UFC 210: Payout Perspective

April 10, 2017

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time around we take a look at UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York

Cormier “makes” weight, retires Johnson

Daniel Cormier lost 1.2 pounds in less than 5 minutes at the weigh-ins and made weight after missing on the first attempt.  Despite no one really addressing this marvel, Cormier making weight ensured a championship match in which he dispatched Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in 2 rounds.

Instead of using his strength of stand-up and striking, Johnson attempted to take down and grapple the far superior wrestler in Cormier.  He was not listening to his corner and when Johnson was faced with some adversity, he tapped out.

Johnson promptly retired after the match stating that he had made a commitment to another job.  At 33, Johnson leaves the sport at the peak of his MMA career.  But, one has to wonder how invested he was in this fight if he knew that he was going to retire no matter what after it.

For Cormier, he went professional wrestler-mode in his post-fight interview in the Octagon as he went after Jimi Manuwa and Jon Jones.  While it appears, he is embracing the booing that is happening, he still has Jon Jones in his head.

With Cormier having to nurse a broken nose and getting married in May, it appears that a showdown with Jones will not happen in July at International Fight Week but maybe August at its earliest.

Mousasi defeats Weidman on Knee

Someone needs to explain the rules to me again.  Gegard Mousasi defeated Chris Weidman after it was determined that a knee was legal despite the former UFC middleweight’s attempt to put both hands down to become a grounded opponent.  If you are a grounded opponent, you cannot be kneed.  The doctor at ringside determined that Weidman could not continue.  Weidman is appealing the decision, but if it stands this makes 3 losses in a row for Weidman as it seems the once next big thing is at a crossroads in his career.

Weidman is still a name and you can envision him headlining the UFC card in Long Island this July but you have to wonder where will he be in the UFC middleweight hierarchy.  He’s not going to be released.  But, will he be a name for a card or an actual contender for the middleweight title.

Mousasi has another impressive name on his win resume and should be moving toward a title shot against Michael Bisping.

Attendance

UFC 210 was announced as a sellout at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.  The event set a sporting event record for the venue with 17,110 for a gate or $2 million.  Certainly, the economic impact to the area is one of the reasons why businesses wanted to legalize MMA in the state.

Bonuses

Bonuses went to Gregor Gillespie, Charles Oliveira, Shane Burgos and Charles Rosa.  Gillepsie and Oliveira drew Performance bonuses while Burgos and Rosa drew the Fight of the Night.  All received $50,000 bonuses.

Certainly, Cormier or Cynthia Calvillo could have earned the Performance bonus too.

Promotion of the Fight

It was the first major PPV in upstate New York since UFC 7 and the city of Buffalo honored the UFC for coming.  Despite being a New England Patriots fan Dana White posed with some Buffalo BillsThe Bills were all over UFC 210.

The local news did a writeup on White.

The UFC sent direct messages (DMs) on twitter to those that follow its twitter feed about UFC 210.  To some, it also asked for people to RTs.

The Embedded series followed Chris Weidman, Gegard Mousasi, Daniel Cormier, Anthony Johnson for most of the series.  It also briefly looked at Cynthia Calvillo and Pearl Gonzalez.  Notably, there was no looks at Cormier’s weight-cut and his issues.  MMA Fighting did memorialize the weight-cut for Weidman.

Also of interest, that Daniel Cormier was wearing a pair of Air Jordans on an episode of Embedded this time around.  As we know, the UFC is sponsored by Reebok.

Sponsorships

The usual sponsors were in the octagon including Harley Davidson, Reebok, Budweiser, 7-11, Toyo Tires, Metro PCS, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy had the center of the octagon.  There were no other

Chris Weidman and Daniel Cormier both had Monster Energy patches on their fight kits.

Odds and ends

The Pearl Gonzalez story drew over 100,000 google searches on Friday after she was initially told she could not fight due to her breast implants.  However, after the UFC spoke with the athletic commission and got in contact with her doctor, she was given the go ahead to fight.  Thus, for White to chastise media on FS1 mischaracterizes the black letter rule which was due to her breast implants, Gonzalez could not fight.  His lashing out at the media seems to be a reflection of how sensitive he is about criticism.

Maybe this is too much conspiracy theory but I wonder if the reason NASCAR denied having a partnership with Bellator was due to the fact it was featured on the UFC 210 Countdown this past week.  The episode shows Anthony Johnson attending a NASCAR event.  At the same event, we also see Donald Cerrone.

Patrick Cote’s retirement was touching.  Unfortunately, it did not end in a win like Mark Munoz or Urijah Faber but I thought the taking off the gloves and the UFC allowing him to talk despite being the loser was nice.  Certainly, Cote’s retirement was not too surprising.

On the other end, everyone was stunned with Anthony Johnson’s retirement.  It’s better to leave early than to stick around too long so I think this may be best for Johnson if he no longer has his heart in the game.  Perhaps that explains why Johnson seemed to give up in the second round.

Urijah Faber into the UFC Hall of Fame this year was a no-brainer.

UFC 210 Countdown on FS1 Sunday night drew 99,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings.

The Prelims on Saturday started on FS2 due to the Yankees-Indians game going long on Fs1.

Try leaning over on something while weighing yourself on a scale and you will have performed the “towel trick.”

There were over 500,000 google searches for UFC 210 on Saturday night.

Conclusion

I would not expect this PPV to draw more than 300,000 buys.  Daniel Cormier-Anthony Johnson is not a fight that would draw a casual viewer despite being for a title.  Although, Mousasi-Weidman is a nice co-main for hardcore fans, it would not draw someone either.  We did have lull of weekends without UFC action so some might be wanting to see some fights.  Thus, the PPV buy rate probably falls into the realm of the hardcore base plus some other scattered fans hungry for MMA action.

Bellator: NYC to have suggested price tag of $49.99

March 28, 2017

Scott Coker revealed on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani that Bellator:NYC, the company’s second PPV will be priced at $49.99 HD.

It is the company’s second stab at having its product on PPV and is headlined by a grudge match between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.  Also, Fedor Emelianenko will face Matt Mitrione in the co-main event of the show.  Bellator 120, the company’s first PPV, had a price point of $30-$45 depending on the satellite or cable company.

Similarly, despite the announcement of the suggested retail price of $49.99, a provider may raise the price.

For those wondering, the UFC will have a PPV on June 3rd, UFC 212 featuring Jose Aldo taking on Max Holloway.  The day after Bellator:NYC on June 24th, the UFC is having a Fight Night the day after on FS1.

Payout Perspective:

With the UFC PPV’s priced at $59.99 HD, having its PPV $10 less is advantageous for those that are not huge followers of the Bellator product.  While there are hardcore MMA fans that would purchase the event no matter what the cost, the $49.99 price point is something of a price break for those on the fence about spending more money on PPV.

Updated GGG-Jacobs PPV buy rate now at 170K PPV buys

March 25, 2017

Yahoo! Sports reports the update PPV buys of Gennady Golovkin and Danny Jacobs drew 170,000 PPV buys.  The buy rate was confirmed by Tom Loeffler.

The initial estimate of the PPV ranged from 130,00 to 150,000 PPV buys.  Loeffler indicated that GGG’s 2015 PPV against David Lemieux drew 153,000 buys.

Payout Perspective:

The additional buys are spun as an improvement and due to the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  The improvement shows that there is a fan base for GGG but not ones that are willing to pay $60-$70 for a PPV.  GGG’s PPV draw may be something that might hurt him going into contract negotiations for a fight with Canelo Alvarez.

More on Bellator’s debut in New York

March 23, 2017

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator will promote its June PPV separate from Bellator 180, which will be at the same venue on the same night.

The PPV, which is being branded as “Bellator:NYC” is scheduled to be 5 fights which is headlined by Chael Sonnen taking on Wanderlei Silva.  In addition, the rescheduled bout between Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko will serve as the co-main.  Also on the PPV portion will be a lightweight title fight between Brent Primus and Michael Chandler.

Bellator 180 will preceed the PPV fight card at MSG in New York City.  It will be a 2-hour card on Spike TV on Saturday, June 24th.

Payout Perspective:

This won’t confuse anyone.  Essentially, Bellator 180 will serve as a “UFC Prelims-type” show to entice viewers to purchase the PPV.  With the 5 fight PPV card taking shape, one hopes everyone stays healthy and can make the fights.  Also not yet announced, expect newly signed Ryan Bader to make his debut on the PPV or on the Bellator 180 card in addition to Bellator’s top names including King Mo, Rampage Jackson (assuming they are healthy to turnaround that quickly) and Spike TV’s ratings magnet Cheick Kongo.  Notably, Lance Pugmire reports that Lorenz Larkin will face Douglas Lima on the June 24th card.

Early returns show GGG-Jacobs PPV draw between 130-150K PPV buys

March 21, 2017

Lance Pugmire of the LA Times reports that the early returns on the GGG-Jacobs PPV is between 130,000 to 150,000 buys although the GGG camp says that the final tally will be higher than 150,000.

Pugmire cites an industry source for the report as HBO has yet to provide an official tally.  Notably, the last GGG PPV,  GGG-Lemieux in October 2015 drew 150,000 PPV buys.

Pugmire notes that the gate for last Saturday’s event was $3.7 million as compared to $2 million for GGG-Lemieux.

Payout Perspective:

Even if the fight draws over 150,000 PPV buys, it likely won’t go much higher than that.  The PPV buy rate is not favorable for GGG as he possibly seeks a big fight against Canelo Alvarez in September.  The event went up against the NCAA Tournament but it was big fight and Jacobs was a much more marketable name than David Lemieux.

Sonnen-Silva headline Bellator’s second PPV

March 20, 2017

Bellator returns to PPV with Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva as the main event.  The event will take place on June 24th at Madison Square Garden in New York.

It will be the second PPV in the company’s history.  In May 2014, Bellator 120 featured Rampage Jackson-King Mo and Michael Chandler-Eddie Alvarez.  The event drew 100,000 PPV buys.

Sonnen is coming off a loss to Tito Ortiz this past January in Los Angeles.  Silva has yet to fight for the promotion as he is serving a three-year suspension retroactive to May 24, 2014.  He will be eligible for reinstatement to May 25, 2017.

The Associated Press first reported the event.

Bellator intends to debut some of its free agent signees in New York as well.

The event comes a week after a UFC Fight Night in Singapore and two weeks before International Fight Week.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement is a departure from the company intending to stay on cable TV.  Sonnen-Silva is a long-time grudge match dating back several years and if the two remain healthy and available, the promotion and fight should draw more than the last time Bellator was on PPV.  The news comes on the same day that Ryan Bader officially signed with the promotion.  Expect Bader, Rampage and other former UFC fighters to be on the card.

UFC sets PPV record in 2016, but where are big cards in 2017?

January 23, 2017

In the latest Wrestling Observer (subscription recommended), the PPV buys have been recalibrated to 1,009,000 buys.  The original estimate had the July event at 1.1 to 1.2M PPV buys.

Despite the downgrade of PPV buys for the July event, the UFC set a PPV record with 5 events in a calendar year going over 1 million PPV buys.  Boxing had two years (1996 and 2011) where 3 PPVs topped 1 million buys.

UFC 196, UFC 200, UFC 202, UFC 205 and UFC 207 all went over the 1 million mark.  Conversely, three shows (UFC 198, UFC 201 and UFC 206) drew less than 250,000 (see MMA Payout Blue Book).

Payout Perspective:

The obvious concern for 2017 is without McGregor (for a portion of the year) or Rousey, where will the UFC find a PPV that could draw over 1 million PPV buys.  Certainly, July’s International Fight Week should bring a show close to 1 million with the return of Jon Jones and perhaps a couple title fights.  But, there does not seem to be another big card on the horizon.  With the new owners having an earnings mandate of $275 million in EBITDA by June 30th to receive a contingency payment of $175 million.  It will be hard to do this without any big events in the first quarter of 2017.

UFC 207 early PPV estimates: 1.1M buys

January 6, 2017

UFC 207 looks to have done well on PPV as initial estimates by The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer have the PPV at 1.1 million buys.

UFC 207 featured the return of Ronda Rousey as she faced Amanda Nunes for the UFC bantamweight title.  Nunes stopped Rousey in the first round.

The 1.1 million PPV buys ties UFC 193 as the largest buy rate for a Ronda Rousey headlined event.

UFC 193 – 1.1M

UFC 190 – 900,000

UFC 184 – 600,000

UFC 170 – 350,000

UFC 157 – 450,000

Payout Perspective:

The buy rates do not include the events where Rousey was the co-headliner with Chris Weidman (UFC 162 and UFC 168).  UFC 168 drew 1.025M buys but was the return of Weidman-Silva.  It was also Tate-Rousey.  UFC 207 reflects the Rousey demo.  The PPV was not hurt due to the PPV being on Friday night or the fact she did not do the regular media rounds to promote the fight.  You probably cannot turn your back on the media all the time but the fact that Rousey was returning provided some extra interest for her fans.  It also shows the niche that she has carved out and if she were to retire, would there be another woman fighter that could garner this much attention.

UFC 207 Prelims on FS1 draws 1.511M viewers

January 3, 2017

The UFC 207 Prelims on Friday night drew 1.511 million viewers on FS1 per Sports TV Ratings.  It was the fourth highest PPV of 2016 and the sixth prelims telecast to go over 1 million viewers.

In addition, it drew 813,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 category.  The featured fight on the prelims was Johny Hendricks versus Neil Magny.  Magny earned a unanimous decision.

The average for 2016 was 1,097,000.  In comparison, 2015 drew an average of 1,069,000.

In addition, the pre-fight broadcast on FS1 which preceded (4:00-5:00pm PT) the UFC Prelims drew 572,000 viewers and 281,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight drew 404,000 viewers and 234,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight event went from 9:50pm-11:07pm PT.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are very considering the prelims took place on Friday night.  The big viewership number likely reflects a big PPV buy rate.  All of the prelims except UFC 195 drew over 1 million PPV buys.  With Rousey on the PPV card, expect a buy rate over 1 million.

UFC 206 replay on Fox scores big Christmas Eve

December 26, 2016

The replay of selected fights from UFC 206 earlier this month drew 4.7 million viewers on Christmas Eve according to Television By Numbers.  It also drew a 1.6 rating and a 6 share in the Adult 18-49 rating making it the second highest viewed UFC show on Fox since UFC on Fox 1.

The replay was the most-viewed show Saturday night and drew the biggest share among adults 18-49 across the board on the network.

The fights on the 2-hour replay Saturday included Lando Vannata versus John Makdessi, Cub Swanson versus Doo Ho Choi, Donald Cerrone versus Matt Brown and Max Holloway versus Anthony Pettis.

Nielsen reports that the peak viewership occurred during the Swanson-Choi fight which many consider a Fight of the Year frontrunner for 2016.

Only the November 2011 fight featuring Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos scored more viewers when the company’s debut on Fox drew 5.7 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The obvious takeaway here is that the UFC has found a niche and its likely Fox will be open for this slot for next Christmas Eve.  Even on a night when many people were doing holiday activities and spending time with family, many people tuned in.  This is great for the UFC as the actual card only did 150,000 PPV buys.

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