UFC 202: Payout Perspective

August 23, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective for UFC 202.  This time we take a look at Diaz-McGregor II at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

McGregor gains revenge on Diaz

It was a majority decision for Conor McGregor as 2 judges scored the bout for McGregor while the third judge determined it a draw.  It was a solid back and forth fight with McGregor coming out with a solid game plan but despite a crimson mask, Diaz came back and was able to score a 10-8 round (according to 1 judge).  McGregor seemed to tire after round 2 as he attempted to run from exchanges.  However, he was able to muster enough to narrowly escape a second loss to Diaz.

The question of when the third fight shall happen will likely depend on when McGregor will be available as an injured leg may keep him out until 2017.  Could we see Diaz-McGregor III in Vegas in July 2017?

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz represented 82 percent of the reported salary payouts which we detail below.  A definite money fight.

Anrhony Johnson drops Glover

It took one uppercut for Anthony Johnson to end the night for Glover Teixeira.  Johnson should get Daniel Cormier next.  Johnson is on a roll and it looks like Cormier will need to rely on his wrestling to stop Rumble’s power.  This could be one of the main events for the UFC’s debut in New York this November.

Attendance and gate

Although there were reports that the event had trouble selling tickets, it still was a big gate for the UFC.  It drew 15,539 for a live gate of $7,692,010 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  A typical McGregor draw.

UFC 196: 14,697 for $8.1M

UFC 194: 16,516 for $10.1M

UFC 189: 16,019 for $7.2M

Ticket prices were slashed for the event per ESPN.  There were still tickets available the day of the event.

Bonuses

The $50,000 bonuses went to Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Donald Cerrone.  Diaz-McGregor earned FOTN while Johnson and Cerrone drew POTN.  There were a lot of stoppages to choose from and there could have been several fighters that could have drawn the bonuses.

Payouts

Conor McGregor made history by making the most of any reported payout for an MMA fighter when the NSAC disclosed he would receive $3 million for the fight.  Diaz came in second in payouts with $2 million.  The two drew over 80% of the reported overall payouts.

The full list is here.

Promotion of the Fight

The Pre-Fight Press Conference was a spectacle with bottle throwing and middle fingers everywhere.  With McGregor showing up late, it seemed to make Diaz mad as he got up and left and that’s when the presser went off the rails.


Also of note, Nate Diaz appeared on Conan and Jimmy Kimmel.

Conor McGregor did not do as many appearances but did another CNBC interview.

He also did an ESPN interview post-water bottle throwing and the censors were too slow to catch up with some profanity.

There was also a GQ profile on McGregor.

The promotion of the fight included twitter emojis for Diaz and McGregor when you used their hashtags.  Other fighters and famous folks did videos on twitter holding up the hashtag of they believed would win the fight.

The UFC 196 replay featuring Diaz-McGregor I was shown on FS1 Thursday night before the fight and drew over 200,000 viewers despite Olympics and NFL Preseason on the same night.  The first fight was available for free online too.

The UFC weigh-ins drew 173,000 viewers on Friday night and was followed by a replay of the “Bad Blood” special on Diaz-Conor which drew 162,000 viewers.

Sponsorships

The regular UFC sponsors were in the octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Bud Light, 7-Eleven, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the octagon.  The movie “Hands of Stone,” which is about the Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard fight.  Bud Light had the fighter prep point.

The octagon also included the twitter hashtags for Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor.

Conor McGregor, who has an individual sponsorship with Reebok, did posts and a video for Reebok promoting himself and UFC 202.

Donald Cerrone had a Monster Energy Drink logo and Bud Light sponsorship on his shorts.  He also held the Monster can post-fight after  his stoppage of Rick Story.

Odds and Ends

No “Face the Pain” music intro to the PPV.  Perhaps a call by the new owners.

Conor McGregor claimed that he spent $300,000 on his training camp in preparation for Nate Diaz.  That’s 10% of his reported payout for his fight with Diaz.

Cerrone said that it was his last fight on his contract but his reps stated otherwise.  Regardless, he seemed set on re-signing with the UFC instead of testing free agency.

Despite the payout for Nate, Nick remains suspended due to the fact he has yet to pay his fine from the settlement with the commission.  As a result, he was banned from the arena and precluded from cornering Nate.

We’ll probably talk about Nate and his post-fight vaping later this week.

The Dominick Cruz-Alpha Male feud continues as Cody Carbrandt stopped Takeya Mizugaki in the first round.  Cruz stopped Mizugaki in the first round in his return from injury.  Post-fight Carbrandt turned his attention to Cruz who was in the FS1 booth.

Was that Eva Marie or Rando Markos with the red hair?

New thing for fighters.  They get to see tweets in the locker rooms:

Mike Perry may be the most-hated UFC fighter already.  Not only did he fake a handshake with his opponent at the televised weigh-ins.  There is audio of his corner possibly using racial slurs.  This, in addition to having a long fingernail going into the Octagon and then, without a clipper in site, he attempted to chew it off.

Gordon Ramsey, Skip Bayless, Dwight Howard and Kanye West were all in attendance at UFC 202.

It was Neil Magny’s last fight on his contract but his upset loss to Lorenz Larking probably does not help his cause when negotiating with the UFC.

No post-fight press conference as fighters had individual scrums.  A sign of the times for the new ownership?

The Pro Fighter’s Association held a press conference in Vegas during fight week to establish its potential roll in a fighter’s union for the UFC.  It will be a long, hard road for this to happen but we shall see.

Conclusion

5 million google searches on Saturday for UFC 202 might infer that the PPV buy rate will soar over 1M buys.  Certainly, the lack of tickets sales may be a concern but realize that the UFC moved into T-Mobile Arena versus most of their other big events taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  T-Mobile holds more people so maybe the UFC overestimated the attendance.  While the event seemed to lack the buzz of a typical McGregor fight, it will still produce PPV buy rates.  I would expect this event to hit 1M buys.

UFC 202 attendance, gate and bonuses

August 20, 2016

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz led the list of bonus winners for UFC 202.  The event drew the 5th highest gate in Nevada.

UFC 202 drew 15,539 fans for a live gate of $7,692,010 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Below are the last 3 events prior to Saturday’s event featuring Conor McGregor.

UFC 196: 14,697 for $8.1M

UFC 194: 16,516 for $10.1M

UFC 189: 16,019 for $7.2M

In addition to the main event participants, Donald Cerrone and Anthony Johnson earned bonuses for their stoppages during the main card.

Payout Perspective:

While it was an impressive gate, tickets for the event were still available the day of the event.  This could be due to the fact that the T-Mobile Arena can house 20,000 whereas the MGM Grand Garden Arena holds a little over 17,000.  It still was a bigger gate than last July’ s UFC 189 and had more in attendance than UFC 196.

UFC Fight Night 92 attendance, gate and bonuses

August 6, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses from UFC Fight Night 92 from Salt Lake City, Utah.

The event drew 6,689 fans for a live gate of $481,033.  The numbers were provided to MMA Junkie post-fight by the UFC.  The arena, home to the Utah Jazz, houses 20,000.  It did better than the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Fight Night last month and UFC Fight Night 88 in Las Vegas (4,193, $359,000) this past Memorial Day weekend.

In addition, the $50,000 bonuses went to Yair Rodriguez and Alex Caceres for Fight of the Night.  Marcin Tybura and Teruto Ishihara earned Performance of the Night bonuses.

Payout Perspective:

The event bested Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s attendance and gate in terms of Fight Night attendance in new cities this year.  There was much of a draw for the MMA fans so the allure of a UFC-branded event was the pull to attend.

UFC 201: Payout Perspective

July 31, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 201 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  The main event featured Robbie Lawler taking on Tyrone Woodley for the welterweight title.

The wait was worth it: Woodley new WW champ

Tyron Woodley waited almost a year and a half for his shot at the welterweight title.  What was almost a nothing fight for the first minute exploded quickly as Woodley laid the hammer down on Lawler.  It has to be one of the bigger upsets in some time.  Then again, it’s yet another title change in the UFC.

So does Nick Diaz actually get the first shot at him?  It’s the “money fight” and could happen sometime this fall.  But, doesn’t Lawler deserve a rematch?  While he got caught, I doubt this could happen in another fight.  Lawler should still be near the top of the rankings for this division.

UFC-201-Lawler-vs-Woodley-Sq

Karolina edges out Rose for chance at Joanna

Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeated Rose Namajunas in the fight of the night.  We now get an interesting all-Polish for the women’s strawweight title.  Hopefully, the UFC can build this fight for women’s MMA as well as its international expansion.  Certainly, this fight with Joanna Champion should take place sometime this fall in Poland.

Attendance and gate

It’s not surprising that this event drew less than the prior two PPV events in Atlanta.  The previous two: UFC 88 and UFC 145, had highly anticipated fights in Evans-Liddell and Evans-Jones.  The UFC did draw a 1 million gate.  Specifically, 10,240 for a gate of $1.07M.

Bonuses

Bonuses of $50K each went to Rose-Karolina, Woodley and Jake Ellenberger.  Rose-Karolina earned the Fight of the Night while Woodley and Ellenberger scored the Performances of the Night for their respective stoppages.

Sponsorships

The usual UFC sponsors were in the octagon including Bud Light, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, UFC Fight Pass, MetroPCS, and Monster had the middle of the octagon.  QT, a software company, shared the post with Monster’s logo.

Also in the octagon was signage for UFC 202 August 20th for Diaz-McGregor.

EA UFC2 had the prep point.

Tyron Woodley wore Monster head phones to the ring.  This is something you rarely see any more.

Notably, MusclePharm was all over the UFC Embeddeds.  Matt Brown even drove a car with the MP logo on the side.

Odds and Ends

On Friday, UFC 201 drew 500,000 google searches which is corrected from our original report that it drew just 50,000 searches.  Still, it did not feel like strong momentum going into this.

Another thing going against this card was that the UFC Prelims were moved to FS2.

Recall this was to be a double title night with Demetrious Johnson defending his title against Wilson Reis.  Johnson was injured, so Reis was bumped off the main card.  He did record a submission victory over Hector Sandoval.

Why do fighters still strip down at the televised weigh-ins if their official weigh-ins were earlier that morning?  No need to be in your underwear in front of the crowd.  You can just wear your fight shorts.

It was interesting that Pat Barry, Rose Namajunas’ boyfriend and coach was not a part of the UFC Embeddeds.  Rose talked about this prior to the fight.

Speaking of the UFC Embeddeds, this is the first time that I thought most of them were bland.  However, the one thing that I enjoyed (aside from the Woodley kids) was that we were introduced to Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  The other thing we may have learned from the video series is that Coy Wire and Robbie Lawler look alike.

Ian McCall received his win bonus and show money after Justin Scoggins could not make weight.  McCall remained an alternate on the card which may explain him receiving the win bonus.  It’s the first time I’ve heard of a fighter receiving a win bonus when they did not fight.

Did Reebok get Erik Perez an official Lucha Libre mask?

Jake Ellenberger was going to be cut but was given one more chance.  He won with a liverkick that stopped Matt Brown.  It’s not his last fight after all.

Conclusion

This PPV felt like the “forgotten PPV” as it is sandwiched between UFC 200 and UFC 202 (featuring the rematch between Diaz-McGregor).  Both of these PPVs will draw over 1 million buys while 201 will fall far short of that.  While Robbie Lawler is an exciting fighter and produced some great battles.  Does it equate to his PPV average of 333,000 buys?  Perhaps.  But with the UFC seemingly promoting UFC 202 prior to UFC 201 even happening (e.g., Nate Diaz on Conan as well as the promos starting earlier), the PPV likely drew 285,000-300,000 PPV buys.

UFC 201 attendance, gate and bonuses

July 31, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses from UFC 201 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tyron Woodley, Jake Ellenberger, Rose Namajunas and Karolina Kowalkiewicz earned the fight bonuses for UFC 201.  Woodley and Ellenberger won for their respective stoppages and Namajunas and Kowalkiewicz earned the $50K for Fight of the Night.

According to the post-event press conference the event drew 10,240 for a gate of 1.07M.  The event ranks third in terms of UFC events at the Philips Arena.

UFC 145: Jones and Evans ranked first (15,545 – $2.2M) behind UFC 88: Evans and Liddell (14,736 – $2.6M).

Payout Perspective:

Certainly Damien Brown could have earned a fight night bonus.  Ellenberger’s KO of Matt Brown was the upset of the night even with Woodley winning the title.  No surprise the attendance and gate were not o par with the previous two outings in Atlanta.  Jones and Evans was a much-hyped grudge match.  UFC 88 had Chuck Liddell, a big draw, versus the young, upstart (at the time), Rashad Evans.

UFC on Fox 20 attendance, gate and bonuses

July 23, 2016

UFC on Fox 20 held another event in Chicago Saturday night.  The bonuses included Eddie Wineland, Felice Herrig, Jason Knight and Jim Alers.

In addition to the bonuses, UFC on Fox 20 at the United Center drew 10,287 for a live gate of $1 million.  The attendance and gate were announced at the post-fight press conference.

Wineland and Herrig drew the Performances of the Night while Knight and Alers drew the Fight of the Night.  All earned $50,000 bonuses.

The event ranked fourth out of 5 events at the United Center in Chicago.

  1. UFC on Fox 2: 17,245, $1,270,960 gate
  2. UFC on Fox 6: 16,091, $1,270,000 gate
  3. UFC on Fox 16: 11,663, $1,200,000 gate
  4. UFC on Fox 20: 10,287, $1,000,000 gate
  5. UFC on Fox 10: 10,895, $863,655 gate

Payout Perspective:

A $1 million gate is very good for this event considering that the co-main of Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira was pulled off the card leaving Holm as your real main attraction.  The bonuses were fair although I thought that they could have given a bonus to Francis Ngannou.

UFC Fight Night 91 attendance, gate and bonuses

July 13, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for Wednesday night’s UFC Fight Night 91 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The event drew 15,761 for a gate of $381,945.  The event took place at Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.  According to its web site, the venue sits up to 12,000 for concerts so the event was nearly a sellout.

The bonuses went to John Lineker, Louis Smolka, Tony Ferguson and Lando Vannata.  Each earned $50,000.  Ferguson narrowly escaped a huge upset in round 1 and was able to stop Vannata in the Fight of the Night.  Lineker and Smolka both earned Performances of the Night.

Payout Perspective:

Very good attendance for a Wednesday night in Sioux Falls.  It was the debut of the UFC in South Dakota so one might expect people to come watch the UFC live.  The fights were entertaining albeit subject to the network pacing.  For a last minute replacement, Vannata was a game opponent for Ferguson.

UFC 200: Payout Perspective – Part 1 of 2

July 11, 2016

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 200 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Nunes upsets Tate to win women’s title

If I were to tell you at the start of the year that the main event for July’s UFC 200 would be Amanda Nunes versus Miesha Tate, you probably would have thought that it was a joke.  However, due to Ronda Rousey’s movie career, Conor McGregor’s poorly played power move and a Jon Jones drug test, we received Nunes-Tate as the final fight on what was/is supposed to be the biggest card of the year for the UFC.

Amanda Nunes looked sharped and started off quick as she always does.  She peppered Tate and may have broken her nose.  Once it got to the ground, Nunes applied the rear-naked choke (or chin crank) for the victory.  You could see Tate being broken as the round went on.  She barely made weight for this fight despite seemingly calm throughout the rest of the camp.

Nunes was emotional and became the first openly gay UFC champion for the sport.  It was fitting as it was the same weekend that the UFC announced its line of apparel in support of the LGBTQ community.  Of course, the weekend was somewhat tarnished by comments made by Donald Cerrone on Sunday although The Cowboy did apologize immediately.

Nunes may have Holly Holm or a returning Ronda Rousey at year’s end.  If Rousey decides to return to the Octagon, I could envision a New York defense for Nunes against Rousey.

UFC 200

Lesnar dominates Hunt in return to Octagon

Brock Lesnar surprised most of the MMA fanbase as he defeated Mark Hunt in a 3-round heavyweight bout.  Although Lesnar’s last time in the Octagon looked very bad (a loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141), he looked quick and his wrestling helped squash Hunt.  In another surprise, Lesnar’s post-fight interview was far-less dynamic and much more humanitarian than beast-like in his UFC 100 tirade which even UFC Fight Pass censors due to his comments about sponsor Bud Light.

This was supposed to be a one-time thing for Lesnar as he was on “loan” (for $2.5M +) from the WWE.  We will see if he will fight again.  If he does, you have to think he’s close to being in line for a title shot.

Aldo wins interim belt as McGregor watches on

Jose Aldo looked like his old self in securing a unanimous decision win over Frankie Edgar.  Aldo’s ability to stuff takedowns and score on the outside helped him defeat a game Edgar.  Aldo should receive his much-anticipated rematch against Conor McGregor (after his one-off with Nate next month).

Not sure what Edgar will do next.  He had been on a great run up until Saturday.  However, he’ll have to hope for a Conor win to get another shot at the 145 title.

Attendance and Gate

The UFC set a gate record in Nevada with $10.7 million for the 18,202 in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50,000 went to Amanda Nunes, Cain Vevlasquez, Joe Lauzon and Gegard Mousasi.  All were performance bonuses as there was no Fight of the Night.

Payouts

The biggest payout was Brock Lesnar and his $2.5 million.  Even with no win bonus, it’s the largest reported payout for a UFC fighter.  No complaints from anyone else as Lesnar likely brought in many PPV purchasers.  Lesnar likely will make more from his PPV cut.

Lesnar’s opponent, Mark Hunt, received $700,000 for stepping in with the WWE superstar.  According to Kevin Iole, the Nevada State Athletic Commission stated that Cormier was slated to make $1 million for his fight with Jon Jones.  But since that was cancelled, he made $500,000.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC bought ad time on Adult Swim in an effort to expand its reach as well as touch upon the network’s African American demo.  At the time, the main event was Cormier-Jones.

In addition, the UFC had a “confrontation show” on FS1 with Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier talking about their fight.

Bud Light and Monster Energy held promotions months in advance holding trips to win a chance to go to UFC 200.

The UFC did their usual media stops although it did not seem as broad a reach as UFC 196.

Sponsors

The special gold mat included the usual sponsors as well as a couple new ones.  EA UFC2, Harley-Davidson, MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Bud Light and Monster were all in the Octagon with the energy drink having the center of the Octagon.  Hudson Shipping Lines, a mainstay sponsor on many International UFC cards had signage in the Octagon.  DirecTV promoted its original show, Kingdom.  It showed clips of the show as well as showing stars in attendance.  Also, Speedway was also in the Octagon sharing a signage post with Monster.  The company is a gas and convenient store with most of its locations on the East Coast.  It ran a promotion in conjunction with Monster leading up to this event.

Bud Light had the prep point at the televised weigh-ins and at the event.

As we mention, Bud Light and Monster Energy had promotions far in advance of 200.

Odds and ends

Yes, we’ll address the sale in another post.

The mat probably was to be more a gold look but was yellow to commemorate UFC 200.

The UFC offered 200 in 4K.  It was the first time ever and event was offered in PPV.

This was the first reveal of the Reebok kits.  It had more colors.  Notably the yellow looked good for Anderson Silva as it was his usually color.  But, the yellow also was the same as the mat.

Interesting that DC was wearing his Nike Air Max shoes during fight week including during the Embedded where Dana White told Cormier that his fight with Jones was off.

The WWE did not actively promote UFC 200 although the PPV featured an ad for Summerslam.  It was not until Brock’s win did the WWE social media machine engage.

While there is so much love for Lesnar right now, an injury-free Cain Velasquez at sea-level is probably the best heavyweight out there.

It’s been slightly over 1 year with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and the company’s biggest event is greatly affected by it.  At least we know that there are no favorites in the process.

The UFC and Snapchat announced a multi-year partnership for coverage of its live events which began at UFC 200.

The UFC Prelims on FS1 were sent to FS2 for the first half hour due to the MLB game that preceeded the event going to extra innings.  The FS1 audience missed out on the Sage Northcutt fight.  Despite an average (maybe below) average performance, Sage secured an individual Reebok sponsorship.

The Exclusive UFC Fight Pass Prelims had some of the more exciting fights of the night on it as it produced two bonus winners (Lauzon, Mousasi).

Speaking of Fight Pass, I was interviewed by The Verge about how the UFC became the ‘Netflix of Combat.”

Conclusion

We’ll have more on the event, the Expo, Jon Jones and more in part 2.  But, everyone probably wants to know what an estimated buy rate would be for this event.  While we pondered whether this event could draw 2 million PPV buys, that would be unlikely after the Jon Jones debacle.  Jones is not a big PPV draw but the promotion and marketing was centered around the feud with Cormier.  UFC 182 drew 800,000 PPV buys.  With Lesnar and two other title fights, one would think that it could draw near the 2 million mark.  Even without the feud, UFC 200 should do well with just the name Brock Lesnar attached.  UFC 200 should doing something between 1 million to 1.2 million PPV buys.  While it won’t eclipse UFC 100’s buy rate, it will be a good sendoff for Zuffa.

UFC 200 sets gate record in Nevada

July 9, 2016

UFC 200 set a record gate for the UFC in the state of Nevada with $10.7 million.  The event drew 18,202 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The attendance and gate were announced at the UFC post-fight press conference.  The gate surpasses December’s UFC 194 which drew $10.1 million at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  We should note that the estimated attendance for Conor-Aldo was 16,516.

Bonuses went to Amanda Nunes, Cain Velasquez, Joe Lauzon and Gegard Mousasi.  All were Performance Bonuses and there were no Fight of the Night Bonus.  Each won $50,000 bonuses.

Payout Perspective:

Although UFC 100 drew $100K bonuses and UFC 129 drew $129K bonuses there were no $200K bonuses.  As for the gate, the record is due in part to the high ticket prices to get in.  Certainly, it was another great three days of fight culminating with a big event that drew a record number of fans paying premium prices to break the gate record.

TU 23 Finale attendance, gate and bonuses

July 8, 2016

In the second night of three nights of live fights in Las Vegas, Joanna Jedrzejcyk successfully defended her women’s Strawweight title against Claudia Gadelha at the TUF 23 Finale at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Jedrzejcyk and Gadelha earned Fight of the Night Honors while Performance of the Night bonuses went to Doo Ho Choi and Tatiana Suarez.  Each earned $50,000.

The event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena drew 8,115 for a gate of $736,408.  The attendance, bonus and gate were announced at the post-event press conference.

Payout Perspective:

Friday’s event had slightly more in attendance than Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 90 show.  You can probably chalk that up to fans coming in for the weekend.  This edition of the TUF Finale did better than December’s gate of $450,000 although that event was at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan which is a much smaller venue.  Last July’s TUF 21 Finale drew just 4,844 for a gate of $291,000.  Thus, an improvement over last year’s event.

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