16 for 16 – No. 15 CM Punk debuts

December 20, 2016

After a prolonged wait, CM Punk made his professional MMA debut at UFC 203 in September 2016.  Punk took on Mickey Gall in a one-sided match which saw Punk do nothing until he tapped to a rear-naked choke.

While there was a UFC title defense by heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, it was clear that Punk was the headliner.  FS1 did a three-part documentary on Punk’s transformation from WWE performer to MMA fighter at the age of 37.  He was also a prominent figure on the Embedded episodes leading up to the PPV.

Punk earned $500,000 for his debut fight which was the same amount made by James Toney in his unsuccessful MMA debut against Randy Couture.  Punk proved his payout as the PPV buys for UFC 203 were up from a normal PPV rate: 425K-475K PPV buys.

The Punk experiment was backed by the UFC.  He was one of the first fighters to train at EXOS.  He had a three-part FS1 series leading up to UFC 203 which documented his training.  The investment in Punk paid off even if he did not do well against Gall.  The PPV drew more than the typical UFC buy rate baseline.  While the fans in Cleveland were behind Miocic, he was not the PPV needle mover, it was Punk.  One might infer from the buy rate that Punk had a great WWE following.

It will be interesting to see if Punk returns to fight in MMA, whether it is in the UFC or elsewhere.  On another note, will Punk speak out about fighters organizing.  Surprisingly, he’s not come out with a statement about the possibility.  For someone that hated the WWE, he has been mum about what he thinks about fighters organizing in the UFC.

Faber leads list of UFC on Fox 22 payouts

December 18, 2016

Urijah Faber led the roster of fighters in reported disclosed pay at UFC on Fox 22 Saturday night.  In his last fight, Faber registered $320,000 for his win over Brad Pickett.

The payouts were released by the California Athletic Commission.  Other notable payouts include Paige VanZant making $43,000 to show (and likely $43,000 if she won), Michelle Waterson earning $30,000 ($15K/$15K) and Sage Northcutt earning $60,000 for his losing effort against Mickey Gall.  Gall earned $20k/$20K for his fight against Northcutt.

Via MMA Junkie:

Michelle Waterson: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Paige VanZant: $43,000

Mickey Gall: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Sage Northcutt: $60,000

Urijah Faber: $320,000 (includes $160,000 win bonus)
def. Brad Pickett: $40,000

Alan Jouban: $54,000 (includes $27,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Perry: $14,000

Paul Craig: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Luis Henrique da Silva: $14,000

Mizuto Hirota: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Cole Miller: $33,000

Colby Covington: $54,000 (includes $27,000 win bonus)
def. Bryan Barberena: $20,000

Alex Morono: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. James Moontasri: $16,000

Josh Emmett: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Scott Holtzman: $17,000

Leslie Smith: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Irene Aldana: $12,000

Eddie Wineland: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus)
def. Takeya Mizugaki: $39,000

Hector Sandoval: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Fredy Serrano: $12,000

Sultan Aliev: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Bojan Velickovic: $12,000

Payout Perspective:

We shouldn’t be surprised with the pay of PVZ or Sage.  Regardless of what you think of their talents at this point, both are considered draws by the company.  PVZ was coming off of a win over Bec Rawlings and her fame from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.  Sage won at UFC 200 (where he earned $50K/$50K).  Faber was coming off of a loss at UFC 203 and earned $160,000 in that fight.  So, his payout here was the same as it was this past September.

Mighty Mouse tops TUF 24 Finale payouts

December 5, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the TUF 24 Finale payouts from Saturday’s event from The Palms.  Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson led the payouts as disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

The disclosed total payout was $1,242,000.  Johnson earned $350,000 with no win bonus.

Champ Demetrious Johnson: $350,000 (no win bonus)
def. Tim Elliott: $100,000

Joseph Benavidez: $140,000 (includes $70,000 win bonus)
def. Henry Cejudo: $50,000

Jorge Masvidal: $120,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus)
def. Jake Ellenberger: $78,000

Jared Cannonier: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Ion Cutelaba: $12,000

Sara McMann: $56,000 (includes $28,000 win bonus)
def. Alexis Davis: $27,000

Brandon Moreno: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Ryan Benoit: $15,000

Ryan Hall: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Gray Maynard: $51,000

Rob Font: $33,000 (includes $16,500 win bonus)
def. Matt Schnell: $10,000

“Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Brendan O’Reilly: $12,000

Jamie Moyle: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Kailin Curran: $20,000

Anthony Smith: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Elvis Mutapcic: $16,000

Devin Clark: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Stansbury: $12,000

Payout Perspective:

A nice raise in payment for Johnson who made a show purse of $135,000 at UFC 197.  He made $60,000 as a win bonus against Henry Cejudo this past April for a total of $195,000.  The $350,000 matches that made by bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in his last title defense at UFC 199.  The $350,000 is still less than the $500,000 made by champs like Daniel Cormier and Robbie Lawler (when he held the title).  Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic made $600,000 for his last title defense in September.  Of course, it’s not even close to Conor McGregor’s purse.  Tim Elliott likely made the most out of any TUF winner in their first fight outside of the show with $100,000 to fight the champ.

Marquardt leads UFC Fight Night 96 Payouts

October 5, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the salaries from UFC Fight Night 96.  The official payouts were disclosed by the Oregon State Athletic Commission.

Via MMA Junkie:

John Lineker: $72,000 (Lineker forfeited 20 percent of his original $40,000 show money to Dodson for missing weight)
def. John Dodson: $38,000 (includes 8,000 from Lineker’s show money)

Alex Oliveira: $43,200 (includes $24,000 win bonus. Oliveira forfeited 20 percent of his original $24,000 show money to Brooks for missing weight)
def. Will Brooks: $57,800 (includes $4,800 from Oliveira’s show money)

Zak Ottow: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Josh Burkman: $54,000

Brandon Moreno: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Louis Smolka: $32,000

Luis Henrique da Silva: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Joachim Christensen: $10,000

Andre Fili: $39,200 (includes $18,000 win bonus and $3,200 from Dias’ show money)
def. Hacran Dias: $12,800 (Dias forfeited 20 percent of his original $16,000 show money to Fili for missing weight)

Shamil Abdurakhimov: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Walt Harris: $12,000

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Keita Nakamura: $19,000

Nate Marquardt: $112,000 (includes $56,000 win bonus)
def. Tamdan McCrory: $15,000

Ion Cutelaba: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Jonathan Wilson: $12,000

Curtis Blaydes: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Cody East: $10,000

Ketlen Vieira: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Kelly Faszholz: $10,000

Payout Perspective:

If not for missing weight, Lineker would have made $40K/$40K while his opponent, Dodson made $30K to show and likely another $30K win bonus.  Interesting to note that Will Brooks is already making $53,000 to show.  He made $50K/$50K in his UFC debut this past July at the TUF 23 Finale.  For being a veteran, Nate Marquardt made the most with $112,000 not to mention his Reebok payout of $20,000.

Iaquinta off of UFC 205 due to dispute over pay

September 19, 2016

Al Iaquinta is off of the UFC 205 card in New York due to a dispute over fighter pay according to FoxSports.com.

Iaquinta (7-2 in the UFC) was going to make $26,000 to show and the potential to double that with a win.  In addition, he would receive $5,000 as part of the Reebok deal.  Thus, without any unknown locker room bonuses, he would have made a low of $31,000 and a high of $59,000.  According to the FoxSports.com report, the UFC has deemed him not eligible to receive a post-fight bonus due to infractions which included missing a fighter summit last year.

Iaquinta was scheduled to face Thiago Alves in the organization’s debut in New York.  The native New Yorker decided to turn down his “dream fight” because of a contract dispute.  According to Iaquinta, he signed a four-fight deal with the UFC prior to the Reebok deal.  He stated that he made more from one sponsor in his previous fights than the $5,000 (the amount he would receive based on the number of fights with the company) he would make in his next fight.

Iaquinta has been out of action for over a year due to a knee injury.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Iaquinta stated that he is a real estate agent out of the Octagon.  He also stated that he never signed the bout agreement as he would likely be fighting for free after paying taxes and his team.  Iaquinta did not have nice things to say about Joe Silva who apparently was angered at Iaquinta for backing out of the bout due to money demands.  Iaquinta learned of Silva’s comments through his manager.

Payout Perspective:

Iaquinta has a legitimate issue with fighter pay but since he signed the contract with the company there’s not much he can do.  If there’s anything that can be learned from this situation, it would be for fighters to learn about their worth and market value.  Realistically, Iaquinta may have discovered that his worth is $26K and $26K.  But, he could have made more in Bellator.  This situation is another argument for a fighter association or union to assist lower-to-mid-level fighters.

Punk ($500K) tops UFC 203 payouts

September 12, 2016

MMA Fighting reports the salaries from this past weekend’s UFC 203.  CM Punk led the list of fighter earnings with $500,000.

Punk would have received no win bonus if he had defeated Mickey Gall in his first professional fight.  Gall made $15,000 and $15,000 for his 1st round submission of the former pro wrestler.

Making his first title defense in his hometown, Stipe Miocic earned $600,000 with no win bonus while his opponent, Alistair Overeem, earned $800,000.

Via MMA Fighting:

Stipe Miocic ($600,000 + no win bonus = $600,000) def. Alistair Overeem ($800,000)
Fabricio Werdum ($250,000 + $125,000 = $375,000) def. Travis Browne ($120,000)
Mickey Gall ($15,000 + $15,000 = $30,000) def. CM Punk ($500,000)
Jimmie Rivera ($24,000 + $24,000 = $48,000) def. Urijah Faber ($160,000)
Jessica Andrade ($23,000 + $23,000 = $46,000) def. Joanne Calderwood ($25,000)

Bethe Correia ($25,000 + $25,000 = $50,000) def. Jessica Eye ($25,000)
Brad Tavares ($28,000 + $28,000 = $56,000) def. Caio Magalhaes ($20,000)
Nik Lentz ($38,000 + $38,000 = $76,000) def. Michael McBride ($12,000)
Drew Dober ($19,000 + $19,000 = $38,000) def. Jason Gonzales ($10,000)

Yancy Medeiros ($24,000 + $24,000 = $48,000) def. Sean Spencer ($17,000)

Payout Perspective:

The $500,000 payout for Punk does not include any other ancillary money he might receive from the event.  This amount will likely be criticized by fighters.  Even those at the top of the pay scale would have to be surprised by this.  Of course, there is precedence for Punk’s pay as James Toney made $500,000 in his fight with Randy Couture at UFC 118 back in August 2010.  But, the $600,000 for Miocic shows that the champs are getting boosts in pay.  Overeem getting paid more than the champ is likely due to his seniority with the company.

UFC 202 PPV buys estimated at 1.65M

September 7, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that UFC 202 is currently estimated at doing 1.65 million PPV buys.  The number puts it ahead of UFC 196 in PPV buys.

Prior to this year, the top PPV event for the UFC was UFC 100 which posted 1.6M buys on July 11, 2009.  In the main event Brock Lesnar faced Shane Carwin.  GSP was also a co-main event on the card.

UFC 202 featured Conor McGregor versus Nate Diaz II.  McGregor won a majority decision.

Not only did the PPV buys generated from the satellite and cable distributors reflect strong viewership but the direct buys on UFC Fight Pass were strong as well.  The buys from the UFC site are not factored into the buys.

The news is better than the estimated 1.2-1.5M PPV buys as previously reported.

Payout Perspective:

Although the buzz might not have been as strong overall, the buys show that people knew about the event.  The buys confirm that Conor is valuable commodity for the UFC and likely worth his reported $3M per fight.  He’s drawn over 1.2M PPV buys in his last 3 PPV events.

UFC Fight Night 93 attendance, gate and bonuses

September 3, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 93 from Hamburg, Germany.

The event drew 11,763 for a live gate of $913,428 U.S. dollars.  The UFC announced that the event was a sell-out with 30 percent of ticket sales coming from outside Germany.  It was the first time the UFC has visited Hamburg.

Josh Barnett doubled up on the bonuses as he scored with a Performance Bonus and Fight of the Night along with Andrei Arlovski.  Ryan Bader received the other Performance Bonus.  All received $50,000 each.

Henderson tops Bellator 160 payouts

August 29, 2016

MMA Fighting reports the salaries from Friday’s Bellator 160.  Benson Henderson was the top paid fighter making $75,000 as disclosed by the California State Athletic Commission.

Via MMA Fighting:

Benson Henderson ($75,000 + no win bonus = $75,000) def. Patricio Freire ($50,000)
Derek Anderson ($10,000 + $10,000 = $20,000) def. Saad Award ($18,000)
Georgi Karakhanyan ($17,000 + $17,000 = $34,000) def. Bubba Jenkins ($14,000)
A.J. McKee ($10,000 + $10,000 = $20,000) def. Cody Walker ($8,000)

David Duran ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Kyle Estrada ($1,500)
Steve Ramirez ($1,750 + $1,750 = $3,500) def. Ron Henderson ($2,000)
Joey Davis ($5,000 + no win bonus = $5,000) def. Keith Cutrone ($1,500)
Gabriel Green ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. Alex Trinidad ($1,500)
Andy Murad ($2,000 + $2,000 = $4,000) def. Johnny Cisneros ($2,000)
Jake Roberts ($5,000 + $5,000 = $10,000) def. Stephen Martinez ($2,500)
Chinzo Machida ($8,000 + $8,000 = $16,000) def. Mario Navarro Jr. ($2,500)
Jacob Rosales ($1,500 + $1,500 = $3,000) def. Mike Segura ($1,500)

Payout Perspective:

Henderson’s last reported UFC payout was in January 2015 when he made $48,000 in a loss to Donald Cerrone.  He did make more as the lightweight champion.  At UFC 164, when he lost his belt to Anthony Pettis, he made $110,000.  The $75,000 with no win bonus is a likely step up from his UFC pay at the time he left in November 2015.

UFC 202: Payout Perspective

August 23, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective for UFC 202.  This time we take a look at Diaz-McGregor II at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

McGregor gains revenge on Diaz

It was a majority decision for Conor McGregor as 2 judges scored the bout for McGregor while the third judge determined it a draw.  It was a solid back and forth fight with McGregor coming out with a solid game plan but despite a crimson mask, Diaz came back and was able to score a 10-8 round (according to 1 judge).  McGregor seemed to tire after round 2 as he attempted to run from exchanges.  However, he was able to muster enough to narrowly escape a second loss to Diaz.

The question of when the third fight shall happen will likely depend on when McGregor will be available as an injured leg may keep him out until 2017.  Could we see Diaz-McGregor III in Vegas in July 2017?

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz represented 82 percent of the reported salary payouts which we detail below.  A definite money fight.

Anrhony Johnson drops Glover

It took one uppercut for Anthony Johnson to end the night for Glover Teixeira.  Johnson should get Daniel Cormier next.  Johnson is on a roll and it looks like Cormier will need to rely on his wrestling to stop Rumble’s power.  This could be one of the main events for the UFC’s debut in New York this November.

Attendance and gate

Although there were reports that the event had trouble selling tickets, it still was a big gate for the UFC.  It drew 15,539 for a live gate of $7,692,010 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  A typical McGregor draw.

UFC 196: 14,697 for $8.1M

UFC 194: 16,516 for $10.1M

UFC 189: 16,019 for $7.2M

Ticket prices were slashed for the event per ESPN.  There were still tickets available the day of the event.

Bonuses

The $50,000 bonuses went to Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Donald Cerrone.  Diaz-McGregor earned FOTN while Johnson and Cerrone drew POTN.  There were a lot of stoppages to choose from and there could have been several fighters that could have drawn the bonuses.

Payouts

Conor McGregor made history by making the most of any reported payout for an MMA fighter when the NSAC disclosed he would receive $3 million for the fight.  Diaz came in second in payouts with $2 million.  The two drew over 80% of the reported overall payouts.

The full list is here.

Promotion of the Fight

The Pre-Fight Press Conference was a spectacle with bottle throwing and middle fingers everywhere.  With McGregor showing up late, it seemed to make Diaz mad as he got up and left and that’s when the presser went off the rails.


Also of note, Nate Diaz appeared on Conan and Jimmy Kimmel.

Conor McGregor did not do as many appearances but did another CNBC interview.

He also did an ESPN interview post-water bottle throwing and the censors were too slow to catch up with some profanity.

There was also a GQ profile on McGregor.

The promotion of the fight included twitter emojis for Diaz and McGregor when you used their hashtags.  Other fighters and famous folks did videos on twitter holding up the hashtag of they believed would win the fight.

The UFC 196 replay featuring Diaz-McGregor I was shown on FS1 Thursday night before the fight and drew over 200,000 viewers despite Olympics and NFL Preseason on the same night.  The first fight was available for free online too.

The UFC weigh-ins drew 173,000 viewers on Friday night and was followed by a replay of the “Bad Blood” special on Diaz-Conor which drew 162,000 viewers.

Sponsorships

The regular UFC sponsors were in the octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Bud Light, 7-Eleven, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the octagon.  The movie “Hands of Stone,” which is about the Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard fight.  Bud Light had the fighter prep point.

The octagon also included the twitter hashtags for Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor.

Conor McGregor, who has an individual sponsorship with Reebok, did posts and a video for Reebok promoting himself and UFC 202.

Donald Cerrone had a Monster Energy Drink logo and Bud Light sponsorship on his shorts.  He also held the Monster can post-fight after  his stoppage of Rick Story.

Odds and Ends

No “Face the Pain” music intro to the PPV.  Perhaps a call by the new owners.

Conor McGregor claimed that he spent $300,000 on his training camp in preparation for Nate Diaz.  That’s 10% of his reported payout for his fight with Diaz.

Cerrone said that it was his last fight on his contract but his reps stated otherwise.  Regardless, he seemed set on re-signing with the UFC instead of testing free agency.

Despite the payout for Nate, Nick remains suspended due to the fact he has yet to pay his fine from the settlement with the commission.  As a result, he was banned from the arena and precluded from cornering Nate.

We’ll probably talk about Nate and his post-fight vaping later this week.

The Dominick Cruz-Alpha Male feud continues as Cody Carbrandt stopped Takeya Mizugaki in the first round.  Cruz stopped Mizugaki in the first round in his return from injury.  Post-fight Carbrandt turned his attention to Cruz who was in the FS1 booth.

Was that Eva Marie or Rando Markos with the red hair?

New thing for fighters.  They get to see tweets in the locker rooms:

Mike Perry may be the most-hated UFC fighter already.  Not only did he fake a handshake with his opponent at the televised weigh-ins.  There is audio of his corner possibly using racial slurs.  This, in addition to having a long fingernail going into the Octagon and then, without a clipper in site, he attempted to chew it off.

Gordon Ramsey, Skip Bayless, Dwight Howard and Kanye West were all in attendance at UFC 202.

It was Neil Magny’s last fight on his contract but his upset loss to Lorenz Larking probably does not help his cause when negotiating with the UFC.

No post-fight press conference as fighters had individual scrums.  A sign of the times for the new ownership?

The Pro Fighter’s Association held a press conference in Vegas during fight week to establish its potential roll in a fighter’s union for the UFC.  It will be a long, hard road for this to happen but we shall see.

Conclusion

5 million google searches on Saturday for UFC 202 might infer that the PPV buy rate will soar over 1M buys.  Certainly, the lack of tickets sales may be a concern but realize that the UFC moved into T-Mobile Arena versus most of their other big events taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  T-Mobile holds more people so maybe the UFC overestimated the attendance.  While the event seemed to lack the buzz of a typical McGregor fight, it will still produce PPV buy rates.  I would expect this event to hit 1M buys.

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