Report: UFC 202 trending to 1.2M to 1.5M PPV buys

August 26, 2016

UFC 202 is trending to be one of the top PPV buys in the history of the company as Dave Meltzer is reporting that the estimated buys are ranging from 1.2 million to 1.5 million buys.

UFC 202 featured the Conor-Nate II with McGregor taking the majority decision in an epic 5-round battle.

The estimated buy rates show that Conor McGregor is the new PPV king.

In addition, Meltzer reports that the internet sales via the UFC web site were up for the event which reflects a strong buy trend for this PPV.

While reports that ticket sales were lagging which resulted in a drop in prices, it still drew the 5th largest gate in company history with $7,629,010.

Recent McGregor PPV buy rates:

UFC 189: 825,000

UFC 194: 1,200,000

UFC 196: ~1,100,000

Payout Perspective:

As Meltzer points out, all the indicators reflect a strong PPV buy rate.  The UFC Prelims drew 1.3 million PPV buys.  Google trends registered 5 million searches for UFC 202 on Saturday.  With UFC 202 doing over 1 million PPV buys, that would make 3 events (UFC 196, UFC 200 and UFC 202) going over 1 million PPV buys.  A pretty good year without event factoring in the New York debut in November.  It also confirms that Conor McGregor (and to an extent Nate Diaz) are PPV draws.

In addition, we might want to take note of the purchases on the UFC web site to watch the PPVs.  Although no discounts this time around, the company is offering a percentage off UFC 203’s PPV for filling out an email survey.  Promos like this are helping lure fans to the UFC site to purchase the events instead of the cable and satellite distributors.

Sullivan given provisional suspension by USADA

August 25, 2016

A month after being pulled from his fight at UFC on Fox 20 for disclosing information to USADA, George Sullivan has been handed a provisional suspension by USADA for a potential violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

The UFC issued a statement on Sullivan.  A portion of which reads:

“UFC was made aware today by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, that it has informed George Sullivan of a potential anti-doping violation and provisional suspension based on his declaration of a prohibited substance. UFC previously announced that Sullivan voluntarily disclosed this information to USADA and, out of an abundance of caution, Sullivan was removed by UFC from his scheduled bout on July 23, 2016, in Chicago. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, Sullivan’s declaration of the use can be taken into consideration by USADA during the results management and adjudication process.

Sullivan spoke out about being removed from the UFC on Fox 20 card in July:

Payout Perspective:

This is tough for Sullivan as he’s been in limbo for over a month and now gets the news of this provisional suspension.  Based on the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, Sullivan will have an opportunity for a hearing on the matter.  But, it appears that his only excuse (per the USADA Anti-Doping Policy) would be to show that he used a contaminated product.  Sullivan disclosed information from what we gather was he pre-fight questionnaire at UFC on Fox 20 which drew concerns from USADA.  We will see what Sullivan will use to defend the purported violation.

 

Rory MacDonald signs with Bellator

August 24, 2016

Former UFC middleweight Rory MacDonald has signed with Bellator according to FloCombat.  MacDonald’s last fight in the UFC was a June Fight Night loss to Stephen Thompson.

Regardless of the outcome of the last fight on his contract, MacDonald wanted to test the free agency market per multiple reports.  According to MMA Fighting, the UFC did not match the offer by Bellator and allowed MacDonald to head to the Viacom-owned Bellator.

Per MMA Fighting, he is eyeing a Bellator debut in the first quarter of 2017.

Payout Perspective:

MacDonald’s last official disclosed payout was $59,000 at UFC 189 which was a loss to Robbie Lawler.  One would think that he improved greatly on his salary otherwise one would think that the UFC would match it.  MacDonald will find some interesting opponents in the Bellator middleweight division as he joins Benson Henderson as another former UFC fighter joining the organization.  At 27, he is still young although you might say that the Lawler fight really took a lot out of him.  He should be able to ascend to the top of the division sooner than later.

USADA investing post-fight Nate Diaz vaping

August 24, 2016

USADA is investigating Nate Diaz after he was using a vape pen after his fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 202.  During his post-fight press conference he admitted to smoking CBD or cannibidiol oil.

Diaz, who was vaping while on the dais, stated that it helps with the recovery process.  As noted by MMA Fighting Cannabinoids are banned in-competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code over a certain threshold and USADA uses WADA’s prohibited substance list.  In competition is considered the six hours before and after a fight.  Diaz’s use came within the timeframe after the fight.

USADA has stated that it is aware of the situation per a USADA spokesperson.

Per the UFC anti-doping policy, it’s a prohibited substance in-competition and a fighter could face a suspension of up to one year.  Whether or not an infraction will be levied is dependent on the results of Diaz’s post-fight drug test.

Payout Perspective:

This story shall be continued until the results of the drug tests from USADA come back.  Obviously, if Diaz test is flagged, we will know the reason.  If it is not, and the amount of CBD he used was less than the amount considered to be positive (150 ng/ml), we have an interesting issue as to what USADA and the UFC may do to Diaz.  They could just warn him or perhaps they would do more.  One would think that USADA and the UFC probably do not want fighters openly using a vape pen smoking CBD.

Show Money Episode 13 talks the PFA and its potential to unionize UFC fighters

August 24, 2016

I hopped on once again with Bloody Elbow’s Paul Gift and John Nash for another episode of Show Money.   This time we discuss the potential impact a union may have on the UFC with the announcement of the Professional Fighter’s Association.

 

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UFC 202 Prelims draws 1.3M viewers on FS1

August 23, 2016

The UFC 202 Prelims on FS1 drew 1.3M viewers on Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.

The event, which aired from 8-10pm ET drew 816,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The event featured Cody Garbrandt and Takeya Mizugaki.  The Alpha Male fighter stopped Mizugaki in the first round.

The event peaked with 1.507M viewers in the 9:15-9:30pm ET quarter hour.

UFC PPV Prelims through 202

Payout Perspective:

In comparison, the UFC 196 Prelims (Conor-Nate I) drew 1.8 million viewers and 1.074M viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.  The prelims landed second in sports cable viewing on Saturday to the NASCAR Sprint Cup on the NBC Sports Network.  If the prelims ratings foreshadow the PPV viewership, we should see a very good buy rate for UFC 202.

UFC 202: Payout Perspective

August 23, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective for UFC 202.  This time we take a look at Diaz-McGregor II at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

McGregor gains revenge on Diaz

It was a majority decision for Conor McGregor as 2 judges scored the bout for McGregor while the third judge determined it a draw.  It was a solid back and forth fight with McGregor coming out with a solid game plan but despite a crimson mask, Diaz came back and was able to score a 10-8 round (according to 1 judge).  McGregor seemed to tire after round 2 as he attempted to run from exchanges.  However, he was able to muster enough to narrowly escape a second loss to Diaz.

The question of when the third fight shall happen will likely depend on when McGregor will be available as an injured leg may keep him out until 2017.  Could we see Diaz-McGregor III in Vegas in July 2017?

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz represented 82 percent of the reported salary payouts which we detail below.  A definite money fight.

Anrhony Johnson drops Glover

It took one uppercut for Anthony Johnson to end the night for Glover Teixeira.  Johnson should get Daniel Cormier next.  Johnson is on a roll and it looks like Cormier will need to rely on his wrestling to stop Rumble’s power.  This could be one of the main events for the UFC’s debut in New York this November.

Attendance and gate

Although there were reports that the event had trouble selling tickets, it still was a big gate for the UFC.  It drew 15,539 for a live gate of $7,692,010 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  A typical McGregor draw.

UFC 196: 14,697 for $8.1M

UFC 194: 16,516 for $10.1M

UFC 189: 16,019 for $7.2M

Ticket prices were slashed for the event per ESPN.  There were still tickets available the day of the event.

Bonuses

The $50,000 bonuses went to Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Donald Cerrone.  Diaz-McGregor earned FOTN while Johnson and Cerrone drew POTN.  There were a lot of stoppages to choose from and there could have been several fighters that could have drawn the bonuses.

Payouts

Conor McGregor made history by making the most of any reported payout for an MMA fighter when the NSAC disclosed he would receive $3 million for the fight.  Diaz came in second in payouts with $2 million.  The two drew over 80% of the reported overall payouts.

The full list is here.

Promotion of the Fight

The Pre-Fight Press Conference was a spectacle with bottle throwing and middle fingers everywhere.  With McGregor showing up late, it seemed to make Diaz mad as he got up and left and that’s when the presser went off the rails.


Also of note, Nate Diaz appeared on Conan and Jimmy Kimmel.

Conor McGregor did not do as many appearances but did another CNBC interview.

He also did an ESPN interview post-water bottle throwing and the censors were too slow to catch up with some profanity.

There was also a GQ profile on McGregor.

The promotion of the fight included twitter emojis for Diaz and McGregor when you used their hashtags.  Other fighters and famous folks did videos on twitter holding up the hashtag of they believed would win the fight.

The UFC 196 replay featuring Diaz-McGregor I was shown on FS1 Thursday night before the fight and drew over 200,000 viewers despite Olympics and NFL Preseason on the same night.  The first fight was available for free online too.

The UFC weigh-ins drew 173,000 viewers on Friday night and was followed by a replay of the “Bad Blood” special on Diaz-Conor which drew 162,000 viewers.

Sponsorships

The regular UFC sponsors were in the octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Bud Light, 7-Eleven, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the octagon.  The movie “Hands of Stone,” which is about the Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard fight.  Bud Light had the fighter prep point.

The octagon also included the twitter hashtags for Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor.

Conor McGregor, who has an individual sponsorship with Reebok, did posts and a video for Reebok promoting himself and UFC 202.

Donald Cerrone had a Monster Energy Drink logo and Bud Light sponsorship on his shorts.  He also held the Monster can post-fight after  his stoppage of Rick Story.

Odds and Ends

No “Face the Pain” music intro to the PPV.  Perhaps a call by the new owners.

Conor McGregor claimed that he spent $300,000 on his training camp in preparation for Nate Diaz.  That’s 10% of his reported payout for his fight with Diaz.

Cerrone said that it was his last fight on his contract but his reps stated otherwise.  Regardless, he seemed set on re-signing with the UFC instead of testing free agency.

Despite the payout for Nate, Nick remains suspended due to the fact he has yet to pay his fine from the settlement with the commission.  As a result, he was banned from the arena and precluded from cornering Nate.

We’ll probably talk about Nate and his post-fight vaping later this week.

The Dominick Cruz-Alpha Male feud continues as Cody Carbrandt stopped Takeya Mizugaki in the first round.  Cruz stopped Mizugaki in the first round in his return from injury.  Post-fight Carbrandt turned his attention to Cruz who was in the FS1 booth.

Was that Eva Marie or Rando Markos with the red hair?

New thing for fighters.  They get to see tweets in the locker rooms:

Mike Perry may be the most-hated UFC fighter already.  Not only did he fake a handshake with his opponent at the televised weigh-ins.  There is audio of his corner possibly using racial slurs.  This, in addition to having a long fingernail going into the Octagon and then, without a clipper in site, he attempted to chew it off.

Gordon Ramsey, Skip Bayless, Dwight Howard and Kanye West were all in attendance at UFC 202.

It was Neil Magny’s last fight on his contract but his upset loss to Lorenz Larking probably does not help his cause when negotiating with the UFC.

No post-fight press conference as fighters had individual scrums.  A sign of the times for the new ownership?

The Pro Fighter’s Association held a press conference in Vegas during fight week to establish its potential roll in a fighter’s union for the UFC.  It will be a long, hard road for this to happen but we shall see.

Conclusion

5 million google searches on Saturday for UFC 202 might infer that the PPV buy rate will soar over 1M buys.  Certainly, the lack of tickets sales may be a concern but realize that the UFC moved into T-Mobile Arena versus most of their other big events taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  T-Mobile holds more people so maybe the UFC overestimated the attendance.  While the event seemed to lack the buzz of a typical McGregor fight, it will still produce PPV buy rates.  I would expect this event to hit 1M buys.

UFC sale made official

August 22, 2016

The UFC has officially sold as first reported by Darren Rovell. Forbes.com received confirmation from a WME spokesperson Monday afternoon.

The sale for $4 billion means that the Fertitta brothers will cash out nearly $870 million in post-tax cash according to Forbes.com. The Fertitta brothers will not be involved in the day to day operations of the new UFC but will retain a “passive minority interest in the organization.” As previously reported, Dana White has a 5 year deal and will receive 9% of the company’s annual net profits.

Payout Perspective:

We saw glimpses of the new regime this past Saturday as the PPV lacked the “Face the Pain,” theme song at the beginning. Also, no post-fight press conference. The deal gives the Fertitta brothers a hefty return on what was once a speculative investment.

McGregor, Diaz draw over 80% of reported payouts for UFC 202

August 22, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the full roster of disclosed payouts from Saturday’s UFC 202.  The main event accounted for 82% of the reported payouts from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

As previously reported, Conor McGregor earned $3 million (no bonus) and Nate Diaz earned $2 million (no bonus).  While there was no bonus associated with their purse, the two won a $50,000 bonus for their epic fight.

The rest of the card is as follows:

Conor McGregor: $3 million (no win bonus)
def. Nate Diaz: $2 million

Anthony Johnson: $270,000 (includes $135,000 win bonus)
def. Glover Teixeira: $65,000

Donald Cerrone: $170,000 (includes $85,000 win bonus)
def. Rick Story: $41,000

Mike Perry: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Hyun Gyu Lim: $18,000

Tim Means: $62,000 (includes $31,000 win bonus)
def. Sabah Homasi: $12,000

Cody Garbrandt: $54,000 (includes $27,000 win bonus)
def. Takeya Mizugaki: $39,000

Raquel Pennington: $46,000 (includes $23,000 win bonus)
def. Elizabeth Phillips: $12,000

Artem Lobov: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Avila: $10,000

Cortney Casey: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Randa Markos: $14,000

Lorenz Larkin: $78,000 (includes $39,000 win bonus)
def. Neil Magny: $47,000

Colby Covington: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. Max Griffin: $10,000

Marvin Vettori: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Alberto Uda: $10,000

Payout Perspective:

The biggest disclosed payday for an MMA fighter goes to McGregor.  Of course, this does not include any discretionary bonuses or PPV points he may receive from the PPV.  It’s estimated that 202 likely hit 1M PPV buys (unconfirmed) so it was a good return for McGregor.  Anthony Johnson earned third highest on the card including his Performance of the Night Bonus and Donald Cerrone (at the end of his fight contract) earned $220,000 including his Performance of the Night Bonus.

UFC 202 attendance, gate and bonuses

August 20, 2016

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz led the list of bonus winners for UFC 202.  The event drew the 5th highest gate in Nevada.

UFC 202 drew 15,539 fans for a live gate of $7,692,010 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Below are the last 3 events prior to Saturday’s event featuring Conor McGregor.

UFC 196: 14,697 for $8.1M

UFC 194: 16,516 for $10.1M

UFC 189: 16,019 for $7.2M

In addition to the main event participants, Donald Cerrone and Anthony Johnson earned bonuses for their stoppages during the main card.

Payout Perspective:

While it was an impressive gate, tickets for the event were still available the day of the event.  This could be due to the fact that the T-Mobile Arena can house 20,000 whereas the MGM Grand Garden Arena holds a little over 17,000.  It still was a bigger gate than last July’ s UFC 189 and had more in attendance than UFC 196.

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