MMAPayout Blue Book Update: Sponsors

January 9, 2015

Continuing our efforts to update the Blue Book for the new year, the “Sponsors” section has now been updated and is live to kick-off 2015. An update to the “Television” section is up next, which admittedly needs quite a bit of work.

Thanks again,

MMAPayout Blue Book Update: Live Gate & Attendance

January 8, 2015

Continuing our efforts to update the Blue Book for the new year, the “Live Gate & Attendance” section is now updated and live to kick-off 2015. An update to the “Sponsors” section will be up next.

Thanks again,

MMAPayout Blue Book Update: Pay-Per-View Estimates

January 5, 2015

For those who have requested a Blue Book update in the past, we finally have some good news.  The Blue Book’s “Pay-Per-View” section is now updated and live to start off 2015. An update to the “Gate and Attendance” & “Sponsors” sections will be next.

Thanks again,

MMAPayout Blue Book Update: Live Gate & Attendance

March 30, 2014

For those who have requested a much needed MMAPayout Blue Book update in the past, we finally have some good news.  The Blue Book’s “Live Gate & Attendance” is now updated and live.

If you notice any issues or errors, please send an email and I will make sure it gets taken care of. The next step in this update effort is to tackle the ratings and sponsorship sections, which we will do ASAP.

Thanks again,

Payout Blue Book Update

October 24, 2011

The Pay-Per-View, Television, and Live Gate & Attendance sections of the  Blue Book have been updated to include all events in 2011. Reminder: you always access the information via the tab on the menu bar of every page.

The sponsorship portion of the Payout Blue Book will be the next big project we will tackle. If anyone has any preferences, feedback, or ideas, please let us know.  We will keep you updated on the progress of the project and will inform you when that goes live.

Thanks for reading as always,
MMAPayout Staff

Lesnar character appears in new WWE video game

October 12, 2011

TMZ broke the news that Brock Lesnar would be a character in the new WWE video game, WWE ‘12. Dana White told TMZ that he was “fine” with Lesnar being in the game.

Lesnar indicated that he would not have agreed to the WWE video game unless gave him the ok. In addition to the news, Lesnar told ESPN in an interview to promote the game that he could see himself back in the WWE for one match.

Brock Lesnar Via ESPN:

I think I will. I think under the right circumstances I will. I think if Vince McMahon and I were able to sit down at the same dinner table and break some bread that we could come up with some kind of game plan. At the end of the day, I’m an ultimate fighter. That’s who I am and that’s who I’ll always be. I was an entertainer but at the end of the day, I’m still as real as it gets. I think a lot of things have to fall in the right places for something like that to happen.

Here is the Brock Lesnar trailer for WWE ‘12. Notably, the video comes courtesy of Paul Heyman.

And here is Dana White being asked about Brock Lesnar in WWE ‘12:

WWE ‘12 will be available November 22nd – just in time for the holidays.

Payout Perspective:

White dismissed any notion of confusion between UFC-WWE by having Lesnar in the WWE video game. He did state that it would be an issue if Lesnar wanted to wrestle while still under UFC contract. This is interesting considering Lesnar’s comments to ESPN. Of course, the Lesnar interview could be part hype for the video game. It could also mean that one day, after his UFC contract expires, Lesnar would go back to the WWE.

For White, granting Lesnar the opportunity to appear in the video game takes nothing away from the UFC business-wise right now. However, Lesnar’s appearance in the WWE video game may mean his departure from the UFC in the not too distant future. Lesnar has been the UFC PPV draw the past three years garnering over 1 million buys each time he fights. Without Lesnar, only Rashad Evans has had PPV success of over 1 million buys since 2008. (source:  MMA Payout Blue Book). With Evans on the shelf again and Lesnar scheduled for a showdown with Alistair Overeem for UFC 141, the UFC might be concerned about its PPV business after 141. Certainly a Lesnar-Overeem matchup will do over 1 million buys. But, if Lesnar decides to leave in 2012, who will step up as the draw that could garner over 1 million PPV buys.

Notwithstanding the 1 million PPV buy threshold, the UFC may be concerned with its PPV business. With the UFC falling back with its scheduled time for PPVs, it hopes that the 2012 PPV business will be much more successful than this year.

Is GSP the UFC’s biggest PPV star?

September 22, 2011

After the UFC 135 press conference yesterday, Dana White told reports that Georges St. Pierre is the biggest PPV star in MMA today. This, despite the numbers reflecting that Brock Lesnar should hold that distinction.

White did state that GSP’s fight style has changed. Nevertheless, White believes he’s the top draw regardless. White might be pushing this statement and its likely to hype GSP’s upcoming fight. But, the numbers reflect that Brock Lesnar is the top MMA draw when it comes to PPV.

Via the Blue Book:

Brock Lesnar

UFC 121 vs. Velasquez – 1,050,000

UFC 116 vs. Carwin – 1,160,000

UFC 100 vs. Mir – 1,600,000

UFC 91 vs. Couture – 1,010,000

UFC 87 vs. Herring – 625K

UFC 81 vs. Mir – 600K


UFC 129 vs. Shields – 800K

UFC 124 vs. Koscheck – 785K

UFC 111 vs. Hardy – 710K

UFC 100 vs. Alves – 1,600,000

UFC 94 vs. BJ Penn – 920K

UFC 87 vs. Jon Fitch – 625K

UFC 82 vs. Serra (GSP regains title) – 530K

The two have shared the same card twice: UFC 87 and UFC 100.

Payout Perspective:

Looking at the numbers, Brock Lesnar is the king of PPV buy rates for the UFC. We should see a huge spike in PPV buys as he takes on Alistair Overeem at the end of the year. But, I believe White is making the point that GSP is the standard for MMA. Definitely, losing to Matt Serra has caused a change in his style and while he is winning, he is not finishing off opponents. Could the GSP decisions reflect the PPV buy rate between the two fighters? Or, is it once again the fact that fight fans favor the heavyweights? In case you were wondering, Anderson Silva has not surpassed a 1 million PPV buys in any of his main events. The highest buy rate for The Spider was 725K last February against Vitor Belfort.

UFC 118: Payout Perspective

August 30, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at UFC 118: Edgar vs. Penn II, which was held at the TD BankNorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday, August 28th, 2010.

Edgar Stymies Penn, Maynard Awaits

Frankie Edgar proved that UFC 112 was not a fluke with his dominating performance over BJ Penn on Saturday. Edgar’s quickness and striking precision proved to be too much for the slower Penn – once considered among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and virtually invincible at lightweight.

Many are wondering what this fight will do to Penn’s legacy, but I also wonder where he goes from here. In a way, Penn’s situation resembles that of Rich Franklin at middlweight; Penn is good enough to be top three in the division and defeat most contenders, but has now lost twice to the champion. However, unlike Franklin, Penn really does not realistically have the ability to jump up a weight class.

Penn’s value as a draw cannot be understated. He also has some intriguing fights left at 155lbs – Gomi and Florian among them. Thus, I suspect he’ll remain at 155lbs for now.

Call me crazy, but I almost wonder if he couldn’t drop to 145 lbs and compete in the WEC. His value as a draw to that organization (combined with the potential size advantage at 145) is very appealing. Imagine: Aldo vs. Penn. The WEC would have to pay him well more than they compensate any other fighter, but it might be a worthwhile investment for Zuffa if he can bring some more viewers to the promotion.

Gray Maynard now awaits Edgar, and barring any injuries it’s probably a fight that happens in late December or January. Edgar isn’t the star PPV attraction that BJ is, but BJ wasn’t exactly a huge attraction until recently, either. Penn had generated just 225,000 buys at UFC 80 and 475,000 buys at UFC 84 before finally breaking through as a draw alongside St-Pierre at UFC 94.

Edgar must be marketed to the MMA fan in a different manner than most other titleholders: he isn’t the trash talking type, nor is he going to sell fights based on being known as an exciting finisher or dynamic fighter. Edgar is a blue collar worker that’s known for his great boxing and exceptional bicycle. Traditionally, that type of guy hasn’t been that well-received until a few defenses into his title tenure.

Edgar is a great fighter with ample character and has a great story to tell. The UFC’s biggest challenge in the coming months will be finding a way to tell that story to the fans in a compelling manner. Perhaps a Primetime expose is in order for both Edgar and Maynard – two of the lightweight divisions most talented, yet under-appreciated fighters.

Couture Embarrasses Toney, Ends Debate

Toney did a good job to promote the fight and insert a sliver of doubt in the minds of MMA fans everywhere, but Randy’s low single exposed Toney as an MMA fraud and signaled to the world that the fight was going to be far less competitive than most could have even imagined.

I believe this fight has settled the MMA vs. boxing debate, but probably not in the way most think. This fight did not prove that MMA is superior to boxing. How could anyone possibly claim such a subjective statement as fact? It’s ludicrous. Instead, what I think this fight did is help both communities reach the consensus that these are two very different – albeit closely related – sports.

Most within the MMA community would be the first to admit that a top-notch MMA fighter stepping into the boxing ring would not fair well. UFC 118 will probably go a long way towards persuading unconvinced boxing fans of the similar fate their best and brightest would experience stepping into the cage.

Did Couture vs. Toney win over any new fans? I have my doubts. Most boxing fans that dislike MMA saw this bout for the freak show it was, and they chose to pursue other entertainment alternatives for their Saturday evening. If this event turns out to have performed better than average on PPV  – which I believe is likely to be the case – it will have been due to the fact that the MMA community rallied to see the spectacle; one man representing the sport of MMA and millions of its fans.

UFC’s Debut in Boston a Success

UFC 118’s live gate of $3 million might be somewhat average for the organization’s debut in a major American market, but the event as a whole should be viewed as a resounding success. The UFC drew 15,575 to the TD BankNorth Garden for the event and another 30,000 on both days of the UFC Expo. The event itself may have been a little papered, but that matters little in the long run so long as fans are getting a live experience that is going to endear them to the sport for a lifetime.

Perhaps just as important as the live experience, the UFC also received a host of favorable press coverage in Boston from various media outlets, including the Herald and Globe. If casual fans weren’t interested in (or couldn’t afford to) attend the live events, they may have at the very least been persuaded to buy the PPV by the local media coverage.

Sponsorship Watch

Sinister made a splash at UFC 118 with the sponsorship of several fighters on the card, including James Toney. It wasn’t just that Sinister sponsored “The Dark Emperor,” but the fact that it used the sponsorship opportunity as an avenue to advertise its exclusive retail relationship with K-Mart. In addition to fighter sponsorships, Sinister also purchased presenting sponsorship status for the PPV broadcast.

I think a lot of people scoffed when they saw James Toney walking toward the ring with a large K-Mart logo on his chest, but I liked the strategy by Sinister. If you’re Sinister – if you’re any MMA apparel brand – you’ve got to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. One way to do that is through distribution. Sinister doesn’t have the clout or the cash to gain access to Wal-Mart, but K-Mart is a willing partner looking to rejuvenate it’s own brand. The sponsorship strategy made a lot of sense for both parties.

The only critique I’ll make regarding the Sinister/K-Mart strategy was that the “only at” above the K-Mart logo was not as clear as it could have been, which might have led some people to believe that Toney was simply being sponsored by K-Mart (not that Sinister clothing was available only at K-Mart). Not a huge issue.

UFC 117: Payout Perspective

August 9, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen, which was held Saturday, August 7 from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The stacked event not only featured Silva vs. Sonnen, but Fitch vs. Alves, dos Santos vs. Nelson, and Hughes vs. Almeida.

Silva pulls off triangle in final minutes, defeats Sonnen

Anderson Silva was dominated by Chael Sonnen for much of their 23 minute fight on Saturday, but it was ultimately the last 2 minutes that proved most pivotal as Silva slipped on the triangle and then pulled down on an arm to secure a quick tap.

I try not to indulge in senseless hyperbole, so I’ll just call it an unbelievable comeback. Silva proved his mettle in this fight: getting beat on for four rounds and still having both the capacity and presence of mind to look for the late submission. I’m not sure he won himself a ton of new fans – if anything, probably now more people than ever believe he’s vulnerable – but he did earn back some respect after previous performances.

There’s a debate raging as to whether Sonnen should receive an instant rematch. I’ve heard good arguments on both sides. The pro-rematch crowd argues that an instant rematch needs to happen as soon as possible, because it’s just too good of a business opportunity to risk by delaying. Silva hasn’t been a tremendous draw for the UFC (he averages just 455,000 PPV buys), but a rematch with Sonnen would sell huge. If the UFC decides to book something else, it could lose the appeal and relevance of an immediate rematch. However, the counter argument to a Silva-Sonnen instant rematch is also strong: Silva won without the reffing or judging controversy that usually demands an instant rematch; plus, the UFC likely does not want to set a precedent for handing out instant rematches every time a contender loses a close fight.

My own opinion is that the UFC cannot afford to pass up an immediate Silva-Sonnen rematch for the following reasons:

  • Ultimately this business is about putting on fights that people want to see – this is one of them.
  • The fight would not require a substantial co-main attraction, which frees up assets for Joe Silva to use to reinforce other cards.
  • The winner is surely to emerge with at least a short-term popularity spike that carries forward into other bouts.
  • The UFC middleweight division could actually use an extra six months to sort itself out: let Vitor fight the winner of Marquardt vs. Palhares or Bisping vs. Akiyama.

Fitch victorious, but no guarantee of next title shot

Jon Fitch was once again victorious in the Octagon, racking up his fifth win in a row, but the fight also marked the 8th time in a row that he’s gone to a decision. Dana White had commented before the fight that the winner of Fitch vs. Alves would receive a shot at the winner of St-Pierre vs. Koscheck, but all bets were off when Alves came in over weight and even more so when Fitch failed to finish against Alves.

Fitch was good, but not so good that the UFC can’t deny him an immediate shot in favor of someone like Jake Shields. It’s hard to fathom that Joe Silva and the UFC would book St-Pierre in back-to-back title bout rematches with guys he’s already trounced unless they had no other real alternative. The winner of Shields-Kampman could provide that alternative.

dos Santos defeats Nelson, earns shot at winner of Lesnar-Velasquez

Junior dos Santos demonstrated his superb stand-up in the victory over Nelson. It’s difficult to envision another heavyweight being able to match dos Santos on his feet. The fact that he did not knock Nelson out is more a testament to Nelson’s chin and heart than it is to dos Santos’ power. Dos Santos will now face the winner of Lesnar-Velasquez some time in the New Year.

The UFC has done a great job of organizing its heavyweight division and producing never-before-seen depth from the big men. If Lesnar gets through Velasquez and dos Santos, he’ll truly be the top heavyweight in the world. Hopefully that’s something the organization can replicate in the lightweight and middleweight divisions – both of which are kind of in disarray at the moment.

UFC revamps website covered the unveiling of the UFC’s re-designed website last week. After playing around with things for a few days it’s become clear that there are still a few kinks to be worked out functionally. It remains, however, a less cluttered environment than before – one which provides a lot more substance.

Sponsorship Watch

The UFC and Edge Shave Gel ran a contest a few months ago in which the bar code from purchased Edge containers could be used to obtain a free three-month subscription to the UFC Vault. It was good activation for Edge, but something that probably wasn’t advertised as much as it could have been. I’ve been happy to learn over the last month that the Vault subscription is more valuable than access to a select number of fights relevant to the up-coming card; subscribers also have access to recent prelim fights in the days immediately following a UFC event.

The Tequila Cazadores spirit award went to Clay Guida. The UFC is slowly starting to do more with this award, but I really think it’s missing something on the PR end by not getting the story out a little better. It’s got good cause marketing potential; and, with Clay Guida as the most recent recipient, this last one definitely could have had some legs.

I found it interesting that Tequila Cazadores – the presenting sponsor of UFC 117 – had graphics posted during each between-round replay, yet the odd post-fight replay was still brought to us by Bud Light. I wonder if this was a mistake or if Bud Light owns the post-fight replay (finishing sequence) no matter the card.

The Blue Book has been updated.

UFC 114: Payout Perspective

May 31, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans, which was held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 29th, 2010. The event featured a light heavyweight contender bout between Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans and coincided with the second ever UFC Expo.

Rashad prevails and earns title shot

It’s very difficult for grudge fights to ever live up to their hype. Rampage vs. Evans didn’t exactly deliver the KO fireworks that some fans might have expected, but the bout was thoroughly entertaining and had most on the edge of their seats. The bout was an exhibition of first-class MMA between two fighters with wildly different styles and game plans. It was just about anyone’s best guess as to whom would come out on top — would Rashad get the takedown and dictate the fight with his speed or would Rampage catch him with a hook?

The fight was well-hyped and received a great deal of interest from the media and casual fans. I suspect this will be enough for the UFC to make Rua vs. Evans in September or October of this year.

Rampage defeated, but more popular than ever

Rampage may have come out on the losing end of the fight on Saturday, but he definitely won the popularity contest. This is very interesting to me, because Rampage had a difficult time catching on with the UFC crowd as champion – he wasn’t as popular as he maybe should have or could have been. Now, however, it would appear as though his popularity is at an all-time high and that’s important for the UFC moving forward.

If Brock Lesnar is set to fight in July, Silva and Edgar in August, and GSP in December, only the light heavyweight title is guaranteed to be available from September through to December. I think you could make a case for the winner of the Lesnar-Carwin fight to turn around and defend in November, but that still means the UFC is going to need one or two solid non-title main events to headline cards in this period. The popularity of Rampage makes him an obvious choice (should he be healthy and willing) and I tend to think that a Rampage vs. Forrest rematch makes a lot of sense here because it’s relevant and it’ll draw well.

Just to finish that thought: if Chuck Liddell is successful in his comeback in two weeks, he’d be another capable headliner the UFC could fit into that September-December gap (possibly against a healthy Tito).

ESPN2 extends agreement with MMA Live through August

The news of an extension is certainly welcome, but I think this was pretty easy to predict: the UFC has a monster summer coming up – Lesnar at 116, Couture vs. Toney at 118 – and ESPN definitely wants a piece of that to really gauge how far this “MMA thing” can go.

Note: MMA Live on ESPN2 averaged something around 130,000 viewers in May, which is higher than what the network normally draws in that time slot.

UFC 114 gate and PPV success

Dana White announced at the post-fight press conference that the event did $3.895 million at the gate on the strength of 15,081 fans, which is the strongest Las Vegas gate the company has had since UFC 100 (and the second strongest gate, period, since UFC 100). Moreover, the event benefited from an incredible level of hype that likely pushed the PPV broadcast into the 700-800k mark, which would make it the best-selling non-title event ever.

Just to recap, here’s some of what the UFC used to promote the fight:

  • UFC Primetime
  • MMA Live on ESPN2
  • The launch of UFC Undisputed 2010 on May 25th (note the crucial timing – fight week)
  • The UFC Expo (which you might attribute to the sell out and rather strong gate).

Prospect watch

It was an interesting night for our prospect watch segment:

Todd Duffee, the former NCAA Division 1 middle linebacker and owner of the UFC’s fastest knockout (7s), was dominating his fight against Mike Russow before getting buckled with a right hand and then smashing his head on the canvas. I don’t think this changes anything in terms of Duffee’s career trajectory – he still figures to be a top heavyweight in 2-3 years from now – but it probably will delay his development as a contender. He’s got to work on his gas tank, but I’m also inclined to believe he needs time to become more comfortable with the cameras and the spotlight.

John Hathaway, on the other hand, looked outstanding against Diego Sanchez. His striking was crisp, footwork was good, and he showed great poise against a veteran like Sanchez. For all the noise about Bisping, Hardy, and Daley, this Hathaway kid could prove to be the best of the bunch (along with, perhaps, Ross Pearson).

Cyrill Diabate is not a prospect, but deserves mention for a great performance as well. He was the guy, if you remember, that Dan Henderson brought in to mimic Anderson Silva before their fight at UFC 82. Joe Rogan commented on his improved ground game and if that holds true, he could be a legitimate contender at 205.

Sponsorship watch

It was a pretty interesting night on the fighter sponsorship side as Reebok, Bud Light, and Boost Mobile jumped into the fray. Dong Hyun Kim’s shorts and banner featured a Reebok Zigtech ad, which might surprise some people considering Reebok hasn’t announced any entrance into MMA within North America. However, Kim is extremely popular in Korea and has become a great asset for the UFC in the country – the Reebok sponsorship, as with the rest of his sponsors, were geared towards the Korean viewership of UFC 114. Bud Light sponsored both Efrain Escudero and Rashad Evans, which continues the company’s growing activation around the UFC sponsorship (although I’m still not convinced it’s where it needs to be). Rampage Jackson, was sponsored by Boost Mobile,  which caught my eye because the UFC has really been devoid of cell phone sponsors since Amp Mobile filed for bankruptcy.

There were also a couple of things I noted from a property perspective:

  • UFC 114 presented by UFC Undisputed 2010, but the spike card was sponsored by another video game — Split/Second.
  • BSN sponsored an interesting segment at the end of the night — the BSN Finish First “Finish of the Night” — but overall the company is doing little to draw an association between their brand and the UFC (at least on television, perhaps they’re doing more at retail POS locations). I find myself wondering what exactly BSN is hoping to accomplish with its sponsorship of the UFC.

Note: the Sponsorship Blue Book has been updated.

UFC 114 provides solid night of fights, reason to come back for new fans

Overall, the event has to be deemed a success: the gate was excellent, the PPV sales will very likely be stellar, and show delivered with plenty of memorable moments to motivate repeat business in the future.

I’ve talked about the role momentum plays in PPV sales before and I think this might be a case where that comes into play again: UFC 115, in two weeks, isn’t a super strong card, but it’s got Chuck Liddell and will benefit from a reinvigorated UFC crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the show do 500k.

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