UFC Fight Night 52 attendance and bonuses

September 20, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses for UFC Fight Night 52 from Japan.  Headliner Mark Hunt led the bonus winners in a

Bonuses of $50,000 each were as follows:

Performance bonuses: Mark Hunt and Johnny Case

Fight of the Night:  Kyung Ho Kang and Michinori Tanaka

Although Myles Jury was announced as a bonus winner, Case was awarded the $50K.  It will be interesting to see if Jury is given his bonus anyways.

The attendance at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan was 12,395 with no gate announce.  The last reported attendance at the venue was UFC on Fuel TV 8 in March 2013 when that event drew 14,682.  There were not an official attendance number released for UFC 144 although it was estimated that 15,000 were in attendance.

Payout Perspective:

It was an entertaining night of fights which saw a lot of action and was evidence that Asia is a definite region that the UFC should expand into.  Attendance was not as good as the last two events in Japan but assuming that most of the 12K in attendance paid, the UFC was likely pleased with the turnout.

UFC suspends Johnson, cuts Silva again

September 19, 2014

The UFC announced the indefinite suspension of Anthony Johnson and the release of Thiago Silva on Friday.  Johnson’s suspension comes on a new report regarding allegations of past domestic abuse and for Silva videos were released by his wife which is purported evidence of his drug and domestic abuse issues.

Silva was re-signed by the UFC a day after charges against him related to domestic abuse were dropped after his wife was reticent to aid authorities and abruptly moved out of the country.  Silva was released Friday prior to any fight assignment after re-signing with the UFC.  The reason for the sudden release is due to two videos.  One video shows Silva carrying a gun and one in which his wife claims he was on drugs.  His wife provided the reasons for releasing the video via Bloody Elbow.

The UFC issued a brief statement on Thiago Silva:

Thiago Silva was released from his UFC contract on Feb. 7 due to his arrest by police in South Florida. The charges against Silva were dropped by the Broward County District Attorney’s office and Silva was re-signed to the UFC earlier this month. Based on new information received today in the form of video and audio evidence, Silva has been terminated from his UFC contract.

Johnson’s situation appears a little more complicated.  Blood Elbow reports that the mother of Johnson’s two children has filed a police report stemming from alleged threats and a report of domestic abuse from back in 2012.  Johnson had another domestic violence incident with another woman in 2009.

The UFC issued a brief statement on Anthony Johnson.

We are aware of the situation involving Anthony Johnson. As a result, we are suspending him indefinitely. We are using a third-party law firm to conduct a formal investigation and once we have more information, we’ll determine whether further course of action is necessary.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC’s actions on Friday can be seen as a direct reaction to what has gone on with the NFL. For Silva, it was similar to the Ray Rice incident, a video is what caused the league to take action.  Here, the Silva video caused the UFC to rethink its decision of taking him back and make the awkward decision to release him after just re-signing him.  In my opinion, the UFC should not have re-signed Silva so quickly.

As for Johnson, the news comes at a time when he had a career revival in his return to the UFC.  Even though the domestic abuse allegations occurred in 2012, the NFL’s issues have made the UFC much more aware of these problems.  In the case of Johnson, the indefinite suspension will probably last as long as the law firm investigates the situation.  If there is nothing found, I’d expect he would be back with the UFC.  If there is evidence of further abuse or a pattern of abuse, I’d expect the UFC to release Johnson again.

From a PR perspective, the UFC must be sensitive to these issues of alleged domestic violence especially with its past problems and the current issues going on with the NFL.  We could see the UFC being much stricter with its code of conduct and dismissing and/or disciplining fighters more than before.

TUF 20 Episode 2: 574,000 viewers

September 18, 2014

MMA Payout has learned that the second episode of TUF 20 on FS1 scored an average viewership of 574,000 viewers.  The average is up slightly (7%) from the debut episode which aired last Wednesday on the network.

According to a Nielsen source, it’s only the sixth time in the twenty seasons of TUF that the second episode drew more than the debut episode.  Wednesday’s episode grew in the important adult 18-49 demo from the first (359,000 viewers) to the second episode (364,000 viewers).

In offering a quick comparison from the start of this season to the start of TUF 19, the second episode from the Penn-Edgar season drew only 320,000 viewers.

Episode 1:  536,000 (on FS1)

Episode 2:  574,000

Payout Perspective:

The good news is that the second episode drew higher than the debut episode for Episode 20.  One might have expected a higher bump considering the additional viewing opportunities for TUF 20’s debut episode which re-aired Sunday on Fox before or after NFL Football in many markets.  Still, the ratings are better than TUF 19 at this point.  We’ll see if there will be additional efforts to promote TUF on Fox.

NAC to issue ruling on Jones-Cormier brawl

September 18, 2014

The Nevada State Athletic Commission has filed complaints against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier after review of the video related to their brawl at a UFC media event last month to promote their upcoming fight.  The complaint seeks to fine the fighters up to $250,000 and the potential for all of their fight purses according to the document obtained by MMA Junkie.

The issue will be determined at the upcoming NAC hearing on September 23rd.

According to the complaint obtained by MMA Junkie, the fighters violated NRS 467.158 which allows for a penalty not to exceed $250,000 or 100 percent of the share of the purse whichever amount is greater.  The penalty may include costs for the investigation including attorney’s fees.

Payout Perspective:

It is good to see the commission taking action whereas it appeared that it was going to wait on making a decision on the brawl.  The penalty for Jones and Cormier will probably not take away either of the fighters’ fight purse for their fight (now scheduled for January 2015) but I think that the NAC will issue a stiff fine to prevent these types of fights that could potentially hurt innocent bystanders.  It’s clear that a part of this brawl was precipitated to draw interest in the event and we will see how the commission will rule to prevent future spectacles.

TUF 20 re-air on Fox Sunday draws 1.735M

September 17, 2014

The Ultimate Fighter 20’s season debut which Fox re-aired on the network Sunday “adjacent” to NFL on Fox game coverage scored a composite of 1.735 million viewers.  Additional re-airs on FS1 and FS2 added 267,000 viewers for a total of 2.54 million according to a company media release.

It was the first time that Fox has aired a TUF episode on Sunday next to NFL games.  The times as to when TUF aired on Fox varied.  For example, some viewers across the country saw TUF prior to the 1pm west coast (4pm east coast) game while others saw it after the early games (10am/1pm respectively).  In Seattle, TUF did not air until 11:30pm on Sunday night.

The 1.753M number comes from the national average of viewers which Nielsen calculates using around 200+ local markets.

In addition, the Live +3 day viewership drew a significant amount more viewers (up 55%) as it added another 295,000 viewers to the initial viewership of 536,000.  Thus, the total amount of viewers that saw TUF 20’s debut (if you included those that saw it on DVR) was 831,000.

Payout Perspective:

The total viewers that have seen TUF 20 is actually 2,538,000 although the media release rounded up.  Airing TUF on Sundays piggybacking on the NFL should help with the visibility of the TUF product as the hope appears to be snagging NFL fans not flipping to the Red Zone channel after/before the games on Fox.  It’s a good more and shows that the UFC/Fox really want to push this season.

Xyience sold, ends sponsorship with UFC

September 15, 2014

Multiple beverage industry trade outlets reported last week that Xyience had been sold to Big Red, Inc. of Austin, Texas.  As a part of the transaction, the Xyience brand will no longer be an official sponsor of the UFC.

MMA Payout has confirmed the sale from two independent sources.

Xyience was established in 2004 in Las Vegas and had become one of the more visible brands within the UFC.  It also sponsored various UFC fighters, notably Ronda Rousey.

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Big Red, Inc. is one of the top 10 beverage companies in North America dating back to 1937.  It will look to expand the Xyience demo by targeting other sports including Crossfit, Color Run participants and marathoners according to an interview Big Red CEO Gary Smith did with Bevnet.com.

Payout Perspective:

The acquisition is a blow for the UFC as it will seek to replace Xyience with another “official energy drink sponsor.”   We will see how the UFC will do and how soon it can find a replacement.  It is interesting to note that Big Red apparently will continue to seek out the sports demo but will not continue the sponsorship with the UFC.

Although this went under the radar, this summer it signed Matefit Herbal Tea as its “official herbal tea partner.”  The partnership is only for one year and at this point has far less brand recognition.

MMA Payout will keep you posted on this story as it continues.

Zuffa settles piracy lawsuit with individual that shared 141 PPVs

September 14, 2014

Zuffa has settled with PPV pirate Steven Mussina according to company press release sent out Saturday.  Although terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed, Mussina, who was accused of pirating at least 141 UFC PPVs, will comply with the wishes of Zuffa and provide information on how he circumvented the pay per view system.

Via UFC press release:

Steven Messina, through his attorney, Michael Heitmann, confessed to his illegal behavior and apologized for his actions that resulted in the illegal sharing of UFC content. As part of the settlement, Messina was penalized by the UFC for an undisclosed amount and forced to surrender his computer hardware and software to UFC representatives. Additionally, Messina will turn over all records and information pertaining to piracy of UFC content and information related to other potential infringers. He must also cooperate with the UFC organization and law enforcement authorities in an effort to prevent others from stealing intellectual property.

When asked about the settlement, Messina said, “I apologize to the UFC for any damages incurred as a result of my actions in illegally distributing copyrighted UFC broadcasts. As a result of my confession for piracy of UFC’s protected content, I fully accept the terms of the settlement with the UFC.”

Messina also states, “I now realize the harm caused by my actions. It is my hope that I can use this difficult period as a learning experience as I move on with my life. I would also like to tell anyone pirating UFC broadcasts, either through illegal downloading or non-authorized streaming, that it is illegal and not worth the risk.”

As part of the settlement, Messina will provide details of his procedures that led to the unauthorized distribution of an estimated 200 hours of UFC content and will offer his records to the UFC to further prevent illegal usage or sharing of the company’s broadcasts.

Payout Perspective:

The settlement is the best possible outcome for the UFC.  Let’s face it, while the initial claim that Zuffa was seeking $32 million from Messina seemed intimidating, it would have never happened.  Messina did not have the money (and who does, unless you just beat Marcos Maidana for the second time).  Even if you obtained a judgment against Messina, one can surmise he does not have any assets that would satisfy the damage Zuffa claims (even if it’s less than $32M).  Here, Zuffa gets an on the record ‘crime doesn’t pay’ statement from Messina plus information on how he was able to obtain UFC PPVs without paying.  This may provide some insight for Zuffa to see how it may better crack down on piracy.

UFC Fight Night 51 attendance and bonuses

September 13, 2014

MMA Junkie reports the attendance and bonuses from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 51 taking place from Brasilla, Brazil.  The numbers were announced during the post-fight press conference.

The attendance reveals that there were 8,822 fans in attendance with 1,173 of those comped tickets.  According to the Junkie report, the UFC “does not typically reveal live gate figures for its Brazilian events.” Thus, there were 7,649 that paid. For those wondering, the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium (where the event was held) holds 16,000 spectators.

The bonuses for the event were as follows:

FOTN:  Piotr Hallman-Greyson Tibau

Performance bonuses:  Godofredo Pepey, Andrei Arlovski

Payout Perspective:

The most notable bonus here is Arlovski who upset Bigfoot Silva.  Arlovski did not look good in his return fight to the UFC this past June at UFC 174, so this KO was a pleasant surprise.  It’s interesting that the article indicates that live gate figures are not released for Brazil shows although no reason was given.

Nick Diaz arrested on suspicion of DUI

September 12, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that Nick Diaz was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of DUI among other charges.  Diaz is slated to face Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on January 31, 2015.

According to the article, Diaz was “very polite and cordial” to the police officers.  However, he did attempt to vomit after taking a breathalyzer test.

The UFC released a statement on the Diaz arrest.

“We are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering the facts,” the statement read. “We understand that there is a legal process that will now take place and that Nick Diaz will have the opportunity to address the situation in the near future.”

Payout Perspective:

This probably was not the type of news the UFC wanted to hear especially with Diaz returning to the UFC early next year for what is likely one of the biggest for 2015.  Obviously there are facts out there that are needed and we will see how Diaz pleads.  In the end, Diaz’s legal troubles may be minimal as compared to those of athletes currently in the news.  Still, the UFC has to decide on whether to punish Diaz for the arrest.  It looks like the UFC may have to review its UFC Code of Conduct.   At a time when athletes are in the news for a host of crimes, the UFC does not want to be in that police blotter.

Was Silva re-signing bad timing or just bad?

September 11, 2014

Recently the UFC re-signed Thiago Silva after charges against him for domestic violence were dropped.  The NFL fumbled the handling of Ray Rice and its subsequent fallout reveals that the UFC is not the only sports organization that has a problem with domestic violence and the subsequent handling of the issue.

Rice has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL and essentially banished from football including the Canadian Football league which indicated it will uphold the NFL’s suspension and will not sign Rice.  Rice has lost sponsors and has even been eliminated from the annual EA Madden video game.

When questioned on Fox Sports Live on Wednesday about the Rice issue in comparison to Silva, Dana White indicated that Silva had been cleared of the domestic violence issue.  This was due to Silva’s wife moving back to Brazil and her unwillingness to assist in the investigation.  The memo obtained by MMA Junkie reveals the horrid details and although there was no videotape like in the Rice case, it is just (if not more) disgusting.  The memo states he had put a gun in his wife’s mouth and threatened to kill her and later on threatened to kill people within the BJJ gym where she trained.

Yet, the day after charges were dropped, the UFC re-signed Silva.  Just as swiftly as the UFC fired Silva for his arrest after the standoff with Florida police stemming from the domestic abuse accusations, he was scooped up by the organization once the charges were dropped.

Silva denies wrongdoing for the domestic assault which he claims never happened in an interview on The MMA Hour.  This is no revelation that he would deny the charges.  It may be surprising that Silva was willing to conduct an interview to attempt to clear his name.

Despite White’s defense of his recall of Silva, it looks like a terrible move in light of the ongoing Rice scrutiny.  The latest videotape and discovery that the NFL may have had the information before levying a penalty to Rice will come under critical media and internal investigation in the weeks to come.  This NFL scandal should be something that the UFC should take note and prepare itself in the future.

Payout Perspective:

This is the fight game and there are many unfortunate instances of domestic violence issues occurring from MMA fighters (e.g., War Machine and Josh Grispi come to mind) and boxers.  One need only look at Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s past to know that despite domestic issues, fighters go on with their careers.  But does that mean it’s correct?  Of course not, but it happens.

A recent SI article concludes that the Silva signing is bad business for the UFC. He’s not a main event fighter like a Mayweather, who will once again garner a hefty pay day partly off of $75 PPV buys.  In fact, Silva’s presence in the Octagon will only have people recall his past transgressions.  Then again, will people have a selective memory about Silva after a couple fights?  Anyone recall ex-NFL player’s Warren Moon’s domestic issues?

So, why was the UFC willing to take a chance on Silva so soon after the charges were dropped.  Was Bellator or WSOF chomping at the bit to sign him?  Silva was an interesting fighter with a distinct look and fight style that may have had a following of fans.  But if you are a sponsor, would you want Silva to sport your logo on his trunks or on his fight banner?  What kind of following will he have now? Would you want to put Silva on a Fox show?

White said the right things in response to questions about the Rice video on Fox Sports Live.  That was easy.  What will be hard is addressing the domestic violence issues for the UFC going forward.  While it’s understandable to assess each case separately, there must be a bright line rule when it comes to a sensitive issue as men hitting women.

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