UFC 221: Payout Perspective

February 13, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the UFC’s first event in Perth for UFC 221.

Romero misses weight but KO’s Rockhold

Yoel Romero missed weight which threw the main event into question.  Romero was fined 30% of his fight purse which was given to Rockhold.  The awkward stipulation was that Rockhold could win the interim title but Romero could not.  It was expected that Rockhold likely received further incentives to fight Romero.

And hopefully he did because Romero KO’d Rockhold in Round 3 to destroy his chances of winning the interim middleweight title and a showdown with Robert Whittaker.

For Rockhold, it has to be a disappointing result. One might suggest he not go through with the fight since Romero missed weight but I’m sure it was a matter of getting paid for the event.  It sounds as though he is looking to move up to light heavyweight next.

Blaydes earns decision over Mark Hunt

Curtis Blaydes earned a unanimous decision victory over Mark Hunt.  The New Zealander was the fan favorite but the now 10-1 (5-1 in the UFC) Blaydes earned the biggest win of his UFC career.  The good news for Blaydes is that he it was the penultimate fight on his UFC fight contract which means he has some leverage going into negotiations for a new deal.

On the other end, Hunt, who is still embroiled in a lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar indicated that he would be ending his time with the UFC.

The UFC may need Blaydes.  Currently 9th in UFC rankings, the division is suffering from lack of known fighters and/or injuries.  Perhaps he is paired with another UFC 221 star, Tai Tuivasa, who defeated Cyril Asker.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

UFC 221 did well despite the Sunday morning start in Perth.  It drew 12,437 fans for a live gate of $3.6 million Australian dollars (or $2,810,520 American).

The bonuses went to Israel Adesany, Jussier Formiga, Jake Matthews and Li Jingliang.  Adesanya and Formiga earned Performance Bonuses while Matthews and Jingliang drew the “Fight of the Night.”  All received $50,000 bonuses.  There was some controversy in Jingliang’s receipt of the Fight of the Night since he eye-gouged Matthews while attempting to get out of his guillotine.  No foul was called despite calls for at least a point deduction.

Sponsorships

Air Asia, Hudson Shipping Lines, Fetch, General Tire and Monster Energy had the center of the octagon.   I do not believe Modelo was a part of the signage for this event.

Fetch is an independent internet pay television provider.

Odds and ends

The promotion in the U.S. was minimal.  The UFC Countdown Show on Sunday night did register in the Nielsen 150 with 102,000 viewers and 0.04 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight show on FS1 drew 188,000 viewers.

The UFC 221 Prelims on FS1 drew 697,000 viewers on FS1.  It was the lowest-rated UFC Prelims event since UFC 216 on FX drew 653,000 viewers.  UFC 216 drew about 120,000 PPV buys.

Luke Rockhold arriving to open workouts on a camel was some Ricky Jarrett from HBO’s Ballers-type stuff.

Tai Tuivasa could be a fighter to watch out for in the heavyweight division.  Drinking out of the shoe was different.

Tyson Pedro also gave a great post-fight promo and Jon Anik was able to catch his attempt at a mic-drop.

There were over 200,000 google searches for UFC 221 on Saturday.

Conclusion

One might expect that this PPV to do very poorly.  Romero not making weight may have added some intrigue to the matchup.  This card would have been an interesting FS1 card but to pay $65 for the card is very hard to reconcile if you are a casual viewer.  Moreover, the fact that there is another UFC card next weekend makes skipping a PPV like this easier.  One might expect a buy rate of around 125,000.

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