GSP announces retirement

February 22, 2019

On Thursday, Georges St-Pierre announced his retirement from the UFC.  He will go down as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history and one of its key draws as the company tried to gain a foothold in mainstream sports landscape.

Before Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor or the superfight, GSP was the key to PPV buys.  Partly due to his large Canadian fan base and partly due to his respectful, martial arts philosophy, GSP was a legitimate draw that was able to crossover to mainstream awareness.

A failure to book a fight against Khabib Nurmogomedov was the main reason why GSP decided on retiring which may lead one to believe that if he were offered the fight down the road, he may return to the Octagon.  As with combat sports, retiring is not seen as a finality.  MMA and boxing have had its share of failed retirements.  Could we see GSP return to MMA rather than staying retired for good?

Likely.

On Thursday, Georges St-Pierre announced his retirement from the UFC.  He will go down as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history and one of its key draws as the company tried to gain a foothold in mainstream sports landscape.

Before Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor or the superfight, GSP was the key to PPV buys.  Partly due to his large Canadian fan base and partly due to his respectful, martial arts philosophy, GSP was a legitimate draw that was able to crossover to mainstream awareness.

A failure to book a fight against Khabib Nurmogomedov was the main reason why GSP decided on retiring which may lead one to believe that if he were offered the fight down the road, he may return to the Octagon.  As with combat sports, retiring is not seen as a finality, only a sabbatical.  MMA and boxing have had its share of failed retirements.  Could we see GSP return to MMA rather than staying retired for good?

Likely.

But if he decides to stay retired, he will go down as one of the greatest in UFC history.  He will not have the PPV buy rates that Rousey or McGregor can claim, but his draw and conversion of fans to the UFC was also an important part of where the company is now situated.  GSP is a true martial artist in its purist form.  At a time where MMA fighters are dedicated for a short stint of time, GSP is an individual that will be dedicated to the martial arts for the rest of his life. And when the UFC needed a star, they had it in GSP.

We will see what GSP does now.  He is set for life financially and one may see him doing seminars or autograph signings to earn some extra revenue.  But will the allure of a big fight bring him out of retirement?  Time will tell.

Court dismisses all but one claim in Mark Hunt’s lawsuit against the UFC

February 14, 2019

In a 28-page order filed on Thursday, the United States District Court of Nevada dismissed all but one of UFC fighter Mark Hunt’s claims in his lawsuit alleging among its claims breach of contract, fraud and RICO Violations against the UFC.

The Order dismissed White and Lesnar in the lawsuit  leaving just the UFC as the lone defendant.  For background of the case, you can go here.

An analysis of the Motion to Dismiss hearing is here.

Order on Motion to Dismiss by on Scribd

The Court had allowed Hunt the right to amend his Complaint to include further details supporting his claims under RICO Act violations and fraud. However, the Court was not persuaded by Hunt’s amended and supplemental complaint.

In total, 9 out of the 10 claims in Hunt’s lawsuit were dismissed.

The Court determined that Hunt’s claims under the state and federal RICO statutes failed because either the allegations were “non-cognizable damages or failed to plead facts to show” a proximate cause to his financial losses.

The Court specifically took aim at Hunt’s loss to Lesnar at UFC 200.  The Court did not agree with Hunt that due to his loss to Lesnar, it proximately caused ancillary injuries to Hunt including cancelled promotional events post-UFC 200 costing him over $90,000 in appearance fees, a “dip” in his social media popularity and diminished advertising fees as well as a loss of licensing fees and sales for his personal clothing brand.   Here, the Court could not side with Hunt and believed that his RICO allegations failed for lack of proximate cause as they were “fatally speculative.”

In response to Hunt’s arguments that it could introduce expert testimony at a later stage of litigation to show the causation, the Court cited to precedent which stated that “it does not mean that the mere possibility of expert testimony down the line can rehabilitate allegations that insufficiently establish proximate causation.”  Moreover, the Court concludes that his claims cannot prove that Hunt would have beaten Lesnar if he was not doping.

As for the allegations related to White and the UFC, the Court infers that Hunt relates his claim to the removal of his fight from UFC Fight Night 121 (“referred to as UFC 121 in the order”) after he wrote an article claiming to suffer from slurred speech and other maladies he attributes to fighting.  The Court found fatal defects in the pleading as this was the portion of his claim in his Supplemental Complaint.  But he did not provide sufficient notice to the defendants.  Nevertheless, the Court dismissed the claim as it believed that the costs he attributed to training camp as not financial losses that do not constitute damage to “tangible property” under the RICO statute.

The lack of proximate cause also proved fatal for Hunt’s claims against White for alleged “aiding and abetting” and common law fraud.  Here again the Court refers to the lack of evidence linking White’s representations including the claim Lesnar was being tested by USADA with the alleged doping scheme.

The Court also dismissed Hunt’s breach of contract claim because he was paid for his fight against Lesnar at UFC 200.  In addition, the Court states that since Hunt’s damages relate to items that occurred after his loss, and not his contracted pay, the claim must be dismissed.

The Court determined that Hunt’s unjust enrichment claim must also fail because it stems from his contract with the UFC.  He received what he was owed in the contract and there is no compensation for Hunt’s perception that his services exceeded the scope of the contract.

Hunt’s battery and aiding and abetting claims fail because he consented to the fight with Lesnar.  Moreover, there was no evidence that Lesnar did anything outside “the range of the ordinary activity,” in an MMA bout.  The Court cites to a California case in which a pitcher intentionally threw a pitch at a batter’s head which injured the batter.  The Court sided with the pitcher stating that while throwing at a batter’s head is “forbidden by the rules of baseball,” it “is an inherent risk of baseball.”  By analogy, the Court states that even though Lesnar tested positive for a performance enhancing drug, there was no evidence submitted which revealed that he did something outside the scope of an MMA bout.  Thus, there is no battery claim against Lesnar.

Finally, the civil conspiracy claims must fail because the Court dismissed Hunt’s fraud and battery claims.  Since the underlying claims were dismissed, there cannot be a conspiracy claim.

The Court also authorized the remaining parties (i.e., UFC and Hunt) to attend a settlement conference.  In all likelihood, the parties will settle.

Payout Perspective:

In all likelihood, this case will be over after the settlement conference.  Cases for breaches of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in contract have a low likelihood of victory for the plaintiff.  Based on the Court’s opinion which dismissed Hunt’s case for lack of proximate cause to his claims, it would only be a matter of time before Hunt’s last claim is dismissed.  This is an unfortunate result for Hunt.  While it’s clear that the allegations were tied together by a thread, it’s clear that he was tired of being put in the Octagon with opponents that failed drug tests. While Hunt may have had several good points in his lawsuit, the Court did not find anything of legal substance to keep the case afloat.  MMA Payout will keep you posted if there would be an appeal.

UFC 234: Payout Perspective

February 11, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UFC 234 in Brisbane, Australia.

Adesanysa defeats idol in main event

With Robert Whittaker needing emergency surgery for a hernia, his middleweight title fight against Kelvin Gastelum was scratched and Anderson Silva-Israel Adesanya was inserted at the top of the card. The fight was to become the number 1 contender according to the UFC.

Adesanya bested his idol via unanimous decision in a fight that he was inserted in to win.  The good news is that Silva looked like Anderson Silva.  Two years removed from his last appearance in the Octagon due to a drug suspension, Silva appeared slower (of course), but had enough to make the fight entertaining for all.

Adesanya now waits to see if he will fight Whittaker or a showdown with Kelvin Gastelum.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

UFC 234 was a sell out with 15,238 in attendance for a gate of $2,470,088 U.S. Dollars.  There was an opportunity for those wishing to receive refunds to obtain them.

The bonuses went to Silva-Adesanya, Montana De La Rosa and Devonte Smith.  FOTN went to Silva-Adesanya while De La Rosa and Smith received Performance Bonuses.  All earned an addition $50K.

Reebok Promotional Guideline Payouts (via MMA Junkie)

Israel Adesanya: $4,000
def. Anderson Silva: $20,000

Lando Vannata: $5,000
def. Marcos Mariano: $3,500

Ricky Simon: $3,500
def. Rani Yahya: $20,000

Montana De La Rosa: $3,500
def. Nadia Kassem: $3,500

Jim Crute: $3,500
def. Sam Alvey: $15,000

Devonte Smith: $3,500
def. Dong Hyun Ma: $5,000

Shane Young: $3,500
def. Austin Arnett: $4,000

Kai Kara-France: $3,500
def. Raulian Paiva: $3,500

Kyung Ho Kang: $5,000
def. Teruto Ishihara: $5,000

Jalin Turner: $3,500
def. Callan Potter: $3,500

Jonathan Martinez: $3,500
def. Wuliji Buren: $3,500

Sponsorships

TAB, the online gambling web site in Australia served as a “presenting” sponsor for the event as its logo was everywhere during UFC 234.  Tab was also on the fighter kits.  Its unlikely that any of the fighters received compensation for wearing the logo based on previous logo placement.

TAB had the fighter checkpoint.  The Octagon featured Air Asia, Hudson Shipping Company, Nemiroff, Hooters, Modelo and Monster Energy in the middle.   Also in the Octagon was Port Local Pirate Life Brewing, the video game Fallout76 (which also sponsored the Embedded episodes) and Bisley, an Australian workwear company.

Odds and Ends

The partnership with ESPN looks to be off to a great start as the second prelims show on ESPN has drawn stellar ratings.  Although no viewer numbers as of Sunday night, the metered market rating has a 1.0 share peaking with 1.7.  Once again, the Duke-Virginia college basketball game was the lead-in.

Dana White brokered one time deal with DirecTV as the UFC deal with the satellite provider ended in 2018.  It was not until Thursday that White came to an agreement otherwise a big section of the UFC fan base would not have access to the PPV via DTV.

Gastelum walking around the arena with Henry Cejudo’s belt brought out a reaction, which may have been all he wanted.  Also, it forces the issue that he should deserve the next shot at the middleweight title.  Whether Gastelum will get the first shot at Whittaker or if Adesanya does will be an interesting question.  Obviously, if Whittaker takes some time to recover, we could see Gastelum and Adesanya vying for another interim title.

Interesting to note that the Middleweight title has not been the same since GSP took it from Michael Bisping two years ago.

Montana De La Rosa’s post-fight interview in the Octagon stated that she wanted to get through her TUF contract so that she would be able to make better money.  She did earn a Performance Bonus so that should help her.

In addition to the UFC, Showtime Boxing had an event.

There were over 1 million google searches for UFC 234 on Saturday which may be attributed to the main event change.

Conclusion

 This may be the first of many instances where the UFC Prelim show on ESPN will do a big rating but the PPV will not. In the past, the UFC Prelims have served as an indicator on PPV success.  With the UFC on ESPN now, I don’t think it will no longer be the case.  With the elimination of the title fight, I think the PPV may have taken a hit, but not one that would show considerable damage.  The problem is that this PPV was destined to be in the 125,000 PPV range which are the UFC hardcore fans minus a few not wanting to shell out the $65 this time around.

The Interview: Leslie Smith and Lucas Middlebrook

February 5, 2019

Leslie Smith and Lucas Middlebrook discuss the details of Smith’s NLRB dispute with the UFC and Project Spearhead.

The two will appear at the University of Oregon Law School on Saturday as part of the school’s Sports and Entertainment Law Forum.

For context on Smith’s Declaration discussed in the interview, it is attached to the appeal.  Also for more info on the whole dispute, see here.

NLRB denies Leslie Smith Ap… by on Scribd

Finally, apologies for the dog barking in the middle of the interview.  My bad.

The Interview: Josh Rosenblatt

January 28, 2019

I had the chance to talk to Josh Rosenblatt about his recently released book, “Why We Fight,One Man’s Search for Meaning Inside the Ring.

 

Payout Perspective: UFC debuts on ESPN

January 22, 2019

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  We take a look at the UFC’s debut on ESPN and ESPN+ this past Saturday at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Cejudo KOs TJ in R1

Henry Cejudo may have saved the UFC Flyweight Division as he knocked out T.J. Dillashaw to retain his flyweight title.  Cejudo stunned Dillashaw with unassuming punch which knocked the bantamweight down. From there, Cejudo swarmed Dillashaw and the ref stepped in.

From first look, I thought that this was a quick stoppage as they usually allow a little more action for the fighter to recover in championship matches.  But after watching again, with less than a minute gone by in the round there was no way that Dillashaw could have held on and/or recovered.

Cejudo becomes the first champ to receive the new (and maybe controversial) UFC redesigned belt.  He also received props form Nikki Bella which may have been the biggest payoff. While Joseph Benavidez may be the next in light in the flyweight division, its clear that Cejudo would like to take this momentum and challenge Dillashaw for his 135 pound title.  One would think that Dillashaw will want a rematch as he claimed that the stoppage was too soon.

Hardy DQ’d in UFC debut

It was a controversial decision to have Greg Hardy fight on the ESPN debut.  It drew even more raised eyebrows when the UFC put him in the co-main event of the evening especially when you had Paige Van Zant and Donald Cerrone and Alexander Hernandez on the card as well.  Yet, Hardy faced Allen Crowder in a Heavyweight matchup.

While the imposing Hardy may have intimidated on the regional scene, it was Crowder that taunted the former football player.  But it was a knee to the head of a grounded opponent which, as Daniel Cormier described was “very illegal.”  There was no way for Crowder to continue after the knee and it was a disqualification.

Inauspicious debut for Hardy although the UFC does see something in him.  He is still a controversial figure considering his lack of contrition for his past domestic violence past.  We shall how the UFC books him in the future.  One thinks he will be a “Fight Night” athlete until he gets some more seasoning.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

The Barclay’s Center drew 12,152 fans for a gate of $1.23 million.  The last big UFC event at the Barclay’s Center was UFC 223 in April which drew 17,026 for a 3 million gate. Prior to that, UFC 208 in February 2017 which drew 15,628 for a gate of 2.275 million.

In comparison, the UFC’s debut on FS1 on August 21, 2013 drew 12,539 for a gate of $1.53 million at the TD Garden in Boston.  The main event was Chael Sonnen as he submitted Shogun Rua.

Pre-Fight Promotion

Having ESPN as a television partner dramatically increased the marketing and promotion of the event.  The UFC Countdown show for UFC 232 aired on ESPN and starting at the beginning of January you saw the UFC creeping into the network.  The fight library entered the digital platform for ESPN and during Fight Week there was a plethora of fights airing on ESPN2 and other networks.

Dana White did the ESPN car wash and was also on the Jimmy Kimmel Show among other outlets for the event.  ESPN+ also had a very good (if you could find it) shoulder programming featuring Dillashaw and Cejudo.

It was interesting that the criticism of having Greg Hardy and Rachael Ostovich died day during Fight Week.  This could be in part due to ESPN controlling the narrative and the airwaves and the casual ESPN media person not knowing much about the sport.  ESPN Outside the Lines did do a piece on Hardy but outside of that, there was not much else.

Sponsorships

The sponsors in the Octagon included Monster Energy sharing a post with Fastrac, Modelo, Toyo Tires, Nemiroff, Blackheart and Monster had the center of the Octagon.  ESPN+ was visible with signage in the Octagon as well.

UFC sponsor Van Heusen secured signage in the area where the corner stands outside the Octagon.  A new place for sponsors.

The prep point was given a new name and was sponsored by P3,

Also, Body Armor had all the water bottles and corner stools.

Paige Van Zant, who was dropped by Reebok prior to her fight on Saturday, picked up a new sponsor with Liv Body.

Odds and ends

Steven A. Smith on the broadcast was cringeworthy but he was not an embarrassment.  He relied on Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier to do a bulk of the legwork when discussing the fight.  In addition, I thought Trevor Wittman did well as an “expert” chiming in on fight strategy, etc.

The pacing could have been better but it was on par with what the UFC did on Fox.  Notably, there were commercials on ESPN+.

It could have been a little confusing for fans that had to switch from the digital platform to see the early prelims, then watch the prelims on ESPN and then tune back on plus to get the main card.  Hopefully, they will avoid doing this in the future.

We’ll get to see the ratings for this event in the next day or so, although I would think it had to do well over 1 million viewers.

The lead-in to the ESPN portion of the Prelims started 12-15 minutes late.  Fortunately, the college game featured Duke-Virgina, a battle of two of the top 5 teams in the nation.  There was also an early NBA game on ABC which promoted the UFC card too.

The UFC had over 1 million google searches on Saturday which came in second to Chiefs with over 5 million which related to the Kansas City-New England game.  Greg Hardy and Paige Van Zant had over 200,000 searches.  Donald Cerrone had over 100,000.

Proposed dates for further UFC Antitrust hearings won’t happen until August or September

January 21, 2019

If you were hoping for a resolution to the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit in 2019, we have some bad news for you.  It’s unlikely to happen.

A letter filed by the plaintiffs on Friday indicates that both sides won’t make an appearance in the courtroom until this fall.

Letter Re Scheduling by on Scribd

In December, Zuffa filed its Motion for Summary Judgment but prior to any decision, the Judge wanted to understand more of the information offered by the experts, specificially plaintiffs’ expert, Hal Singer.  The parties were to meet and confer on available dates.

As one might expect, lawyer calendars (as well as the Court’s) are packed.  Thus, the first available scheduling option proposed is for August 26-30, 2019 with Dr. Singer and UFC’s expert, Dr. Topel.  In the alternative, they proposed an evidentiary hearing which would start September 9th or 16th.

Payout Perspective:

Clearly, the Court moves at a glacial (without global warming) pace.  Clearing schedules for attorneys, the Court and the experts is quite hard and if you thought this was going to end this year, you (and I) were wrong.  Even with these hearings, there are the prospects of renewed motion for summary judgments and the class certification hearing (to determine if the case deserves class action status).  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Update on Wilder-Povetkin appeal

January 16, 2019

When we last wrote about the Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin lawsuit, Wilder had filed its appeal brief in which it sought the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the District Court decision which sided with Povetkin.

The legal drama has been long and winding and despite a jury trial that determined that the Russian boxer had taken Meldonium after January 1, 2016, the trial court sided with Povetkin’s attorneys after the WBC, the boxing governing body, had reversed course on its belief that Povetkin had taken Meldonium.

You had to wonder what was the court thinking?

The issue of money deposited in a trust account still remained a question.  Upon the court siding with Povetkin and his promoter, they demanded the $4.3 million held in escrow.

The Court opinion sided with Povetkin on the basis of the Bout Agreement entered into was the deciding factor.  It cited language in the World Boxing Council’s Rules and Regulations which stated that “any dispute or controversy” would be bound by the WBC.

Another layer of this dispute revolves around purse money placed in escrow for the fight.  Wilder had written the escrow company to hold the money until a court decided the outcome.  Povetkin and World of Boxing objected to this and sued claiming a violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.  In addition, they claimed that Wilder had violated the terms of the Bout Agreement and should be subject to a liquidated damages clause of $2.5 million.  Wilder was due $4.5 million to fight Povetkin while Povetkin was due $1.9 million.  In addition, there was a $715,000 bonus for the winner.

While Povetkin and his promoter claimed that they were the winners and should be entitled to the money sitting in escrow, Wilder appealed the ruling citing issues with the trial court ruling.

Our rundown on Wilder’s appeal brief from this past October is here.

In November, Povetkin/WOB’s attorneys filed its answering brief to essentially agree with the trial court’s ruling which negated the jury trial’s ruling and request that the appeals court vacate the jury verdict.

The attorneys argue that there was no breach of the Bout Agreement by the Russian as the contract vests discretion in the WBC to make all the decisions relating to the bout.

The focus of Povetkin’s brief cites that the WBC issued a supplemental ruling in November 2017 which stated that “it is not possible to ascertain that Mr. Povetkin ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016.”  The basis was in line with the trial court when it sided with Povetkin in stating that the contract for the fight with Wilder contained no language “mandating that each fighter refrain from ingesting banned substances.” It would defer to the WBC on these matters on whether or not an athlete breached the contract.  This ruling set aside the authority of the trial court and deferred it to the WBC.

The power quote utilized by Povetkin in its response to Wilder’s appeal brief was that “the parties specifically agreed that the WBC’s decision on this question [anti-doping] would be conclusive.”  Povetkin’s attorney cite a NASCAR case which ruled that it should follow NASCAR’s rules.”  It also cited the Tom Brady Deflategate case as the District Court “improperly invaded the contractual authority of the NFL Commissioner.

The basis of Povetkin’s argument that the appeals court should uphold the trial court’s decision is based on its interpretation of the contract which indicates that the WBC is the arbiter of all claims under the Bout Agreement.  As a result, since it determined that it could not conclude that Povetkin ingested Meldonium post-January 1, 2016, he did not breach the contract.

This conclusion seems sound in a vacuum.  The court should defer to the contract.  But it doesn’t seem to harmonize with the factors in this case.  Namely, Povetkin’s failed drug test in April 2016 and the subsequent cancellation (or postponement) of the Wilder fight.  Perhaps the key issue here is whether the bout was cancelled or postponed as Wilder believed it to be cancelled while Povetkin argues it was postponed.

Povetkin argues that the bout was a postponement and it was not a breach.  It cites the Bout Agreement with the WBC rules which states that a scheduled fight may be “rescheduled…or postponed by the WBC.”

In addition, Povetkin’s attorneys argue that the trial jury decided an immaterial fact indicating that the question presented to the jury was whether Meldonium was ingested by Povetking post-January 1, 2016, but the Bout Agreement was not signed until April 11, 2016 and “there is no contractual provision covering the parties conduct prior to execution.”

Povetkin also stakes his claim to the money in the Escrow Account which was to award the purse amounts to each fighter as well as the commission fees.

Finally, Povetkin argues that it should be awarded fees for the anticipatory breach of Wilder.  The claim is that Wilder wrongfully repudiated the Bout Agreement by not showing up in Russia prior to the fight in May 2016.  Instead, Wilder flew home from his training camp in England once he learned that Povetkin had failed a drug test.  Povetkin claims that the bout was to be postponed but Wilder breached the Bout Agreement by treating it as if the bout was cancelled.

Wilder will have a chance to respond to Povetkin’s appeal brief once more prior to oral arguments which should happen later this year.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC 232 Payout Perspective

January 2, 2019

Welcome to another edition of UFC Payout Perspective.  This time around we take a look at UFC 232 which took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Jones tops Gus, calls for DC

Inside the Octagon, Jon Jones showed why you may consider him one of the best of all-time.  He thoroughly dominated Alexander Gustafsson and ended the fight by imposing his will on Gus, taking his back and reigning punches down on him to force the stoppage.

However, its outside the Octagon controversy and drama which makes people wince when they hear Jon Jones and USADA.  Moreover, the outright falsehoods and mistruths spewed by the people in control of the promotion makes you want to take a shower to clean off the grime of their words.

Jones made it clear he wants Daniel Cormier and it seems like the most logical fight to make.  While Anthony Smith and Corey Anderson made their overtures to the Champ, it’s clear that Cormier would be the fight that would draw most interest.

Nunes stops Cyborg, becomes double Champ

Amanda Nunes has now stopped, Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg.  The latter two Nunes stopped in the first round in impressive fashion.  Perhaps the KO of Cyborg was more impressive considering she had not lost since 2005.  Nunes used her superior speed to stun her with some big shots.

Nunes is now the Women’s Featherweight and Bantamweight champions.  The question is how it will market Nunes.  A lot of online debate took place over why the UFC has not marketed Nunes in the past.  It’s clear that she is the best women’s UFC athlete of all time despite the mainstream notoriety of Ronda Rousey and the dominance of Cris Cyborg.  It seemed as though the demolition of Cyborg validated UFC’s greatness.  Cyborg was the once-feared women’s MMA fighter that was too big and skilled for most women.  But, Nunes’ speed, accuracy and punching power proved too much for Cyborg.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Despite the short notice, the event was a sell out with 15,862 for a gate of over $2 million.  To be specific, the gate was $2,066,604.  The Fight of the Night went to Chad Mendes and Alexander Volkanovski.  The Performance Bonuses went to Ryan Hall and Amanda Nunes.

The event was moved earlier this week from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to The Forum in Inglewood, California for Jon Jones.

Notably, UFC 199 drew 15,587 for a live gate of $2,1687,675 in June 2016.  The fight featured last minute replacement Michael Bisping winning the middleweight title from Luke Rockhold.

Lance Pugmire indicated that his sources said that the attendance would be soft.  But that was not the case.  Let’s read these tweets as this occurred within 30 minutes.

Next tweet from Lance in which the UFC gets to him.

There was also this…

And then after the event…

Payouts

There were 10 fighters that grossed over six figures for UFC 232.  It was topped by the headliners splitting $1M a piece.  $500K for Gus and $500K for Jones for those that were unaware.

Of those clearing six figures, Andre Arlovski ($300,000), BJ Penn ($150K) and Carlos Condit ($115K) are well-paid fighters that aren’t living up to their pay scale at this time.  Chad Mendes, who just came back from a USADA ban, made $87K plus $50K for Fight of the Night.  But then stated he would retire.

Sponsorships

Perhaps the most noticeable for UFC 232 was a new “cryptocurrency sponsor” Litecoin.

Also, of note PokerStars continued its sponsorship and it appears it will be the official fight odds for the UFC.  Pari Match, an overseas book for the UFC, was also present in the Octagon.

There were a lot of sponsors in the Octagon for this end of the year event.  They included Monster and convenience store AM/PM sharing a post.  Another post included Pari Mutual, Toyo Tires, TriFecta Nutrition, Nemiroff Vodka, EA’s UFC3 video game, Modelo, Metro PCS, P3, Air Asia, Pari Match, Harley Davidson, Poker Stars, the movie “Happy Death Day 2U,” and Monster had the center.

It was announced that TriFecta Nutrition would be used in helping athletes with its nutrition.  P3 also appeared on the fighter shorts.

Nemiroff is spending a lot on its UFC sponsorship from the outset.

Cyborg signed an individual deal with Monster Energy.  Jon Jones also was sponsored by Monster Energy.

It was interesting to note that Amanda Nunes had to place tape over her headphones (likely Beats) because the UFC has Monster Headphones as its sponsor.

Ratings

The UFC Weigh-Ins drew 123,000 viewers on FS1.  The UFC Countdown Show on ESPN2 Friday drew 99,000 viewers.

The UFC Pre-fight show on FS1 drew 198,000 viewers according to Nielsen (via ShowBuzz)

The UFC Prelims scored just its second rating over 1 million when the UFC 232 Prelims drew 1.148 million viewers.

The UFC Post Fight Show on FS1 drew 227,000 viewers.

Odds and ends

$6 Million.  The amount that Dana White claims the UFC spent to switch the event from Las Vegas to Inglewood, California.  One has to wonder when they put a deposit on the building.  Or, does the UFC have a practice of securing other sites just in case.

As the UFC begins its partnership with ESPN, the Worldwide Leader aired the UFC 232 Countdown show on ESPN2.

With Carlos Condit taking on Michael Chiesa, I noticed that both fighters had cats on their right oblique.  Chiesa had some new ink with a Tiger and Condit has had his lion on his side for some time.

UFC announced a lot of original and new content for UFC Fight Pass in 2019.  This includes a gambling show which will be interesting to see how that goes.

Notably, Chuck Liddell was in attendance at UFC 232.  White had revealed Liddell’s pay in a Kevin Iole article earlier in the month, but I guess there is no hard feelings when you are comped tickets.

Anyone else notice that Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve Whiskey was a sponsor and ran commercial during the PFL’s Championships on New Year’s Eve.

Cris Cyborg was a champion in defeat as you can see with the troll job of Ronda Rousey. She took the KO in stride and congratulated Nunes for her victory.

The UFC announced its events for the second quarter of 2019 and there’s a lot of them.  Most on ESPN+

There were over 2 million google searches on Saturday night for UFC 232 which was behind Alabama vs Oklahoma in North America.  Jon Jones vs. Gustafsson drew 200,000 searches the same night.  Cat Zingano had an additional 100,000 searches likely due to the toe poke she received.

Conclusion

It was a strong ending for the UFC on FS1 with over 1 million viewers and the google searches on Saturday looks as though there was above average interest in the event.  Whether it was due to Jon Jones’ issues or the title fights, UFC 232 probably made out well even though the last minute change of venue really hurt fans.  I would expect a buy rate of between 350-375K total buys including traditional and digital.

 

 

MMA Payout Year in Review: No. 1 – Conor McGregor returned and headlined biggest PPV in UFC history

December 31, 2018

The return of Conor McGregor to the Octagon to main event the biggest UFC PPV in its history is the number 1 MMA biz story of this year.

The event drew a reported 2.4 million PPV buys and was mired in controversy for its ugly ending with Khabib Nurmogomedov jumping the cage and going after Dillon Danis and Conor McGregor taking a swing at one of Khabib’s teammates. The event drew 1.9 million traditional PPV and an estimated 470K-480K streaming buys per Dave Meltzer’s report this past October.

McGregor’s return and storyline began in April 2018 when he got on a plane from Ireland to fly to New York to go after Khabib at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. As we know, he threw a dolly at the bus Khabib was on which led to his arrest. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing which shows us that the justice system can be bought.

The criminal activity led to the disruption of a UFC PPV event and 3 fights being taken off the card at UFC 223.

Yet, this added to the story for the UFC as the bus attack was played up in promoting UFC 229.

The press conference between Khabib and Conor included McGregor promoting his new whiskey, Proper No. Twelve as well as personal attacks by both. McGregor also took a shot at Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz in calling him a terrorist.

The personal attacks did not sit well with Khabib as it was clear it was extra motivation for him. He dominated their fight and submitted McGregor, held on to it a little longer than normal and then spat on him. Then the aforementioned melee ensued.

While most MMA weirdos thought this was the norm, it was a bad look for the sport. But the oddity of combat sports is that despite the after-fight brawl, the rematch will do big money.

At this point, its not clear what will become of the two. McGregor signed a six fight deal to fight in the UFC. Khabib has been on a championship tour of sorts after his fight but his purse from the event is still held up by the NAC due to his actions.

Our review of the event is here and my thoughts about Chickens Coming Home to Roost.

The event was the biggest PPV in the company’s history and it highlights the drawing power of McGregor. The concern will be what happens if McGregor goes on a losing streak. He still has drawing power and the charisma to bring in the mainstream. But if he loses a Khabib rematch, a Tony Ferguson fight and/or a Max Holloway return bout (all fights seem possible in 2019), we could see some problems with the selling of McGregor.

Still, McGregor’s drawing power is strong and he has devout fans that follow him. He came back from the Mayweather loss with the same swagger as before. Can he continue the same after Khabib? Likely.

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