UFC 201: Payout Perspective

July 31, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 201 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  The main event featured Robbie Lawler taking on Tyrone Woodley for the welterweight title.

The wait was worth it: Woodley new WW champ

Tyron Woodley waited almost a year and a half for his shot at the welterweight title.  What was almost a nothing fight for the first minute exploded quickly as Woodley laid the hammer down on Lawler.  It has to be one of the bigger upsets in some time.  Then again, it’s yet another title change in the UFC.

So does Nick Diaz actually get the first shot at him?  It’s the “money fight” and could happen sometime this fall.  But, doesn’t Lawler deserve a rematch?  While he got caught, I doubt this could happen in another fight.  Lawler should still be near the top of the rankings for this division.

UFC-201-Lawler-vs-Woodley-Sq

Karolina edges out Rose for chance at Joanna

Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeated Rose Namajunas in the fight of the night.  We now get an interesting all-Polish for the women’s strawweight title.  Hopefully, the UFC can build this fight for women’s MMA as well as its international expansion.  Certainly, this fight with Joanna Champion should take place sometime this fall in Poland.

Attendance and gate

It’s not surprising that this event drew less than the prior two PPV events in Atlanta.  The previous two: UFC 88 and UFC 145, had highly anticipated fights in Evans-Liddell and Evans-Jones.  The UFC did draw a 1 million gate.  Specifically, 10,240 for a gate of $1.07M.

Bonuses

Bonuses of $50K each went to Rose-Karolina, Woodley and Jake Ellenberger.  Rose-Karolina earned the Fight of the Night while Woodley and Ellenberger scored the Performances of the Night for their respective stoppages.

Sponsorships

The usual UFC sponsors were in the octagon including Bud Light, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, UFC Fight Pass, MetroPCS, and Monster had the middle of the octagon.  QT, a software company, shared the post with Monster’s logo.

Also in the octagon was signage for UFC 202 August 20th for Diaz-McGregor.

EA UFC2 had the prep point.

Tyron Woodley wore Monster head phones to the ring.  This is something you rarely see any more.

Notably, MusclePharm was all over the UFC Embeddeds.  Matt Brown even drove a car with the MP logo on the side.

Odds and Ends

On Friday, UFC 201 drew 500,000 google searches which is corrected from our original report that it drew just 50,000 searches.  Still, it did not feel like strong momentum going into this.

Another thing going against this card was that the UFC Prelims were moved to FS2.

Recall this was to be a double title night with Demetrious Johnson defending his title against Wilson Reis.  Johnson was injured, so Reis was bumped off the main card.  He did record a submission victory over Hector Sandoval.

Why do fighters still strip down at the televised weigh-ins if their official weigh-ins were earlier that morning?  No need to be in your underwear in front of the crowd.  You can just wear your fight shorts.

It was interesting that Pat Barry, Rose Namajunas’ boyfriend and coach was not a part of the UFC Embeddeds.  Rose talked about this prior to the fight.

Speaking of the UFC Embeddeds, this is the first time that I thought most of them were bland.  However, the one thing that I enjoyed (aside from the Woodley kids) was that we were introduced to Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  The other thing we may have learned from the video series is that Coy Wire and Robbie Lawler look alike.

Ian McCall received his win bonus and show money after Justin Scoggins could not make weight.  McCall remained an alternate on the card which may explain him receiving the win bonus.  It’s the first time I’ve heard of a fighter receiving a win bonus when they did not fight.

Did Reebok get Erik Perez an official Lucha Libre mask?

Jake Ellenberger was going to be cut but was given one more chance.  He won with a liverkick that stopped Matt Brown.  It’s not his last fight after all.

Conclusion

This PPV felt like the “forgotten PPV” as it is sandwiched between UFC 200 and UFC 202 (featuring the rematch between Diaz-McGregor).  Both of these PPVs will draw over 1 million buys while 201 will fall far short of that.  While Robbie Lawler is an exciting fighter and produced some great battles.  Does it equate to his PPV average of 333,000 buys?  Perhaps.  But with the UFC seemingly promoting UFC 202 prior to UFC 201 even happening (e.g., Nate Diaz on Conan as well as the promos starting earlier), the PPV likely drew 285,000-300,000 PPV buys.

MacDonald testing free agency?

July 15, 2016

Will Rory MacDonald be the next MMA free agent to leave the UFC for Bellator?  MacDonald appears to be open to the possibility.

MMA Junkie’s Chamatkar Sandhu tweeted that Bellator President Scott Coker has opened up talks with Rory MacDonald in hopes of eventually signing the welterweight.

The last fight of MacDonald’s UFC contract was at UFC Fight Night 89 in June against Stephen Thompson.  MacDonald lost via unanimous decision.

The soon to be 27-year-old MacDonald (his birthday is next week) is on a 2 fight losing streak having dropped the Thompson fight and losing to Robbie Lawler in a classic fight last July at UFC 189.

MacDonald has been outspoken about maximizing his time as an MMA fighter.  He has criticized the Reebok deal for eliminating an avenue of revenue for fighters.  Prior to the UFC-Reebok deal, MacDonald was a marketable fighter with multiple sponsors.  He did have an individual sponsor deal with Reebok despite his criticism.

Payout Perspective:

MacDonald’s timing for free agency comes on the heels of a 2 fight losing streak.  Unless the new owners of the UFC are interested in retaining him, he will likely move to Bellator.  The Canadian should be able to maximize his marketability with the organization and recapture some of those sponsors that he had to give up with the Reebok deal.  For Bellator, it’s a good deal since they would get a fighter still in his 20s that could immediately challenge in the welterweight division.

Rousey featured in new Reebok #PerfectNever ad

July 12, 2016

Reebok launched a new digital ad featuring Ronda Rousey entitled, #PerfectNever.

Dana White indicated that Rousey should be the next in line to challenge new women’s bantamweight Amanda Nunes if she so chooses.

The ad includes a Rousey blog post on Reebok’s site and a new promotion for tickets to UFC 205 in New York City.  Possibly the event could mark the return of Rousey in the promotion’s debut in New York.

Payout Perspective:

The promotion obviously addresses the end of Rousey’s undefeated record and her subsequent return to the Octagon.  It’s a slick ad that also serves as a launch for Reebok’s second year as the official clothier of the UFC.  The clothing brand launched new kits at UFC 200 this past Saturday.

Sage Northcutt secures Reebok deal

June 29, 2016

Sage Northcutt has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok.  The UFC lightweight made the announcement via his twitter.

Northcutt, who was found on Dana White’s UFC Fight Pass reality show, came to the organization with a lot of hype.  His youthfulness, good-looks and overall optimism made him a target from the grizzled MMA fandom that loathe all of these traits in a fighter.

Controversy also arose regarding Northcutt’s starting pay.  It was revealed that he made $40,000 to show and $40,000 to win at UFC Fight Night 80 in December.  It was just his second fight with the company.

Northcutt is coming off of a loss to Bryan Barberena at UFC on Fox 18 in January.

He fights next week at UFC 200.

Payout Perspective:

Despite coming off of a loss, Reebok is banking on Northcutt’s marketability and appeal.  Northcutt is young and has some time to grow into a contender in the UFC.  The deal makes sense considering it occurs the week before the biggest week of the year for the company.  Also, add the fact that Reebok is set to reveal updates to its fight kits for International Fight Week.

Cerrone comments on his UFC pay

June 19, 2016

In Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 89 post-fight press conference, Donald Cerrone sent a not-so-subtle jab about his pay.

In response to a question which listed his accolades, Cerrone stated, “According to my pay, I don’t mean sh*t to the UFC. But we’ll see. Maybe I’ll talk to [UFC president] Dana [White] after this and see if we can figure that out.” (via MMA Fighting).  Cerrone did make the statement with a smirk and laughed about it.  Of course, that does not mean he was kidding.

Cerrone stopped Patrick Cote in the third round of his fight last night which earned him a $50,000 bonus.

In February, Cerrone made $79K/$79K in addition to his $50K bonus, Reeebok payout and any other undisclosed bonuses.

Cerrone donned the Monster logo on his Reebok shorts and cowboy hat which likely means additional compensation added into his purse, win money, bonus and Reebok payout.

Prior to the Reebok deal, Cerrone commented that he would be losing out on $60,000 in outside sponsors.  He was fined late last year for violating the Reebok outfitting policy.  Cerrone has picked up a Monster deal.

Payout Perspective:

Cerrone is a UFC favorite for his willingness to take a fight at a moment’s notice.  Obviously, attaining fight bonuses means that his fighting style is appealing as well.  Should he be paid more?  Sure.  But how much more would the UFC be willing to pay is another question. If he’s in the middle of a contract, it would be hard to renegotiate at this point, but he could receive preferential paid opportunities outside of the Octagon.  As we noted, he has been outspoken about losing money from the Reebok deal and then was flagged for violating the terms of the policy.  Of course, maybe we are just overblowing the comments from a fighter that is always willing to find a payday.

McGregor makes Forbes’ annual “World’s Highest-Paid Athletes”

June 12, 2016

Forbes released its annual report on the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes from June 2015 to June 2016.  Conor McGregor is the first UFC fighter to make the top 100 list.

McGregor landed at number 85 on the list earning a total of $22 million.  His salary is reported at $q8 million while he made another $4 million in endorsements.

Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo topped the list with total pay of $88 million.  There was $56 million in salary and $32 million in endorsements.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. lost his top spot from the past couple years as with just one fight during the timeframe he earned $44 million for one night’s work this past September against Andre Berto.  Still, he was number 16 on the list.  Manny Pacquiao was number 63 as he earned $24 million for his May fight against Timothy Bradley, Jr.  Canelo Alvarez was 92nd with $21.5 million.  Canelo had 2 fights within the one year from June to June.

Payout Perspective:

McGregor had 3 fights from June 2015-June 2016 (Mendes, Aldo and Diaz).  This would average $6 million per fight.  The endorsement deals are interesting considering the UFC Outfitting Policy does not allow outside sponsors during fight week or event night.  McGregor has an individual Reebok deal and has worn a Monster patch during his fights.

UFC 199: Payout Perspective

June 5, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 199 taking place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.  The show featured two title defenses.

Bisping shocks the world

Michael Bisping waited a long time for his shot at the middleweight title and he did not disappoint.  Perhaps exposing a suspect chin, Bisping KO’d the champion Luke Rockhold in the first round.  Rockhold appeared to be overconfident in the lead up to this fight and admitted as much post-fight.  Bisping is a polarizing figure but you have to respect his journey to the title.  We could see a rematch of the two or maybe Jacare Souza, who congratulated The Count on the way out of the Octagon would be a good choice.

UFC 199

Dominator overwhelms Faber

It was a very entertaining promotion for the fight, but in the end, Dominick Cruz showed that he was much better than Urijah Faber.  The oft-injured bantamweight champion secured a unanimous decision.  Joe Rogan seemed to focus on whether or not Faber would retire after this fight.

Would people be willing to pay $60 for a “superfight” with Demetrious Johnson?

Bonuses

Bonuses went out to Bisping and Dan Henderson (coincidentally opponents at UFC 100) for their performances.  Polo Reyes and Dong Hyun Kim earned Fight of the Night.  All received $50,000.

Attendance and Gate

The UFC announced post-fight that The Forum was a sellout with 15,587 for a live gate of $2,168,675.

Sponsorships

The sponsors in the Octagon included Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light, MetroPCS, and the TNT upcoming drama, Animal Kingdom.  Food 4 Less, a Compton, California-based “no frills” grocery was a sponsor in the Octagon as it shared a post with Monster.  As with most UFC events, Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.

Dominick Cruz sported a Monster patch on his Reebok black kit.  He also did an old school thank you to them post-match including holding a Monster can.

UFC Embedded appears to be the place to have your non-official UFC sponsors to be visible.  Luke Rockhold wore Adidas and Monster Milk during the vlogs.

Odds and Ends

Three big pieces of news not related to 199.  First, Brock Lesnar is back.  Despite how he left the company, he returns and the move should draw eyebrows as the WWE is allowing Lesnar to fight a month before the company’s second-biggest show of the year – Summerslam.

Second, Fedor Emelienenko will be on Fight Pass on an EFN card on June 17th.   Thus, the UFC will finally get Brock Lesnar-Fedor…just not together.

Finally, the rematch no one except Conor McGregor wants as Nate Diaz will face McGregor at UFC 202 in Vegas August 20th.  Interesting that the UFC is traveling less domestically.

There were 4 fights on UFC Fight Pass Prelims.  3 of the 4 fights were very good.

UFC Fight Pass introduced a promotion where fans can send in 1 minute videos to tell Dana White why they are the biggest UFC fan.  The winner will get to come to International Fight Week, meet Dana White and attend UFC Fight Night: Alvarez-RDA.

UFC allowed flags in lieu of sponsor banners in the Octagon.

Octagon ladies sport the Monster patch on their uniforms, do they get paid for doing so?

Watching Embedded, apparently the champions (Cruz and Rockhold) were given rental properties to stay in during fight week while the others stayed in a hotel.

The weigh-ins were different since newly instituted weigh-in rules with the California State Athletic Commission allowed fighters to weigh-in between a 10am-2pm window the day before the fight.  Thus, the televised weigh-ins we usually see did not include the official weigh-ins.

Did the finish of Hendo/Lombard look similar to Hendo/Bisping at UFC 100 with Hendo unloading on an already unconscious opponent?

Ariel Helwani and three others were escorted from the building during UFC 199.  Helwani tweeted that he had been banned by the UFC for life.  It was Helwani that broke the Brock Lesnar news on MMA Fighting.

The show concluded with a tribute to Muhammad Ali who passed away on Friday.

Conclusion

This was a very good show but it will likely be overshadowed by the news that Brock Lesnar is returning next month.  Google trends had 500,000 searches for UFC 199 on Saturday.  Notably, Brock Lesnar drew 100,000 searches on Saturday.  How many PPV buys will this card receive?  Without a proven PPV draw at the top of the card, yet a solid lineup for the PPV, the buy rate should be 350,000 to 400,000 PPV buys.

UFC 198: Payout Perspective

May 16, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 198 taking place from Curitiba, Brazil where Fabricio Werdum took on Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight title.

Miocic crowned Heavyweight Champ

Despite the massive crowd in favor of Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic knocked him out in the first round.  The KO stunned the massive crowd in Curtiba.  For Miocic, it was an emotional win and he showed it when he returned back home to Cleveland.  He also had a message for the city’s NBA team.

Cyborg does not disappoint in debut

The long-awaited debut of Cris “Cyborg” Justino did not disappoint the Brazilian fans as she overpowered Leslie Smith earning a TKO in the first round, just 1:21 in, despite a vehement protest from Smith.  Smith took to social media after the fight to vent her anger.

The obvious question was whether Cyborg could make weight, which she did.  Now, the next hurdle would be coming down another 5 pounds to challenge Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title.  Of course, maybe there’s a fight out there at the 140 pound catchweight that could happen (i.e., Ronda Rousey).

Attendance

It was a record crowd at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba Parana, Brazil as the announced attendance was over 45,000 (45,207 to be exact).  It made it the 3rd highest attendance in UFC history according to the announcement on the PPV telecast.  The tickets sold out in one day.  No gate was announced which seems to be the norm for Brazil shows.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50,000 went to Miocic, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Francisco Trinaldo and Yancy Medeiros.  Trinaldo and Medeiros won for Fight of the Night which aired on the UFC Prelims on FS1 and Miocic and Souza earned performance bonuses.

Sponsors

Budweiser was in the center of the Octagon.  Notably Nissan had signage in the octagon.   Bud Light was also present in the Octagon along with Toyo Tires, EA UFC 2, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Fight Pass, and ads for UFC 199 and 200.

Budweiser sponsored the Embedded episodes and also had the fighter prep point.  Bud Light was a big sponsor throughout the broadcast.

No Monster Energy Drink on the broadcast.  This may be due in part that TNT Energy Drink had been a UFC sponsor in Brazil.  According to this UFC press release, the Monster exclusive deal with the UFC, excludes Brazil.

Odds and Ends

This was a big show but think how much bigger it could have been with Anderson Silva-Uriah Hall.

Fans were given Werdum “faces” which had the former champ’s trademark smirk.  He did it a couple times during the walk out.  Werdum seemed like he had the time of his life until the fight started.

A subtle post-fight gesture for new champs is that they are given the champion’s “black” Reebok shirt.  Miesha Tate was given it after defeating Holly Holm.  Miocic was handed the shirt after his post-fight interview.

Matt Brown probably should never fight in Brazil again.  He gave the Brazilian fans the Stone Cold Steve Austin treatment at weigh-ins.  Although FS1 did not show it, there was footage of random fans taking shots at Brown on his walkout to the Octagon against Damian Maia.

Brown was submitted by Maia.  The next day, his ex-coach takes a swing at him.  Fortunately, authorities got a hold (literally) on the guy.

I know that there are practical reasons for this, but does anyone find it odd that Benson Henderson was once again wearing a UFC uniform in the corner of training partner, Bryan Barberena.

It looks like Jon Jones is really feeling it.

Big Nog was announced as the first UFC fighter to go into the company’s Hall of Fame this summer.  Little Nog had a KO of Patrick Cummins as the featured fight on the early UFC Prelims on Fight Pass.

There were 500,000 google searches for UFC 198 on Saturday.

Conclusion

UFC 198 was a very entertaining card with some good finishes.  But, did the Werdum-Miocic appeal to the casual viewers?  Probably not.  This was a card which was focused on Brazil.  The attendance looked very good and the crowds (including at the weigh-ins) were great.  However, the PPV buys for this event will likely come in around 325,000 buys.

Belfort compares Reebok deal to slavery

May 9, 2016

UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort compared the Reebok deal to slavery according to an interview he did with Sports TV Brazil.

Translated by Bloody Elbow:

“MMA is a lot closer to entertainment than sport these days. I’m not satisfied with the way the company is handling sponsorship. We are pretty much living in slavery. We can’t use our own sponsors, they are banned inside the Octagon. We have no properties… I hope I can leave a legacy which fighters can use to raise awareness about a minimum wage pay. It’s a contact sport. I don’t think it’s fair for someone to earn 500 dollars to be elbowed in the face. There has to be a retirement plan, which does not exist now. That’s something for the next generation. They need to save their money and invest. They need to know the athlete life will end.”

Payout Perspective:

Salacious comments from Belfort but the remark is support to evoke some emotion from the reader.  Last year, Belfort’s wife and manager indicated that he has lost millions due to the deal.  The sports agency 9ine, founded by Ronaldo, cut ties with the UFC due to Reebok.  The agency had ties with Belfort and Anderson Silva.  Based on his comments, it’s clear that Belfort was one greatly affected by the deal due to the amount of money he could earn from sponsors.  Since that is no longer happening, he is one of the contracted fighters speaking out.

UFC 197: Payout Perspective

April 29, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  Better later than never, we write about UFC 197 taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with the return of Jon Jones.

Jones takes care of OSP

Jon Jones returned to the UFC octagon to handily defeat Ovince St. Preux via unanimous decision.  OSP was a late replacement for Daniel Cormier and did his best, but it was clear that he was in there against a far superior opponent.  OSP’s cardio was not ready for a 5 round fight and he wasn’t able to do much against Jones.  It seems unfair to criticize OSP since he stepped up on late notice.  But, he was given a chance and was unable to capitalize.

For Jones, it was a good fight to get back into fighting.  It was his first fight since January 2015.  Next is a showdown with Daniel Cormier as the main event for UFC 200.

UFC 197

Mighty Mouse is still good

Say what you will about Demetrious Johnson, there were two fighters on the card that you may argue are the best for pound in the world.  Only one looked like it.  Johnson dispatched of former Olympian Henry Cejudo in round one of the defense of his Flyweight title.

There is no one left in the Flyweight division for Johnson.  Perhaps a rematch against Dominick Cruz would be the most compelling fight to help Johnson draw an audience he deserves.

Attendance and Gate

The event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena drew 11,352 fans for a gate of $2.3 million as announced at the post-fight press conference.

Bonuses

Also announced the presser, the $50,000 bonuses went to Demetrious Johnson, Yair Rodriguez, Danny Roberts and Dominique Steele.

Ratings

UFC 197 Weigh-Ins on FS1: 184,000

UFC Pre-Fight Show on FS1: 218,000 viewers

UFC 197 Prelims on FS1: 835,000 viewers

UFC Post-Fight Show on FS1: 279,000 viewers

UFC 197 Payouts

Jon Jones led the roster making $500,000 (with no win bonus) followed by Demetrioius Johnson ($195,000).

The rest of the payouts are here.  The payouts do not include the Reebok sponsor pay.

Promotion of the Fight

Jon Jones almost did not make this fight as he was cited once again for a traffic infraction.  This time, it caused him to violate parole and spend a couple days in prison.  Ironically, Daniel Cormier pulled out of the fight soon after Jones’ legal troubles.  Instead of a Jones-Anthony Johnson showdown, the pick was Ovince St. Preux.

Henry Cejudo made pro-UFC comments about Conor McGregor.  He then clarified the comments which seemed a little more confusing.  The fact that he was the guy that said he would not fight in Nevada so long as Nick Diaz was suspended makes his comments this week uneven.  Granted, he’s entitled to his opinion and just because he’s supported Diaz does not mean he has to support Conor.

The Embedded episodes focused on the return of Jon Jones, OSP, Mighty Mouse and Cejudo.  It also included the Pettis brothers training at the same time as Jones in preparation for the fight.

Sponsorships

Reebok, Harley Davidson, EA UFC 2, Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, Monster Energy Drink, Bud Light, mobile app game Mobile Strike were in octagon sponsors with Monster taking the center.

Jon Jones had a Monster sponsorship patch in addition to his Reebok gear.  He also held a Monster can after the fight in an old school way of promoting the drink.

Some notables: Jon Jones wore his sponsor, nutrition products company, GAT during an open UFC workout and it was captured on Embedded.

Luke Rockhold was seen in the crowd at UFC 197 sporting an Adidas hat.  Prior to the Reebok deal, Rockhold had a deal with Adidas.  Of course, since the two companies are linked, there was likely no problem with Rockhold wearing the hat.

Odds and Ends

Was it odd or great promotion that Daniel Cormier served as the color commentator for the Jones-OSP fight?

Was it me, or did it seem like OSP did not believe he was going to win this fight?

Demetrious Johnson is on Twitch.  One would think that he could connect his video game interest with MMA fans for more popularity.

Former UFC lightweight champion, and the only UFC fighter to grace the cover a Wheaties box, Anthony Pettis has lost his last 3 fights.

Cody East, the fighter found by Dana White, was stopped by Walt Harris in round 1 on the Early Prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Even without Conor McGregor appearing at this event, it seemed like the biggest news was his “retirement” and then the UFC taking him off of 200.

Conclusion

There were only 50,000 google searches for UFC 197 nationwide the Friday before the event.  This does not bode well if we are to assume the searches relate to interest and the interest relates to PPV buys.  Jon Jones is not a standalone PPV star like Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey.  OSP is not someone anyone knew.  Moreover, Mighty Mouse is not a PPV draw.  This event likely ends up with 350,000 PPV buys as many had predicted.

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