UFC on Fox 18 Reebok Payouts

January 31, 2016

The UFC announced its payouts from the Reebok sponsorship deal.  The apparel company paid out $137,500 for Saturday night’s event with UFC vets Anthony Johnson, Ryan Bader and Jake Ellenberger cashing in.

Via MMA Junkie:

Anthony Johnson: $15,000
def. Ryan Bader: $15,000

Ben Rothwell: $5,000
def. Josh Barnett: $5,000

Jimmie Rivera: $2,500
def. Iuri Alcantara: $10,000

Bryan Barberena: $2,500
def. Sage Northcutt: $2,500

Tarec Saffiedine: $5,000
def. Jake Ellenberger: $15,000

Diego Ferreira: $2,500
def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier: $2,500

Rafael Natal: $10,000
def. Kevin Casey: $2,500

Wilson Reis: $5,000
def. Dustin Ortiz: $5,000

Alexander Yakovlev: $2,500
def. George Sullivan: $2,500

Alex Caceres: $10,000
def. Masio Fullen: $2,500

Randy Brown: $2,500
def. Matt Dwyer: $2,500

Damon Jackson: $2,500
def. Levan Makashvili: $2,500

Tony Martin: $2,500
def. Felipe Olivieri: $2,500

As we know, the Athlete Outfitting program pays fighters based on time served with Zuffa which would include WEC and Strikeforce when both entities were owned by the UFC.

Fighters with 1-5 fights: $2,500

Fighters with 6-10 fights: $5,000

Fighters with 11-15 fights: $10,000

Fighters with 16-20 fights: $15,000

Fighters with 21 fights or more: $20,000

Champions: $40,000

Title Challengers: $30,000

Payout Perspective:

Barnett receives only $5,000 despite his lengthy career and the fact he would likely garner much more than $5,000 in sponsorship money if there was no Reebok deal.  He has 9 UFC fights spanning back to 2000 but his time in Strikeforce was pre-Zuffa.  Similar to Barnett, it was Ben Rothwell’s 9th UFC fight despite being a long-term pro.  The $137,500 reflects the fact that most of the fighters on the card have less than 10 fights and there were no title fights making this a relatively inexpensive night for Reebok payouts.

Fertitta talks about UFC Reebok deal

January 19, 2016

The Boston Herald’s Jack Encarnacao wrote about the UFC’s uniform deal with Reebok prior to the company’s event on Sunday night.  The article includes some enlightening comments from UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.

Fertitta addressed the issue of withholding five-figure payments from some fighters after they violated the UFC Outfitting Policy.  This stems from December’s UFC on Fox event where Donald Cerrone, Nate Diaz and possibly Rafael dos Anjos were fined for not abiding by the uniform policy.  The UFC did not officially name these fighters although it was noted that the three fighters had variations of the uniform (or did not wear a Reebok-sponsored clothing) during fight week.

Fertitta told the Herald that it was not fair for fighters not to comply with the new policy.  He also stated that the UFC doles out more money to its fighters than it receives in royalty payments from the Reebok arrangement.  The goal is to one day have Reebok synonymous with the UFC.

In addition to Fertitta, the Encarnacao spoke to Reebok brand president Matt O’Toole about the deal.  He was bullish about the partnership stating that not only does he believe that the deal will appeal to those who train but as a lifestyle brand.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear from the article that the UFC and Reebok are dedicated to the partnership.  Also clear is that there is no way to fact check whether or not Fertitta’s claim is correct in stating that the UFC is paying out more than it is receiving from Reebok.  We do not challenge the veracity of Fertitta’s words, but since the UFC is a private company, there is no independent source to determine its accuracy.  The deal as stated in the article and previously by other outlets if worth $70 million.

The first six months of the deal has proven to be a learning experience for Reebok to say the most.  We will see if Reebok can right its wrongs in the next six months of the deal.  Certainly, the UFC and Reebok are hoping that over time, people will warm up to the deal.

3 fighters fined for violations of UFC Outfitting Policy

January 7, 2016

For the first time under the UFC Outfitting Policy, 3 fighters were essentially fined due to infractions of the policy.  The fighters participated at UFC on Fox 17 this past December.

According to Bloody Elbow, one of the fighters was Donald Cerrone as he apparently acknowledged the fine over twitter.  Cerrone, who had official sponsor Monster Energy Drink on his shorts, also had a part of his old Muay Thai shorts sewn in.  Per BE, it is an homage to his grandmother.  BE also suggests that Nick Diaz and Rafael dos Anjos may have been the other two fighters to be flagged since they either did not wear Reebok apparel or another sponsor at the weigh-ins.

(h/t: MMA Junkie )

Payout Perspective:

The “payment reductions” or fines depending on how you would like to characterize them will draw the ire of many.  Uniform violations happen all the time in the NFL and it appears that the UFC will follow suit in enforcement.  We will see if any other fighters will challenge the policy this year.

15 for 15: No. 6 UFC-Reebok partner to tepid, disastrous results

December 28, 2015

In July, the UFC officially added Reebok as the company’s exclusive clothier.  No longer would contracted fighters wear non-UFC sponsors on their shirts, shorts or hats as “fight kits” would be issued for each fighter.  In addition, we said goodbye to fight sponsor banners.  The overarching issue was the new pay structure which drew the most criticism.

The official policy was outlined by the UFC.  The launch was self-gratuitous and felt out of place for an MMA organization.  Judge for yourself.

Since the inception of the UFC-Reebok relationship, there has been criticism on the operation and execution of the sponsorship.  The sponsor payouts for Reebok would now be based on the amount of fights within the company.  Overall, this meant a loss of revenue for fighters.  From our post earlier this year:

Fighters with 1 to 5 bouts will receive $2,500 per fight; 6 to 10 bouts get $5,000; 11 to 15 bouts get $10,000; 16 to 20 bouts get $15,000; and 21 bouts and above get $20,000.  As it previously indicated, title fights would receive more.  Challengers will receive $30,000 and Champions will receive $40,0000.

The sponsorship deal also left out cut people.  Thus, cut men such as Stitch Duran were “cut” out of the sponsorship payouts from Reebok as they lost out on the previous sponsors they once had.  Duran spoke out about this fact and was summarily dismissed from the UFC soon thereafter.  Whether or not Duran’s comments were planned, the UFC suffered a PR hit as they let one of the more known cut people go.

Dana White addressed the Duran firing in an FS1 interview and was unrepentant about the dismissal.  Rather, he used the old technique of switching the conversation (i.e, whether or not Duran was a friend of White; something Duran stated in an interview) in his interview with Karyn Bryant.

Sara McMann indicated that she would look into hiring an attorney as the Reebok deal may be unfair to women.  No word on a lawsuit as of yet.

The rollout of the Reebok jerseys saw many glaring misspellings.  Reebok attempted to address these issues.  However, the mishaps continued through the year.

An official Reebok shirt that promoted an event in Ireland left out Northern Ireland in a depiction of the country.  Another shirt promoting Jose Aldo actually referred to a fictional “Anderson Aldo.”

The start of the Reebok sponsorship has been one public relations problem after another.  We shall see if the company rights itself in 2016.  As for now, MMA fans have yet to warm up to Reebok as the company’s official sponsor.

15 for 15: No. 15 The year of Jon Jones

December 18, 2015

Welcome to the annual MMA Payout countdown of MMA business/legal stories for the year.  We start off with the year of Jon Jones.

Jones started off the year with a resounding defeat of rival Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.  It was a big PPV for the company as the promotion for the fight was centered on just Jones-Cormier as opposed to past fight cards where other fights were co-promoted.

The media day brawl in August 2014 really set this fight up as one to watch.  In addition, the promos were great as you might recall they included the Jones-Cormier dustup on ESPN which was off live tv but caught by the cameras.  The UFC hyped the fight with a special entitled, “Bad Blood” which was aired on FS1 and replayed on FX.  There were extensive radio buys and TV commercials for this event.

Notably, it was also the first time that a UFC PPV increased its price for $59.99 HD.

The PPV reportedly drew 800,000 buys which set off what was a big year for PPV for the company.

Shortly thereafter came the revelation that Jones tested positive for cocaine.  He did a rather dramatic interview with Fox Sports 1 to explain himself.  Jones even considered a lawsuit against NSAC for invasion of privacy as a result of the release of the drug test.  For his part, Jones spent just one night in a rehabilitation facility to address his issue of using cocaine.  The UFC fined him $25,000 for violating the UFC Code of Conduct Policy.  As we now know, these deterrents did not help.

In April, Jones was involved in a hit-and-run car accident in Albuquerque as he left the scene in which a pregnant woman was injured.  His notoriety was one of the reasons that he was sought by Albuquerque Police as an off-duty officer at the scene recognized Jones because the officer was a fan of the UFC.  A warrant was issue for his arrest and he voluntarily turned himself in.

Jones’ UFC career hit the bottom.  Reebok terminated his individual sponsorship contract.  According to Darren Rovell, he was the first athlete to lose two shoe/apparel deals within 8 months.  The UFC suspended him indefinitely and stripped him of the UFC Light Heavyweight Title.  Thus, Daniel Cormier won the vacated Light Heavyweight Title at UFC 187 in May.

Sitting on the sidelines, Jones was able to avoid jail time by entering a plea deal this past September. During the time away, Jones did public service which included speaking with young kids.

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In October, the UFC reinstated Jones as the rehabilitation of his image continues.

We should expect Jones to return sometime in 2016.  Whether it’s at UFC 198 in New York (assuming the event goes forward in the state) or UFC 200 in Las Vegas, the UFC will get one of its top tier fighters back in action.  If UFC 182 was any indication, a rematch with Cormier could be a monster PPV.

UFC 194: Payout Perspective

December 13, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time it was the long-awaited UFC 194 featuring Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo.

Only 13 seconds needed to crown the King

UFC 194

The long-awaited fight between McGregor and Aldo was anti-climactic.  One exchange in the fight and it was over as Conor McGregor beat Jose Aldo to the punch with a counter left hand that floored the champ.  With one punch, Aldo’s 10 year winning streak and string of 7 successful UFC title defenses came to an end.

With the win, we are officially into the McGregor era which may mean a huge financial windfall and overall takeover for the undisputed UFC Featherweight champion.  There are rumors that McGregor may want to renegotiate his current fight contract which may make sense.

Notably, McGregor took over the post-fight press conference.

Are we to look into the fact that McGregor did his FS1 post-fight interview shirtless?  As in, not wearing his Reebok-issued fight kit.  McGregor already has an individual sponsor deal but could the post-fight non-apparel be a sign that he may be in need of more money.  Also of note, McGregor was the only fighter that had “custom” green and black Reebok fight shorts.  The custom clothes may not be enough for McGregor.

As for Aldo, one must feel for him.  All of the taunts he received throughout from McGregor during the promotion and he only lasted 13 seconds.  Moreover, with how the fight ended we are in a situation similar to Cat Zingano’s loss to Ronda Rousey at UFC 184.  An interesting fight that ended too early.  But, the problem is will there really be a clamor for a rematch based on how it ended?  Also, with McGregor proclaiming to move up to 155 to challenge for the title, it may mean Aldo will have to wait.  In addition, with Frankie Edgar winning in impressive fashion on Friday night, Aldo may not even be the first choice to challenge for the Featherweight title if/when Conor defends the belt.

Rockhold stops Weidman to earn light heavyweight title

It was the Fight of the Night and deservedly so.  Luke Rockhold should have won in the third round but despite about 30 straight punches/elbows from mount, Herb Dean did not stop the fight.  Dean stopped the fight a round later.  Perhaps it was a wheel kick that did not connect which was the downfall for Weidman.  But, that should not discount Rockhold’s performance on Saturday.  American Kickboxing Academy now has the middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champions in the UFC.

As for Weidman, I would not be opposed to a rematch.  But, he was really handled in rounds three and four.  Moreover, news is surfacing that Rockhold was dealing with multiple injuries during his camp so if all were the same, this fight may have been more one-sided.

Attendance and Gate

Prior to the event, there was talk that the gate would reach $9 million as this was a guaranteed sellout.  Well, the reported gate for the event hit $10.1 million making it the highest MMA gate in Vegas.  The previous record was McGregor’s last Vegas fight in July.  UFC 189 drew $7.2 million.

The 16,516 in attendance for UFC 194 and the MGM Grand Garden probably paid a premium for the seats.  There were likely 1,000 or so comps for this event so one might estimate about 15,000 paid.  Thus, the average ticket hovered around $670.

Bonuses

The bonuses, as announced at the post-event press conference, went to Rockhold, Weidman, McGregor and Leonardo Santos.  All received the standard $50K.  Rockhold and Weidman drew FOTN with McGregor and Santos getting the performance bonuses.

Promotion of the Fight

The standard promotion for this event included the UFC Embedded Series which was sponsored by EA Sports which it proclaimed was a “Fight for the Cover.”  This was in reference to the announcement that the winner of the Aldo-McGregor matchup would be on the cover with Ronda Rousey.

McGregor was on Jimmy Kimmel and did the Jim Rome radio show.   White was also on the Rome show.

There were the standard media hits for the fighters promoting this event.

Was it me, or did this promotion seem less than that of July’s promotion?

Sponsors

The Octagon featured UFC sponsors Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, DraftKings, Harley Davidson, Reebok, Bud Light, the Quentin Tarantino movie Hateful Eight, a promo for UFC on Fox, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the Octagon.

EA Sports, UFC Fight for the Cover, had the fighter prep point.  It also played a big role in promoting this fight.  In the end, EA likely got the best cover for advertising purposes as it will have Rousey and McGregor for the cover this spring.  Fight for the Cover

2015-conor-mcgregor.mobile

Also of note, Carl’s Jr. (linked with Ronda Rousey) ran commercials during the UFC 194 Prelims on FS1.

Fight Pass is starting to brand itself as it is stepping up the level of prelim fights it will have on the over the top network.  Notably, Dustin Poirier and Joe Duffy will “headline” the UFC Prelims on Fight Pass on January 2nd for UFC 195.  This should help with subscriptions, but how will FS1 feel about it?

7-11 and Harley Davidson also collaborated on a promotion which was announced during the PPV.

Conor McGregor draw a couple sponsors prior to the big event including supplement company BSN and exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics Authentic.

Odds and Ends

It was a big three days for the UFC as it held two events at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas and then the PPV at the MGM Grand.  The UFC Fight Night 80 and the TUF 22 Finale look to be well received and we know that UFC 194 was going to be big.

Sage Northcutt is the nightmare for all dark, jaded MMA fans.  Too young, too happy with the world still ahead of him.  Perhaps on his way to being “too rich” as he’s already earning $40K and $40K per the NSAC.

Hopefully, Santos, who was a heavy underdog when he KO’d Kevin Lee, will not be punished for jumping the fence to celebrate.

2-hour weigh-ins on FS1 on Friday to start off 7 hours of UFC on the network Friday night.  Look for big ratings on the network when they are reported Monday or Tuesday,.

New camera angle for the weigh-ins which appears to have a camera right on the scale.   Also a new camera angle during the fights with a low level ground camera for better sight of the ground fighting.

There were as many as 50,000 people watching the weigh-ins on the UFC’s YouTube channel which might mean that the FS1 weigh-ins should have the highest rating ever.

Face the Pain returned to start the PPV broadcast.

Maybe the worst PR for this fight was a flight from New York to Las Vegas had to turn around because unruly passengers heading to UFC 194 got into a fight on the plane.

Demian Maia was impressive with his win over Gunnar Nelson.  He was even more impressive to give a concise and succinct reason that he should get the next title shot.  It’s hard not to dismiss him.  He’s come on of late.

“Aldo v. McGregor” google searches only drew 20,000 searches on Friday but “UFC 194” drew 200,000.  Look for the numbers to grow for Saturday searches due to the short fight as folks probably headed online to look for the finish.

Interesting that UFC 193, the company issued a preventive copyright notice about it monitoring for possible infringement due to airing a short fight.  Little did they know they should have issued it for this fight.  An ESPN reporter put the whole McGregor fight on vine post fight.  I do not know if the UFC will take action.

Conclusion

UFC 194 ended one of the best year’s on PPV for the company.  This event should add to the big year.  While I do not believe it will eclipse UFC 100’s 1.6 million PPV buys, it will likely hover around 1 million PPV buys.  Perhaps 950,000.   The buy estimate is based on a strong card but due in large part to Conor McGregor.  He has proven his worth to the company and the UFC may be facing a situation where it will need to pay more than ever for his services.  This, in the end, should be a good thing for the UFC.

MMA Payout will keep updating you on the payouts and ratings from UFC 194 so stay tuned.

Reebok’s latest mistake confuses Aldo-Spider

December 6, 2015

Reebok, the official clothier of the UFC, made another faux pas last week with an “Anderson Aldo” shirt in runup to UFC 194.  It once again is a black mark on the company in its first year in partnership with the UFC.

According to MMA Fighting, Reebok says the error is the result of a mistake made at a single manufacturing location.  “Unfortunately, an error was made at one of our printing facilities,” said a Reebok rep.

The latest gaffe is just one of many mistakes the company has made since becoming the company’s official clothing sponsor earlier this year.  Prior to this latest problem, it made multiple misspellings with fighter jerseys and excluded northern Ireland from a shirt which promoted UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin, Ireland.  

While the pay structure from the Reebok deal may not be the creation of the sportswear company, its misspellings are its problems.  Something that the company has tried to explain.  

Payout Perspective:

Frankly, is anyone surprised with the latest mistake by Reebok?  It shows a lack of knowledge of the product and a problem with its quality control.  Reebok should know that it has come under fire for its initial mistakes with fight jerseys and is being criticized for its mistakes.  This is one of those issues where the company must know its audience.  Most fans are not happy with how the UFC did away with fight sponsors to the financial detriment of many fighters.  

Reebok removes Ireland UFC t-shirt due to huge mistake

October 21, 2015

Reebok made a major faux pas when it rolled out its t-shirts for UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin, Ireland.  A UFC shirt which depicted the country did not include Northern Ireland.

MMA Fighting reports Reebok has removed the t-shirt due to fan outrage.  Reebok has sent out its own apologies.

ireland.0.0

For ease of reference, below is a map of Ireland.  Above is the UFC/Reebok shirt.  Note Northern Ireland (in the top right hand corner of the map) is not on the UFC shirt as if it was erased in some way.

Via LonelyPlanet.com

Via LonelyPlanet.com

MMA Fighting explains the political undercurrent causing the outrage:

The Republic of Ireland and ‘Ireland’ have different meanings. The former is a term refers to the independent democratic country of Ireland whose capital is Dublin. The latter, or ‘Ireland’, is considered to be both the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland, one of the four countries which comprise the United Kingdom.

John Kavanagh, the coach for Conor McGregor among other Irish UFC fighters, issued a statement on the Reebok t-shirt and the reason behind the cultural sensitivity.  Kavanagh, head coach of SBG Dublin, initially stated that he would sever ties with Reebok (or the UFC or both) if the shirt was not taken down.

Payout Perspective:

One need only a basic understanding of European history to understand the cultural and political problems in Ireland.  Moreover, why didn’t Reebok do its research prior to making the t-shirt?  If it’s looking to expand its global footprint, perhaps the UFC and Reebok should spend some time learning about the globe it would like to expand into.  If not for Conor McGregor, something like this t-shirt gaffe could have really turned off the fan base in Ireland.

Weidman signs deal with Reebok, gets own shoe

October 19, 2015

UFC Light Heavyweight champion Chris Weidman has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok and as a part of the deal he will get his own custom shoe.

Weidman was on The MMA Hour on Monday where he made the announcement and was presented with his own signature shoe by Reebok’s senior director of combat training Michael Lunardelli.  Weidman’s ZPump model sport the stars and stripes and will be available to the public.  The price point will be $110.

Reebok Pump - Weidman

You can infer from the Reebok deal that Weidman is no longer with longtime sponsor Bad Boy.  During the MMA Hour interview, Lunardelli explained that another deal for Weidman ended.

Weidman is not the only MMA fighter to have their own shoe.  You might recall Jon Jones had a limited release Nike shoe.  Other fighters such as Urijah Faber (KSwiss), Rampage Jackson (Reebok) and Georges St. Pierre (Under Armour) have had shoe sponsor deals.

Payout Perspective:

Will you buy Weidman’s shoe?  The Reebok deal seemed inevitable and as explained it was a matter of Weidman’s Bad Boy sponsorship ending for him to sign with the official UFC clothier.  Overall, the sponsorship is a good thing for Weidman but the shoes seem like an acquired taste.  Unless you are truly patriotic or a fan of Weidman, it seems very unlikely for someone to pay $110 for these novelty shoes.

Gus speaks out about Reebok deal

September 23, 2015

MMA Junkie reports that Alexander Gustafsson is the latest UFC fighter to speak out about the Reebok apparel deal.  Although Gustafsson chose his words, he advocated for more pay for the lesser-established fighters.

“Pay the fighters a lot more money,” Gustafsson told MMA Junkie.  He also chimed in on the Reebok deal and while he did not criticize the deal, he believed that fighters that make less should benefit from sponsors to help those “pay the rent.”  “I don’t have anything negative to say about it [Reebok deal]. I just think, why take away from fighters who haven’t established themselves in the organization?”

Gustafsson also stated that fighters starting out (that make minimal money) should be supported from local sponsors.  He believes that this would help develop within the sport as being funded by sponsors would allow fighters to spend more time in the gym.

Payout Perspective:

While Gustafsson wanted to make sure that he did not want to be negative about the Reebok deal, he does offer a critique of what he observes is occurring as a result of the deal.  Without sponsors to help fund fighters, it inhibits those on the low end of the salary scale from dedicating the time to cultivate their abilities as most have to take on jobs to pay their bills.  Of course, training for a fight also costs money.  Thus, Gustafsson definitely sees the reasons why the deal does not help younger fighters.  It’s good that fighters like Gustafsson are willing to speak out about the Reebok deal even though they may not be directly affected.

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