December 13, 2014
The UFC returned to The Palms after Dana White and the venue’s casino had a falling out in 2012. Earlier this year, The Palms sought to make amends with White by awarding him his own championship belt. It seemed to have worked as TUF 20 took place at The Palms.
You may recall that the TUF 19 Finale was held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center as was International Fight Week. It drew 6,500 for a gate of $835,000.
The finale of TUF 18 drew 4,346 for a gate of $322,742 at the Mandalay Bay.
In addition, the bonuses for the night were handed out to Carla Esparza, Yancy Medeiros, Jessica Penne and Randa Markos.
Esparza and Medeiros were granted “Performance of the Night” and Penne and Markos earned “Fight of the Night.” Each won $50,000.
Also, Rose Namajunas, Randa Markos and Joanne Calderwood earned the bonuses on the show. Namajunas earned $50,000. Namajunas and Calderwood won for best fight. Namajunas also earned a best performance along with Markos.
December 11, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that last night’s regular season finale of TUF 20 scored 508,000 viewers. The adult 18-49 was steady with 336,000 viewers for the 12th and final episode of the season.
The 336,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo was the season average. The season average (overnight viewership ratings) for TUF 20 drew to 515,000 viewers.
Episode 1: 536,000
Episode 2: 574,000
Episode 3: 433,000
Episode 4: 577,000
Episode 5: 509,000
Episode 6: 500,000
Episode 7: 494,000
Episode 8: 578,000
Episode 9: 381,000
Episode 10: 534,000
Episode 11: 532,000
Episode 12: 508,000
In the finale, Carla Esparza (the No. 1 ranked woman in the house) defeated Jessica Penne via Unanimous Decision. In the other semifinal, Rose Namajunas defeated Randa Markos via submission. It will be Esparza-Namajunas on Friday night.
Notably, the CM Punk interview which occurred after the episode on Fox Sports Live drew 182,000 viewers. According to a Nielsen source, the viewership for FSL was up 147% in the adult 18-49 demo with 136,000 viewers versus the 55,000 average.
Disappointing for the end of the season for TUF which featured the two semifinal fights. Despite some good fights, the ratings did not reflect the quality. Sounds fairly familiar to the last couple seasons. TUF 20 last night was really the lead-in to the Phil (“CM Punk”) Brooks interview. Fox Sports Live sported very good ratings due to the interview which reflects the fact that Brooks has produced that “curiosity” buzz and it looks like the UFC may have done well with its calculated risk.
December 10, 2014
According to a recent podcast by UFC Heavyweight Brendan Schaub, he has lost 6 sponsors due to the recent UFC-Reebok uniform deal. On The Fighter and The Kid podcast this week, Schaub claims that he had made twice what the UFC pays him from sponsors.
Schaub lost to Travis Browne at UFC 181 this past Saturday. Schaub made $32,000 as disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
If we are to believe this to be correct, Schaub would have made six figures with a win plus his sponsorship money. Even without the win, Schaub would be making close to six figures.
(h/t: MMA Mania)
We might see more stories like Schaub’s in the coming months as the Reebok deal goes into effect in July. Certainly, current sponsors may seek to leave the UFC as they might revisit their respective marketing budgets and either find fighters in other organizations to sponsors or leave the MMA landscape altogether. MMA Fighting has an interesting perspective on the Reebok deal from managers with UFC clients.
The obvious concern about the Reebok deal is that fighters will lose money from sponsors without knowing what they will be earning through this new arrangement with the UFC. Furthermore, managers are not able to say whether the Reebok deal will be better or worse than their current earning potential.
December 10, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the 11th episode of TUF 20 last week drew an adjusted Live plus 3 viewership of 724,000 viewers. The bump in viewers watching the 11th episode on their DVRs was the lowest of this season.
UPDATE: For those wondering, TUF 19 DVR +3 ratings were 278,000, TUF 18 DVR +3 ratings were 250,000
It’s a little disappointing to see a decrease in the DVR viewership as the season draws to a close. One would think that more people would want to see the fights as the end draws near. As it is, the average viewership increase is approximately 278,000 viewers which is in line with last season’s.
December 10, 2014
MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the UFC 181 Prelims on Saturday drew an average viewership of 840,000 viewers. In addition, the UFC 181 Prefight Show drew its best rating ever on FS1 with an average viewership of 606,000 viewers according to Nielsen.
The one hour Prefight show preceded the Prelims. The viewership for the show was likely aided by College Football on FS1 as Oklahoma State defeated Oklahoma in overtime. The game drew 1.146 million viewers. It was the most-watched program on FS1 on Saturday and the 6th most watched game this season. The game served as the lead-in for the Prefight show.
The Prelims were up 8% in the adult 18-49 demo with an average viewership of 545,000. The average for the demo is 503,000 viewers.
Urijah Faber defeated Francisco Rivera in the final bout of the evening on FS1 before the PPV.
UFC PPV Prelims 2014
UFC 169 933,000
UFC 170 936,000
UFC 171 305,000 (FS2)
UFC 172 750,000
UFC 173 697,000
UFC 174 784,000 (FX)
UFC 175 1,000,000
UFC 177 436,000
UFC 178 698,000
UFC 179 536,000
UFC 180 624,000
UFC 181 840,000
A good night for UFC programming on FS1 as many stayed on the network after the football game to watch the Prefight show. A good women’s fight as the opener and Faber on the Prelims helped with the ratings Saturday.
December 9, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 181 which took place at the Mandaly Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada
CM Punk signs with UFC
Usually we start off with the main events, and there were two very good ones, but the big news coming out of the PPV was the announcement that Phil Brooks (the artist formerly known as CM Punk – the WWE owns the trademark and we’re not sure if terms of his settlement included continued use of the name) has signed with the UFC. Brooks is 36 and has no formal experience in MMA unless you count his training in BJJ and Kempo. Recently, Brooks talked about a variety of health issues he had while in the WWE as well as the indication he has had a lot of concussions (12 or 13 per the Cabana podcast). The concussions do not even count the ones that were not medically recorded. We will definitely talk about this more but as it relates to business, this is a calculated risk for the UFC. It should bolster a UFC for the sheer curiosity from former WWE fans.
Lawler edges Hendricks for UFC title
Robbie Lawler started and finished the second fight with Johny Hendricks in a flurry. And it might have been the last flurry in the end that solidified the win for Lawler. Maybe Hendricks fell into the same trap of confidence as he did when it appeared that he had defeated GSP. Hendricks had turtled up in at least two rounds allowing Lawler to seemingly pound away at him. Even if the blows did not hurt, the appearance made it seem that Lawler had the advantage. In the end, Matt Hughes had the opportunity to put on the belt for the new champion.
Although a third fight would make sense, Rory MacDonald was in attendance and should be the next in line to challenge for the belt.
Showtime crisp in title defense
Anthony Pettis is good. That’s an understatement. Despite a shaky first round against Gilbert Melendez, Pettis took advantage of a shot from Gil and quickly secured a guillotine. He’s now subbed Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez with ease. It’s clear that Pettis is the tops of this division. Pettis is athletic and quick and if he avoids significant injuries (wrote this before news of his hand), he can be a force in the UFC.
Up next for Pettis should be Khabib Nurmogomedov who showed up at the press conference to ensure Showtime knew who he was.
Attendance and gate
MMA Junkie reports the attendance and gate at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The attendance announced post-event was 9,617 for a gate of $2.488 million. The last event at the Mandalay Bay was UFC 170 in February 2014 for Ronda Rousey-Sara McMann. That event drew 10, 217 for a gate of $1,555,870.
Promotion for the Fight
UFC Embedded was the main driver once again and offered some good background on Hendricks-Lawler and Pettis- Gil. It also covered the Pettis Wheaties box cover announcement and the Reebok uniform announcement. Hendricks’ sponsor, Bass Pro Shops, received some exposure as Johny was seen shopping for a rifle at the outdoor sporting goods store.
The UFC released Hendricks-Lawler I online which one must consider was one of the best fights of the year.
UFC 181 sported a comic book theme with the fight poster. A nice change from the usual face offs.
UFC 181 was slated for movie theaters once again.
In the Octagon were Wargaming.net, Alienware, Matefit.me, Fram, Musclepharm, Metro PCS, Harley Davidson, Air Force Reserve (a Robbie Lawler associated sponsor), Toyo Tires and Bud Light in the center.
Johny Hendricks had a new sponsor for the fight, Zak Products, an official NASCAR sponsor.
— Johny Hendricks (@JohnyHendricks) December 3, 2014
Hendricks and Pettis, already sponsored by Reebok, wore the brand into the Octagon. Perhaps the Pettis walkout shirt is a glimpse of what to expect from the brand in July.
Dynamic Fastener made its presence known in the Octagon. Hopefully, viewers will figure out what it does before it goes away in July.
Harley Davidson had a promotion where the winner of the Travis Browne-Brendan Schaub fight won a Harley. For those that didn’t watch, Browne won the motorcycle.
Odds and ends
Raquel Pennington-Ashlee Evans Smith ending was a cliffhanger of sorts since FS1 cut to commercial as Pennington had the choke on Smith and it was not clear what had happened. I recall the same thing happening with Dan Henderson-Shogun Rua.
Great wins for Todd Duffee and Josh Samman, the latter with a great headkick KO of Eddie Gordon. Gordon wore a legalize MMA shirt into the Octagon as he fights out of Matt Serra’s gym in New York.
There was some foreshadowing about 181 by Dana White on the Jim Rome Show.
Another interesting question in light of the Reebok deal.
— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) December 6, 2014
Urijah Faber took what is becoming a normal spot as the final bout on the UFC Prelims. It’s interesting that he’s becoming a mainstay in this position but according to Dave Meltzer he chooses to be on FS1 rather than PPV because more people watch. It makes sense considering he is a name, can draw viewers to the FS1 prelims and is a good bridge to the PPV telecast.
Interesting that they dropped the lights for Pettis-Gil but not for Hendricks-Lawler.
The production for the promos for UFC 182 and UFC 183 were great and showed more of a entertainment edge to them.
A good read on referee Mark Smith, who is a retired Air Force pilot. Only coincidence that Air Force Reserves was a sponsor on the Octagon mat.
UFC 181 was one of the best cards of the year. From the Prelims to the main event, it came through with action fights, KOs, submissions and a surprise announcement. Does that mean it will cash in with PPV buys? Google searches were high on the search terms UFC and CM Punk in the U.S. as both were trending 3rd and 6th respectively with over 100K searches each. While this does not necessarily equate to buys (e.g. Manny Pacquiao registered over 500K searches yet scored a reported 300K PPV buys), we should see UFC 181 doing well and above this year’s PPV average. Look for somewhere between the 400-500K range.
December 8, 2014
MMA Junkie reports the salaries for UFC 181. With his win bonus, Robbie Lawler was the top earner for the card.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission released the fight purses for the event:
Robbie Lawler: $220,000 (includes $110,000 win bonus)
def. Johny Hendricks: $150,000
Anthony Pettis: $200,000 (includes $100,000 win bonus)
def. Gilbert Melendez: $200,000
Travis Browne: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Brendan Schaub: $32,000
Todd Duffee: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Anthony Hamilton: $10,000
Tony Ferguson: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Abel Trujillo: $14,000
Urijah Faber: $140,000 (includes $70,000 win bonus)
def. Francisco Rivera: $20,000
Josh Samman: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Gordon: $15,000
Corey Anderson: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Justin Jones: $8,000
Raquel Pennington: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Ashlee Evans-Smith: $8,000
Sergio Pettis: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Matt Hobar: $10,000
Clay Collard: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Alex White: $10,000
Gilbert Melendez actually had the highest base and will gain some PPV points as well per the terms of his deal. Hendricks and Pettis were next on the list of top paid after Lawler. Notably the two fill-ins, Ashlee Evans-Smith and Justin Jones received only $8,000 each.
December 8, 2014
MMA Payout has learned that the penultimate episode of TUF 20 drew an average viewership of 532,000 viewers in its first showing (7pmPT/10pmET) on Wednesday on FS1 per a Nielsen source. The episode brought the season 20 average to 514,000 viewers.
There were two fights on the 11th episode. First, Carla Esparza defeated Tecia Torres and will face Jessica Penne in the semifinals. Also, Rose Namajuna submitted Joanne Calderwood and will face Ronda Markos in the other semi.
In the adult 18-49 demo, the episode drew 365,000 viewers which is 10% over the season average of 333,000.
The same episode which aired the same night 10pmPT/1amET) drew 81,000 viewers. It did draw up almost 30% in the adult 18-49 demo (71,000 versus 55,000). One might infer that younger people in the demo watching live on the west coast or are night owls for watching TUF at 1am.
As we near the end of another season of TUF, we note that this season will do better than the BJ Penn-Frankie Edgar season of last spring but will not do as well as Rousey-Tate last year. The viewership has been steady this season and has received a nice bump with DVR ratings. But, if you watched the weigh-ins on Friday, you wonder where that spark between Anthony and Gil were during the filming of the season.
December 8, 2014
In a surprise announcement during Saturday’s UFC 181 PPV, former WWE pro wrestler Phil Brooks (aka CM Punk) announced that he has signed with the UFC. He indicated that he would have his first in 2015.
Unlike WWE pro wrestler and former UFC fighter Brock Lesnar, Brooks does not have a pedigree in a combat sports discipline although it is documented that he has trained extensively in Jiu Jitsu and Kempo Karate. Lesnar had a legitimate background prior to entering the Octagon. He also did one fight outside of the UFC before signing.
There is much debate on the signing as Brooks stated that this is his new career. This, despite a recent announcement he was assisting in writing a comic book for Marvel. He did not give many details about where he would train and when his first fight would be.
For those wondering, PPV buys for notable debuts of fighters with not a traditional MMA pedigree are as follows:
UFC 81 – Brock Lesnar (Noguira-Sylvia main event) first fight 600K
UFC 113 – Kimbo Slice (Machida-Rua main event) 520K
UFC 118 – James Toney (Edgar-Penn II) 570K
While it should be respected that Brooks comes at this opportunity with respect, it seems like a “bucket list” thing to do. The fact is he is 36 years old with notable health issues (outlined as recently as the infamous Colt Cabana podcast) entering a tough sport. Regardless of what you may think of pro wrestling, it is a rough business that takes a physical toll on your body. And thus, this won’t go well inside the Octagon. However, if you are looking at the spectacle aspect of this, it should draw some casual, crossover fans.
And while a lot of people within MMA and pro wrestling know of CM Punk, don’t look for his signing to grab a ton of new fans. What would be interesting is to see if the UFC can sign Brock Lesnar and put him on the same card as Brooks? Is the signing an act of desperation by the UFC, strategy to keep him away from a potential Bellator signing or a desirable business move?
What will be interesting to see is whether Brooks will comment on things like drug testing in the UFC, the new Reebok uniform deal and the lack of a union for fighters? Those things are much more interesting to know about than what will actually happen in the Octagon
December 5, 2014
At a UFC media event this week in lead up to this Saturday’s event, Wheaties unveiled the Anthony Pettis box donning his image. Pettis won a contest this past summer to determine which next sports star should be the face of the cereal box.
Pettis is the first MMA fighter to have his image on the trademark Wheaties box.
The champ is here. pic.twitter.com/wmsevy9ds4
— Wheaties (@wheaties) December 4, 2014
It’s a nice, creative image which takes advantage of Pettis’ GQ good looks yet still puts him in a position where the casual person can tell he’s an MMA fighter. The timing of the event works out as its added publicity for Pettis and the UFC for this Saturday’s PPV. With the Reebok announcement made on Tuesday, perhaps the Pettis-Wheaties partnership will be short-lived. But, maybe the UFC could be making inroads with Wheaties to make it an official sponsor.