UFC Fight Night 89 draws 964,000 viewers, Prelims draw 369,000

June 21, 2016

UFC Fight Night 89 drew 964,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night according to Sports TV Ratings.  The overnight rating reflects a 22% increase from last month’s Memorial Day weekend Fight Night.

One should note that UFC Fight Night 89 was on a Saturday night.  The last Fight Night held on a Saturday night was the converted UFC Fight Night 82 (which drew 1.3M viewers) held Super Bowl Weekend.

In the main event, Stephen Thompson defeated Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision.  The main event ran over approximately 30 minutes from the estimated time.  Also, the start of the main card was late due to US Open Golf.

UFC Fight Night 2016
Main Card Prelims
UFC Fight Night 81 2,288,000 1,767,000
UFC Fight Night 82 1,300,000 1,093,000
UFC Fight Night 83 983,000 829,000
UFC Fight Night 85 1,149,000 766,000
UFC Fight Night 86 781,000 443,000
UFC Fight Night 87 656,000 494,000
UFC Fight Night 88 757,000 469,000
UFC Fight Night 89 964,000 369,000

The Prelims which aired on FS2 due to US Open Golf on FS1 drew 369,000 viewers and 145,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

In addition, the post-fight show which aired from 1:35am-2:30am ET drew 306,000 and 165,000 in the adult 18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings.  The prefight show on FS2 drew 109,000 viewers and 42,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Good ratings for a Saturday night with golf, boxing and baseball.  Also, the prelims posted good ratings considering it was moved to FS1.  Its notable that the night before WSOF and Bellator had disappointing ratings.  Although popular among MMA fans, MacDonald-Thompson isn’t a main event the casual viewer would tune in for so we might assume that people are gravitating to the UFC brand just because it is UFC.

Company refutes UFC has been sold

June 21, 2016

MMA Junkie reports that Zuffa has sent an email to its employees refuting the story that the UFC has been sold.  Dave Sholler has made an official statement denying the report from FloCombat that the company has been purchased.

Sholler told MMA Junkie that, “FloCombat.com’s report indicating that the UFC has been sold is false.”

An internal email sent to Zuffa employees was obtained by Junkie addressing the rumors and report of the sale.  “A report today by FloComat.com indicating that the company has been sold is false,” read the email obtained by Junkie.  It went on to state that the company’s attorneys would “investigate and take all appropriate legal actions against the parties publishing and contributing to these false stories.”

The report stated that Zuffa had accepted a bid for $4.2 billion to sell the UFC.  No formal announcement has come forth despite the news that 4 entities had submitted bids to purchase the company late last week.

Payout Perspective:

This is semantics but it seems that the internal email refutes that the UFC has been sold.  The question is whether it will be sold.  The company has to cover itself at this point since the concern is that anything could unravel the deal (if the news is accurate).  The internal email and public denial is to ensure employees that their positions are secure.  As for whether lawyers for the UFC will come in to file a lawsuit against the alleged “false” report seems to be posturing on the part of the company.  Defamation would seemingly be the only claim the company might have although we do not have all of the facts at this point.

WSOF 31: 126,000 viewers

June 20, 2016

World Series of Fighting 31 drew just 126,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network Friday night per Sports TV Ratings.  It was the second-lowest viewership ever for the organization.

The televised event went up against Bellator 156 on Spike TV Friday night.  Bellator did not fare well in ratings either as it drew 482,000 viewers which was a decline since last month.

In the main event, Blagoy Ivanov defeated Josh Copeland in a battle of heavyweights.

Per Sports TV Ratings, the event (9-11:39pm ET) drew 48,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  An immediate replay of the event (11:39pm-2:17am ET) drew another 88,00 total and 33,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.

WSOF 31

Payout Perspective:

Not since WSOF 7 has the company drew less in terms of viewership.  Up against Bellator, it was a bad night for a live event.

Bellator 156: 482,000 viewers

June 20, 2016

Bellator 156 drew 482,000 viewers on Spike TV in live plus same day viewership according to Sports TV Ratings.  The ratings reflect a drop of over 25% since Bellator 155 last month.

In the main event, Eduardo Dantas defeated Marcos Galvao via unanimous decision.  According to Sports TV Ratings, Bellator 156 drew 233,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

Bellator through 156

Payout Perspective:

The US Open Golf tournament was the most-watched live sporting event on cable this past Friday drawing near 1 million viewers for its 8-hour coverage on FS1.  WSOF also had an event on Friday night which went head-to-head with Bellator.  The ratings are disappointing but with the quarterly tentpole event coming up this Friday we should see Bellator bounce back.

Report: Zuffa to sell for $4.2B

June 20, 2016

Zuffa, LLC has reportedly accepted a $4.2 billion bid to sell the UFC.  The report also states that Dana White will remain in his role with the UFC despite the sale.

Jeremy Botter of FloCombat first reported the sale.  A group consisting of WME-IMG, the Dailan Wanda Group, The Kraft Group and Tecent Holdings may have made the successful bid.

As of the time of this writing, the sale has not been formally announced.  As of a couple days ago, the groups that submitted bids were in the midst of obtaining financing for the purchase.

It is anticipated that Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta will bow out of the MMA business while Dana White will likely stay on with the new owners.

Payout Perspective:

The imminent sale is significant for what the Fertittas and Dana White have done to build something out of nothing but one would suspect that most things regarding business practices will not change.  The UFC has made significant upgrades to the look and feel of the company in the past year or so.  While most its revenues are derived from pay-per-view, UFC Fight Pass has become a valuable asset for the company that has provided a wide-ranging benefit to showcase the product.

Cerrone comments on his UFC pay

June 19, 2016

In Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 89 post-fight press conference, Donald Cerrone sent a not-so-subtle jab about his pay.

In response to a question which listed his accolades, Cerrone stated, “According to my pay, I don’t mean sh*t to the UFC. But we’ll see. Maybe I’ll talk to [UFC president] Dana [White] after this and see if we can figure that out.” (via MMA Fighting).  Cerrone did make the statement with a smirk and laughed about it.  Of course, that does not mean he was kidding.

Cerrone stopped Patrick Cote in the third round of his fight last night which earned him a $50,000 bonus.

In February, Cerrone made $79K/$79K in addition to his $50K bonus, Reeebok payout and any other undisclosed bonuses.

Cerrone donned the Monster logo on his Reebok shorts and cowboy hat which likely means additional compensation added into his purse, win money, bonus and Reebok payout.

Prior to the Reebok deal, Cerrone commented that he would be losing out on $60,000 in outside sponsors.  He was fined late last year for violating the Reebok outfitting policy.  Cerrone has picked up a Monster deal.

Payout Perspective:

Cerrone is a UFC favorite for his willingness to take a fight at a moment’s notice.  Obviously, attaining fight bonuses means that his fighting style is appealing as well.  Should he be paid more?  Sure.  But how much more would the UFC be willing to pay is another question. If he’s in the middle of a contract, it would be hard to renegotiate at this point, but he could receive preferential paid opportunities outside of the Octagon.  As we noted, he has been outspoken about losing money from the Reebok deal and then was flagged for violating the terms of the policy.  Of course, maybe we are just overblowing the comments from a fighter that is always willing to find a payday.

Muhammad Ali Expansion Act revealed

June 17, 2016

The initial draft language for the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act was made public last week.  The language, while likely not the final version, amends the existing act which protects boxers.

The UFC opposes federal regulation of its sport.  Lawrence Epstein, the company’s Chief Operating Officer told ESPN, “We continue to believe the federal government would have no productive role in regulating MMA promotions or competitions.”  This is not the first time the company has lobbied against regulation.  According to Fox Sports.com, Zuffa hired lobbyists to help them oppose Senator John McCain’s proposed amendments to the Ali Act.

Officially the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 amends the Muhammad Ali Act.  It was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Energy and Commerce in late May.

Muhammad Ali Expansion Act by JASONCRUZ206

Payout Perspective:

The language essentially expands the current law to include combat sports.  The language and sections are changed but there is nothing wholly different from the existing law other than combat sports are now a part of the proposed law.  Certainly, the expansion of the Ali Act could cause the UFC, Bellator and other organizations to change its business practices to ensure that it is in compliance with the law.  However, the utility of the law has proven to be a difficult obstacle for fighters that have sued under the Ali Act.

The UFC has retained a lobbying firm to oppose the regulation.  A letter to the committees which will evaluate the proposed law, signed by mainly Republican-backed groups, has been circulating opposing the expansion.  On the other end, MMAFA has released a letter in support of the law.  The letter is signed by many fighters in support of the bill.

TUF 29 Episode 9 draws 409,000 viewers

June 17, 2016

The 9th episode of The Ultimate Fighter season 23 drew 409,000 viewers Wednesday night on FS1 according to Sports TV Ratings.  The ratings reflect a slight increase from Episode 8.

In the fight of the show, Kate Jackson defeated Ashley Yoder via unanimous decision securing another win for Team Claudia.  She now owns a 7-1 lead for the show.  In addition, the semifinals were announced.

Episode 9

Payout Perspective:

On a night when the OJ Simpson documentary on ESPN was the top-rated cable sports show of the night (and ran opposite TUF), TUF did a respectable rating.  It beat last spring’s TUF 9th episode of 332,000 viewers.  The average for this season is approximately

Zuffa close to sale of UFC

June 16, 2016

MMA Fighting reports that Zuffa, LLC is close to selling the UFC.  An ESPN report states that the UFC has received two bids in the range of $4.1 billion.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, the two groups with the highest bids are WME-IMG in conjunction with Dalian Wanda Group and China Media Capital.  Per Rovell, the groups are finalizing the financing for the buyout.  The bids are for the whole company meaning that the Fertitta brothers, Dana White and Abu Dhabi’s Flash Entertainment would cede their ownership interests.

This news comes a month after Rovell reported that Zuffa was actively shopping the company.  There was speculation as to whether the sale would be for a portion of the company or not.  It appears that the transaction would encompass the entire company.

The Fertitta brothers purchased the UFC for $2 million in January 2001.

Last year, Lorenzo Fertitta told CNN Money that the company made “about $600 million.”  MMA Fighting’s sources indicated that the UFC drew $608,629,000 in total revenue and profited $157,806,000.

Payout Perspective:

The much rumored sale appears to be close to fruition.  It’s too early to tell whether or not the sale will mean anything in terms of changes of the brand or product.  There is speculation that White will be asked to stay with the company while the Fertittas may bow out of the sport.  Certainly, White has not been as much as a public figure in recent months.  The sale has yet to go through but you have to think that the business is so volatile that a $4.1 billion sale for a company that made $600 million last year is a great coup for Zuffa.

Will Brooks signs with UFC, debuts July 8th

June 15, 2016

The UFC has signed former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks.  His first fight comes in less than a month as he faces Ross Pearson on July 8th at the TUF 23 Finale in Las Vegas.

Brooks replaces James Krause.  Off of a two fight win streak, Krause pulled out of the fight earlier this week.

Despite being the lightweight champion of the promotion, he was released last month.  Brooks had been vocal (mostly via social media) about his stay with the promotion.  Many perceived the fighter as a malcontent.  Scott Coker terminated Brooks’ contract and waived all negotiation rights which allowed Brooks to pursue a UFC contract and fight with the promotion almost immediately.

The last reported salary for Brooks was $36,000 to show and $36,000 to win in April 2015.  He had another fight in November 2015 although I was unable to obtain that salary.  So, he may have made a little more than the $72K total from last April.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what type of salary Brooks will make in the UFC.  I don’t think he will be paid as much as Eddie Alvarez received from the outset when he began with the company.  One has to think it will be a pay cut at the start.  However, if he is truly a top fighter in the lightweight division, I would think that he would be able to ascend in salary sooner than later.

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