McGregor in latest Beats By Dre Ad

December 11, 2016

Conor McGregor is featured in the latest Beats headphones commercial.  The UFC lightweight champion is featured along with other athletes including LeBron James and Serena Williams with the companies new Be Heard campaign.

Footage of McGregor is used in the commercial as he is interspersed in the athlete montage.

Payout Perspective:

Although the UFC’s headphone sponsor is Monster Headphones, McGregor appears in the Beats commercial.  McGregor’s appeal and notoriety is shown by the fact he is included in this ad which was shown this past Sunday during NFL football games.

Ronda Rousey in new Pantene marketing campaign

December 7, 2016

Ronda Rousey will be a part of a new marketing campaign with Procter & Gamble’s Pantene brand.  The campaign is a play on Pantene’s “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful” campaign in the 1980s.

In the television ad, Rousey states, “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Strong.”

Rousey will appear across TV, digital and print advertising as well as PR and social media platforms.

Payout Perspective:

The launch of the campaign comes just weeks before Rousey returns to the octagon on December 30th.  It’s another major mainstream marketing campaign for Rousey.  This spot seems to be perfect for Rousey since the take on the campaign is a turn on the old perceptions of women and a look at the more active emerging role of women.

Greg Hardy embarks on MMA career

October 11, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that former Dallas Cowboy and Carolina Panther Defensive End Greg Hardy is transitioning into mixed martial arts.

The 28-year-old Hardy does not have a background in martial arts but has been training for several months in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Hardy missed most of the 2014 NFL season due to a domestic violence incident with an ex-girlfriend.  Deadspin produced a horrifying account of the allegations for which Hardy was never prosecuted.

According to MMA Fighting, he was arrested for possession of cocaine last month.

NFL insider and MMA aficionado, Jay Glazer, tweeted his disappointment in Greg Hardy entering MMA based on his domestic violence background.

Payout Perspective:

It’s likely that Hardy would fight at Heavyweight and the article indicates that his team says that several promotions have expressed interest in signing Hardy.  This should be of no surprise.  Despite the background issues, Hardy would draw interest, or maybe its curiosity, as to how he would fare as an MMA fighter.  Realistically, there are few good Heavyweights out there and a former NFL player with the credentials of Hardy could gain fast interest.

White states Rousey is biggest UFC star

October 4, 2016

In a recent radio interview, Dana White stated that Ronda Rousey is the biggest star in UFC history.  The proclamation would seemingly go against the numbers (PPV, attendance, gate) which would show Conor McGregor as the biggest star.

White was emphatic with his praise of Rousey stating that she was, “by far the biggest star ever.”

McGregor’s last 3 PPVs have scored over 1 million buys and he has produced record attendance and gates in those events.  McGregor will likely eclipse more records when he headlines UFC 205 in New York this November.  He’s also made the most (reported) for a UFC event as he made $3 million this past August for his fight with Nate Diaz.

While Rousey has done well on PPV, she has not done the numbers that McGregor has produced.

White could be talking about how Rousey’s popularity has brought the UFC to the mainstream and opened up the young woman’s demo to the sport.

(H/t: Yahoo! Sports)

Payout Perspective:

While McGregor has produced monetary records for the UFC, he’s been a little more difficult for the company than Rousey.  McGregor deciding not to do media for UFC 200 and his subsequent removal from the card probably did not sit well with the UFC.  Nevertheless, the bottom line is that he’s produced big numbers on big shows for the company.  But, as for a shift in thinking about the sport, Rousey probably is the more transcendent star.  She’s changed how people think about woman’s MMA and despite what people think of her personality, she’s been a mainstream success.

Celebrities invest in UFC

September 30, 2016

The Wall Street Journal reports that celebrities will hold an ownership interest in the UFC.  23 celebrities including Ben Affleck, Adam Levine and Serena and Venus Williams are investing in the company.

Per the WSJ, it’s the “most significant business move” since the sale of the UFC this past July.  Terms of the celebrity investments weren’t disclosed.  WME-IMG purchased the UFC for a reported $4 billion.  According to the article, Ari Emmanuel sought out the celebrities he knew to be fans of the sport and who would be willing to market the sport and influence their fans that it is more than a niche sport.

The news comes at the beginning of the hype for the company’s debut in New York November 5th.

Updated, per Darren Rovell, here is a list of those celebrities that invested in the UFC.  Each paid $250K.

Payout Perspective:

The news should not be of a surprise to anyone considering the entity that purchased the UFC this past summer.  Certainly the investment is a part of each celebrity’s financial portfolio so I would opine that this is not 50 Cent investing in Vitamin Water.  Yet, we are seeing the leverage that the new owners have in promoting and extending the reach of the UFC brand.

Study finds more involved in MMA training

September 3, 2016

A new study per the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s annual State of the Industry Report places mixed martial arts as a rising fitness activity among the U.S. population.

According to the study, more than 72% of Americans (6 and older) were active in at least one sport or activity in 2015.  The nationwide online survey taken in 2015 by 32,658 Americans gages athletic participation habits.

Over a three-year participation range, “MMA for competition” was third in growth activity among U.S participants.  Per the study it had grown 72.3% with 749,000 participating in 2012 and then 1,290,000 participating I 2015.  According to the survey “MMA for fitness” was 13th on the list with 1,789,000 in 2012 and 2,498,000 in 2015.

“Boxing for competition” came in 7th on the list.

The number 1 sport/fitness activity in 2015: Stand up paddling followed by adventure racing and then MMA for competition.  Fourth was Triathlon (nontraditional/offroad) followed by Rugby.

H/t: Sports Business Journal

Payout Perspective:

The key here is the activity habits of Americans as opposed to their favorite sport.  Thus, these are the fitness activities of the people taking the survey.  Although no definition in the article “MMA for competition” means and actual training in the sport of MMA (striking, grapping) as opposed to “MMA for fitness” (I tend to think this is a non-contact kickboxing class).  Why the popularity in MMA?  Perhaps the fitness benefits of the activity.  Participating in MMA is a calorie burner which mainly younger people are interested in trying.

Nate Diaz appears on Kimmel

August 3, 2016

The promotion for UFC 202 is continuing its mainstream hype as Nate Diaz appeared on a skit on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Diaz’s appearance in the skit comes on the heels of an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s late night talk show on TBS, “Conan.”  Dana White also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel to discuss the UFC.

Payout Persepective:

The sanitized, PG-rated Diaz is interesting to watch.  Diaz has done a good job with his new media obligations.  We get it, he’s not great with the words, but he’s still out there promoting the fight.  Despite the UFC appearing on the Fox Network we have seen ABC willing to promote the UFC on Good Morning America and now Jimmy Kimmel Live.

WWE not actively promoting Lesnar at UFC 200

July 5, 2016

Despite receiving the blessing of the WWE, the company will not be actively promoting Brock Lesnar’s fight against Mark Hunt this Saturday at UFC 200.

The WWE’s Stephanie McMahon told Business Insider that Lesnar’s appearance at UFC 200 is a “special case” but not a cross-promotional opportunity.  As the WWE has done in the past, it differentiated the two companies that seem to be inextricably compared.  McMahon stated that the “UFC is not a competitor to the WWE because we [WWE] are entertainment and UFC is competitive sport.  It’s very different.”  She also made it clear that while they were not supporting the fight, the more awareness Brock’s appearance makes at 200, there is value for the WWE brand.

While the WWE may not overtly support Lesnar’s octagon appearance this Saturday, it’s clear that the WWE is the indirect recipient of mainstream press.  For its part, the WWE is taking advantage of the publicity.

It announced that Lesnar will be on the cover of this year’s WWE video game, WWE 2K17.  It also announced that Lesnar’s opponent for Summerslam would be announced this week on USA’s Smackdown show.

Payout Perspective:

It’s an interesting “hands-somewhat-off” approach that the WWE is making.  It’s clear that Lesnar is the biggest draw for the UFC this weekend and this should please the WWE.  But, in order to stay true to its brand and the entertainment component of the product, it is not doing anything out of the ordinary to promote Brock’s presence at UFC 200.  It’s clear that the WWE could have done a special on its own network centering on Brock’s return to the octagon or even make more mention of it during its television programming.  Is it a mistake?  The WWE is keen on its brand and the decision to keep UFC Brock and WWE Brock separate (even though the UFC may not) seems like a thought out decision.

Rousey named “30 Most Powerful Women in Sport”

June 28, 2016

Ronda Rousey was named one of the 30 Most Powerful Women in Sport according to Adweek.  In this inaugural list, the selections will be celebrated at the Clio Sports gala in New York on July 7th.

Those selected reflect the influencers, industry leaders and record breakers in their respective sports. The list includes athletes, leaders within the C-Suite and personalities working within sport.  Notably, the WWE’s Stephanie McMahon was named on this list.  Danica Patrick, Serena Williams and golfer Lydia Ko are among those on the list.

Via Ad Week:

As the UFC has made headway in the American sports consciousness, Ronda Rousey has given the sport the one thing it’s been lacking: a bona fide superstar.

Payout Perspective:

Despite what many “pure” MMA fans think of Rousey, she is a mainstream star.  Even though she has not fought since last November and does not have another fight scheduled, she has used her sport to propel her to a career in movies and a brand ambassador.  Will her next fight in the octagon determine her future on this list?

VanZant postponing return to Octagon

May 3, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that Paige VanZant will not be a part of UFC 200.  VanZant’s star is budding with her involvement on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

After her loss to Rose Namajunas this past December, the schedule was to have PVZ back in the Octagon for UFC 200.  However, her appearance on the network show has taken off and she is doing well in the competition, she has decided to postpone her return to fighting.

PVZ was one of the first athletes to secure an individual Reebok deal and her looks have made her a marketable fighter on the UFC roster.

The UFC had hoped to use her network dancing notoriety to help promote UFC 200.

Payout Perspective:

I think most people could see this one coming.  It’s clear that the show’s success should propel her into other television opportunities.  Thus, why would she want to go back into fighting where she could get her as well as destroying her face.  I’m sure we recall what she looked like at the Namajunas fight.  Frankly, fighting is a tough sport and if you can make a living not having the risk of getting injured you should not blame her.

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