UFC introduces product that tracks punching statistics

October 23, 2018

The UFC has announced the launch of a first-ever UFC Force Tracker smart device for heavy bags.  According to a UFC press release, the launch is in partnership with CSG Taiwan Limited.  IMG negotiated the multi-year licensing agreement between the UFC and CSG Taiwan Limited.

Per the UFC press release, “[t]he UFC Force Tracker is a Bluetooth enabled smart device that records an individual’s speed, power and endurance when training with a heavy or free-standing punching bag.  The device connects with the Xforce Tracker mobile app for iOS and Android devices to record and store the user’s progress.  The mobile app also allows users to compare training statistics with others via the global online leaderboard.”

The device connects with the bottom of a heavy bag or the top of a free-standing punching bag.  The product is sold via retail at Walmart.com and other online and retail distributors in Europe and Asia.

Payout Perspective:

Statistics in sport is a rising industry and one can see this product being used in UFC Gyms as well as other MMA/boxing-type gyms.  The device can be used to track progress in training as well as there being a social aspect to compare use with others.  While it is not reported on as much as its PPV/sponsorships, the licensing of the UFC brand name and products is another source of revenue for the company.  In conjunction with its gyms, we could see more of these products being launched.

Bellator 208 draws 521,000 viewers on Paramount

October 17, 2018

Bellator 208 on Paramount Saturday night drew 521,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Fedor defeating Chael Sonnen in the last semi-final of the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

It was the second of back-to-back nights for the promotion.  The event also aired on DAZN.

In addition to Fedor and Sonnen, Benson Henderson defeated Saad Awad.

Payout Perspective:

Although 521,000 viewers does not seem that impressive, it is the best viewership since Bellator 199 this past May.  One might infer that there were more viewers since DAZN was an optional way to view the event.  The viewership suggests that Fedor is still a draw for many MMA fans.

UFC welterweight accepts 2 year sanction for cocaine use

October 16, 2018

USADA has announced that UFC UK fighter Bradley Scott has accepted a two-year sanction for violating the UFC Anti-Doping Program.  Scott tested positive for cocaine metabolites per an in-competition test.

Via USADA press release:

Scott, 29, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, as the result of a urine sample he provided in-competition on May 27, 2018, at Fight Night 130 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Cocaine is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Stimulants and prohibited in-competition under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

USADA conducted a thorough investigation into Scott’s case and determined Scott had not provided verifiable evidence regarding the circumstances that led to his positive test. Scott’s two-year period of ineligibility, the standard sanction for a first offense involving a non-Specified Substance, began on July 3, 2018, the date his provisional suspension was imposed.

The former TUF Smashes contestant will not be able to return to the UFC until July 2020.

Payout Perspective:

The finding should be a disappointment for the 29-year-old welterweight who is 3-5 in the UFC and on a 2-fight losing streak.  Arguably, cocaine should not be considered a PED but a recreational drug.  It would be interesting to know if Scott would be required to attend some sort of education regarding the drug to ensure he does not have an issue with the drug.

Eddie Alvarez signs with ONE Championship

October 15, 2018

ONE Championship has signed Eddie Alvarez to a contract making the former UFC and Bellator lightweight to the Asia-based company.  According to the promotion’s press release, it’s a multiple bout contract.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Payout Perspective:

The signing is a coup for ONE Championship who may seek to extend its reach to North America.  Thus far, the company has grown exponentially since its start in the early 2010s.  It has Ben Askren and former UFC star Brandon Vera on its roster as well as several top fighters in Asia.  Alvarez joining the promotion should bolster fans of Alvarez in the U.S. which may, in turn, mean a foray into North America.

At 34, its probably the best possible deal for Alvarez.  He’s nearing the end of his peak earning as an MMA fighter and ONE is likely paying him much more than the UFC or Bellator would offer.  This may serve as an option for other fighters that may be nearing the end of their deal in the UFC or Bellator that there are other options in the industry.

Bellator 207 draws 416,000 viewers on Paramount Friday night

October 15, 2018

Bellator 207 on the Paramount Network Friday night drew 416,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It was the first of back-to-back shows on the network.

The event featured the semi-finals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix as Ryan Bader made easy work of Matt Mitrione to make his way to the finals of the tournament.

Also on the card, Sergei Kharitonov looked impressive in his KO of Roy Nelson.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings have to be a little disappointing considering this was one of the semifinals for their Heavyweight Grand Prix.  Saturday night’s event will be an interesting look to see with PFL and Top Rank Boxing on ESPN going on at the same time.

UFC 229 draws 2.4 million PPV buys

October 12, 2018

UFC 229 has delivered the best PPV buy rate in company history according to multiple reports including The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer.  The event featuring the return of Conor McGregor and arguably the best lightweight in the world, Khabib Nurmogomedov drew 2.4 million buys.

Broken down, it drew 1.9 million PPV buys from traditional satellite and cable outlets and another 470-480,000 from internet sales on UFC’s web site.  The combined buys surpass UFC 202 which drew a reported 1.5 million PPV buys.

Despite the lack of a long lead-up for this event, it delivered and ensures a rematch between the two despite the lopsided victory by Khabib and the fallout post-match.

Payout Perspective:

The first thing to glean from the news is the number of purchasers online.  This could be due to the use of the “second screen” while watching other events (i.e., college football) Saturday night.  It also means that the UFC likely made more money from the event since more online purchases would not be shared with satellite/cable companies.  All of the indicators including Embedded and press conference views, prelim ratings and google searches pointed to big buy rate.  There was some skepticism with the number of people interested in the fight but the casual fans came out to watch the PPV.

PFL 7 draws 136,000 Friday night

October 11, 2018

The Professional Fighters League did 136,000 viewers on Friday night on NBC Sports Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  Friday night was the start of the promotion’s playoffs.

Kevin Hart, one of the famous silent investors in the PFL, did a promo for the show.

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

PFL 6: 138,000 viewers

PFL 7: 136,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Unfortunately for the PFL, UFC 229 overshadowed the start of the playoffs.  136,000 viewers is a decrease from the last show this past August.  Hopefully, the company will be able to gain some traction as the playoffs continue.

Tukhugov taken off UFC Fight Night 138 sparks Khabib to threaten to leave UFC

October 11, 2018

Khabib Nurmagomedov has given the UFC an ultimatum.  Keep his teammates in the UFC, or lose him.

The Eagle made this statement on Instagram after Saturday night’s post-fight brawl which included UFC featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov.  It was Tukhugov who threw a punch at Conor McGregor in the Octagon after Nurmagomedov left the cage to go after McGregor’s jiu jitsu coach Dilon Danis.

The Instagram statement was made once news that Tukhugov was removed from his fight against McGregor teammate Artem Lobov at UFC Fight Night 138 at the end of the month.  A replacement for Tukhugov is being sought although Lobov is lobbying Dana White to keep Tuhugov.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I would like to address @ufc Why didn’t you fire anyone when their team attacked the bus and injured a couple of people? They could have killed someone there, why no one says anything about insulting my homeland, religion, nation, family? Why do you have to punish my team, when both teams fought. If you say that I started it, then I do not agree, I finished what he had started. In any case, punish me, @zubairatukhugov has nothing to do with that. If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken. You canceled Zubaira’s fight and you want to dismiss him just because he hit Conor. But don’t forget that it was Conor who had hit my another Brother FIRST, just check the video. if you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too. We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don’t forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I’ll break it myself. And one more thing, you can keep my money that you are withholding. You are pretty busy with that, I hope it won’t get stuck in your throat. We have defended our honor and this is the most important thing. We intend to go to the end. #Brothers

A post shared by Khabib Nurmagomedov (@khabib_nurmagomedov) on

A day after meeting Vladimir Putin, Khabib told the Nevada Athletic Commission that they could keep his $2 million purse.

Khabib’s cites the lack of punishment given to McGregor for his attack on the bus he was in at the Barclay’s Center back in April.

Payout Perspective:

This was bound to happen.  The UFC did nothing to discipline McGregor citing his arrest by New York Police was good enough has now come back to haunt them.  Now, Khabib is using the lack of discipline in that case to save his teammate from expulsion from the promotion.  If that does not happen, he has threatened to leave.  This is a bad situation from the promotion as it now must decide how to deal with this situation.  It’s apparent that Khabib has some leverage in this situation as he likely has opportunities in Europe and Russia outside of the company.  Coming off the best PPV buy rate ever, the UFC will now have a slippery slope it must navigate as if they do nothing, it is even more precedent for athletes to get away without discipline.

UFC 229 Prelims draws 1.3M viewers on FS1

October 9, 2018

The UFC 229 Prelims drew 1.3 million viewers on FS1 Saturday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prefight show drew 373,000 viewers on FS1 preceding the Prelims.

The Prelims featured Sergio Pettis taking on Jussier Formiga.  Formiga won via unanimous decision.  The event drew 754,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The prefight show drew 187,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings reflect the immense interest in UFC 229.  The 1.3 million viewers is the highest prelim rating for 2018.  The prefight show tied UFC 223 for second-highest this year with UFC 222 drawing 431,000 viewers.  The event was the most-anticipated this year and the prelim and pre-fight ratings reflect this.  At this time we don’t have the post-fight ratings, but I assume they will be at an all-time high based on the melee.

UFC 230 gets Cormier-Lewis for Heavyweight title, pushes back women’s flyweight fight

October 9, 2018

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto first reported that Daniel Cormier will headline UFC 230 defending his Heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis.  In addition, it appears that the Valentina Shevchenko fight against Sijara Eubanks has been cancelled.  Shevchenko will now face Joanna Jedrzejczyk in Toronto this December.

First, the Cormier-Lewis matchup was a surprise to the Black Beast who did not know that the fight was being set up according to Luke Thomas.  Even if Lewis was playing coy with Thomas, he is coming off of a tough fight against Alexander Volkov this past Saturday.  While he did pull off a miraculous KO of Volkov with just seconds to spare in the third round he admitted not having the proper cardio to fight.  Now, just weeks later, he is scheduled to fight 5 rounds against Cormier.  Although championship pay seems to be the driving factor in his decision to fight, Lewis may not be ready  for what should be the biggest fight in his career.

Next, pushing back the Shevchenko fight an inserting Jedrzejczyk would be a better draw but seems unfair to Eubanks.  While she seemed like an odd choice for the UFC 230 main event, to boot her from the fight seems harsh.

Payout Perspective:

Lewis made a splash Saturday night by taking off his fight shorts post-fight and giving one of the more entertaining interviews in quite some time.  He will be great for the promotion of the fight and during fight week.  But with the actual fight, he may not make it through two rounds.  Lewis picked up over 500,000 Instagram followers after Saturday night and could leverage that into marketing opportunities.  But, to put him in this situation means that the company does not have anyone marketable in the division to challenge for the title.

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