Jones USADA arbitration set for Oct. 31

October 14, 2016

Jon Jones will be the first UFC fighter to have an arbitration hearing pursuant to the UFC anti-doping policy.  His hearing is set for October 31st according to MMA Fighting.

Jones’ hearing against USADA will be held in Los Angeles.  The hearing is based on his positive drug test which pulled him out of his unification bout against Daniel Cormier three days before UFC 200.  The fighter, beset with a multiple out-of-octagon issues, denied knowingly taking any illegal substance.  The Nevada Athletic Commission revealed that the banned substances found in Jones’ samples were hyrdoxy-clomiphene and Letrozole, anti-estrogen agents.

Jones faces a maximum one-year suspension from USADA.

Payout Perspective:

Unless there is a last-minute settlement between the parties, this will be the first and last arbitration under the current UFC-USADA format as the company sent a letter to all its contracted athletes detailing new procedures for the USADA appeals process.  Just a few months ago, Jones seemed upbeat about a possible return sooner than later.  We will see if that holds up at arbitration.

TUF 24 Episode 7 scores second-highest Live+SD rating of season

October 13, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter 24 Episode 7 drew 439,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night per Sports TV Ratings.  It was the second-highest ratings of the season for the show.

The episode featured the coach’s challenge which involved golfing this season.  It gave a chance for the showcase TopGolf in Las Vegas.

In the fight of the show, Tim Elliott submitted Charlie Allianz with a bulldog choke.

The episode drew 253,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  It’s the highest rating in the demo this season.



Payout Perspective:

It was the start of the NHL season but there was no MLB playoffs for TUF to compete with on Wednesday.  This season’s episode improved from last year’s TUF 22 ep 7 which drew 379,000 viewers.  Last season, ep 7 drew 377,000.  The 439,000 viewers is second in ratings this season only to episode 3.

UFC PR Exec Sholler leaves for NBA job

October 13, 2016

Dave Sholler, the UFC’s Vice President of Public Relations, Athlete Marketing and Development, is leaving the UFC to take on a role with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.

Dana White first broke the news on UFC Tonight and Sholler confirmed his departure on twitter.

Sholler worked in PR with the WEC and came over to the Zuffa-owned UFC brand upon the merger in 2009.  Sholler is best remembered for his attempt to stop a face of altercation between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones in August 2014.

Sholler’s last event with the UFC will be the November 5th for UFC’s debut in New York.

Payout Perspective:

Back when Sholler was with the WEC he pitched a story for a local Seattle outlet that I wrote for about an up and coming WEC fighter that was originally from Federal Way.  The fighter was Benson Henderson.  Through the years he has helped get access to Henderson and a couple others for the local Seattle outlet.  Overall, he’s been very fair and from what most say is an overall good guy.

TUF 24 Episode DVR increases to 574,000 viewers

October 12, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter 24 Episode 5 increased to 574,000 in DVR +3 adjusted viewership via Nielsen.

Last week’s episode drew 366,000 viewers in live plus same day viewership on FS1.  It increased 37% from last Wednesday.

The average DVR + 3 rating is 594,500.  It averages an increase of approximately 40% from the Live + SD rating.


Rousey returns at UFC 207 against Nunes

October 12, 2016

Dana White announced on the Colin Cowherd show on FS1 that Ronda Rousey will make her return to the Octagon on Friday, December 30th at UFC 207 to take on women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes.

It will be over a year since Rousey fought in the Octagon since she dropped her title to Holly Holm last November.  Since the loss, Holm lost in her first title defense to Miesha Tate and Tate dropped the title to Nunes this past July at UFC 200.

Payout Perspective:

This will be an interesting fight at we will see if the Rousey star is still big enough to carry a PPV.  The show will be on Friday since New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year.  The last time this happened was at UFC 141 with Brock Lesnar headlining against Alistair Overeem.  Overeem defeated Lesnar and the show did 535,000 buys which is low considering Lesnar was on the card.  You might expect that this card may do much more with Rousey’s return.  Moreover, I would guess that there would be another title fight on the card to boost the promotion for this end of the year card.

On another note, the announcement on FS1 as opposed to ESPN which might be seen as a sign of future announcements.

UFC 204 PPV Prelims draws 678,000

October 11, 2016

The UFC 204 Prelims drew 678,000 viewers on FS1 on Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.  It is the lowest rated FS1 PPV Prelims thus far this year.

The event, which was held in Manchester, England featured Brad Pickett and Iuri Alcantara in the final event of the FS1 Prelims.  Alcantara won via submission.  The event also was featured at the end of the PPV telecast.

The event also scored 368,000 viewers in the Adult 18-49 demo.


*Note that in the above chart UFC 201 aired on FS2 and not FS1.

The PPV prefight show which aired prior to the prelims on FS1 drew 277,000 viewers and 114,000 in the Adult 18-49 demo.  The post-fight show which aired on FS2 from 12:25am-2:00am drew 37,000 viewers and 16,000 in the Adult 18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The viewership was down which may be due in part to college football and the card.  It is a decrease from the other prelims which have averaged over 1M viewers (minus 201 and thanks to some big cards this year).  FS1 had bundled the prelims along with college football in its ads leading up to Saturday.  However, it appears that a lot of the casual viewers watched college games.

McGregor fined $150,000 by Nevada

October 10, 2016

ESPN reports that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has fined Conor McGregor $150,000 for his part of a water bottle-throwing incident at the pre-fight press conference leading up to UFC 202.

The commission decided to fine McGregor 5% of his fight purse and the funds will be disbursed between the state’s general fund and an anti-bullying campaign proposed by McGregor and his attorney at the hearing.  In addition to the fine, McGregor is to do PSAs to benefit children.  The Featherweight champion attended the hearing via phone.

The attorney general’s recommendation was to fine McGregor $25,000, community service and media training.  But that was not enough for the commission.  Their original proposal was to fine McGregor 10% of his fight purse, which would have amounted to $300,000.  However, the commission deemed it too hefty a fine.  Instead, it came to $150,000 plus the community service.

Payout Perspective:

The arrival of the punishment seemed to be something done on the fly and without much logical reasoning behind it.  While the AG recommendation seemed too low to them, they felt that they needed to exact more out of McGregor which was 6 times the recommended amount.  Certainly, they could have suspended McGregor from fighting in the state to send a message.  But, they realize that he’s set records in the state for attendance and gate in Nevada and that would be detrimental to the state.  Although McGregor can appeal the punishment by appealing in court, it seems unlikely.

UFC 204: Payout Perspective

October 10, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 204 from Manchester, England which pitted Michael Bisping defending his UFC middleweight title against Dan Henderson.

Bisping outlasts Hendo

The rematch was 7 years in the making and despite the time in between fights, everyone knew the backstory from UFC 100.  Hendo hit an “H Bomb” that knocked out Bisping and then landed on the Brit with another shot while he was on the ground.  This was the story that sold the fight otherwise the matchmaking never made sense aside from Bisping wanting to avenge a loss.

The fight itself was great.  Hendo almost recreated his KO of Bisping in round 1 and picked his spots which stung Bisping and bloodied his eyes.  However, Bisping’s excellent cardio kept him in the fight and staying on top of the 46-year-old appeared to be the critical factor in the decision.

A matchup with Jacare Souza seems like the most logical matchup for Bisping but we’ll see what happens next.


Mousasi stops Belfort

Vitor Belfort’s days as a top-level fighter are over as Gegard Mousasi had little difficulty with the former champion.  Belfort looked much different in terms of body composition than previous fights and for a black belt did not handle being mounted too well.

Mousasi called out Anderson Silva in his post-fight interview in what you can call a “resume builder” for the middleweight.

Attendance and Gate

The event took place at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England and drew 16,000 for a live gate of $1.96 million.  The attendance was impressive considering the event took place in the middle of the night to accommodate American PPV.

The attendance and gate come in second to UFC 105 held at the same arena.  That event which featured Randy Couture-Brandon Vera drew 16,693 for a $2 million gate.


$50,000 bonuses went to Hendo-Bisping for Fight of the Night and Iuri Alcantara and Jimi Manuwa for Performances of the Night.  Mike Perry and Danny Roberts and Stefan Struve could have won bonuses too.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC did its usual promotional events for the fight.  As seen on the Embedded series, Dan Henderson visited the Manchester City Football Club.  Bisping is a fan of Manchester United, the rival club.


Monster Energy Drink, UFC Fight Pass and Bud Light were thenotable mainstay sponsors for the night.  In addition, video game Gears of War 4 and “What Now?” the upcoming Kevin Hart comedy also had signage in the Octagon.  Also,, a European hat maker was also in the Octagon. which features a Conor McGregor commercial on its web site was also on the mat.   Also, UFC 205 signage including it’s “Can’t Wait” tag was in the Octagon.

Odds and ends

UFC 204 had 500,000 plus searches on Friday in the US.  I couldn’t find the number of US searches for Saturday for UFC 204 which might be an oversight or the fact that there were other searches more popular than the event.  However, in the UK UFC 204 registered 200,000 plus searches on Saturday

The post-fight show usually on FS1 was switched to FS2 due to college football.

Brian Stann served as the color commentator in place of Joe Rogan and was fantastic.

The trailer for UFC 205 were shown during the telecast.

Appealing to their apparel sponsor, one of the Embedded showed a picture of a young Michael Bisping wearing a Reebok sweatshirt.  Also, an episode showed Hendo picking out a cup for the fight.

The PPV ended early due to the early stoppages in the first 4 main card fights and the telecast filled it with the Brad Pickett-Iuri Alcintara fight.


Since this fight did not occur in the U.S., it seems that there was less buzz for it.  Then again, if you did not like the main event, there was not much for the casual viewer.  While the Bisping-Hendo fight brought some history and curiosity I don’t think Bisping is a PPV draw unless he’s fighting a name brand opponent.  Hendo is great but he is not a PPV draw.  UFC 199 featuring Rockhold-Bisping drew 320,000 buys.  But, with this happening during college football season, the PPV will likely do 275,000 PPV buys.

UFC 204 attendance, gate and bonuses

October 8, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses for UFC 204.

Bonuses went to Michael Bisping, Dan Henderson, Jimi Manuwa and Iuri Alcantara.  Each earned $50,000 each.  Bisping and Hendo won for Fight of the Night while Manuwa and Alcantara earned Performance bonuses for their respective stoppages.

The event took place at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England and drew 16,000 for a live gate of $1.96 million.  The attendance was impressive considering the event took place in the middle of the night to accommodate American PPV.

The attendance and gate come in second to UFC 105 held at the same arena.  That event which featured Randy Couture-Brandon Vera drew 16,693 for a $2 million gate.

The numbers were announced post-fight.

Payout Perspective:

It was a very speedy night of fights on the main card as all but the main event ended in finishes.  Bisping-Hendo deserved FOTN as you could argue that Hendo may have won the fight.  Manuwa and Alcantara looked impressive with their respective stoppages.

Report: Fed cautioned Goldman Sachs about UFC deal

October 7, 2016 reports that the Federal Reserve bank cautioned Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. over debt risks in a deal it arranged to fund the $4 billion purchase of the UFC.

Goldman Sachs was hired to market the debt to purchase the UFC this past July.  Regulators have criticized deals that push a company’s debt load to more than six times its earnings.

“Add-backs,” which estimate a company’s future profitability after an acquisition or buyout were used to double projected cash flow for the UFC.  The concern is that the projections may be too optimistic for the companies that are purchased.  This could lead to a default which is the reason why the Federal Reserve cautions deals where the debt load looks to be more than the projected earnings.

According to the Bloomberg story, prospective investors were shown estimates that EBITDA would more than double from $142M to $298M.  Per the article, the adjustments had the effect of lowering UFC’s leverage to 6 times EBITDA.

The UFC raised a total of $1.8 billion of debt which included $1.4 billion in first lien loans and another $425 million in second lien loans.  Based on the current EBITDA of $142M this would have the company leveraged at approximately 12x EBITDA.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, the Bloomberg report states that the UFC’s EBITDA as of June 30th was $142 million.  A previous SBJ report had the EBITDA at $180 million although that did not have “as of” date.  The obvious goal of the Fed is to reduce the risk of default in acquisitions.  While the deal may never reach critical mass in terms of a default on the debt, the deal is considered high risk.

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