UFC 216: Payout Perspective

October 10, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at UFC 216 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ferguson submits Lee

It was not a good week for Kevin Lee.  Not only did he have issues with cutting weight which kept everyone in suspense on Friday.  It appeared that he had a staph infection on Saturday night.  Joe Rogan noticed a mark on Lee’s left pec immediately.  Lee acknowledged the infection which makes one wonder how the commission allowed Lee to fight.

It was a good fight but it looked like Lee had tired in the third and was eventually submitted.  Ferguson should go on to face Conor McGregor if he decides to return to fight.  If not, could we see another setup with Khabib.

DJ makes history with title defense

Demetrious Johnson did it again with another successful title defense of his UFC Flyweight title and another 5th round stoppage.  Johnson had a sensational suplex into an armbar transition to tap out Ray Borg.  It was the 11th title defense which set a record.  DJ stands alone in the UFC Flyweight division.

Despite the remarkable accomplishment Johnson was the co-main event and not the main fight on the show.  This was a subtle sign that despite the remarkable accomplishment, Johnson is not a top of the card draw as he should be.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

This was the lowest attendance and gate for a UFC PPV held at the T-Mobile Arena.  The figures announced post-fight totaled just 10,638 for a gate of $677,999.50.  Of 7 events at the T-Mobile, it was 6th in terms of attendance and gate.  Only this summer’s TUF 25 Finale drew less and that’s due to the fact that there are events on back to back nights.

The bonuses went to Demetrious Johnson, John Moraga, , Bobby Green, Lando Vannatta.  Johnson and Moraga earned the Performances of the Night while Green and Vannatta earned Fight of the Night for their draw.

Payouts

Tony Ferguson was the highest paid fighter of the night earning $500,000 while Demetrious Johnson drew $340,000.  Both Kevin Lee and Ray Borg earned the most of their career with their pay on Saturday.

Via MMA Junkie:

 

Tony Ferguson: $500,000 (includes $250,000 win bonus)
def. Kevin Lee: $250,000

Demetrious Johnson: $370,000 (no win bonus)
def. Ray Borg: $100,000

Fabricio Werdum: $400,000 (includes $125,000 win bonus)
def. Walt Harris: $28,000

Mara Romero Borella: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Kalindra Faria: $12,000

Beneil Dariush: $48,000*
vs. Evan Dunham: $40,000*

Cody Stamann: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Tom Duquesnoy: $23,000

Bobby Green: $24,000*
vs. Lando Vannata: $25,000*

Poliana Botelho: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Pearl Gonzalez: $10,000

Matt Schnell: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Marco Beltran: $14,000

John Moraga: $68,000 (includes $34,000 win bonus)
def. Magomed Bibulatov: $17,000

Brad Tavares: $74,000 (includes $37,000 win bonus)
def. Thales Leites: $57,000

The official Nevada Commission’s pay sheet had Godbeer receiving his show money.  Notably, the Nik Lentz-Will Brooks fight was scrapped due to an illness which hospitalized Lentz.  Although the Nevada Commission may not have paid Brooks, a social media post infers that he was still compensated.

The commission did not have purse payments for Lentz, Brooks and Derrick Lewis.

Promotion of the Fight

With the horrible events that happened the Sunday before the fight the event hype was muted for obvious reasons.  Dana White did not have any fight hype on his twitter timeline until Wednesday.  The Embedded episodes that usually kick off the week were held until that Wednesday.  With this event being a hard sell even before the tragedy, the lack of last minute buzz certainly did not help the buys for this event.

Sponsorships

Although not exactly related to this event, it was announced this week that longtime sponsor Bud Light would be replaced in the U.S. by Modelo Especial staring in 2018.

We are starting to see a lot subtler sponsor promotion on the Embedded series as we see the fighters getting their Reebok gear and visiting the UFC Performance Institute.

Aside from Budweiser, Toyo Tires, Metro PCS, Performance Inspired, Harvey Davidson, 7 Eleven and Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.  One may have noticed that 7 Eleven had its own signage post whereas in past events it shared one with Monster Energy.  It also had the prep point.  The twitter hashtag Vegas Strong was also in the Octagon.

Odds and ends

It was a different opening for the UFC 216 PPV as Dana White invited over 1,500 first responders to the event and brought some of the survivors of the devastating shooting to the octagon.  Everlast, from House of Pain fame, also sang “America the Beautiful.”  There were cold openings for both the Exclusive Fight Pass Prelims and the Prelims on FX.

The festivities were strained by Dana White’s public scorn for Jason Aldean.  He claimed that Aldean did not want to perform (Aldean was the performer on stage during the shooting).  But, he showed up on Saturday Night Live the same night.  Let it go Dana.  It’s petty to mess up a nice night by getting mad at this.

Derrick Lewis and Fabricio Werdum were taken off last minute with Walt Harris taking the fight against Werdum.  The good news is that Godbeer was paid despite being taken off the card.  Brooks was not although his social media account infers he may have been compensated by the UFC.

Prelims were on FX this time around to compensate for College Football on FS1.  It drew just 653,000 viewers Saturday night.

The commission had some explaining to do with the one hour allowance for Kevin Lee to cut the pound he was over.  Apparently, the rules allow it for championship fights.

There was also the issue of how the UFC Anti-Doping Policy allowed exemptions to Kalindra Faria and Mara Romero Borella.  Yet, it took Andrea Lee off the card due to her prior issues with drug testing.

It appeared as though the upper bowl of the T-Mobile Arena was cordoned off which reflects the attendance was low for the event.  Ticketmaster had seats available up until Friday (and likely Saturday) of the event with the get-in price going for $55.

The UFC sold Vegas Strong T-shirts with 100% of the proceeds going to victims of the shooting on October 1st.

The PPV ended before 10:00pm on the west coast and the broadcast crew was forced to stretch instead of trying to fill in a fight from earlier in the evening.  It did provide some comedy as Daniel Cormier had problems with his headset cords.

There were over 500,000 searches for UFC 216 on Saturday.

Conclusion

This will be one of the lower-purchased PPVs of 2017.  While Lee and Ferguson is a good fight, it is not one you’d pay $60 to see as the main event.  Johnson is one of the greatest fighters ever, but fans do not want to pay to watch him fight.  While it was a good night of fights, its hard seeing this event doing more than 170,000 PPV buys.

One Response to “UFC 216: Payout Perspective”

  1. MMAPayout Moderator on October 12th, 2017 2:38 AM

    https://twitter.com/jedigoodman/status/918416080648921088

    Meltzer early estimates for #UFC215: 100k buys & #UFC216: 120k buys
    #UFC

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