UFC 168: Payout Perspective

December 30, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the last UFC event of 2013 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Weidman retains belt after Silva breaks leg

Corey Hill. That is what went through my mind as Anderson Silva’s shin was shattered on a Chris Weidman leg check.  Many may recall the lanky TUF competitor breaking his leg on an eerily similar

Leg checks are gruesome as it is and Silva’s kick that broke his leg looked like it was right on Weidman’s knee.

It appeared that Weidman may have knocked out Silva in the first but Silva was able to survive round 1 and even bloodied Weidman.  Although Weidman likely won round 1, the fight was still up in the air before the kick despite folks concluding that Weidman would have won the fight.  Weidman did look much improved from July and solidified his standing as the division’s champ.  It appears that Vitor Belfort may be next.  The question is will it be in Vegas or Brazil?

As for Silva, it’s likely the end to his career.  At 38, Silva has had a successful run and should be financially set for the rest of his life.  We may see him in the UFC in some sort of emeritus role but never again in the Octagon fighting.

UFC_168_event_poster

Rousey armbars Tate to retain title

Ronda Rousey submitted Miesha Tate although the challenger put up a fight and was the crowd favorite throughout.  Rousey refused a Tate handshake at the end which solidified her as the heel.

Tate was a heavy underdog and it seemed that surviving the first round was a victory in itself.  Despite not getting armbarred in the first or second round, Rousey was still dominating the match.  Her Judo was exceptional and one has to wonder why attempt to take Rousey to the ground when Tate scored with shots on her feet.

Rousey has a quick turnaround as she fights Sarah McMann on February 22nd.

Some have speculated that the Rousey-McMann fight was made to coincide with the Winter Olympics.  Both were medalists in the Olympics.  The only problem with this theory was that Rousey and McMann competed in the Summer Olympics.

Browne KOs the Warmaster

Travis Browne used his elbows to KO Josh Barnett in what was a mini-upset.  Browne propels himself to a fight with Fabricio Werdum with the fighter likely getting Cain Velasquez.

Attendance and Gate

As announced at the post-fight press conference, it was the second-highest gate for an MMA event in MGM history with 15,650 for a gate of $6.2 million.

Bonuses

Rousey, Tate and Browne were the recipients of the fight night bonuses.  Instead of the standard $50K each, the UFC upped the bonus to $75K.

FOTN – Rousey-Tate

Sub – Rousey

KO – Browne

As we previously pointed out, Jim Miller should have received the Submission of the Night with his slick setup and eventual arm bar of BJJ Black Belt Fabricio Comoes.

Salaries

The Nevada State Athletic Commission revealed the pay of the top 3 fights on the card (via MMA Junkie).  The rest of the card should be made public later this week.

Chris Weidman received a big pay increase in pay in his first title defense.  He received $200K to show and another $200K for the win for a total of $400K.

Silva received $600K and would have made another $200K if he won.

Rousey made $50K/$50K but with another $150K in bonuses she tallied $250K for the night.  Tate made $28K and another $75K for $103K.

Josh Barnett made $170K and Travis Browne made $56K ($28K/$28K) plus his $75K win bonus for a total of $131K.

Raise in PPV Price

One of the surprises that came before the fight was the $5 bump in price for the last PPV of the year.  UFC 168 was the first at $59.99 (HD) and $49.99 (SD).  White indicated that this would be the only time it would raise its price.  However, there is some confusion as to whether the $59.99 will remain in 2014 as the current prices on the UFC web page list UFC 169 an 170 at $59.99 although there are reports the listed price is a mistake.

There were many promotional commercials leading up to 168 that still promoted the PPV as $54.95 although you were likely made known of the price change when you went to order.

The rise in the price could mean more people went to bars to watch the PPV and maybe more fight parties.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC went all out for UFC 168 with branding all over the MGM Grand including the key cards, slot machines and gaming felt.  I can attest the UFC has done the gaming felt back in the Tito Ortiz days (circa 2006).  Still, the constant reminders of the fight likely helped out.

ESPN got in on the action as it let Dana White take over its twitter and Instagram accounts on Saturday to hype the fight.  The obvious conflict is that White’s company is featured on ESPN’s newest competitor, Fox Sports 1.  The fact White is allowed to promote on ESPN and that ESPN wants White to promote the UFC infers that MMA is legitimately making strides as a sport that is newsworthy (well, except that ESPN got rid of the over the air version of MMA Live).

UFC used FS1 to promote the fight and showed Weidman-Silva I and also aired “Fighting Words” which was an interesting look at the first fight that included audio of the corners that caught what each said to their fighters.  It also included interviews by both fighters and audio from Jon Jones and Urijah Faber at the fight.  While UFC Primetime has been shut down, this show did a great job in recapping events leading up to the rematch.

The Saturday morning edition of Good Morning America did a spot on Ronda Rousey which is a pretty big even if it was the weekend crew of GMA.

Fight Pass

The UFC held a press conference prior to the fights to announce the UFC’s new digital network, the UFC Fight Pass.  More on this later but the sweetener for UFC fans is that it is giving users 2 months free before it charges your credit card $9.99 per month.

Sponsors

Sears was the newest “big” sponsor to the Octagon.  Maybe a “one off” but I’m sure the UFC hopes that it can bring it in as an official sponsor.  Tapout, MusclePharm, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Cinemax’s “Banshee”, Peter Berg’s movie, “Lone Survivor”, WarGaming.net, MetroPCS and Bud Light with the center.

UltimatePoker.com had the prep point outside the cage and AXS TV had the official weigh-ins.

Harley Davidson ran a promotion for its Project Rushmore motorcycles in which the winner of Weidman-Silva would win a motorcycle.

MetroPCS also had a unique activation for this event where twitter users could obtain a “personalized” digital photograph of Ronda Rousey.

Interesting sponsor of the night:  Autoshopper.com.  It was on a number of fighters including Miesha Tate.

1Law.com, a law firm out of Utah picked the right fighter to sponsor as it was on the front of the shorts of Travis Browne as he KO’d Josh Barnett.  It has sponsored Browne in the past.

Monster (an official UFC sponsor) headphones are going to be around more and more heads in the Octagon so get used to them having them on and not listening to anything.

Nike was noticeably absent from Anderson Silva.  When asked by Ariel Helwani in a pre-fight interview, Silva told him to ask Dana.  White deflected comment but it was clear that Nike did not pay or would not pay the sponsor fee for Silva this time around.  To be clear, Nike still sponsors Silva, it’s just that he was not on Silva’s shorts, shirt or banner.

Rousey was sponsored by the UFC in what looked like signature gear.  She was also sponsored by Xyience.

Tate had a number of sponsors including Autoshopper.com, Venum, Affliction and Training Mask.

Silva did have less sponsors this go round.  He had Wizard, Burger King, computer maker Lenovo and soccer club Corinthians Paulista.

Weidman had an assortment of sponsors including Bad Boy Club, Oak Grove Technologies, American Ethanol, Monster and investment firm InCapital.

Post-UFC 168 Headlines

The new faces of the UFC.  Saturday we saw the two new faces of the UFC in Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman.  With GSP and Anderson Silva gone within weeks of each other, Weidman should be marketed as the top UFC guy.  Even though Jon Jones has a fair argument here, his last couple of fights have not equated to PPV success.  Weidman took down the GOAT twice and we will see how long he can defend the belt in this division.

Despite being the “heel” against Miesha Tate, Rousey has the “it” factor that draws people to watch her.  She is brash, dominant and that look of determination walking to the ring would have anyone hiding their arms around her.  The question is whether the fame and time obligations may catch up to her.  With her next fight so close to this one and coming off of shooting two movies, we will see if it catches up with her.

Odds and Ends

-The UFC offered closed circuit of the fight at the MGM for $60 per person.  I do not believe the UFC put this PPV in movie theatres.

-There were over 5 million Google searches for Anderson Silva on Saturday night.  Most searchers likely wanted to see an image of his broken leg.

-It was the first time I recall the main event fighters coming out from different sides of the curtain at the weigh-ins.

-Over 14.6K people were on YouTube at the start of the very first fight which bodes well for viewership for the rest of the card.

-Rumors of Brock Lesnar in Vegas during UFC 168 is reminiscent of the two guards that sat in the courtroom that unnerved Colonel Jessup in “A Few Good Men.”  In other words, the UFC could have just flown Lesnar out to Vegas and create a story that wasn’t there.

-Rousey and Tate are complete opposites and this was most telling in their walkout songs.  Katy Perry (Tate) vs. Joan Jett (Rousey).

-Due to the short fights, there was a lot of downtime and “commercials” and the live fights ended at 9:30pm PT.

-Buried by the main event stories was the second straight impressive win by Michael Johnson on the Prelims.

-Uriah Hall saved his job, while Chris Leben likely heads to retirement.

Marc Jacobs is selling a Ronda Rousey t-shirt.

-Anyone else notice that the broadcast team kept pumping up the odds including right before the Tate-Rousey fight.  That might not be new, but what was new was that it directed people interested in odds to the UFC web site.

Conclusion

The hype for this fight was the biggest this year and the women co-main event had a lot to do with it.  It may be one of the highest HD PPV buys ever.  There was a lot of mainstream buzz for the fight which not always transfers into PPV purchases. But I think the buzz helped.  Despite the protests about the price increase, it will likely not affect the final PPV buys.  An estimation of around 750K PPV buys should be attainable if not surpassed after all is said and done.

26 Responses to “UFC 168: Payout Perspective”

  1. Sampson Simpson on December 30th, 2013 10:09 AM

    That leg break will cost Zuffa in sponsorship

  2. Saldathief on December 30th, 2013 10:42 AM

    That was brutal but its the only thing worth talking about for the entire card especially with the casual fan.

  3. BrainSmasher on December 30th, 2013 12:09 PM

    And according to all the Dana haters. The evil Dana white burned his bride with Espn when he ran them down a while back. It cracks me up everytime some claims his mouth is bad for the sport. Yet can show one ounce of proof to back it up. Just like every company he calls out. They go on to work with him anyway. He called out EA sports too. Now they work together. Goes to show his public comments have no effect at all on the business dealings of the UFC.

  4. Tribute on December 30th, 2013 12:43 PM

    I think most UFC fans would have preferred Zuffa to have not increased the PPV price and not increased the bonuses.

  5. Chris27 on December 30th, 2013 12:48 PM

    ESPN? But but, they hate the DW and his UFC.
    Card turned out to be pretty meh.
    The way Chris won, won’t endear him with fans, don’t see him as the next big PPV star.

  6. AK on December 30th, 2013 1:49 PM

    That part about ESPN is pretty dang bizarre. ESPN obviously gets absolutely nothing out of it… so the only thing I can think of is that they’re kissing the UFC’s ass?

  7. Jim1198s on December 30th, 2013 2:12 PM

    I wouldn’t mind paying more for the PPV events providing that the fighters were compensated accordingly.

  8. Diego on December 30th, 2013 2:34 PM

    Sampson,

    Was that leg break worse than the one that Kevin Ware suffered? I don’t think that one cost college hoops any sponsors, and in fact probably gained some interest. But nice try anyway.

  9. Diego on December 30th, 2013 2:36 PM

    Rousey-Tate stole the show but there were some good fights throughout.

    Weidman acting like he meant for that to happen rubbed me the wrong way in a good way. Now I want to see Vitor stomp him.

  10. AK on December 30th, 2013 3:50 PM

    I don’t understand what you’re saying Diego. For one, it was simply a natural human reaction to celebrate a win. Two, I hate this fluke-or-not argument. Weidman cleeearly won round one, he perfectly executed the defensive technique against Silva’s leg kicks, and fighters all the TIME win on crazy, eyes-closed, desperation haymakers, yet those winners never really get any crap. What gives? I know that last part is not exactly one in the same, as one’s offense and the other defense, but it’s pretty damn close.

  11. AK on December 30th, 2013 3:56 PM

    Also, did anyone catch who that lady/station was that Weidman went to immediately afterward cageide? Regardless, the fact ppl are giving him crap on that too is absolutely ridiculous. You think he did that for fun? I bet you a million billion dollars that was some pre-planned, paid event.

  12. Diego on December 30th, 2013 4:21 PM

    AK – not his celebration, but his comments.

  13. Diego on December 30th, 2013 4:33 PM

    And for the record, if I see someone win with a “crazy, eyes-closed, desperation haymaker” I do in fact give them crap. Or at least not give them respect for the win.

    Let me put it this way AK – if Chael Sonnen had survived his first round with Jones, and Jones was unable to come out for the second round due to his broken toe – I would not consider that Chael had actually accomplished anything.

    I give Weidman credit for a dominant round over Silva. But for him to suggest that he trained to break Silva’s shin is as ridiculous as Chael suggesting that he trained to break Jones’ toe.

  14. dfdfdfdf on December 30th, 2013 7:16 PM

    Dana White is kissing ESPN’s @SS b/c FOX is going to drop the UFC for such terrible numbers….

  15. BrainSmasher on December 30th, 2013 9:45 PM

    Diego

    How can you compare Chris to Chael. Chael didn’t do anything to injure Jones and he got stomped the entire fight. Fact is everyone has tried to discredit Chris in both fights. They never acknowledge he was owning Silva every minute of both fights. They call everything he does a fluke.

    Silva has taunted everyone he has fought. There is a reason Weidman is the only one to make him pay. Silva has kicked everyone and had kicks checked before. Yet it was vs Weidman his leg broke. Chris bones could be hard as steel for all we know. Now I am not saying anyone should be braging about the finish. But for anyone to even breath the word fluke shows they are a bias ass clown. Because after two fights and Weidman dropping his ass twice, getting multiple takedowns, and winning every aspect of the fight. It was actually Silva who got lucky because it was clear to everyone it was a matter of time before Chris finished him off. So how is Chris lucky if he was screwed out of getting credit? He did everything technically right and was by far the better fighter than Silva. To mention fluke is only trying to discredit him and make excuses for Silva.

    Weidman outsruck him, out wrestled him, and out grappled him, and apparently drinks more Milk than him. It doesn’t matter if Chris knocked him out, submitted him, beat him by decision, or won via Osteoporosis. He beat him and was better. The ending doesn’t take that away no more than if someone was losing a fight and just walked out of the cage. You cant steal someones thunder when the result was as obvious as it was.

  16. BrainSmasher on December 30th, 2013 9:49 PM

    I do agree Chris was a little more happier than I would have liked. BUt I do understand where he is coming from. Silva already screwed him out of getting any credit for beating him last time. He does the rematch to get that credit and to move on with his career. Then this happens. If he plays it off like he didn’t win. Then he again doesn’t get credit. With Silva career in limbo it would really hang over his career. It also doesn’t benefit him to do a 3rd fight. Winning a 3rd time wouldn’t do much for him and would be hard to get motivated for after being screwed 2 times when you did nothing wrong. In fact he has been screwed by doing everything right.

  17. Diego on December 31st, 2013 8:17 AM

    BS,

    Re-read my posts. I’m not comparing the two fighters, just the two injuries. Silva’s injury was a freak occurrence, just like Jones’ injury. I said in my post that I give Weidman credit for the round he had against Silva, which was very dominant. With that said, the fight was far from over before the injury.

    I’m also not saying Chris was lucky, or didn’t deserve the win. I just think acting like you meant for something like that to happen is ridiculous and it rubbed me the wrong way and I will be rooting for “The Phenom 2.0 (now with more testosterone!)” to beat Weidman to a bloody pulp. That’s good for the UFC – it means they get even more of my money.

    “It was actually Silva who got lucky because it was clear to everyone it was a matter of time before Chris finished him off.”

    The fight was far from over. And I don’t think “everyone” thought it was just a matter of time. We’ve seen Silva drop dominant rounds before and come back. And no one who suffers that kind of injury is lucky. Better to get beaten for 5 rounds like he did against Sonnen without the triangle finish.

    “But for anyone to even breath the word fluke shows they are a bias ass clown.’

    A word I didn’t use. However I will because clearly I’m a biased ass clown (just ask anyone who knows me) – the injury to Silva is a fluke. Now it may not have made a difference to the outcome of the fight since Weidman was ahead, but that particular injury is a fluke. They happen very rarely, and when they do it is not the result of a particular leg-check technique by a steel-shinned opponent. Leg kicks get checked all the time without such a devastating injury occurring.

    “The ending doesn’t take that away no more than if someone was losing a fight and just walked out of the cage.”

    I disagree. If someone walks out of the cage or quits on their stool then you’ve broken their will. Like Uriah Hall did to Chris Leben. For me that’s a solid stoppage.

  18. BrainSmasher on December 31st, 2013 8:45 AM

    I wasn’t calling u an ass clown. I was speaking in general. Also I meant him winning was a fluke now how it ended. It’s fine to think the ending was a fluke. But I would call his win a fluke. There was more than enough to see that Chris did enough to not be written off as a fluke. He did everything right and Silva made lots of mistakes. Remember his corner claimed he cracked his shin with a kick. He should have never thrown another kick with that leg.

  19. AK on December 31st, 2013 3:39 PM

    Diego, I don’t know why it is you hate Weidman so much (a race thing?) but as I’ve said a hundred times before, why do people forget or act like Weidman didn’t cleeeearly take round one? Is there a CHANCE Silva could’ve won? Of course. But there is also the chance that Weidman coulda dominated JUST as much the rest of the fight.

    I’m not even going to go into your comparison to the Jones toe comparison. If you don’t see the differences there, I’m just wasting my breath here.

  20. AK on December 31st, 2013 3:45 PM

    I want to make an addendum to the “But there is also the chance that Weidman coulda dominated JUST as much the rest of the fight” line. I’m saying that at the very, VERY least, the chances of that happening were just as great as Silva winning, in my opinion. Whether by close split decision, KO, TKO or five-round domination, the chances of Weidman winning were still signiiiificantly greater.

  21. Diego on January 2nd, 2014 8:02 AM

    BS,

    I didn’t know about him cracking his shin. I don’t know what impact that may have had. Certainly if his shin was hurt maybe a different strategy was called for.

    I agree that I felt Weidman was on a roll and would most likely have won the fight. To my eyes he had seriously hurt Silva twice in that first round, and I felt like he was going to get a KO at some point…but yeah, that ending was a fluke and it does detract from Weidman’s luster that he didn’t get that definitive non-flukey KO.

  22. Diego on January 2nd, 2014 8:19 AM

    AK,

    First off, f**k you for calling me a racist.

    I don’t hate Weidman. I think the end of the fight is a fluke and his celebration and insinuation that he meant for that ending to occur rubbed me the wrong way. That’s it. I don’t care enough about Weidman to hate him.

    And I certainly don’t hate anyone because of their race. I can only assume you made that comment believing that since my name is Diego you think that I hate anyone who is not Hispanic. Congratulations, THAT’s racist. I could defend myself by telling you about all my white friends – “I’m not racist, I have a lot of friends who are ________ (insert one or more: white, Jewish, black, Hispanic, Arab, Asian, etc.)” – but that would be a silly thing to do since I’m Caucasian. My grandparents are from Spain and Germany, though admittedly with some Jewish, Moorish and Basque blood thrown in.

    I also cleeeearly stated in my post that I think Weidman dominated the first round.

    “I’m not even going to go into your comparison to the Jones toe comparison. If you don’t see the differences there, I’m just wasting my breath here.”

    Then don’t bring it up at all. The similarity between the two situations is that both where fluke injuries. I stand by my statement:

    “… for [Weidman] to suggest that he trained to break Silva’s shin is as ridiculous as Chael suggesting that he trained to break Jones’ toe.”

  23. BrainSmasher on January 3rd, 2014 1:00 AM

    Our point about the injuries is Chael wasn’t winning their fight and he didn’t do anything that caused the injure, accident or intentional. Weidman was winning the fight and Silva’s shin broke because of something Weidman did. Look at it this way. Weidman dominated Silva the first fight. I don’t think of the first fight as a fluke because that was the real Silva. HE got KO’ed doing what he does and fighting his fight. Weidman was able to do what no one else could. That is keep Silva from clowning him. No one else was fast enough or has the power. That said with all that into account. Weidman actually improved in the second fight. IF he doesn’t check that kick and keeps taking it like he did the first fight. The Silva never breaks that leg. But the Leg broke because Weidman improved and did everything technically right. No he didn’t know it would break Silva’s leg. But everyone knows that checking a kick makes it very painful on the kicker and an injury is very possible. It is like getting the TKO due to a cut after out striking someone on the feet. You wasn’t trying to cut them. But you knew it was possible and it is a byproduct of you going for the KO. I also believe Weidman might have some very strong bones. He doesn’t appear to be a great striker. I mean his strikes are not super past and don’t appear to have much on them. But when they land they do some damage. He was just flurring at Silva in the first fight and didn’t really commit to the punch that put Silva down. The second fight wasn’t a great punch either as it was from the clinch. You rarely see people go down like that. Then Silva breaks his shin hitting his knee.

  24. Diego on January 3rd, 2014 6:26 AM

    BS,

    I agree with a part of your assessment of the differences between the Sonnen and Weidman situations. Yes, Chael was getting his ass kicked while Weidman was the one kicking ass. I’m only comparing the injuries themselves.

    As I said before, people check kicks all the time without that kind of injury occurring. Do we know how Jones broke his toe? Did he kick Sonnen? Or was it during a takedown in which case we can credit Sonnen’s takedown defense (as much of it as there was) for the broken toe?

    I think that giving credit to either man – Sonnen or Weidman – for their opponents’ injuries is spurious.

    With that said, yes, Weidman was clearly winning and in control before he injury to Silva occurred, while Sonnen was TKOd by Jones. That’s a clear difference between the two situations.

    “It is like getting the TKO due to a cut after out striking someone on the feet. You wasn’t trying to cut them.”

    I don’t agree. A lot of strikes are meant to cut, and people generally throw elbows with the intent to cut their opponent. They also “go after” cuts once they happen in order to get the TKO.

    I don’t think we’re far off in our views – Weidman was winning and heading to a KO (for the second time) before a freak injury occurred to his opponent. I think the injury was 99% accidental and 1% the leg-check, I’m guessing you probably think it was 80% accidental and 20% the leg-check.

    For me, that measly 1% which I attribute to Weidman makes his post fight comments ridiculous and annoying. They rubbed me the wrong way and I will be rooting for Vitor. Though if the fight is in the US and he doesn’t get his TRT exemption I don’t think he’ll win.

  25. BrainSmasher on January 3rd, 2014 2:32 PM

    There is video close up of Jones toe breaking as he pushed off the mat to throw GNP strikes at the end.

  26. Diego on January 6th, 2014 10:46 AM

    So then it was Sonnen’s guard that broke Jones’ toe.

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