UFC 170: Payout Perspective

February 24, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 170 held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Knee, not armbar, stops McMann

Ronda Rousey didn’t need her patented armbar to stop Sara McMann, but a knee to the liver downed the former Olympian.  While there may be some controversy about the stoppage, things were not going well for her.  Granted, she did mark up Rousey’s face.  Rousey did appear to be in dominant control after the knee.

Rousey will juggle movies and training as while it’s not clear who will be her next opponent will be and when that fight may happen.

Final_UFC_170_event_poster

Cormier makes short work of Cummins

There was sufficient hype for Patrick Cummins in short time to give folks the belief he could give Cormier a good fight.  In the end, Cormier was mad that he was hit twice by Cummins as the fight was a classic example of a mismatch.  Surprisingly, Cormier still put over Cummins in that he would still have an future in the UFC.

Cummins had a good enough story (walk-on to wrestling team at Penn St., working at coffee shop) that the UFC pushed which glossed over the fact that he was incarcerated for some time.

For Cormier, he should be close to a shot at the 205 title and may have one more fight in the division before he gets the shot.

Attendance and Gate

The attendance for the event was reported at 10,217 for a live gate of $1,558,870.  The announced gate was one of the lowest in Vegas for a PPV in several years.

Dana White was surprised by the gate as he proclaimed on Thursday that it would do $2.1 million.

The NSAC will have final numbers sometime later this week.

Bonuses

We previously reported, Ronda Rousey, Rory MacDonald, Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson received the $50,000 bonuses for the night.  MacDonald and Maia was the Fight of the Night and Rousey and Thompson received the Performance Bonuses.  As I stated, in the previous post, Erik Koch could have staked claim to one of the Performance Bonuses.

Salaries

The salaries were announced earlier than usual and are here.  Notably, Daniel Cormier had the biggest base salary ($80K and $80 to win).  Rousey earned $55K to show and $55 to win for a total of $110K.  She also earned the $50K performance bonus and thus earned $160K for the night – the same as Cormier.  Rory MacDonald was the third top earner of the night with $150K ($50K/$50K plus bonus).

Pre-UFC 170 Issues

Three newsworthy issues occurred in the run-up to this event.

The first was the Jessica Eye situation. Eye tested positive for marijuana after her October 2013 fight which caused her win to be changed to a no-contest. Instead of admitting this and showing contrition, she took to twitter to attack those reporting about her failed drug test.  Then she went on The MMA Hour to give a vague denial of the situation.  In fact, after her interview with Helwani, the Texas test results that she tested positive and waived her right to an appeal, she had some explaining to do.  To the UFC’s credit, it attempted to protect its contract fighter.

Via Fox Sports:

Eye was caught in a lie and there was no getting around it, but UFC president Dana White defended the fighter on Thursday saying that she honestly meant no harm in the matter.  White knows that Eye got caught up in not telling the truth in one interview, and then it just spiraled downhill from there and before you know it a snowball turned into an avalanche.

In the end, Eye should have received some media relations advice on addressing the situation and decide whether or not to appear on shows to discuss the situation.  Moreover, attacking press for a story that was for the most part factually correct is never a good idea.  The media relations and public relations part of the business is not as easy as it looks.

The second is the injury to Rashad Evans and the subsequent replacement of Patrick Cummins.  Cormier wanted a fight with someone since he had worked so hard to drop down to 205.  Cummins, according to the UFC, was the only one willing to take the fight on such short notice.  The UFC scrambled to create some buzz for the fight and did so with Cummins violating the unspoken rule of revealing that he made Cormier cry during training.  This created ample buzz as it made the fight a little more interesting since it drew the ire of Cormier.

The third was how the PPV was promoted regarding the Olympics resume of its main eventers.  The belief was that since the Winter Olympics were ongoing   The UFC commercial promoting the Olympians was a dubbed Mike Goldberg voiceover which stated that Rousey was the first woman to win a medal in Judo.  Of course, this could not be the case since Olympic medals have been awarded in women’s judo since the 1992 Summer Olympics.  As BE points out, she was the first American women to take home an Olympic judo bronze.

Goldberg’s voiceovers are always manipulated for PPV promos in order to promote what needs to be promoted.  Whether it was a willful omission or a blunder, the commercial was factually incorrect.  Whether this persuaded anyone to purchase the PPV or not is de minimus yet since this was identified by the press it puts the UFC marketing folks look like they dropped the ball.

Sponsorships

USA Judo was the notable new sponsor in the Octagon.  Obviously this was due in part to Rousey’s involvement.  In addition the usual UFC sponsors were in the Octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UltimatePoker.com, Harley Davidson and Bud Light.  Also, History Channel’s series “Vikings” had signage in the Octagon as well as EA’s UFC video game coming this spring.

Cage Fighter had a coming out party of sorts for its sponsorship of Daniel Cormier and Sara McMann in the top two fights of the night.  The “Rise and Grind” moniker which is associated with CF was somewhat misappropriated by Mike Goldberg during the PPV.

Cormier was wore an “Ultra Lube” hat which relates to industrial, agriculture, auto/truck, household and outdoor uses.

Training Mask, Dynamic Fastener, AutoShopper.com and PeopleFinder.com were prevalent sponsors on multiple fighters during the night.

Rousey wore a Muhammad Ali Roots of Fight t-shirt at the weigh-ins.  Dana White also said some nice things about the clothing brand in a tweet. It’s a good brand which features many notable fighters, boxers and martial artists from the past.

I actually purchased a Roots of Fights T-Shirt in Vegas.  Unfortunately, it came with a preset ink stain.  Ugh.

Odds and Ends

A lot of talk at the pre-fight media scrum on the state of sponsorships.

Was it planned for Rousey to down McMann in front of the USA Judo signage in the Octagon?

Were you offended by Marlon Wayans’ Tweets?  Comedians have no bounds so jokes like these are expected.  Or should they be?

The Rock sent out his support of Rousey:

Bigger first?  Daniel Cormier eating salad for the first time during training camp or Dwayne Wade eating fish for the first time during All-Star Weekend.

Cormier’s performance at the pre-fight press conference was great as he was articulate, introspective and funny.  The revelation that he never had a salad before this training camp was as shocking as White not knowing the attendance figures before they were announced.  His breakdown of why street fights don’t last long (built on emotion) was great as well.

After Cormier’s admission of his love for Popeye’s Chicken, the chain provided his family with a meal after his decisive win.  But, no sponsorship from the company?

If any fighter wants to brand themselves, they should check out Patrick Cummins’ web site.  It tells his story in a short span and he has a memorable t-shirt he sells on his site.  That is what I found when I did a google search on him.  I did not find out about his jail time until later.

The UFC actively promoted using twitter.  Reading tweets from the #UFC170 hashtag seems to be the newest thing to involve social media.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk, Nick Diaz and Will Smith were notables attending the event.  Please no more CM Punk to MMA talk.

Conclusion

According to Google Trends, Ronda Rousey was the third hottest search on Saturday with over 100,000 searches.  She was behind Justin Timberlake at 2 and El Chapo Guzman at 1.  Does this equate to PPV buys?  It’s hard to say but UFC 170 will be a test on whether Ronda Rousey is truly the top draw for the company at this point.  The fact that the Cormier-Evans fight fell through did not help.  UFC 157 did a buy rate of around 500K and while UFC 168 did over 1 million buys this is partially due to the Silva-Wiedman rematch.  Based on the late buzz, we could see this event doing 400,000 PPV buys.

8 Responses to “UFC 170: Payout Perspective”

  1. zasassin on February 25th, 2014 8:58 AM

    I will be shocked if there were 400k buys. People I know who have bought every fight for years, years i said, even passed on this one.
    I predict 250k or less PPV buys.
    But I have been wrong before.

    Sidebar, how is the biggest star in MMA per DW (RR) only getting 55k/55k on her official contract?

  2. Diego on February 25th, 2014 11:10 AM

    MacDonald continues to fail to impress. I feel like he could do so much more than he does. But then I guess getting dominated that first round made him cautious and he decided to go for the W rather than the KO. It doesn’t help his case that so many people are pushing him as the next big thing and he has flat performances even when he wins.

  3. BrainSmasher on February 25th, 2014 4:57 PM

    What does it matter what her reported pay is? The only thing that matters is her bank account and if she is happy. Not what you feel about what you see. IF she doesn’t like her pay she will get with the UFC like adults do. She don’t need anyone to chime in her business. Contracts in the UFC for stars are structured so they get a cut of what they bring in. IF RR is the biggest star and it translates into buys. She will be paid accordingly. I don’t think RR has to sell the most PPV’s to be the biggest star. There is something to be said for movies roles she gets that other fighters do not. Sponsors she gets and just her overall demand. I don’t think anyone can argue that demand for her is higher than anyone else right now. Hopefully it translates into PPV sales. Even if this event didn’t do well. It doesn’t mean much. She is polarizing and more and more people are forming an opinion good or bad. The story line is there and there is more drama in the future. With Cyborg out there and fighters getting better. How big would the cyborg fight be with build up? HOw about an opponent who is confident and talks trash back to her? How big would a rematch be with the person who beats her one day? Her momentum is only getting bigger. Anderson Silva was a horrible draw for most of his career in the UFC. It wasn’t until a little push from the UFC and Silva pissing everyone off by dancing for 3 fights that people paid attention to him even if to see him lose. For the record I don’t like her at all. Cant wait to see her lose to someone with appeal.

  4. Sampson Simpson on February 25th, 2014 5:21 PM

    Horrible event, horrible fights

  5. Random Dude on February 25th, 2014 6:29 PM

    Still no PPV buy info for UFC 169 but for 168 we were getting buy information a within 12 days?

  6. mike on February 25th, 2014 10:01 PM

    Did you know that pay-per-views are free in Germany through UFC.TV? Get a VPN and you are golden in pure HD

  7. Marlboro Mike on February 26th, 2014 3:02 AM

    Both main event challengers on start up 8k/8k paychecks, whatever keeps the shareholders happy I guess. While the lousley uglies are kittied out in ufc apparel.

  8. anti-sampson on February 27th, 2014 12:17 PM

    Hey Sampson thought you would be a moron to buy the PPV? How you know there were horrible fights?

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