participation on Spike TV next Saturday.

In contract law, there is something known as a “Force Majeure,” or “Act of God,” which frees a party from liability if a party does not fulfill an obligation in the contract.  In this case, Ortiz having to bow out due to a neck injury does not rise to this level.  Thus, if Alvarez had a PPV clause in his contract, and Bellator moved it to Spike from PPV without compensating Alvarez, we may see lawyers get involved again.  Common examples of a “Force Majeure” would be strike, crime or riot.  Another example would be if an earthquake caused the cancellation of the event.  This paragraph is somewhat half-kidding about an “Act of God” but moving the card off of PPV might impact Alvarez’s pay.  Again, we don’t know but we assume Alvarez was to receive a PPV cut.

Was this the correct move by Bellator? Or, do you think it should have gone forward with the PPV with Alvarez-Chandler headlining?

UFC 166 early PPV numbers low?

October 25, 2013

The Wrestling Observer (subscription recommended) has indicated that the initial PPV buy rate for UFC 166 is lower than expected.  While no numbers were provided, the inference was that it was lower than the Bradley-Marquez Top Rank PPV the week prior which expects to have a PPV buy rate between 350,000 and 450,000.

If the inference is true, a buy rate lower than 450,000 PPV buys has to be a disappointment.  While the main event was not supported by a strong supporting card, the Heavyweight division usually receives more than 450,000 PPV buys.

As we indicated in Payout Perspective, the last three cards had Cain and JDS on it and the lowest it received was 380,000.  If the initial reports are true, it must be a concern since Cain and JDS are the two biggest draws in the Heavyweight division. 

Event Date Buy Rate
UFC 160 May 25, 2013 380,000
UFC 155 December 29, 2012 550,000
UFC 146 May 26, 2012 560,000


One of the issues that the Observer points out is the loss of its stable promotional drivers.

Via The Wrestling Observer:

Losing FX as a promotional platform for the Prime Time was big, and obviously the synergism of the Spike/UFC relationship when UFC was the prime property the station got behind and heavily promoted those type of shows was huge in hindsight. But they still did well this year with Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche promoted off Fuel, with far less penetration than FS 1, did remarkably well for GSP vs. Nick Diaz, and strong numbers for Jones vs. Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva vs. Weidman, topping 500,000 as recently as July.

The Primetime series on FS1 for JDS-Cain had a series high of a 125,000 viewer average.  The one issue with the Observer explanation is that Fox is heavily promoting the UFC in its programming yet it has not converted into PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

It’s interesting to note that the last time the UFC went to the Toyota Center in Houston at UFC 136 it only grabbed 225K PPV buys despite a strong card featuring two title bouts and the return of Chael Sonnen.  UFC 136 had strong attendance and gate as the UFC also held a UFC Expo that weekend.  Still, the PPV buys disappointed.  Once again, two years later, while the attendance and gate were strong, the PPV buys may come up short yet again.

Definitely, the alternatives to purchasing the PPV were there on Saturday.  HBO Boxing which included a rerun of Bradley-Marquez and was followed by the debut of the Ward-Gatti documentary, College Football and MLB Playoff Baseball all occurred Saturday night.  The UFC Prelims on Saturday were the lowest rated on FS1 which was a likely indicator of the viewership of the PPV.

Bellator 104 and Rampage 4 Real DVR +3 numbers

October 24, 2013

MMA Payout has learned that the DVR +3 ratings for Bellator 104 was 684,000 viewers which is an 11% increase from the overnight ratings.  In addition, the DVR +3 ratings for the second episode of Rampage 4 Real earned an average of 473,000 viewers.

Bellator 98 – 437,000 viewers

Bellator 99 – 660,000 viewers, 704,000 DVR+3

Bellator 100 – 700,000 viewers, 736,000 DVR+3

Bellator 101 – 649,000 viewers, 710,000 DVR +3

Bellator 102 – 675,000 viewers. 774,000 DVR +3

Bellator 103 – 539,000 viewers, 638,000 DVR +3

Bellator 104 – 615,000 viewers, 684,000 DVR +3

#Rampage4Real Episode 1:  404,000 viewers, 473,000 viewers DVR +3

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how The World Series will affect viewership for the second episode of the Rampage mini-series.  It received modest ratings for the first episode despite having TNA as a lead-in.  The Bellator DVR numbers reflect the status quo for the season.

TUF 18 mid-season recap: 476,000 viewers

October 24, 2013

MMA Payout has learned that Wednesday night’s TUF 18 received 476,000 viewers on FS1.  It was the lowest rating this year but the episode was a recap of the season thus far and featured clips from this season’s shows.

TUF 18 Episodes

Episode 1: 762,000 viewers

Episode 2: 870,000 viewers

Episode 3: 639,000 viewers

Episode 4: 778,000 viewers

Episode 5:  640,000 viewers

Episode 6:  725,000 viewers

Episode 7:  672,000 viewers

Episode 8:  476,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Since it was a recap show, the poor ratings have an excuse as it was basically a rerun.  The recap show was a way to cushion the blow from the first night of the World Series.  Speaking of which, Game One of The World Series on Fox drew an overnight rating of 13.7 million and saw an increase in the 18-49 demo of 28% over last year according to the LA Times.  Thus, a pretty good time to take a break for TUF.  Duck Dynasty was on top of the cable ratings with 8.4 million viewers via TV By the Numbers.

SBJ chronicles UFC’s road to FS1

October 23, 2013

The Sports Business Journal reports on the UFC’s  obstacles it has had with shuffling its schedule between networks and channels and its eventual home on FS1.

The article which ran in last week’s edition of SBJ (subscription recommended) addressed the declining ratings since it left Spike TV and moved to Fox.

Notably, the article highlighted the problems with having TUF Live on Friday nights as the live fight impacted Dana White’s schedule and his ability to promote PPV events in the host city.  This was due to the fact that White was in Vegas for the live TUF fights instead of promoting the PPV wherever it was located.

Additionally, the article made it appear that White was not upset with Fox for the Friday time slot but “optimistic.”  White stated, “The guys at Fox get it,” stating that Fox would “figure it out.”  The article indicated that the UFC’s demo probably didn’t stay at home on Friday nights which contributed to the drop in viewership.

On the positive side, the article also included a poll by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment in conjunction with the SBJ which polled 2,000 senior level sports executives “spanning professional and colleges sports” and asked, “How much attention do you pay to the following properties now compared to five years ago?”  The three sports property choices were UFC, Boxing and WWE.  The selections were “More”, “Less” or “Same”

Of the executives polled, the UFC had the highest percentage (28%) of executives paying “More” attention to it.  Thus, more sports executives were taking notice of the UFC now than 5 years previous.  However, 39% of those polled paid the “Same” attention to it as it did 5 years ago and 24% of the 2,000 polled indicated that it paid “Less” attention to the UFC.

The article also indicates the intent of the UFC-Fox relationship is to have it a mainstay on FS1 while making its anchor shows (TUF, UFC Tonight and the live UFC Fight Nights) “destination television” on Wednesdays.

Payout Perspective:

The article had some interesting takeaways which seemed to paint the UFC-Fox relationship in a positive light.  It could be softening the blow for the diminishing ratings.  Take the UFC Prelims. According to the article, the last year the UFC was on Spike TV its average rating was 1.4 million viewers for 12 shows.  It dropped to 1.26 million viewers for 21 shows on FX.  Based on the FS1 Prelim ratings thus far, it’s not faring any better.  The TUF ratings have dropped since leaving Spike TV as well.   TUF went from 1.5 million viewers on Spike TV to 1 million viewers on FX for its first season and then 910K for its second season on FX.  We can see from the halfway point of TUF 18, its dropping again.

But the Fox partnership has aided the UFC with the bombardment of promotions during its NFL and MLB games.  The question will be when the Fox influence will turn into viewership.  Moreover, when will people consider UFC programming on FS1 destination television?

UFC announces “Protect Yourself At All Times” awareness campaign

October 23, 2013

The UFC, in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada is launching an HIV prevention awareness program entitled, “Protect Yourself at All Times” according to a company press release.

UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin and women’s bantamweight Liz Carmouche will serve as spokespeople for the campaign.

UFC Cares

Via UFC press release:

The on-going Protect Yourself At All Times campaign will be rolled out during the lead-up to World AIDS Day on December 1 and will include:

·       The UFC will fully support The Center’s LGBTQ+ programme, which offers free HIV tests to the wider Las Vegas community

·       UFC athletes and personalities visiting centers nationwide who offer free HIV tests and educational initiatives

·       The UFC will be creating public service announcements which will be distributed across its powerful media platforms

·       The UFC will also be donating promotional inventory to the campaign, beginning with a full-page ad in next month’s UFC 360magazine, and ask its partners to donate similar space to raise issue awareness.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC has partnered with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada in the past.  As you may recall, Griffin had received criticism for twitting about rape but has since made amends.  Carmouche, who is openly gay, has been a great ambassador for the UFC since her debut against Ronda Rousey.  The awareness campaign is a good example of the UFC striving to make inroads with social issues within the Las Vegas community and the broader group of fans in its target demo.  Certainly, this is a chance for good public relations outside of the normal MMA media.

UFC 166 Prelims: 628,000 viewers

October 22, 2013

MMA Payout has learned that Saturday night’s UFC 166 Prelims earned an average of 628,000 on FS1.  The ratings were the lowest since switching to FS1.

UFC PPV Prelims on FS1

UFC 164 Prelims 809,000 viewers

UFC 165 Prelims 722,000 viewers

UFC 166 Prelims 628,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The prelims had exciting bouts but lacked star power to draw fans to the  fights.  This usually occurs on the prelims but the steady decline in viewership on FS1 is a bad sign.  College Football and MLB were the top live events on Saturday as the top 5 showdown between Clemson and FSU scored 5.87 million viewers and the annual rivalry between USC and Notre Dame drew 3 million.  But the MLB Playoffs won the night with 8.5 million viewers.

Bellator 104: 615,000 viewers

October 22, 2013

MMA Payout has learned that last Friday’s Bellator MMA Live received an average viewership of 615,000 with a peak of 800,000 viewers.

Bellator 98 – 437,000 viewers

Bellator 99 – 660,000 viewers, 704,000 DVR+3

Bellator 100 – 700,000 viewers, 736,000 DVR+3

Bellator 101 – 649,000 viewers, 710,000 DVR +3

Bellator 102 – 675,000 viewers. 774,000 DVR +3

Bellator 103 – 539,000 viewers, 638,000 DVR +3

Bellator 104 – 615,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Bellator 104 saw a slight increase from last week’s ratings.  Its peak occurred during the first quarter of the show.  The show featured the semis of the welterweight tournament.  According to Television by Numbers, the MLB Playoffs won the night on cable with an average viewership of slightly over 6 million viewership.  WWE’s Smackdown scored an average of 2.6 million viewers on Friday as well.


Sonnen-Wandy announced as coaches for TUF Brazil

October 21, 2013

Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva will coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.  The announcement was made during a much-hyped edition of Fox Sports Live.

Dana White was interviewed by Sonnen on a segment of Fox Sports Live in which White revealed that Sonnen and Silva would be the coaches for TUF Brazil.  White half-joked that Sonnen would have extra security for the show as it’s scheduled to be in Brazil.  As is customary, the two coaches will face one another at the end of the season of the show.  No date of filming, location or timetable for the fight between Sonnen and Silva.

Sonnen is still set to fight Rashad Evans at UFC 167.

Payout Perspective:

It’s interesting to note the type of news broken on FS1 as opposed to the news broken on ESPN by the UFC.  For instance, White announced the rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva on ESPN.  Here, the programming aspect is the tie-in for the Fox announcement.  No real information has been disseminated other than Sonnen and Silva will be coaches.  It would make sense that FS1 (or FS2) picks up the episodes in America.  The move appears to be a shot at infusing life in the show in Brazil.  But, will the Sonnen-Silva show have Rampage-Rashad spark?  Sonnen ended up liking Jon Jones after pre-TUF trash talk.  Although Silva and Sonnen have gone at each other in social media and a public confrontation, it does not mean that TUF Brazil will get ratings as a result.

UFC 166: Payout Perspective

October 21, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 166 in Houston, Texas which featured the third fight between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez.

Cain stops JDS in 5th

Despite a couple shots that hurt Cain early, Velasquez dominated the third fight of the trilogy and eventually stopped JDS who was physically spent and visibly beaten.  His face looked like their last fight and despite all of his work; JDS could not muster enough offense against the Heavyweight champion.  With the win, Cain solidified his top spot within the division.  His next opponent is Fabricio Werdum and while it may not seem like Werdum would have a chance, he is still the one that stopped Fedor at a time many though him to be invincible.

Melendez-Sanchez participate in one of 2013’s best fight

Instead of wasting words on Daniel Cormier’s decision over Roy Nelson, we should focus on a fight that lived up to the hype.  Gilbert Melendez defeated Diego Sanchez in one of the great fights of 2013.  There was little controversy on the winner of the fight but it was more on the storyline that unfolded during the fight. Sanchez was bloodied from the beginning but was willing to exchange with Melendez.  In between the 2nd and 3rd round, Sanchez’s corner told him that he’d have to knock out Melendez to win and told him not to let Melendez “take food away from his daughter.”  Sanchez’s facial expressions during the 3rd round were exceptional.  When he knocked down Melendez in the 3rd you could see Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta rise to their feet.

The win for Gil has him waiting in the wings for a title shot.

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Attendance and Gate:

As previously reported, UFC 166 drew a reported 17,238 for a gate of $2.5 million.  Dana White indicated that it was the “third-highest gate in the history of the venue” as The Rolling Stones and UFC 69 (featuring the GSP career-altering fight when Matt Serra upset St. Pierre) were higher at the venue.


The bonuses of $60K each were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Gilbert Melendez-Diego Sanchez

Submission of the Night:  Tony Ferguson

KO of the Night:  John Dodson

There were a lot of KOs to choose from on this night but Dodson was probably the correct choice.


The Octagon sponsors included mainstays Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Dodge, Assassin’s Creed, Alienware and Bud Light in the center.  MTV’s Jackass movie “Bad Grandpa”, Prestone, AxsTV and the Air Force were also present with signage in the Octagon.

UFC Official sponsor Corn Nuts sponsored the Tale of the Tape for the fights.

Valvoline sponsored the “Keys to Victory” for the featured event on the Prelims between Tim Boetsch and CB Dolloway.

Junior dos Santos was predominantly sponsored by Nike for this fight.  This included new shirts and his own line of shoes.  JDS was featured in Nike Pro Training ads (h/t FighterxFashion).  If you were wondering where you could purchase a Cigano t-shirt, the UFC store carries them.   JDS also signed with sports agency 9ine prior to this fight.  We shall see what they will do with him after this loss.

Cain Velasquez was sponsored by Affliction, Oak Grove Technologies and Lugz.  These sponsors usually sponsor AKA fighters.  The one marked change is that Affliction replaced Dethrone as the apparel sponsor for Cain.

Roy Nelson was sponsored by LunarPages, a sponsor recently sported by Mark Munoz and Jake Ellenberger.

Daniel Cormier was sponsored by Cage Fighter.

Adlan Amagov was sponsored by a Law Office in his fight against TJ Waldburger

Promotion of the Fight

UFC Primetime on FS1 did not do very well ratings-wise as the three-part series hovered around 125,000 viewers which likely would suggest that the targeted-fan it wants that would be swayed into purchasing the PPV is likely not tuning in.  A part of this could be the lack of promotion for the Primetimes and the fact that FS1 is still is not latching on with many fans.  The shows were well-done although it did not do well ratings-wise in comparison to some of the UFC Countdowns on Spike TV.

UFC Countdown also featured JDS and Cain as well as the featured undercards. It is always interesting to me the amount of time the Countdown spends on the main eventers when there is UFC Primetime.

Houston Rockets Dwight Howard took pics with several fighters including Cain, JDS and Diego Sanchez after his fight with Gilbert Melendez.  Howard’s pics with Cain and JDS were publicized before UFC 166.

The UFC replayed last month’s PPV on Thursday as part of the run up for this event.  It grabbed an average of 449,000 viewers on FS1.

JDS and Cain took part in a global tour promoting this fight.

Post-UFC 166 Headlines

Who’s next for Cain?  Fabricio Werdun.  The question is what will the UFC do to make this matchup appealing.  Werdun can be considered a “giant killer” as he was the one who bet Fedor.  But, will anyone buy that he can beat Cain?

Melendez title shot?  It was the most exciting fight of the card and while Diego Sanchez received a lion’s share of the appreciation, Melendez left with a solid win and the possibility of meeting the winner of Josh Thomson-Anthony Pettis.  While we may argue TJ Grant is due his shot, it’s hard not to think Gil is right there in the mix.

Safety concerns.  There were several moments during the event where the athletic commission stepped in to check on fighters including Gil-Diego and JDS-Cain.  Whether it cynicism or not, there must be a question whether it would actually have stepped in to stop a fight.  Certainly the ref or ring docs could have called off the JDS-Cain fight and the ref in Amagov-Waldburger should have jumped in much sooner.  It’s a tenuous balance between saving a fighter from further punishment and giving the fighter a chance.  But, it also seems like in some decisions entertainment takes precedence over safety.  It’s definitely a hard job to be a ring doc that may be the most hated person in the building if they stop a fight.  But, they have a responsibility to the fighter to protect them from themselves.  Bloody Elbow has a nice piece on this issue.

Odds and Ends

-The Prelims had some great fights although it may not equate to ratings.

-Does anyone know what Cain’s sponsor Oak Grove Technologies does off the top of their head?  Here’s the answer.

-Joe Rogan’s call to stop the fight was echoed by many as TJ Waldburger took some unnecessary shots after he was unconscious before the referee stopped the fight.  Shades of Chris Weidman-Mark Munoz although less egregious by the ref here.

-Tough way to go out for Nate Marquardt.

-Diego Sanchez should have copyrighted those “Yes!” chants.  Daniel Bryan is making a fortune with that in WWE.  I’m half-joking here.

-Speaking of gimmick infringement, Dustin Pague uses the “Diamond” nickname and so does Dustin Poirier.

-If you watched UFC Primetime, you saw Daniel Cormier receive his BJJ Brown Belt the same day that Cain Velasquez received his BJJ Black Belt.

-John Dodson could have hurt his back when he fell on his back on the mat after unsuccessfully doing his run off the cage flip.

-Dodson also had the smoothest move…at the weigh-ins when he took a “selfie” plus 1 with Octagon girl Chrissy Blair.

-Jessica Eye wore a “Straight Outta Cleveland” t-shirt at weigh-ins

-Two Basketball Jersey Sightings at weigh-Ins.  First a Dwight Howard jersey and then Sarah Kauffman wearing a retro Hakeem Olajuwon jersey and she even did a “Dream Shake”.

-Not a Yeezy fan? Skip to the Conclusion.  As an added bonus I attended the first night of the Yeezus Tour Saturday night featuring Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West.  Great show although there was a two hour delay for fans to get into the arena due to the set being constructed late.  A lot of kinks to be worked out and Kanye must work on his cardio for the rest of the tour as he seemed to gas midway through his two hour set.  But, huge props to him for wearing masks during most of his performance.


Cain and JDS have been on the same card the last four times they have been in the Octagon.  Their last meeting was at UFC 155.

The last three PPV shows they have been on are as follows:

Event Date Buy Rate
UFC 160 May 25, 2013 380,000
UFC 155 December 29, 2012 550,000
UFC 146 May 26, 2012 560,000


There’s a trend downward and it will be interesting to see what to expect here.  While the card turned out to be one of the best of the year, aside from the Heavyweights at the top, the card didn’t have an attractive undercard unless you were a hardcore fan.  With Cain dominating JDS, we could see the start of an Anderson Silva-like run in the division which could help promote Cain as a PPV draw.  Moreover, the new deals in Latin America/Mexico and the UFC’s aspirations to have an event in Mexico may prove to help Cain as a draw. Here, attendance does not equate to PPV buys.  UFC 136, the last event held in Houston, was to be a big event with an Expo and two title fights including Maynard-Edgar III and the return of Chael Sonnen.  Yet, it only mustered 225K PPV buys despite drawing over 15,000 in the building.

Here, I suspect the “Heavyweight factor” and the trilogy aspect gets this PPV up to 500K PPV buys.

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