Nunes makes Forbes’ “30 under 30” list

November 16, 2017

UFC women’s bantamweight champion was chosen to be on Forbes’ ’30 under 30’ list for 2017 in the area of sports.

Nunes, 29, defended her title this past September.  But, she was mired in controversy when she pulled out of UFC 213 with an injury causing Dana White to criticize her.

In addition, boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was picked for the list as well.  Alvarez fought twice in 2017 with both fights (vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr and Gennady Golovkin) drew over 1 million PPV buys.

Here is her Forbes writeup:

“She sent shockwaves through the UFC world by defeating Ronda Rousey in just 48 seconds. The first openly gay champion for the sport, Nunes is the reigning women’s bantamweight champion with a 15-4 record. Nunes has an endorsement deal with TEN spring water.”

In 2016, Jose Aldo made the annual list for sports figures.

Payout Perspective:

Nunes should be more of a star than she is and hopefully the Forbes lists helps with her celebrity.  Her pulling out of UFC 213 may have put her in the UFC doghouse.  After destroying Ronda Rousey, you would have thought she would be the next woman fighter to make it to mainstream appeal.

Bud Light Canada unveils video featuring GSP

November 1, 2017

Bud Light Canada unveiled a video on twitter featuring Georges St Pierre which features the former UFC champ in a faux fight simulation of UFC 217.  The video pokes fun at GSP’s opponent Michael Bisping.

In the video, the viewers is given Bisping’s viewpoint as he faces GSP.  The video pokes fun at Bisping who drinks tea and succumbs to a GSP crane kick, take down and ground and pound.  GSP also calls his opponent an “English Muffin” and ends the video with the infamous “I’m not impressed by your performance” line he used many years ago in reference to Matt Hughes.

Payout Perspective:

It appears that Bud Light will be a sponsor for GSP on Saturday as we see a level of activation in preparation for the UFC’s return to New York.  We have not seen GSP in a while and we will see how many other sponsors will gravitate around the former champ as we approach Saturday’s PPV.

 

Payout Perspective: The Money Fight

September 4, 2017

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  Almost a week later, but we are still talking about The Money Fight that took place August 26th at the T-Mobile Arena.

Mayweather stops McGregor in 10

Floyd Mayweather waited it out.  As most believed, he tested out Conor McGregor for the first couple around before going on the offensive.  Out of the ordinary for the counterpuncher, but Mayweather pressed McGregor and it was clear that the UFC champ was tiring.  Despite not being brought to the canvas, the fight was stopped.  A good call despite McGregor’s post-interview protesting.

Mayweather gets his 50th win against McGregor who takes his first loss of his career.  Of course, it was just McGregor’s first fight.

We should see McGregor back in the Octagon but it’s clear that Mayweather may want to dabble in boxing again.  He wasn’t the worst in there but boxing in MMA is different than boxing.

Attendance and Gate

The fight was not a sellout which was not a surprise leading into the fight.  The astronomical price to see the event without much of an undercard likely was the primary reason for a non-sell out.  Due to the prior disappointment of Mayweather-Pacquiao, the event likely scared the big spenders away.

Payouts

The official payouts from the event had Mayweather earning $100 million not including PPV upside and McGregor getting $30 million.

Attendance and gate

The only thing that may have been a disappointment was the attendance for the event at the T-Mobile Arena. The event drew 14,623 although the gate was yet to be officially announced.  It was thought that due to the high prices the event would have drawn over the $72 million record for May-Pac.  With capacity at 20,000, the event fell way short of capacity but the big financial boon was the $99.95 price tag for the PPVs.

Promotion of the Fight

The 4-city world tour this past July introduced us to The Money Fight.  Maybe the Toronto tour stop was the best and the New York/Brooklyn stop was the worst.  Whatever you thought of it, it was the beginning of a monthlong run-up to the fight.

There were tons of promotion around the event including Showtime All Access and UFC’s Embedded Episodes.  At times, it appeared that each show favored its own boxer.  As always, this shoulder programming always interests me.

Saturday Night Live did a skit during its prime time Weekend Update the week before the fight.  The skit featured someone pretending to be Conor McGregor.  It was a bad impression.

Television Ratings

The Prelims to Mayweather-McGregor on Fox peaked at 3.1 million viewers and averaged 2,568,000 viewers.   It drew an outstanding 1,156,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Other associated ratings:

  • Mayweather-McGregor Prefight Show 1,463,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Postfight Show 368,000
  • Mayweather-McGregor Weigh-In 287,000
  • PBC on FS1 drew 269,000 viewers on Friday night.

PPV estimates

Dana White proclaimed that the event drew 6.5 million buys.  Showtime stated that the fight sold between 4 and 5 million buys.  Other reports stated that the initial estimates did not break the 4.6 million record of Mayweather-Pacquiao.  ESPN noted that an estimated 50 million people saw the event.

The PPV estimates will not come in until this week but Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza claims it was a “massive financial success.”  This seems like an understatement based on the numbers.

Espinoza noted in a New York Times article that 10 to 12 percent of the total buys were through a digital service.  We note the tech difficulties those users had below.

Technical Difficulties

Due to the high demand, people reported issues with their streaming of the event.  The Showtime App, UFC.tv and Fight Pass were the main culprits with issues although other ways to purchase the PPV had problems.

Showtime issued a “limited number” of refunds.  Espinoza seemed to minimize the affect the technical difficulties had claiming that they were “definitely exaggerated.”  However, the first lawsuit filed over not being able to watch the event was filed in Oregon over futile attempts to watch the vent on the Showtime App.

The fight was delayed 20 minutes to accommodate for the technical difficulties but those paying $99.95 shut out of the telecast.

The UFC did not immediately state they would issue refunds, but upon meeting with its vendor, noted that it would issue refunds for those that had issues on the UFC.tv/Fight Pass app.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal noted that the PPV issues “appeared to come from a surge of late purchase and connectivity issues.”

Related?  The UFC announced less than a week later that FITE.TV would become the UFC’s new online streaming partner.  No official word, if NeuLion is out altogether with the UFC.

Sponsors

Corona was the main sponsor for The Money Fight.  Notably, this was not rolled out until a week or so prior to the fight.  One would have thought that the sponsorship for the event would have been announced much sooner.  In addition, Body Armor was very visible during the event as “towels and stools in the fighters’ corners had the Body Armor logo on it.  Also, fighters took their hydration from Body Armor bottles.  Also, Wish Shopping made a big splash with signage on the mats and on the weigh-in scale.

McGregor wore irish flag-inspired Beats By Dre headphones for the weigh-ins.  The company also released an ad starring McGregor on August 23rd.  McGregor signed a sponsor deal with Online betting site, Betsafe.

Odds and Ends

There were tons of newsy items coming out of this event and we couldn’t get them all in.  I wrote a preview on many of the issues including the commission agreeing to the glove change and Zuffa signing on as a co-promoter here.

While the PPV estimates may break records, Showtime had to deal with pirates using Periscope.  While Showtime obtained an injunction to stop some sites, it could not stop private users.  A tech security company claimed that almost 3 million viewers watched pirated streams.

Conor McGregor’s flip up sunglasses during the promotion of this fight were reminiscent of Dwayne Wayne’s.

Conor McGregor announced the roll-out of his first foray into the whisky business:

Floyd Mayweather introduced TMT-themed apparel for this event including one with the Irish Flag colors on a TMT shirt. He also had an assortment of mouthguards.  Iceberg Guards is selling a replica guard of the one he wore during The Money Fight for $295.00.

Gervonta Davis drew 100,000 google searches on Fight Night mainly due to his headgear coming out during the walkout.  Davis won, but drew the ire of some fans since he didn’t make weight.

While the Mayweather/McGregor announcement overshadowed the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev this past June, Top Rank attempted to take advantage of the assembled media in Vegas by announcing a deal with ESPN that would include providing the company with the Top Rank fight library for an upcoming Disney-OTT platform.

ESPN showed old Mayweather fights where analysts talked about how he was such a pro and a likeable guy.  How times have changed.  The UFC also aired his fight with Maidana on UFC online to help promote the fight.

Although there was much publicity for this fight, the Miguel Cotto fight in Carson, California on the same night drew 730,000 viewers on HBO which is very good considering it was overshadowed by The Money Fight.

Mayweather and McGregor did the standard media appearances including on Jimmy Kimmel.

There were over 10 million google searches for the “Mayweather vs. McGregor Fight,” and 10 million google searches for “Mayweather.”

Conclusion

Usually we predict a buy rate, but with the news that it’s likely between 4 and 5 million PPV buys, we don’t have to conclude that this fight was a success.  The only question will be whether the buys passed the 4.6 million PPV record.  Whether or not it did, this fight was impressive in how it was marketed and promoted.  The UFC helped its brand with its involvement in the event and Mayweather made money as he always seems to do.  Will we see more crossover fights in the future?  Only if it is big names and promises to bring in big numbers.

Battle of the Network Stars returns to ABC with Rousey as a team captain

May 30, 2017

Vulture.com reports that Ronda Rousey will be one of the permanent captains for the revival of the Battle of the Network stars.  Retired NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware will serve as the other captain.

The original show aired on ABC from 1976-1988 and pitted stars from each of the three big networks at the time: ABC, NBC and CBS performing in athletic competitions which included a dunk tank, obstacle course and tug of war.  Legendary announcer, Howard Cosell, served as the show’s original commentator.  Mike Greenberg and Joe Tessitore will serve as co-hosts for this reboot.

There will be two significant changes to this Battle than the one from yesteryear.  First, this will be a ten-episode series running weekly with its debut starting June 29th.  The original aired once or twice per year.  Secondly, the networks will not be segregated.  Instead, as the Vulture article points out, the teams will be based on the actor’s characters (e.g, cops vs. TV sitcoms, TV moms and dads vs. TV kids).

Payout Perspective:

I was a big fan of the original show and while it will be billed as an athletic competition, it always had comedic elements to it.  The remake will be interesting to see how it plays for this generation.  Rousey as captain will help draw appeal from a broad range of demos and this likely helps her propel a career outside of fighting.

3 UFC fighters on ESPN World Fame List

May 30, 2017

Anderson Silva, Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey have landed on ESPN’s top 100 list of most famous sports stars.  The second-edition of the list is based on endorsements, social media and google search popularity.

The UFC Lightweight champion comes in at number 25.  The article lists McGregor as having $4 million in endorsements.  This might be more considering he just signed a deal with Beats By Dre.

The former women’s Bantamweight champion comes in at number 16.  She has double the endorsement dollars than McGregor with $8 million.  Rousey is ranked higher than the likes of Serena Williams and Tom Brady.

Silva comes in at 39 and has as many endorsement dollars as Rousey with $8 million.  This is likely due to the popularity with Brazilian fans.

As for boxers, Manny Pacquiao (59 – $2.5M endorsements) and Canelo Alvarez (89 – $1.5M in endorsements)

Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, NBA player LeBron James and Lionel Messi are the top 3 on the ESPN lists which ranked the most popular sports stars based on endorsements and social media followers.

Payout Perspectrive:

Despite losing her one fight last year, Rousey moved up on this list.  So did McGregor.  Silva was unranked last year but jumped up to 39.  Pacquiao and Alvarez dropped down on the list.  No Floyd Mayweather here since he rarely does endorsements.  What the list shows for MMA (and boxing for that matter) is that the most popular stars of the sport are leaving.  Rousey should be retired and the same is likely true for Silva.  McGregor is chasing Mayweather and if he fights Floyd, it will be hard to get him back into the Octagon to fight for less money.  The list shows that the UFC must look to build new stars to take over for the most famous right now.

As for boxing, the decrease in Alvarez’s ranking is odd considering he is heading into a huge year and is the only one of the combat sports stars on this list that has a certain future in his sport beyond this year.  One might expect someone like Anthony Joshua appearing high on this list next year.

Beats By Dre signs Conor McGregor

May 29, 2017

Beats By Dre has signed Conor McGregor to an endorsement deal.  McGregor joins the list of athletes that the headphone company is signing.

You might recall that McGregor was one of several athletes that was featured in a Beats By Dre commercial in December.  His partnership with the company is now official.

In addition to Beats By Dre, McGregor has sponsorship deals with Reebok, Monster Energy and Bud Light.  The company is deepening its relationship with mainstream athletes and McGregor is considered one of these athletes.

Payout Perspective:

The deal should be beneficial to both sides.  If the Mayweather fight happens, Beats wins with the anticipated exposure from the fight.  McGregor gets another sponsor deal to add to his list of blue chip brands.  It also reflects the belief that McGregor is a mainstream star that most would recognize.

Nate Diaz is selling wine

May 5, 2017

Nate Diaz says he has a lot going on outside of fighting and maybe he does.  According to his latest social media post, he is promoting wine in Northern California.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani on Wednesday, Diaz talked extensively about what he is up which includes working with marijuana businesses and apparently, wine.

@tysonrip79 Coolest wine billboard ever✔️ Big thanks to @natediaz209 @concretewineco @rippeyfamilyvineyards @vinturewineco @reignwine #natediaz #lodivintners #lodi #tank209 #209 @lodi_wine photo cred: @fotopimp

A post shared by natediaz209 (@natediaz209) on

MMA Junkie confirmed the billboard is real with the fighter’s publicist Zach Rosenfeld.  Rosenfeld is the son of longtime public relations exec Stan Rosenfeld.  Zach joined his father’s firm to start a sports practice.

In the interview this past Wednesday, Diaz stated that he turned down a fight with Tony Ferguson for this July at UFC 213.  He also stated that the UFC has extended his fight contract with the company due to the fact he has been inactive.

Payout Perspective:

While the billboard is odd, Diaz is expanding outside of the Octagon which is a good move and a look toward a life where he no longer needs to fight to earn money.  Notably, his brother Nick has a Bobblehead Night this Sunday at the minor league, Stockton Ports game.  On July 14th, Nate will have his own Bobblehead Night with the team.  So, it does seem that there is a strategy to focus on his local notoriety and perhaps expand later on.  We shall see if Diaz steps back into the Octagon anytime soon.

Conor McGregor named to Time’s list of “100 Most Influential People”

April 20, 2017

Conor McGregor has made Time magazine’s of 100 “Most Influential People” in the world.  Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote the profile for Time.

The former Governor of California’s writeup on Conor is here.

Previously, Time Magazine picked Ronda Rousey on a list of those “30 People Under 30 Changing the World.”

Payout Perspective:

McGregor’s brazen interviews and outlandish lifestyle coupled with his success in the Octagon has made him one of the top names in combat sports and someone that people not following the sport knows.  He has single-handedly talked himself into a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.  Moreover, he’s talked himself into possibly one of the biggest paydays in combat sports.

ARod purchases UFC GYM in Florida, rights to open more

March 21, 2017

Former major league baseball player Alex Rodriguez has purchased a UFC GYM in Kendall, Florida and has acquired the development rights for the creation of more UFC-branded gyms in Miami-Dade County.

Rodriguez, the former Seattle Mariner/Texas Ranger and New York Yankees shortstop/third base man, takes over the only UFC gym in Miami-Dade County.  Technically, the UFC GYMs will be owned by A-ROD Corp. which has Rodriguez as CEO.  There are six UFC GYM locations in Florida and more than 100 fitness centers in the US and Canada according to a report in the Miami Herald.

The UFC Gyms are franchises and anyone with the financial strength and business acumen to open a franchise can apply to open one.  According to the UFC Gym Franchise page, the franchises will look at areas “where there are 100,000 people within a five-mile radius and with a median household income of $50,000-$75,000.

Rodriguez owns gyms in Mexico which are on the high-end and cater to professionals.  The UFC GYM offers affordable memberships starting at $49 per month.

Payout Perspective:

Don’t look for ARod to be leading a cardio kickboxing class at the UFC Gym.  The acquisition is an investment opportunity for Arod and he carved out the region for UFC GYMs.  The fitness industry has shown an increase with it reaching an all-time high in 2015.  Perhaps ARod will follow in the footsteps of Peyton Manning, who owns over 30 Papa John’s Pizza places in the Denver area and accumulate businesses a source of passive income.

Rousey to guest star on NBC series

February 22, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Ronda Rousey will be back on television guest starring on the NBC crime-drama series “Blindspot.”

Rousey will play a female prison inmate.  The backstory of her role here:

Rousey will be playing DEVON PENBERTHY: a female prison inmate who grew up in a working-class family from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and is serving time for transporting weapons across state lines. She is a tough, athletic woman who knows how to fight and handle a weapon.

Payout Perspective:

Maybe we are seeing Rousey’s next career taking shape.  Despite losing this past December, her Hollywood agency is still seeking opportunities for her outside of the Octagon.  It will be interesting to see whether or not her last two fights and her shunning the spotlight will negatively impact her persona as she moves away from fighting.

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