July 25, 2014
Anthony and Sergio Pettis star in a web commercial selling the Reebok ZJet running shoe. Showtime recently signed a deal with Reebok.
The web commercial can be seen on Reebok’s YouTube page. In the commercial, Showtime talks about persevering to be the best, becoming the UFC champ and dealing with pressure. The video briefly shows the UFC Lightweight title. Sergio also makes a brief non-speaking appearance.
The ZJet retails for $129.99.
It appears that Showtime will be a part of the Reebok ZJet launch. Commercials (which did not include Pettis) for the shoe were played during the Bellator telecast on Spike TV Friday night. Pettis is a good-looking, well-spoken fighter and it would not be surprising to see more spots with Pettis selling Reeboks.
July 24, 2014
Robbie Lawler has signed on with Adidas Combat prior to his fight with Matt Brown Saturday. The deal comes on the heels of the recent launch of the Adidas-specific web site dedicated to combat sports.
There’s no word on whether Lawler will be able to wear the three stripes into the Octagon on network television Saturday.
— robbie lawler (@Ruthless_RL) July 21, 2014
Adidas is also the official sponsor of Resurrection Fighting Alliance, the organization headed by Ed Soares. It also sponsors Glory Kickboxers.
Lawler becomes the first Adidas signee in recent memory. It’s not clear whether it will start to target other fighters in the league. Still no word on a UFC uniform deal but maybe we can throw Adidas as a possible uniform maker. For those wondering, Under Armour announced its second quarter earnings and business is good as it exceeded analyst expectations. Although previously the front runner, if a deal were imminent, certainly we would have heard some rumblings in order to stir the pot for the stock even more. Reebok could be a possibility as it has signed on Johny Hendricks and Anthony Pettis. Adidas has worked with RFA for a while and its known as a possible feeder organization for the UFC.
March 20, 2014
Forbes.com wrote a piece on Johny Hendricks and his sponsor Reebok in light of his victory in the Octagon at UFC 171. Notably, one of the takeaways from the articl focused on the fact that Reebok’s main goal was not to sponsor MMA fighters but to develop Reebok’s Fitness Marketing division.
It was noted that Hendricks was sponsored by Reebok for the fight. Hendricks indicated to Forbes how he had problems getting gear from past sponsors and was thankful to Reebok for helping him without any issues.
John Lynch, Vice President of Reebok Fitness Marketing told Forbes that Reebok’s focus is on fitness. The Hendricks sponsorship for his fight was a byproduct of this. Lynch stressed that while Hendricks only fights 2 times a year, he’ll be training year around and that is where the sponsorship ties in.
Hendricks and Jamie Varner both participated in The Spartan Race. The race is an obstacle course which tests competitors as they navigate various physical challenges throughout the race. Reebok sponsors the event and eventually came into partnership with Hendricks and Varner for the event. It was not until UFC 167 did Reebok officially sponsor Hendricks in his title fight against GSP. UFC 171 was the second time it sponsored Hendricks. Despite the continued relationship, Reebok maintains that it is sponsoring Hendricks and not the UFC. “We’re with Johny, but we’re not sponsoring the UFC,” Lynch told Forbes.
The article, written by sports and entertainment attorney Darren Heitner was a mainstream narrative on Hendricks and painted the MMA sponsor landscape as “lean” while noting “obscure brands” such as Dynamic Fastener spreading its sponsor dollars to multiple fighters.
Not sure what Dynamic Fastener is but it seems to be sponsoring practically every @ufc fighter
— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) March 16, 2014
In addition to the Forbes article, Sports Agent Blog wrote an article this week on “Mega Brands” entering the UFC sponsorship landscape. The post mainly focused on Jon Jones and his deal with Nike although it touched upon the Hendricks and Reebok deal. The article reads directly opposite to Heitner’s article. Ironically, Heitner founded the Sports Agent Blog.
Lynch’s quote can be interpreted several ways. He could be just clarifying Reebok’s role as a sponsor of Hendricks and not an “official” UFC sponsor. It could also be a note to MMA agents that it is not looking to expand its sponsorship of fighters in the Octagon.
These are two interesting reads that tell us what most MMA fans already knew. The sponsorship market is tight but for a few fighters that a few mainstream brands will sponsor. It’s interesting to note Reebok’s strategy of casting its audience very broad as it builds its fitness niche. While Reebok has been tied to Hendricks and has appeared in the Bellator octagon (Reebok also sponsors Rampage Jackson), its main emphasis is on fitness, not MMA per se. Both Hendricks and Jackson have starred in Reebok commercials promoting its sportswear line. Those commercials emphasized fitness and exercise although the Hendricks commercial emphasized the fact he was a fighter. But the question is whether these brands would sponsor athletes in MMA like a Dynamic Fastener? It appears not.
The sponsor issue is one of the reasons Dana White has proposed a UFC uniform. But, we probably should cross off Reebok off the list of potential suitors as the uniform maker.
March 17, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time well be taking a look at UFC 171 at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.
Hendricks wins vacant title
A scare with not making weight did not matter for Johny Hendricks as he defeated Robbie Lawler in the Fight of the Night. For Hendricks, it was redemption from a controversial loss to GSP last time out. Lawler was impressive in defeat but just didn’t have enough to win the title.
Hendricks was the top welterweight of the night as he will now look to a smorgasbord of challengers to the title which may include a couple fighters (Lombard, Woodley) on the card and one (Nick Diaz) that was in attendance.
Woodley upsets Condit
Tyron Woodley may have moved to the top of the contender’s list for the welterweight division with his victory over Carlos Condit. While the knee injury to Condit caused the stoppage, it should not take away from the fact that Woodley was impressive and can argue he is next in line for a title shot at Hendricks.
Attendance and Gate
As we reported on Sunday, the UFC announced its attendance at 19,324 for a live gate of $2.6 million. The numbers reflect the largest U.S. crowd to see a UFC event. The numbers bested the UFC’s last event in Dallas which did 17,428 for a $2.4 million gate at UFC 103.
There were no information yet on comps and the Texas Department of Licensing will confirm the numbers later this week.
The bonuses were awarded to Hendricks-Lawler, Ovince St. Preux and Dennis Bermudez.
Fight of the Night – Hendricks-Lawler
Performance of the Night – OSP (Von Flue!) and Bermudez.
Each fighter earned an extra $50K. In addition, Harley Davidson ran a promotion in which one of the bonus winners could win a Harley Davidson based upon a fan vote on the UFC’s Facebook page. Hendricks won the fan vote and a new motorcycle.
The usual suspects were in the Octagon including the official UFC sponsors of MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Alienware, Corn Nuts as well as Bud Light taking the center of the Octagon. Fram Auto Filters was the latest addition to Octagon signage. In addition, Robbie Lawler’s sponsor, the Air Force Reserve also had signage in the Octagon.
The most notable sponsor for Hendricks was Reebok. Hendricks wore a shirt with the hashtag Reebokzquick. Hendricks co-starred in a commercial featuring the Reebok fitness line in a recent commercial It was the second time that the clothing brand has sponsored him in the Octagon. With Hendricks as champ, we can expect that Reebok will extend its sponsorship deal. Hendricks was also sponsored by two official UFC sponsors: Corn Nuts and Alienware.
Diego Sanchez had a product tie-in where he wore a Training Mask during his workouts on the UFC Countdown show.
Tyron Woodley signed on with Affliction Clothing prior to UFC 171 (via FighterxFashion). He also snagged a deal with Monster Headphones.
— Monster Products (@MonsterProducts) March 17, 2014
The UFC had a “Vote for the T” Contest where fans had a chance to design a t-shirt for the UFC to market and sell for $30.
Who’s next for Johny Hendricks? A lot of debate swirling that Woodley, Hector Lombard or even Nick Diaz should face Hendricks next. Diaz, who flew to Dallas courtesy of the UFC, was featured on the company’s Instagram account mocking Hendricks when it appeared he had missed weight and needed to retry. Despite the showings of the other welterweights on the card, the appeal of Diaz is that he can sell a fight without even trying (i.e. we’re not talking Wolf Tickets). But, the bottom line is that the show revealed that the welterweight is a very competitive division with many challengers to face Hendricks.
Odds and Ends
Unfortunately, the UFC 171 Prelims were on FS2 due to college basketball tournament action as the prelim fights were probably the best in recent memory.
The Von Flue Choke will be the most demonstrated move in BJJ gyms across the nation this week.
Hendricks marketed “BeardHeads” riffing off of his trademark facial hair. There was a sponsor giveaway associated with the gimmick as well.
I am not clear why Diego Sanchez was eating quail egg and steak tartare before a fight. It seems very suspect.
The top cities that searched the name Johny Hendricks on Google were Oklahoma City and Montreal.
Google trends revealed that Johny Hendricks was not getting as many searches as when he fought Georges St. Pierre but UFC 171 was getting significant traffic.
If GSP does come back against Hendricks, it could be the Cowboy Stadium show that the UFC wants and a 1 million PPV buy event.
While the attendance and gate numbers are impressive for a show not featuring GSP/Anderson Silva or Cain Velasquez (note we excluded Ronda Rousey based on her last outing), it’s hard to conclude a big buy rate. There was nothing that stood out in the promotion of this event despite it being for the vacant welterweight title. Still, the Hendricks win puts him in a position to be groomed to be the next big draw for the UFC. With the lack of a big name at the top, and the minimal buzz for the event, a buy rate of 300,000 would be solid.
February 19, 2014
The Beaverton, Oregon based sports gear maker Nike filed a lawsuit against MMA sportswear brand Venum last month alleging trademark infringement and other violations of trademark law. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Oregon claims that Venum’s mark infringes a previously filed Nike-owned trademark, Venom.
Nike sued DBV Distribution, Inc. and Dragon Bleu, Sarl (“Dragon Bleu”), the owner of Venum, in early January stemming from the MMA brand’s use of the “Venum” trademark. The Complaint claims that Nike has owned the “Venom” trademark since 2002. The mark, according to the Beaverton, Oregon company, has been used in connection with athletic apparel and equipment since at least 2002. It has depictions of the purported infringement included in the Complaint including a bat, bat bag and apparel which is associated with Kobe Bryant shirts, shorts and warm-ups. It also includes “Venom” women’s sportswear.
Nike claims that the “unlawful activity” stemmed from Venum selling athletic apparel and equipment on its Venum web site and also http://www.dragonbleu.fr. Nike alleges that Venum “intentionally attempt to draw associations.” One of its arguments is that Venum offered Nike boxing shoes on its Dragon Bleu web site.
The lawsuit filed in Oregon District Court also brings up that the U.S. Trademark Office initially refused registration of the “Venum” mark due to the “Venom” trademark. Dragon Bleu argued that there is no “likelihood of confusion.” At the time, the “Venom” mark was in connection with “ski and snowboard gear” whereas “Venum” related to MMA sportswear thus the assertion was there could be no confusion. To buttress its argument, it cited that other “Venom” marks were allowed which related to sporting goods but were readily distinguishable due to the fact that they were associated with different sports. The Trademark Office agreed and granted it the “Venum” mark.
The legal quarrels may have begun due to Dragon Bleu suing Nike in France in November 2013 seeking a preliminary injunction for an alleged infringement by the swoosh for a soccer boot it called, “Hypervenom.” This was brought up by Nike in its Complaint against Dragon Bleu. Nike claimed that in that lawsuit, Venum argued that the Venum mark and the “Hypervenom” mark were “practically identical and that consumers are likely to be confused by Nike’s use of Hypervenom.’” Nike asserts that its Hypervenum trademark and Venum trademark can “co-exist in Europe without any likelihood of confusion.”
Nike argues that Venum cannot have it both ways in opposing Nike’s Hypervenom soccer boot infringes its brand but then “argue their use of VENUM on apparel and equipment for mixed martial arts and related sports in the United States does not infringe Nike’s VENOM marks in the United States.”
Nike is requesting that the Court ordering the Cancellation of the Venum trademark and destruction of all infringing products.
Venum’s counsel filed its Answer to Nike’s Complaint on February 10, 2013. Notably, Venum admits that it sold authentic Nike products on its Dragon Bleu web site. Aside from this admission, the answer was standard.
As a sidenote, Venum’s counsel previously served as in-house at Adidas. No correlation or insinuation here, just an interesting tidbit.
(H/t: MMA Mania)
While it may be a viable assertion to believe that Nike’s lawsuit is a way to get Venum out of the UFC marketplace just in time for UFC uniforms, I would contend that this is not the reason.
As explained here, it’s likely that Nike would like to market its “Hypervenom” brand of soccer boot. With the World Cup happening this June, it would behoove Nike to market these shoes before, during and immediately after the event in Brazil. If it could broker a settlement with Venum for use of the “Hypervenom” mark in Europe, it’s likely that this lawsuit goes away.
The one big issue question that I had was why did Dragon Bleu sell Nike gear on its web site? If we assume it received this from a Nike supplier one would think Nike would eventually find this out. Knowing that Nike had a filed for the “Venom” mark prior to its filing, and had to respond to an office action regarding the “Venum” mark it should have been put on notice of possible issues. Of course, filing a lawsuit against Nike last November may have drawn Nike’s ire as well.
We shall see whether this lawsuit goes away as quickly as it came. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
November 21, 2013
Forbes.com ran an article last week on Georges St. Pierre and how he makes $12 million per year. The article gives a rundown of all of GSPs revenue streams including salary, PPV and sponsorships.
According to Forbes, GSP made “roughly $9 million combined from his past two fights” and another $3 million from “endorsements, memorabilia and licensing.”
If we are to parse out his past two fights, which would be UFC 158 (against Nick Diaz) and UFC 154 (against Carlos Condit) he would have made $870,000 in reported salary and bonuses and an additional $8,130,000.
GSP’s payday for UFC 158 was $400,000 total. The buy rate was a reported 950,000 PPV buys.
GSP’s payday for UFC 154 was $200,000show/$200,000 win plus $70,000 for Fight of the Night for a total of $470,000. The buy rate was a reported 700,000 PPV buys.
If GSP received the rest of his pay via PPV revenue for the past two events, he received around $5 per PPV buy. While his $9 million in pay has been reported from sources close to GSP according to the article, extrapolating the numbers from the pay sources (i.e., salary, bonuses, PPV), it’s debatable whether his earnings were $9 million for the past 2 fights. He may have received another lump sum bonus, but once again, this seems like a hefty amount of money to give GSP.
The $3 million in sponsorships is believable as GSP has blue chip sponsors in Under Armour, Coca Cola, Google and MMA brands Affliction and Hayabusa.
Next year, GSP’s earnings will also include his part in a Captain America movie which will open in 2014.
As Dana White told and retold reporters on Saturday night, GSP is rich. GSPs salary/bonuses and PPV upside has to be the biggest in the company if he could make over $8 million in PPV earnings alone. But making $5 per PPV buy would seem very high for just one fighter. Whether or not GSP has made $9 million in his last two fights, it’s clear that he’s the highest paid fighter in the company. The TMZ rumors are bad for business for GSP’s personal brand but should not affect his UFC earnings. At this point, GSP does not need to fight so long as he’s invested his money wisely. But knowing that he’s a big draw, the UFC will try to keep him (despite his hefty salary) from taking too long of an absence.
October 2, 2013
UFC welterweight contender Johny Hendricks has extended his endorsement deal with Reebok. Hendricks should sport the Reebok logo in his next fight, November 16th against Georges St. Pierre.
Hendricks first partnered with Reebok in conjunction with the Spartan Race – an outdoor, extreme obstacle course. Hendricks and UFC lightweight Jamie Varner participated in Spartan Races this year.
KOreps president Oren Hodak stated “I am very excited to extend our relationship with Reebok. After our meetings at the Reebok corporate headquarters in Boston, I was confident that a long term deal was soon to follow. We look forward to providing Reebok with an incredible amount of exposure just as we have done with so many other great sponsors.”
A good deal for both parties as Hendricks adds a blue chip sponsor to his roster and Reebok gets prime exposure for one of the marquee PPVs this year. The Hendricks deal could lay the groundwork for more fighter sponsorships. It could also associate the brand with UFC Gyms as Reebok is also looking to link its brand with fitness groups. You may recall that the UFC and Reebok had discussions over a possible sponsor deal earlier this year.
September 2, 2013
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we go to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and take a look at UFC 164 where the lightweight title changed hands.
Stain remains for Bendo as Showtime subs Henderson
In a sudden, decisive and anti-climactic way, Benson Henderson’s title reign ended Saturday as Anthony Pettis made Bendo submit to an armbar in the first round. Henderson, a newly minted jiu jitsu black belt appeared to use a technique known as the “can opener” while in Pettis’ guard (a move used by GSP as well) to improve position and open guard. The problem is that the technique is susceptible to an armbar.
Pettis wins the lightweight title and might have a shot at Jose Aldo in his next fight dependent on the status of his knee. A bad spot for Henderson here. With the decisive loss, Henderson will have to wait for Pettis to lose the title and/or win a couple fights in a row in decisive fashion. For a guy that defended the belt three times and having to had defend it a fourth time in Pettis’ hometown, and then told he wouldn’t get a rematch, it has to be deflating.
War Master KOs Mir
Both guys have reasons to hate them. In this battle, Barnett was able to land a knee which took Mir down. While the stoppage may have been premature, Mir did not look like someone that could have made a comeback. It will be interesting to see where the UFC puts Barnett next. He could be a contender, but he did just fight a past his prime Mir. As some have suggested, a Mir-Overeem matchup seems just right for so many reasons.
Mendes takes care of The Carpenter
Chad Mendes solidified his position as next in line for the Featherweight title as he knocked out Clay Guida. Prior to the stoppage, Guida had never been stopped in his career.
Its his fourth straight stoppage since being stopped himself by Jose Aldo in January 2012. Depending on whether Aldo fights Pettis, Mendes should get the next shot at Aldo. If not, Ricardo Lamas or Cub Swanson seem ready for him.
Rothwell stops The Truth
Ben Rothwell decided to do a “Clay Guida” like impression in the final round of his fight with Brandon Vera and overwhelmed Vera causing him to cover himself waiting for the ref to stop the fight. Rothwell used his post-Octagon interview time to thank the fans and then call out Travis Browne. For the second straight fight, Vera was in a position where he waited for the ref stoppage (Shogun Rua stopped Vera last August in similar fashion).
Attendance, Gate and Bonuses
As we reported earlier, attendance was 9,178 for a gate of $907,116. It was decisively better for a previous visit to the Bradley Center for a UFC on Versus 5 card.
Bonuses of $50K each were given to Anthony Pettis (Sub), Chad Mendes (KO) and Hyung Gim Lin and Pascal Krauss (FOTN). Arguably, Lin could have been a double recipient for KO. Magnus Cedenblad could have had the Sub of the Night as well for his quick work on the prelim card.
The Countdown show featured The Showtime Kick…of course. Aside from hearing about the history of the fight that shut down the WEC, the feature on Josh Barnett and Frank Mir was excellent. It reminded people that both these guys held the UFC title at one point.
The Octagon sponsors included TapouT, UltimatePoker.net, Dodge, MetroPCS, MusclePharm, the latest video game from Assassin’s Creed, Harley Davidson and Bud Light in the center. The Discovery Channel’s Ahmish Mafia also sponsored the PPV which I do not quite understand.
UFC 164 was sponsored/presented by Harley Davidson which presented its Hometown Throwdown promotion for the 110th Anniversary of the company. It had a special “110” logo on the Octagon mat to commemorate the occasion. Also, Harley Davidsons graced the stage during the weigh-ins and Arianny and Brittany wore the branded colors of Harley Davidson. There were also Harley Davidson events which included UFC fighters doing autograph signings as part of the brand activation.
Pettis’ sponsors included Hayabusa, Headrush, Corn Nuts and Toyo Tires. Henderson was sponsored by Dethrone which also came out with Dethrone “toothpicks”. Phoenix International Speedway, Musclepharm and Training Mask were the ex-champs other sponsors. FighterxFashion has Henderson’s fight shorts here which depicts the fact he now has a jiu jitsu black belt.
Hayabusa had a cadre of fighters wearing its shorts including Pettis.
Frank Mir was sponsored by the UFC and also wore out the UFC sponsored Monster Headphones to the ring. He also had big logos for Midway, which appears to be some sort of exercise equipment.
Post-UFC 164 Headlines
Who is next for Pettis? It was made clear that Benson Henderson would not get a rematch. It appears that Pettis may want to go after Jose Aldo which begs the questions of whether the UFC wants a “superfight” between two of its division champions which it could market and sell for the possibility of a high PPV number. Or, does the UFC make Pettis defend against TJ Grant. While he’s earned the shot, Grant is not really known and would not elevate Pettis in terms of PPV star. While Pettis is not a PPV draw yet, he has the entertaining style, good looks and great backstory to be a guy people would want to follow (one might recall his “World of Jenks” episode) He is a marketable fighter and one would think the UFC needs to capitalize on this.
Truth departure likely delayed. The UFC has been kind to Brandon Vera. He was cut but that was rescinded when it was discovered that Thiago Silva tested positive for a banned substance. The announcement that the UFC wants to head to the Philippines in 2014 means that Vera is likely to stay in the UFC to help promote the visit as well as fight. Aside from this, there is no reason why Vera should stay.
Odds and Ends
-Since its debut on FS1, it appears that the UFC is putting up Vegas Odds in the introductory fighter graphic. An interesting move. Does this encourage people to gamble?
-Pettis’ chain he wore post-fight was a nice touch.
-Somewhere Brian Stann was likely smiling. Vera had called out Brian Stann for questioning Phil Davis’ win over Lyoto Machida.
-Sure Barnett has had a checkered past, but how can you not like a guy that almost suplexed Joe Rogan in his post-Octagon interview.
-Doesn’t Tim Elliott look like the WWE’s Daniel Bryan?
-Dethrone trotted out Benson Henderson toothpicks (via FighterxFashion) so you too can learn this disgusting habit.
It was an entertaining card which had a very intriguing rematch in the main event. But was that enough? The start of college football season and the three day weekend may contribute to a lower PPV buy rate. In addition, the lack of a true PPV star will limit the amount of buys. One might expect around 300,000 buys for this event.
August 26, 2013
MMA apparel brand HeadRush has signed a global distribution agreement with One Punch Distribution. The new partnership should broaden the reach of HeadRush products.
HeadRush joins other MMA brands under the One Punch Distribution banner including TapouT and Jaco. One Punch Distribution is a wholesale distribution company that delivers brands in “Action Sports and Streetwear Apparel” to diverse retailers from the specialty stores to the big box retailers.
Dustin Poirier, Carlos Condit and Anthony Pettis are the only MMA fighters currently sponsored by HeadRush according to its web site. Tri-Star impresario Firas Zahabi better known as GSP’s head trainer also has a HeadRush deal. The brand also sponsors action and motor sports stars.
The deal should help expand the HeadRush brand with the hope that more people are buying its t-shirts in retail stores. This week should be a big week for the brand as Carlos Condit and Anthony Pettis are in the main event of UFC events. Its likely that other fighters will be sponsored by the brand at each of the events this week. With the distribution announcement, we should expect more visibility for the brand as its t-shirts will be available in more stores.
August 13, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that the three stripes, sporting apparel giant, Adidas is entering the sponsorship market of MMA. Through its global licensee Double D, Adidas Combat Sports has entered into a multi-year deal with Ed Soares’ Resurrection Fighting Alliance.
Soares’, also known for managing Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo among others, is positioning his promotion as a feeder league for the UFC. The RFA-UFC connection may be a reality considering RFA will be allowed to use the Octagon for its event this weekend. A good move considering Adidas would like to enter into the area mixed martial arts.
The agreement between RFA and Adidas is a good sign that mainstream sponsors are still eyeing the sport of MMA for sponsorship opportunities. The RFA relationship seems to represent a bigger plan to enter into the MMA market as the article indicates it would like to work with the UFC although it would focus time with “grass-roots efforts.” You may recall that Reebok and Zuffa were in talks about partnering, however, we’ve seen the Reebok logo appearing in Bellator.