UFC 190: Payout Perspective

August 3, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 190 taking place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

Rousey ends Corriea in 34 seconds

Ronda Rousey showed her dominance once again by knocking out Bethe Corriea in just 34 seconds.  It was not the most technical of fights, but Rousey showed power in her hands by flattening Corriea.  While many are calling for Cyborg, it looks to be the trilogy with Miesha Tate this December.

Shogun-Little ‘Nog

It was billed as a rematch of one of the best fights in Pride that occurred 10 years ago.  The 10 years took a lot out of each as the first round had a lot of action and slowed considerably over the next two rounds.  Many fans thought that a failed guillotine attempt would have won the fight for Little ‘Nog but Rua pulled out the unanimous decision once again.  Both will continue to fight but I am not sure if that is the best idea for each.

Attendance

Although announced as a sellout, UFC 190 at the HSBC Arena drew 14,723.  As seems to be a constant with Brazilian cards, a gate was not announced.

Prior PPV events at HSBC Arena

UFC 142 – 10,605 (Aldo v. Mendes)

UFC 153 – 16,844 (A. Silva v. Bonnar)

UFC 163 – 13,873 (Aldo v. Korean Zombie)

Bonuses

Demian Maia, Shogun Rua, Antonio Rogierio Nogueria and Ronda Rousey.   Maia and Rouse yearend Performances of the Night while Rua and Little Nog earned Fight of the Night.  Each earned $50,000

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC Countdown show offered a little more than usual as Ronda Rousey talked about her father after Bethe Corriea’s comments regarding Ronda committing suicide when she beat her.

Rousey also gave an insightful interview during an Embedded feature.

There had to be some concern about the promotion of this fight since it would be in Brazil.  Rousey still did Jim Rome and some other U.S. outlets but not as many as if she were here in the states.  Yet, it appears to have done well.

Sponsorships

The Octagon sponsors included Budweiser, Fram, Sports Authority, Reebok, the movie, “Straight Outta Compton,” Tai-Chi Panda, Brazilian outlet Combate and TNT Energy Drink (like most Brazilian events) had the center of the Octgaon.

Tai-Chi Panda is a video game.  A commercial and its web site featured Ronda Rousey.  The UFC women’s bantamweight champion also wore a Monster Energy logo on her Reebok kit.  Rousey also had a new MetroPCS commercial which featured her mother and the horsewomen.

“Straight Outta Compton” had the fighter prep point and the trailer was shown prior to the Rousey fight.

Odds and ends

Placing the TUF Brazil Finals on the main card was not the best idea.  A lot of discontent from fans and people tuned out.  People seemed mad that the Ronda fight did not start until past 10pm PT.

The TUF Brazil contestants wore generic UFC shorts except for a panel which included sponsor TNT Energy Drink.  One might assume that this was a deal brokered by TNT and/or TNT paid for the spot on the shorts.

The UFC Fan Voting was shown after each fight as it is another way that the UFC can engage fans during the PPVs.

A lot of tweets from mainstream stars in support of Rousey displayed throughout the night and on Dana White’s twitter feed.

The WWE sent a thank you to Ronda Rousey after she dedicated her fight to Roddy Piper.

Corriea had a good gimmick with stating that she wanted to beat all of the Four Horsewomen including Ronda. But, we all know that Rousey is so much better than her other stablemates. The award for the worst tweet of the night goes to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza for continuing a trend of leaders of an organization badmouthing another promotion’s event.

The award for best tweet of the night goes to the WWE’s Seth Rollins for responding to a tweet from Dana White who was badmouthing (or perceived to be) another promotion’s product.

The tweet from Rollins is in response to White telling a twitter follower that WWE is fake. Rousey had 6 million google searches over the weekend. YouTube highlights also did well:

Conclusion

UFC 190 will tell us whether Ronda Rousey can carry a PPV.  Rousey has not done as much media as she would have if the fight was in the U.S.  But, it still received a ton of searches over the course of the weekend.  It was the number one trending topic overall in the U.S. during the PPV.  Certainly, the casual fan was searching the internet for the 34 second clip of Rousey winning.  This may be a problem when it comes to future Rousey PPVs as fans might just wait to see the fight on Vine…or ESPN.

Notwithstanding the future ways of purchasing (or not purchasing) a Rousey PPV, Saturday’s event will be telling as to whether UFC 184 was just one good night.  Corriea was not a strong opponent for Rousey despite the trash talk.  The question is whether that even matters.  It didn’t seem to matter for Conor McGregor at UFC 189. 

Dana White indicated that UFC 190 was trending better than UFC 189.  It’s hard to say what numbers he might be looking at although one might think pre-buys for the PPV might be one. Couple that with the perceived correlation that google searches equate to PPV success and UFC 190 might be a PPV hit.  I was originally thinking that this PPV would do 400K-500K PPV buys.  However, it appears that it may well have exceeded this.  Anything above 700K would be outstanding considering there was virtually nothing else supporting Rousey’s fight.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza signs sponsor deal with Reebok

July 30, 2015

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok. The announcement was sent out via Reebok’s twitter feed.

The middleweight contender’s last fight was in April when he easily submitted Chris Camozzi.  He could be in line for a shot at Chris Weidman’s title after Luke Rockhold.  He is currently ranked #2 in the UFC Middleweight rankings.

Payout Perspective:

Interesting signing at this time as Souza does not have an upcoming fight announced.  He is an under-the-radar fighter in the middleweight division and should be in line for a title shot soon.  The signing probably helps the international market as he becomes the first Brazilian to be a Reebok-sponsored athlete.

Reebok receiving criticism for Duran departure

July 23, 2015

Reebok is feeling the heat after the UFC let go of cutman Stitch Duran.  The official clothier of the UFC sent out a tweet in apparent response to UFC fans outraged by his dismissal.

Not even one month into its official partnership with the UFC, it is feeling the brunt of criticism from the fans.  The dismissal of Duran after he spoke out about losing out on sponsorship money due to the Reebok deal has angered the MMA internet community and Reebok felt compelled to respond.

MMA fans were not happy with Reebok taking over as the company’s primary clothing sponsor which eliminated many MMA brands from the octagon.  It also angered fans and fighters when the UFC revealed payouts from the sponsorships which were below those that fighters received and now Duran’s departure has drawn the ire of many that follow the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

For those that believe that Reebok is looking for a way out of this deal think again.  Despite the harsh criticism, the brand needs the UFC as much as the UFC needs Reebok.  Reebok is seeking to establish a niche in the fitness market and boost sales for its parent company, Adidas, in the U.S.  The uniforms are a big deal for the brand even though public opinion seems to be negative overall.  If nothing else, Reebok can say it is an official outfitter for one of the biggest female athletes today, Ronda Rousey.

As many know, Adidas is owned by Reebok and there was speculation that it wanted to sell off Reebok due to poor profits.  There were earnings warnings in 2013 and 2014 for Reebok and shareholders were concerned.  Add to that, Adidas has fallen for the first time to number 3 in the U.S. sportswear market behind Nike and Under Armour.  Even the creator of Crossfit made it known in a ’60 Minutes’ segment this year that Reebok should be sold  to “someone young, fresh, excited and willing to enter into the modern era of things.”

However, it appears that profits have turned around in 2015 for the brand and the future of the fitness market is looking bright.  According to a report by CBS Marketwatch earlier this year, Adidas indicated that it would not sell Reebok.  Could some of the brand’s newfound momentum be from the UFC deal?  Even if there is pushback from fans, Reebok will likely ride out the wave of discontent in hopes of a promising future.

Duran dismissed by UFC after comments about Reebok deal

July 22, 2015

MMA Junkie reports that UFC cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran was let go by the company after revealing that the cutmen were not part of the Reebok sponsorship deal and that he lost all revenue from his sponsors.  Duran detailed this in an interview with Bloody Elbow and despite putting his contractor in a positive light, he was let go.

Duran first revealed the information in a tweet responding to someone asking about whether cutmen were a part of Reebok sponsorship.

He then gave an interview with John Nash of Bloody Elbow in which he clarified the situation.  He indicated that he was an independent contractor for the UFC although it was “highly recommended” not to work for another MMA promotion stating it was “an unwritten rule.”  He told Nash that cutmen were told that they were “given sufficient warning” that they were not a part of the Reebok deal.  In support of the UFC, he stated he didn’t think “they [UFC] did this out of malice.”  Duran claimed that he thought that the cutmen were “doing too good of [a] job where they just maybe forgot about us.”

An interesting sidenote from the interview was that Duran stated that in boxing, boxers pay cutmen directly whereas MMA promotions pay its cutmen.

Duran was let go shortly after the interview as he indicated via twitter.  MMA Junkie confirmed with an unnamed source.

Payout Perspective:

The situation smells of a lawsuit waiting to happen…perhaps.  Duran talks about his work status and is immediately let go by the company.  Unless there was something in Duran’s contract that prevented him from speaking about sponsors, the Reebok deal or his pay his dismissal is very suspect.  Obviously, the UFC can rely on the fact that Duran’s contract can be terminated at any time.

The other part of the situation that puts the UFC in a bad light is the brazen way this looks as how it seeks to control its message.  The Reebok deal has caught major scrutiny and criticism.  And despite efforts by the UFC to use its fighters to promote the deal, many fight fans see the dismissal of Duran (and Burt Watson although that situation was different) as the UFC disregarding the people that helped get it to where it is today.  Duran’s dismissal appears to be a sign to others within the organization that they should remain in line with the company or else.

Rory MacDonald signs deal with Reebok

July 9, 2015

Rory MacDonald has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok.  The deal will be in effect for his fight this Saturday at UFC 189 against Robbie Lawler.

The Canadian joins a select list of fighters with individual sponsorship deals with the official clothier of the UFC.  This Saturday will be the first night that all UFC fighters will don Reebok fight apparel in the octagon.

Prior to the end of third-party sponsorships, MacDonald’s fight shorts were adorned with sponsors.  With the end of that era, MacDonald will look to secure individual sponsorship deals and/or keep his prior sponsors through out of Octagon/Fight Week deals.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, welterweight Robbie Lawler has not been offered a Reebok deal yet.  You might recall he had signed with Adidas prior to his fight with Matt Brown last July.  For those that did not know, Adidas actually owns Reebok.  It actually contemplated selling the brand.  Notwithstanding that, where’s Lawler’s deal?

It will be interesting to see how many more individual sponsorship deals we will see from Reebok. The MacDonald signing might be hedging bets he pulls off a victory over Robbie Lawler Saturday.

UFC-Reebok unveils uniforms

June 30, 2015

The UFC unveiled its Reebok fighter “kits” in a glitzy press conference in New York City Tuesday morning.  Many UFC stars were on hand to model the new uniforms which go into effect starting at UFC 189 next week.

The unveiling included many fighters based on home country and then the champions of each division (except Jose Aldo as he is training in Brazil).  The UFC and Reebok stressed “performance and customization” and fighters that were interviewed talked about how the new uniforms were specified for combat sports.  The uniforms had differing color variations although the design was mainly the same.  Champions in each division wore black uniforms.  Fighter names are on the back of the jersey and country patches are on the sleeves.

During the unveiling, Reebok officials talked about three types of kits: the country kit, a universal kit and a champion kit.  The country kit are specific to the country that the fighter is from including design elements specific to that nation.  The champion kits are the aforementioned black and also have gold and red trim.

There are also walkout wear including hooded sweatshirts, t-shirts, jerseys and sports bras available which will be made available for retail to the public.

Reebok already has UFC apparel on sale on its web site.  Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre Reebok gear are available in addition to UFC fighters.  Replica jerseys go for $70-$95 while Reebok t-shirts range from $30-$35.

The uniforms are already finding criticism as there are glaring misspellings and errors on the jerseys.

Payout Perspective:

It was an interesting debut for the kits and we shall see how soon fighters and fans adopt to the new Reebok-branded uniforms.  The country design is an interesting idea as it leverages fans with their loyalty to their country.  Also, the champion uniforms are a nice touch to make them stand out.  While we might debate the design issues, the overaching issue with the Reebok deal is the dent in sponsorship money that many of the UFC fighters will take.  Obviously, it’s something that many fighters have talked about but I’m sure most will not do anything more than this.

Hayabusa becomes official glove for Glory

June 26, 2015

Glory has announced that it is partnering with Hayabusa to be the official competition glove for Glory Kickboxing.  The partnership will begin Friday, August 7th with Glory 23 according to a company release.

The gloves will be revealed to the public during fight week leading up to Glory 23.  The gloves will also be used during the co-promoted show with Bellator on September 19.

Via press release:

“The name Hayabusa is well-recognized by the world of combat sports as the ultimate in performance equipment and technical apparel,” said GLORY CEO Jon Franklin, who helped broker the deal. “Our athletes deserve the very best when it comes to not only their performance and comfort, but their safety, and we feel this deal provides the finest gloves available.”

Payout Perspective:

Hayabusa is one of the many combat sports brands in a state of flux as it navigates the new state of sponsorships in MMA.  The company announced that it would not be at the UFC Fan Expo this year as only official UFC sponsors will be allowed at the event.  With the UFC-Reebok deal, Hayabusa will no longer be in the UFC octagon and the company has shifted its focus.  A recent MMA Junkie article wrote about what MMA brands are doing in light of the UFC-Reebok deal.  For Hayabusa, it meant a 3 year deal with Glory.  The company intends to spend some of its marketing and sponsorship budget usually earmarked for the UFC to Glory and its fighters as well as Bellator.  We shall see what it means for Hayabusa and its business.

Jedrzejczyk signs indivudal sponsor deal with Reebok

June 25, 2015

UFC Women’s Stawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok per the UFC.  Jedrzejczyk also announced the deal via twitter.

She is coming off her first successful title defense this weekend on a UFC Fight Pass only show from Germany.  With the new deal, she joins Ronda Rousey and Paige VanZant as the only other women with individual sponsorship deals with Reebok.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps the only bad news for Jedrzejczyk is that she might not be able to show her sneaker collection to everyone.  This could have been an untapped crossover talking point for her but with the Reebok deal she probably could buy more Air Jordans for her collection (although she probably shouldn’t let the public know).  She showed her personality during the Embedded episodes leading up to UFC 185.  Plus, her fighting style is fan friendly.  With her fight Saturday, and the new Reebok deal, it’s unlikely we’ll see her on a Fight Pass only card again.

White downplays fighter concerns about Reebok deal

June 19, 2015

In a recent Periscope chat, UFC head Dana White downplayed the outcry from fighters about the Reebok deal.  White indicated that the fighters are “freaked out” about the change.

White answered a variety of questions including stating that he estimated that UFC 189 should do over 1 million PPV buys.  He also stated that they are filming a new reality show.

Jose Aldo is among the vocal UFC fighters as he states that he is losing a lot of money with the new deal.  White shot back at Aldo stating that Reebok wanted to sign him to an individual sponsorship deal but he chose to stay with Venum.

Payout Perspective:

So is it the contracted fighters’ resistance to change or the reality that the change will affect them financially that is the cause for so many to speak out against the new policy?  It would seem that fighters have a legitimate gripe and speaking out about it may shed light on the issue and affect change.  Or, it will not.  Based on White’s comments, it seems like the UFC is sticking to its policy with Reebok and the UFC is not concerned about opposition at this point.

Late fight cancellations won’t be credited as fights under Reebok deal

June 14, 2015

MMA Junkie sheds some light on the upcoming new UFC athlete outfitting policy with respect to late fight scratches.  The information may add on to the growing discontent about the ills of the new program.

UFC officials indicated that neither fighter officially will be credited with a bout.  Payouts for a cancelled fight will be handled on a case-by-case basis as one fighter or both could still be paid.

The recent example of Rose Namajunas and Nina Ansaroff was highlighted in the Junkie article.  Ansaroff not only missed weight but was a late scratch from UFC 187.  Namajunas was left without an opponent.  Her sponsors had varying contractual responsibilities to Namajunas in light of a cancellation.  Although the article did not state it, it was inferred that some fight-week and in-case sponsors had different financial obligations than lifestyle sponsors. While lifestyle sponsors pay regardless of whether there is a fight, others may not have to pay if no fight occurred.

Payout Perspective:

The article outlines the new challenges facing managers and fighters in light of the Reebok deal.  Perhaps the fact that may have been glossed over but is important is the fact that a fight that is cancelled by either fighter will not be logged as a fight toward one’s total number in the UFC.  Thus, a fighter that could be moving on to the next sponsor pay tier would have to wait until they are called again to fight if their opponent cancels.  It really seems unfair from this viewpoint and stagnates a fighter’s earning potential without even it being their fault.

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