UFC 229: Payout Perspective

October 9, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time it was one of the biggest events in company history with UFC 229 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Khabib submits Conor, brawl ensues

You’ve likely read all about the post-fight brawl.  Despite MMA fan that like to downplay the incident, this was not how you showcase your product to the millions of fans that watched the fight.  Rather than be professional, both sides were not.  Conor’s antics prior to the night, and Khabib’s during it were both wrong.  It was a disgrace to the sport and overshadowed the dominant performance by Khabib.

At this point, the Nevada Athletic Commission will have to suspend and fine Khabib for some time to make it look like an authority.  With that being said, it’s clear that the UFC will take no action despite its ability to do something about it.  The UFC has maintained its alibi of hiding behind the regulation of a commission to do its bidding when it comes to these types of disciplinary issues.  It is clear that if they wanted, they could terminate Khabib’s contract.  Dana White stated that any fighter from Khabib’s corner would no longer fight in the UFC.  But what about Khabib?

Conor is to blame as well.  His antics have helped put him in the stratosphere of earners in combat sports and brought millions of dollars to Zuffa.  As a result, he’s been allowed to do anything without repercussions.

The whole scenario points to a suspension for Khabib and being stripped of his lightweight title.  We should have Conor face Tony Ferguson for the title and/or Diaz/Poirier winner facing Ferguson with the loser facing Conor.

Ferguson returns to stop Showtime

Tony Ferguson stopped Anthony Pettis in a blood-splattering fight that showed El Cucuy is back.  Both fighters had their moments and the movements in the fight were out of the ordinary and extraordinary.  Ferguson used a somersault to get out of the way of Pettis and Showtime used capoeira moves in attacking and defending.  Pettis was sliced by one of Ferguson’s strikes and was bleeding like a pro wrestler.  He did damage Ferguson as well.  In the end it was the relentless Ferguson that earned the victory as Pettis could not continue due to a broken hand.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

The event set a record for an MMA event in Nevada with 20,034 for a gate of $17.2 million.  It eclipsed UFC 200 held at the same venue.  The gate for UFC 229 fell short of the company record of $17.7 million for the UFC’s debut at MSG at UFC 205.

According to SeatGeek, a standing room only seat for UFC 229 went for over $400, with the get-in price at $1,234.  Again, it was second to only UFC 205’s get in price.

The bonuses went to Ferguson and Pettis for Fight of the Night, Derrick Lewis and Aspen Ladd for Performances of the Night.  Each drew the standard $50,000 bonus.

Payouts

The payouts were highlighted by Conor McGregor’s $3 million purse followed by Khabib’s $2 million.  But, the NAC has held up Khabib’s payout pending an investigation in the post-fight brawl.  While it has issued the check to McGregor, it’s held Khabib’s pay pending an investigation

The rest of the payouts can be found here.

Promotion of the Fight

Conor McGregor did not do a “world tour” for this fight which would have probably brought even more interest to the event.  He did promote when needed such as their first press conference.

The press conference which was held between Conor-Khabib prior to fight week was done without an audience but was shown in Times Square.  It was also on ESPN which had to use its censor liberally due to all of the profanity.  Conor’s late arrivals at the presser and ceremonial weigh-ins really put stress on the networks to deal with stretching out the time.  With more losses, networks will get tired of this habit.

ESPN did air the UFC Countdown show on its network in addition to it airing on FS1.

Dana White appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show to promote the fight.  Conor McGregor made an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show and shared Proper 12 with his Irish counterpart.

In addition, there were multiple radio ads in addition to the television commercials.  Most of which highlighted the infamous Brooklyn bus attack.

Sponsorships

There were some new sponsors for this event including Conor McGregor’s Proper 12 Irish Whiskey and San Manuel Casino.  The latter sponsor is based out of Highland, California and was shown during the ceremonial weigh-ins.

One of the newest UFC sponsors, Portable Protein Pack aka P3, appeared on the front paneling of the UFC/Reebok shorts.  We may see more of this with existing official sponsors having secondary opportunities on fight gear.

In addition, Air Asia made a significant splash in its sponsorship activation which included stewardesses on stage with UFC Octagon girls during the ceremonial weigh-ins and with signage in the red corner of the Octagon to match the company’s branded color.

It was reported by Ariel Helwani that Conor McGregor signed a lucrative deal with Monster Energy which was said to be in the millions.

EA announced a new edition of its UFC3 video game featuring Conor McGregor.  EA conducted a fight simulation in which Conor McGregor KO’d Khabib in the 3rd round.

In the octagon, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Bud Light, Nemiroff, Motel6, MetroPCS, P3, CircleK, Modelo, Air Asia, UFC3’s Notorious Edition, Autozone and the return of the Walking Dead and Monster Energy held the center. It was clear that there were more sponsors than ever before within the Octano on its corners and canvas.  Harley Davidson had the fighter prep point.

Ratings

The UFC Prelims on FS1 drew 1.3M viewers on Saturday.  The prefight telecast on FS1 drew 373,000 viewers.  The prefight show matched the one from UFC 223.  The 222-prefight show was the highest-rated this year with 431,000.

Odds and Ends

I wrote about the UFC brawl in depth and how the promotion of the fight allowed for this to happen.  The UFC faces a lot of fallout (good and bad) from the event.  Khabib and Conor are facing NAC sanctions for their actions and at least two fighters from Khabib’s team will likely be expelled from the UFC and from fighting in Nevada.  For a promotion that is looking to grow the sport and find blue-chip sponsors, one has to ask whether UFC 229’s brawl was good or ad for business.

Conor went after Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, a controversial MMA manager that has been linked to terrorist groups if you believe McGregor and some journalists writing on the subject.  Despite these alleged ties, it seems that a majority of MMA fighters trust Abdelaziz with their career.  During the fight, Abdelaziz and members from both camps stayed in the back as the UFC tried to prevent what happened Saturday from happening.

The internet searches for this event were huge.  On Friday, UFC 229 drew over 2M google searches.  McGregor-Khabib drew over 2M searches as well.

Conor McGregor drew over 5M google searches on Saturday.  Derrick Lewis drew over 200,000 and Michelle Waterson drew over 100,000 searches.  “McGregor Fight” drew over 1 million google searches on Sunday.

Derrick Lewis’ post-fight interview was an all-time classic and was one of the reasons he drew as many google searches.  He took off his pants, said Donald Trump called him and told him to be Alexander Volkov.

Khabib appeared at the post-fight press conference and indicated he received congratulations from Vladimir Putin.

Matt Damon turned down the opportunity to be on Saturday Night Live to go to UFC 229.  There were many other celebrities drawn to this event as well and the aftermath had everyone on social media talking about it.

Internal numbers for Internet purchases of the event were up over 60% from Mayweather-McGregor according to Dave Meltzer.  This would be an indicator (although maybe not the strongest) the buy rate surged past the record of 1.6M PPV buys.  White indicated that it did not reach 3 million but was over 2 million.

The UFC received a ton of mainstream coverage due to post-fight brawl.  But, does this tarnish their image or encourage the promotion to try more of this?

Conclusion

Dana White touted that based on the viewership of Embedded episodes and YouTubes views compared with McGregor-Mayweather, the PPV would break the UFC record and it appears he will be right.  Despite the lack of expanded promotion of the event, its clear that the UFC hit all of the trigger points to garner the casual fans to buy the event.  The controversy is whether it was right to include footage of the bus attack or allow McGregor to continue personal attacks on Khabib’s religion, family and friends.  But, the PPV buy rate will likely go over 2 million (say 2.2 million) buys and show that marketing the bus attack footage helped more than it hurt.  There will be a rematch and you can believe that they will show the post-fight melee.

UFC 229 attendance, gate and bonuses

October 7, 2018

UFC 229 set an attendance and gate record for MMA events in Nevada on Saturday night.

The event which was marred by a post-fight melee involving Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmogomedov had some great fights too.  The event was a sell-out at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The co-main event of Tony Ferguson-Anthony Pettis won Fight of the Night.  The Performance Bonus went to Derrick Lewis and Aspen Ladd for their performances.

The event was a complete sellout and drew 20,034 for a gate of $17.2 million.  The gate is second only to the UFC’s debut at MSG for 205.  McGregor-Alvarez drew 17.7 million.

Payout Perspective:

For obvious reasons, Khabib was not rewarded with a bonus.  Ladd and Lewis had great performances for differing reasons.  Ladd had a dominant performance while Lewis was losing for most of his fight before finally using his power to stop Alexander Volkov.  The UFC did record numbers for the press conference, weigh-ins and the event.  Will the UFC score a PPV record? All signs point to it coming at least close to 1.5M.

UFC Fight Night 137 attendance and bonuses

September 23, 2018

UFC Fight Night 137 took place Saturday Night in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  It featured a surprising bonus winner with the return of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Lil’ Nog, coming back to the UFC after a 2-year absence due in part to a USADA suspension due to a contaminated substance, knocked out Sam Alvey to earn a Performance Bonus.  In addition, Charles Oliveira and the main event of Eryk Anders and Thiago Santos earned the Fight of the Night.  Oliveira broke the record for most submissions in the UFC with a rear-naked choke over Christos Giagos.  Santos stopped Anders in the main event to earn the victory.

The event drew 9,845 fans at the Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo Brazil.  No gate was announced for the event.

Payout Perspective:

It was the second Fight Night in Brazil (10,144 for Fight Night 125 in Belem) this year.  Last year when the UFC visited Sao Paulo for Fight Night 119 it drew 10,265 fans.

UFC Fight Night 136 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 15, 2018

UFC Fight Night 136 drew 22,603 fans for a live gate of $1.84 million in its debut in Russia.  The announced attendance was disclosed by the UFC post-event.

It was the first event ever event in the country and it was the highest-attended Fight Night this year.

According to John Morgan of MMA Junkie, there were 21,273 tickets sold.  The UFC has indicated it is the fight largest crowd in UFC history and the “biggest MMA event in Russia.”

Main eventer Aleksei Oleinik led the Performance Bonuses after he submitted Mark Hunt in the first round.  Jan Blachowicz earned a Performance Bonus with his submission of the returning Nikita Krylov.  Magomed Ankalaev earned a bonus for his KO of Marcin Prachnio.  Finally, Petr Yan earned a Fight of the Night bonus for his win over Jin Soo Son.  Son was not eligible for a bonus since he missed weight.

Payout Perspective:

The attendance at the event ensures a return to Russia.  There were a lot of quality fights on this Fight Pass card.  Notably, one must wonder what the UFC will do with Mark Hunt.  He is one of the top-paid fighters on the roster and is also suing the UFC and Dana White.  It’s hard to cut Hunt without it looking conspicuous in light of the legal issues but it’s clear that his fight skills are diminishing.

UFC 228: Payout Perspective

September 12, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 228 which took place at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Woodley submits Till

Tyron Woodley used a D’arce Choke to earn his BJJ Black Belt and retain his UFC welterweight belt.  Woodley submitted Darren Till and earned a performance bonus.  Despite the belief by many that Till was the contender to dethrone Woodley, the champion had little difficulty with him.

Next up for Woodley looks to be Colby Covington.

Mottano stripped of title

The second title of the evening was scrapped due to Nicco Montano being sent to the hospital presumably as a result of trying to cut weight.  As a result, her fight with Valentina Shevchenko was taken off the card and Dana White stripped the TUF winner of her flyweight title.  Shevchenko will have the opportunity to fight for the flyweight title at a yet to be determined date.

Stripping Mottano of the title hurts her pay scale since she now will receive only $3,500 from the Reebok Outfitting Policy.  As the champion, Mottano (who never defended the title) would have made $40,000.

Attendance and Gate

The event drew 14,073 for a gate of $1.7 million at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.  There have been 5 PPVs in Dallas and of that UFC 228 was the lowest gate of the 5 held there since UFC 103.

Bonuses

There were a variety of finishes and stoppage for UFC 228 that could have received the $50,000 bonus.  Woodley, Jessica Andrade and Irena Aldana and Lucie Pudilova earned the bonuses.

Ratings

The UFC 228 Prelims on FX were the lowest of the year drawing only 560,000 viewers and peaking with 683,000 viewers.

The prefight show on FX averaged 271,000 viewers according to Nielsen.

The post-fight show on FS1 drew 64,000 viewers.

Sponsors

Fight week saw the announcement of 3 new “Official” UFC sponsors.  Nemiroff became the “Official Vodka of the UFC,” P3 became the “Official Protein Bar of the UFC,” and Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum became the “Official Rum of the UFC” in the US.  Nemiroff and P3 were in the Octagon for UFC 228.  Also in the Octagon was Motel 6, MetroPCS, Modelo, Toyo Tires, Harley-Davidson the movie Predator was also featured and Monster Energy had the middle of the Octagon.

The movie, Predator also sponsored the Embedded episodes.

Toyo Tires sponsored the backstage interview which was seen on Facebook.

Odds and ends


The visual seems to tell the story that most BJJ practitioners know. It’s hard to be awarded black belt in jiu jitsu.

If you watched the Embedded episodes, you may have noticed Woodley wearing a CbdMD shirt which one might infer, he is a sponsor.  In fact, the company sent out a PR release congratulating him.  I’m sure this is something that Woodley and his camp have looked into and ensuring that he does not cross the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

One of the judges in the Esparza-Suarez fight mistook Suarez for Esparza in the first round and gave Esparza, not Suarez a 10-8.

Xbox put out a tweet gaging interest in the event.

By the way, what was up with the poster? I realize that Till is taller but did they have to make him look like a giant?

This is an ominous tweet with a quote from Shevchenko’s manager.

One might infer that Shevchenko was not paid her fight purse or her win bonus for making weight despite her opponents’ trouble. Once again, this is an overarching issue that manager’s must handle in the contract. Until there is a union, association and/or collective bargaining unit that will address this situation, the athletes are at the mercy of the UFC.

There was a Fan Experience held in Dallas prior to UFC 228 with numerous sponsors and athletes:

There were over 200,000 google searches for Tyron Woodley Saturday.  On Friday, there were over 200,000 google searches for UFC 228.

Conclusion

UFC 228 was an entertaining event with a lot of finishes including Tyron Woodley making it known that he is one of the top UFC stars in the company.  But, going up against two other boxing events on the same night may have hurt PPV purchases.  Also, the big GGG-Canelo fight occurring the following week may have detracted the casual fan on a budget from purchasing this PPV.  It would appear that this event is likely to have drawn around 175,000 to 200,000 PPV buys.

UFC 228 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 8, 2018

UFC 228 drew a gate of $1.7 million on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Tyron Woodley retained his welterweight title as well as winning one of the fight bonuses for the evening.

In addition to Woodley, Jessica Andrade earned the other Performance Bonus with a KO of Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  Irena Aldana and Lucie Pudilova earned the Fight of the Night.  Aldana won the battle of bantamweights via split decision.

The event drew 14,073 for $1.7 million at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.  There have been several PPV events in Dallas as it seems to be an annual stop for the company.  This was the lowest gate of the 5 PPV held there since 103.

Payout Perspective:

This card had several impressive finishes and KOs including Zabit Magomedsharipov’s finish of Brandon Davis and the stunning headkick KO of Geoff Neal just to name two.  The attendance may reflect the lack of star and drawing power for the main card which was to have had two title fights.

UFC Fight Night 135 attendance, gate and bonuses

August 26, 2018

UFC Fight Night 135 took place in Lincoln, Nebraska Saturday night.  The event drew 6,409 in attendance for $478,000.  The main event saw Justin Gaethje KO James Vick in the first round.

Gaethje was one of the bonus winners on Saturday.  Eryk Anders, Cory Sandhagen and Iuri Alcantara were the other bonus winners.  Anders scored a KO victory over Tim Williams with a kick to the face.  Sandhagen and Alcantara earned Fight of the Night with a back and forth fight which saw Sandhagen battle back from a perilous submission of an arm bar to regain top control and pummel Alcantara.

The event drew 6,409 fans for $478,337 according to UFC officials post-event.  The last time the UFC visited Nebraska it was in 2012 for an event in Omaha for a fight night which drew 9,103 fans.  In 2012, a UFC on Fuel TV event drew 6,283 fans.

Payout Perspective:

It was a good night for Gaethje which sets him up for one of the four fighters in the main and co-main event of UFC 229.  The event attendance and gate are on par with these types of Fight Night cards.  It was a definite mix of local favorites (e.g. Jake Ellenberger and his in-Octagon retirement) and entertaining fighters like Gaethje.

Full roster of salaries for UFC 227

August 6, 2018

The California State Athletic Commission revealed the complete payouts for the UFC 227 roster this past Saturday night.

As reported by Lance Pugmire on Saturday, T.J. Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson received the highest reported purses for Saturday night.  The rest of the roster is below, via MMA Junkie:

T.J. Dillashaw: $350,000 (no win bonus)
def. Cody Garbrandt: $200,000

Henry Cejudo: $100,000 (no win bonus)
def. Demetrious Johnson: $380,000

Renato Moicano: $52,000 ($26,000 win bonus)
def. Cub Swanson: $90,000

J.J. Aldrich: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Polyana Viana: $12,000

Thiago “Marreta” Santos: $96,000 (includes $48,000 win bonus)
def. Kevin Holland: $13,000

Pedro Munhoz: $84,000 (includes $42,000 win bonus)
def. Brett Johns: $22,000

Ricky Simon: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Montel Jackson: $10,000

Ricardo Ramos: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Kyung Ho Kang: $16,000

Sheymon Moraes: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Matt Sayles: $10,000

Alex Perez: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Jose Torres: $14,000

Weili Zhang: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Danielle Taylor: $20,000

Marlon Vera: $64,000 (includes $32,000 win bonus)
def. Wuliji Buren: $10,000

Mighty Mouse and Dillashaw earn $380K for their title defenses at UFC 227

August 5, 2018

Lance Pugmire of the LA Times reported the main event purses for UFC 227.  Demetrious Johnson and T.J. Dillashaw drew $380,000 each while Cody Garbrandt earned $200,0000.  The new flyweight champion, Henry Cejudo earned $100,000 as challenger.

UFC 227 took place Saturday night at a sold-out Staples Center.

In addition to their reported purses, Johnson, Cejudo and Dillashaw received $50,000 bonuses.

Payout Perspective:

Johnson earned $370,000 for his last title defense at UFC 216.  This is the second straight fight that Dillashaw has earned a $50,000 bonus and the second against Garbrandt.  As you can tell, the lower weight division payouts are lower than Heayvweight payouts although it is not known about the PPV upside.

Poirier and Aldo top UFC on Fox 30 bonuses

July 28, 2018

The UFC announced the bonuses for UFC on Fox 30 in Calgary.  Dustin Poirier and Jose Aldo drew $50,000 bonuses for their stoppages during the main card of tonight’s event.

Fight of the Night was awarded to Ross Pearson and John Makdessi.  Makdessi defeated Pearson by unanimous decision.

Payout Perspective:

It was a good night for the co-main and main event on Fox.  Poirier and Eddie Alvarez put on a great fight with The Diamond getting a right hand and a knee to the body that stunned Alvarez.  Despite attempts to fight back, Alvarez succumbed to Poirier’s flurry.  There was a controversial 12-6 elbow thrown by Alvarez which broke up a top position for Eddie which will be talked about as something that could have turned the fight around.  Aldo returned to his old self with a vicious body shot which dropped Jeremy Stephens and eventually ended his night.  Although the stoppage may have been premature, it was a good sign for Aldo who was written off after a losing streak.

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