UFC 178: Payout Perspective

September 29, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.   In this edition, we review UFC 178 which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Demetrious Johnson took on Chris Cariaso in the main event.

Johnson outclasses Cariaso

Despite the lack of fan support (i.e., PPV buys), Demetrious Johnson can legitimately stake a claim to being the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC.  It was clear in the first minute that Johnson was the better fighter and ended Cariaso in the second round with a submission.

Johnson is getting prime placement on UFC shows and it’s the second PPV he’s headlined this year.  One should also stress the fact that Johnson has not been hurt during his title reign and is not an outside-the-Octagon problem.  So, why don’t people buy his PPVs?

UFC_178_event_poster

Cowboy welcomes Eddie to UFC

The skeet shooting and wakeboarding training regimen pre-fight aside, Donald Cerrone is an extremely good fighter.  In what was one of the more entertaining fights on the card, Cerrone defeated Eddie Alvarez.  It was the long-awaited debut for the former Bellator champ and the first round he showed why the UFC wanted to acquire his services.  Yet, Cerrone moves on looking for another fight before 2014 closes.

McGregor makes quick work of Poirier

You would have thought that this was the main event based on the crowd reactions.  The hype, trash talk and vitriol between the two (especially during any face off promoting the fight) was classic in what to do to have people interested in purchasing your fights. The Conor McGregor experience continues and likely his most impressive fight on the biggest platform so far.  McGregor easily handled Dustin Poirier in the first round.  It’s clear that McGregor is ready for a title shot after Saturday night.

Attendance and Gate

The attendance and gate announced at the post-fight press conference was 10,544 for a gate of $2.2 million.  Out of 9 PPVs this year, it ranked 7th in attendance.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50K each were awarded to Yoel Romero-Tim Kennedy for Fight of the Night and Dominick Cruz and Conor McGregor for Performances of the Night.

Promotion of the Fight

The Embedded episodes continue to be popular as the UFC has found a formula to promote the fights digitally.  For the most part, viewers got to see Cowboy Cerrone wakeboarding and skeet shooting prior to his fight with Eddie Alvarez, Conor McGregor get a haircut, Demetrious Johnson getting a shave and Dustin Poirier at the Whole Foods at Vegas.  The one thing really missing from the embedded episode was a profile on Chris Cariaso.  The Countdown show did have a profile on Cariaso but it seemed incomplete.  Even if it was a foregone conclusion that he would likely lose (which happened), it would have been nice for them to have elevated his profile for this fight.  It seems to get better reviews than the UFC Prime Time episodes because they are short and can be viewed whenever people want to see them.

Conor McGregor did a good amount of pre-fight press.

Mighty Mouse appeared on the local Fox affiliate in Seattle last week hyping UFC 178.

Salaries

Salaries have been disclosed via MMA Junkie:

Demetrious Johnson: $183,000 (includes $54,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Cariaso: $24,000

Donald Cerrone: $126,000 (includes $63,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Alvarez: $100,000

Conor McGregor: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)
def. Dustin Poirier: $34,000

Yoel Romero: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus)
def. Tim Kennedy: $70,000

Cat Zingano: $18,000 (includes $9,000 win bonus)
def. Amanda Nunes: $15,000

Dominick Cruz: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Takeya Mizugaki: $32,000

Jorge Masvidal: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. James Krause: $15,000

Stephen Thompson: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Patrick Cote: $33,000

Brian Ebersole: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. John Howard: $21,000

Kevin Lee: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Jon Tuck: $10,000

Manny Gamburyan: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Cody Gibson: $10,000

Some notes:

Some interesting figures including Demetrious Johnson being paid like a champ (base of $129K).  The last official report of his purse was at UFC on Fox 9 where he made a base of $125K (notice a bigger bonus for that Fox event).  You might assume that June’s UFC 174 he made a base of $127K although those salaries were never officially reported.  Eddie Alvarez was paid $100K (show) for his first UFC fight.  You might recall when he was originally offered a UFC contract which precipitated the Bellator lawsuit, he was offered $70K for his first match in the UFC.  Conor McGregor is already up to $75K base.  Cat Zingano only made $9K/$9K which is only a $2K bump from her last fight in April 2013 against Miesha Tate.

Sponsors

The octagon sponsors included MusclePharm, MetroPCS, Alienware, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Fram, UltimatePoker.net, Assassin’s Creed’s latest game, Matefit.me and Bud Light in the center.

Missing from the octagon was long-time sponsor, Xyience, which was purchased by another company that quickly pulled the sponsorship with the UFC.

Yoel Romero was sponsored by likeaboss.com.  I’m not sure what they do.

Cain Velasquez appeared in a promo for Harley Davidson Motorcycle’s “Hometown Throwdown.”

Mighty Mouse had his traditional sponsor of Xbox 360.  The only sponsor for Johnson, his fight banner told folks to pre-order an Xbox One.  I thought those were already available?  If you were wondering, on his recent Wrestling Observer podcast, Dave Meltzer did not know how much Johnson is receiving from Microsoft.

Cariaso was sponsored by Mountek.  Really.

Dominick Cruz was sponsored by the Phoenix International Raceway which stuck with him despite Cruz being on the shelf for a long time.  It paid off as PIR had a prominent logo on Cruz as he was demolishing Takeya Mizugaki.  He also wore the shirt in his post-fight interview.

Odds and ends

-Didn’t mention this earlier, but Cat Zingano-Amanda Nunes fight was the way to start a PPV.  Zingano has been through a lot and it appears that she will be the next for Ronda Rousey.

-MMA Fighting has backstage footage of Tim Kennedy confronting Yoel Romero about the extra time he took to get up from his stool in between rounds.

-Interesting that the UFC are rolling out different types of Bruce Lee t-shirts.  Hopefully some of the money that I suppose the estate is receiving from licensing his likeness is going toward this.

-Dominick Cruz won me over in just the 61 seconds of work.  First, his Jay Z/Cypress Hill remix entrance, Then, the plain black CRUZ sweatshirt.  Easily the best thing anyone has worn to the octagon in the history of this sport.  Finally, his “Alpha-Fails” drop is probably one of the best post-fight lines in a while.

-UFC on Fox YouTube channel has the whole 61 second Cruz return fight.

-Some argument as to whether Cruz fight should have been on PPV.  You can see it as perhaps a concession to boost FS1 ratings.  In hindsight, all of the fights on the PPV were great and hard to see replacing one.

-The good news is that the clay pigeons that Cerrone shot during that Embedded episode were not real as they were made at the same place that Floyd Mayweather got his fake weed from All Access.

-Not surprising, but according to Google Trends, Dublin and Ireland were the most interested city and country for search term “UFC 178”.

Conclusion

This was to be Jones-Gus II.  But after that was scrapped, it was Jones-Cormier.  After the Jones-Cormier media day brawl in August, one could have made the argument that UFC 178 would be the second-biggest PPV event of the year after UFC 175.  But with Jones getting injured, the need to adjust the lineup probably hurt the buy rate.  Overall, this card was very solid with every PPV fight being an entertaining one.  However, selling the Johnson-Cariaso was tough and you might infer that most of the pre-fight hype was for McGregor-Poirier. Although McGregor could be a breakout PPV star, he is not one yet.

While Google Trends saw an uptick in searches for UFC 178 from Ireland, it’s worth to note that the US was the 4th interested country for the event.  In the end, a buy rate of 300,000-325,000 seems reasonable.

UFC 178 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 28, 2014

UFC 178 drew attendance of 10,544 for a gate of $2.2 million at the MGM Grand.  In addition the bonuses were handed out to Conor McGregor, Dominick Cruz, Yoel Romero and Tim Kennedy.

The attendance, gate and bonuses were announced at the post-fight press conference.

As indicated by MMA Junkie, attendance ranked 7th out of 9 PPV events this year. As we reported on Friday, there were still tickets available as it had not yet sold out.

The bonuses were awarded as follows:

FOTN: Romero-Kennedy

Performance of the Night:  Cruz and McGregor

Payout Perspective:

The attendance and gate were as expected.  One might wonder if the UFC had booked the MGM because of the anticipated Jon Jones fight (MGM is bigger venue than Mandalay Bay).  While it was a very good card, I don’t think Johnson as the headliner would have garnered an MGM sell out.

There was some controversy in the Romero-Kennedy fight with Romero taking extra rest in between rounds.  Certainly, that could have worked in his favor.  Cruz and McGregor’s performances deserved the bonuses as both were impressive.

UFC 178 ticket demand marginal

September 26, 2014

MMA Payout has learned per online ticket search engine SeatGeek that the average price on the secondary market for for UFC 178  is $249 which is a considerable boost from UFC 177.  However, with UFC 178 still not a sellout as of the time of this writing; people could still purchase tickets at the box office or Ticketmaster.

The ticket demand may be misleading when bringing up the fact that headliner Demetrious Johnson’s last fight drew one of the lowest average ticket prices on the secondary market in 4 years. This time around, ticket prices on the secondary market are up 83%.  But put into perspective, UFC 178 is the second least expensive ticket for a UFC event at the MGM Grand.  Only UFC 173 (Dillashaw-Barao) averaged a lower ticket price.  Notably, 4 UFC events at the MGM Grand averaged over $500 per ticket.  Anderson Silva was the headliner in 3 of those events.  The other was GSP-Hendricks.

The get-in price for Saturday is $89.15 with the most expensive ticket on the primary market at $841.35.  Up to date ticket information can be found at SeetGeek’s web site.

UFC Fights at MGM Grand

Payout Perspective:

Although a very competitive card, UFC 178 is not a sellout as of the day before the event.  The increase in ticket prices from UFC 177 to UFC 178 should be directly attributed to the fact that Saturday’s event is in Vegas versus Sacramento.  The lower ticket averages and lagging demand on the secondary market appear to occur when the under 155 lb weight classes are headlining.  Again, Johnson is headlining a card where there seems to be more buzz for the two co-main events (Cerrone-Alvarez and Poirier-McGregor). We will see where the attendance and gate end up.

UFC Fight Night 52 attendance and bonuses

September 20, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses for UFC Fight Night 52 from Japan.  Headliner Mark Hunt led the bonus winners in a

Bonuses of $50,000 each were as follows:

Performance bonuses: Mark Hunt and Johnny Case

Fight of the Night:  Kyung Ho Kang and Michinori Tanaka

Although Myles Jury was announced as a bonus winner, Case was awarded the $50K.  It will be interesting to see if Jury is given his bonus anyways.

The attendance at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan was 12,395 with no gate announce.  The last reported attendance at the venue was UFC on Fuel TV 8 in March 2013 when that event drew 14,682.  There were not an official attendance number released for UFC 144 although it was estimated that 15,000 were in attendance.

Payout Perspective:

It was an entertaining night of fights which saw a lot of action and was evidence that Asia is a definite region that the UFC should expand into.  Attendance was not as good as the last two events in Japan but assuming that most of the 12K in attendance paid, the UFC was likely pleased with the turnout.

Mayweather-Maidana II: 925,000 PPV buys

September 19, 2014

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the rematch between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana did 925,000 PPV buys.

Mayweather PPV buys under Showtime contract:

Mayweather-Guerrero, May 4, 2013:  1 million PPV buys (although disputed by ESPN’s Dan Rafael (who indicated that the buys were under 1M) and Showtime which stated that the buys were over 1 million)

Mayweather-Alvarez, September 14, 2013: 2.2 million PPV buys

Mayweather-Maidana I, May 3, 2014:  900,000 PPV buys

Mayweather-Maidana II, September 13, 2014:  925,000 PPV buys

Assuming that the Guerrero fight hit 1 million PPV buys, Mayweather’s average for his 4 fights are slightly over 1.25M PPV buys.  This, of course, was largely due to the Canelo fight.

The news comes despite Showtime advising that it would not reveal PPV buys after Mayweather’s May fight. But, this may have been a reaction to the beef Showtime has with Dan Rafael of ESPN.

As for the live gate and attendance, RingTV reports (via NAC release) that gate was at $14,899,150 with 14,859 tickets being sold and 1,080 tickets going unused.

Payout Perspective:

Interesting lead from the Yahoo! article which focuses on Mayweather’s comments about Ray Rice but despite Mayweather’s persona outside of the ring, last Saturday’s event shows that he still can be a draw although maybe not a 1M PPV draw all by himself.  Based on his fights under the Showtime contract, one might infer that the quality/popularity of the opponent is needed for the event to do big numbers.  Perhaps the Guerrero fight was an anomaly, but based on PPV buys, the Canelo fight was the big success under the Showtime contract.  Certainly, the buzz and run-up to the event was not as big as “The One” last September yet it did better than May’s fight with Maidana.  It could be the fact that people had a little more info on Maidana.  In my opinion, I think the free fights aired on CBS Sports Net (including their first fight from May) helped.

UFC Fight Night 51 attendance and bonuses

September 13, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 51 taking place from Brasilla, Brazil.  The numbers were announced during the post-fight press conference.

The attendance reveals that there were 8,822 fans in attendance with 1,173 of those comped tickets.  According to the Junkie report, the UFC “does not typically reveal live gate figures for its Brazilian events.” Thus, there were 7,649 that paid. For those wondering, the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium (where the event was held) holds 16,000 spectators.

The bonuses for the event were as follows:

FOTN:  Piotr Hallman-Greyson Tibau

Performance bonuses:  Godofredo Pepey, Andrei Arlovski

Payout Perspective:

The most notable bonus here is Arlovski who upset Bigfoot Silva.  Arlovski did not look good in his return fight to the UFC this past June at UFC 174, so this KO was a pleasant surprise.  It’s interesting that the article indicates that live gate figures are not released for Brazil shows although no reason was given.

UFC Fight Night 50 numbers

September 6, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for last night’s UFC Fight Night 50 from the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

The bonus winners were Joe Lauzon, Michael Chiesa, Ronaldo Souza and Ben Rothwell.  All received $50,000 each.  Lauzon and Chiesa won FOTN and Souza and Rothwell won Performance bonuses for their respective wins.

Attendance at the casino event drew 4,086 for a gate of $479,620.  No comps were reported but they never are.

Payout Perspective:

With the bonus, Lauzon is tops in the UFC in bonuses per Joe Rogan.

It was also a big night for Rothwell with his upset win over Alistair Overeem.

UFC 177: Payout Perspective

September 1, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective  This time we take a look at UFC 177 which took place at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California where T.J. Dillashaw defeated his bantamweight title against Joe Soto.

Dillashaw KO’s Soto in 5th round

It was not Renan Barao, but T.J. Dillashaw was able to end the fight in the 5th round again as he disposed of a game Joe Soto.  Dillashaw described himself as a “company man” and there was no issue about whether he’d take the new opponent on a day’s notice.  For Soto, it was a solid effort in his debut fight in the UFC.  Both fighters are likely in the good graces of the UFC.  Who is not on the UFC’s good side?   Renan Barao for not making weight.  The former champ, who just this past May was praised by Dana White, is now on the outs with the organization for not making the 135 pound limit.  White’s distaste toward Barao may be fueled by the already anticipated lack of buzz in this event.

UFC 177

Attendance and gate

Although the initial thought was that this event would pull a small attendance and gate, it actually exceeded the amount of fans that saw Dillashaw-Barao this past Memorial Day weekend.  The secondary market reflected the fact that demand was low.  But, the amount off walkups and discounted tickets helped with the attendance and gate figure.

Bonuses

As reported, bonuses of $50K each went to Dillashaw, Yancy Medeiros, Carlos Diego Fierra and Ramsey Nijem with the last two awarded Fight of the Night.  Despite a slick first round sub on the first fight of the UFC Prelims on FS1, Chris Wade was shut out from reported bonuses.

Sponsorships

Sponsors in the Octagon tonight were Las Vegas.com, video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, Fram, Musclepharm, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Corn Nuts, Alienware, MetroPCS, Xyience and Bud Light had the center.

MetroPCS and Harley Davidson were the most notable sponsors with activation surrounding the event.  MetroPCS did its usual social media promotion including its “Tale of the Tweet” app. Harley Davidson  launched the Hometown Throwdown III promotion in which fans could win the opportunity to have the UFC come to their town as well as throw a tailgate party before the event.  The fighters that won their fights on the main card of 177 received a Harley Davidson.

Promotion of T.J. DIllashaw

While many have criticized the card, the one thing that may be overlooked is the great job the UFC did in building the T.J. Dillashaw brand.  It’s understandable for the cynical UFC fan to say if the UFC was doing such a great job, this would not be “overlooked.”  But, regardless of the fights on the card, the UFC’s shoulder programming has done a great job in building Dillashaw.

In watching the Countdown show and the Embedded vlogs the UFC has introduced people to Dillashaw and you get to see someone deal with all of the responsibilities of being champion.  The one plus from my perspective is that Urijah Faber was not used as the bridge to introduce Dillashaw.  This may seem absurd, but since Faber is a name and trains with Dillashaw it would make sense for Faber to be the one to introduce him.

Can Dillashaw be a draw? As it currently stands, fans are underwhelmed with the lighter weight divisions.  Despite being one of the best in the business, Demetrious Johnson has not sparked the interests of the UFC universe.  Jose Aldo has not been healthy enough for anyone to remember how vicious he once was and despite banking blue chip sponsors; Anthony Pettis has not been in the Octagon in ages.  If Dillashaw can string some wins together and defeat a guy like Dominick Cruz, I could envision the UFC marketing him much more.

Odds and ends

While I just praised the shoulder programming in the previous section, one of the scenes in the Embedded vlogs was Team Alpha Male doing a ticket giveaway for UFC 177 which foreshadowed the issues with selling this event.

If you were watching the Embedded episodes, Dillashaw did a lot of post-workout work in a hyperbaric chamber and dreamed of having one in his home.  I’m sure Dillashaw got his Hyperbaric chamber in his home after this event.

Barao and Cejudo were not paid per Heidi Fang’s tweet and Jorgenson and Anthony Birchak (who was scheduled to face Joe Soto)  were given show and win purses despite not fighting per MMA Junkie.  Tough time for Birchak who found his home robbed after coming back from Sacramento.

Bethe Corriea’s quest to run through the Horsewomen continues.  Really, if the four ladies are going to go through with this gimmick, someone else has to be good in the group aside from Flair.  The good news for Corriea, this “Horsewomen” thing has Rousey wanting to fight her.  So, yes, pro wrestling is seeping into your pure MMA sport.

Bellator decided to release Soto’s fight against Joe Warren prior to Saturday night.

Just a thought, but as a way to entice or say thank you to those that ordered UFC 177, it could offer them a month’s free use of UFC Fight Pass.  I understand that it tacitly admits that the card was not PPV-worthy but if you were to offer something like that, it would build a lot of good will with a loyal fan base.  If they have Fight Pass, they tack an extra month for free and if you don’t it gives them a chance to try it for free.  I know, probably a lot of administrative headaches with deciphering who ordered the PPV, but it still seems like a good PR move.

Expect a low number for the prelims on FS1.  There was one fight in the first hour and lots of filler due to a first round sub.  Also, with Henry Cejudo pulling out of his fight with Scotty Jorgensen, there were only three fights set for the two hour time block.

With the first full weekend of college football coupled with the multiple problems with the card, it was the perfect storm for folks to actually “boycott” this card.

Earlier in the week, Dana White landed on a list by GQ naming him one of the sleaziest people in sports.  Let’s be honest, any combat sports promoter could be found on this list.

Conclusion

It was likely that if UFC 176 was not cancelled, this event would not have gone forward.  But, the UFC could not take the PR hit of cancelling two events in a row.  Most importantly, the UFC does not want to confirm what most fans and pundits know; there are too many events.  Also, at such a late time for Barao pulling out, it was too late to pull out of the PPV and/or cancel the event.  This buy rate will rival that of UFC 174 and maybe even do worse.  As an interesting and random note, the first UFC did slightly over 86,000 PPV buys.  It would not be surprising that the actual buy rate would rival this number.  My take is that we’ll never receive an official number for this event although a range will be given around 90-110K PPV buys.

UFC 177 attendance, gate and bonuses

August 30, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 177.  Despite the last-minute main event change and the lack of star power, UFC fans came out to see their hometown fighter, T.J. Dillashaw as it drew 11,1000 for a gate of $700,000.

The attendance and gate were announced at the post-fight press conference.  In addition to the attendance and gate, bonuses were awarded to T.J. Dillashaw, Yancy Medeiros, Carlos Diego Fierra and Ramsey  Nijem.  All were awarded $50,000.

Dillashaw and Medeiros were awarded Permances of the Night and Fierra-Nijem received Fight of the Night.

Payout Perspective:

The attendance and gate figures infer that there was a good amount of people walking up to buy tickets today based on previous projections.  Notably, more people attendanded this fight, than the Memorial Day event in which Dillashaw won the title.   Bonuses seemed appropriate although Chris Wade could have won a Performance Bonus for his first round sub in his prelim bout.

Ticket demand nears all-time low for UFC 177

August 29, 2014

MMA Payout has learned that UFC 177 is one of the weakest markets for ticket in he UFC in some time.  Even before the announcement that Renan Barao would not be in the main event, the average ticket price on the secondary market according to SeatGeek is just $136.  It’s worth noting that the event is not sold out as of Friday afternoon.

The average ticket price is down 66% from the $410 average of UFC 175 in Las Vegas.  It’s also the second lowest average ticket price and the lowest since August 2012 for UFC 150 (Edgar-Henderson II) .  Due to the fact that tickets are still available at the box office, fewer than 400 tickets have been sold on the resale market.  According to SeatGeek, it’s the least activity on the secondary market for a UFC fight in the United States.

SeatGeek points out tickets are still available to purchase on the primary market and are listed for as low as $65.40 in the upper level and as of noon today, the best available from Ticketmaster is $314.25.  But, tickets on the resale market in the lower bowl are going for as low as $104 which is less than half of face value.  So, if you want to sit close, the secondary market may be where to go but if you just want to get in, you might be able to walk up to the box office tomorrow night.

Via SeetGeek

Via SeetGeek

For those wondering, UFC 174’s resale tickets averaged $175.

Payout Perspective:

Since tickets are not selling, it’s evident that the secondary market would not have much action.  We should point out that UFC 175 was the big July show that was centered around top stars (i.e. Weidman, Rousey) whereas this show has suffered setbacks with the latest being the loss of Barao.  If UFC 176 had not been cancelled, we might have seen this show being axed.  But, if you do watch the prelims or purchase the PPV, you may see a lot of open seats due to the lack of demand.

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