UFC St. Petersburg attendance and bonuses

April 21, 2019

UFC St. Petersburg took place on Saturday airing on the digital platform while Prelims could be seen on ESPN2 Saturday morning.

Islam Makhachev and Arman Tsarukyan drew the Fight of the Night bonus for their co-main event.  Makhachev won via unanimous decision although it may have been closer than the scores revealed.

Magomed Mustafaev earned a Performance Bonus with his first round KO of Rafael Fiziev.  Sergei Pavlovich also won a $50,000 performance bonus with his KO of Marcelo Golm.

UFC on ESPN+7 took place on Saturday at Yubileyniy Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia.  The Prelims aired on ESPN2 while the main card was seen on the company’s digital platform.

According to the company post-event, the event drew a sell-out of 7,326 fans.  The event, which was likely scaled for the smaller audience, was the second event in Russia with last September’s event at Olimpiyskiy Stadium drawing 22,603.  The gate information was not released.

The main event saw Alistair Overeem KO Aleksei Oleinik in a heavyweight matchup.

UFC 236: Payout Perspective

April 15, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UFC 236 which took place at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia where fans were witness to two of the best championship fights in recent history.

Poirier earns lightweight title with win over Holloway

Dustin Poirier was too big for Max Holloway and it was clear that his power overwhelmed the 145-pound titleholder.  Poirier hurt Holloway several times in the first round and despite the featherweight champion’s heart, could not fight his way back into the match.

“Paid in full,” was the mantra Poirier proclaimed about his win.  Poirier had made his way back from losses to Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson on his journey to the championship.  He finally got his chance and now has a chance to unify the titles against Khabib Nurmogomedov in what is rumored to be September in Abu Dhabi.

Holloway will be influenced to return to his Featherweight division and the UFC is likely hoping that Alexander Volkanovski can defeat Jose Aldo next month to secure a date between the two for the 145 title.

Adesanya takes middleweight title from Gastelum

In what was a back and forth fight (and likely 2-2 going into the last round) Israel Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum to win the interim welterweight title and a shot at to unify the middleweight title with a showdown against Robert Whittaker sometime in the future in likely a big stadium on the continent of Australia.

There was a point during the fight that Gastelum had Adesanya hurt on his feet but instead of trying to finish him, Kelvin went for the takedown.  One can only assume that Gastelum was tired himself and could not continue on his feet.

But Adesanya poured it on in the 5th round to earn the victory.  One may argue that the ref could have stopped the fight in the final seconds of the fight.  Clearly, Gastelum was in no shape to continue but had the heart to finish.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

It was the first time that the UFC awarded two Fight of the Nights with the main and co-main events drawing the $50,000 bonuses.  There were no Performance Bonuses due to the dual FOTNs.

The attendance and gate for UFC 236 did not break records for UFC events at the Philips Arena but it definitely drew a lot of people for this event.  The event drew 14,297 for a gate of $1,908,721.

Past Atlanta, GA UFC PPV events:

UFC 88 (9/06/2008) Evans-Liddell: 14,736 for a gate of $2.6M

UFC 145 (04/14/2012) Jones-Evans: 15,545 for a gate of $2.2M

Payouts

Israel Adesanya and Max Holloway made $350,000 each for their respective fights.  All of the salaries are compiled here.

Promotional Guideline Payouts (compiled via MMA Junkie)

Dustin Poirier: $30,000
def. Max Holloway: $40,000

Israel Adesanya: $30,000
def. Kelvin Gastelum: $30,000

Khalil Rountree: $5,000
def. Eryk Anders: $5,000

Dwight Grant: $3,500
def. Alan Jouban: $10,000

Nikita Krylov: $10,000
def. Ovince Saint Preux: $20,000

 Matt Frevola: $3,500
def. Jalin Turner: $3,500

 Alexandre Pantoja: $5,000
def. Wilson Reis: $10,000

 Zelim Imadaev: $3,500
def. Max Griffin: $5,000

 Khalid Taha: $3,500
def. Boston Salmon: $3,500

 Belal Muhammad: $5,000
def. Curtis Millender: $4,000

 Andre Soukhamthath: $5,000
def. Montel Jackson: $3,500

 Poliana Botelho: $4,000
def. Lauren Mueller: $3,500

 Brandon Davis: $4,000
def. Randy Costa: $3,500

Sponsorships

For the first time, the UFC released a photo of the Octagon match which featured its core sponsors as well as the Cinemax series Warrior.  In addition, in the Octagon was Pari-Match, the international sports betting site sponsor of the UFC.  Also, convenience store RaceTrac shared space on the Octagon with Monster Energy.

The sponsors on the mat were as follows:

Monster Energy: Official Energy Drink of UFC

Modelo: Official Beer of UFC

P3: Official Protein Snack of UFC

Devour: Official Frozen Food of UFC

Nemiroff: Official Vodka of UFC

BODYARMOR: Official Sports Drink of UFC

Warrior: The new original series from Cinemax, premiering April 5

Poker Stars: Official Gaming and Poker partner of UFC

UFC 236 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the State Farm Arena.

UFC partner, Heed, offered data on the strikes of UFC competitors via sensors in the gloves of fighters. This was explained during a part of episode 3 of UFC Embedded.

The Embedded events were sponsored by the video game Fallout 76.

Odds and ends

It was the first time that ESPN+ became the sole PPV provider in the U.S.  and it came with headaches for many that decided to make the PPV purchase last minute.  Many were directed to a page that indicated they could not purchase the PPV.  Dana White acknowledged the issues and promised that it would be better by the next PPV.  Another critique of the UFC PPV.  No rewind.  Also, if you missed a portion of the PPV, you could not immediately turn back to the beginning.  Instead you had to wait for the full replay to be uploaded on the web site.  Finally, one last critique is that ESPN + was noncommittal about how long you could view a broadcast after purchase.

ESPN ratings for the Prelims were yet to be released at the time of this post but one might them to be north of 1 million viewers.

Kelvin Gastelum actually took off his fight shorts in his hurried rush to take off his sweats for the Octagon and had to put them back on before entering the Octagon.

With the main and co-main event being so good, there were some outstanding performances that did not receive the official bonuses.  This includes Brandon Davis, Khalid Taha, Nikita Krylov and a revamped Khalil Rountree.

From December, Max Holloway has his own Reebok, “It is what it is, headband.”

Shaq was a notable attendee at UFC 236 as he was shown in the crowd during the PPV.

There were over 1 million google searches for UFC 236 although the number may be misleading as some of these numbers are likely due to the inability to order the PPV.

The UFC marketed the co-main and main event with a Game of Thrones-inspired theme with the popular HBO series returning.

Rich Franklin was announced as heading to the UFC Hall of Fame this July.

Conclusion

We would normally give a buy estimate for this PPV but it’s highly unlikely that ESPN releases any numbers related to the buy rate of UFC 236.  If one had to give an educated guess, I would suggest that despite the buy problems for many fans, it still draws 425,000 PPV buys which is very good.  Adesanya is a rising star in the company and Poirier will get more notoriety as he should face Khabib this fall.

UFC on ESPN 2 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 31, 2019

UFC on ESPN 2 took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Saturday night with Justin Gaethje bringing the fans another stellar performance as he KO’s Edson Barboza in the main event of the evening.

Gaethje along with Barboza drew Fight of the Night on Saturday.  Jack Hermansson and Paul Craig drew Performance of the Night Bonuses.  All received the standard $50,000 per year.  Hermansson defeated David Branch via first round submission.  Craig pulled off a last minute submission via triangle choke over Kenned Nzechukwu to go to 3-3 in the UFC.

Gaethje knocked out Barboza in the very first round after some solid exchanges between the two.  The former WSOF champ has now won “Fight of the Night” honors in four of his first five UFC fights.

The event at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia drew 11,123 fans for a live gate of $1,102,542.16.

The numbers were announced post-event by the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

The event drew solid attendance and gate for this visit to Philly.  Gaethje is soon becoming a “must watch” UFC competitor as highlighted by the number of Fight of the Night honors he receives.  While his fight style may not be long for his career, he is an exciting fighter that pleases the crowd.

UFC on ESPN + 6 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 23, 2019

UFC on ESPN + 6 took place Saturday from Nashville, Tennessee.  The event drew $939,095.99 per the UFC post-fight.

Bonuses were handed out to Anthony Pettis, Randa Markos, Bryce Mitchell and Bobby Moffett.  Pettis earned a Performance Bonus for his devastating superman punch that knocked out Stephen Thompson in the second round of the main event.  Markos scored a first round submission of Angela Hill.  Mitchell and Moffett drew Fight of the Night with Mitchell edging out Moffett.

The event took place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

Payout Perspective:

It was Showtime’s first fight at welterweight and he KO’d the previously non-KO’d Wonderboy.  One has to expect Pettis to be a mainstay in the stacked division and make a run here in the future.  Maycee Barber could have been another candidate for a bonus after her stoppage of J.J. Aldrich.

ESPN+5 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 16, 2019

ESPN +5 took place on Saturday from London where Jorge Masvidal earned two bonuses in addition to a post-fight altercation with Leon Edwards.

Masvidal KO’d Darren Till in the second-round of the main event of the night.  The welterweights earned Fight of the Night and Masvidal drew a Performance Bonus for his win.  He also was involved in a post-fight scuffle with Leon Edwards after Masvidal was interrupted by a heckling Edwards.  According to reports, Edwards will not press any charges from what could have been called an assault.

Dan Ige earned the other $50,000 bonuses with his submission victory over Danny Henry.

According to the UFC, the event at the O2 Arena in London drew 16,602 for a live gate of $2.4 million.

The numbers were announced by the UFC post-event.

Payout Perspective:

According to MMA Junkie, it’s the largest gate that company has done in 11 events in London.  Masvidal’s performance in the ring secured his ascension to become a challenger for the welterweight title.  His performance outside the ring secured his reputation as a legit guy who does not care where the fight is, he’ll take it to you.

UFC on ESPN + 4 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 10, 2019

UFC on ESPN + 4 took place on Saturday night from Wichita, Kansas with the main event receiving the Fight of the Night.

Junior Dos Santos KO victory of Derrick Lewis received the $50K bonus for FOTN.  In addition, Beneil Dariush and Niko Price earned the other $50K performance bonuses.  Dariush submitted Drew Dober while Price KO’d Tim Means.

The event from Wichita, Kansas was the promotion’s first visit to the state and drew 7,265 fans for a gate of $636,417.26 as disclosed by officials post-event.

Payout Perspective:

JDS likely propels himself into heavyweight title contention once again.  The event attendance is on par with Fight Night attendance in the past.  Although we won’t know for sure, it’s likely that more people watched this ESPN+ event than most other Fight Night events due to the exposure by the network.

UFC 235 Payout Perspective

March 6, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UFC 235 at The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jones dominates Smith

Jon Jones did not have the best day at the office but he thoroughly outclassed Anthony Smith to retain his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.  There was no threat by Smith to Jones throughout the whole 5 rounds and the Bones cruised to a unanimous decision.  Smith stated that he was “nullified” by Jones during the fight which seems like the most appropriate description of the fight.

Of course, Jon Jones cannot escape controversy.  An almost soccer-kick to a grounded Anthony Smith could have cost Jones but he missed. Then, another knee to the head that landed could have cost Jones the title.  But Smith decided to continue and despite not taking the way out to win the championship, he was applauded by the announcers.

Jones now has a choice of opponents from the Light Heavyweight division although there doesn’t seem to be anyone that pops out as someone fans want to see.

Usman wins middleweight title

Kamaru Usman took the middleweight title away from Tyron Woodley with an impressive battering of the former champ.  Arguably, Usman had 2 or 3 “10-8” rounds which underscored his dominant performance.

Usman’s victory makes him the first fighter of African descent to hold a world title in the UFC.  He now is scheduled to face Colby Covington in defense of the title.  If that falls through, Ben Askren might be another name waiting in the wings for a shot.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

UFC 235 drew 14,790 fans for a gate of $4,035,156.50 as announced at the post-fight press conference.  It was the 6th best announced attendance and gate at T-Mobile.  It was not a full house, but decent attendance and a good gate.

The bonuses went to Pedro Munhoz and Cody Garbrandt for Fight of the Night. Johnnie Walker and Diego Sanchez earned Performance Bonuses for their respective stoppages.  Each earned $50,000.

Ticket demand was pretty big for this event as the average resale price for UFC 235 was $409 as of Monday of Fight week.  The cheapest get-in ticket was $137.

Promotion of the Event

While it may have gone under the radar, the UFC is utilizing the new Instagram feature which allows videos on its platform.  The company has been doing it for the past several events.  This time around one of the features included Jones-Gustafsson 2.  Getting people to see fights for free on multiple platforms (i.e., YouTube and Instagram) helps promote the fighters and more importantly the PPV.

There was no press conference involving the featured fighters during Fight Week which may be due in part to protect Jon Jones from questions regarding USADA.

Jones’ drug tests were revealed leading up to his fight against Anthony Smith.  Two out of five tests revealed show positive for the same banned substance in Jones’ system.  The UFC’s Jeff Novitzky answered questions during the media scrum which included his support of the Nevada Athletic Commission’s statement.  The two talking points of interest stressed by Novitsky was that the tests reveal no re-administration of the drug and that there would be no performance enhancing benefit.

Colby Covington went to Vegas to raise a ruckus and he did a pretty good job of doing it.  He crashed Kamaru Usman’s open workouts, he tracked down Dana White while gambling, showed up at UFC 234 and caused a disruption post-fight with Kamaru Usman and then round 2 in a buffet line in Vegas according to Covington.  The former interim welterweight champion looks have Usman next.

Sponsorships

Trifecta was utilized much more in the Embedded episodes as Anthony Smith openly talked about how it has helped him with nutrition.  In addition, they were on the mat in the Octagon.

It also sponsored the Fight Card prep.

Also, in the Octagon was Nemifor, the Amazon original mini-series, “Hanna,” betting site PariMatch, P3, the video game Dead Red Redemption II, Modelo, Monster Energy, convenience store Rebel, BodyArmor, Toyo Tires and Monster Energy in the center.  Also, broadcast partner ESPN+ had signage on one of the posts.

The UFC announced a multi-year marketing partnership with Devour as its “Official Frozen Meal of UFC.”

Although there was no major announcement, the UFC entered into a partnership with Heed, a data analytics company that specializes in fan engagement.  Presumably, the promotion will be working with Heed to develop information based on research which would appeal to the UFC’s target demo.  Heed, according to its web site, works on facilitating engagement with youth.

Metro by T-Mobile activated through its social media by having its own watch show.

Ratings

UFC Prelims on ESPN: 1.4 Million (first overall in original cable telecasts for Saturday)

Payouts

Payouts for the event can be found here.  Both Woodley and Jones earned a flat $500K as defending champions while challengers Kamaru Usman and Anthony Smith received flat fees of $350K.

Reebok Promotional Guidelines Compliance Pay

Jon Jones: $40,000 def. Anthony Smith: $30,000
Kamaru Usman: $30,000 def. Tyron Woodley: $40,000
Ben Askren: $3,500 def. Robbie Lawler: $20,000
Weili Zhang: $3,500 def. Tecia Torres: $5,000
Pedro Munhoz: $10,000 def. Cody Garbrandt: $5,000
Zabit Magomedsharipov: $4,000 def. Jeremy Stephens: $20,000
Johnny Walker: $3,500 def. Misha Cirkunov: $5,000
Cody Stamann: $4,000 def. Alejandro Perez: $5,000
Diego Sanchez: $20,000 def. Mickey Gall: $5,000
Edmen Shahbazyan: $3,500 def. Charles Byrd: $3,500
Macy Chiasson: $3,500 def. Gina Mazany: $4,000
Hannah Cifers: $3,500 def. Polyana Viana: $3,500

Odds and ends

ONE FC sent congratulations to Ben Askren as he made his UFC debut.

UFC unveiled the first PSA of its Opioid campaign in conjunction with the Trump Administration.


Dave Meltzer reported that Mickey Gall passed out while cutting weight during fight week which may have attributed to his loss.

Bad night for refs.  Marc Goddard broke apart Usman and Woodley a couple times when Usman was working.  Herb Dean may have stopped the Robbie Lawler-Ben Askren fight prematurely and then he had the issues with the Jon Jones illegal strikes.

But Lawler was classy despite the confusion.

 

Conclusion

It’s clear that the ESPN relationship has helped with viewership for the UFC as the prelims hit one of its biggest highs since starting the pre-PPV cards.  It also drew over 1M google searches on Saturday which may mean PPV success for the event.  While UFC 232 drew an estimated 700,000 PPV buys featuring Jones, this event did not have as much controversy as this past December’s card. I would suspect that due to Jon Jones’ return we will see an uptick over the norm of PPV buys and get a buy rate of around 450K buys.

UFC 235 attendance, gate and bonuses

March 2, 2019

UFC 235 took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The UFC announced its attendance, gate and bonuses.

The bonuses went to Cody Garbrandt and Pedro Munhoz for their one round brawl which saw Munhoz end up with the victory.  Johnny Walker earned a Performance Bonus for a well-placed knee which put down Misha Cirkunov.  Unfortunately for Walker, he injured himself in the post-fight celebration.  Diego Sanchez earned a Performance Bonus for his second-round stoppage of Mickey Gall.

The event drew 14,790 for a gate of $4,035,156.50.  The numbers were announced post-event.

Payout Perspective:

A big gate for this event which saw two title fights.  The Garbrandt-Munhoz fight did not last long but earned its FOTN due to the last 30 seconds.  Sanchez turned back the clock by stopping Mickey Gall and Johnny Walker has impressed in his last two fights.  There were some suspect ref calls otherwise it was a good night of fights.

UFC on ESPN +3 attendance, gate and bonuses

February 23, 2019

UFC on ESPN + 3 took place on Saturday mid-day in the United States as the live event took place in Prague.

The UFC announced Performance bonuses for Thiago “Marreta” Santos, Stefan Struve, Michal Oleksiejczuk and Dwight Grant.  Each received $50,000.  There was no Fight of the Night.

The event drew  16,583 fans for a live gate of $1,606,176.  The event took place at the O2 Arena in Prague in the Czech Republic.  It was the first event in Prague and based on attendance numbers, fans came out to see the UFC>

UFC on ESPN 1 attendance, gate and bonuses

February 17, 2019

UFC on ESPN 1 took place on Sunday night with the whole card airing on the main network.  The event took place at The Talking Stick Resort in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Fight of the Night went to Vincente Luque and Bryan Barbaerena in a heavy-hitting welterweight matchup.  Luque outlasted Barbarena with seconds to spare in the third-round.  In addition, Luke Sanders KO’d Renan Barao and Kron Gracie choked out Alex Caceres in the first round to earn the Performance bonuses.  All received an additional $50K.

14,269 fans attended the event and drew a gate of $1,409,447.  The numbers were announced post-event.

Payout Perspective:

The obvious disappointment of the night was Cain Velasquez losing within the first 30 seconds of the main event to Francis Ngannou in what looked like a knee injury more than damage.  This put a damper on an event that had some great fights during the night despite a fickle Phoenix crowd.

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