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.

Lyoto Machida caught by USADA, fight with Hendo off of UFC on Fox 19

April 13, 2016

USADA notified the UFC on Wednesday that Lyoto Machida declared using a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection last week.  As a result, his fight with Dan Henderson scheduled for UFC on Fox 19 this Saturday on Fox has been taken off the card.

Machida stated that he was unaware that the substance was prohibited in and out of competition.

The UFC released a statement on the former light heavyweight champion.

The UFC organization was made aware today by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency  (USADA), the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, that Lyoto Machida declared the usage of a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection last week. Machida stated that he was unaware that the substance was prohibited both in and out of competition and, in accordance with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, his disclosure of usage will be taken into consideration by USADA during any potential results management and adjudication process.

Payout Perspective:

Unlike other findings, it appears that Machida let USADA know of the substance (not yet known) that he was taking.  The disclosure may help with any potential penalty that might occur as a result of the finding.  Machida, 37, may face a 2-year suspension which could be the end of his UFC career.  Of course, it does appear Machida was up front with the usage of the banned substance so that might mitigate the potential penalty.  As for removing the fight, there was no choice especially since it was going to be one of the televised bouts on Fox.  It definitely is disappointing news.

WWE touts #FreeWrestlemania to attract new viewers to Network

April 3, 2016

The WWE’s annual biggest event of the year is today as Wrestlemania 32 takes place at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.  This year, the WWE Network is offering a free month including this today’s event.   The strategy seems to be contrary to WWE’s goal for profit but at least one analyst believes its a positive calculated risk.

Interesting enough, in 2013 pre-WWE Network, the WWE raised its PPV price point to $70.  In 2016, you can access the WWE Network for free and watch the company’s biggest day of the year.

The ability to watch Wrestlemania for free through its Network is not a secret, in fact the WWE has been aggressively marketing it on social media using the #FreeWrestlemania and #WhatAreYouWaitingFor hashtag.

In a post by Brandon Ross, on the BTIG web site, he evaluates the WWE’s risk of giving away the event for free and how it might impact the company’s business.

First off, for those not familiar, the WWE offers its Network for $9.99 per month.  However, it continually runs a promotion in which new subscribers may access the network for free for one month with the hope that the subscribers likes what they see and continue on with the network.  Also, now former subscribers (previously purchased the network and want to re-up) can access a free month if they have never previously taken advantage of the free month promotion.  There has been criticism about this program since it is fairly easy to take advantage of the system by basically using a new email address.  The article indicates that the WWE has tightened its authentication system to prevent this from happening.

Despite the distinct possibility that the WWE would be losing profits from its Network by giving away Wrestlemania, Ross believes that it is a “smart, calculated risk” for three reasons.  First, he likes the idea of free trials as it’s a way for a potential subscriber to “test drive” the product.  Second, most of the U.S. fans have tried the network and those that have previously subscribed to the WWE and are coming back are paying.  Third, in international markets the WWE advertises the network via social media and the company should leverage its presence to promote the network to international fans.

While there are inherent issues with a free trial for a month, the WWE reported strong conversion rates in its first two trials.  It has not reported conversion rates since the first two but the inference here is that if the “free month” was not successful in converting subscribers then it would not continue with the promotion.

The question of “churn” is always a question with the network.  Chris Harrington has done an excellent job in following the quarterly churn.  In its quarterly calls, WWE has announced a total subscriber number but the number has to be analyzed a bit to determine the amount of new subscribers versus those that discontinued their subscription.  Ross indicates that while it is unknown whether the WWE will announce its total subscribers, paid subscribers or both that they will be interested in the total number (free and paid).  The total number, according to Ross, will provide insight into the “longer-term opportunity of the network” as opposed to the paid subscriber number.  Ross estimates that the Network should hit over 1.8 million subscribers when looking at free and paid combined for Wrestlemania.

Payout Take:

The WWE’s strategy to allow the possibility of fans to access the Network to watch Wrestlemania for free is a risk as Ross identifies.  In comparison, the UFC allows a 7 day free trial for its Fight Pass digital platform.  However, returning subscribers that have cancelled Fight Pass and want to renew do not have the opportunity for the free trial again.  The shorter time frame to sample the product plus the tighter restrictions seems like the better strategy to capture the maximum amount of potential revenue for its platform.  Although no numbers are available, it appears that Fight Pass is doing better than the WWE.  This could be attributable to the broad availability (domestic and international) of Fight Pass.  UFC is coming off one of its most successful days for Fight Pass with UFC Fight Night 84 from London.  Again, no numbers since the UFC is private, but you may infer that the company picked up a lot of subscribers for the event.  Also, Fight Pass offers three distinct tiers to subscribe with the less expensive tier being an up-front payment for 12 months.  So, instead of the WWE’s model of paying while you go, the UFC will get the money first even if you tail off from watching.

The WWE actually embraces the opportunity to promote a free Wrestlemania.  One would believe that it is hoping that its vast social media assets will appeal to the international markets that have yet had the opportunity to watch the network.  Also, you would think that its conversion rates are acceptable at this point that it is willing to give away the most-watched event of the year for the company.

We will see how the numbers turn out.

OSP steps in against Jones for interim belt at 197

April 2, 2016

Ovince St. Pierre will replace the injured Daniel Cormier and will face Jon Jones at UFC 197 for the “interim” Light Heavyweight title.  Dana White made the announcement on ESPN on Saturday afternoon.

The news that Cormier was injured surfaced on Friday night and the UFC was quick to replace the current Light Heavyweight champion instead of taking Jones off of the April 23rd card.

OSP is the #6 ranked Light Heavyweight in the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting matchup and one that saves a PPV from Demetrious Johnson having to headline another PPV.  Nothing against Johnson, but the numbers reflect that Johnson is not a PPV draw.  Maybe the bigger question with the fight announcement here is why is this for the interim light heavyweight championship?  Is this to appease Jones?  Cormier’s injury should not have him away for too long and OSP challenging for the title does not seem right.

Cormier out of UFC 197 with injury

April 1, 2016

Multiple sources have reported that Daniel Cormier is injured and will be out of UFC 197 against Jon Jones.  Although reported on April 1st, it appears that this news is not a joke.

With the Cormier-Jones fight out for UFC 197, it appears that Demetrious Johnson-Henry Cejudo should be the headliner.

The UFC has not provided an official response to the news of Cormier’s injury.

BJPenn.com first reported the news.

Payout Perspective:

Obviously, the news breaking on BJPenn and on twitter, one had to think this was an April Fool’s Day joke.  But, it was not.  Earlier this week we were all worried whether Jon Jones would make it to UFC 197.  It was actually Cormier who had never needed to pull out of a fight until now.  We will see if Jones will still fight or wait until Cormier is ready.

Jon Jones arrested for violating probation

March 29, 2016

TMZ Sports reports that Jon Jones was taken into custody by police in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a violation of his probation.  Jones was cited for drag racing last week and a judge had issued a warrant for his arrest as a result.

TMZ reports that Jones turned himself in to the Abuquerque police department on Tuesday morning.  The terms of Jones’ probation last month required

EAG Sports, the management company representing Jones issued a statement per TMZ:

“Jon and his team are taking this very seriously and we will let the legal process play out.”

“We are confident he will be released once he has an opportunity to explain to the judge the facts in this case.”

Payout Perspective:

There are reasons why professional teams, and even in college, there is a “security detail” for some players.  It’s the ability to protect your investment and ensure that the player does not get into trouble.  Perhaps the UFC attempted to help Jones and he denied their request.  But, it’s clear that Jones was out late and got into trouble.  Whether or not it was his fault, whether or not he will be vindicated in court does not matter.  The legal ramifications might impact next month’s showdown with Daniel Cormier.  Then again, it may not (see Adrien Broner, although his case has a different set of circumstances).  What it does do is bring into question Jones’ decision making and those that help him and manage his career.  With Jones on probation and an imminent return to the UFC, there needed to be someone to ensure that Jones did not run afoul of the law.  Not only is Jones’ career in question, but a big business PPV next month.  We will see how this plays out.

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