UFC 194: Payout Perspective

December 13, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time it was the long-awaited UFC 194 featuring Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo.

Only 13 seconds needed to crown the King

UFC 194

The long-awaited fight between McGregor and Aldo was anti-climactic.  One exchange in the fight and it was over as Conor McGregor beat Jose Aldo to the punch with a counter left hand that floored the champ.  With one punch, Aldo’s 10 year winning streak and string of 7 successful UFC title defenses came to an end.

With the win, we are officially into the McGregor era which may mean a huge financial windfall and overall takeover for the undisputed UFC Featherweight champion.  There are rumors that McGregor may want to renegotiate his current fight contract which may make sense.

Notably, McGregor took over the post-fight press conference.

Are we to look into the fact that McGregor did his FS1 post-fight interview shirtless?  As in, not wearing his Reebok-issued fight kit.  McGregor already has an individual sponsor deal but could the post-fight non-apparel be a sign that he may be in need of more money.  Also of note, McGregor was the only fighter that had “custom” green and black Reebok fight shorts.  The custom clothes may not be enough for McGregor.

As for Aldo, one must feel for him.  All of the taunts he received throughout from McGregor during the promotion and he only lasted 13 seconds.  Moreover, with how the fight ended we are in a situation similar to Cat Zingano’s loss to Ronda Rousey at UFC 184.  An interesting fight that ended too early.  But, the problem is will there really be a clamor for a rematch based on how it ended?  Also, with McGregor proclaiming to move up to 155 to challenge for the title, it may mean Aldo will have to wait.  In addition, with Frankie Edgar winning in impressive fashion on Friday night, Aldo may not even be the first choice to challenge for the Featherweight title if/when Conor defends the belt.

Rockhold stops Weidman to earn light heavyweight title

It was the Fight of the Night and deservedly so.  Luke Rockhold should have won in the third round but despite about 30 straight punches/elbows from mount, Herb Dean did not stop the fight.  Dean stopped the fight a round later.  Perhaps it was a wheel kick that did not connect which was the downfall for Weidman.  But, that should not discount Rockhold’s performance on Saturday.  American Kickboxing Academy now has the middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champions in the UFC.

As for Weidman, I would not be opposed to a rematch.  But, he was really handled in rounds three and four.  Moreover, news is surfacing that Rockhold was dealing with multiple injuries during his camp so if all were the same, this fight may have been more one-sided.

Attendance and Gate

Prior to the event, there was talk that the gate would reach $9 million as this was a guaranteed sellout.  Well, the reported gate for the event hit $10.1 million making it the highest MMA gate in Vegas.  The previous record was McGregor’s last Vegas fight in July.  UFC 189 drew $7.2 million.

The 16,516 in attendance for UFC 194 and the MGM Grand Garden probably paid a premium for the seats.  There were likely 1,000 or so comps for this event so one might estimate about 15,000 paid.  Thus, the average ticket hovered around $670.


The bonuses, as announced at the post-event press conference, went to Rockhold, Weidman, McGregor and Leonardo Santos.  All received the standard $50K.  Rockhold and Weidman drew FOTN with McGregor and Santos getting the performance bonuses.

Promotion of the Fight

The standard promotion for this event included the UFC Embedded Series which was sponsored by EA Sports which it proclaimed was a “Fight for the Cover.”  This was in reference to the announcement that the winner of the Aldo-McGregor matchup would be on the cover with Ronda Rousey.

McGregor was on Jimmy Kimmel and did the Jim Rome radio show.   White was also on the Rome show.

There were the standard media hits for the fighters promoting this event.

Was it me, or did this promotion seem less than that of July’s promotion?


The Octagon featured UFC sponsors Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, DraftKings, Harley Davidson, Reebok, Bud Light, the Quentin Tarantino movie Hateful Eight, a promo for UFC on Fox, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the Octagon.

EA Sports, UFC Fight for the Cover, had the fighter prep point.  It also played a big role in promoting this fight.  In the end, EA likely got the best cover for advertising purposes as it will have Rousey and McGregor for the cover this spring.  Fight for the Cover


Also of note, Carl’s Jr. (linked with Ronda Rousey) ran commercials during the UFC 194 Prelims on FS1.

Fight Pass is starting to brand itself as it is stepping up the level of prelim fights it will have on the over the top network.  Notably, Dustin Poirier and Joe Duffy will “headline” the UFC Prelims on Fight Pass on January 2nd for UFC 195.  This should help with subscriptions, but how will FS1 feel about it?

7-11 and Harley Davidson also collaborated on a promotion which was announced during the PPV.

Conor McGregor draw a couple sponsors prior to the big event including supplement company BSN and exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics Authentic.

Odds and Ends

It was a big three days for the UFC as it held two events at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas and then the PPV at the MGM Grand.  The UFC Fight Night 80 and the TUF 22 Finale look to be well received and we know that UFC 194 was going to be big.

Sage Northcutt is the nightmare for all dark, jaded MMA fans.  Too young, too happy with the world still ahead of him.  Perhaps on his way to being “too rich” as he’s already earning $40K and $40K per the NSAC.

Hopefully, Santos, who was a heavy underdog when he KO’d Kevin Lee, will not be punished for jumping the fence to celebrate.

2-hour weigh-ins on FS1 on Friday to start off 7 hours of UFC on the network Friday night.  Look for big ratings on the network when they are reported Monday or Tuesday,.

New camera angle for the weigh-ins which appears to have a camera right on the scale.   Also a new camera angle during the fights with a low level ground camera for better sight of the ground fighting.

There were as many as 50,000 people watching the weigh-ins on the UFC’s YouTube channel which might mean that the FS1 weigh-ins should have the highest rating ever.

Face the Pain returned to start the PPV broadcast.

Maybe the worst PR for this fight was a flight from New York to Las Vegas had to turn around because unruly passengers heading to UFC 194 got into a fight on the plane.

Demian Maia was impressive with his win over Gunnar Nelson.  He was even more impressive to give a concise and succinct reason that he should get the next title shot.  It’s hard not to dismiss him.  He’s come on of late.

“Aldo v. McGregor” google searches only drew 20,000 searches on Friday but “UFC 194” drew 200,000.  Look for the numbers to grow for Saturday searches due to the short fight as folks probably headed online to look for the finish.

Interesting that UFC 193, the company issued a preventive copyright notice about it monitoring for possible infringement due to airing a short fight.  Little did they know they should have issued it for this fight.  An ESPN reporter put the whole McGregor fight on vine post fight.  I do not know if the UFC will take action.


UFC 194 ended one of the best year’s on PPV for the company.  This event should add to the big year.  While I do not believe it will eclipse UFC 100’s 1.6 million PPV buys, it will likely hover around 1 million PPV buys.  Perhaps 950,000.   The buy estimate is based on a strong card but due in large part to Conor McGregor.  He has proven his worth to the company and the UFC may be facing a situation where it will need to pay more than ever for his services.  This, in the end, should be a good thing for the UFC.

MMA Payout will keep updating you on the payouts and ratings from UFC 194 so stay tuned.

17 Responses to “UFC 194: Payout Perspective”

  1. jjjjjj_ffffff on December 13th, 2015 6:44 PM

    yahoo is reporting UFC 194 is trending to blow away UFC 193 PPV numbers and 193 was reported at over 1M

  2. jjjjjj_ffffff on December 13th, 2015 6:46 PM

    yahoo is reporting UFC 194 is trending to blow away UFC 193 PPV numbers and 193 was reported at well over 1M

  3. d on December 13th, 2015 7:22 PM

    Yup, this fight was huge. McGregor is the new king of combat sports.

  4. d on December 14th, 2015 12:45 AM

    “American Kickboxing Academy now has the middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champions in the UFC.”

    They do not have the HW title, Werdum defeated Velasquez.

  5. BrainSmasher on December 14th, 2015 5:21 AM

    If this beat 193 which was reported to be between 1.1 and 1.5 million. That is a game changer. Simply because it would be the first massive PPV for Conor, and he delivered. So you have to wonder how big his next fight will be because of this. It reminds me of Rouseys fight with Beche. It got huge numbers out of no where for a Brazil card that wasn’t stacked. It was the first eye opener. By delivering on it her next fight did 1.2. With the same effect, Conor’s next fight should do 1.5-1.8 with the expected media interest in him to promote it.

    He has 2 fights that are dangerous for him. Frankie and Dos Anjos have the style to beat him. A fight with Cerrone would be a much better fight for him as would a Aldo Rematch. If he can get 3-5 more wins he could be doing 2 million plus consistently.

  6. Maff Farmer on December 14th, 2015 8:24 AM

    From most inside reports UFC 193 did well under the early estimates of 1.2 million buys and appears to be closer to 1.1 million buys.

    One comment I don’t quite understand is above the comment is you mentioned that there was 1,000 comps and 1,500 paid. Is that a typo? And meant to be 15,000 paid?

  7. d on December 14th, 2015 8:42 AM

    This may have done 1.5-1.8m. This may have been their biggest ppv ever.

    Also, JDA, is a blatant cheater and will likely either look completely different when he fights Cerrone or risks being banned from the sport. I can’t imagine a scenario where those two actually fight.

    If he headlines UFC 200 against Edgar, Aldo or Cerrone, he will hit 2m buys.

  8. BrainSmasher on December 14th, 2015 12:40 PM

    I think him and Cerrone could create more hype. I could see Cerrone taking the trash talk person and trying to get at him at press conferences. Frankie might look better on paper but I don’t see him promoting the fight very well. But then again Conor attacking the innocent little guy might make more people hate him which sells. JDA is the worst fight due to his lack of English.

    I agree, depending where this one landed. The next should do 2 million.

  9. The Greatest on December 14th, 2015 5:22 PM

    Ufc 193 and 194 both did under 1M.
    Its been a month and no numbers for 193 yet.
    How long does it take to count 825k ppvs, you know?

  10. Chris on December 14th, 2015 9:53 PM

    Few things, wasnt Aldo wearing all Black custom trunks to McGregor’s green? Think they both had special shorts.

    Second 83k watched weigh ins on Youtube not 50k.

    UFC just hit homeruns these last two events and had a huge year setting up a huge 2016.

    McGregor went into Sat night a star and came out a superstar. He def should redo his contract to get more money, him and Ronda are worth 8 figures.

    Not beating UFC 100 but I could see it coming in around 1-1.2 mill, same as 193.

    Believe it would be first back to back million buy cards since UFC 91-92.

  11. Jason Cruz on December 14th, 2015 10:44 PM

    @Matt – it was a typo. I fixed it. Should be 1,000 comps and 15,000 paid.

  12. Jason Cruz on December 14th, 2015 10:45 PM

    corrected it.

  13. d on December 14th, 2015 11:44 PM

    “Ufc 193 and 194 both did under 1M.
    Its been a month and no numbers for 193 yet.
    How long does it take to count 825k ppvs, you know?”

    Both did well over 1m, destroying Canelo-Cotto.

    Meltzer released numbers for 193 as his early estimates as 1.2-1.3m. The finally tallies from him don’t typically come in for over a month later.

  14. The Greatest on December 15th, 2015 12:33 AM

    Yea it usually takes them a month to go from “trending over 1M ppv buys” to ” official numbers have it at 800k”

    And we both know that Canelo-Cotto did higher revenue.

    What was Canelo-Cottos gate and what was UFC 193-194s gate?

  15. d on December 15th, 2015 7:17 AM

    UFC 193/194 both destroy Canelo-Cotto ppv in terms of buys and revenue. Boxing no longer even the single event leader in ppv! Boxing’s ppv future…..bleak!

  16. The Greatest on December 15th, 2015 9:46 AM

    Should i do the thing where i prove you wrong and you go hide for 8 weeks, which conveniently happened when the UFC was popping ouy 115k ppvs.

  17. d on December 15th, 2015 3:35 PM

    The reverse is always true of what you claim. It is astonishing how inaccurate your statements are.

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