UFC 197: Payout Perspective

April 29, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  Better later than never, we write about UFC 197 taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with the return of Jon Jones.

Jones takes care of OSP

Jon Jones returned to the UFC octagon to handily defeat Ovince St. Preux via unanimous decision.  OSP was a late replacement for Daniel Cormier and did his best, but it was clear that he was in there against a far superior opponent.  OSP’s cardio was not ready for a 5 round fight and he wasn’t able to do much against Jones.  It seems unfair to criticize OSP since he stepped up on late notice.  But, he was given a chance and was unable to capitalize.

For Jones, it was a good fight to get back into fighting.  It was his first fight since January 2015.  Next is a showdown with Daniel Cormier as the main event for UFC 200.

UFC 197

Mighty Mouse is still good

Say what you will about Demetrious Johnson, there were two fighters on the card that you may argue are the best for pound in the world.  Only one looked like it.  Johnson dispatched of former Olympian Henry Cejudo in round one of the defense of his Flyweight title.

There is no one left in the Flyweight division for Johnson.  Perhaps a rematch against Dominick Cruz would be the most compelling fight to help Johnson draw an audience he deserves.

Attendance and Gate

The event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena drew 11,352 fans for a gate of $2.3 million as announced at the post-fight press conference.


Also announced the presser, the $50,000 bonuses went to Demetrious Johnson, Yair Rodriguez, Danny Roberts and Dominique Steele.


UFC 197 Weigh-Ins on FS1: 184,000

UFC Pre-Fight Show on FS1: 218,000 viewers

UFC 197 Prelims on FS1: 835,000 viewers

UFC Post-Fight Show on FS1: 279,000 viewers

UFC 197 Payouts

Jon Jones led the roster making $500,000 (with no win bonus) followed by Demetrioius Johnson ($195,000).

The rest of the payouts are here.  The payouts do not include the Reebok sponsor pay.

Promotion of the Fight

Jon Jones almost did not make this fight as he was cited once again for a traffic infraction.  This time, it caused him to violate parole and spend a couple days in prison.  Ironically, Daniel Cormier pulled out of the fight soon after Jones’ legal troubles.  Instead of a Jones-Anthony Johnson showdown, the pick was Ovince St. Preux.

Henry Cejudo made pro-UFC comments about Conor McGregor.  He then clarified the comments which seemed a little more confusing.  The fact that he was the guy that said he would not fight in Nevada so long as Nick Diaz was suspended makes his comments this week uneven.  Granted, he’s entitled to his opinion and just because he’s supported Diaz does not mean he has to support Conor.

The Embedded episodes focused on the return of Jon Jones, OSP, Mighty Mouse and Cejudo.  It also included the Pettis brothers training at the same time as Jones in preparation for the fight.


Reebok, Harley Davidson, EA UFC 2, Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, Monster Energy Drink, Bud Light, mobile app game Mobile Strike were in octagon sponsors with Monster taking the center.

Jon Jones had a Monster sponsorship patch in addition to his Reebok gear.  He also held a Monster can after the fight in an old school way of promoting the drink.

Some notables: Jon Jones wore his sponsor, nutrition products company, GAT during an open UFC workout and it was captured on Embedded.

Luke Rockhold was seen in the crowd at UFC 197 sporting an Adidas hat.  Prior to the Reebok deal, Rockhold had a deal with Adidas.  Of course, since the two companies are linked, there was likely no problem with Rockhold wearing the hat.

Odds and Ends

Was it odd or great promotion that Daniel Cormier served as the color commentator for the Jones-OSP fight?

Was it me, or did it seem like OSP did not believe he was going to win this fight?

Demetrious Johnson is on Twitch.  One would think that he could connect his video game interest with MMA fans for more popularity.

Former UFC lightweight champion, and the only UFC fighter to grace the cover a Wheaties box, Anthony Pettis has lost his last 3 fights.

Cody East, the fighter found by Dana White, was stopped by Walt Harris in round 1 on the Early Prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Even without Conor McGregor appearing at this event, it seemed like the biggest news was his “retirement” and then the UFC taking him off of 200.


There were only 50,000 google searches for UFC 197 nationwide the Friday before the event.  This does not bode well if we are to assume the searches relate to interest and the interest relates to PPV buys.  Jon Jones is not a standalone PPV star like Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey.  OSP is not someone anyone knew.  Moreover, Mighty Mouse is not a PPV draw.  This event likely ends up with 350,000 PPV buys as many had predicted.

Bellator Kickboxing’s debut draws 346,000 on SpikeTV

April 29, 2016

Bellator Kickboxing last Friday drew an average rating of 346,000 on Spike TV per Nielsen.  The debut of the promotion’s kickboxing followed Bellator 153.

Notably, per Nielsen the first hour of Bellator Kickboxing averaged 464,000 viewers and peaked with 730,000.

Payout Perspective:

The debut of Bellator’s foray into kickboxing promotion did well considering it was late at night following a two hour plus Bellator card.  The broadcast did slightly lower than the average for Glory on Spike TV (in 13 events on the network, it averaged 426,000 viewers).  We shall see if Bellator can fare better than Glory did on Spike.

Brain health testing to be required in Nevada; Sen. McCain suggest Ali Act to extend to MMA

April 29, 2016

Earlier this week, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that the Nevada Athletic Commission will require all licensed fighters to undergo regular brain health testing.  Arizona senator John McCain, Spike TV President Kevin Kay and Bellator MMA President Scott Coker were present with an announcement occurring on Capitol Hill.

The Cleveland Clinic will assess the athletes using its iPad app that can help detect the symptoms of concussions.

Senator McCain spoke with MMA Fighting’s Luke Thomas regarding the announcement.  He also indicated that he would be in favor of extending the Muhammad Ali Act to MMA.

For those that did not know, Senator McCain was the original sponsor of the Ali Act.

Payout Perspective:

This is a step in the right direction for the sport as we see that the continued advances in science and technology helping detect brain injury. As for Senator McCain’s comments, I understand the sentiment and the rationale for extending the Ali Act to MMA. The question is whether the law, as presently drafted, is living up to the intent of what it hoped to accomplished.  While Bellator may be behind amending the Ali Act, the UFC appears to not have the same position on this subject.

TUF 23 Episode 2 draws 387,000 viewers

April 28, 2016

The second episode of TUF 23 on FS1 drew 387,000 viewers Wednesday night according to Sports TV Ratings.  It is a drop of approximately 20% from its debut.

TUF drew 228,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

In the second episode of the season, Khalil Rountree  faced Syndicate MMA teammate Cory Hendricks.  Hendricks submitted Rountree in the first fight in the house.

We also saw the friction between coaches Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha.

Bellator 152

Payout Perspective:

Not the best ratings start to a season.  The 387,000 viewers is the lowest episode 2 on FS1 thus far.  The NBA and NHL playoffs.  The Charlotte-Miami and Houston-Golden State games on TNT were the two top-rated sports events on cable

Update on Bellator 153 ratings

April 28, 2016

We have an update on the ratings from Bellator 153 last Friday night.  According to Nielsen, the Benson Henderson’s promotional debut against Andrey Koreshkov drew 973,000 viewers peaking at over 1 million.

The fight, which aired between 10:13-11:00pm ET, on Spike TV Friday night drew 973,000 peaking with 1.1 million viewers at 10:57pm.

It should be noted that Bellator 153 saw a jump in viewership once the NBA Playoff game between the Pistons and Cavaliers ended.  Per Nielsen, Bellator viewership on Spike TV jumped from 495,000 to 753,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The Cleveland/Detroit game was the second-highest rated game of the night next to the San Antonio/Memphis game which preceded it on ESPN.  While we probably should not draw a direct correlation between NBA viewers and Bellator viewers, it is interesting to note the spike of viewers tuning into Spike TV.  Despite his loss, the 973,000 viewers and over 1 million peak viewership is good news for the debut of Benson Henderson and Bellator.  It shows that the former UFC lightweight champ is still a draw.

Report suggests McGregor would have boost UFC 200 by $45M

April 27, 2016

ESPN’s Darren Rovell penned an article which estimated that Conor McGregor’s absence at UFC 200 would cost the company $45 million.  While the article gives a ballpark estimate as to the worth and value of McGregor’s appeal, the dollar figures may not be accurate.

The piece spitballs what McGregor would have done for the July 9 show.  McGregor has produced the two top MMA gates in the history of the state of Nevada according to the NSAC.  We could probably throw in UFC 196 but the NSAC web site has yet to be updated.   He’s also produced some of the top PPV buy rates in recent history.  Gate revenue, PPV revenue and not to mention all of the ancillary economic influx from the hospitality industry from the Irish fans helped the UFC surpass previous company records.  With these numbers, he believed he had leverage to negotiate with the company for UFC 200.  However, this was not the case as a power play to not show up for promotional obligations went afoul for McGregor.  Instead of another big payday, Jones-Cormier 2 gets the top spot at 200.

For missing out on this payday, the ESPN article hypothesizes that without McGregor, the UFC 200 PPV will draw about 500,000 PPV buys.  With McGregor, the article predicts it would have drawn 1.25M PPV buys.  Thus, 525,000 x $70 for PPV = $36.7 million.

The article estimates that a gate of $10 million could have happened with McGregor.  Without McGregor, it will make about $3 million.  Thus, a $7 million loss in potential gate revenue.

He also adds $800,000 for merchandise and concession revenue attributed to McGregor’s loss.

This would be an estimated $44.5 million lost in revenue due to one fighter.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, there are liberties being taken with these numbers as there is loose evidence provided in the article.  The first glaring error is the fact that PPV distributors would take a cut of the PPV revenue.  Thus, the PPV loss would not be as great.  It would seem that the estimates are anecdotal so if we are to read this as an economic analysis it probably would not be correct.  The article could have brought out the potential “trickle down” McGregor economic effect as Irish fans traveling to Vegas are less likely to come in July since he will not be fighting.  While the numbers may not be correct, it’s clear that McGregor could have produced more for the company for this event than with a Jones-Cormier 2 headliner.

Jones-Cormier headlines UFC 200

April 27, 2016

The UFC announced on ABC’s Good Morning America that Jon Jones will take on Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas.  The fight will be to unify the light heavyweight championship.

Jones defeated Ovince St. Preux last Saturday to earn the interim belt as Cormier pulled out of the bout due to an injury.  The new main event takes the place of Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz as the UFC 200 main bout.


Despite legal issues, the UFC is turning to Jones (and Cormier) to sell this event.

Payout Perspective:

The new main event is better than the potential for Aldo-Edgar as the top fight of the biggest card of the year (thus far) for the company.  The announcement on GMA appealed to the mainstream and occurs on the same day that tickets become available to the public (Wednesday are for UFC fan members).  Expect revved up promotion for UFC 200 which would rival and probably exceed what was done for UFC 182.

UFC “takes over” Good Morning America Wednesday

April 26, 2016

The UFC will have a distinct presence on the Wednesday, April 27th edition of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”  The appearance is lead-up to the sale of tickets for UFC 200.

According to the UFC, Chuck Liddell, Miesha Tate, Paige VanZant and Dana White will be among the UFC stars announced to make appearances between 7-9am during the show.

VanZant is currently a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Payout Perspective:

Could we see a fight announcement for UFC 200 during the show?  The first UFC appearance on the Disney-owned network (ESPN is also owned by Disney) occurred last year when Ronda Rousey announced that she would fight Holly Holm.  It’s a good promotional appearance for the UFC as tickets to its biggest event go on sale this week.

GGG draws 1.325M on HBO

April 26, 2016

HBO Boxing featuring Gennady Golovkin facing Dominic Wade drew an average subscriber rating of 1.325M viewers per Sports TV Ratings.  The GGG fight is comparable to his last HBO fight this past May.

The fight drew 758,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The fight preceding GGG-Wade was Roman “Chocolito” Gonzalez soundly defeating McWilliams Arroyo.  The fight drew a rating of 1 million viewers and 537,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

GGG Fights on HBO

May 2014 vs. Willie Monroe, Jr. 1.338M viewers (fight only)

November 2013 vs. Curtis Stevens 1.41M viewers (fight only)

July 2104 vs. Daniel Geale 984,000 viewers (overall show drew 758,000)

October 2014 vs. Marco Antonio Rubio 1.3M viewers (fight only)

February 2015 vs. Martin Murray 862,000 viewers (fight only)

Payout Perspective:

It was the second time that Chocolito has appeared as the opening act for GGG on HBO and it appears to be a good formula.  Notwithstanding a poor PPV debut last fall, GGG does well on HBO.  If he does attempt PPV again, one might expect a big-time opponent.


UFC 197 Prelims: 835,000 viewers

April 26, 2016

The UFC 197 Prelims drew an average rating of 835,000 viewers on Saturday night on FS1.  The event was the lowest since UFC 192 in October 2015.

The UFC 197 Prelims featured Sergio Pettis as he defeated Chris Kelades.

UFC 197 Prelims

Payout Perspective:

For those wondering, UFC 192 featured Daniel Cormier taking on Alexander Gustafsson.  The ratings do not bode well if you believe there is a correlation between the Prelims show on FS1 and the PPV buy rate.  UFC 192 only did 250,000 PPV buys.  Perhaps the buzz dropped off of this event since Cormier pulled out.

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