2017: The year in boxing

January 6, 2018

2017 was a great year for boxing which saw some great fights and the spectacle that was Mayweather-McGregor.

The year started off with the talk about Mayweather-McGregor as the UFC’s lightweight champion stirred the pot by going on a rant on Instagram where he wrote “F*** the UFC.”  Dana White warned that if Conor went on without the UFC it would be an “epic fall.”

January also saw Al Haymon get a court victory with a dismissal of Golden Boy’s Antitrust lawsuit.  In a ruling which did not include oral argument, the Judge determined that Golden Boy did not come fort with genuine issues of fact to support its claims.  Most importantly, and a word of caution for the Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit, the Judge reiterated that the antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.

Although Golden Boy suffered the loss in court, it inked a deal with ESPN with 42 fights airing on ESPN starting in March 2017.  As the prevailing party, they requested legal costs in the amount nearing $35,0000.  Golden Boy appealed the dismissal but it appears that the sides resolved the case as the appeal was dismissed by agreement of the parties.

The Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin/World of Boxing lawsuit went to trial in February and it did not take long for a jury to decide that Povetkin took Meldonium after January 1, 2016.  However, the case continues with the parties litigating the other claims as well as the issue who receives the millions of dollars that has been placed in escrow.

Wilder was also sued by rival Dominic Breazeale for a hotel melee.  The case was thrown out as the episode happened in Alabama but Breazeale sued in California.

Showtime Boxing had the highest rating of 2017 with Adrian Broner taking on Adrian Granados drawing 779,000 viewers.  The fight also aired on Twitter as the service continued to expand its offering of streamingClaressa Shields became the first female boxer to headline an event on premium network television. In March.

The GGG-Daniel Jacobs PPV drew between 130-150K PPV buys.  GGG’s next PPV appearance against Canelo would draw much higher as the draw drew 1.2 million buys.  The fight also had a higher price tag than usual:  $79.99 HD.  A rematch for May 2018 seems imminent.

March saw the second highest-rating for network viewership as Keith Thurman faced Danny Garcia in the battle of unbeatens on CBS.  The fight drew 5.1 million viewers while the overall telecast drew 2.7 million viewers.

After going through a lot of money, the viability of the PBC obtaining a media rights deal was brought into question.  Its deal with Spike TV ended but the organization found a home on FS1.

In 2017, it seemed as those everyone applied for a boxing license:  Conor, Nate Diaz, Cyborg…

Anthony Joshua faced Vladimir Klitschko in one of the biggest fights of the year.  The event aired live on Showtime and tape delay on HBO.

May’s Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. PPV drew 1.3 million buys and its replay on HBO drew 769,000 viewers.

In May, we took a look at where was Boxing’s next PPV star.  Aside from Canelo Alvarez, there are several contenders to be the next star on PPV including Anthony Joshua.

In June, The Money Fight was announced.

Also in June, Top Rank announced that it had a deal with ESPN to air fights with the first one being Manny Pacquiao fighting Jeff Horn in Australia on July 1st.  The debut earned big numbers as Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to Horn.

The Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II PPV in June drew between 130-135K PPV buys.

July saw a 4-city tour to promote the Mayweather-McGregor bouts.  It was an ambitious tour that fans clamored to be a part.  It was announced that the PPV price would be $99.95 HD.

The Money Fight drew huge numbers and was a big financial success.  We wrote about it here.  The event had streaming issues on both UFC Fight Pass and Showtime platforms.  As you might expect, there were lawsuits which are still matriculating through the court system.

Despite the big event, HBO ran an event featuring Miguel Cotto and it did well considering as it drew 730,000 viewers.

Capitalizing on the publicity of The Money Fight, announced an ESPN deal which will include airing its fight library on an OTT service that will launch in 2018.

Austin Trout sued the WBO which included claims under the Ali Act.  The case was moved to federal court in Puerto Rico where the WBO is seeking to dismiss the case and move it to arbitration.  The case will be an interesting look as to whether the court will allow a claim under the Ali Act will go to arbitration.

In September, Magomed Abdusalamov settled with the state of New York for $22 million for injuries sustained in a fight in 2013.  Abdusalamov was left with a brain injury and paralysis due to improper conduct and lack of training by the New York State Athletic Commission.

A huge ESPN fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeux drew 1.73 million viewers.  The overall telecast drew 1.487 million viewers.

In December, Showtime announced Mayweather-McGregor drew 4.3 million domestic PPV buys.  This is off from the 6.7 million Dana White had stated.  After hearing of the announcement, White took issue with Showtime’s numbers.

One of the bigger stories to watch going into 2018 is the announcement by Dana White that he will be promoting boxing.  Zuffa Boxing, a t-shirt worn by White during The Money Fight press tour, was a hint that White was up to something.  White made it official late in the year.  He indicated that he was meeting with Floyd Mayweather.  Despite stating that he will never work with Showtime again, he said he would be willing work with other promoters with the exception of Bob Arum.

Trout case may have impact on future of Ali Act litigation

January 5, 2018

Maybe the most important case as it relates to the expansion of the Ali Act may involve boxer Austin Trout and his current lawsuit against the World Boxing Organization in Federal Court in Puerto Rico.

Last month, the WBO is moving to dismiss the case and invoke the arbitration clause which was a part of his promotional contract with the company.  Trout had filed the lawsuit which includes claims for violation of the Ali Act in boxing.  The WBO argues that Trout agreed to the contract and should be held to its arbitration clause and that he forfeited his right to a jury trial.  Trout states that the Ali Act is federal law and that it is not governed by the WBO Promotional contract.  His attorneys also claim that that the arbitration would be unreasonable or unjust.  The other overarching argument is that the WBO has waived its right to compel arbitration by litigating the case.

The case, originally filed in state court in New Mexico where Trout resides, has been around for 2 years but due to jurisdictional fights, nothing substantive has happened in the case.  Due to the hurricane that hit the island, there was an additional delay.

You can find the background of the lawsuit in our September 2017 post which includes copies of the Complaint and Amended Complaint.

Payout Perspective:

There’s no timeline as to when the Court might render a ruling on the WBO’s Motion to Dismiss.  But, the overarching issue for fans of the Ali Act Expansion is whether an organization can contract out of the lawsuit.  This means that even if there is a federal law which grants a plaintiff a right to sue, the fact that there is an arbitration clause in the contract may render the claim moot as to a trial and it may (or may not) go forward in arbitration.  There are several layers to consider here as to whether the Ali Act is something that was contemplated as part of a contractual dispute that would go to arbitration.  If it is a part of the contract and the arbitration clause is valid, it would make it easier for organizations to litigate claims.  On the other hand, I have been an advocate for arbitration and/or mediation to resolve Ali Act violations due to the fact that litigation is long and expensive.  You could also bifurcate the claims as to taking the Ali Act to trial while arbitrating any other claims.  The other issue is who would be the trier of fact (i.e., jury, judge or arbitrator).  Also, who would be the arbitrator (a panel or just one individual).  Thinking ahead, if an expansion to the Ali Act takes place, it would be interesting to see if the UFC amends its fighter contracts to institute clauses to limit them to binding arbitration similar to the UFC Anti-Doping Program.  MMA Payout will keep you apprised of this lawsuit.

Zuffa and Dana White file opposition to Mark Hunt’s inclusion of Fight Night Removal in his complaint

January 3, 2018

Zuffa and Dana White have responded to Mark Hunt’s Motion to Supplement his First Amended Complaint and request the court deny the motion.  While the rule is liberal for parties to amend and supplement pleadings, Zuffa and White argue that Hunt’s supplementation of information here would be “futile.”

Hunt filed the motion so that it may include factual information related to his claim that he was unfairly taken off of UFC Fight Night 121.  The UFC and White argue that there was no choice but to remove him from the card due to his op-ed piece claiming physical maladies suffered from years of fighting.  “Faced with such concerning statements from a fighter about his neurological health, Zuffa had no choice but to pull Hunt from the upcoming fight card until it could assure itself, athletic commission regulators, and the public that Hunt was, in fact, medically fit to fight.”

Zuffa and the UFC claim that the new allegations from Hunt have nothing to add to his claims.  Defendants, as you might expect, believe that the claims are defective and supplementing it with more facts would not add or bolster the claim.

Despite filing the lawsuit, the UFC brings up that Hunt has been paid “more than $1.5 million” for competing in two bouts.  Thus, the inference that there is no correlation between the suit and being taken off of the scheduled bout.  Specifically, it has nothing to add to the RICO claims.  “Hunt’s new allegations about being wrongfully removed from UFC Fight Night 121 are not even premised on his underlying RICO allegations that Zuffa had engaged in a pattern and scheme to allow doping fighters to compete against clean fighters.   They [the proposed supplemental facts] are, instead, premised on the entirely new theory that Zuffa retaliated against him for having filed the instant lawsuit.”

The UFC also argues that the Breach of Contract would not be impacted as the Promotional Agreement limits the type of damages that are recoverable.  Even though Hunt claims $100,000 in damages for his training camp.

   UFC Opposition to Motion to Supplement by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Brock Lesnar’s attorney has not filed an opposition or joined (meaning Lesnar can just add their name to the motion) this one.  The opposition is artfully pled and poses very good arguments but its unlikely that the court will deny Hunt’s motion to supplement its First Amended Complaint.  While there are cases that will support the argument for denying supplemental facts, the amending and supplementing of pleadings are liberal to ensure that the litigation of the case is complete.  It also prevents unnecessary appeals.  Moreover, the court knows that defendants will get another shot at dismissing the supplementation of information in the First Amended Complaint when it files its Motion to Dismiss (or at the summary judgment stage if it is not defeated initially).  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC 219: Payout Perspective

January 2, 2018

Welcome to another addition of Payout Perspective.  This time around we are taking a look at UFC 219 taking place in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena.

Cyborg defeats game Holm

It took all 5 rounds but Cristane “Cyborg” Justino defeated Holly Holm via unanimous decision.  Holm made Cyborg work for the win but she was still too much for the former women’s Bantamweight champ.

It’s not clear what’s next for Cyborg as she has no equal in a division the UFC made for her.  Amanda Nunes seems like a stretch for Cyborg and Meeghan Anderson is an uncertainty.  Holm will likely go back down to 135 where she can still put on some interesting fights.

Khabib overwhelms Barboza

Khabib Nurmogomedov utterly destroyed Edson Barboza securing 10-8 rounds from all of the judges.  His grappling and ground and pound were devastating and the look on Barboza’s face while on the ground told a story of a fighter’s will be taken away from him.

Assuming that Khabib’s weight cutting issues are in the past, we should see him fight Tony Ferguson and/or Conor McGregor next.  The best scenario for the UFC is for Khabib to fight Ferguson in the spring with the winner going on to face Conor in July at International Fight Week.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

The event drew 13,561 fans for a gate of $1.76 million at the T-Mobile Arena.  In comparison, UFC 213 drew 12,834 for $2.4 million and UFC 216 drew 10,638 for a gate of $677,999.50.  UFC 213 and 216 were the other two events held at the T-Mobile Arena.

Last December’s UFC 207 featuring the return of Ronda Rousey drew 18,533 for a gate of $4.75 million.

Bonuses for UFC 219 went to Cyborg, Holm, Khabib and Tim Elliott.  Cyborg and Holm earned Fight of the Night while Khabib and Elliott earned Performances of the Night.

Salaries

Purses for the main card fights were disclosed by the Nevada Athletic Commission.  The women’s Featherweight champion earned $500,000 while the challenger drew $300,000.

Other salaries disclosed:

Khabib Nurmogomedov $80,000/$80,000

Edson Barboza $75,000/$75,000 (if Barboza won)

Carlos Condit’s $115,000/$115,000

Neil Magny $70,000/$70,000.

Cynthia Calvillo $41,000/$41,000

Carla Esparza $36,000/$36,000.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC Embeddeds seemed sporadic this time around as the first one surfaced on Tuesday due to

Christmas being on Monday.  But, there were two Embedded episodes uploaded on Saturday for a total of five episodes.  Either did not have time due to the holiday or not enough content.

The original Netflix Film “Bright” used UFC 219 to promote its movie.  The UFC promoted the event in multiple social media posts.  It appears the UFC was paid by Netflix for the promotion.

Sponsors

In the Octagon, it was the first time we saw Motel 6.  This might be potential for another official sponsor.  In addition, Air Asia, Gruntstyle.com, MetroPCS, Budweiser, Monster Energy, AM/PM, Harley Davidson, Hospital for Special Surgery and Netflix’s original movie, “Bright” were in the Octagon.

EA’s UFC 3 had the fighter prep point.

The Will Smith Netflix movie used UFC 219 as a way to activate and reach out to the UFC demo.  Netflix worked with the UFC in developing a social media campaign which centered around one of the movie’s main characters pretending to become an MMA fighter and facing Heavyweight Travis Browne.  The movie, despite widespread poor reviews, received over 11 million views in just 3 days of availability on Netflix.

It was the last time we will see Budweiser in the Octagon as its sponsorship contract ended and Modelo Especial will now be the official beer maker for the UFC.  The move allows the company to seek hard alcohol sponsors as Anheuser Busch InBev prevented the UFC from taking on hard liquor sponsors.

Metro PCS also had Periscope ancillary coverage featuring Demetrious Johnson.

Toyo Tires sponsored the UFC Embedded episodes.

It looks like you will see Cyborg on 7-11 Big Gulps in the near future.

 

Odds and ends

Cyborg used UFC 219 to promote a drive to collect toys for local children in Las Vegas.  A good gesture especially during the holidays.

Tito Ortiz made a cameo on the Embedded episodes and the UFC Hall of Famer cornered her during the fight.

Speaking of corners Ben Askren made an appearance in the UFC octagon.

There was the photographer controversy which made me wonder why a gym needs a “photographer” with media credentials. The UFC has now revoked is credentials for good.

More disappointing performance:  Carlos Condit or Cynthia Calvillo.  Condit was expected to come back with avengence after a long layoff.  Calvillo is an up and coming fighter that hope to climb the ratings ladder.  Both lost although I would suggest Condit had the worst outing as he looked nothing like he used to while Calvillo lost a controversial split decision.

There were over 1 million searches for “UFC 219” on Saturday night which ranked second in searches in the United States to “New Year’s Eve 2017”

The UFC weigh-ins on Friday drew 138,000 viewers and 0.04 in the A18-49 on FS1.

Conclusion

Despite being the end of year event, UFC 219 starved from a lack of buzz.  But the over 1 million searches for UFC 219 may mean that there were more casual fans looking for the event than originally estimated.  Cyborg-Holm does not feel like a huge PPV event although I will estimate this event draws between 250K-300K buys.

MPO Year in Review: No. 1 The Money Fight

January 1, 2018

MMA Payout’s business story of the year is likely everyone else’s big news of the year: The Money Fight which saw Conor McGregor make his debut in the ring against Floyd Mayweather.

What many thought would never happened at the beginning of 2017 actually came together rather quickly as the two squared off the last week of August at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.  Although the fight did not break the gate record for a boxing event in Nevada or the PPV buy record (both retained by Mayweather-Pacquiao), it drew blockbuster numbers.

The event was not a sellout but drew 13,904 for a gate of $55 million.  The PPV drew 4.3 million domestic buys and set records overseas for PPV.

McGregor received $30 million for his part in the fight while Mayweather drew $100 million.  With all of the PPV upside and other payouts tied to the event McGregor ended up with something near $100 million.

The event included an ambitious 4 city tour which went from Los Angeles, to Toronto, to Brooklyn, to London in successive days.  The events ranged from heated to comical to off-putting.

Still, the buzz for the event drew mainstream interest and was on the top of ESPN shows during fight week.  There was a small controversy concerning glove size but in the end the Commission allowed a last-minute change.  Then, there was the last-minute change to add Zuffa as co-promoter.  Frankly, the Commission would have let this go with any and all additional conditions as it was willing to allow McGregor, an MMA fighter, with no pro boxing record to step into the ring against one of the best fighters in boxing and a 49-0 record.

The event was truly a spectacle and basically a fantasy matchmaker’s dream.  The fight itself was easy to predict with Mayweather winning via stoppage in round 10.  The match was not that competitive as you could sense that Mayweather was never in peril.

But, from a business standpoint, one might surmise that it was the biggest revenue driving event for the UFC this year.  With a down year for PPV, the company capitalized on this fight with its top star.  McGregor sold himself to get the fight and his confrontational style help promote it to the casual viewer.

The event also made every fighter on the UFC roster dreaming to box.  Also, Dana White unveiled the idea that Zuffa would promote boxing in the near future.  As for McGregor, we will see if/when he returns to the Octagon.  Despite floating the idea of another boxing match, it’s hard to think he would do one for anything less than he was paid for Mayweather.  One would think that his deal with the UFC would include a return to the Octagon to fight in exchange for the boxing match with Floyd.  Yet, with all the money, McGregor might wait until he is given the money he wants before setting foot back into the Octagon.

MPO Year in Review: No. 2 Jon Jones returns to Octagon and is flagged by USADA (again)

December 31, 2017

In addition to the return of GSP, Jon Jones returned from suspension for his long-awaited grudge match with Daniel Cormier.  However, what we thought was a great redemption story turned into another setback for a fighter that could have been the best ever.

Notably, at the Summer Kickoff press conference in May, UFC fans had turned on Cormier, and in pro wrestling-fashion, Jon Jones became the bad-boy turned crowd favorite.

The promotion of the event was great and everyone was happy that the two made it to UFC 214 without injury or setback.  It was a good fight as Cormier looked much better than their first fight at UFC 182.  However, Jones was able to finish Cormier and gave one of the best post-fight Octagon interviews ever which seemed to tie a bow on the Jones redemption story.  A fight against Brock Lesnar in 2018 seemed like a blockbuster waiting to happen.

But then Jones was flagged by USADA a month later for an in-competition violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  Although his blood tests were negative, his urine tests post-weigh-ins were positive for a banned substance.  His “B” sample was positive for the anabolic steroid and banned substance Turinabol.

The event drew 850,000 PPV buys making it the second-most purchased fight of the year.  But, we learned that Jones had been flagged yet again by USADA for a failed drug test.  Once again, Jones proclaimed his innocence, but just coming off one suspension, Jones faces a stiffer (four-year suspension) one as he might be considered a repeat offender if he cannot clear his name from the failed drug test.

While we are letting the due process work itself out, the legacy of Jon Jones is tainted.  Through all of his legal problems, fans have given him chance after chance.  UFC 214 should have been his triumphant return from the brink.  Now, it appears that it will be a longshot that we will ever see Jon Jones in his prime in the UFC again.

MPO Year in Review: No. 3 GSP Returns

December 31, 2017

2017 saw the return of Georges St Pierre as he faced Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in New York this November.  GSP’s return came with much fanfare, but his future with the company remains uncertain.

The matchup with Bisping appeared handpicked by GSP for his return.  It was scheduled for July’s UFC International Fight Week event, but was postponed due to injuries to both fighters.  FS1 aired a 30-minute special documenting the return of the former welterweight champion.  The PPV had the best buy rate (estimated at 875,000 buys) in an otherwise down year for the company.

GSP looked rusty but had enough to stop Bisping to win the middleweight title.  However, it became clear that this was a “one off” for St Pierre because he relinquished the title shortly after winning it.  White.  GSP claimed ulcerative colitis was the reason for giving the title up as he was slated to unify the titles against Robert Whittaker.  White was upset with GSP but he came to terms with the fact it was expected that he did not want to go up against a very competitive (and younger) division.

Will we see GSP again in the UFC?  You have to think that once he gets healthy, he will fall back into the UFC’s good graces.  He is a proven PPV draw on a roster that has few.  The question will be whether he will be able to dictate another “one off” fight with the UFC and if the new owners would be willing to dole out the cash for it.  Something tells me that if they can have him return in July for International Fight Week, the UFC will do it.

MPO Year in Review: No. 5 Mark Hunt sues the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar

December 29, 2017

In January, Mark Hunt filed a lawsuit against Zuffa, Dana White and Brock Lesnar from his loss at UFC 200 to the returning WWE star and subsequent revelation that Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance on the UFC anti-doping policy.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nevada, was unique as it included allegations of civil violations of the RICO Act as well as a claim for negligence and breach of contract.  In most instances, a plaintiff cannot claim both tort damages and from those arising for a contract.  Here, Hunt was claiming because the UFC allowed Lesnar to fight with the knowledge that he may have been taking steroids, any injury arising from the fight should be treated as a personal injury.

Serving Lesnar the lawsuit, a requisite in civil litigation, was a difficult task and he was not served until March.  Howard Jacobs represents Lesnar in this lawsuit.

In May, the Court heard the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.  We took a deep dive into the hearing as the transcript was made available to the public.  The Court allowed the lawsuit to stand but left it open for the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint as it highlighted at the hearing, that certain claims such as the RICO claims were speculative.

Yet, in Hunt’s First Amended Complaint, he included the RICO cause of action.  As with the first Complaint, The Defendant’s filed another Motion to Dismiss, this time, to dismiss the First Amended Complaint.

The Defendants had hoped that they could stay discovery pending the result from the Court of the Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint.  However, the Court has ordered that discovery may commence related to all of Hunt’s claims except his RICO allegations.

The plot to this lawsuit continued as Hunt fought for the company he was suing in March of this year.  He lost via KO at UFC 209 to Alistair Overeem.  This past fall, he made more news when he wrote an article for a web site where he admitted memory loss and slurring his words.  The UFC took Hunt off the UFC Fight Night 121 card in November when it learned of the article.  This incensed Hunt but White stood his ground in citing that he needed to be checked out to be cleared to fight.

Hunt recently requested that he supplement his First Amended Complaint to include facts about how he believes he was unjustly taken off of UFC Fight Night 121 in Australia.  Likely, the UFC will deny allegations of wrongdoing and will cite taking him off the card as a precautionary measure and they were willing to have him checked out to ensure he was healthy enough to fight.

This is a unique lawsuit that has not trial date and thus the ending is open.  The curious thing is that Hunt remains a fighter for the company and one of the highest paid non-champions on the roster.  It will be interesting to see what information might be pulled from discovery that would put the UFC in a false light but I am sure that what items might be pulled will yield to a settlement between the parties.  If not, we could be heading toward a very contentious court battle.

MPO Year in Review: No. 6 Down year for UFC PPVs

December 29, 2017

It was a disappointing year for UFC PPVs as 4 UFC PPVs did not surpass 200,000 PPV buys.  The absence of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and lack of another UFC star to appeal to the mainstream hurt this year’s events.

UFC 208:  200,000

UFC 209:  300,000

UFC 210:  300,000

UFC 211:  300,000

UFC 212:  167,000

UFC 213:  150,000

UFC 214:  850,000

UFC 215:  100,000

UFC 216: 120,000

UFC 217:  875,000

UFC 218: ~230,000

The estimated buy rates would mean the UFC averaged 326,000 buys per event.  Only UFC 214 with Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier II and the promotion’s return to MSG (along with the octagon return of GSP) drew over 800,000 buys.  Perhaps the concerning factor this year was that there were no PPVs which averaged between 300,000-500,000 buys.  There were 3 events that estimated 300,000 PPV buys and 6 events that drew 200,000 PPV buys or less.

The buy rates reflect the fact that the casual MMA fan is not tuning in unless it’s a big event.  In fact, they are skipping events due to the lack of interest.

There are many reasons for this decrease in the buy rate.  First, Conor McGregor focused on boxing this year.  In 2016, McGregor’s 3 appearances drew over 1 million PPV buys.  UFC 200 featured the return of Brock Lesnar and drew another 1 million buys. December 2016’s return of Ronda Rousey also drew 1 million buys.  Notably, UFC 203, which featured the debut of C.M. Punk produced a strong 450,000 buys.

In 2015, there were 2 PPVs over 1 million buys, McGregor (UFC 193) and Rousey (UFC 194) were in the main events, and 2 more over 800,000 buys (Jones-Cormier I at UFC 182 and McGregor-Mendes at UFC 189).

Second, the lack of cultivation of UFC stars reflects in the lack of PPV buys.  Perhaps most disappointing was the lack of drawing power for stars such as Stipe Miocic, Holly Holm, Tyron Woodley and Amanda Nunes.  In addition, the Diaz brothers sat out this year.  Even though they are not true contenders for a title, they are big draws.

Finally, the injury bug sprang up once again as Amanda Nunes was a late scratch for her main event at UFC 213. While it may not have impacted PPV buys, Demetrious Johnson’s fight against Ray Borg was scratched at UFC 215.  Ironically, Nunes stepped into the main event against Valentina Shevchenko.  Also, Khabib Nurmogomedov and Tony Ferguson’s fight never came to be due to Khabib’s weight cutting issues.

The good news is that Francis Ngannou is stepping up as a force in the Heavyweight division and his fight with Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 should draw some mainstream appeal.  Also, Dana White has indicated that Conor McGregor may be back in the summer of 2018 which means another big event that will likely headline International Fight Week.

MPO Year in Review: No. 7 UFC secures new sponsors

December 28, 2017

The UFC brought in new sponsors for the company in 2017.  The sponsors reflect a new era brought in by WME-IMG.

One of the most notable departures from the sponsor list is Bud Light leaving the Octagon as the UFC forged a deal with multi-million dollar deal with Modelo Especial starting in 2018.

In addition, the UFC recruited Air Asia, Body Armor, TriFecta Nutrition, 7-Eleven, the Hospital for Special Surgery and Performance Inspired.  With the broad reach of WME-IMG, look for the UFC to announce new partners in 2018.  It appears that the UFC would like to work more with sponsors in integrating the UFC brand with sponsors.  For instance, UFC fighters are featured on Big Gulp cups at 7-11 and Cody Garbrandt did a spot for TriFecta Nutrition in leading up to his fight with T.J. Dillashaw this past November.

Look for the UFC to fill more sponsor spots.  Notably, Air Asia is the “Official Airline” of the UFC but the deal is limited to Asia and Australia.  We may see one for North America and Europe soon.  Also of note, you would think that will all of the Embedded filming at hotels, we do not see an “Official Hotel” of the UFC upcoming.  Based on its TUF appearances, we could see Geico serving as an “Official Insurance” company of the UFC.

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