Hunt wants half of Lesnar’s payout or else

July 16, 2016

With the news that Brock Lesnar may be guilty of a drug test violation, Lesnar’s UFC 200 opponent is asking for half of Lesnar’s purse or be released from his UFC contract.

According to MMA Fighting, Hunt is asking UFC officials that he be given half of Lesnar’s reported $2.5 million purse or else he be released from the company.

Per the disclosed pay released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Hunt made $700,000 for facing Lesnar.  It was the highest disclosed amount Hunt has been paid by the company for a UFC fight.

Hunt had inferred that Lesnar may have been taking PEDs in lead-up to the fight.  But Lesnar denied it.

On Saturday, Lesnar responded to the USADA notification stating, “we will get to the bottom of this.”

Payout Perspective:

The ultimatum is interesting although I am not sure how much leverage has with this request.  Certainly Hunt has a legitimate issue with stepping in against an individual that may have taken PEDs.  Yet, if Hunt were to leave, there’s no other fight organization that would have the resources to pay Hunt the way he is compensated in the UFC.

UFC 200 estimated over 1M PPV buys; 199 does 320K

July 16, 2016

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer reports that the buy rate for UFC 200 is estimated to be between 1.1 to 1.2 million PPV buys.  In addition, there are reports that UFC 199 drew 320,000 PPV buys.

UFC 200 featured Amanda Nunes and Miesha Tate.  However, Brock Lesnar was the real feature of the card.  Of course, news hit Friday night that Lesnar was flagged by USADA for a potential violation of the UFC anti-doping policy.  As we know, Jon Jones was pulled from his fight against Daniel Cormier during fight week.  Despite the issues, the UFC Prelims drew the third-highest ratings for a prelims show on the network despite starting 30 minutes late due to baseball.

Last month’s UFC 199 featured Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping (who replaced Chris Weidman) and Dominick Cruz facing Urijah Faber.  For UFC 199, the Prelims drew 798,000 viewers and 500,000 google searches for “UFC 199” on the day of the fight which may have indicated the estimated buy rate.

2016 PPV buy rates

UFC 195 – 300,000

UFC 196 – 1.5 million

UFC 197 – 450,000

UFC 198 – not known at this time

UFC 199 – 320,000

UFC 200 – ~1.1-1.2 million

Payout Perspective:

The 1.1-1.2 million should be seen as a very good buy rate considering the Jon Jones issue and the lack of a Rousey or McGregor on the card.  The buy rate reflects the fact that Brock Lesnar was a big draw (once again) for the UFC.  Thus, the news of his potential drug test failure brings into question a lot of things related to the use of Lesnar on the card and the decision to waive him from waiting four months per the UFA anti-doping rules.

Lesnar flagged for potential UFC anti-doping violation

July 15, 2016

USADA has notified the UFC that Brock Lesnar has been flagged for a potential violation of the company’s anti-doping policy.

The UFC posted its statement on the notification on Friday night.

“The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Brock Lesnar of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on June 28, 2016. USADA received the testing results from the June 28, 2016 sample collection from the WADA-accredited UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory on the evening of July 14, 2016.

“USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. The Nevada State Athletic Commission also retains jurisdiction over this matter as the sample collection was performed in close proximity to Lesnar’s bout at UFC 200 in Las Vegas.

“Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”

The flagged test calls into question the UFC waiving Lesnar’s notice to return to the UFC without the requisite 4-month written notice.  Under 5.7.1 of the UFC anti-doping policy, it’s within the UFC’s right to grant an exemption to a 4-month period in which USADA may test you.  The UFC clearly allowed an exemption  for Lesnar to make 200.

The WWE gave a short statement regarding Lesnar’s test.  As it has been throughout the Lesnar lead-up to UFC 200, it’s staying away from Lesnar’s participation in the UFC.  I’m sure they regret promoting his win last Monday.

Payout Perspective:

Just a little over one year into the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, we are discovering that the drug testing policy shows no favorites.  Not only did a flagged test take Jon Jones off of the biggest card of the year, Brock Lesnar was identified as possibly committing a violation as well.  The fact is that these drug tests could be expedited to ensure that all fighters are cleared of any out of competition violation prior to an event.  But, it has been decided that whatever testing process they go through was not rushed.

The failed test is a negative for the WWE as Lesnar is scheduled to be featured in next month’s WWE Summerslam.  Notably, two of the WWE’s big stars (Roman Reigns) have been flagged for a drug violation.

The violation likely forecloses Lesnar in the Octagon again unless he has an excuse for the flagged test.  For the UFC, it’s another blemish for the company.  However, Lesnar is not a mainstay for the company despite being the biggest draw on PPV.  Thus, the UFC and its new owners should withstand the bad PR in the coming days.

MacDonald testing free agency?

July 15, 2016

Will Rory MacDonald be the next MMA free agent to leave the UFC for Bellator?  MacDonald appears to be open to the possibility.

MMA Junkie’s Chamatkar Sandhu tweeted that Bellator President Scott Coker has opened up talks with Rory MacDonald in hopes of eventually signing the welterweight.

The last fight of MacDonald’s UFC contract was at UFC Fight Night 89 in June against Stephen Thompson.  MacDonald lost via unanimous decision.

The soon to be 27-year-old MacDonald (his birthday is next week) is on a 2 fight losing streak having dropped the Thompson fight and losing to Robbie Lawler in a classic fight last July at UFC 189.

MacDonald has been outspoken about maximizing his time as an MMA fighter.  He has criticized the Reebok deal for eliminating an avenue of revenue for fighters.  Prior to the UFC-Reebok deal, MacDonald was a marketable fighter with multiple sponsors.  He did have an individual sponsor deal with Reebok despite his criticism.

Payout Perspective:

MacDonald’s timing for free agency comes on the heels of a 2 fight losing streak.  Unless the new owners of the UFC are interested in retaining him, he will likely move to Bellator.  The Canadian should be able to maximize his marketability with the organization and recapture some of those sponsors that he had to give up with the Reebok deal.  For Bellator, it’s a good deal since they would get a fighter still in his 20s that could immediately challenge in the welterweight division.

UFC Fight Night: 609K, Prelims 311K

July 14, 2016

UFC Fight Night 91 drew 609,000 viewers on Wednesday night according to Nielsen.  The event airing from 6pm to 8:43pm PT was the highest-rated sports event on cable television per Sports TV Ratings.  However, it was the lowest-rated Fight Night this year.

The event which featured Jon Lineker taking out Michael MacDonald drew 298,000 viewers in the 18-49 adult demo.  The event peaked with 675,000 viewers between 7:15-7:30pm PT.  The prelims, which preceded the main card from Sioux Falls, South Dakota drew 311,000 viewers and 173,000 in the A18-49 demo.  The prelims aired from 4pm-6pmPT.

Previous mid-July events:

UFC on Fuel TV 4 – July 11, 2012:  211,000 (Fuel TV)

No mid-July fight in 2013 (July 2013 fights were UFC 162 and UFC on Fox 8)

UFC Fight Night 45 – July 16, 2014: 640,000 (FS1)

UFC Fight Night 71 – July 15, 2015: 801,000 (FS1)

UFC Fight Night 91 – July 13, 2016: 609,000 (FS1)

Payout Perspective:

Down ratings from last year’s mid-week event although it was the highest-rated sports event on cable television Wednesday night.  The ESPY’s were on Wednesday as well although that was not factored into the sports cable viewership since it was on ABC.  For those wondering the ESPY’s were down 24% from last year to 5.89 million.

Overall, it was the lowest-rated televised Fight Night event of 2016.  You’d have to go back to July 2015 to find a lower-rated Fight Night.  UFC Fight Night 72 from Glasgow, Scotland drew just 508,000 for the main card and 292,000 for the Prelims.  F

TUF 23 Episode 12 draws biggest ratings of season

July 14, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter 23 Episode 12 drew the highest rated episode of the season.  It drew 601,000 (354,000 in the adult 18-49 demo) in overnight ratings and then increased to 798,000 viewers in adjusted DVR ratings.

The final episode of the season set up the fights we saw last Friday at the TUF 23 Finale from Vegas.

Episode 12

Overall, the season averaged approximately 400,000 viewers in overnight ratings (Live +SD) and 610,000 viewers in DVR viewership.  The ratings increased on average 35%.

Last spring’s TUF 21 drew an average of 393,000 for the Team Blackzilians-Team ATT season.

Payout Perspective:

Good ratings for the last two episodes.  Episode 10 was marred due to a delayed soccer game.  As it has in the past the ratings, the DVR ratings boosted the overall viewership for the show.  This was an ok season.  I had thought that the Team Joanna-Team Claudia rivalry would have been much more dynamic but it seemed to be muted.

UFC 200: Payout Perspective – Part 2 of 2

July 13, 2016

Welcome to UFC 200’s Part 2 of Payout Perspective.  We are once again recapping the weekend that was in the UFC.

UFC Sold to WME | IMG

The news came out on Sunday that Zuffa, LLC had sold the UFC to an investment group spearheaded by William Morris Endeavor and International Management Group.  As we learned the sale price was approximately $4 billion.

While Jeremy Botter’s report was met with denials as well as a lawyer letter, the news was true.  The Fertitta Brothers, Dana White and Flash Entertainment sold its shares in the UFC.

Prior to Sunday’s news, Los Angeles Times and TMZ both ran articles refuting the stories of a sale which were backed by Zuffa executives.  The TMZ story did not cite names but quotes from Zuffa execs while the Times ran a piece which included sit downs with White and Lorenzo Fertitta

More Promotion

UFC 200 introduced its main event of Jones vs. Cormier (after McGregor-Diaz was scrapped) on ABC’s Good Morning America.  The event included Dana White, Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, Miesha Tate, Chuck Liddell and Frankie Edgar.  It was the second time that a fight was announced on GMA.  This time around, the UFC was front and center on the show.  It was good exposure for the company.  Too bad the main event didn’t stick.

Forbes ran a piece on the marketing behind those crazy graffiti posters.  Apparently part of the idea was based on Conor McGregor’s tirade at the pre-fight press conference at UFC 197.  McGregor was promoting his fight against Rafael dos Anjos.  Imagine if RDA did not get injured.

Bud Light offered limited edition UFC bottles.  Guess who promoted them:

Payouts

The complete list of salaries from UFC 200 as disclosed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission is as follows (via MMA Junkie):

Amanda Nunes: $100,000 (no win bonus)
def. Miesha Tate: $500,000

Brock Lesnar: $2,500,000 (no win bonus)
def. Mark Hunt: $700,000

Daniel Cormier: $500,000 (no win bonus)
def. Anderson Silva: $600,000

Jose Aldo: $500,000 (includes $100,000 win bonus)
def. Frankie Edgar: $190,000

Cain Velasquez: $300,000 (no win bonus)
def. Travis Browne: $120,000

Julianna Pena: $64,000 (includes $32,000 win bonus)
def. Cat Zingano: $35,000

Kelvin Gastelum: $86,000 (includes $33,000 win bonus and $20,000 from Hendricks’ purse)
def. Johny Hendricks: $80,000(Hendricks forfeited 20 percent of his original $100,000 show money to Gastelum for missing weight)

T.J. Dillashaw: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Raphael Assuncao: $42,000

Sage Northcutt: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Enrique Marin: $13,000

Joe Lauzon: $108,000 (includes $54,000 win bonus)
def. Diego Sanchez: $80,000

Gegard Mousasi: $110,000 (includes $35,000 win bonus)
def. Thiago “Marreta” Santos: $28,000

Jim Miller: $118,000 (includes $59,000 win bonus)
def. Takanori Gomi: $55,000

The Reebok Clothing payouts are here via MMA Junkie.  Notably, Aldo and Edgar both made $30,000 each as “challengers” since they were vying for the interim(?) Featherweight title.

Odds and Ends

What has happened to Johny Hendricks?

Early weigh-ins did not help Johny Hendrick as he yet again had issues with weight cutting.  Notably, Kelvin Gastelum has had problems in the past and just made the limit.  Miesha Tate had to disrobe to make the championship weight.

UFC 200 Prelims scored the highest rated show ever on FS2 as the first 31 minutes was switched to the network due to MLB going extra innings on FS1.  Despite the delay due to baseball, FS1 was the highest-rated prelim ever in the adult 28-49 demo.  The prelims on FS1 peaked with over 2 million viewers in the last quarter hour.

The last hour of the prelims went head-to-head with the first hour of PBC on ESPN.  PBC scored 442,000 viewers for its 2-hour plus event on Saturday night.

UFC offered the event in 4K.  It was the first time that a PPV was offered in 4K by any sport organization.

I missed Jon Jones’ press conference but I cannot say I feel sorry for him.  Whether or not he took PEDs, he’s been given chance after chance to succeed, but continues to fail.

Think about how much Jon Jones cost the UFC for them to tear down his posters and take his likeness off of the T-Mobile Arena.  There’s also the unsold t-shirts and posters.  He also cost UFC employees a night’s sleep to re-do all of the promotion centered around the Jones-Cormier main event.  Now that’s selfish.

International Fight Week

If you’ve never been to International Fight Week, it’s sort of like the NFL Experience at the Super Bowl.  If you have never been to that, think big convention hall with tons of sponsor/vendor booths, interactive areas and talks from special guests.  It’s a great thing to go and see if you’re a big UFC fan.  I realize that over the years this event may have lost steam, but once again, it’s something for the true UFC fan.

While UFC 200 and International Fight Week may have been much bigger with Ronda Rousey and/or Conor McGregor on the card, the event and week is a good opportunity for the UFC and its partners to engage with its fan base.

Dana White’s new deal grants him percentage of UFC’s net profits

July 12, 2016

ESPN reports that Dana White’s deal under new UFC ownership is 5 years and 9% of the company’s net profits.

White owned a small percentage of the UFC under the Zuffa umbrella.  He sold his shares as part of the $4 billion sale to WME-IMG.  It’s not known whether White received a portion of the company under the new ownership.

Under back of the envelope math, the article compares the UFC to other entertainment businesses and opined that the UFC’s net profits could be in the $200 million range.  Based on this, White’s annual salary could be $18 million.  You may recall that Lorenzo Fertitta told CNN Money that the company grossed $600 million in 2015.

The article compares White’s projected salary to that of NFL commission Roger Goodell who averaged $21 million a year for the first 10 years of his time as head of the NFL.  Goodell now makes in excess of $34.1 million.   $3.5 million of that is base while the rest is a bonus.

Payout Perspective:

The deal for 9% of the company’s net profit gives White incentive to grow the business and see its profits continue to rise.  White likely cashed out $360 million in the $4 billion sale.  The new deal could put white in the same luxury neighborhood as the Fertittas.

Rousey featured in new Reebok #PerfectNever ad

July 12, 2016

Reebok launched a new digital ad featuring Ronda Rousey entitled, #PerfectNever.

Dana White indicated that Rousey should be the next in line to challenge new women’s bantamweight Amanda Nunes if she so chooses.

The ad includes a Rousey blog post on Reebok’s site and a new promotion for tickets to UFC 205 in New York City.  Possibly the event could mark the return of Rousey in the promotion’s debut in New York.

Payout Perspective:

The promotion obviously addresses the end of Rousey’s undefeated record and her subsequent return to the Octagon.  It’s a slick ad that also serves as a launch for Reebok’s second year as the official clothier of the UFC.  The clothing brand launched new kits at UFC 200 this past Saturday.

UFC 200 Prelims draws 1.7M viewers

July 12, 2016

The UFC 200 Prelims on FS1 drew one of its top ratings for the prelims on the network with 1.786M viewers Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.  The ratings drew well despite starting off on FS2 due to baseball.

The Prelims on FS1 aired from 5:31pm to 7:00pm PT due to the MLB game preceding it going to extra innings.  The Prelims start on FS2 airing from 5:00pm to 5:32pm PT drew 582,000 viewers and 379,000 in the Adult 18-49 demo.  The ratings made it the most-watched telecast in FS2 history in both metrics per Nielsen.

When on FS1, the Prelims drew 1.084 million viewers in the adult 18-49 demo making it the most-watched UFC Prelims telecast in this demo.  The show peaked with 2,046,000 viewers in the last quarter hour (6:45pm-7:00pm PT)

The 200 Prelims comes in third in terms of all-time highest-rated prelims on FS1.  UFC 196 in March drew 1.843 million viewers and UFC 194 drew 1.931M viewers in December 2015.

The UFC 200 Prelims were highlighted by Juliana Pena defeating Cat Zingano in the last fight of the televised prelims.

 

In addition, the UFC Post-Fight Show on FS1 drew 244,000 viewers and 142,000 viewers in adult 18-49 demo.  The UFC Pre-Fight Show which was switched to FS2 drew 99,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The big ratings for the prelim card is one of the indicators that many look at when guessing the buy rate.  We note that the two other UFC Prelims scoring over 1.7M viewers featured Conor McGregor in the PPV main event.  Both of those events drew over 1 million PPV buys.  The viewership in the adult 18-49 demo should please the UFC’s new owners as it set a record on FS1 and FS2 in terms of viewership.

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