Rockhold awaiting right contract from UFC to fight Weidman

August 16, 2018

UFC middleweight Luke Rockhold indicated that he will not fight Chris Weidman until he has a new contract. The rumored rematch between the two was set for one of the big events this fall at UFC 230 in New York but Rockhold is making a stand for better pay.

Rockhold spoke with reporters at an event with his sponsor American Ethanol in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  He indicated that he had to be shown the right contract.  “Business is good,” Rockhold said inferring that his other interests outside of the Octagon were lucrative enough that a UFC fight was not a necessity.

Rockhold seemed to intimate that athletes have learned how to game the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and he does not like it when fighters like Brock Lesnar or Jon Jones are able to be inserted into the main event after a long time away.

H/t: MMA Junkie

Payout Perspective:

You might recall that Rockhold agreed to fight Yoel Romero despite Romero not making weight at UFC 221.  He lost via TKO and his chance for a middleweight title shot.  So, you can see why Rockhold may be wanting more money to get back into the Octagon.  Rockhold is playing it close to the vest as he indicated that he’s almost ready for a return to fighting after being injured but won’t fight without it making sense.  He stated that he was not “going to lose money fighting” which goes to say that he’s been able to make money outside of the Octagon.  Certainly, it’s a good thing for Rockhold to establish other business ventures that don’t include getting punched in the face.  While it seems that his competitive fire is still there for fighting, he is sick of the politics in the promotion.  I think that Rockhold does come back against Weidman and that his interview is just venting his frustration.

UFC official sponsor, BodyArmor receives big investment from Coca Cola

August 16, 2018

UFC official sponsor BodyArmor is receiving an influx of case thanks to soft drink maker Coca Cola.  It is buying a stake in BodyArmor making it the second-biggest stakeholder in the company.

The deal, according to the Wall Street Journal, allows Coca-Cola to take a full ownership of the startup company which lists Kobe Bryant as one of its backers.  Bryant’s invested $6 million in the company in 2014 and since the acquisition by Coca-Cola, the former NBA champ’s shares are now worth $200 million.  UFC bantamweight Cody Garbrandt is also a sponsor of the drink.

Coca-Cola’s investment in BodyArmor is an attempt to cut into PepsiCo-owned Gatorade’s dominance in the market.  It sells its sports drink as healthier and recruited younger athletes to appeal to the demo.

The deal with the UFC is one of the tactics in which it seeks to promote the drink to a younger demo.

The WSJ states that the U.S. sports drink market is about $8 billion in with Gatorade having about ¾ of the market. BodyArmor is expected to have about $400 million in revenue this  year and could be valued between $1-$2 billion.

Payout Perspective:

The sponsorship deal between BodyArmor and the UFC seems to be a good match in terms of growth.  The Official Sports Drink of the UFC is looking toward international distribution and we could look to see its signage in the cage for overseas event.  It is also seeking to grab a foothold in the younger demo and sponsoring UFC events should help with its visibility and promotion.  If Coca-Cola were to attain full ownership, it would benefit BodyArmor and perhaps lure the brand to the UFC.

UFC 226 draws near 300K PPV buys according to report

August 15, 2018

MMA Fighting reports that UFC 227 is estimated to have done 300,000 PPV buys.  The event was headline by two title fights in the Flyweight and Bantamweight divisions.

According to the report by Dave Meltzer, the PPV buys are in the same range as the April 7th PPV featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov and Al Iaquinta.

The event was headlined by Cody Garbrandt gaining a rematch against T.J. Dillashaw for the bantamweight title.  Dillahsaw stopped Garbrandt in the first round.  The co-main saw Demetrious Johnson fall to Henry Cejudo ending the long title reign of Mighty Mouse and flyweight.

Payout Perspective:

The indicators for the event did not really point to this card doing 300,000 buys.  The Prelims airing on FX drew 717,000 viewers although it was the third highest on cable.  The google searches for Saturday drew over 1 Million for “UFC 227.”  But, what may have sold the PPV was the bad blood between Dillashaw and Garbrand as it’s a foregone conclusion that Johnson is not a PPV draw.  With Cejudo as champion, we will see how the UFC packages him.

 

With USADA suspension almost over, UFC releases Tom Lawlor

August 13, 2018

The UFC has released Tom Lawlor from his UFC contract.  Lawlor, who is serving a 2-year UFC Anti-Doping Policy drug suspension is currently working as a pro wrestler.

Lawlor accepted a 2-year suspension after he failed a test for Ostarine on October 10, 2016.  Despite an exhaustive look into what may have caused the test, Lawlor decided not to make a formal appeal.

Lawlor will be off of suspension on October 10, 2018.  However, since he’s been away from MMA, he’s embarked on a pro wrestling career to keep him busy.

According to the report on F4Wonline.com, where Lawlor also is a co-host of a weekly show, he had asked for his release when being suspended but the company refused until today.

In addition to news of Lawlor being released, the UFC released Gleison Tibau.  He was the second UFC athlete to be put on provisional suspension as a result of the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps if there is any good news for Lawlor is that he’s been able to focus on his wrestling career and travel the country doing shows and making an income.  It might be the best situation if he wanted to be a UFC champion, but it elevated his name in the world of pro wrestling.  We will see if Lawlor will seek out Bellator or another promotion to continue his MMA career.

Zuffa “Renews” its Motion to Seal in Mark Hunt case

August 12, 2018

Zuffa has “Renewed” its Motion to Seal Exhibits in its Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Supplemental Complaint.  The Court originally denied Zuffa’s Motion to Seal but it now requests the Court once again.

Similar to a Motion for Reconsideration except Zuffa styles the Motion as a “Renewed” Motion.  In most instances, filing a Motion for Reconsideration requires new evidence not considered by the Court to prevail.   A “Renewed” Motion appears to be the same thing.

According to the Motion, it requests the Court to have the documents to remain sealed until the Court determines the results of it.  Originally, the Court was to release the documents on August 6.  Based upon a Pacer search, it appears that the Court is honoring this request.

The Court originally denied Zuffa’s Motion to Seal which included, among other things,  Hunt’s Bout Agreement for his fight with Derrick Lewis.  They also request to seal a Promotional and Ancillary Rights Agreement and a Letter of Agreement between Zuffa and Hunt from August 8, 2014.  According to Zuffa, the agreements are predecessors to the 2016 Promotional Agreement.  Additionally, there are “three Bout Agreements for different events that took place pursuant to the terms of the parties’ 2016 Promotional Agreement.”  Zuffa claims that these are “sensitive commercial information of the parties, the disclosure of which would cause the parties harm and jeopardize their competitive standing in the professional MMA industry.”

Renewed Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Remember when Demi Moore’s character in “A Few Good Men” ‘strenuously objected’ after the Judge’s objection was overruled.  This situation is the same thing.  There is no real reason that a Court would rethink a previous ruling unless something arose post-ruling.  But, that does not appear to be the case here.  If the Court were to rethink its ruling, one might expect an appeal from Hunt’s attorneys.  This will be a ruling that the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Zuffa Antitrust Case will be looking at with interest as well as the lawyers in Leslie Smith’s NLRB case.  The reveal of contractual information as to how MMA fighters are paid is a secretive process and unlike wage scales in other sports, payouts in the UFC are held close to the vest.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

White confirms TUF to continue in new ESPN deal

August 8, 2018

Dana White has confirmed that The Ultimate Fighter will continue as part of the ESPN deal despite record-low ratings the past several seasons on FS1.

After the season finale of Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday night, White told reporters of the future of the series. “There’s still a huge market for ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ still does well.”

The last season of TUF on FS1 will feature Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum as coaches this fall. It will then move to ESPN as part of the new deal announced earlier this year.

White indicated that TUF would move to ESPN or ESPN+ and stated that its likely to air once a year as opposed to the two seasons per year.

Payout Perspective:

It was ironic that White spoke about the future of TUF at the end of his Contender Series which is essentially what TUF was made to be. Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series has been a success this summer with some good prospects, great fights and the reality show element of White choosing fighter(s) for contracts in the UFC. TUF has shown its age throughout the past several years as it went from a something pitched as live content to a show that picks up viewers via DVR. But, with the new deal with ESPN, it is likely looking for content for its ESPN + platform so I would imagine it would be something the network would be interested on seeing if it has traction.

Show Money episode 23 discusses Antitrust, DAZN-Bellator, etc.

August 8, 2018

Show Money is back with John Nash of Bloody Elbow, Paul Gift of Forbes/Bloody Elbow and myself discussing Zuffa’s recent Motion for Summary Judgment filing, the Bellator/DAZN deal and other issues in MMA…and cinema.

 
 

UFC 227: Payout Perspective

August 7, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 227 taking place in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.  The show featured two championship fights with one title change.

Dillashaw retains title in stoppage of Garbrandt

T.J. Dillashaw successfully defended his UFC Bantamweight title over Cody Garbrandt with a first round stoppage of the former champion.  Dillashaw is now 2-0 over his former stable mate.

Cejudo wins split decision over Mighty Mouse to end Johnson’s reign

Henry Cejudo’s wrestling was the key in a split decision victory over Demetrious Johnson to win the UFC Flyweight title.  Cejudo’s several takedowns and ability to pin down Johnson likely earned him the narrow victory.  Johnson indicated that he suffered a broken book and knee injury during the fight.  Still, the former champ almost pulled out the victory.

Johnson’s loss is his first since October 2011.  He successfully defended the title 11 times prior to this defeat and has to be considered as one of the greatest title runs ever in the UFC.

Attendance and Gate

The event was a sellout at Staples Center with 17,794 in attendance for a gate of $2.85 million.

Bonuses

Dillashaw, Cejudo, Johnson and Renato Moicano earned the $50,000 bonuses.  Dillashaw and Moicano drew the Performance Bonuses while Cejudo and Johnson earned the Fight of the Night.

Payouts

Mighty Mouse and Dillashaw earned the most out of the purses disclosed by the California State Athletic Commission.  The payouts are here.

Reebok Payouts

Notably, Cub Swanson and Thiago Santos were the only fighters outside of the title fight participants to earn 5 figures.

T.J. Dillashaw: $40,000
Cody Garbrandt: $30,000
Henry Cejudo: $30,000
Demetrious Johnson: $40,000
Renato Moicano: $5,000
Cub Swanson: $20,000
J.J. Aldrich: $4,000
Polyana Viana: $3,500
Thiago “Marreta” Santos: $10,000
Kevin Holland: $3,500
Pedro Munhoz: $5,000
Brett Johns: $4,000
Ricky Simon: $3,500
Montel Jackson: $3,500
Ricardo Ramos: $3,500
Kyung Ho Kang: $5,000
Sheymon Moraes: $3,500
Matt Sayles: $3,500
Alex Perez: $3,500
Jose Torres: $3,500
Weili Zhang: $3,500
Danielle Taylor: $4,000
Marlon Vera: $5,000
Wuliji Buren: $3,500

Sponsorships

Van Heusen made its first appearance in the Octagon as an official sponsor of the UFC.  Stephen Thompson and T.J. Dillashaw star in an online commercial for the men’s brand which is launching a flexible casual line.  It had the fighter prep point.

Fallout 76, a multiplayer action video game sponsored the Embedded Series this time around.

It was announced that Trifecta Nutrition was the “Official Meal Delivery Partner of the UFC.”  The deal is set to be worth $10 million dollars.  Notably, Blue Apron, another company within the same space as Trifecta Nutrition is experiencing issues with its company as its second quarter earnings didn’t match up to analyst expectations.

In addition to Van Heusen and Trifecta Nutrition, Harley Davidson, Modelo, MetroPCS, Motel6.com, UFC Fight Pass, Toyo Tires, Monster Energy/Circle K and the movie Mile 22 which stars Ronda Rousey were in the Octagon.  Monster Energy had the center.

There seemed to be a concerted effort to promote the Reebok walkout shirts from the fighters.

Ratings

UFC 227 Prelims on FX: 717,000, 0.3 in the A18-49 demo (3rd highest in cable)

UFC 227 Pre Fight Show on FX:  306,000

UFC 226 Post-Fight Show on FS1:  122,000

Odds and Ends

Likely overshadowing this event was the news that Conor McGregor was returning to fight against Khabib Nurmogomedov in October.

While the story died down, there were old social media posts made by Garbrandt where he used racially insensitive language.  He was able to explain the posts away and it was seemed to be disregarded once fight night came around.  There was the news that was contemplating pulling out of the fight due to issues with his back but decided to go through with it due to financial reasons.  You have to feel for Garbrandt who has a little baby and is looking to buy a house, get insurance and all the other things with becoming a regular adult trying to start a family.  During a prefight media event, he revealed he went to Vegas to get epidural injections in his back.

There were over 500,000 google searches on Saturday for UFC 227 which is the norm for PPV buys in the 200K range.

Cub Swanson stated that he paid for $26,000 for tickets for the event.  The SoCal native lost via submission in the first round.

Garbrandt and Mike Tyson are friends if you watched the Embedded series.

The Prelims were shuffled to FX due to MLB on FS1.  It was also a busy night for combat sports as there was boxing on Fox and another on HBO.

Conclusion

Based on the google searches and the prelim ratings, this PPV likely drew around 250,000-275,000 PPV buys.  Outside of Conor McGregor, its hard to see a lighter weight division title fight drawing near 300,000 PPV buys nowadays.

UFC 227 Prelims draw 717K on FX

August 7, 2018

The UFC 227 Prelims which aired on FX Saturday drew 717,000 viewers.  It was the 3rd highest-rated show on cable Saturday night in the A18-49 demo with a 0.30 rating.

The prelims featured Pedro Munhoz and Brett Johns in an entertaining Bantamweight matchup with Munhoz winning by decision.

The telecast was pushed to FX due to MLB games on FS1.

Payout Perspective:

Not extremely high ratings for the FX show but it did draw the third-highest rating in A18-49 demo on Saturday night which may be something based on the viewership demo of FX than anything else.   Also, FX has more subscribers than FS1 so it is available to a broader audience.  It was the highest-rated PPV Prelim show since UFC 223 which may bode well for the PPV buys.

PFL 5 on NBC Sports Network draws 112,000 viewers

August 6, 2018

The PFL on NBC Sports Network drew 112,000 viewers on Thursday night.

The event featured Nathan Schulte defeating Jason High in a lightweight matchup.

PFL 1: 116,000 viewers

PFL 2: 150,000 viewers

PFL 3: 146,000 viewers

PFL 4: 101,000 viewers

PFL 5: 112,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The event increased from a season-low of 101,000 viewers.  The ratings are still not on par with WSOF ratings.  We will see if viewership will increase before PFL gets to the playoffs.

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