Pacquiao-Bradley II Payout Perspective

April 16, 2014

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at Pacquiao-Bradley II taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Pacquiao ousts Bradley

It was even until the middle rounds when Timothy Bradley began to fade and Manny Pacquiao poured it on.  Bradley showboated a little and tried to feign he was not hurt by Pacquiao’s punches.  Either he was going to be a genius or he was trying to lose. Even when Bradley invited Pacquiao into skirmishes and attempted to emulate the same strategy as Juan Manuel Marquez with his KO in December 2012, Pacquiao seemed to win them and/or evade the big shot.

Pacquiao now faces the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado on May 17th.  Most fans would probably like to see Pacquiao-JMM 5 because of the built-in storylines.  Their last battle drew 1.15 million PPV buys and would likely equal or eclipse that number.

Even though Pacquiao should face the JMM-Alvarado winner, the LA Times is reporting that the Pacquiao camp is lobbying for a shot at Mayweather.  Will this happen?  Don’t hold your breath.  However, the bargaining leverage is all with Mayweather.  Its Pacquiao with the reported money problems and he has been the one to concede the stricter drug testing and is willing to listen to a less than 50% split of a fight.  So, does that put pressure on Mayweather, or is this paragraph wasted time?  We have two different promotions and if you are Mayweather, only public perception would lead you to a fight with Pacquiao.  Does Mayweather really care about the public?

Attendance

Top Rank reported a sell out for the MGM Grand Garden Arena with 15,601 in attendance.  The weigh-ins a day earlier were at capacity as well with approximately 4,500 witnessing Pacquiao and Bradley weigh in and flex for those in attendance.

On Tuesday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission announced 14,099 tickets were sold for a total gate of $7.9 million.  H/t: Steve Kim


The gate was approximately $7,865,100 which is the lowest in years for Pacquiao.  The gate falls 24th on the list of top boxing gates for Nevada.  Pacquiao-Hatton in 2009 received an $8.8 million gate (15,368 in attendance) comes right before Pacquiao-Bradley II.

Payouts

It was reported that Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley would earn $6 million each.  However, Bob Arum indicated that Pacquiao would make no less than $20 million.  Both would receive PPV upside as well.

The undercard payouts are as follows via Bad Left Hook:

Ray Beltran ($85,000) vs Arash Usmanee ($80,000)

Khabib Allakhverdiev ($250,000) vs Jessie Vargas ($90,000)

and Bryan Vasquez ($55,000) vs Jose Felix Jr ($40,000)

Promotion of the Fight

As is custom with a big fight, Pacquiao made an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.  Bradley made an appearance on the NBA on TNT in which he was interviewed during a Laker game.

Top Rank Boxing also utilized its web site to hype the fight as well as livestream the weigh-ins.

The customary repeats of Bradley and Pacquiao’s greatest fights including their first encounter were shown on HBO and on the Audience network.

It’s notable that less showings of HBO’s 24/7 series occurred over the multiple networks owned by Time Warner.  You may recall in past fights that the series could be seen on TNT, TBS and even CNN.  This time around, there was little cross-pollination.

HBO added a special on-location, live pre-fight show the Thursday before the fight in addition to its usual 24/7 shows.

One thing that drew the ire of Bob Arum was the fact that the MGM Grand had signs for Floyd Mayweather’s May 3rd fight.  The signs were more prominent than those of Pacquiao-Bradley II which was pointed out by Arum whenever he could.  Indirectly, this likely upset sponsor Tecate, since Mayweather fights are sponsored by Corona.  There’s obvious brand confusion ther.  Mayweather has fought at the MGM 9 straight times and it appeared that the loyalty took precedence over the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch.  It may also be due to the fact that Mayweather’s promotion has a contractual agreement to hype the fight at the MGM a certain time before the fight which may be the reason.

Sponsorships

The sponsors for this event include Tecate, Smart Communications, the leading wireless services provider for the Philippines

Tecate had its usual PPV rebate offer for those purchasing its beer at selected retailers.

The newest and most visible sponsor was Sony with its PlayStation 4 platform receiving high visibility during the fight including trailers of the PS4 gaming experience.  An example of this activation had PS4 running trailers in between fighter weigh-ins during the live stream on Top Rank’s web site.

Bradley wore a variety of hats to promote certain sponsors.  During his NBA on TNT interview, he wore a SaxonyInvest.com hat.  During the 24/7 series, he wore a Pocial hat which is a social networking web site that connects people through polls.  I am not sure if this is a great way to brand yourself but certainly Bradley is getting paid for these advertisements.

Bradley is still sponsored by Nike and had custom “Desert Storm” gear for the fight.  He also was sponsored by Lexani – a high end car wheel manufacturer. The shirt was on display at the weigh-ins.

Juan Diaz sported a Body Armor hat in the corner of Bradley during the fight.

Pacquiao’s cornermen must have received Mitshubishis as the Cerritos, California and South Coast Dealerships were plainly visible as patches on Buboy and others in Pacquiao’s corner.

Odds and Ends

An interesting takeaway from the 24/7 series is that Timothy’s wife, Monica Bradley, has taken over as his manager.  According to the show, she brokered Bradley’s new deal with Top Rank including the financial terms for this fight.  Bradley earned $6 million for his second fight with Pacquiao which is $1 million more than he earned in the first fight.  It’s a big question as to whether or not it’s a good idea to have your spouse represent you.  Negotiations can get heated and while it’s easier to grasp what your client wants, there may be an issue as to if you can separate yourself from the personal relationship.

Some may have noticed that Freddie Roach wore an Under Armour shirt at weigh-ins.  It seemed a bit odd considering that Pacquiao is sponsored by Nike and has worn Pacquiao Nike gear in the past.

The LA Times had an interesting article on the enforcement of PPV fees on bars that intend to show fights.  The charge is dependent on the size of the bar and the more seats in a bar, the more the bar has to pay.  As an example, a 50 seat bar is charged $1,600 for showing the PPV, a 51-100 seat bar is charged $2,200.  For those bars that may attempt to evade the fees, promoters employ enforcement that sues bars showing the PPV without paying.  Zuffa employs similar enforcement to protect itself from piracy.

With this fight, it’s likely that Pacquiao solidifies his spot as PPV royalty as he moves closer to the second spot of all-time top PPV performers.  Oscar de la Hoya currently owns second while Floyd Mayweather tops the list.

And yes, there was Pacquiao’s mother.

Conclusion

This fight had more storylines yet seemed to lack the hype or buzz of previous Pacquiao fights.  Nevertheless, this is one of those fights that people will find and would be willing to pay the $70 to watch.  Industry experts estimated the buy rate at 700,000 while Arum suggests a more optimistic buy rate of somewhere over 1 million.  Their last fight was 890,000.  Notwithstanding Pacquiao-Rios this past November, Manny is still a valued commodity in the boxing PPV landscape while Bradley is still an entertaining fighter on the rise.  We may just throw out that fight in Macau as an anomaly.  Perhaps I may be just bullish on Pacquiao and refuse to see the writing on the wall, but I believe that this fight will do better than their first fight and hit 1 million PPV buys.

EA Sports unveils UFC release date, game cover, & details

April 15, 2014

Last year, EA Sports announced that Jon Jones would be on the cover of this year’s EA Sports UFC video game. Alexander Gustafsson also joined Jones after being voted in by the fans after defeating GSP in the finals. Below is the finished cover for the game.

EA_UFC_2014_Cover

Amazon.com currently lists the EA Sports UFC video game for the PS4 and Xbox One for $60 USD with a release date of June 17th. Here are the features for the game:

  • Real Damage: Every fighter knows that one good shot can ruin your day. EA SPORTS UFC introduces a non-linear damage system which can result in big damage coming from a single strike. The system produces a greater variety of cuts and contusions.
  • Dynamic Striking: A mixed martial artist uses the environment to his advantage and for the first time in a UFC game, you can too. A dynamic environment allows you to pull off jaw-dropping moves using the Octagon, including roundhouse kicks, superman punches and much more. Combine those abilities with the best striking technology in the industry and that one perfect strike could change the fight.
  • Real-Time Exertion: A UFC bout is one of the most physically demanding sports on the planet requiring mixed martial artists to give it their all with every movement. Real-Time Exertion brings each moment of that action to life in your gameplay experience. Through real-time vein popping, skin discoloration, muscle flex, as well as signs of fatigue setting in through the course of each round, you will witness the effort it takes to be one of the best fighters in the world.
  • Strategic Submission Battles: To own the belt, you have to be dominant on your feet and on the mat. EA SPORTS UFC re-invents the ground game to create a battle for position and control that captures the strategy of a submission battle. Like the real sport, in EA SPORTS UFC fighters will work through multiple stages as they work to advance or escape from a fight-ending submission.
  • Fighter Likeness and Facial Animations: EA SPORTS UFC will set a new bar for character likeness and emotion in gaming. For the first time in an EA SPORTS game, every single licensed athlete in the game has been created from high resolution 3D head and body scans to deliver revolutionary character likeness and authenticity. Powered by EA SPORTS IGNITE, new facial animation technology delivers more expression, emotion and will communicate greater sense of awareness and intelligence in the Octagon.

 

Payout Perspective:

The UFC’s debut from EA Sports is scheduled for June 17th, which is roughly about two months from press release.  Not much promotion has occurred for the game yet other than private demos and slow leaks of features and scans for the game.  That figures to change as we get closer to launch date.

E3 will take place on between June 10 and June 12, so just a week before the release.  Expect a big UFC presense during the event.  Also, it is expected that a EA UFC demo should be available before the release date, which would be available at E3 as well.  The UFC will also push the game’s release on the UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov PPV, though it’s a shame that event will likely receive little exposure.

A few weeks ago, MMAJunkie’s Mike Bohn did a developer Q&A with the EA UFC team, which is a very good read for those interested on the developers thoughts and their process to making the game.  There was also some controversy a week ago when it was announced that Bruce Lee would be a pre-order bonus in the EA UFC video game. The inclusion of the martial arts icon was not the issue, but the labeling of him as “the Father of MMA” in the game did appear to ruffle some feathers within the MMA community.

Harvey responds to Rousey ruling

April 5, 2014

Darin Harvey issued a statement on the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) ruling which released his former client, Ronda Rousey from her fight contract.   MMA Payout has obtained the decision siding in favor of the UFC women’s bantamweight champion and we take a look at what went wrong.

Via Inside MMA on AXS TV:

“When I first met Ronda Rousey four years ago, she was destitute and UFC President Dana White was quoted as saying a woman would never fight in the UFC. I set out to make Ronda a star and prove Dana wrong. The results speak for themselves. Ronda is now a highly sought-after model, spokesperson and actress, not to mention the first and still reigning female UFC champion. She deserves all the credit in the world for her accomplishments, but she never would have achieved such unprecedented success without the unwavering financial investment, career guidance and professional support Fight Tribe Management and I provided her.

I am not a litigious person, but I never thought for a moment that once she made it to the top, Ronda would turn her back on us and refuse to honor her legal and moral obligations. After months of radio silence and without even giving me the courtesy of an explanation I was forced to go to court to compel Ronda to private arbitration per the terms of our agreement. Before that could be sorted out, Ronda’s legal team ran to the State Athletic Commission, demanded an expedited hearing and tried to get our entire agreement thrown out on a technicality. During our four-hour hearing last week, I finally heard Ronda’s side of the story. Frankly, it’s pathetic and I’m not surprised the Commission chose not to include any of that in their written decision. The Commission did properly reject Ronda’s attempt to invalidate the entirety of our agreement, and I am very pleased with that aspect of their decision. Our case against Ronda will now proceed. I am confident that when all the facts are presented to an impartial private arbitrator, Fight Tribe Management’s contributions to Ronda’s career will be fully recognized and fairly rewarded.”

Harvey also tweeted the following:

 

Roy Englebrecht, a fight promoter in California, empathized with Harvey’s plight but also advised the following:

I have seen this happen a number of times over the years, where well intentioned people want to get involved in the fight business, but never take the time to learn about the business and some of the rules that govern it. This situation with Rhonda and Darin could have been avoided if Darin knew the CSAC rules and followed them. This manager/fighter agreement or promoter/fighter agreement in California is unique to the sport, and if not followed you will lose, as this ruling showed.

The comments are based on the ruling issued by Andy Foster of the CSAC in which it determined that the evidence and testimony at the March 28th Arbitration showed that the “Service Agreement” (as identified in the CSAC Arbitration Decision) was void as to the professional fighting services only.

The ruling, in favor of Rousey, is premised on Harvey not properly executing the fight contract on “printed forms approved by the commission.”  The Commission ruled that, “[t]he controlling contract was the subject “Representation Agreement”, which was entered into in California and specifically binds the parties to be governed by California law.” Hence, the rationale by the Commission would lead it to conclude that since the contract was not on its printed forms, the contract was void as to the fighting portion of the contract.  In addition, the Commission ruled that “a fighter-contract” is not valid unless both parties appear at the same time before the Commission, and the contract receives the Commission’s written approval.”  This did not happen as the contract, which was originally drafted in May 2012, was not executed until January 2013.  Regardless, it was not done before the Commission.

Even though Harvey’s “Representation Agreement” did not comply with the Commission rules, he still argued that he was entitled to “quantum meruit” (latin for “what one has earned”).  This is a theory in contract law allowing a party to be compensated for actual work/services performed.

Under this theory, Harvey was seeking to recoup losses incurred from representing Rousey.  Harvey indicated in an exhibit at arbitration that from January 1, 2010 to January 31, 2014, he collected $25,608 in income from Rousey fights, $23,180 from PPV fights and $20,830 from income of sponsorships.  This is offset by Harvey’s claim that he paid $170,376 in expenses related to Rousey’s fighting career which makes Harvey at a loss of $85,818 from representing Rousey.  The paid expenses included paying for training including strength and conditioning, sparring partners and living expenses.

However, the Commission ruled that Harvey was not entitled to quantum meruit since “such a finding would be inconsistent with the provisions of California law requiring proper fighter-manager contracts…”   The Commission reasoned in its decition, “[i]f Harvey, or other managers, were allowed to recover by means of quantum meruiti, it would undermine the statutory authority purposes of the Boxing Act.”  Thus, the Commission ruled against Harvey based on the overarching policy that it must protect the fighters from manager graft.  As stated in the decision, “[t]he Boxing Act is a regulatory statute, and recovery on a quantum meruit theory in the absence of compliance with the act would be inconsistent with its regulatory purposes.”

Payout Perspective:

As we indicated in a previous post, expect this case to heat up in the anticipated lawsuit and/or private arbitration.  However, this situation may have been avoided if Harvey and Rousey entered into a fight agreement as dictated by the rules of the CSAC.  If there would be further representation in other matters outside of fighting, it would seem that a second representation agreement would be necessary.  Based upon the facts, it looks as though the fighter-manager relationship was informal at the beginning with no need for things such as a signed contract.  This may explain the long lag between the date of the Representation Agreement (May 15, 2012) and the date Rousey actually signed it (January 29, 2013).  The harshness here is that for not following the rules of the CSAC, Harvey lost over $85,000 spent on her client that he will not be able to recoup.  The moral here is to follow the rules.

CSAC rules Rousey released from fight contract

April 4, 2014

Sherdog’s Mike Whitman first reported that the California State Athletic Commission issued its ruling in the arbitration of Ronda Rousey and Fight Tribe Management.  The commission ruled that Rousey is released from her fight contract but left the commercial aspect of the contract to the court.

Executive Director of the CSAC, Andy Foster heard the arbitration between the parties last week over the dispute between the UFC women’s bantamweight champion and her manager Darin Harvey.  Originally, Harvey had petitioned the Los Angeles Superior Court for the issue regarding the representation agreement between the parties to be decided via arbitration.  However Rousey’s legal representatives claimed that the contract should be determined by the CSAC.  The arbitration was held on March 28 with Foster serving as the arbitrator with the assistance of two attorneys from the AGs office.

Harvey claimed that the representation agreement was drafted as a talent contract and not a fighter-manager contract.  Regardless, Rousey’s attorneys argued that the representation agreement was void under California law.

The facts stated that Rousey and Harvey entered into a 3 year agreement starting on May 15, 2012 and signed on January 29, 2013.  Harvey would receive 10% of Rousey’s income generated from professional fighting, modeling, acting and other commercial activities.  However, the CSAC determined that the agreement “was not prepared on the required, pre-approved forms, nor did both parties appear before the commission at the same time in order to receive the commission’s approval, thereby invalidating the agreement as a fighter-manager contract in California.” (quote via Sherdog)  The CSAC ruled that Harvey was not a “manager” as defined under Business and Professions Code section 18628

The CSAC left open the issue as to the “commercial activities” that were incidental to “fighting activities” to the court.  So, it’s likely that we have not heard the last of this dispute.

Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout will have more on this decision as it becomes available.  The initial read from Sherdog’s report reflects the fact that this contract dispute is not over.  It’s interesting to note  that based on the information available, Harvey sought his manager fee from “commercial activities” which may have been a conflict with Rousey’s agents at William Morris. We note that Rousey signed Fight Tribe’s agreement on January 29, 2013 and then signed on with William Morris in late February 2013.  Whether this was coordinated by Harvey and/or the relationship between Fight Tribe and William Morris became strained over time is an issue that may play out in court proceedings.

Debate sparks over Fund a Fighter alternative to sponsorships

April 1, 2014

The state of sponsorships was brought up once again by dueling MMA Junkie articles which looked at the ways fighters can find additional revenue in what appears to be a dwindling sponsorship market.

The first article took a look at the MMA “crowd funding” in the form of Fund a Fighter.  Essentially, the purpose of the company is for fans to contribute to fighters’ fundraising campaigns as they prepare during a training camp in lead-up to their fight.  In exchange, the fighters provide the fans that contribute to their campaign with various “rewards” which varies based on the amount contributed.  The “rewards” can include a simple recognition on social media, to a t-shirt, to fight shorts worn on fight night.

It sounds like a great alternative to seeking out sponsors and dealing with concerns over payment, or lack thereof.  The obvious drawback is the uncertainty as to whether fans would be willing to fund a training camp for a fighter.

According to the Junkie article, the average campaign garners $2,100 which is far from the amount of money that a UFC fighter could have made in sponsorships a couple years ago.

Brian Ebersole and Dan Miller are the most notable fighters to use the web site which charges a 15% commission of the total amount each fighter receives. According to the Fund a Fighter web site he raised $3,250.00 for his fight against Rick Story at UFC 167.

On the other end, World Series of Fighter Rick Glenn received $275 for his fight at WSOF 5 in September 2013.  There are other fighters on smaller circuits that utilize this web site as well with varying degrees of success.

A couple days later, MMA Manager John Fosco talked to MMA Junkie and lashed out about the “crowd funding” strategy and described the Fund a Fighter web site as “welfare.” Fosco had strong words for the perceived problems with the UFC sponsor tax and tightening of funds by sponsors.  Essentially, he believes that there is still money out there for fighters citing (in the Junkie article) that he can get his fighter $8,000 for a Fight Pass fight and has done “way over $10,000” in sponsorships for a Facebook fight in the past.  Fosco lays blame with “lazy managers.”

The article goes on about how Fosco’s company, VFD Marketing, has looked for opportunities for its fighters outside of the Octagon as well as traditional sponsors on their gear.

Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout interviewed Fosco back in 2010 when he originally had secured Safe Auto as a sponsor for some of his fighters.  It became an official UFC sponsor.  Fosco indicated that Safe Auto sponsorship was based on a cold call to the company.

The articles give differing views of the current state of sponsorships.  It appears that Fosco has adapted with the sponsorship market and rails on those that complain about it.  Then, there is a site like Fund a Fighter which is an “out of the box” way for fighters to fund their training through donations.  Fund a Fighter appears to be a great strategy for fighters on the smaller circuits with regional popularity attempting to make it to the next step.  Basically, this allows someone with a full-time job some money to spend on food; gear and the ability to take time off work without having it hurt them economically.  From this standpoint, a site like this would be smart.  Similar to a small-time filmmaker seeking a way to put the final editing touches on their film, “crowd funding” appears to be a good way to seek out the help they need.

On the other hand, based on the information from its web site, it appears that UFC-type fighters could (and should) make more in sponsorships than what is being collected on a Fund a Fighter campaign.  There are many impediments of this happening:  the UFC sponsor tax, “lazy managers” as perceived by Fosco or just the inability to land sponsors.

Even if sponsors are landed, there may be issues with how they are obtained.  There are the Dynamic Fasteners and Auto Shopper.com’s which appear to have purchased sponsorships in bulk.  In a recent article, Dynamic Fastener described this as “bundle pricing” when DF negotiates sponsorships with an agent for the agent’s entire stable of fighters appearing on a card.  The problem here is whether the individual fighter is getting the best deal for themselves or are they being lumped in at a discount.  Cole Miller spoke out about the obstacles of the lower-to-middle card fighters getting sponsorships (and sponsor money).  Chris Camozzi and Mac Danzig have also spoken out about sponsors and both have refused to take on sponsors for their fights even though they are willing to pay.  You may recall Danzig even went as far as to accept no sponsors for a fight on Fox.

With the possible advent of UFC uniforms, will the sponsorship market in the UFC change yet again?  We shall see.

UFC 169 and UFC 170 PPV Updates

March 19, 2014

Dave Meltzer, from MMAFighting.com, reported the latest estimated PPV numbers from the first two events in 2014, UFC 169: Barao vs Faber II and the much talked about UFC 170: Rousey vs McMann.

Final_UFC_170_event_poster

According to Meltzer, UFC 169 drew an estimated 230K pay-per-view buys while UFC 170, which was mostly sold on Rousey’s name, did an estimated 340,000 buys. Meltzer then went ahead and discussed the new UFC draw PPV categories:

It appears, at least for now, that there are a few categories of UFC on pay-per-view.

There is the somewhat rare sub-200,000 buy show, which are fights that, for whatever reason, a lot of the regular buyers are willing to skip. The 200,000 to 275,000 range are usually title fights with champions who have yet to establish themselves as major draws, fights significant to fans of the sport but the general public doesn’t really care about. The 275,000 to 375,000 range looks to be the major champions, Jones, Rousey and Cain Velasquez, when put in with opponents without major name value, although Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos was in that range.

When the public feels there is a big fight or a can’t miss show, like UFC 168, the sky is still the limit. But even [Canelo] Alvarez, coming off the biggest grossing pay-per-view event of all-time, only hit 350,000 buys on March 8 when matched up with someone who was not considered a pay-per-view level star.

The changes from a few years back, where any UFC event was seemingly guaranteed to hit 300,000 buys, is a natural evolution coming from the proliferation of free content on television.

Ultimately, the economic future is going to be driven by television rights worldwide, and new technological advances. It will be less reliant on pay-per-view, the revenue stream that allowed UFC to have its huge growth from 2005 to 2010.

The MMAPayout Blue Book has now been updated with these latest numbers.

 

Payout Perspective:

The week leading to the fight, MMAPayout analyzed trends and historical data to predict what Ronda Rousey’s impact would be on the event. We pegged the event doing 300K-400K buys in the “acceptable” range. Above 400K would have been a huge hit while anything below 300K would have been a disappointment. So it fell exactly in the range in which we predicted.

The new “floor” for the UFC seems to be around 150K PPV buys for those rare cases that even core MMA fans are willing to pass up a PPV event.  You then have this range of 200K-400K which most fighters not named Anderson Silva and GSP will fall into.  At this point, getting anything over 450K will be a tough talk and will definitely have to be something beyond the average card that fans and casuals will both want to see. We expected that 2014 would be a telling year for the PPV business for the UFC considering most of their big PPV draws are absent. The only question heading into 2014 was if the next tier of UFC stars such as Rousey, Jones, Weidman, and now Hendricks would be able to hold the fort until either the stars comeback or the UFC figures out how to make a big fight fans will gladly pay for.  The biggest fight that they have touted so far in 2014 is Rousey vs Carano or against Cyborg.  That alone tells you drastically the UFC has changed in the past couple of years.

UFC 171: Payout Perspective

March 17, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time well be taking a look at UFC 171 at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Hendricks wins vacant title

A scare with not making weight did not matter for Johny Hendricks as he defeated Robbie Lawler in the Fight of the Night.  For Hendricks, it was redemption from a controversial loss to GSP last time out.  Lawler was impressive in defeat but just didn’t have enough to win the title.

Hendricks was the top welterweight of the night as he will now look to a smorgasbord of challengers to the title which may include a couple fighters (Lombard, Woodley) on the card and one (Nick Diaz) that was in attendance.

UFC_171_event_poster

Woodley upsets Condit

Tyron Woodley may have moved to the top of the contender’s list for the welterweight division with his victory over Carlos Condit.  While the knee injury to Condit caused the stoppage, it should not take away from the fact that Woodley was impressive and can argue he is next in line for a title shot at Hendricks.

Attendance and Gate

As we reported on Sunday, the UFC announced its attendance at 19,324 for a live gate of $2.6 million.  The numbers reflect the largest U.S. crowd to see a UFC event.  The numbers bested the UFC’s last event in Dallas which did 17,428 for a $2.4 million gate at UFC 103.

There were no information yet on comps and the Texas Department of Licensing will confirm the numbers later this week.

Bonuses

The bonuses were awarded to Hendricks-Lawler, Ovince St. Preux and Dennis Bermudez.

Fight of the Night – Hendricks-Lawler

Performance of the Night – OSP (Von Flue!) and Bermudez.

Each fighter earned an extra $50K.  In addition, Harley Davidson ran a promotion in which one of the bonus winners could win a Harley Davidson based upon a fan vote on the UFC’s Facebook page.  Hendricks won the fan vote and a new motorcycle.

Sponsors

The usual suspects were in the Octagon including the official UFC sponsors of MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Alienware, Corn Nuts as well as Bud Light taking the center of the Octagon.  Fram Auto Filters was the latest addition to Octagon signage.  In addition, Robbie Lawler’s sponsor, the Air Force Reserve also had signage in the Octagon.

The most notable sponsor for Hendricks was Reebok. Hendricks wore a shirt with the hashtag Reebokzquick.  Hendricks co-starred in a commercial featuring the Reebok fitness line in a recent commercial It was the second time that the clothing brand has sponsored him in the Octagon.  With Hendricks as champ, we can expect that Reebok will extend its sponsorship deal.  Hendricks was also sponsored by two official UFC sponsors: Corn Nuts and Alienware.

reebok-johny-hendricks-ufc-171-shirt

Diego Sanchez had a product tie-in where he wore a Training Mask during his workouts on the UFC Countdown show.

Myles Jury was sponsored by a Panini America and Dee Zee truck accessories on the front of his shorts.  According to its web site, Jury will be making an appearance for his Panini sponsor.

mylesjury_headshot

Tyron Woodley signed on with Affliction Clothing prior to UFC 171 (via FighterxFashion).  He also snagged a deal with Monster Headphones.

You don’t f*ck with #TheChosenOne Tyron Woodley (<href=”https://twitter.com/TWooodley”>@TWooodley)! Let’s get that title shot, eh? #UFC171 #MonsterOctagon pic.twitter.com/c1VZnFJSLV

— Monster Products (@MonsterProducts) March 17, 2014

The UFC had a “Vote for the T” Contest where fans had a chance to design a t-shirt for the UFC to market and sell for $30.

Post-UFC171 Headlines

Who’s next for Johny Hendricks?  A lot of debate swirling that Woodley, Hector Lombard or even Nick Diaz should face Hendricks next.  Diaz, who flew to Dallas courtesy of the UFC, was featured on the company’s Instagram account mocking Hendricks when it appeared he had missed weight and needed to retry.  Despite the showings of the other welterweights on the card, the appeal of Diaz is that he can sell a fight without even trying (i.e. we’re not talking Wolf Tickets).  But, the bottom line is that the show revealed that the welterweight is a very competitive division with many challengers to face Hendricks.

Odds and Ends

Unfortunately, the UFC 171 Prelims were on FS2 due to college basketball tournament action as the prelim fights were probably the best in recent memory.

The Von Flue Choke will be the most demonstrated move in BJJ gyms across the nation this week.

Hendricks marketed “BeardHeads” riffing off of his trademark facial hair. There was a sponsor giveaway associated with the gimmick as well.

I am not clear why Diego Sanchez was eating quail egg and steak tartare before a fight.  It seems very suspect.

The top cities that searched the name Johny Hendricks on Google were Oklahoma City and Montreal.

Google trends revealed that Johny Hendricks was not getting as many searches as when he fought Georges St. Pierre but UFC 171 was getting significant traffic.

If GSP does come back against Hendricks, it could be the Cowboy Stadium show that the UFC wants and a 1 million PPV buy event.

Conclusion

While the attendance and gate numbers are impressive for a show not featuring GSP/Anderson Silva or Cain Velasquez (note we excluded Ronda Rousey based on her last outing), it’s hard to conclude a big buy rate.  There was nothing that stood out in the promotion of this event despite it being for the vacant welterweight title.  Still, the Hendricks win puts him in a position to be groomed to be the next big draw for the UFC.  With the lack of a big name at the top, and the minimal buzz for the event, a buy rate of 300,000 would be solid.

Rousey’s management requests arbitration over undisclosed contract issue

March 13, 2014

MMA Payout has obtained documents which shows that Ronda Rousey and her management team are in a dispute over its representation of the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.  Darin Harvey, President of Fight Tribe Management filed a Petition to Compel Arbitration in LA Superior Court last Friday against Rousey.

The documents filed by Fight Tribe Management, LLC request that the Court Compel Arbitration and seek that the briefing in this matter be sealed.  If the Court grants the Application to seal, the documents will unlikely be available to the public.  In his Declaration in Support of the “Application to Seal Briefing,” Darin Harvey states that the terms of the Representation Agreement with Rousey are confidential and cites two clauses in their agreement which support his request.  He indicates the contract states financial disclosure of their agreement is to remain confidential “without the prior written consent of the other Party” unless it is required by law.  It further cites a clause indicating that any dispute over the agreement should also be confidential in its attempt to resolve it.

Sherdog’s Mike Whitman spoke with Rousey’s legal representation in this matter and indicated that there may be an issue as to whether a private arbitrator can resolve the matter or whether the California State Athletic Commission should be in charge of resolving this dispute.  Rousey’s attorney, Steven Bash indicated that the dispute is governed by the California State Athletic Commission and the California Business and Professions Code.  Bash stated that he has yet to file a response and could not give specifics on the nature of what it would be.

Payout Perspective:

This will be an interesting legal fight that we will follow.  Rousey’s lawyer states that the dispute should be resolved under the rules of the California State Athletic Commission while Fight Tribe Management has filed to compel arbitration in Superior Court.  We might see an initial dispute over that procedural issue.  There are rules for managers and fighters under the CSAC but whether they apply to this situation is not known due to the confidentiality of the dispute at this point.

There are arbitration provisions under Article 3, §227 of the California Code of Regulations which relate to contractual issues.  These relate to boxers but we might assume that MMA fighters would fall under this provision.  However, it does not look as though there are rules which would seal briefing (unless the parties agree pursuant to the terms in the agreement in dispute).  The rules state that the parties would have to furnish the contracts that are in dispute at the arbitration hearing.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Dana White: FOX reason why Gustafsson is fighting on Fight Pass for Americans

March 10, 2014

Before the Ultimate Fight Night 37 London card, Dana White held one of his infamous pre-fight scrums where he tried to clear up some of the misconceptions regarding Fight Pass, including why Alexander Gustafsson ended up fighting on Fight Pass after a huge fight against Jon Jones on PPV last year.

Link: TheMMAReport, Abbey Subhan (YouTube)

Dana White addressing Fight Pass to the UK MMA media:

“First of all, the fight is being distributed to 350 million possible viewers [lists all countries available]. In the UK, the entire card will be on BT Sport and the main event for the first time ever here will be on Channel 5, open TV to everybody… The Americans have to pay for it on Fight Pass.  So the reason that this happened is, we added 10 more fights, we went to FOX and try to see if FOX would pick up these 10 more fights, and they didn’t.  So that’s why we put these on Fight Pass. They create their budgets at the beginning of the year and it wasn’t in their budget to pick up these fights. You know, not to say they don’t pick them up later, or whatever could happen with the deal, but that’s what happened. So, it’s either no one gets to see them or you put them on Fight Pass.  So, I hope that clears up some of the questions about Fight Pass… and anybody else and the rest of the world and countries I didn’t call, that I didn’t say a minute ago, they get it on Fight Pass too. Which of course all these people in other countries are pumped to pay for it on Fight Pass, whereas the Americans who are used to getting these fights for free, some of them are a little twisted, but whatever, what are you going to do.”

 

Payout Perspective:

These pre-fight scrums have historically produced some of the more interesting tidbits and have shed some light into what goes on behind the scenes of their business.  This was no different as Dana White specifically mentions that their mainstream television network partner, FOX, chose not to pickup these extra 10 UFC events, hence why UFN 37 and some more future fights will end up on Fight Pass instead of one of the FOX sport networks for American MMA fans.  That decision alone will cost avid UFC fans 10$ a month, or an extra $120 a year in addition to the already existing cost of UFC PPVs (13 PPVs in 2014).  If you add up the cost of Fight Pass and PPV events, the total cost of being an American MMA fan (not including your cable bill or attending live events) is around $900 dollars.  As a contrast, NFL, MLB, and NBA let their fans subscribe to season subscription packages that only cost around $200-250 dollars, which is only about 25% of the cost of an American MMA fan in 2014. In fact, just buying 4 UFC PPV events would exceed the entire season’s cost of all major sports.

The other part of White’s statement that sticks out is the difference in the relationship between UFC and FOX compared to UFC’s  previous relationship with Spike TV.  FOX picked up the UFC as a sports property to be aired on their sport networks.  Other sports have a fixed number of events that never change. You make a deal for a number of events and that’s what you air.  FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 have to balance all their sport properties, and lets face it, the more mainstream sports such as NASCAR, MLB, and even NCAA Basketball will get priority on FS1.  The UFC was able to add events on a whim in the past and Spike TV was more than happy to do it as they didn’t air any other sports or conflicting programming that would also give them good ratings.

This is not the case now that the UFC is on a sports network.  It’s also the reason why something that doesn’t have full promotional support, such as TUF Nations, is getting bounced around between FS1 and FS2 and has bottomed out at below 100,000 viewers.  The next season of TUF on Fox Sports 1 will be crucial for the UFC to see if they can regain the momentum picked up last season.  With the addition of Fight Pass, their current product is currently scattered between FOX, FS1, FS2, PPV, and Fight Pass (subscription), which has been argued as a necessity for UFC international expansion to be a success. But at the same time, it also leaves a portion of its American fan base, as Dana White put it, a bit “twisted”. UFC and FOX failed to come into an event agreement for 2014 that other networks around the world were able to make, and because of that, American fans are left to foot the bill.

Vitor Belfort out of UFC 173 title bout after NSAC TRT ban

February 28, 2014

Earlier in the day, the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone treatment therapy (TRT), just a few hours after that announcement was made, UFC teased a big announcement would be aired on FOX Sports Live tonight.

Fox Sports Live reported that Vitor Belfort would not be applying for a Nevada license for UFC 173, which is scheduled to take place on May 24th, due to the NSAC ruling to ban TRT.  His replacement was announced to be Lyoto Machida after his recent win against Gegard Mousasi, which means the new UFC 173 headliner will be Weidman vs Machida.

Belfort claimed that he would now make the efforts to get off of TRT and continue to fight in the UFC without the testosterone therapy since other athletic commissions in the US would most likely follow the NSAC’s ruling.

 

Payout Perspective:

Today’s NSAC ruling on banning TRT will have a ripple effect on MMA for years to come. We got some of that today already, as Belfort’s announcement today to pull out of his fight three months in advance will cement his status as the face of the TRT era in Mixed Martial Arts and in the UFC.  The UFC is already in a tough spot to find headliners this year due to injuries and the impromptu departures of Georges St. Pierre (infinite leave) and Anderson Silva (injury), two of their biggest stars.

The buzz for a Weidman vs Machida main event in Las Vegas will not have the same feel as previous major events during the Summer time. This news puts even more pressure on Ronda Rousey to keep things going in 2014 as a number of UFC champions will continue to be sidelined from injuries suffered last year. As far as PPV numbers go so far in 2014, UFC 169 was estimated by Dave Meltzer to be in the low 200,000′s while UFC 170: Rousey vs McMann figures to do somewhere on the lower to mid end of 300,000 buys.  Factoring in today’s news of Belfort pulling out of UFC 173, it looks like it will be a tough first half of the year for UFC PPV sales.

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