UFC Fight Night 140 Prelims outdraw main card in ratings

November 20, 2018

UFC Fight Night 140 drew 632,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night.  The Prelims actually outdrew the main card with 707,000 viewers.

The main card featured Neil Magny taking on Santiago Ponzinibbio.  The Argentinian won via KO in the 4th round and will move up the ranks of the welterweight division.  The prelims saw Michel Prazeres earn a first round submission over Bartosz Fabinski in the feature fight of the night.

The event took place at the Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Payout Perspective:

Impressive ratings for an event that did not have too much going for it.  Notably, according to ShowBuzz, the highest rated cable television show on Saturday night was a Hallmark movie on the Hallmark Channel which drew 4.6M viewers.  The Prelims outdrawing the ratings may be a first and could be attributed to the time of the event as Fight Night main cards tend to drag too late for many east coast fans.

UFC announces construction of Performance Institute in Shanghai

November 19, 2018

The UFC announced that it will build a UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai, China.  The new facility will be three times bigger than the Las Vegas Campus according to the press release.

Via UFC Press Release:

UFC Performance Institute Shanghai will serve as a training hub to develop and support MMA athletes from mainland China and the greater Asia-Pacific region. UFC will also utilize the building as its headquarters in Asia, housing UFC employees and UFC Performance Institute staff, including experts in the fields of MMA, strength and conditioning, sports science, physical therapy and nutrition.

UFC Performance Institute Shanghai will also have built-in advanced production capabilities with spectator seating that will allow UFC to produce and distribute live events and other original programming.

Additional features will include hospitality suites, dining, retail services, and a fan experience area. When completed, the multi-million-dollar facility will span more than 93,000 square feet, approximately three times the size of the original UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

“I could not be more excited about the UFC Performance Institute opening in Shanghai,” said UFC President Dana White.  “We know there is a ton of talent throughout Asia and now we will be able to find them and offer them all the incredible training, nutrition, and physical therapy that UFC fighters are getting in the Performance Institute at our headquarters in Las Vegas, right there in China. This is another game changer for the sport, UFC, and potential athletes throughout Asia.”

UFC Performance Institute Shanghai will serve as a catalyst for athlete development in Asia, aiming to rapidly accelerate the skill level and UFC-readiness of mixed martial artists in the region. A full MMA coaching staff will implement a sport-specific training system developed in consultation with former UFC light heavyweight champion, UFC Hall of Famer, and current UFC Vice President of Athlete Development, Forrest Griffin. This integrated, inter-disciplinary combat sports performance team will offer an unparalleled level of support to athletes.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement comes this week as the UFC prepares for its Fight Night event in China this Saturday. The investment in China shows that Asia, specifically China, is a fertile ground for expansion.  The Performance Institute will serve as a way to scout talent and establish content for the future.

Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust Lawsuit try to avoid “hot tubbing”

November 16, 2018

Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit have filed a letter to the Court arguing that there should not be an evidentiary hearing on expert testimony.  The legal slang of “hot tubbing” where “concurrent expert evidence” is being offered and heard by the court at the same time.

Letter November 16 by on Scribd

Plaintiffs see a request by Zuffa to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the expert testimony as an end-around to exclude expert testimony.  The Court denied Zuffa’s Daubert motions without prejudice in late September per Plaintiffs. It’s the position of Plaintiffs that this is a way to ask for the Court to reconsider at this late date.  Plaintiffs also argues that the format of each side presenting its experts on direct and then cross examines the other side would take multiple days.  Notably, this would run into the rescheduled date for the Motion for Summary Judgment of Friday, December 14, 2018.  It would most certainly delay the hearing date once again if the Court were to entertain the hearings.

There is also the argument that evidentiary hearings on class certification are not required.  Plaintiffs cite cases where the Court suggests that evidentiary hearings for these types of complex cases are unnecessary.  Finally, Plaintiffs also argue that evidentiary hearings for summary judgment almost never happen and there’s no extraordinary reason brought up by Zuffa why one should take place now.

Notably, “hot tubbing” is not prohibited, but its not specifically addressed.  There are various opinions on its use and affect.  Judges have wide latitude when it comes to admitting expert witness testimony.  Of the factors a court may consider, the most important tends to be whether or not the testimony is a waste of the court’s time.

Payout Perspective:

And we are now introduced to the term of “hot tubbing” which is a term that originates from Australia according to some research.  It’s the “battle of the experts” and the purpose seems to be a way to flesh out some of the theories asserted by the parties in hopes of scaling down the arguments for the court at trial.  Plaintiffs believe that Zuffa is asking for this type of hearing as either a second bite at attempting to exclude their experts or stall.  I would think that it’s the former rather than the latter.  Zuffa likely believes that if they can knock out some of Plaintiffs experts, there will be little left of Plaintiffs claims.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Monster Energy renews sponsor deal with Bellator

November 16, 2018

Monster Energy will remain in the Bellator cage as the promotion announced a new three-year-deal per company release on Friday.  The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Via Bellator press release:

The partnership with Monster Energy has been an important component of our business since day one,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “They have played a factor in our success and we are thrilled to announce this new three-year extension. The hard work and passion that Hans Molenkamp and the rest of their team have for this sport is unmatched. We look forward to new and exciting opportunities for our brand, fighters and fans that this continued relationship brings to the table.”

Beginning in 2014, Bellator became the first MMA promotion to partner with Monster Energy, which paved the way in creating numerous future sponsorship opportunities throughout the combat sports landscape. Since that time, many of MMA’s most memorable events and elite athletes have been supported by the industry-leading energy drink brand.

“Bellator delivers compelling, high-action, adrenaline-pumping MMA events worldwide,” added Monster Energy Vice President of Sports Marketing Mitch Covington. “We are thrilled to continue our longtime partnership and look forward to evolving our relationship even further, allowing us to further integrate the Monster Energy and Bellator brands.”

Over the years, Monster Energy and Bellator have worked together to host unique and creative activations for fans. Previously, Monster Energy Bellator MMA fight series events have been held during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Monster Energy Supercross races. Drawing thousands in attendance to experience live MMA bouts and fighter autograph signings, these events are expected to continue and evolve under the new partnership.

In addition to Bellator, Monster is a sponsor in the UFC octagon and has forged individual deals with several UFC athletes.

(photo via Bellator press release)

Payout Perspective:

SoCal-based Monster is a big sponsor within extreme sports and MMA as it caters to the young, active demo.  With a new digital deal on DAZN for Bellator, Monster will get another source of visibility.  Not to mention it is heavily involved the UFC which solidifies itself as the energy drink brand in MMA.

Former UFC vet and TUF competitor suspended 4 years by NSAC for use of fake urine

November 14, 2018

Former UFC fighter and TUF contestant Cody McKenzie was suspended 4 years by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing to give a urine sample prior to an MMA event in September. McKenzie then tried to provide the commission with fake urine.

The commission decided the 4 years suspension at Tuesday’s hearing. McKenzie did not appear.

According to the commission complaint, McKenzie did not provide a sample to the commission representative the night of his fight. He then provided a fake sample. He then told the representative that he “smoked pot” that day.

McKenzie was ordered to pay costs and fees in the amount of $944.84 associated with the hearing.

Payout Perspective:

If you were to read the commission findings, it sounds that McKenzie attempted to use a “whizzinator” to fake a urine test. The former TUF competitor has had a winding career that has had no direction and clearly suffers from discipline among other issues. A concern about this suspension is that McKenzie will be unable to fight for a living which may be a detriment.

ShowMoney talks UFC Antitrust Lawsuit and ONE business

November 14, 2018

Show Money is back once again as I discuss the business of MMA with Bloody Elbow’s John Nash and Paul Gift (also of Forbes).

This show’s topics includes the upcoming Motion for Summary Judgment in the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit and the business moves made by ONE Championship.

UFC Fight Night Denver draws 840,000 viewers on FS1

November 13, 2018

UFC Fight Night Denver drew 840,000 viewers on FS1 Saturday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the main telecast drew 565,000 viewers on FS1.

Both telecasts which honored the 25th Anniversary of the UFC were strong in comparison to normal Fight Night ratings on the network.  The main card featured Yair Rodriguez and the Korean Zombie in one of the best fights of 2018. Rodriguez KO’d KZ with 1 second left in the fight.

The telecast featured nostalgia with an homage to the first UFC event, the old logo and graphics.

The UFC post fight show drew 237,000 viewers on FS1.  The prefight show on FS1 drew 171,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The 840,000 viewers are the highest rated Fight Night since May’s UFC Fight Night 129.  The Prelims also were high as it doubled viewers ship from the last 2 Fight Night Prelims.  Perhaps  the nostalgia of the 25th Anniversary led to the spike in viewership as the headliners are not considered draws as both were coming off of long layoffs.

White whittles down distributors draw on PPVs

November 12, 2018

This week’s Sports Business Journal features several articles on combat sports.  An interesting article on Dana White reveals that he’s negotiated down the PPV cut that many distributors receive for its PPVs.

According to the article, many outside distributors such as Comcast, Cox or DirecTV receive 50 percent of the PPV revenue from the UFC.  The distributors agree to air the PPVs and also advertise it through their specific means (i.e., digital, commercial ads) in addition to the UFC’s marketing.  In return, the industry standard was for the satellite and cable companies to receive half of the revenues for each event.

But, according to the SBJ article, White has negotiated this down “closer to 30 percent.” The deal is a coup for the UFC since it already receives 100% of the PPV rentals when customers purchase it on the UFC web site or UFC Fight Pass.

Payout Perspective:

The article, found in this week’s Sports Business Journal, talks about the UFC’s move to ESPN this January.  It also speaks about the Vegas headquarters expansion which will include a TV production facility and a min-arena to host fights.  The mini-arena will serve as home to White’s “Tuesday Night Contenders” series and “TUF” episodes.  He also hopes to add other combat sports to air on Fight Pass.  The move by White shows the company’s new business strategy where its attempting to do everything internally to save on costs.  With the UFC airing its own PPV, forging a deal with Amazon for PPVs, driving down the take for traditional distributors seemed imminent.  For the distributors, conceding to the UFC was likely due to the competition within the marketplace from the likes of Amazon and the UFC’s digital platform.  While the PPV buys are down, it still is a revenue stream for the distributors and its clear that there’s nothing that could replace it at this time.

UFC Denver attendance, gate and bonuses

November 11, 2018

UFC Fight Night 139 took place at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on Saturday night with an amazing main event as Yair Rodriguez knocked out the Korean Zombie with just 1 second left in the 5th round of their fight.  It was the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the UFC and the fight was fitting for the occasion.

Rodriguez, who took the fight on short notice, won Performance of the Night and share the fight of the night with Chan Sung Jung.  KZ was ahead of the scorecard going into the final round but Rodriquez knocked him out with an uppercut elbow as time expired.  In addition, Donald Cerrone submitted Mike Perry with an armbar in the very first round of the co-main event.  Cerrone then brought his young son into the Octagon.

The event drew 11,426 for a live gate of $946,700 according to UFC officials post-fight.

Payout Perspective:

The last two fights of the evening were great to watch.  The throwback graphics from the 90s were a visual pleasure throughout the telecast.  Rodriguez put on a show throughout the fight with an array of unique attempts to takedown KZ.  But, living up to his name, KZ walked through most of Yair’s offense except for the last elbow.

Cejudo-Dillashaw set for Anaheim for UFC Flyweight title

November 10, 2018

Henry Cejudo will meet T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 233 in January at The Honda Center in Anaheim, California for the UFC Flyweight Title per ESPN.  Dillashaw, the bantamweight champion, is dropping down in weight to face Cejudo.

The fight surprised some considering that many UFC flyweights were let go by the promotion with the news that it was shuttering the division.  Demetrious Johnson, the former UFC flyweight champion, was “traded” to ONE Championship for Ben Askren.  Cejudo defeated Johnson for the title in Los Angeles this past August.

The flyweight division has been criticized for its lack of delivering ratings despite the high volume of action its fighters provide.

Dillashaw will seek to be the sixth “champ champ.”

Payout Perspective:

It appears that this fight will be the swan song for the division with the winner retiring the belt and division.  Unless the 125 division continues in the UFC, I’m not sure why this fight shouldn’t happen at 135 pound for Dillashaw’s belt.  It’s unfortunate that a lot of fighters will be out of the promotion, but perhaps another promotion such as ONE can pick them up.


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