UFC 231: Payout Perspective

December 12, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 231 taking place from Toronto, Ontario, Canada where Max Holloway reminded people he is still one of the greatest in the UFC today.

Holloway forces doctor stoppage

Returning to form, Max Holloway successfully defended his Featherweight title by stopping Brian Ortega after the fourth round.  Holloway exuded confidence throughout and made one of the top challengers to his title look slow.  Ortega showed his heart throughout but was beat up to the point that he could not see out of one of his eyes forcing the stoppage between rounds.

Holloway’s cardio, quickness and ability to make subtle changes to stay out of range is remarkable and its hard to see another current Featherweight taking his title.  Although it is not going to happen, it would be fun to see him get his rematch against Conor McGregor in 2019.   Ortega is still a force in this division but just wasn’t on Holloway’s level.  He’ll be back although I would suggest he take some time to recover.

Shevchenko wins 125-pound women’s title

Valentina Shevchenko just has Joanna Jedrzejczyk number.  Shevchenko dominated the former strawweight champion for a 5 round unanimous decision over Joanna.  The fight was not even close.  It was a masterpiece by Shevchenko.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Toronto continues to be a city the UFC counts on for big attendance.  It sold out ScotiaBank Arena per UFC officials with over 19,000 fans and a $2.4 million gate.

Fight of the Night:  Ortega and Holloway

Performance Bonuses:  Holloway and Santos

All won $50K in addition to their reported purses.

Ratings

UFC 231 Pre-Fight Show on FS1:  211,000

UFC 231 Prelims: 786,000

UFC 231 Post-Fight Show: 136,000

It was a busy Saturday night of combat sports with HBO’s final boxing offering, Showtime’s replay of the Fury-Wilder fight and the Lomachenko fight on ESPN.  The ratings were up from last month’s PPV Prelims which may be a good sign.

Pre-Fight Hype

Max Holloay and Brian Ortega did a lot of media going into this fight.  There was the Holloway-Drake meetup at a Toronto Raptors game which MMA folks were giddy about.  Holloway also did a GQ video where he explained his tattoos.  The mag has done this in the past and it’s a pretty cool piece.  Also of interest, he was on the Alex Wong (Stevie LeBron) podcast early in the week and said that last spring’s unexpected pull out of April’s fight with Khabib was a surprise to him as UFC officials and Holloway’s team requested he pull out and seek more medical evaluation.

ESPN, the future home of the UFC, did a great long-form piece on Ortega and his background.

Sponsorships

Two interesting sponsors from Saturday night included PokerStars and online betting web site Pari Match had signage in the Octagon.  Look for this trend to continue and/or the UFC secures an “official” online betting site as a sponsor.

In the Octagon was Toyo Tires, Nemiroff Vodka, MetroPCS, Circle K, P3, Monster Energy, Motel 6 and Monster Energy had the center.

Also of note, Hooters was on the mat for UFC 231.

P3 were on the Reebok kits of the fighters.  According to multiple reports, the fighters are not directly receiving payment for wearing the logo.  Instead, P3 is paying the UFC.

UFC sponsor Bixler jewelry also appeared on the Embedded episodes giving Valentina some UFC 231 swag.

Odds and ends

It looked as though Max Holloway had a Reebok-branded bandana that stated his phrase, “It is what it is,” on it at the weigh-ins.

The Jimi Manuwa-Thiago Santos fight on the PPV was a heavy-hitting affair.

Worst “almost crime of the night”: Hakeem Dawodu just winning via split decision.

Dana White threw a tantrum when asked about Greg Hardy being on the same card as a domestic violence survivor.  The new media relations ploy is to act pissed when you don’t want to ask a question.

Also helpful for UFC media relations, it was discovered that a Bloody Elbow writer critical of the UFC is also into bestiality and kiddie porn.  This will lead to a new managerial technique of google searching writers that you don’t like.  If nothing is found, see Dana White’s tactics above.

Conclusion

The two championship fights seem to be the way the UFC hopes to stack its PPV cards where there is not a huge name to build around.  If Holloway can remain healthy, the UFC could probably do a standalone PPV with Holloway defending in Hawaii.  Not only would they sell out the venue, but get some decent PPV buys from it.  But, that would require the UFC to relax their ask from the state of Hawaii.  As for this event, 500K google searches and on a busy night of combat sports probably puts it around 275,000-300,000 PPV buys.  Perhaps above average for these types of non-“big card” fights.

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