UFC 220 Prelims draw 905,000, Bellator 192 770,00 viewers

January 23, 2018

The UFC 220 Prelims on FS1 drew 905,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims overlapped with Bellator 192 on Paramount which drew 770,000 viewers.

The UFC Prelims were highlighted by Julio Arce versus Dan Ige.  The event on FS1 drew 0.39 in the A18-49 demo.  In comparison, last year’s first PPV, UFC 208, which occurred in February drew 824,000 viewers. Bellator 192 featured Rampage Jackson and Chael Sonnen as it began the Heavyweight Grand Prix.  It also saw Rory MacDonald win the welterweight belt from Douglas Lima.  The event drew 0.32 in the A18-49 demo.

In addition, on Saturday night, the UFC Prefight Show on FS1 drew 286,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Bellator 192 was the highest-rated Bellator event on Spike TV, now Paramount, since March 2017’s Bellator 175 which featured Rampage against King Mo.  Bellator 180 had a higher viewership in the aggregate but was shown on Spike and CMT.  While the event produced the best ratings in almost 10 months, it still does not come close to the initial tentpole events which drew near 1 million viewers.  Obviously, the head-to-head with the prelims and the UFC PPV hurt Bellator this time around.  For the UFC Prelims, the 905,000 is a nice rating considering the fights did not have any “named” fighter on them which bodes well for the PPV buys.

Rampage, Sonnen top Bellator 192 payouts

January 22, 2018

MMA Fighting reports the salaries from this past Saturday’s Bellator 192.  Four fighters made six figures including the main event competitors, Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson.

Both Sonnen and Jackson earned $300,000 each.  Sonnen, who defeated Jackson did not receive a win bonus. Rory MacDonald earned $100,000 in defeating Douglas Lima who also made $100,000.  MacDonald did not have a win bonus attached although he picked up a cryptocurrency sponsor.

The other payouts as produced by the California State Athletic Commission via MMA Fighting:

Michael Chandler ($50,000 + no win bonus = $50,000) def. Goat Yamauchi ($23,000)

Aaron Pico ($30,000 + $30,000 = $60,000) def. Shane Kruchten ($10,000)

Henry Corrales ($20,000 + $20,000 = $40,000) def. Georgi Karakhanyan ($26,000)

Joey Davis ($7,000 + no win bonus = $7,000) def. Ian Butler ($1,500)

Jose Campos ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Haim Gozali ($10,000)

Devon Brock ($1,000 + 1,000 = $2,000) vs. Khonry Gracie ($10,000)

Guilherme Bomba ($40,000 + no win bonus = $40,000) def. Ivan Castillo ($2,500)

Johnny Cisneros ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Marlen Magee ($1,500)

Kyle Estrada ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. David Duran ($2,250)

Roosevelt Roberts ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. Tommy Aaron ($2,000)

Arthur Estrazulas ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Mike Segura ($2,000)

Jalin Turner ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Noah Tillis ($1,500)

Gabriel Green ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Christopher Padilla ($2,000)

Chad George ($3,000 + $3000) def. James Barnes ($2,250)

Cooper Gibson ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Andrew Lazo ($1,500)

Payout Perspective:

The payouts are more than a usual Bellator show.  With Sonnen and Jackson, the payouts were expected to high.  MacDonald and Lima reflect the Bellator pay scale increasing to the level of fighter.  The obvious disparity here is Aaron Pico earning more (reportedly anyway) than Michael Chandler.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are low payouts for some of the prelim fighter with the lowest pay being $1,500-$2,000.

UFC 220: Payout Perspective

January 22, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time, we take a look at UFC 220 taking place at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Miocic handles Ngannou

Stipe Miocic defeated Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision in what was an easy win for the defending champion.  Despite Ngannou’s punching power, he did not have any cardio or any type of grappling acumen to defend himself against Miocic.  This is confounding since this was the obvious test for the challenger since most of his fights are standing up.  Ngannou had no defense to the ground game by Miocic and was visibly exhausted most of the fight.

Truly a disappointing showing for Ngannou who was thought to be ready for his shot.  Obviously, he is a one-dimensional fighter at this point.  The good news is that he is still a very good one-dimensional fighter.  He just needs to extend his grasp of MMA and more cardio.

For Miocic, it truly was a very good game plan.  Even when he was not doing anything to Ngannou, he was leaning on him getting him tired.

Dana White indicated that a Daniel Cormier-Miocic fight would be a good matchup although DC confirmed that he would like to see his stablemate, Cain Velasquez get a shot by the end of the year.

For Ngannou?  Derrick Lewis, a guy who has had his own trouble with cardio was trolling the man from Cameroon last night and that might be a fun fight to see so long as it lasts just one round.

Cormier outclasses Volkan

Daniel Cormier proved that there are different levels of UFC fighter as he soundly handled Vokan Oezdimir and stopped him in the second round.  Cormier, still haunted by the ghosts of Jon Jones, gave a post-fight promo talking about getting his championship back.  Regardless of how much he tucks in his shirt to his pants and has a dad bod, he is still one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.  As he says, it’s not easy going against him.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

Boston fans came out for UFC 220 as the event was a sellout or close to it with the most fans-ever attending a UFC event at the TD Garden.  There were 16,015 fans in attendance with a gate of $2.45 million.  The gate was slightly less than UFC 118’s $2.8 million which had a main event of Edgar-Penn II.

The demand was down on the secondary market with the median price for tickets falling as of this past Thursday from $384 per ticket to $368 per ticket.  The get-in price on the secondary market was $136.  Ticketmaster had seats available although they were close to a sell out as of Friday.

The bonuses went to Cormier, Abdul Razak Alhassan, Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos.  Each earned $50,000.  Alhassan and Cormier earned the Performance bonuses while Kattar and Burgos drew Fight of the Night.

Promotion of the Fight

This felt like a big event for the UFC as it tried to kick off 2018 on a high.  Embedded was front and center as the tool to promote the event via social media.  This time around, there were no sponsors attached to the event.  It did show a lot of the promotion (i.e., media obligations, ESPN interviews, appearances) in addition to the training the main camps endured.

One of the more unique opportunities was Daniel Cormier being interviewed for Complex Magazine regarding his shoe game.  As someone that is somewhat of a sneakerhead, this was a good way to tie in Cormier with a personal interest with the underlying goal of promoting UFC 220.

Sponsorships

It was the first time that Modelo was a part of a UFC PPV.  The beer maker took over for Bud Light as the “Official Beer” of the UFC.  It was front and center during the UFC Prelims as the studio shots had the logo prominently displayed.  It was also on the canvas and Octagon posts.

BodyArmor also made its first appearance on a UFC PPV with the stools, drinks and towels having the logo.

Although no announcement has yet been made, Wish Shopping may be the next sponsor to fall in line with the UFC.  The company, which features online shopping, was one of the sponsors for The Money Fight this past August.  It also sponsors the Los Angeles Lakers.  During the PPV, it sponsored the Fighter Descriptions.

Gruntstyle.com, MetroPCS, Body Armor, Toyo Tires, Performance Inspired, Modelo, EA’s UFC 3, Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.  7-11 shared an Octagon post with Monster Energy.   The upcoming video game also had the fighter prep point.

MetroPCS offered its Periscope analysis during the event with Forrest Griffin, Demetrious Johnson, Tyron Woodley and Cody Garbrandt.

Performance Inspired also sponsored the UFC bonus announcements.

EA UFC3 offered up the video game versions of the main event participants.

Odds and Ends

As most know, the event went up against Bellator 192 on the reboot of SpikeTV now known as The Paramount Network.

Francis Ngannou, a native of Cameroon, had some choice words for the President.  I also wrote about it here.

The weirdest news out of this week was the internet feud between Daniel Cormier and professional wrestlers, The Young Bucks.  The two went back and forth before third parties decided to be jerks and both sides decided for cooler heads to prevail.

There were over 1 million google searches for UFC 220 on Saturday.  In comparison Bellator 192 had over 200,000.

UFC 220 was $5 more ($64.99) than PPVs last year.  If you wanted the 4K version it cost $74.99.

Luke Rockhold, a training partner of Cormier, trained in Florida with Volkan which caused somewhat of a stir but for the fact Rockhold immediately dispelled a myth of a fissure between himself and DC.

Conclusion

The google searches and promotion of the event leads me to believe that we should see a better than normal buy rate for this event.  While UFC 219’s mid-300s was a success despite the consensus feel that it was not, look for UFC 220 to do slightly better.  Perhaps the 350-375K range.

Rivera issued 4 years ban for submitting false evidence to USADA

January 21, 2018

Francisco Rivera was handed a 4-year suspension from the UFC for “aggravating circumstances” stemming from a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The arbitrator determined that Rivera knowingly took clenbuterol and attempted to falsify evidence to conceal the wrongdoing.

A USADA arbitrator issued the ruling on Friday.

USADAv.rivera Award by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The arbitration is a result of a flagged urine sample taken from Rivera on July 23, 2016.  The A and B samples contained clenbuterol, a Prohibited Substance that is not a Specified Substance.  At the time, Rivera was preparing for a fight on July 30th

Notably, at about the same time, UFC welterweight Li Jingliang avoided punishment for a positive test of clenbuterol when it was determined that it was due to consuming contaminated meat in China.  Hoping to obtain the same outcome, Rivera claimed that it was possible that the positive finding was due to consuming meat at a family barbecue in Mexico.  In order to bolster his alibi, he produced a receipt from a Costco, a falsified bank statement and two falsified witness statements claiming that he was in Mexico visiting family.

As part of the investigation, USADA sent a representative from New York to Los Angeles to accompany Rivera to a local Chase bank branch to obtain a bank statement to confirm the authenticity of the receipt.  However, Rivera did not show up and when his attorney attempted to contact him, the fighter did not respond.  At that point, his attorney threatened to withdraw from representation due to his failure to show up at an agreed time.  USADA informed the arbitrator of what had happened and soon thereafter Rivera emailed USADA stating he was in Mexico.  It was later determined that he was actually in San Diego.

In order to save himself, Rivera claimed that his attorney had falsified the information in the Arbitration Brief.  But, the Arbitrator did not buy it.  Even though there were circumstantial facts, the Arbitrator notes the short notice of his bout in mid-June, the proximity of time (July 23) that the test was taken to his fight on July 30th and the nature of the finding led to the conclusion that Rivera used clenbuterol to lose weight while maintaining strength and endurance.

The Arbitrator found that Rivera did not meet his burden to show that the period of ineligibility should be reduced to less than two years based on the alibi that he used tainted supplements or ate tainted meat from Mexico.

 

The Arbitrator notes that USADA does not cite a definition for “aggravating circumstances” in its Arbitration brief which is meant to enhance a punishment.  Also, the UFC Anti-Doping Policy does not define “intentional” for purposes of the “aggravating circumstances” definition.  This might provide a sliver of hope for Rivera if he determines to appeal the 4-year sentence.  Yet, the Arbitrator found sufficient evidence to add on 2 years to the requisite 2 for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

The good news for Rivera was that the Arbitrator noted that the parties bear their own attorney fees and costs.  Certainly, the flight for USADA to go from NY to LA to meet Rivera could have been an expensive cost for Rivera.

Payout Perspective:

This was a case that USADA is using as an example of what happens if you attempt to beat the system.  The attempts by the 36-year-old Rivera to falsify evidence is not only against the rules, it may have put the attorney in trouble for the claim that he attempted to falsify evidence in a proceeding.  Even if it was not in court, an administrative hearing likely carries the same ethical penalties for misrepresentation and falsifying evidence.  The punitive nature of the 4 years is warranted in this case considering the circumstances of the investigation with Rivera not showing up at an agreed upon meeting at a bank and admitting to falsifying the bank records.  Of course, the underlying was that Rivera attempted to use the banned substance to make weight for a fight he was taking on short notice which was also the last fight on his contract.  So, there was pressure to win in his last fight.  The fact he took it on short notice may be a consequence of needing the money.

UFC 220 attendance, gate and bonuses

January 20, 2018

Daniel Cormier led the list of Performance Bonuses for UFC 220. The event at the TD Garden in Boston drew a record attendance for the company in the venue.

Cormier looked impressive in a 2nd Round stoppage of Volkan Oezdemir and earned a $50,000 Performance Bonus.  In addition,  Abdul Razak Alhassan, Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos earned the other $50,000 bonuses.  Alhassan earned his Performance Bonus with a KO of Sobah Homasi.  The Fight of the Night went to Kattar and Burgos with the Boston native earning a third-round stoppage.

There were 16.015 in attendance for a gate of $2.45 million.  The number of fans in attendance was a record for an event by the UFC at the TD Garden. UFC 118 drew a higher gate when the event featuring Frankie Edgar-BJ Penn II drew $2.8 million.

The UFC announced the information post-fight.

Payout Perspective

The number in attendance reflects the popularity of the UFC in Boston.  Two title fights also provided some interest in the card.  Still, over 16,000 for the event ensures that Boston will always be a part of the annual tour for the UFC.

BodyArmor enters the Octagon as UFC sponsor

January 19, 2018

BodyArmor will have a strong branding presence at UFC 220 as the “Official Sports Drink” of the UFC.

The sponsorship agreement was announced late last year and had an initial rollout during UFC 217 in New York with Kobe Bryant in attendance at a media session during fight week.  This will be the first time that BodyArmor will have its brand throughout the Octagon.

The brand will be seen on stools, towels and buckets.  Certainly, the announcers will be pushing BodyArmor’s “Knockout Punch” drink, which was co-branded specifically for the UFC.

The brand also had a presence during The Money Fight this past August and the huge audience probably affirmed its investment with combat sports.

Payout Perspective:

The Body Armor deal is another positive sign for UFC business as it tries to find more and more brands.  Look for more sponsorship deals in the year.

How is ticket interest for UFC 220?

January 18, 2018

As UFC 220 nears at the TD Garden in Boston, tickets are still available for the event which features two title fights.

According to Ticketmaster as of Thursday night, there were still seats available between $100 and $350.  SeatGeek indicated that as of Thursday morning the get-in price on the secondary market was $136.  The average resale price for a ticket was $233.  Prices have come down in the last week for ticket demand with the median price dropping from $384 per ticket to $368 per ticket.

In comparison, demand for other events have been more.  Here is a sample per SeatGeek:

  • UFC 219 in Las Vegas, NV: $175 avg. resale price
  • UFC 218 in Detroit, MI: $163
  • UFC 217 in New York, NY: $383

UFC 220 is headlined by title fights featuring Stipe Miocic defending against Francis Ngannou and Daniel Cormier defending against Volkan Oezdemir.

Payout Perspective:

So, what are we to make of the fact that despite two title fights in the glamour divisions of Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight, the demand for tickets are lower than the past three events.  It could be the focus on the Patriots as they march to another Super Bowl.  It could be the casual nature of the Boston MMA fans in that they know they will get a card at least once a year and can pick whether this one is worth their money.  While the secondary market is not a conclusive indicator on the success of a card, it does tell the general demand an event has with the sport’s fans.

Calvillo flagged by USADA for marijuana metabolites

January 17, 2018

USADA has flagged Cynthia Calvillo following an in-competition test taken in conjunction with her fight at UFC 219 last month.  The test showed traces of marijuana metabolites exceeding the decision limit by USADA.

Calvillo lost a split decision to Carla Esparza in a battle of strawweight contenders.  It was her first loss of her professional career.

Via UFC’s statement on Calvillo:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Cynthia Calvillo of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation involving Carboxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Carboxy-THC”) which is a metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected in conjunction with her recent bout in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 30, 2017, UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm.

Payout Perspective:

What a bad turn of events for the 30-year old Calvillo who may negotiate with USADA for a reduction of her suspension.  You might recall that Kelvin Gastelum was given just a 90-day suspension after he was flagged by USADA in April 2017.  This could be a blow for a promising star and the UFC’s strawweight division.  We shall see if she will receive a light sentence similar to Gastelum.

Monster Energy renews deal to be “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC

January 17, 2018

The UFC and Monster Energy have renewed their global partnership agreement according to a UFC press release.  The renewal is a multi-year extension and continues it as the “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC.

The “M” will remain in the center of the Octagon and entrance logo placement inside.  According to the release, the brands will also work in conjunction on retail promotions during UFC events in select markets.

Via press release:

Monster’s logo will also remain prominently located on the UFC FIGHT NIGHT COLLECTION apparel of its sponsored UFC athletes. This current list includes: UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, UFC women’s strawweight Paige VanZant, UFC featherweight Yair Rodriguez and UFC welterweight Donald Cerrone.

Payout Perspective:

No financial terms were released.  Its not known whether Monster Headphones will continue as the UFC’s sponsor to continue the perceived confusion.  Also, interesting to see if Monster Energy will continue working with Bellator and Rampage Jackson.  The renewal is not surprising as the UFC continues to secure sponsors for this year.  Maintaining a relationship with Monster Energy makes sense and we shall see if the companies will try to use more integration in the relationship such as using more UFC stars in Monster Energy marketing/ad campaigns.

UFC Fight Night St. Louis draws 1.285 million viewers; prelims 1.079 million

January 17, 2018

UFC Fight Night St. Louis drew 1.285 million viewers on FS1 Sunday per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims drew 1.079 million viewers on FS1.

The event surpassed last year’s event which took place on the same Sunday of the MLK Holiday weekend in January.  The event, which featured BJ Penn-Yair Rodriguez drew slightly over 1 million viewers and 824,000 for the prelims.

The event featured Jeremy Stephens taking on Doo Ho Choi.  Stephens stopped Choi in the second round for the win.  On the prelim card, James Krause defeated Alex White via unanimous decision.

According to ShowBuzz Daily, the main card drew 0.48 in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims drew 0.38 in the A18-49 demo.

In addition, the post-fight show drew 342,000 viewers and 0.14 viewers in the A18-49 demo.  The pre-fight show drew 147,000 viewers and 0.06 in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims on Fox Deportes drew 104,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are a good sign for the company as the card on its face was underwhelming but still drew 1.28 million viewers for the main card and over 1 million for the prelims.  It could be that people were looking for something to watch and there was not a great alternative.  Still, the ratings are promising moving into the new year.

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