UFC on Fox 31 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 15, 2018

Al Iaquinta led the list of bonus-winning fighters on the very last UFC on Fox card this Saturday from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The event was the very last on the network as it will move to ESPN in January.

Iaquinta soundly defeated Kevin Lee and won via unanimous decision to earn a $50,000 bonus.  Also earning bonuses were Charles Oliveira, Jared Gordon and Joaquim Silva.  Do Bronx submitted Jim Miller in the very first round.  Silva and Gordon earned Fight of the Night which Silva won.

The event drew 9,010 fans for a live gate of $616,000.  The event took place at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. UFC officials announced the information post-fight.

Payout Perspective:

Not a lot of fans turned out for the last televised network event on Fox.  In fact, the gate is on par with most Fight Night events this year.  Iaquinta showed that he should be given another challenge at 155 before the hopeful return title bout against Khabib.

UFC 231 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 10, 2018

UFC 231 took place this past Saturday in Toronto and Max Holloway came out the big winner with two bonuses for the night.

Holloway’s TKO finish of Brian Ortega gave him a Performance of the Night.  The main event also drew Fight of the Night.  Thiago Santos earned the other $50,000 bonus in a hard-hitting first fight of the PPV with Jimi Manuwa.  Santos won via TKO.

Toronto continues to show it should be an annual stop for the UFC as it was an announced sellout of 19,039 for a $2.4 million live gate.  The event took place at the Scotiabank Arena.

The numbers were announced post-fight by UFC officials.

Payout Perspective:

An impressive return for Max Holloway at 145 as there were whispers of health issues and a move up in weight class.  But, “Blessed” was remarkably impressive in his dismantling of Ortega.  A great night for the UFC as Toronto seems to be an anchor city in Canada for the promotion.

UFC Fight Night 142 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 2, 2018

UFC Fight Night 142 in Adelaide, Australia took place on Saturday night in North America.  An old face led the bonus winners.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua won a Performance Bonus after his upset victory stunning local favorite Tyson Pedro.    In addition, newcomers Sodiq Yusuff and Kai Kara-France earned bonuses.  Yusuff had a first-round finish of Suman Mokhtarian.  Kara-France and Elias Garcia earned Fight of the Night.  Each received an additional $50,000.

The event at the Adelaide Entertainment Center drew 8,652 in attendance with a gate of $1,026,937 USD.

The attendance, gate and bonuses were announced post-event.

Payout Perspective:

A good turnout for what turned out to be a disappointing night for local fighters as Mark Hunt, Tyson Pedro and Tai Tuivasa all lost on Saturday.  Yet, it did produce some good performances such as the ones from newcomers Yusuff and Kara-France.

Usman heads up TUF 28 Finale bonuses

December 1, 2018

The TUF 28 Finale took place on Friday at The Pearl Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Kamaru Usman defeated Rafael Dos Anjos in the main event and Usman also scored with a performance bonus.

There was no fight of the night which but Usman, Benavidez, Juan Espino and Roosevelt Roberts earned $50,000 performance bonuses.  Notably, Espino won the TUF 28 Heavyweight bout with Justin Frazier to become this season’s Ultimate Fighter.  In the other TUF event of the evening Macy Chiasson defeated Pannie Kianzad to be the women’s featherweight Ultimate Fighter.

The event took place at the intimate Pearl Theater which drew 2,020 for a gate of $204,600.

The numbers were disclosed by the UFC post-event.

Payout Perspective:

Seven stoppages on the evening which made the bonuses a little hard to choose from but also a quicker evening than usual.  Usman should be in line for a major fight after dominating the former lightweight champion.

UFC Fight Night 141 attendance and bonuses

November 24, 2018

UFC Fight Night 141 took place in Beijing, China on Saturday.  The event drew over 10,000 fans at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing.

The event featured Curtis Blaydes taking on Francis Ngannou with Ngannou breaking a two fight skid scoring an impressive first round KO of the heavyweight contender.

According to UFC officials post fight, the event drew 10,302 fans at the Cadillac Arena Saturday.

In addition, the bonuses went to Ngannou, Li Jingliang, Alex Morono and Song Kenan.  Morono and Kenan earned Fight of the Night while Jingliang won the other Performance Bonus.  Each earned an additional $50,000.

Payout Perspective:

Ngannou’s knockout lends another challenger to the heavyweight division and a sorely needed win to forget about his last two fights which were abysmal.  It was a good gate for this event as the UFC tries to make inroads into the country.

UFC Denver attendance, gate and bonuses

November 11, 2018

UFC Fight Night 139 took place at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on Saturday night with an amazing main event as Yair Rodriguez knocked out the Korean Zombie with just 1 second left in the 5th round of their fight.  It was the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the UFC and the fight was fitting for the occasion.

Rodriguez, who took the fight on short notice, won Performance of the Night and share the fight of the night with Chan Sung Jung.  KZ was ahead of the scorecard going into the final round but Rodriquez knocked him out with an uppercut elbow as time expired.  In addition, Donald Cerrone submitted Mike Perry with an armbar in the very first round of the co-main event.  Cerrone then brought his young son into the Octagon.

The event drew 11,426 for a live gate of $946,700 according to UFC officials post-fight.

Payout Perspective:

The last two fights of the evening were great to watch.  The throwback graphics from the 90s were a visual pleasure throughout the telecast.  Rodriguez put on a show throughout the fight with an array of unique attempts to takedown KZ.  But, living up to his name, KZ walked through most of Yair’s offense except for the last elbow.

UFC 230 attendance, gate and bonuses

November 3, 2018

UFC 230 drew the second highest attendance and gate of 2018.  The event featured Daniel Cormier defending his Heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis.

The event at Madison Square Garden drew 18,201 for a gate of $2,841,718.86 In comparison, UFC 205 drew 20,427 for a gate of $17.7 million.

The bonuses of the night went to Chris Weidman and Jacare Souza for Fight of the Night and Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier for Performances of the Night. Each earned $50,000 bonuses.

Payout Perspective:

A good night of fights and maybe Jacare’s stoppage of Weidman was the most surprising result of the evening. UFC 230 did well with attendance and showed that a Heavyweight headliner without Brock Lesnar could draw some fans.  We’ll see about those PPV buys.

UFC Fight Night 138 attendance, gate and bonuses

October 28, 2018

UFC Fight Night 138 took place Saturday night in Moncton, New Brunswick Canada.  Anthony Smith led the bonus winners with his main event finish of Volkan Oezdamir.

Also winning bonuses last night were Don Madge, Nasrat Haqparast and Thibault Gouti. Madge earned his performance bonus with a headkick KO over Te Edwards.  Haqparast and Gouti earned Fight of the Night. Haqparast earned the decision win.

In the promotion’s first appearance in Moncton, the event drew 6,282 fans for a gate of $692,000 Canadian dollars.

Payout Perspective:

An impressive night for Smith as he defeated the #2 ranked Light Heavyweight in the UFC.  The attendance and gate are on par with what you would expect from Fight Night events.  But, the pacing once again for these events make it as undesirable to watch as an extra inning baseball game.

UFC 229: Payout Perspective

October 9, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time it was one of the biggest events in company history with UFC 229 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Khabib submits Conor, brawl ensues

You’ve likely read all about the post-fight brawl.  Despite MMA fan that like to downplay the incident, this was not how you showcase your product to the millions of fans that watched the fight.  Rather than be professional, both sides were not.  Conor’s antics prior to the night, and Khabib’s during it were both wrong.  It was a disgrace to the sport and overshadowed the dominant performance by Khabib.

At this point, the Nevada Athletic Commission will have to suspend and fine Khabib for some time to make it look like an authority.  With that being said, it’s clear that the UFC will take no action despite its ability to do something about it.  The UFC has maintained its alibi of hiding behind the regulation of a commission to do its bidding when it comes to these types of disciplinary issues.  It is clear that if they wanted, they could terminate Khabib’s contract.  Dana White stated that any fighter from Khabib’s corner would no longer fight in the UFC.  But what about Khabib?

Conor is to blame as well.  His antics have helped put him in the stratosphere of earners in combat sports and brought millions of dollars to Zuffa.  As a result, he’s been allowed to do anything without repercussions.

The whole scenario points to a suspension for Khabib and being stripped of his lightweight title.  We should have Conor face Tony Ferguson for the title and/or Diaz/Poirier winner facing Ferguson with the loser facing Conor.

Ferguson returns to stop Showtime

Tony Ferguson stopped Anthony Pettis in a blood-splattering fight that showed El Cucuy is back.  Both fighters had their moments and the movements in the fight were out of the ordinary and extraordinary.  Ferguson used a somersault to get out of the way of Pettis and Showtime used capoeira moves in attacking and defending.  Pettis was sliced by one of Ferguson’s strikes and was bleeding like a pro wrestler.  He did damage Ferguson as well.  In the end it was the relentless Ferguson that earned the victory as Pettis could not continue due to a broken hand.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

The event set a record for an MMA event in Nevada with 20,034 for a gate of $17.2 million.  It eclipsed UFC 200 held at the same venue.  The gate for UFC 229 fell short of the company record of $17.7 million for the UFC’s debut at MSG at UFC 205.

According to SeatGeek, a standing room only seat for UFC 229 went for over $400, with the get-in price at $1,234.  Again, it was second to only UFC 205’s get in price.

The bonuses went to Ferguson and Pettis for Fight of the Night, Derrick Lewis and Aspen Ladd for Performances of the Night.  Each drew the standard $50,000 bonus.

Payouts

The payouts were highlighted by Conor McGregor’s $3 million purse followed by Khabib’s $2 million.  But, the NAC has held up Khabib’s payout pending an investigation in the post-fight brawl.  While it has issued the check to McGregor, it’s held Khabib’s pay pending an investigation

The rest of the payouts can be found here.

Promotion of the Fight

Conor McGregor did not do a “world tour” for this fight which would have probably brought even more interest to the event.  He did promote when needed such as their first press conference.

The press conference which was held between Conor-Khabib prior to fight week was done without an audience but was shown in Times Square.  It was also on ESPN which had to use its censor liberally due to all of the profanity.  Conor’s late arrivals at the presser and ceremonial weigh-ins really put stress on the networks to deal with stretching out the time.  With more losses, networks will get tired of this habit.

ESPN did air the UFC Countdown show on its network in addition to it airing on FS1.

Dana White appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show to promote the fight.  Conor McGregor made an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show and shared Proper 12 with his Irish counterpart.

In addition, there were multiple radio ads in addition to the television commercials.  Most of which highlighted the infamous Brooklyn bus attack.

Sponsorships

There were some new sponsors for this event including Conor McGregor’s Proper 12 Irish Whiskey and San Manuel Casino.  The latter sponsor is based out of Highland, California and was shown during the ceremonial weigh-ins.

One of the newest UFC sponsors, Portable Protein Pack aka P3, appeared on the front paneling of the UFC/Reebok shorts.  We may see more of this with existing official sponsors having secondary opportunities on fight gear.

In addition, Air Asia made a significant splash in its sponsorship activation which included stewardesses on stage with UFC Octagon girls during the ceremonial weigh-ins and with signage in the red corner of the Octagon to match the company’s branded color.

It was reported by Ariel Helwani that Conor McGregor signed a lucrative deal with Monster Energy which was said to be in the millions.

EA announced a new edition of its UFC3 video game featuring Conor McGregor.  EA conducted a fight simulation in which Conor McGregor KO’d Khabib in the 3rd round.

In the octagon, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Bud Light, Nemiroff, Motel6, MetroPCS, P3, CircleK, Modelo, Air Asia, UFC3’s Notorious Edition, Autozone and the return of the Walking Dead and Monster Energy held the center. It was clear that there were more sponsors than ever before within the Octano on its corners and canvas.  Harley Davidson had the fighter prep point.

Ratings

The UFC Prelims on FS1 drew 1.3M viewers on Saturday.  The prefight telecast on FS1 drew 373,000 viewers.  The prefight show matched the one from UFC 223.  The 222-prefight show was the highest-rated this year with 431,000.

Odds and Ends

I wrote about the UFC brawl in depth and how the promotion of the fight allowed for this to happen.  The UFC faces a lot of fallout (good and bad) from the event.  Khabib and Conor are facing NAC sanctions for their actions and at least two fighters from Khabib’s team will likely be expelled from the UFC and from fighting in Nevada.  For a promotion that is looking to grow the sport and find blue-chip sponsors, one has to ask whether UFC 229’s brawl was good or ad for business.

Conor went after Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, a controversial MMA manager that has been linked to terrorist groups if you believe McGregor and some journalists writing on the subject.  Despite these alleged ties, it seems that a majority of MMA fighters trust Abdelaziz with their career.  During the fight, Abdelaziz and members from both camps stayed in the back as the UFC tried to prevent what happened Saturday from happening.

The internet searches for this event were huge.  On Friday, UFC 229 drew over 2M google searches.  McGregor-Khabib drew over 2M searches as well.

Conor McGregor drew over 5M google searches on Saturday.  Derrick Lewis drew over 200,000 and Michelle Waterson drew over 100,000 searches.  “McGregor Fight” drew over 1 million google searches on Sunday.

Derrick Lewis’ post-fight interview was an all-time classic and was one of the reasons he drew as many google searches.  He took off his pants, said Donald Trump called him and told him to be Alexander Volkov.

Khabib appeared at the post-fight press conference and indicated he received congratulations from Vladimir Putin.

Matt Damon turned down the opportunity to be on Saturday Night Live to go to UFC 229.  There were many other celebrities drawn to this event as well and the aftermath had everyone on social media talking about it.

Internal numbers for Internet purchases of the event were up over 60% from Mayweather-McGregor according to Dave Meltzer.  This would be an indicator (although maybe not the strongest) the buy rate surged past the record of 1.6M PPV buys.  White indicated that it did not reach 3 million but was over 2 million.

The UFC received a ton of mainstream coverage due to post-fight brawl.  But, does this tarnish their image or encourage the promotion to try more of this?

Conclusion

Dana White touted that based on the viewership of Embedded episodes and YouTubes views compared with McGregor-Mayweather, the PPV would break the UFC record and it appears he will be right.  Despite the lack of expanded promotion of the event, its clear that the UFC hit all of the trigger points to garner the casual fans to buy the event.  The controversy is whether it was right to include footage of the bus attack or allow McGregor to continue personal attacks on Khabib’s religion, family and friends.  But, the PPV buy rate will likely go over 2 million (say 2.2 million) buys and show that marketing the bus attack footage helped more than it hurt.  There will be a rematch and you can believe that they will show the post-fight melee.

UFC 229 attendance, gate and bonuses

October 7, 2018

UFC 229 set an attendance and gate record for MMA events in Nevada on Saturday night.

The event which was marred by a post-fight melee involving Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmogomedov had some great fights too.  The event was a sell-out at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The co-main event of Tony Ferguson-Anthony Pettis won Fight of the Night.  The Performance Bonus went to Derrick Lewis and Aspen Ladd for their performances.

The event was a complete sellout and drew 20,034 for a gate of $17.2 million.  The gate is second only to the UFC’s debut at MSG for 205.  McGregor-Alvarez drew 17.7 million.

Payout Perspective:

For obvious reasons, Khabib was not rewarded with a bonus.  Ladd and Lewis had great performances for differing reasons.  Ladd had a dominant performance while Lewis was losing for most of his fight before finally using his power to stop Alexander Volkov.  The UFC did record numbers for the press conference, weigh-ins and the event.  Will the UFC score a PPV record? All signs point to it coming at least close to 1.5M.

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