UFC 103 attendance, gate and bonuses

January 15, 2017

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 103 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Yair Rodriguez led the bonus winners after demolishing B.J. Penn.

Aleksie Oleinik, Augusto Mendes and Frankie Saenz were the other bonus winners.  Mendes and Saenz drew Fight of the Night while Rodriguez and Olenik won for Performance Bonuses.

UFC 103 in Phoenix drew 11,589 for $913.372.  The event took place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena (formerly US Airways Arena).

UFC 207: Payout Perspective

January 3, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 207 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rousey finished in 48 seconds

It was the long-awaited return of Ronda Rousey.  She looked in top shape but the question was whether she could return to her form pre-UFC 193.  The former bantamweight champion that brought women’s MMA to prominence could not.  Amanda Nunes broke Rousey’s spirit within seconds of the fight starting.

Rousey’s lone takedown attempt was stuffed and she actually started turning away from punches as if she’s never fought before.  It was pretty sad to watch a former champ go down this easy. She was out on her feet and didn’t even realize the fight was over.

For Nunes, it was easy work.  As she did at UFC 200, she broke a fighter’s spirit and likely retired another top opponent.  Nunes also showed some great promo skills post-fight as she told the media to forget about Rousey.

It will be interesting to see who will be next for Nunes.

I don’t think we can say poor Ronda Rousey.  Even though her MMA career should be over, her payday ($3 million) ties her for the highest-ever with Conor McGregor.  Rousey is more psychologically damaged than physical and if she doesn’t have her heart in fighting, she shouldn’t do it.


Garbrandt showboats to championship

While one championship fight had little promotion, the Dominick Cruz-Cody Garbrandt title match-up had great lead-up.  The two verbally sparred throughout the promotion of the fight and Garbrandt attempted to go after Cruz during media rounds.  There was even a pull-apart at the ceremonial weigh-ins.

Garbrandt showed no fear and solved Cruz’s awkward, but successful style.  It could be that Garbrandt was just quicker or Cruz lost a step but it made it a unanimous decision for the challenger.

This exchange will likely be gif’d to death.  In all honesty, I’ve watched it about 50 times.

In a touching moment, Garbrandt put the belt around a kid he befriended that battled back from leukemia. The kid, who walked hand in hand with Garbrandt to the ring, chanbed his life according to the new champ.  In the same post-fight interview, he called T.J. Dillashaw a m****f*****.  So, he’s still rough around the edges.

Garbrandt could grant Cruz a rematch or go after T.J. Dillashaw.

Attendance and Gate

Ticket demand was still high for Rousey as UFC 207 drew the largest attendance for an MMA event in the state of Nevada with 18,533.  T-Mobile Arena sold standing room only seats for the event which likely helped the attendance figure.  The gate was $4.75 million.

While the secondary market was not as robust as prior Rousey events, this was the first one in sometime in Vegas.

Bonuses

The fighters taking home the belts earned bonuses: Amanda Nunes and Cody Garbrandt.  Garbrandt and Cruz won the Fight of the Night.  Nunes and Alex Garcia earned a Performance bonus as well.  All received $50,000 checks.

Salaries

Ronda Rousey drew $3 million which ties her with Conor McGregor for the highest-reported salary in the UFC.  Amanda Nunes earned $200,000 ($100k win/$100 show) for her defeat of Rousey.

The full list is here.

Pre-Fight Promotion

Ronda Rousey did little pre-fight promotion except for appearances on Conan, Ellen and an ESPN piece with Ramona Shelburne. Dana White stated that this was due to a one-time agreement with Rousey.

There were radio ad buys for UFC 207 to bolster the end of the year event.  The ad included the Cain-Werdum fight which did not happen.

Although Rousey did not speak, the faceoff in her return during the UFC 205 event in New York was intense.  Also, the ceremonial weigh-in on Friday with Nunes wearing the lionhead was great as well.

Over 103,000 people watched the ceremonial weigh-ins on YouTube and over 59,500 watched it on Facebook Live during the Rousey-Nunes faceoff.

Rousey appeared in 3 of the 6 Embedded episodes although she did not talk that much.

Ratings

The UFC weigh-ins drew 222,000 viewers on FS1 and 94,000 in the A18-49 category per Sports TV Ratings.

The UFC 207 Prelims drew 1.511 million viewers on Friday night making it the fourth-highest rated PPV prelim of 2016.

The pre-fight show on FS1 drew 572,000 viewers and the post-event drew 404,000 viewers.

Overall, very strong numbers despite the fact it was a Friday night.

Sponsorships

MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, the WGN series ‘Outsiders’, Geico, Twinzz.com, IconicFaceOff.com, Geico, Budweiser, the movie XXX and Monster Energy had the center.  XXX is the latest in the Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) series.

Rousey was sponsored by Monster Energy drink as she had the logo on her shorts.  The same for Dominick Cruz.

Pantene also had the Rousey commercial during the PPV.  The company activated a new campaign around Rousey in lead-up to this event.

Toyo Tires sponsored the Embedded series.

Odds and ends

Yahoo Beauty found a way to mention Ronda Rousey by doing a story on why women MMA fighters braid their hair.

Johny Hendricks looked better against Neil Magny, but missed weight again.  The issue seems to be in his head as he challenged media to cut weight.

Cain Velasquez was taken off the UFC 207 card and his fight with Fabricio Werdum after discussing his injuries in an interview.  The NAC took Cain off the card without his knowledge according to the former heavyweight champion.  He responded via a lengthy Facebook post.

Embedded was a good time for Dominick Cruz to show-off his branded t-shirts.

A big faux pas occurred when cable and satellite distributors advertised that UFC 207 was happening Saturday.  As we know, it was Friday.  Based on the Friday night ratings, people knew the correct time.

Nunes had the “Island of Dr. Moreau” look with the lion head at the ceremonial weigh-ins.

If you noticed a man in a wheelchair at the weigh-in, he had cashed in his UFC Reward Points for the opportunity to be on stage at the weigh-ins.  A pretty nice payoff considering he saw an almost fight right in front of him and Rousey-Nunes.

The bad news about Rousey’s fame was that she was covered in most of the mainstream news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

“Ronda Rousey Fight” drew over 5 million google searches on Friday which should indicate a huge PPV gate.  But, a portion of those probably were searching for the fight after learning the news that Rousey was KO’d in less than a minute.  Interesting enough, there were no copyright warnings as there were for UFC 193.

Conclusion

All the indicators (google searches, ratings, etc.) reflect a huge PPV buy rate.  While we may want to discount some of those google searches, there were still a healthy amount of people that knew the fight was going to be Friday and that Ronda Rousey was returning to the Octagon.  For those that though there was “lack of buzz,” they underestimate the Rousey demo and are stuck in their old ways of thinking of what “MMA fans” want to see.  It would not be surprising to see this PPV hit 1 million buys.

UFC 207 draws largest MMA attendance in Nevada

December 31, 2016

UFC 207 drew 18,533 and a live gate of $4.75 according to UFC officials post-event.  The gate set an attendance record in Nevada but lands 14th on the list of biggest gates in Nevada.

The event was a sell-out according to the UFC.  As we reported on Friday morning, there were just scattered tickets available through the T-Mobile Arena.  It was announced that they were also selling standing room only tickets.

The numbers narrowly beat out UFC 200 (18,202) for attendance but UFC 200 had the bigger gate $10.7 million.

(h/t: MMA Junkie)

In comparison UFC 141, the last Friday night show in Vegas for the company did 13,793 and a $3.1 million for Lesnar-Overeem.

Payout Perspective:

Dana White indicated that he predicted the gate to be $4.5 million and the numbers did slightly better perhaps due to the standing room only seats.  The sell out on a Friday night before New Year’s Eve shows the star power of Ronda Rousey.

16 for 16: No. 3 New York finally passes law to legalize professional MMA in the state

December 30, 2016

After a long battle, the New York Assembly voted to legalize professional MMA in the state this past spring. It was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on April 14th.

Thus, on September 1st the sport became legal and regulated by the state.

Assembly votes shown in this picture.  Green is good.

After much lobbying, time and effort, the UFC opened up with the first major card at Madison Square Garden on November 12th.

Notably, the UFC 205 Countdown show included a part dedicated to showing Sheldon Silver indicted on corruption charges.  He is currently appealing his prison sentence.  It was one final shot at the individual that Dana White blamed for not allowing a vote on the bill for years.

The UFC debut did not disappoint as it enjoyed the richest gates in company history.

Not long after the initial joy of legalizing the sport, boxing promoters began to complain about the hefty tax needed to insure fighters for events.  A new insurance premium that would cover $1 million for each fighter on the card would be required for operation in New York.

In October, Promoter Lou DiBella canceled the remaining cards he was planning in the state due to the new requirement that has a $1 million minimum for each fighter in the event the fighter suffer a traumatic brain injury.  The UFC paid approximately $1,675 per fighter and approximately $44,000 overall.  It paid $40,200 for the Albany, New York show on December 9th.  This does not include the standard $50K medical and $50K accidental death insurance policies.

Of course, one has to wonder whether or not boxing lobbied against the MMA bill due to the new insurance requirement.  The new requirement does stem in part from a 2013 post-boxing incident in the state which left boxer Magomed Abdusalamov fighting for his life and a commission report found issues with the handling of the event.

New York set a tax of 8.5% on gross receipts in addition to other tax terms for MMA events.  Thus, the state collected approximately $1.5 million in taxes from UFC 205 according to the reported gate of $17.7 million.

Despite the hefty tax paid by the UFC, it reported the best merchandise sales ever for an event.

Look for the UFC to hold big events in the New York to offset the insurance and taxes it needs to pay.  Notwithstanding the cost, the final hurdle to legalize the sport in the state was a monumental hurdle the company overcame.  One might consider it a factor in the sale of the company.

16 for 16

4.  Legislation to expand Ali Act introduced

5.  UFC 200

6.  The year of Conor McGregor

7.  Bellator signings

8.  UFC pulls credentials for Helwani after breaking news

9.  Legal troubles for Jon Jones continues

10.  WSOF legal woes continues

11.  Ronda Rousey returns

12.  Alliance MMA goes public

13.  GSP declares himself a free agent

14.  Bellator 149

15.  CM Punk debuts

16.  Former Bellator employee sues company, organization sues back

Ticket demand for Rousey still there for UFC 207

December 30, 2016

The average resale price for a ticket for today’s UFC 207 is $348.  According to Nate Rattner at SeatGeek, it is nearly 3x hotter than a ticket to UFC 206 in Toronto (the average resale price was $124).

Per SeatGeek, here are the average resale prices for the top 5 UFC fights since 2010:

  • UFC 205: $1233
  • UFC 200: $1137
  • UFC 202: $929
  • UFC 194: $843
  • UFC 189: $741

In comparison, here are the prices for Ronda Rousey fights on the secondary market per SeatGeek.  Note that the last two UFC Rousey fights are not included here since SeatGeek does not track international events.

  • UFC 184: $263 (vs. Zingano at Staples Center)
  • UFC 175: $411 (vs. Davis, Weidman-Machida co-main)
  • UFC 170: $205 (vs. McMann at Mandalay Bay)
  • UFC 168: $545 (vs. Tate, Weidman-Silva II)
  • UFC 157: $186 (debut vs. Carmouche at Honda Center)

According to Rattner, the median price on the secondary market dropped 5% from $417 to $389.

In comparison, per Julia Litz at Vivid Seats, the minimum ticket price on the secondary market is $152 and the median ticket price is $525.

A look on Ticketmaster as of 8:00am PT, had scattered seats available with the get-in price being $605.

Per Kevin Iole, T-Mobile Arena will sell standing room tickets which will be the first time the arena has done it in its short history. Iole also reported on that Dana White told him that the gate looks to be about $4.5 million and roughly 19,000 in attendance.  Of course, with standing room sales, this could go up.

Payout Perspective:

The ticket sales show you that the Ronda Rousey return is a big seller despite her media blackout.  While the median price may have dipped a little on the secondary market, the news that they will sell standing room only tickets reflects the demand.  The resale market does indicate that the tickets are “affordable” for a Rousey fight.  This might be due to it being a Friday event, New Year’s Eve and not a strong co-main (although Cody-Cruz should be fun).  Still, the demand for Rousey is there for her return.

16 for 16: No. 5 UFC 200

December 28, 2016

Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor were thought to be shoe-ins for this event at one point.  But, a set of circumstances had Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes as the headliners for the biggest event in company history.

Rousey was not ready to come back to the Octagon for UFC 200 due to scheduling and her want to take time away from the sport.  McGregor lost at a power play with the Fertittas as he attempted to broker less media for the event.  Instead, he claimed to have retired and the UFC moved to Jon Jones versus Daniel Cormier as the headliner.  Also, Brock Lesnar returned to the Octagon.

This all sounded good as there would be two title fights plus Brock Lesnar.

The only problem was that a Jon Jones out of competition USADA test was flagged just days before the event and Jones was provisionally suspended due to the test.  In a hastily put together press conference, Jones proclaimed his innocence despite the failed drug test.

Dana White was upset as Jones’ drug test failure caused the company extra expense to repackage UFC 200 and scramble to find an opponent for Daniel Cormier.  Embedded caught up with White when he broke the news to Cormier and the light heavyweight champ was devastated.  White got Anderson Silva to take the fight without any preparation. Maybe a couple years ago, Silva would have drawn interest, but he was more of an afterthought and did not do much in his fight with Cormier.

Lesnar was impressive against Mark Hunt and even showed some humanity in his post-fight speech, unlike his rant 100 UFCs ago.  Of course, this did not have a happy ending as Lesnar USADA tests were flagged and the only reason he was able to compete was that the results were not made known until after the fight.  It brought up the issue of USADA allowing a waiver to Lesnar of being a tested UFC athlete.

Lesnar made $2.5 million for his fight against Hunt.  After news of Lesnar’s drug test failure, Hunt was outraged and demanded a portion of Lesnar’s purse.  Hunt made $700,000 at UFC 200.

The event drew criticism as there were reports of a lot of empty seats for the prelims and then people leaving before Tate-Nunes.

UFC 200 was the debut for the company at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and was the culmination of International Fight Week.  Despite the pre-event issues, the attendance and gate were record-setting making the event the largest MMA gate in Nevada history. It drew 15,154 for a gate of $10,746,248.

It was a landmark event for the company as it had produced 200 PPV events.  An unthinkable achievement several years prior.  And as we now know the big announcement didn’t occur until Sunday after the fights.

16 for 16: No. 6 The year of Conor McGregor

December 27, 2016

Conor McGregor showed the world why he continues to dominate and elevate the sport of MMA.

McGregor lost in March at UFC 196, scoffed at having to do media for UFC 200 and retired, unretired and returned to avenge his loss at UFC 203 and then headline UFC 205 in New York.

At every stop, McGregor has set records and pulled huge buy rates.  He’s also elevated the career of Nate Diaz.  It was Diaz that upset McGregor at UFC 196.  Diaz’s victory meant at least a rematch with McGregor.  The two met again in a 5-round war in August at UFC 202.  McGregor pulled out the victory in the rematch.  Most believe there will be a trilogy at some point.

In the meantime, McGregor headlined UFC 205 as the company debuted in New York.  McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight title.  He became the first fighter to hold two titles at the same time.  He would later agree to relinquish the featherweight title.

McGregor’s star appeal was apparent this year as he pulled out huge numbers for each of his PPV fights.

PPV Buys

UFC 196 – 1.3 million PPV buys

UFC 202 – 1.65 million PPV buys

UFC 205 – ~1.3 million PPV buys

Attendance and Gate

In addition, UFC had the third-highest-ever gate in Nevada for UFC 196.  It drew 13,412 for a gate of $8,197,628.00 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.  Their rematch in August at UFC 202 drew the fourth-highest-ever gate with 12,657 for a gate of $7,700,810.60.  Notably, Conor stars in 4 out of the 5 top gates in Nevada.

UFC 205 set a gate and attendance record with $17.7 million before a crowd of 20,427.  It was the largest gate since the stadium show at UFC 129.

McGregor has been a crossover success.  Notwithstanding the constant rumors about a mythical fight with Floyd Mayweather, he is on the mind of the mainstream.  He was regularly featured on ESPN, lampooned on Saturday Night Live and a Chris Jones Esquire feature on him made 2016’s Best American Sports Writing.

While not everything worked out for McGregor this year, including his loss to Diaz in March, a fine assessed by the NAC (which he is appealing) and a power play which failed and cost him UFC 200, he has had a remarkable 2016.  McGregor was the first UFC fighter to have made a reported $3 million for his August fight with Diaz.

With McGregor likely taking some time off, his return should only mean bigger numbers for 2017.

UFC on Fox 22 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 17, 2016

UFC on Fox 22 attendance drew 13,136 for a live gate of $1,238,992.50 as announced at the post-fight press conference.  The bonuses went to Leslie Smith, Irene Aldana, Michelle Waterson and Paul Craig.

It was the 5th visit to Sacramento for the UFC but the first one in the newly opened Golden 1 Center.  It ranked third among attendance and gates in the city.

Smith and Aldana received the bonus for Fight of the Night in a bout which Smith earned the victory on the FS1 Prelims.  Waterson and Craig won the Performance bonuses.  All received $50,000.

Payout Perspective:

An entertaining main card with Mickey Gall finishing Sage Northcutt in the second round in the co-main event and Michelle Waterson upsetting Paige VanZant in round 1.  The event was well attended and ranked third highest of the 5 in the city.

UFC 206: Payout Perspective

December 13, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 206 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

Holloway stops Showtime for Interim Featherweight title

With Anthony Pettis missing weight, Max Holloway was the only fighter that could have won the interim title.  Pettis claimed to have broken his hand on the first punch of the fight.  It appeared that may have been the case as Holloway seemed to control the fight.  He eventually made Pettis quit in the third round.

Holloway gets a chance to unify the interim title with a fight against Jose Aldo.  However, it would be nice to see a rematch against Conor McGregor.  It does not seem that that fight will not happen.  Yet, the Aldo match should be real good and we can have an actual champion at 145.

As for Pettis, he has lost 4 out of his last 5 and will move back up to lightweight.  Pettis is in a fight slump and needs to get back on the winning track.  It will be hard going back to lightweight.

Cerrone stops Brown with kick

It was the second-best fight of the night as Donald Cerrone and Matt Brown did not disappoint with their matchup on Saturday night.  Cerrone was able to get in head-kicks on Brown but Brown battle back and stung Cowboy with a couple shots.  However, in the third round, Cerrone got in another well-placed head-kick to Brown which knocked him out.

Cerrone should move up the ladder in the welterweight division while Brown’s showing should still keep him a main card fighter.

Attendance and gate

Despite losing a light heavyweight title fight, the fans in Toronto came to watch the fights.  It was another sellout at Air Canada Centre with 18,057 In attendance.  The gate drew $1,843,101 US dollars.  It was the fourth sellout for a UFC PPV in Toronto.

Bonuses

The bonuses went to Max Holloway, Lando Vannata, Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi.  Holloway and Vannata earned performance bonuses for their stoppages while Swanson and Choi put on the Fight of the Night.

Cerrone could have earned a $50,000 for his head kick finish as well.  Interesting that he did not receive one and just a week prior he appeared with the MMAAA.

Sponsorships

The most notable sponsor of the night was the Government of Ontario which had a spot during the “Tale of the Tape” on the PPV.  According to a Bloody Elbow report, Ontario paid $150,000 for sponsoring the event.  The question of a conflict arose as to how the government could sponsor the event while its Office of the Athletics Commissioner regulated the event.   It would seem not to be a direct conflict since it would be two different departments within the government.  Ontario, as a sponsor, likely saw this as tourism exposure which could help the local industry.  Ontario, as a regulating body, would ensure the integrity of the sport and safety of the fighters.  There would not seem to be any conflict between the two.

The sponsors in the Octagon included Bud Light, Toyo Tires, Reebok, Monster Energy, 7-11, Harley Davidson, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy had the center.

Bud Light Living sponsored the Embedded Episodes.

Monster logos were on the shorts of both Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis.  Cerrone held the Monster can for the camera when his hand was raised in victory.

Odds and ends

Cub Swanson-Doo Ho Choi put on one of the best fights of the year.  Cerrone-Brown followed the fight and was almost as good.

The Ronda Rousey promo for UFC 207 was aired throughout the PPV.

The Embedded episodes did a good job of getting Max Holloway over as a major fighter. He seemed to become more comfortable in front of the camera and played to the Toronto crowd.

The Ontario Athletic Commission forced Emil Meek to cut his beard per commission rules.

Why was Donald Cerrone preparing for the fight in Cabo San Lucas with Joe Schilling?  Interesting that the “BMF” tattoo on his neck was fake but the black eye was real.

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson was hanging out with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson at the fights.

Conclusion

While this was a very good main card, it’s unlikely that it did well with PPV buys.  There were only 200,000 google searches for “UFC 206” on Friday which likely means a low buy rate. The cancellation of the light heavyweight title fight between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson took a lot out of the steam for promotion.  Pettis missing weight probably did little to add more damage to the PPV buy rate but it likely didn’t help.  Despite a strong attendance, the PPV buy rate for this event will be between 250,000 to 275,000 buys.

UFC 206 attendance, gate and bonuses

December 11, 2016

MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 206. The event was a sellout in the UFC’s return to Toronto.

The bonuses went to Max Holloway, Lando Vannata, Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi.  Holloway and Vannata earned performance bonuses for their stoppages while Swanson and Choi put on the Fight of the Night.

The event from Toronto’s Air Canada Center was a sellout with 18,057 In attendance.  The gate drew $1,843,101 US dollars.

Past events at Air Canada Center:

UFC 165 – September 21, 2013 (Jones-Gustafsson): 15,504 attendance, $1.9M gate

UFC 152 – September 22, 2012 (Jones-Belfort) 16,800 attendance, $1.9M gate

UFC 140 – December 10, 2011 (Jones-Machida) 18,303 attendance, $1.9M gate

Payout Perspective:

Donald Cerrone was shut out from a $50,000 bonus despite a dramatic kick to stop Matt Brown in a very entertaining fight.  Despite losing a light heavyweight title fight between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson, fans showed up.  The attendance varied but the gate was essentially the same to reflect what was a sell-out according to the UFC.

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