UFC 201: Payout Perspective

July 31, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 201 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  The main event featured Robbie Lawler taking on Tyrone Woodley for the welterweight title.

The wait was worth it: Woodley new WW champ

Tyron Woodley waited almost a year and a half for his shot at the welterweight title.  What was almost a nothing fight for the first minute exploded quickly as Woodley laid the hammer down on Lawler.  It has to be one of the bigger upsets in some time.  Then again, it’s yet another title change in the UFC.

So does Nick Diaz actually get the first shot at him?  It’s the “money fight” and could happen sometime this fall.  But, doesn’t Lawler deserve a rematch?  While he got caught, I doubt this could happen in another fight.  Lawler should still be near the top of the rankings for this division.

UFC-201-Lawler-vs-Woodley-Sq

Karolina edges out Rose for chance at Joanna

Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeated Rose Namajunas in the fight of the night.  We now get an interesting all-Polish for the women’s strawweight title.  Hopefully, the UFC can build this fight for women’s MMA as well as its international expansion.  Certainly, this fight with Joanna Champion should take place sometime this fall in Poland.

Attendance and gate

It’s not surprising that this event drew less than the prior two PPV events in Atlanta.  The previous two: UFC 88 and UFC 145, had highly anticipated fights in Evans-Liddell and Evans-Jones.  The UFC did draw a 1 million gate.  Specifically, 10,240 for a gate of $1.07M.

Bonuses

Bonuses of $50K each went to Rose-Karolina, Woodley and Jake Ellenberger.  Rose-Karolina earned the Fight of the Night while Woodley and Ellenberger scored the Performances of the Night for their respective stoppages.

Sponsorships

The usual UFC sponsors were in the octagon including Bud Light, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, UFC Fight Pass, MetroPCS, and Monster had the middle of the octagon.  QT, a software company, shared the post with Monster’s logo.

Also in the octagon was signage for UFC 202 August 20th for Diaz-McGregor.

EA UFC2 had the prep point.

Tyron Woodley wore Monster head phones to the ring.  This is something you rarely see any more.

Notably, MusclePharm was all over the UFC Embeddeds.  Matt Brown even drove a car with the MP logo on the side.

Odds and Ends

On Friday, UFC 201 drew 500,000 google searches which is corrected from our original report that it drew just 50,000 searches.  Still, it did not feel like strong momentum going into this.

Another thing going against this card was that the UFC Prelims were moved to FS2.

Recall this was to be a double title night with Demetrious Johnson defending his title against Wilson Reis.  Johnson was injured, so Reis was bumped off the main card.  He did record a submission victory over Hector Sandoval.

Why do fighters still strip down at the televised weigh-ins if their official weigh-ins were earlier that morning?  No need to be in your underwear in front of the crowd.  You can just wear your fight shorts.

It was interesting that Pat Barry, Rose Namajunas’ boyfriend and coach was not a part of the UFC Embeddeds.  Rose talked about this prior to the fight.

Speaking of the UFC Embeddeds, this is the first time that I thought most of them were bland.  However, the one thing that I enjoyed (aside from the Woodley kids) was that we were introduced to Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  The other thing we may have learned from the video series is that Coy Wire and Robbie Lawler look alike.

Ian McCall received his win bonus and show money after Justin Scoggins could not make weight.  McCall remained an alternate on the card which may explain him receiving the win bonus.  It’s the first time I’ve heard of a fighter receiving a win bonus when they did not fight.

Did Reebok get Erik Perez an official Lucha Libre mask?

Jake Ellenberger was going to be cut but was given one more chance.  He won with a liverkick that stopped Matt Brown.  It’s not his last fight after all.

Conclusion

This PPV felt like the “forgotten PPV” as it is sandwiched between UFC 200 and UFC 202 (featuring the rematch between Diaz-McGregor).  Both of these PPVs will draw over 1 million buys while 201 will fall far short of that.  While Robbie Lawler is an exciting fighter and produced some great battles.  Does it equate to his PPV average of 333,000 buys?  Perhaps.  But with the UFC seemingly promoting UFC 202 prior to UFC 201 even happening (e.g., Nate Diaz on Conan as well as the promos starting earlier), the PPV likely drew 285,000-300,000 PPV buys.

UFC 201 attendance, gate and bonuses

July 31, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses from UFC 201 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tyron Woodley, Jake Ellenberger, Rose Namajunas and Karolina Kowalkiewicz earned the fight bonuses for UFC 201.  Woodley and Ellenberger won for their respective stoppages and Namajunas and Kowalkiewicz earned the $50K for Fight of the Night.

According to the post-event press conference the event drew 10,240 for a gate of 1.07M.  The event ranks third in terms of UFC events at the Philips Arena.

UFC 145: Jones and Evans ranked first (15,545 – $2.2M) behind UFC 88: Evans and Liddell (14,736 – $2.6M).

Payout Perspective:

Certainly Damien Brown could have earned a fight night bonus.  Ellenberger’s KO of Matt Brown was the upset of the night even with Woodley winning the title.  No surprise the attendance and gate were not o par with the previous two outings in Atlanta.  Jones and Evans was a much-hyped grudge match.  UFC 88 had Chuck Liddell, a big draw, versus the young, upstart (at the time), Rashad Evans.

Golden Boy requests trial against Haymon pushed to March 2017

July 30, 2016

The lawyers for Golden Boy have requested a continuance in the antitrust trial against Al Haymon.  The date, originally set for the end of January 2017, is going to be pushed to March if the court agrees with the unopposed motion.

A declaration by Golden Boy’s lead counsel, Bertram Fields, requests that the trial date set for January 31, 2017 is continued until March 13, 2017.  The reason being is that Fields is teaching a class at Stanford Law School during winter quarter.  He advised the court that it would include the need for Fields, who practices law in Los Angeles, to fly to Palo Alto each week to teach.

Notably, Fields states in his declaration that the court had advised that the entire case should take just 4 court days to complete while Golden Boy believes that the case is a complex antitrust case that would take at least 10 court days to complete.  He states in his declaration that even his original estimate of 10 days may have been conservative.

Dec of Bertram Fields Re Motion to Continue Trial by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

The motion went unopposed according to Golden Boy’s court filing and if this is correct, it pushes the date to at least March 2017.  This probably give Haymon some extra time and something in their pocket to use if they need to request something from Golden Boy or the court.  Fields, the savvy lawyer that he is, includes some argument in his own declaration to contend the need for extra time.

Lesnar not subject to drug testing in WWE

July 28, 2016

Brock Lesnar will not receive a punishment from WWE for his two flagged drug tests from USADA.

TMZ Sports reported that “only full-time WWE performers are subject to the organization’s wellness policy, which prohibits PEDs.”  Since Lesnar is not categorized as full-time, he is not subject to testing.  Lesnar is scheduled to make his return to WWE on August 21st as part of Summerslam, the second-biggest event of the WWE’s year.

Dave Meltzer also confirmed on his podcast today that Lesnar was not subject to testing in the WWE.

Payout Perspective:

On a day in which the WWE announced its second quarter earnings, no one asked about Lesnar.  Certainly, the news about the WWE’s drug testing policy is interesting and peels back an unknown.  The UFC may have known about this loophole in the Wellness Policy since it stringently tested Lesnar leading up to UFC 200.  Of course, the flagged tests show that it did not work.  Will there be any backlash for the WWE?  Lesnar will still need to deal with USADA and the Nevada State Athletic Commission in the coming weeks and months.

WWE reports Q2 revenues

July 28, 2016

On Thursday, the WWE announced its second quarter earnings for the year.  Despite record revenues, the company’s Q2 profits missed expectations.

According to the WWE earnings call held Thursday morning, revenues grew 32% to a record $199M.  Profits are off due in part to spending which included Wrestlemania.

The WWE Network hit 1.52M average paid subscribers which is up 25% over Q2 last year.  The Network revenues generated $51.8M in revenues.  Per the WWE earnings release, the average monthly churn declined 20% to 9.9% for the first six months of 2016 from 12.3% for the comparable period in 2015.

The release of its earnings comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed earlier this month by over 50 former WWE performers related to head injuries.  S&P Global Ratings warned on Thursday that sports-related brain injuries are among the biggest new area for insurance claims.

Of the other numbers indicated in the earnings release was that live events were up from this time in 2015.  In 2016, live event net revenues were $51.9M versus $26.4M in 2015.  This is due in part to increased ticket prices.

Notably, there were no questions about Brock Lesnar and his failed USADA tests in the UFC.  Of course, this may not have a direct impact with the financials.  Then again, the fact that the information has surfaced that he was not subject to the WWE Wellness Policy which tests its performers for banned substances might raise questions.  In addition, a question about the UFC came about during the call.  Essentially, the WWE noted that the UFC is a private company and the sale reflected “the value people are putting on branded live content.”

 

Bellator 159 peaks at 1,015,000 viewers

July 27, 2016

Bellator 159 drew 709,000 in adjusted DVR+3 ratings and peaked with 1,015,000 viewers last Firday night.

The event improved upon the 668,000 viewers in overnight ratings.  It ws the number 1 ranked sports programming on cable on Friday.

Despite representing just a 6% increase from the overnight ratings, it was good enough to be the top sports show on cable this past Friday.

Makhachev cleared of wrongdoing by USADA after flagged test

July 27, 2016

UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev was cleared of any fault or negligence in connection with a flagged USADA drug test which found the banned substance meldonium in his system.

Makhachev was pulled from his fight with Drew Drober this past April at UFC on Fox 19.  Makhachev will not face any further penalty or suspension from the test.

USADA stated that “Makhachev underwent a radiofrequency ablation procedure for frequent ventricular arrhythmia in December of 2014.”  It was suggested by his doctor that Makhachev “incorporate meldonium, a non-prescription medication, into his follow-up treatment plan and as a preventative measure against a potential relapse.”  Makhachev took meldonium for four weeks which ended in December 2015.  Yet, it was still found in his sample in April 2016.

Via UFC-USADA web site:

USADA confirmed that Makhachev discontinued use of the substance prior to January 1, 2016, because he was aware that the substance would be added to the WADA Prohibited List and banned under the UFC Anti-Doping Program.

After a thorough review of the case, USADA concluded that the extremely low meldonium concentration in the athlete’s urine sample, combined with the athlete’s explanation of use, was consistent with ingestion prior to the substance being officially prohibited on January 1, 2016. Based on the latest guidance offered by WADA on June 30, 2016, for cases involving meldonium, Makhachev will not face a period of ineligibility for his positive test.

Meldonium was added to the banned list of substances in January 2016.  Notably, women’s tennis star, Maria Sharapova was found to have taken the banned substance.  She received a two-year suspension from the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Payout Perspective:

This finding may help other athletes that have used meldonium in the past.  Unfortunately for Makhachev, despite doing everything correct, he lost out on his fight and the payout.

UFC renews broadcast deal with BT Sport

July 27, 2016

UFC has renewed its broadcast rights partnership with United Kingdom and Ireland provider BT Sport per press release.

The deal allows for BT Sport to the exclusive right to air live UFC events throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  The deal allows for BT Sport to show over 150 hours of live UFC coverage including all of the numbered UFC PPVs and all EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) events.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed although the deal will run through 2018.

According to the Daily Mirror, there was some competition for the UFC rights deal with Sky.

Payout Perspective:

The timing comes prior to the big Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz rematch at UFC 202 which should garner a lot of viewers in the UK and Ireland due to Conor.  The deal solidifies the UFC’s broadcast deal in an area with which they hope to grow with the new ownership.

UFC on Fox 20 peaks at 4.687M viewers

July 26, 2016

The UFC on Fox 20 ratings were the highest ever for a summer event on the network.  The last three rounds of the Holly Holm-Valentina Shevchenko main event drew 4,687,000 viewers making it the fifth-best fight since the UFC aired on Fox.

The show drew 2,975,000 viewers and a 1.8 rating.  This shows a nice increase from its 2,440,000 viewers in overnight ratings.  Those ratings did not account for the overrun.

July’s show on Fox was up 29% from April’s Fox card.

Preceding the event, the UFC Fight Night Prelims averaged 1.261 million viewers from the 6-8pm ET time slot on Fox.

Also, the UFC Fight Night Post-Fight Show on FS1 drew 222,000 viewers.

UFC on Fox Ratings
Overnights Live + SD
UFC on Fox 1 5,700,000
UFC on Fox 2 4,570,000
UFC on Fox 3 2,250,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 4 2,360,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 5 3,410,000 4,400,000
UFC on Fox 6 3,770,000 4,220,000
UFC on Fox 7 3,300,000 3,700,000
UFC on Fox 8 2,040,000 2,380,000
UFC on Fox 9 2,410,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 10 2,550,000 3,220,000
UFC on Fox 11 1,990,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 12 2,020,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 13 2,270,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 14 2,820,000 3,049,000
UFC on Fox 15 2,430,000 2,745,000
UFC on Fox 16 2,290,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 17 2,280,000 2,781,000
UFC on Fox 18 2,430,000 2,685,000
UFC on Fox 19 2,130,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 20 2,440,000 2,975,000

UFC on Fox 20 Ratings

Payout Perspective:

Holly Holm’s popularity appears to have carried the show.  Per Fox, the Albuquerque market drew an 8.8 rating in the adult 18-49 demo and an 18 share.  Over 4.5 million viewers tuned in to watch Holm battle Shevchenko in the main event.  The ratings is a good sign that the casual fan has warmed up to women’s MMA and that the summer UFC show on Fox can draw ratings.

NY Inspector General report should have you concerned about the commission

July 26, 2016

The New York Office of the Inspector General released a scathing and concerning report on the state agency that regulates boxing and that will soon oversee MMA.  The report identifies the practical, logistical and ethical mistakes made with respect to the November 2, 2013 fight between heavyweight boxer Magomed Abdusalamov and Ismaikel Perez at Madison Square Garden.

The fight left Abdusalamov fighting for his life as he suffered a stroke and remains in need of 24 hour care.  His family has sued the New York State Athletic Commission.

The New York Office of the Inspector General released a critical and concerning report on the state agency that regulates boxing and that will soon oversee MMA.  The report identifies the practical, logistical and ethical mistakes made with respect to the November 2, 2013 fight between heavyweight boxer Magomed Abdusalamov and Ismaikel Perez at Madison Square Garden.

The fight left Abdusalamov fighting for his life as he suffered a stroke and remains in need of 24 hour care.  His family has sued the New York State Athletic Commission.

The report highlights that the New York Inspector General received information that Melvin Lathan, the Athletic Commission chair at the time received improper gifts from promoters.  In addition, the current Athletic Commission Chair Thomas Hoover also engage in improper conduct in obtaining benefits for a relative and friends.  On Monday, Hoover offered his resignation and it was accepted.

Notwithstanding these ethical problems, the Inspector General also concluded that many of the commission’s practices, policies and procedures “were either nonexistent or deficient, specifically those relating to post-bout medical care, tactical emergency plans and communication and training.”

Noteworthy is that the staff on hand on the night of the fight did not have a plan in the case of a medical emergency.  This resulted in Abdusalamov being told to take a taxi to a hospital despite the fact that there were ambulances at the venue.  Also, it was discovered that the commission did not provide Abdusalamov or his team with the proper language services as required.

These and other missteps were identified in a 48-page report obtained by the New York Times.

Several recommendations were suggested in the report which the commission has agreed to adopt.

Payout Perspective:

According to the New York Athletic Commission web site, Ndidi Massay is the Interim Chair.  The disarray within the commission should concern those awaiting the first UFC event in the state this November.  Despite the celebration of the legalization of the sport this spring, the report should give some concern over the oversight that the commission will give to MMA events.  While there is still time to rectify the situation, the resignation of Hoover on Monday leaves the commission searching for a permanent replacement.

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