UFC 197: Payout Perspective

April 29, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  Better later than never, we write about UFC 197 taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with the return of Jon Jones.

Jones takes care of OSP

Jon Jones returned to the UFC octagon to handily defeat Ovince St. Preux via unanimous decision.  OSP was a late replacement for Daniel Cormier and did his best, but it was clear that he was in there against a far superior opponent.  OSP’s cardio was not ready for a 5 round fight and he wasn’t able to do much against Jones.  It seems unfair to criticize OSP since he stepped up on late notice.  But, he was given a chance and was unable to capitalize.

For Jones, it was a good fight to get back into fighting.  It was his first fight since January 2015.  Next is a showdown with Daniel Cormier as the main event for UFC 200.

UFC 197

Mighty Mouse is still good

Say what you will about Demetrious Johnson, there were two fighters on the card that you may argue are the best for pound in the world.  Only one looked like it.  Johnson dispatched of former Olympian Henry Cejudo in round one of the defense of his Flyweight title.

There is no one left in the Flyweight division for Johnson.  Perhaps a rematch against Dominick Cruz would be the most compelling fight to help Johnson draw an audience he deserves.

Attendance and Gate

The event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena drew 11,352 fans for a gate of $2.3 million as announced at the post-fight press conference.

Bonuses

Also announced the presser, the $50,000 bonuses went to Demetrious Johnson, Yair Rodriguez, Danny Roberts and Dominique Steele.

Ratings

UFC 197 Weigh-Ins on FS1: 184,000

UFC Pre-Fight Show on FS1: 218,000 viewers

UFC 197 Prelims on FS1: 835,000 viewers

UFC Post-Fight Show on FS1: 279,000 viewers

UFC 197 Payouts

Jon Jones led the roster making $500,000 (with no win bonus) followed by Demetrioius Johnson ($195,000).

The rest of the payouts are here.  The payouts do not include the Reebok sponsor pay.

Promotion of the Fight

Jon Jones almost did not make this fight as he was cited once again for a traffic infraction.  This time, it caused him to violate parole and spend a couple days in prison.  Ironically, Daniel Cormier pulled out of the fight soon after Jones’ legal troubles.  Instead of a Jones-Anthony Johnson showdown, the pick was Ovince St. Preux.

Henry Cejudo made pro-UFC comments about Conor McGregor.  He then clarified the comments which seemed a little more confusing.  The fact that he was the guy that said he would not fight in Nevada so long as Nick Diaz was suspended makes his comments this week uneven.  Granted, he’s entitled to his opinion and just because he’s supported Diaz does not mean he has to support Conor.

The Embedded episodes focused on the return of Jon Jones, OSP, Mighty Mouse and Cejudo.  It also included the Pettis brothers training at the same time as Jones in preparation for the fight.

Sponsorships

Reebok, Harley Davidson, EA UFC 2, Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, Monster Energy Drink, Bud Light, mobile app game Mobile Strike were in octagon sponsors with Monster taking the center.

Jon Jones had a Monster sponsorship patch in addition to his Reebok gear.  He also held a Monster can after the fight in an old school way of promoting the drink.

Some notables: Jon Jones wore his sponsor, nutrition products company, GAT during an open UFC workout and it was captured on Embedded.

Luke Rockhold was seen in the crowd at UFC 197 sporting an Adidas hat.  Prior to the Reebok deal, Rockhold had a deal with Adidas.  Of course, since the two companies are linked, there was likely no problem with Rockhold wearing the hat.

Odds and Ends

Was it odd or great promotion that Daniel Cormier served as the color commentator for the Jones-OSP fight?

Was it me, or did it seem like OSP did not believe he was going to win this fight?

Demetrious Johnson is on Twitch.  One would think that he could connect his video game interest with MMA fans for more popularity.

Former UFC lightweight champion, and the only UFC fighter to grace the cover a Wheaties box, Anthony Pettis has lost his last 3 fights.

Cody East, the fighter found by Dana White, was stopped by Walt Harris in round 1 on the Early Prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Even without Conor McGregor appearing at this event, it seemed like the biggest news was his “retirement” and then the UFC taking him off of 200.

Conclusion

There were only 50,000 google searches for UFC 197 nationwide the Friday before the event.  This does not bode well if we are to assume the searches relate to interest and the interest relates to PPV buys.  Jon Jones is not a standalone PPV star like Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey.  OSP is not someone anyone knew.  Moreover, Mighty Mouse is not a PPV draw.  This event likely ends up with 350,000 PPV buys as many had predicted.

Show Money Episode 9: McGregor, Ali Act and Antitrust Lawsuit Update

April 26, 2016

In this episode of Show Money, I hop on with Paul Gift and John Nash of BE to talk about the McGregor holdout, the proposed amendment to the Ali Act and we discuss Paul’s recent interview with former FTC Commissioner Dr. Joshua Wright.

Congressman announces proposal to amend Ali Act

April 24, 2016

The Washington Post featured former UFC and current WSOF fighter John Howard in a piece about fighter pay in telling the news that an Oklahoma congressman is scheduled to sponsor a bill to amend the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (“Ali Act”) to include mixed martial artists.

Markwayne Mullin, a Republican representative from Oklahoma was a former fighter and will be the legislator leading the charge in Washington D.C.   The Ali Act came with a threefold purpose but with the most known reason being to protect the rights and welfare of boxers.

Although no specifics were given about the amendments to the Ali Act, one would assume that most of the measures would be the same as those that were set out to protect boxers since 2000.

The WaPo article quotes Howard as making $25,000 for his December 2015 fight against Tim Means in the UFC.  NSAC states he made $27,000.  However, Howard goes on to state in the article that he had to pay training partners, his gym and other costs for training which left him with about $12,000.

Preemptively, as an independent contractor for the UFC, Howard still has to pay taxes on the $27,000.

MMA Fighters’ Association hopes that an association can be created to help assist fighters and see that adding MMA to protection under the Ali Act would be a step in the right direction.   Rob Maysey, the founder, is one of the attorneys active in the current antitrust lawsuit filed by fighters against Zuffa.  Maysey’s firm is one of the plaintiffs’ firm litigating the case in Nevada.

Payout Perspective:

I was interviewed for this story but my part was cut out of the story. The news of a possible amendment may actually help fighters.  Would fighters be willing to join an association (which likely means paying fee)?  But, we shall see how the amendment would look and whether the Ali Act will see other tweaks to benefit fighters.  The other question is whether this amendment would have enough support to have this passed.  Also, how much opposition would such an amendment have by the UFC.

UFC 197 attendance, gate and bonuses

April 23, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 197.  The event featured the return of Jon Jones as he took on Ovince St. Pierre.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena drew 11,352 fans for a gate of $2.3 million.

Bonuses were awarded to Demetrious Johnson, Yair Rodriguez, Dannyl Roberts and Dominique Steele.  Each earned $50K.  Roberts and Steele earned the FOTN.

The event numbers were announced by the UFC at the post-fight press conference.

Payout Perspective:

Of the already 4 UFC events this year at the MGM, the event did better than February’s UFC event which was converted to a Fight Night.  It also did better than Lawler-Condit in January.  However, not surprising, it came second to March’s UFC 196 which featured Diaz-McGregor.  Notably, Jon Jones’ last event at the MGM was UFC 182 which drew 11,575 for $3.7M.  Slightly more in attendance but its clear the tickets were more expensive for Jones-Cormier.

Conor McGregor is not retired

April 21, 2016

Conor McGregor is not retired.  Despite a McGregor tweet earlier this week, he sent a Facebook post proclaiming he was not retired.  It all appears to be an impasse between the current Featherweight Champion and the UFC.

The impasse centers around the amount of promotion he was to do for UFC 200.  In the post, which appeared on McGregor’s Facebook page, he indicated he asked for some “leeway” with the media obligations but was denied.

McGregor noted the amount of money he made for the UFC in his last three fights:

I feel the $400million I have generated for the company in my last three events, all inside 8 months, is enough to get me this slight leeway.
I am still ready to go for UFC 200.

Despite taking McGregor off of UFC 200, Dana White did not outright bury McGregor for not complying with media requests.  In fact, White said he was not mad at McGregor on Collin Cowherd’s FS1 show.  He also did not rule out his return to the UFC 200 card.

On Thursday, McGregor sent another tweet which appears aimed at the UFC and the posture that he is not going to give in.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the two sides need each other.  Based on McGregor’s last three events, he realizes what an asset he is to the UFC.  July 9th is supposed to be the biggest event in the company’s history to date.  The UFC would like McGregor on the card.  At 27, McGregor’s career seems far from over and the UFC is the only company that can give him the money he believes he deserves.  We shall see what transpires in the coming days as to whether either side concedes.

UFC removes McGregor from UFC 200

April 19, 2016

Dana White announced on ESPN Tuesday that Conor McGregor has been removed from UFC 200.  The news comes hours after McGregor announced his retirement via twitter.

White indicated that McGregor was removed from the card after he indicated he would not participate in promotional activities.  White has done something like this before.  When Nick Diaz failed to show up for multiple media appearance, he was removed from his title fight against Georges St. Pierre.  Of course, after being removed, he was immediately rebooked to fight BJ Penn at UFC 137.

Could we see something like this happen again?  Hopefully McGregor doesn’t get rebooked against Penn.  But you get the point.

The UFC did not seem to acknowledge the McGregor retirement announcement.  One might assume that the sides are split over money.  Rumors speculate that McGregor is asking for $10 million for UFC 200.

At this point, the UFC is searching to find a main event for July.  If it doesn’t, it will likely go with Edgar-Aldo.

As for the news, the following tweet reflects the fact that MMA fans are social media savvy.  Also, the casual fan is noticing.  But not sure how much it has to do with impact in the sports world.  Still pretty impressive.

Payout Perspective:

If there was a fighter that had leverage in negotiating with the UFC it would be McGregor.  He has produced records in attendance, gate and the ancillary economic impact he provides to the hospitality industry is huge.  The many fans traveling from Ireland and elsewhere to come to Vegas to see him is huge.  Not to mention, his PPVs are some of the biggest buy rates for the company.  Will the sides get back together or has the UFC moved on?  We shall see.

Conor McGregor tweets he’s retiring

April 19, 2016

The UFC and MMA fans have been thrown for a loop as Conor McGregor sent out a tweet stating that he was retiring.  McGregor was scheduled to fight Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 200.

You think only MMA fans know Conor McGregor?  Per Darren Rovell.

The RTs at this writing is over 87,000 and 60,000 likes.

Payout Perspective:

Either this is a ploy, toying with the fans on social media or the real thing.  If it is for real, then the UFC has a real issue on its hands for its biggest event of the year.  With Aldo-Edgar and Tate-Nunes likely being the co-main event for the company’s biggest event of the year, UFC 200 does not seem like the heralded event it once was thought to be.  We will see in the coming days, weeks if the tweet is true.

UFC on Fox 19 draws 2.13M viewers in overnight ratings

April 17, 2016

UFC on Fox 19 drew an average of 2.13 million viewers in overnight ratings on Fox according Television By Numbers.

The event won the time slot in network ratings in adults 18-49 posting an 0.8 rating and a 3 share.

UFC on Fox Ratings
Overnights Live + SD
UFC on Fox 1 5,700,000
UFC on Fox 2 4,570,000
UFC on Fox 3 2,250,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 4 2,360,000 2,400,000
UFC on Fox 5 3,410,000 4,400,000
UFC on Fox 6 3,770,000 4,220,000
UFC on Fox 7 3,300,000 3,700,000
UFC on Fox 8 2,040,000 2,380,000
UFC on Fox 9 2,410,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 10 2,550,000 3,220,000
UFC on Fox 11 1,990,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 12 2,020,000 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 13 2,270,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 14 2,820,000 3,049,000
UFC on Fox 15 2,430,000 2,745,000
UFC on Fox 16 2,290,000 2,800,000
UFC on Fox 17 2,280,000 2,781,000
UFC on Fox 18 2,430,000 2,685,000
UFC on Fox 19 2,130,000

UFC on Fox 19 Ratings

The event featured Glover Teixiera and Rashad Evans with Teixiera earning a first round KO of the former UFC light heavyweight champion.  The overrun was only 11 minutes in length from the usual 5-7pm PT time slot.

Payout Perspective:

Despite winning the night, the event was down from the 2.43M viewer overnight it produced last April.  Of course, the card was decimated due to injuries and the need to remove the Hendo-Machida fight due to Machida’s failed drug test.  Still, on a night in which there was a lot of sports on television, including PBC on NBC at the same time, the UFC did a very good overnight and won the night for its target demo.

UFC on Fox 19 attendance, gate and bonuses

April 17, 2016

UFC on Fox 19 drew 11,273 with a live gate of $1.057 million.  In addition, Glover Teixeira led the group of bonus winners earning $50,000.

The numbers were announced at the post-fight press conference.

The event took place at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.  Saturday night’s event ranked third among UFC cards in the state.

  1. UFC on Fox 17: 14,459 ($1.710,000 gate)
  2. UFC on Fox 11: 14,410 ($1,651.776)
  3. UFC on Fox 19: 11,273 ($1,057,000)
  4. UFC on FX 3: 6,635 ($329,110)
  5. UFC Fight Night 70 – 5,604 (no gate announced)

The Amalie Arena capacity ranges from 18,500 to 21,500.

The bonus went to Glover Teixeira, Michael Chiesa, Elizeu Zalieski dos Santos and Omari Akhmadov earned the $50,000 bonuses.  Teixeira and Chiesa earned the Performance Bonuses while dos Santos and Akhmedov earned Fight of the Night which aired as a Fight Pass exclusive.

Payout Perspecitve:

Overall a good event which could have fallen off due to the loss of Tony Ferguson due to injury and Lyoto Machida due to failing a drug test.  In addition, IIslam Makhachev’s fight with Drew Dober was nixed due to Makhachev failing a drug test. Still it was an entertaining night of fights with the Fight of the Night being a very entertaining battle.  The Performance Bonuses could have gone to Jon Dodson and Michael Dodson as well.

Governor Cuomo signs NY MMA Bill into law; UFC announces event at MSG November 12th

April 14, 2016

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the MMA bill into law making professional mixed martial arts legal in the state.  As a result, the UFC announced a “major Pay-Per-View event at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 12.”

The UFC also announced another event in upstate New York to occur by the end of this year.

UFC in NY

Via UFC press release:

UFC will be adding another live event in Upstate New York before the end of the year. The organization has pledged four events per year for the first three years after passage of the bill. The events will be held in Upstate cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Albany, in addition to Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center.

Today’s bill signing and event date announcements cement mixed martial arts’ incredible future in the state of New York, and reaffirm UFC’s commitment to a market that is home to many top stars including former UFC champions Jon Jones, Chris Weidman and Rashad Evans, and countless other title contenders.

“I want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, Senator Joe Griffo and the many other leaders in the state of New York for legalizing and regulating the sport of mixed martial arts,” said UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. “Our commitment to bringing incredible live events to New York starts immediately, as we’ve planned a major Pay-Per-View event at Madison Square Garden on November 12. It’s going to be a historic, monumental moment for this sport and our passionate fans when the Octagon finally arrives in New York.”

“Today marks a great day for both MMA fans and New York,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, Marquee Events and Operations, The Madison Square Garden Company. “We think it’s only fitting that the first UFC event is taking place at The World’s Most Famous Arena and look forward to these world-class athletes becoming part of The Garden’s storied history.”

Payout Perspective:

For those wondering, the New York State Athletic Commission, who will oversee MMA in the state, will be up to speed by September 1, 2016.  Essentially, this is when the law will come into effect as explained by Jim Genia.  Although no names have been pinned to the November 12 debut in New York, you can expect New York natives Jon Jones and Chris Weidman to be prime candidates for the event at Madison Square Garden.  Also, Ronda Rousey is rumored to be back in the octagon around this time so that would make sense as well.  Certainly, Bellator and WSOF will be working to have events in New York as well.

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