UFC 239 Payout Perspective

July 10, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at UFC 239, the annual promotion event held in Las Vegas.

Jones holds off Santos

It was closer than most believed but Jon Jones successfully defended his light heavyweight title over Thiago Santos.  Unlike previous challengers, Santos went after Jones’ legs with kicks but seemed to have tweaked his own knee in the second round.  This may have been the change in the fight as Jones was able to take advantage of Santos’ injury.  Yet, the Brazilian still attempted kicks and attacks but with his knee compromised, his mobility slowed enough for Jones to score on Santos.

With the win, Jones has to wait for another light heavyweight to emerge on the scene to challenge for his title.  But right now, he seems willing to take on the winner of the Cormier-Miocic fight with the possibility of a trilogy with DC a potential money-making fight.  It was later discovered that Santos’ Ls (MCL, PCL and ACL as well as his meniscus) were injured leaving him out for the rest of the year and maybe longer.

Despite the split decision Jones and Dana White scoffed at a rematch.  While this was the initial thought, I would have to think that if Santos is able to recover and scores a win or two after his return he may be able to garner another shot at the title if Jones is still the champion.

Nunes KO’s Holm

Amanda Nunes flexed her muscle and showed that she could finish in different ways.  This time, she used a headkick to stop Holm in the first round of their title fight.  Her slugfest which she came up on top on Cristiane Cyborg may be Nunes’ next fight although contract talks with Cyborg seem strained.  With her win against Holm, Nunes has established herself as the best in the sport of women’s MMA and you might even stretch that to the sport as a whole.  Her dominance against opponents is clear and there does not seem to be many that could hang with her.

Masvidal knees Askren for UFC record

It only took 5 seconds for Jorge Masvidal to take out Ben Askren with a well-timed knee to the side of the wrestler’s head.  Masvidal’s KO earned him the record for fastest stoppage in UFC history.  There was bad blood between the two in leadup to the fight which spurred the showboating by Masvidal afterward.  Masvidal gave a post-fight explanation for the extra punches he landed on Askren after he was unconscious.

For his part, Askren was humble and professional after the event and did not give any excuses about what happened.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Perhaps the return of Jon Jones spurred the uptick of attendance from last year.  UFC 239 drew 18,358 for a gate of over $6 million.  Notably, last year’s July event drew 7,464 for a gate of $5,677,238.

The bonuses for the night went to Nunes, Masvidal, Jan Blachowicz and Song Yadong.  Blachowicz silenced Luke Rockhold with a solid fist to the jaw and earned him a bonus as well.  Yadong drew the only bonus awarded on the undercard with his KO of Alejandro Perez.

Payouts

Amanda Nunes and Jon Jones defended their titles and received the Champions purses.  With her $50K bonus, Nunes topped Jones overall with $300,000 to show another $200,000 for her defeat of Holly Holm to earn a total of $550,000.  Jones earned a $500,000 flat fee.

The rest of the payouts can be found here.

The Reebok Promotional Guidelines can be found here via MMA Junkie.

Ratings

The UFC Prelims scored 1.145M viewers on ESPN which was the best since Jon Jones’ last fight at UFC 235 in March.  It ranked #1 in cable viewership for Saturday night.

Sponsorships

The San Manuel Casino In Southern California was the most notable sponsor for this event as it was on the mat and a part of sponsor reads during the event.  I have reached at to them about whether this was a one off or something more and they have yet to respond.  In addition, The Rock’s new movie, Hobbs and Shaw, was prominently featured on the mat and a requisite clip to promote its release was also shown during the PPV.

Additionally, the sponsors in the cage included PariMatch, Devour, Toyo Tires, Hospital for Special Surgery, Buffalo Wild Wings, Body Armor, P3, PokerStars, Modelo, Nemiroff AM/PM, Motel 6 and Monster Energy in the center.

Modelo had the tale of the tape for the main event.  The last three fights were given sponsors for each.

Also, of note, Devour and Monster were featured on some fighters’ Reebok kits.  Jorge Masvidal held a Monster Energy can in the Octagon after his devastating KO of Ben Askren.  He also had Devour on his Reebok kit.  Jones whose had a Monster Energy sponsorship, sported the patch again tonight.

Modelo sponsored a video on Jorge Masvidal and his “Fighting Spirit” which was online via UFC.com.  The phrase “Fighting Spirit” was repeated again and again and there was

The Embedded series was sponsored by Motel 6.

Odds and ends

Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmogomedov almost got into a scuffle as Diaz passed the lightweight champion while getting to his seat.

ESPN + ran a special for those non-plus subscribers ordering the PPV.

Google trends had over 2 million searches for UFC 239 on Saturday night.  There were over 500,000 for “Ben Askren” which is solely due to his quick KO.

It was interesting that the ceremonial weigh-ins gave a backstory lead-up to Masvidal-Askren although it was not considered one of the two main events for the evening.

Darren Rovell stated that Amanda Nunes is not as marketable as Ronda Rousey or Paige Van Zant.  One might infer that the reason Nunes is not marketable is because she is not the blonde hair, blue-eye traditional women that you can market based on looks and attraction.  In fact, Nunes is the opposite since she is Brazilian, English is not her native language and she is openly gay.  These factors could be leveraged to her benefit.  But they are not.  Hopefully, the UFC can rectify this through its partnership with ESPN (in fact, Nunes will be featured in ESPN’s annual nude issue) But, for as forward-thinking that the UFC is with its early adaption to trends and technology, it knows its base.  And those fans don’t believe that Nunes could be perceived as the face of MMA or women’s MMA.  Whether or not the UFC is doing as much as it can to push Nunes and if Nunes wants the push (as the UFC wants her marked) has not been revealed. But one would hope that Nunes receives all the accolades that she should the greatest women’s champion in the history of the sport.


Conclusion

While we will not receive official tallies of buys for this event, all indications is that it did well.  Certainly, Jon Jones can be attributed to the success of this PPV as his continued reign in the UFC is making him the face of the company.  Without Conor McGregor, there is not another fighter out there that can draw like Jones.  If we were to give out a buy prediction, I’d think that this drew a buy rate between 400-450K buys.

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