UFC on Fox 23 peaks with over 3M viewers, Prelims draw 619,000

January 31, 2017

The UFC on Fox 23 card drew 2,189,000 viewers in adjusted DVR +3 ratings. The card peaked during the main event between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena with 3,003,000 viewers.

The overnight ratings reflected 2,002,000 viewers.  UFC

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 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 20 2,440,000 2,975,000
UFC on Fox 21 2,200,000 1,983,000
UFC on Fox 22 2,690,000 3,178,000
UFC on Fox 23 2,020,000 2,189,000

In addition, the UFC Prelims on FS1 drew 619,000 viewers.  The 3-hour show on FS1 preceded the 2-hour telecast on Fox.  The prelims are down from last month when it drew 679,000 viewers.

The UFC Post-Fight show drew 203,000 viewrs with 75,000 live on FS2 at 7pm PT and 128,000 viewers on FS1 when it reaired after 9pm.

UFC on Fox Prelims – 2016

UFC on Fox 21 Prelims rating: 1.122M (on Fox)

UFC on Fox 20 Prelims rating: 1.261M (on Fox)

UFC on Fox 19 Prelims rating: 1.4M (on Fox)

UFC on Fox 18 Prelims rating: 702,000 (on FS1)

The prelims featured Raphael Assuncao-Aljamain Sterling and Nate Marquardt-Sam Alvey.

Payout Perspective:

The DVR numbers bring up the event slightly but the peak is down from last month’s UFC on Fox 22 which was 4.8 million viewers.  Notably, all 4 fights on the Fox broadcast ended early via TKO stoppage or submission.

UFC on Fox 23 draws 2.02M viewers

January 29, 2017

UFC on Fox 23 drew 2.02 million viewers Saturday night according to Television By Numbers.  The event drew a 0.7 rating in the adult 18-49 category and a 3 share.

The event featured women bantamweights Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena in the main event.

According to Nielsen ratings, the UFC on Fox lost out to the NBA Countdown show in the first half hour of the event and then was overshadowed by the NBA game on ABC featuring the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers.

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 2,500,000
UFC on Fox 20 2,440,000 2,975,000
UFC on Fox 21 2,200,000 1,983,000
UFC on Fox 22 2,690,000 3,178,000
UFC on Fox 23 2,020,000

This time last year, UFC on Fox 18 drew 2.43 million viewers for a Ryan Bader-Anthony Johnson main event.

Its unlikely the ratings will rise much more in DVR+3 ratings as Shevchenko’s arm bar sub of Pena came at about the top of the hour so no overrun.

Payout Perspective:

Low ratings compared to last January’s UFC on Fox network broadcast.  Also, it was lower than Shevchenko’s defeat of Holly Holm at UFC on Fox 20.  The lack of a tie-in with the NFL may have hurt the viewership. Of course, the NBA evening games running opposite the UFC probably had a lot to do with the lower rating as well.

Court grants Haymon’s dismissal of Golden Boy’s antitrust lawsuit

January 26, 2017

Judge John Walter issued an order granting Al Haymon’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Golden Boy’s antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles on May 5, 2015.  The case was set to go to trial in March.

In his 25-page opinion filed on Thursday, Judge Walter determined that Golden Boy did not come forth with genuine issues of fact to support its claims that Haymon’s promotion, Premier Boxing Champions, foreclosed the market on boxers and other promotions among other antitrust violations.  Moreover, it determined that Golden Boy’s injury “was caused by conduct that was beneficial to competition in the promotion market.”

The judge noted that Haymon’s business strategy actually helped boxing with more televised matches and better pay for fighters.

The opinion noted that the tv strategy of securing deals with multiple networks implemented by PBC did not foreclose all networks.  It also pointed to the fact that Golden Boy expert’s did not provide an examination of recoupment of money of PBC’s purported strategy of “flipping” its business model from tv buys to securing license fees.

It also was not persuaded by Golden Boy’s claims of “sham” promoters that aided PBC nor the alleged “firewall” between promoters and managers. The court found no evidence that boxers were coerced into working with promoters. Moreover, the judge noted that PBC worked with other promoters.  In the latter claim, the Judge wrote that there was no antitrust injury because there was no standing.  Only boxers and governmental agencies may make the claim per the Ali Act.

In its conclusion, it noted that antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.

Payout Perspective:

In reading the opinion, one might be concerned with the UFC antitrust lawsuit.  The court stressed the issue that antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.  Despite the speculation that Haymon’s PBC attempted to foreclose the market on competitors, there was no evidence found by the court which conflicted with antitrust laws. The court determined that Golden Boy did not define the relevant markets and did not establish a “tie in” or “tie out” which may have been a violation of antitrust laws. Based on the opinion, it is unlikely that Golden Boy appeals this decision.

Golden Boy, et al. v. Haymon, et al. by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Exclusive: Interview with Alliance MMA’s Robert Haydak and Suckerpunch Entertainment’s Bryan Hamper

January 25, 2017

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with Alliance MMA’s Robert Haydak and Suckerpunch Entertainment’s Bryan Hamper.

The two spoke about the acquisition of the fighter management company and how it helps both companies going forward.

Among the top-level fighters Suckerpunch represents includes Max Holloway, Joanna Jedrzejczykand Germaine da Randamie.

Haydak, president of the publicly traded MMA company stated that he knew of Suckerpunch from his previous relationship with them as the head of his own promotion. “I’ve known them for a number of years.  We have a good working relationship.  I’ve watched their company grow since Cage Fury (Haydak ran Cage Fury prior to establishing Alliance MMA).  I have a lot of respect for them and a lot of their top athletes.”  Bryan Hamper, head of Suckerpunch MMA, added, “We fell in love with the model [of Alliance MMA].  We really felt it was a fit the way going forward.”

Hamper noted that the internal production staff of Alliance MMA would help its stable of young up and coming fighters: “We can now film our fighters using high quality content and send our videos.  It’s no longer cell phones.  It’s a better finished product to market.”

Suckerpunch currently has 103 athletes.  “We have less than 3% performing in Alliance MMA,” said Hamper.  “The lionshare of the company is in the UFC, Bellator and Invicta.”

Hamper stated that the Alliance MMA acquisition is “not an exclusive deal.”  He explained that any of its fighters are still free to fight on regional cards that are not associated with Alliance MMA.  Hamper noted that the management company tries to be selective with its representation.  “We have an internal system of where guys are at.  For us it’s not about volume business.  We want to bring in high-character guys.”

“Working with Alliance MMA gives us the bandwith to expand,” said Hamper.  According to Hamper, the acquisition will free up Suckerpunch to go after more prospects while Alliance MMA will assist with the corporate work.  “We will really focus on sponsorship engagement.”  Hamper noted that Suckerpunch recently secured several sponsor and appearance deals for UFC interim Featherweight Champ Max Holloway outside of the octagon.  He notes that sponsorship deals are still out despite restrictions made by the UFC.

“We think we have 15 guys on the cusp of being in the UFC,” Hamper said of the current state of his prospects.  He indicated that he would like to bring on 10-15 clients a year.  “We have the ability to market them like our top-rated fighters.”

“Suckerpunch under Alliance MMA will continue to operate under their own brand,” said Haydak.  “Their brand identity is not going anywhere.”  Similar to its other acquisitions, Alliance MMA has purchased the company but the acquired business will operate under its own name.  He indicated that the company will likely add more assets to the publicly traded company.  “Obviously, taking a look at our business plan, we are continuing our strategy in 2017.  There will be several acquisitions made this year.”

Under the new owners, Suckerpunch will continue with managing its fighters.  Hamper added, “[R]ight now, we’re looking at our growth perspective going forward.  We are excited about the growth and making sure our top prospect guys are getting looks in 2017.”

The two addressed the potential issue of the acquisition of the management company conflicting with also being a promoter of MMA events.  This may be an issue if legislation to the expansion of the Ali Act to MMA is passed.

Hamper reiterated that, “Less than 3% of our athletes are competing for Alliance MMA [promotions].  It’s a very small piece.”

“Definitely it’s something we considered when looking at this acquisition,” Haydak stated.  “We are monitoring the Ali Act.  Less than 3% of Suckerpunch fighters fight within Alliance.  If the Ali Act (is expanded), it would not happen to have impact on our operations.  A lot of promotions are managing athletes.  We are completely transparent.  We are putting the athletes first.”

Hamper added, “From my perspective, transparency is a key element.  Opponents and matchup approvals come from athletic commissions.  We’re governed by athletic commissions.  I think we’re taking broad steps.”

An expansion of the Ali Act would create a firewall between managers and promoters.

Bellator 170: 1.374M viewers on Spike TV

January 24, 2017

Bellator 170 drew 1.374 million viewers on Saturday night on Spike TV per Sports TV Ratings.  It peaked at 1.85 million viewers during the Chael Sonnen-Tito Ortiz fight per Spike TV.

Sports TV Ratings notes that it drew 703,000 in the A18-49 demo.

Spike TV notes that the co-main event between Paul Daley and Brennan Ward drew 1.7 million viewers.  The 3-hour broadcast ranked first in cable with men 18-49 in the timeslot.

Payout Perspective:

The event drew less than Bellator 149’s average of 1,964,000 viewers but 170 was the highest-rated event on Spike since last February’s event.  The event shows the drawing power of the elder MMA fighters.  Certainly, the promos for the fight between Sonnen and Ortiz helped promote the event and drew 1.85 million for their fight.  The peak viewership for the main event was slightly more than the 1.8 million that tuned in for Tito versus Stephan Bonnar in November 2014.

Haymon-Golden Boy await judge ruling on MSJ

January 12, 2017

The Al Haymon-Golden Boy antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles is set for trial on March 14, 2017 if the court does not grant the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

For a good refresher on what this case is about and the gist of the motion, you can read Paul Gift’s synopsis last month. We take a deeper dive in the legal issues of the motion below.

An oral argument for the motion was taken off calendar (i.e., cancelled) by the court this past November 28th.  As of this date, there has been no ruling issued by the trial court.  Realistically, there is no timeline for the court to render a ruling on the motion except for the fact that there would likely be an opinion prior to trial documents needing to be filed with the court.

Haymon’s Motion for Summary Judgment

Haymon’s attorneys, and the attorneys for his entities that were also sued in this litigation argue that Golden Boy failed to establish a triable issue of fact of its attempted monopolization.  It essentially argues that there is no evidence of specific intent for a monopoly, Golden Boy failed to identify any anticompetitive or predatory conduct and Golden Boy misconstrues the concept of antitrust injury.

One of the claims set forth by GBP is that Al Haymon should be held individually liable for violation of the antitrust laws.  Haymon attorneys assert that Haymon could not be liable of antitrust injury because individual liability requires “inherently wrongful” conduct, a per se violation.  Haymon argues that attempted monopolization is not properly evaluated as a per se antitrust violation.

In an antitrust case, there are two ways a court looks at whether there is a violation of the antitrust laws.  The first is a “per se” violation and the second is the “rule of reason.”  Per se relates to conduct that is manifestly anticompetitive with limited potential for procompetitive benefit.  The rule of reason is the presumptive or default standard and the general standard it examines whether the procompetitive benefits outweigh the anticompetitive effect.

“Inherent conduct” is equated to a “per se” violation by Haymon.  In its moving papers, they state that courts have regularly dismissed claims against corporate officers in cases dealing with conduct that is permitted or even encouraged by the antitrust laws.  Here, the argument is that Haymon and his entities did not do anything wrong.

It also argues an “even if” scenario providing the hypothetical that if a court were to analyze the tying claim as a “per se” claim it would fail on the merits.  It first argues that there is no tie in the first place.  Haymon points out the similar Top Rank lawsuit in citing that Top Rank failed to prove as a matter of law that the two distinct services of promotion and managing were tied together.  The clause in the contract that is questioned is the provision that requires consent to enter into contracts.  However, Haymon’s attorneys point to the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan fight in May 2016 as an example of interpromotional fight making.  Also, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao case is another example which reflected the opportunity for a contracted Haymon fighter to work with another promoter.  Thus, the examples show that the contracts do not foreclose other promoters.

Haymon argues that the market described by GBP are artificial and are “illogical, divorced from the reality of the boxing industry, and fail to satisfy GBP’s burden to establish coherent markets in which the Defendants could possibly have market power.”  It states that “Championship-Caliber Boxers,” the market described by GBP in its lawsuit is not a recognized industry term.  Haymon attorneys identify the fact that the term was interpreted differently by multiple people within the boxing industry.  They also argue that GBP has not shown that there are barriers to entry in the markets for which they define.

Golden Boy Theory of Antitrust Injury

As you might recall Golden Boy brought a lawsuit against Al Haymon and his entities illegal tying of its managerial and promotional services.

As we wrote:

The lawsuit claims that Haymon, et. al have created a “tying” relationship in violation of antitrust laws.  This is done through agreements affecting to separate relevant markets.  The first market is for management of Championship-Caliber Boxers and the market for promoters.  As described in the Complaint, the management market is the “tying” market whereas the promotion market is the “tied” market.  Essentially, the fact that Haymon manages so many fighters it affects the promotions market since he has exercised control over the direction of each fighters’ career.

Tying under Section 1 of the Sherman Act must show:

  • There is evidence of a tie;
  • There is evidence “of coercion” of purchasers to buy products or services;
  • There is evidence of market power in a properly defined market.

Golden Boy opposes the motion on the grounds that Al Haymon is personally liable for antitrust injury.  It suggests that the standard for individual antitrust liability is met when an officer knowingly approves to each element of a claim whether or not the claim involves “inherently wrong” conduct.  It also states that it has ample evidence to support their tying claim as Haymon tied their management services to the rejection of competitors’ promotion services in favor of their own.  Also, it rebuts the assertion by Haymon that it has fabricated the relevant market definition.  It also contends that there are “significant barriers to entry” in the relevant markets.  Finally, it states that the Haymon acted as promotes as well as managers.

GBP claims that issues of fact exist as it relates to the evidence of exclusionary contracts which “tie out” others.  It also claims that its expert’s testimony provides ample evidence of the markets in the industry and that they are controlled by Haymon.

In its opposition to the motion for summary judgment, GBP argues that Haymon’s model of paying supracompetitive sums is not a “rational business model, unless there is to be a payoff.”  The “payoff” as concluded by GBP is the monopoly of the boxing promotion business, controlling the television market for boxing and “invoking supracompetitive pricing once dominance is obtained.”

The opposition points to “draconian exclusionary terms” in contracts which give Haymon Sports control over all aspects of the boxer’s career and a veto right over all boxing related contracts.  In its pleadings, Haymon does admit that a “standard management agreement gives it the right to approve the boxer’s selection of promoter, it has never exercised this right to require or coerce its boxers to use or not use a particular promoter.”  This seems to negate, but confirm terms within the Haymon boxing management contract that reflects control over the boxer’s selection of promoter.

GBP also argues that Haymon has a tying arrangement in which one must refrain from accepting another product.  Here, GBP contend that Haymon tied his management services to the rejection of competitors’ promotion services.  They suggest that fighters under contract with Haymon know that they cannot work with other promoters outside of Haymon.  GBP indicates that this is a triable issue of fact that would

Payout Perspective:

The standard on a motion for summary judgment is to weigh all of the pleadings and facts within and weigh them in the “light most favorable to the non-moving party (in this case GBP).”  If the court determines that there are no genuine issues of material fact, it will grant a dismissal as a matter of law.  However, a court will deny a motion for summary judgment if there are pending issues of fact.

Whether or not Haymon could be individually liable will be an issue the court will need to determine based on the facts provided and the legal arguments made by the parties.  While Haymon’s attorneys argue that personal liability cannot be assessed in these matters, Golden Boy argues that case law supports the contention that Haymon is personally liable.  As for the business model, the fighter contracts will be an issue for the court to consider as well as GBP’s expert testimony which addresses the relevant markets.

Once a decision is rendered, MMA Payout will let you know

Mark Hunt files lawsuit against UFC, White and Lesnar

January 10, 2017

UFC Heavyweight Mark Hunt has filed a lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar in the District Court of Nevada on Tuesday.  The lawsuit stems from Hunt’s fight against Lesnar at UFC 200.

Hunt is claiming violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Fraud, False Pretenses, Breach of Contract, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Duty, Negligence and Unjust Enrichment.

The premise of the complaint is that the UFC allowed Lesnar to fight at UFC 200 while providing the WWE wrestler with an exemption from the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance in both an out-of-competition and in-competition drug test.

Lesnar defeated Hunt via unanimous decision at UFC 200 this past July.

The Complaint makes reference to UFC 152 when Vitor Belfort was allowed to fight with a testosterone use exemption but without disclosing the information to the public or his opponent Jon Jones.

In the lawsuit is embedded a photo of Lesnar pummeling Hunt.

Of the notable items in the Complaint, Hunt claims RICO violations against the UFC which carry treble (3 times) damages.

He also claims personal injuries which include damage to reputation, loss of opportunity of career advancement and further earning potential.

Payout Perspective:

Hunt has intimated that he may take legal action and he did.  The timing comes after Lesnar was recently handed 1 year suspensions from USADA and the Nevada State Athletic Commission which meant that he could come back in July 2017.

RICO is a very specific statute that requires that a person must commit at least two acts of racketeering activity from a set of crimes within a specific time frame and are related to an enterprise.  This will be interesting for Hunt to prove and would make discovery as interesting as the current antitrust lawsuit filed by former fighters.

Hunt is scheduled to fight in March 2017 which makes this lawsuit all the more interesting.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

2016: The year in boxing

January 7, 2017

2016 seemed to be a low-key year in the world of boxing.  While 2015 saw some major moves from Al Haymon and his Premier Boxing Champions, the endeavor has fizzled.  The same could be said for the year of boxing on PPV as there were no major events that drew PPV buy rates the likes of Mayweather or Pacquiao in their primes.

We saw less of Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions on the multiple channels it was on the year prior.  PBC has blown through a lot of capital since it launched in March 2015.  A lawsuit filed by Golden Boy, one of two filed by rival organizations, is set to go to trial in March 2017.

Currently, Haymon and the entities sued by Golden Boy have filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case prior to the trial date.  No decision has been made as of this date.

The other antitrust lawsuit against Haymon, filed by Top Rank Boxing was settled by the parties this past spring.

Both of the lawsuits claimed that Haymon’s PBC business model sought to create an illegal tie-in through Haymon’s signing of fighters as their management and then promoting them.  They also argued that PBC foreclosed the fighter market and possibly promoting the fighter since fighters under Haymon would allegedly not deal with other promoters.  It also tied-out promotions that sought to be on television since Haymon struck exclusive deals with multiple networks.

Chris Algieri fought this past April but expressed concern with how much he would be paid as his promoter did not reveal how much of a percentage he would receive from his fight against Errol Spence, Jr.  The situation brought up an issue with the Ali Act.

Speaking of Spence, after defeating Algieri his next fight in August drew an impressive 4.8 million viewers on NBC with a peak of 6.34 million.  The PBC on NBC fight aired after the U.S. Olympic gold medal basketball game between the U.S. and Serbia.  The one-hour show was sandwiched between Olympic network coverage which may have attributed to the huge viewership which seems to be an anomaly when compared to past PBC on NBC telecasts.

Deontay Wilder and his promoter Lou DiBella are embroiled in a lawsuit with Alexander Povetkin and his promoter World of Boxing, LLC over a failed fight that was set to happen in Russia in May.  Povetkin tested positive for Meldonium.  However, he claimed that only small traces were found in his sample and his use occurred prior to January 1, 2016 when WADA banned the substance.  The WBC reinstated Povetkin because the substance in his system was below the threshold accepted by WADA although it claimed to require Povetkin to submit to drug tests.  The parties are embroiled in a discovery fight but the case is set to go to trial this spring.

Notably, Povetkin tested positive after he was reinstated and scheduled to face Bermane Stiverne for the WBC heavyweight title.  He stated that he wanted his “B” sample tested on Thursday at the UCLA Laboratory in Los Angeles.

DiBella is one of the boxing promoters that protested the new law legalizing MMA in New York, but requiring promoters to provide $1 million worth of coverage per athlete in the event of a life-threatening brain injury.  He pulled the rest of his shows scheduled for New York in late October as a form of protest and as a matter of practicality. Jo DeGuardia of Star Boxing along with DiBella submitted a public comment regarding the regulations.

A survey of all of the fights on HBO, including PPV replays, drew an average of 780,000 subscribers of the premium channel.  The highest-rated fight this year was GGG versus Dominic Wade on April 23rd which drew over 1.3 million viewers.  Only two other fights reached past 1 million viewers: Sergey Kovalev versus Jean Pascal which drew 1.179 million viewers in January and Andre Ward versus Sullivan Barrera which drew 1.064 million viewers.

Showtime had less fights this year and drew an average of 363,000 viewers.

In May, a year after the “Fight of the Century” between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. resulted in a lawsuit as Showtime sued Top Rank citing indemnification and breach of contract related to lawsuits filed by third parties against Showtime and Top Rank related to Pacquiao’s claim that he fought with an injury against Mayweather.  Showtime sought to invoke the indemnification language in the contract.  However, Top Rank, as you might expect, disagreed with the reading of the contract.  In fact, they intended to bring a motion to dismiss Showtime’s lawsuit.

But, in September, Showtime voluntarily dismissed its case.

Finally, it was a rather disappointing 2016 for boxing PPVs.

Boxing PPVs 2016

April 9, 2016 – Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400K PPV buys

May 7, 2016 – Alvarez-Khan: ~450K-600K PPV buys

July 23, 2016 – Crawford-Postol: 50K-60K PPV buys

September 17, 2016 – Alvarez-Smith: >~300K PPV buys

November 5, 2016 – Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys

November 19, 2016 – Ward-Kovalev – 160,000 PPV buys

An unfair comparison, except for this web site I suppose, but if you consider the UFC had its most successful year on PPV with 5 events going over 1 million, boxing had a dismal year.  Canelo Alvarez, the predicted heir to boxing PPV, did not draw as expected and Manny Pacquiao is losing his appeal in the U.S.  Note that HBO passed on distributing his November fight in order to promote a fight that drew just 160,000 on PPV.  Unless GGG-Canelo happens in the fall of 2017, there are not any marquee PPV fights coming up in boxing this year.

UFC 207 early PPV estimates: 1.1M buys

January 6, 2017

UFC 207 looks to have done well on PPV as initial estimates by The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer have the PPV at 1.1 million buys.

UFC 207 featured the return of Ronda Rousey as she faced Amanda Nunes for the UFC bantamweight title.  Nunes stopped Rousey in the first round.

The 1.1 million PPV buys ties UFC 193 as the largest buy rate for a Ronda Rousey headlined event.

UFC 193 – 1.1M

UFC 190 – 900,000

UFC 184 – 600,000

UFC 170 – 350,000

UFC 157 – 450,000

Payout Perspective:

The buy rates do not include the events where Rousey was the co-headliner with Chris Weidman (UFC 162 and UFC 168).  UFC 168 drew 1.025M buys but was the return of Weidman-Silva.  It was also Tate-Rousey.  UFC 207 reflects the Rousey demo.  The PPV was not hurt due to the PPV being on Friday night or the fact she did not do the regular media rounds to promote the fight.  You probably cannot turn your back on the media all the time but the fact that Rousey was returning provided some extra interest for her fans.  It also shows the niche that she has carved out and if she were to retire, would there be another woman fighter that could garner this much attention.

UFC 207: Payout Perspective

January 3, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 207 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rousey finished in 48 seconds

It was the long-awaited return of Ronda Rousey.  She looked in top shape but the question was whether she could return to her form pre-UFC 193.  The former bantamweight champion that brought women’s MMA to prominence could not.  Amanda Nunes broke Rousey’s spirit within seconds of the fight starting.

Rousey’s lone takedown attempt was stuffed and she actually started turning away from punches as if she’s never fought before.  It was pretty sad to watch a former champ go down this easy. She was out on her feet and didn’t even realize the fight was over.

For Nunes, it was easy work.  As she did at UFC 200, she broke a fighter’s spirit and likely retired another top opponent.  Nunes also showed some great promo skills post-fight as she told the media to forget about Rousey.

It will be interesting to see who will be next for Nunes.

I don’t think we can say poor Ronda Rousey.  Even though her MMA career should be over, her payday ($3 million) ties her for the highest-ever with Conor McGregor.  Rousey is more psychologically damaged than physical and if she doesn’t have her heart in fighting, she shouldn’t do it.


Garbrandt showboats to championship

While one championship fight had little promotion, the Dominick Cruz-Cody Garbrandt title match-up had great lead-up.  The two verbally sparred throughout the promotion of the fight and Garbrandt attempted to go after Cruz during media rounds.  There was even a pull-apart at the ceremonial weigh-ins.

Garbrandt showed no fear and solved Cruz’s awkward, but successful style.  It could be that Garbrandt was just quicker or Cruz lost a step but it made it a unanimous decision for the challenger.

This exchange will likely be gif’d to death.  In all honesty, I’ve watched it about 50 times.

In a touching moment, Garbrandt put the belt around a kid he befriended that battled back from leukemia. The kid, who walked hand in hand with Garbrandt to the ring, chanbed his life according to the new champ.  In the same post-fight interview, he called T.J. Dillashaw a m****f*****.  So, he’s still rough around the edges.

Garbrandt could grant Cruz a rematch or go after T.J. Dillashaw.

Attendance and Gate

Ticket demand was still high for Rousey as UFC 207 drew the largest attendance for an MMA event in the state of Nevada with 18,533.  T-Mobile Arena sold standing room only seats for the event which likely helped the attendance figure.  The gate was $4.75 million.

While the secondary market was not as robust as prior Rousey events, this was the first one in sometime in Vegas.

Bonuses

The fighters taking home the belts earned bonuses: Amanda Nunes and Cody Garbrandt.  Garbrandt and Cruz won the Fight of the Night.  Nunes and Alex Garcia earned a Performance bonus as well.  All received $50,000 checks.

Salaries

Ronda Rousey drew $3 million which ties her with Conor McGregor for the highest-reported salary in the UFC.  Amanda Nunes earned $200,000 ($100k win/$100 show) for her defeat of Rousey.

The full list is here.

Pre-Fight Promotion

Ronda Rousey did little pre-fight promotion except for appearances on Conan, Ellen and an ESPN piece with Ramona Shelburne. Dana White stated that this was due to a one-time agreement with Rousey.

There were radio ad buys for UFC 207 to bolster the end of the year event.  The ad included the Cain-Werdum fight which did not happen.

Although Rousey did not speak, the faceoff in her return during the UFC 205 event in New York was intense.  Also, the ceremonial weigh-in on Friday with Nunes wearing the lionhead was great as well.

Over 103,000 people watched the ceremonial weigh-ins on YouTube and over 59,500 watched it on Facebook Live during the Rousey-Nunes faceoff.

Rousey appeared in 3 of the 6 Embedded episodes although she did not talk that much.

Ratings

The UFC weigh-ins drew 222,000 viewers on FS1 and 94,000 in the A18-49 category per Sports TV Ratings.

The UFC 207 Prelims drew 1.511 million viewers on Friday night making it the fourth-highest rated PPV prelim of 2016.

The pre-fight show on FS1 drew 572,000 viewers and the post-event drew 404,000 viewers.

Overall, very strong numbers despite the fact it was a Friday night.

Sponsorships

MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, the WGN series ‘Outsiders’, Geico, Twinzz.com, IconicFaceOff.com, Geico, Budweiser, the movie XXX and Monster Energy had the center.  XXX is the latest in the Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) series.

Rousey was sponsored by Monster Energy drink as she had the logo on her shorts.  The same for Dominick Cruz.

Pantene also had the Rousey commercial during the PPV.  The company activated a new campaign around Rousey in lead-up to this event.

Toyo Tires sponsored the Embedded series.

Odds and ends

Yahoo Beauty found a way to mention Ronda Rousey by doing a story on why women MMA fighters braid their hair.

Johny Hendricks looked better against Neil Magny, but missed weight again.  The issue seems to be in his head as he challenged media to cut weight.

Cain Velasquez was taken off the UFC 207 card and his fight with Fabricio Werdum after discussing his injuries in an interview.  The NAC took Cain off the card without his knowledge according to the former heavyweight champion.  He responded via a lengthy Facebook post.

Embedded was a good time for Dominick Cruz to show-off his branded t-shirts.

A big faux pas occurred when cable and satellite distributors advertised that UFC 207 was happening Saturday.  As we know, it was Friday.  Based on the Friday night ratings, people knew the correct time.

Nunes had the “Island of Dr. Moreau” look with the lion head at the ceremonial weigh-ins.

If you noticed a man in a wheelchair at the weigh-in, he had cashed in his UFC Reward Points for the opportunity to be on stage at the weigh-ins.  A pretty nice payoff considering he saw an almost fight right in front of him and Rousey-Nunes.

The bad news about Rousey’s fame was that she was covered in most of the mainstream news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

“Ronda Rousey Fight” drew over 5 million google searches on Friday which should indicate a huge PPV gate.  But, a portion of those probably were searching for the fight after learning the news that Rousey was KO’d in less than a minute.  Interesting enough, there were no copyright warnings as there were for UFC 193.

Conclusion

All the indicators (google searches, ratings, etc.) reflect a huge PPV buy rate.  While we may want to discount some of those google searches, there were still a healthy amount of people that knew the fight was going to be Friday and that Ronda Rousey was returning to the Octagon.  For those that though there was “lack of buzz,” they underestimate the Rousey demo and are stuck in their old ways of thinking of what “MMA fans” want to see.  It would not be surprising to see this PPV hit 1 million buys.

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