EA Sports unveils UFC release date, game cover, & details

April 15, 2014

Last year, EA Sports announced that Jon Jones would be on the cover of this year’s EA Sports UFC video game. Alexander Gustafsson also joined Jones after being voted in by the fans after defeating GSP in the finals. Below is the finished cover for the game.

EA_UFC_2014_Cover

Amazon.com currently lists the EA Sports UFC video game for the PS4 and Xbox One for $60 USD with a release date of June 17th. Here are the features for the game:

  • Real Damage: Every fighter knows that one good shot can ruin your day. EA SPORTS UFC introduces a non-linear damage system which can result in big damage coming from a single strike. The system produces a greater variety of cuts and contusions.
  • Dynamic Striking: A mixed martial artist uses the environment to his advantage and for the first time in a UFC game, you can too. A dynamic environment allows you to pull off jaw-dropping moves using the Octagon, including roundhouse kicks, superman punches and much more. Combine those abilities with the best striking technology in the industry and that one perfect strike could change the fight.
  • Real-Time Exertion: A UFC bout is one of the most physically demanding sports on the planet requiring mixed martial artists to give it their all with every movement. Real-Time Exertion brings each moment of that action to life in your gameplay experience. Through real-time vein popping, skin discoloration, muscle flex, as well as signs of fatigue setting in through the course of each round, you will witness the effort it takes to be one of the best fighters in the world.
  • Strategic Submission Battles: To own the belt, you have to be dominant on your feet and on the mat. EA SPORTS UFC re-invents the ground game to create a battle for position and control that captures the strategy of a submission battle. Like the real sport, in EA SPORTS UFC fighters will work through multiple stages as they work to advance or escape from a fight-ending submission.
  • Fighter Likeness and Facial Animations: EA SPORTS UFC will set a new bar for character likeness and emotion in gaming. For the first time in an EA SPORTS game, every single licensed athlete in the game has been created from high resolution 3D head and body scans to deliver revolutionary character likeness and authenticity. Powered by EA SPORTS IGNITE, new facial animation technology delivers more expression, emotion and will communicate greater sense of awareness and intelligence in the Octagon.

 

Payout Perspective:

The UFC’s debut from EA Sports is scheduled for June 17th, which is roughly about two months from press release.  Not much promotion has occurred for the game yet other than private demos and slow leaks of features and scans for the game.  That figures to change as we get closer to launch date.

E3 will take place on between June 10 and June 12, so just a week before the release.  Expect a big UFC presense during the event.  Also, it is expected that a EA UFC demo should be available before the release date, which would be available at E3 as well.  The UFC will also push the game’s release on the UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov PPV, though it’s a shame that event will likely receive little exposure.

A few weeks ago, MMAJunkie’s Mike Bohn did a developer Q&A with the EA UFC team, which is a very good read for those interested on the developers thoughts and their process to making the game.  There was also some controversy a week ago when it was announced that Bruce Lee would be a pre-order bonus in the EA UFC video game. The inclusion of the martial arts icon was not the issue, but the labeling of him as “the Father of MMA” in the game did appear to ruffle some feathers within the MMA community.

Bellator 116: 572,000 viewers

April 15, 2014

MMA Payout has learned through a Nielsen source that this past Friday’s Bellator 116 received an average viewership of just 572,000 viewers.  Its peak occurred midway through the card with 782,000 viewers.

Friday’s Bellator 116 featuring Blagoi Ivanov vs Lavar Johnson, Joey Beltran vs Vladimir Matyushenko, and Alexander Volkov vs Mighty Mo, which was a substantial decrease from the prior week overnight of Bellator 115 which scored 830,000 viewers in overnight ratings.  Friday’s overnights reflect the second lowest rating for the 10th season and the lowest peak of the season.

Bellator MMA – 110  880,000, overnight; 1.1M Peak
Bellator MMA – 111  653,000, overnight; 964K Peak
Bellator MMA – 112  699,000, overnight; 1.037 Peak
Bellator MMA – 113  507,000, overnight; 871,000 Peak
Bellator MMA – 114  711,000, overnight; 882,000 Peak
Bellator MMA – 115  830,000, overnight; 1,131,000 Peak
Bellator MMA – 116 572,000, overnight; 782,000 Peak

Bellator 116 overnight graph

Payout Perspective:

Disappointing ratings considering that last week Bellator cracked the cable top 100 according to Television By Numbers.  The fighters on the card did not stand out in particular and the ratings reflect this.  The peak occurred mid-way through the event which is not usual considering most of the peak viewership this season has happened during the main event.

Titan FC moves April 25th event

April 14, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that Titan FC has moved its April 25th event to May 16th.  The reason for the change appears to be due to injuries of some of its fighters.

“I refused to put out a subpar fight card when just this weekend three more fighters got hit with the injury bug,” Titan FC president and CEO Jeffrey Aronson said.  Raphael Davis is still scheduled to face Jason Brilz in the main event.

In addition to moving the date, it is moving its location from Kansas City, Missouri to Newkirk, Oklahoma.

Another change will be its live streaming of prelims on CBSSports.com instead of CBSSportsNetwork.com.

TFC27_TWITTER_PROFILEPHOTO_LOGO

Payout Perspective:

It’s rare that you see a company move an event so close to the intended date.  But if it’s due to injuries and the second time it gets a chance to appear on CBS Sports Network, it wants to put its best foot forward.  I am not sure how big the move from CBSSports.com to CBSSportsNetwork.com is in terms of actual viewers, but it appears that there is a possibility of reaching a much broader audience according to Aronson.  We have seen WSOF live stream on NBC Sports Network online and Bellator stream prelims on SpikeTV.com.  And, of course the UFC has now moved its prelims to its Fight Pass platform.  The move to online viewing is another way for fight organizations to grab viewers.

Glory set for first PPV June 21st

April 13, 2014

Bloody Elbow reports that kickboxing organization Glory will make its PPV debut on June 21st with a “Last Man Standing” middleweight tournament as the centerpiece.

Glory made the announcement this past weekend at Glory 15.  The event will originate from Los Angeles.  Glory has been coming on of late with strong ratings when it airs on Spike TV.  The question is really if it’s too soon for a PPV.

Payout Perspective:

Looking at the PPV landscape for combat sports in June, it’s really packed.  First, is Top Rank Boxing’s PPV on June 7th with Sergio Martinez going up against Miguel Cotto.  Then on June 14th is UFC 174 with Demetrious Johnson facing Ali Bagautinov in the main event.  Finally, it’s Glory with its debut PPV.  This does not even include a big UFC show July 4th weekend and then the recently announced Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara fight set for July 12th.  Fight fans may be a little weary of buying PPVs this summer.

I think that PPV buys will be dependent on price point but we should expect Spike to help out in promoting the PPV.

UFC Fight Night 39 attendance, gate and bonuses

April 11, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the performance bonuses for today’s UFC Fight Night 39 from Abu Dhabi.  Clay Guida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Ramsey Nijem and Roy Nelson nabbed the $50,000 bonuses.  In addition the attendance and gate were announced during the post-UFC press conference.

Fight of the Night:  Guida-Kawajiri

Performance Bonuses – Nijem and Nelson

Both Nijem and Big Country earned their performance honors by ending their opponents in the first round.  The bonuses served as bookends for the main card as the former TUF competitor, Nijem finished Beneil Dariush in the main card’s first fight and Nelson knocked out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event.

At the post fight press conference, it was announced that the event was a sellout with 7,963 tickets sold for a gate of $1.8 million.  UFC Fight Night 39 took place at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Payout Perspective:

Most of us in North America were likely at work for this Fight Pass event occurring during the day so at least you know what fights to pay attention to when watching later tonight.  It’s interesting to note that there were no submissions on the card as well as three stoppages in the first round.

Wrestlemania XXX Perspective

April 10, 2014

Welcome to a special look at Wrestlemania XXX which took place at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ultimate Warrior passes away

Perhaps the news of the death of Jim Hellwig (aka The Ultimate Warrior) has overshadowed the post-Wrestlemania news.  Hellwig was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, made an appearance at Wrestlemania, signed a deal to be an “ambassador” for the WWE and appeared on television on the company’s signature show, Monday Night Raw.  News broke late Tuesday night that he passed away in Arizona.

The Ultimate Warrior’s passing was picked up by mainstream news outlets as well as the UFC which sent out its condolences.  UFC fighters also chimed in to offer their sympathies.

Similar to the passing of Randy Savage, the outpouring of condolences for the death of The Ultimate Warrior likely brought back fond memories of a person’s childhood for many that grew up watching him.

Attendance and gate

According to a WWE press release, it was a sellout with a gate of $10.9 million with 75,167 in attendance.  Sunday’s event landed 5th in all-time Wrestlemania attendance.

For those in attendance, it may have been easier for fans to obtain unauthorized WWE merchandise as a Louisiana District Court denied the WWE’s motion to stop and confiscate bootleg merchandise from being sold in the area.  An order like this is usually allowed as a way to protect the intellectual property of the company.  However, the court decided it could not legally give the WWE this broad authority without identifying these potential infringers more specifically.

Don’t bet on pro wrestling

While we won’t necessarily get into the storylines from the night, it should be noted that The Undertaker’s win streak of 21 consecutive wins at Wrestlemania was broken by former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.  While this was scripted, a gambling web site lost money on the fight as it expected that the WWE would not let the Undertaker lose.  Fox Sports reported that the odds ranged from 14 to 1 and 8 to 1 for Lesnar to prevail.  The maximum bet was $100 although some people were allowed to bet “as much as $500 on Lesnar.”

UFC hypes Lesnar

Not only was Brock Lesnar a part of Wrestlemania, but the UFC took advantage of the hype of the event by having the Rock (below), Jim Ross and Steve Austin talk about the former UFC Heavyweight champion.   All of the videos were “Fight Pass Exclusives.”

Post by UFC.

WWE stock takes a hit

The day after Wrestlemania, the WWE announced its subscribers for the network.  To the dismay of investors, it announced it had slightly over 667,000 subscribers which were below Wall Street expectations.  While the WWE believes it will hit 1 million by the end of the year (the break-even point for the network), the stock fell almost 20% on Monday.  At the end of trading Thursday, it is down to $21.12.

The WWE received a lot of mainstream hype for the 30th edition of the biggest professional wrestling event of the year.  Most of this was focused on the new network and how it would fare airing such a heavily watched event.  To its credit, the video stream had no noticeable hiccups which were a good sign for the future of the product.  The question will be whether the negotiations for its rights deal will be affected in any way.

Payout Take:  Although the stock is taking a drop, the broader takeaway from the event was that it did not suffer any tech issues which was a major concern considering the amount of problems it had when it first launched in late February.  At least this shows that the product holds up.  The next big test for the company is a rights fee deal which is anticipated to occur sometime late April/early May.

Bellator 115 DVR + 3 numbers up slightly: 874,000

April 10, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the DVR +3 numbers for last Friday’s Bellator 115 scored a viewer average of 874,000 with a peak of 1,232,000

The ratings which increased based on the DVR viewership reflect a modest increase from the overnight ratings. Of course, the peak viewership did go over 1.2 million for only the second time this season.

Bellator 115 graph

Payout Perspective:

While it was just a modest bump, the DVR ratings did help increase the viewership average for the season to 784,500 including DVR ratings.  Bellator 115 did have the second-highest peak viewership for the season which may say something about the popularity of Cheick Kongo, Vitaly Minakov and/or the Bellator Heavyweight division

Diaz brothers dissatisfied with pay

April 9, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that Nick Diaz will not fight in the UFC unless he receives a title shot and/or a substantial pay raise.  This comes just a day after his brother Nate spoke out about his own pay.

First, Nick Diaz was offered a fight with Hector Lombard according to Dana White at a UFC press conference on Wednesday.  Diaz told MMA Fighting that he would not consider a non-title fight “for less than $500,000.”  In the alternative, he would want a chance at Johny Hendricks for the title.  One would assume that a Hendricks fight would mean a big payday as well.  Nick Diaz’s last reported payout was at UFC 143 where he made $200,000 in a loss to Carlos Condit.  No salary was officially released for his UFC 158 fight with Georges St. Pierre although we might conclude he made a similar amount.

On Tuesday, Nate Diaz spoke out about his current salary with the UFC.  He stated that he was making $60,000 and $60,000 ($60 to show up and fight and another $60K if he won).  It’s interesting to note that Nate Diaz’s last fight at TUF Finale 18 on November 13, 2013 he made $15,000 (show) and $15,000(win) (for a total of just $30,000).  Previously, Nate Diaz had been making $50,000 just to show.  White had nothing to say Wednesday about the younger Diaz that would suggest he would give him a raise.

Payout Perspective:

The Diaz brothers at their best? Or worst?  Voicing displeasure about pay in the media is not new to sports.  One might think that the Gilbert Melendez contract has both Diaz Brothers wanting the same or similar deal.  Based on his last appearance at UFC 158, the UFC might want Nick more than Nate based on Nick being able to sell (whether knowingly or not) a fight.  As White pointed out, Nate had opportunities but some key losses (Bendo, Josh Thomson) have prevented him from making more money.

If the Diaz brothers signed contracts, its hard to argue that they deserve more money.  If they were free agents, it would be standard that a fighter would want to negotiate for more money.  Or, if the fighter was on a big win streak could there be some leverage.  Although he won 3 in a row in 2011, he has lost 2 out of the last 3 since including a title fight against Benson Henderson.  Nick Diaz has lost his last two fights since beating BJ Penn at UFC 137.  Its hard to advocate for raises on losing streaks.

Should the UFC appease the Diaz brothers?

Pacquiao seeks return to PPV prominence Saturday

April 9, 2014

This Saturday Manny Pacquiao returns to fight Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas in a rematch of their June 2012 bout which ended in controversy.  Yahoo! Sports reports on Pacquiao solidifying himself among the top boxing PPV draws of all-time.

According to an article by Steve Kim on Sports on Earth, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum believes that Saturday’s rematch can do over 1 million PPV buys.   However, people in the know (who we believe are impartial) think that 700,000 PPV buys is much more realistic.

The all-time revenue and PPV draws in boxing as compiled by Yahoo! Sports:

  1. Floyd Mayweather      Revenue:  $756,515,000 – PPV Buys:  12,643,000
  2. Oscar de la Hoya         Revenue:  $696,796,000 – PPV Buys:  14,081,000
  3. Manny Pacquiao         Revenue:  $661,061,000 -  PPV Buys – 12,193,000
  4. Evander Holyfield      Revenue:  $548,221,000 – PPV Buys – 12,583,000
  5. Mike Tyson                   Revenue:  $545,000,000 – PPV Buys – 12,400,000

“Manny Pacquiao broke the mold and blazed a very unique trail for the following reasons,” said Mark Taffet, the senior vice president of PPV at HBO Sports to Yahoo! Sports. “He’s not a heavyweight. He wasn’t an Olympian. He’s not from the very vibrant Latino or African-American demographic segments. He’s not American. He’s the only top non-American in that top five.

Payout Perspective:

Pacquiao’s success as a bona fide PPV star is an underdog story to sports execs but his ascension and subsequent global appeal can be traced back to his loyal-to a fault Filipino following and the greater Asian community as a whole that culturally sees Pacquiao as one of their own.  While he may never surpass Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in terms of revenue and PPV buys, he is the much less polarizing figure of the two.

Let’s take a look at some of the UFC’s top stars.  In comparing the top revenue/PPV buy producers in the UFC, Jon Jones leads the list of active UFC fighters with 7,375,000 PPV buys in 11 PPVs.  Cain Velasquez has 4,540,000 in 9 fights on UFC PPVs.  Anderson Silva has 8,670,000 in 16 UFC PPVs.  Georges St. Pierre is at the top of the list with 11,655 PPV buys in 21 UFC PPVs.  These numbers are based on their overall UFC PPV appearances.

UPDATED:  I’ve now included Brock Lesnar below.  Based on his average per PPV buy, the UFC probably misses him.

Jones (670,000 avg) does have a higher average per UFC PPV than GSP (550,000 avg), but GSP does have more overall buys.  We note both Jones and GSP were on two of the bigger shows in UFC history as they were on the UFC 94 (920K PPV buys) and UFC 100 (1,600,000 PPV buys) cards although GSP was either the main event (BJ Penn) or in the co-main (Thiago Alves) on those shows while Jones was on the undercards.

Top UFC PPV draws

Georges St. Pierre – 11,655,000 PPV buys in 21 UFC PPVs

Anderson Silva – 8,670,000 buys in 16 UFC PPVs

Jon Jones – 7,375,000 PPV buys in 11 UFC PPVs

Brock Lesnar – 6,580,000 PPV buys in 7 UFC PPVs (940,00 PPV avg)

Cain Velasquez – 4,540,000 PPV buys in 9 UFC PPVs

UFC makes $15K/$15K offer to Holm per fighter’s coach

April 8, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that women’s MMA fighter Holly Holm turned down the UFC offer to fight for the company revealing she may have a more lucrative offer if she accepted a boxing match this September.

Holm’s coach Mike Winkeljohn stated that the UFC offered Holm $15,000 to show and $15,000 to win (via MMA Fighting) in hopes of landing the Legacy FC bantamweight. But after a meeting between Dana White and Holm’s representatives, the UFC passed.  According to Junkie, she could earn $250,000 if she agrees to step back into the boxing ring.  The money is being offered by a European boxing promoter in hopes of setting up a matchup with Cecelia Braekhus.  Holm carries a boxing record of 33 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws.  Her last match was in May 2013.

via AXS TV

via AXS TV

Passing on Holm is somewhat of a surprise although the asking price may have been too high for the UFC.  Yet, Holm has the looks and possibly the talent to set up a marketable matchup with Ronda Rousey for Rousey’s bantamweight title.  But, Holms’ agent indicated that if she earned a UFC title shot, “her compensation would get a significant bump.”

Payout Perspective:

Should the UFC have passed on Holm?  She is very impressive in the Octagon albeit against inferior opponents.  It would be hard to compare how she would do against UFC caliber talent but it’s hard to fathom a substantial dropoff.  She does have the looks and fighting style to be a marketable commodity in the UFC.  But, the question is was the asking price too much.  Rousey started at $45,000/$45,000 at UFC 157. Notably, it was reported that the fighters for the new UFC’s women straw weight division coming later this year will make at least $32,000 (it’s not clear if this includes their appearance on TUF and if this will be their show money going forward) even before a fight. So, $15K/$15K, if true, would seem to be a low-ball offer considering the following Holm already has and the potential for her in the UFC.

While she may make $250,000 in a boxing match, this may be seen as just posturing in the media.  Certainly, one can’t deny that she may make this much but I do not foresee women’s boxing a big commodity here in the U.S. unless she wants to recommit to boxing.  But with the news of her having a broken arm and needing surgery, this makes her situation something to revisit when she returns.

The UFC needs marketable opponents for Rousey and this is why rumors of Gina Carano returning have surfaced.  A healthy Holm would make the most sense and be a good draw on PPV.  We will see if she ever gets a chance in the Octagon.

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