Ticket demand nears all-time low for UFC 177

August 29, 2014

MMA Payout has learned that UFC 177 is one of the weakest markets for ticket in he UFC in some time.  Even before the announcement that Renan Barao would not be in the main event, the average ticket price on the secondary market according to SeatGeek is just $136.  It’s worth noting that the event is not sold out as of Friday afternoon.

The average ticket price is down 66% from the $410 average of UFC 175 in Las Vegas.  It’s also the second lowest average ticket price and the lowest since August 2012 for UFC 150 (Edgar-Henderson II) .  Due to the fact that tickets are still available at the box office, fewer than 400 tickets have been sold on the resale market.  According to SeatGeek, it’s the least activity on the secondary market for a UFC fight in the United States.

SeatGeek points out tickets are still available to purchase on the primary market and are listed for as low as $65.40 in the upper level and as of noon today, the best available from Ticketmaster is $314.25.  But, tickets on the resale market in the lower bowl are going for as low as $104 which is less than half of face value.  So, if you want to sit close, the secondary market may be where to go but if you just want to get in, you might be able to walk up to the box office tomorrow night.

Via SeetGeek

Via SeetGeek

For those wondering, UFC 174’s resale tickets averaged $175.

Payout Perspective:

Since tickets are not selling, it’s evident that the secondary market would not have much action.  We should point out that UFC 175 was the big July show that was centered around top stars (i.e. Weidman, Rousey) whereas this show has suffered setbacks with the latest being the loss of Barao.  If UFC 176 had not been cancelled, we might have seen this show being axed.  But, if you do watch the prelims or purchase the PPV, you may see a lot of open seats due to the lack of demand.

UFC 180 sells out in 8 hours

August 29, 2014

The UFC has announced that the tickets for UFC 180 sold out in just 8 hours.  It’s the first UFC event to be held in Mexico on November 15th at Mexico City’s Arena Ciudad de Mexico.

The event features Cain Velasquez defending his heavyweight title against Fabricio Werdum.  Per the UFC, it’s the fastest sell-out in the history of the venue the 20,000 plus fans that are expected will be a record for the venue.

Via the UFC:

“That we’ve sold out in the blink of an eye is proof that Mexico is ready for its first UFC event and shows the true devotion of UFC’s fan base,” said Jaime Pollack, UFC Senior Vice President, International Development and General Manager, Latin America. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner in Zignia Live, who provided the staffing and technology to keep pace with the high demand and ensure a seamless experience from UFC fans in Mexico and around the region.”

Payout Perspective:

I actually had this post written prior to the Barao news, so the 177 news shadows over this good news.  The sell-out coupled with the good debut for TUF Latin America shows that UFC growth is international.  We will see how it cultivates this early success.  Certainly the scene in Dublin in July and the anticipated crowd for 180 will be positives for a company that will need to recover from embarrassing setbacks with UFC 174 and now 177.

Barao out of main event at UFC 177

August 29, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that Renan Barao is out of tomorrow’s UFC 177 main event against T.J. Dillashaw.  Barao passed out while attempting to cut weight for Friday’s weigh-ins.  As a result, former Bellator champ and newcomer Joe Soto gets the shot tomorrow night.

Soto was set to take on Anthony Birchak on the prelim card.  Now, he gets the title shot on Saturday.  The sudden change is another hit to a card that has been harshly criticized for the lack of star power and interesting fights for a PPV.

Payout Perspective:

Even before the news of Barao needing to be replaced, this card was a hard sell. Realistically, I’m not sure how much the loss of Barao cost PPV buys unless people wanted to see the rematch.  Now, we may assume less people are likely to pay for a Soto-Dillashaw main event.  The UFC is not going to cancel the card and its not feasible to convert the card to an FS1 show.  So, the UFC will have to rely on its hardcore base for buys.  While we thought that UFC 174 was the low-water mark for UFC PPVs, it looks like 177 will be lower.

TUF Latin America debut a success with 7.2M viewer peak

August 27, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that the debut episode of TUF Latin America featuring UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum as opposing coaches peaked at 7.2 million viewers on Televisa Ch. 5 in Mexico.

The viewer average was not available according to the article by Dave Meltzer.  But, according to the report TUF Latin America was the highest-rated show in Mexico in its time slot overall and in the 19-44 demo.  TUF Latin America is shown on Wednesday in Mexico and Friday through Sunday in 12 other Latin American countries.

The show will be offered on Fight Pass and Fox Deportes in the U.S.

Payout Perspective:

This is good news for the inaugural event as the continued strategy of exposing the UFC brand through TUF seems to be working in the Latin American market.  Obviously, it’s too soon to call the series a success but fans in Latin American countries are taking notice.  It will be interesting to see how many fans Cain will draw considering he’s not really a native speaker.  Yet, it appears that the fans do not care.

More info on UFC Fight Night 49 ratings including prelims

August 27, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from Nielsen sources that the UFC Fight Night 49 Prelims received a viewership rating of 113,000 on FS2 and also drew 97,000 viewers on FS1 due to an MLB rain delay.  In addition, the main card on FS1 drew a peak viewership of 962,000 viewers.

First, more main card information.  The 3 hours card averaged 689,000 viewers as previously reported which is off 6% from UFC Fight Night 47.  The show was up 5% in adults 18-49 and up 7% in males 18-49.

The prelims were on both networks due to a baseball rain delay.  So, FS2 had the 2 hour show and also ran 1 hour on FS1.

Fight Nights on FS1 or FS2 in 2014

UFC Fight Night 49  689,000 viewers  Prelims 113,000 viewers (FS2)

UFC Fight Night 47  735,000 viewers  Prelims  116,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 45  640,000 viewers Prelims 415,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 44  702,000 viewers Prelims 500,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 42  1,217,000 viewers  Prelims  812,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 40  735,000 viewers  Prelims 125,000 (FS2)

UFC Fight Night 38  936,000 viewers  Prelims  270,000

UFC Fight Night 36 1,400,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 35 629,000 viewers  Prelims 220,000

UFC FN Prelims thru 49

UFC FN thru 49

UFC apologizes for judge removal

August 26, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC has issued an apology for the removal of a judge at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 48 in Macau.  The statement apologized to judge Howard Hughes “for calling his professional judgment into question.”

White removed Hughes after the first two fights on Saturday’s card after he believed that Hughes was a factor in the decisions for which White did not agree.  The UFC has now issued a “mea culpa” by stating it should not have done it.

Via MMA Junkie:

After an internal review, the UFC organization announced today that a breach of its independent regulatory protocol occurred on Saturday night during UFC FIGHT NIGHT MACAO.

After the second fight of the night, UFC President Dana White requested that Howard Hughes, one of the event’s five assigned judges, be removed from working any further bouts. Pursuant to UFC’s protocol, neither White nor any other UFC executive possesses such authority. Nevertheless, protocol was breached and Hughes did not work further bouts on Saturday night.

The UFC organization has always been in support of government regulation and oversight. Additionally, the UFC has established a protocol when required to self-regulate events due to the lack of an official athletic commission, federation or other regulatory body. In those instances where UFC holds events in locations without a regulatory body, the UFC’s protocol dictates that the organization’s internal regulators will handle all commission functions independently and without interference by company executives or employees.

The UFC remains committed to maintaining the strictest regulatory environment for competition and vows that no similar breach of protocol will happen again.

Both White and the UFC apologize to Mr. Hughes for calling his professional judgment into question. Hughes has judged more than 25 UFC fight cards and the UFC looks forward to him working on its events again in the future.

Payout Perspective:

As we indicated, there could have been several interpretations of White’s actions.  While we may think it proactive, it also posed a problem with an appearance of impartiality and fairness.  In a sport where gambling is prevalent (one might argue encouraged), there needs to be an independent authority appointing judges, etc.  This is a problem with international shows that do not have commissions.

The statement also attempts to repair Hughes’ reputation as a judge.  While the guy may have had a bad night in judging, having him removed could destroy any future judging opportunities for Hughes.  It was a good move by the UFC to make this statement.

UFC Fight Night 49: 689,000 viewers

August 26, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from Nielsen sources that Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 49 on FS1 received an average live viewership of 689,000 viewers.  The rating is down slightly from UFC Fight Night 47 which drew 735,000.

In the main event on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 49, Rafael dos Anjos scored the upset with a KO of former UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson.

No word on the prelim rating although that may be a little difficult since it was on FS1 and FS2 and different points of the night due to MLB.

Payout Perspective:

The viewership number is based on live not same day viewers which may bump up this number due to those watching on the DVR.  It was a long card and the second UFC card of the day which may had viewers pass on the card or DVR it and watch it later.  Henderson is usually a better draw with his last showing on FS1 in June as a prime example (1.2M viewers for UFC FN 42).

White replaces judge at UFC Fight Night 48

August 25, 2014

UFC president Dana White relieved a fight judge of his duties at UFC Fight Night 48 this past Saturday.  Not satisfied with the judge’s scores, White replaced him for the rest of the night.

As this was a self-regulated event, the UFC apparently had the authority to do this since Macau does not have a commission to do this.  According to the Junkie article, White admitted it was not a good night for officials and shouldered the blame since they were in charge of appointing the judges for the event.

(H/t:  MMA Junkie)

Payout Perspective:

It was an interesting move and perhaps a subtle sign for the commissions in places like Nevada and California that the removal of a judge during an event can happen if the judge is not doing his or her job.  It also poses an uncomfortable situation where the appearance of impartiality is compromised.  Essentially, if the UFC does not like the outcome of a fight, it switches the judges.  Sure, there are a lot of decisions where the judging is quite poor, but you have to live with the good and bad.  And while the removal of the judge on Saturday could be seen as a proactive move on the UFC’s part, it could also open it up to much more criticism.

Latest round of court filings in Zuffa-New York lawsuit

August 24, 2014

Late last week Zuffa and the State of New York have filed its opposition to each party’s motions for summary judgment.  The responsive briefing is the continued litigation in the UFC’s quest to legalize professional MMA in the state.

As you may recall, both parties filed Motions for Summary Judgment.  New York filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in hopes of dismissing the remaining claim by Zuffa that the New York law that bans professional MMA is unconstitutionally vague.  Zuffa’s Motion for Summary Judgment would essentially strike down the law and preclude New York from its enforcement.

In its opposition to New York’s Motion for Summary Judgment it claims that it has standing to raise its challenge to the New York statute.  The argument is in direct rebuttal to New York’s assertion in its moving papers that Zuffa had no standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place since it could not claim injury.   Zuffa contends that it does have standing since it was the “object” of the state regulation.  Here, Zuffa argues that it was a direct object of the law as it is prohibiting professional MMA in the state.

In addition, it rebuts New York’s contention that there was no injury (and thus no standing).  The first was the claim that Zuffa had no plans to hold an event in New York and thus there was no injury.  The second contention was that Zuffa had no agreement with an Exempt Organization in the statute (which would allow for it to hold an event in the state). However, Zuffa argues that it “has taken all steps – short of violating the criminal law – to hold a professional MMA event in New York and it need not put itself in legal jeopardy to establish standing.”  In fact, in its brief, it indicates it has secured a date at Madison Square Garden for 2015.  It also cites that the UFC had discussions with the WKA (“World Kickboxing Association”), an Exempt Organization under the New York law, about working together to hold a UFC event.  Zuffa contends that there was a “meeting of the minds” about putting together professional matches in New York.

The opposition papers from Zuffa also argue that the statute in question is vague as to whether it is enforceable on Indian reservations in New York.  Specifically, Zuffa argues in its pleadings that “it is interested in promoting events on Indian reservations in New York – particularly if it is unable to do so elsewhere in the state.”

New York responds to this assertion about its enforcement of a state statute on an Indian reservation (which as many know, Indian reservations are governed by federal law).  New York argued that it has dominion over “offenses on Indian reservations within the State of New York to the same extent that it has over offenses commented elsewhere in the State.”

In addition, the papers also argue over the vagueness of the statute as it pertains to amateur MMA and the New York liquor statute which allows licenses at events.

Notably, New York is seeking to strike some of the evidence which Zuffa attached to its initial Motion for Summary Judgment stating that it is inadmissible for a variety of evidentiary reasons (e.g., lack of authentication, hearsay, irrelevance, opinion, etc.).  The court will have to determine New York’s motion to strike prior to determining how to rule on Zuffa’s motion.  Some of the evidence New York would like to have stricken from consideration is the issue with the differing interpretations of the law banning professional MMA in the state by multiple government officials.

AG Brief by JASONCRUZ206

Zuffa's Opposition.PDF by JASONCRUZ206

Payout Perspective:

The legal argument continues.  Zuffa appears to have the clearer arguments in the opposition briefing.  However, New York is seeking to strike the evidence which appears to be the most damaging – the multiple interpretations of enforcement of the law.  This would undercut the argument that the statute is unconstitutionally vague since a portion of the legal argument is that the multiple interpretations of the law by the same officials that are to enforce it is evidence that the law is vague.  If that evidence is wiped from the record, there’s less for the court to consider. We will see how each side responds to the opposition briefing.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC Fight Night 49 numbers

August 23, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that UFC Fight Night 49 in Tulsa, Oklahoma drew 7,119 and a live gate of $452,075.  The figures were announced at the post-event press conference.  In addition, Rafael dos Anjos heads the list of bonus winners for UFC Fight Night 49 on Saturday night from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dos Anjos scored the bonus with an upset victory via first round KO of Benson Henderson.  In addition, Jordan Mein, Thales Leites and Ben Saunders scored “Performance of the Night” bonuses.  For the second time today, no “Fight of the Night” award was given out.

(H/t:  MMA Junkie).

The attendance and gate did not reveal the number of comps.  The Bok Center, where the event was held, holds up to 19,199 although the configuration for the UFC event was not revealed.  The event outdrew UFC Fight Night 48 by 97.

Payout Perspective:

The returning Saunders showed us that the Eddie Bravo “mission control” technique works with the first ever oomaplata submission as he subbed Chris Heatherly.  The attendance for both events fared better than last weekend’s UFC Fight Night 47.  UFC FN 49’s attendance and gate is lower than June’s regional fight nights in New Mexico and San Antonio but appears to be par for the course with these events.

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