Rousey wins ESPY for Best Female Athlete

July 16, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that Ronda Rousey was named the Best Female Athlete of 2014 at the annual ESPY Awards handed out by ESPN.

Rousey beat out the WNBA’s Maya Moore, Olympic gold medalist skier Mikaela Shiffrin and UConn’s Breanna Stewart.

UFC fighters Chris Weidman and Jon Jones were up for best fighter but lost out to Floyd Mayweather.  Weidman was also up for Upset of the Year but lost out to Mercer defeating Duke in the NCAA tournament. Mercer was a #15 seed while Duke was #2.

Payout Perspective:

I actually thought that the 19 year old Shiffrin would have won this award as she was a surprising winner of the gold medal in Sochi.  She was also the youngest to win the gold in the Olympic slalom event.  Regardless, it’s nice recognition for Rousey as the award may mean an ESPN spot or two.  Yes, this is ESPN self-aggrandizement as the underlying purpose of the ESPY awards is to draw attention to the network during a slow time for sports.

Lawal, Lashley and Kongo added to 9/5 Bellator card

July 16, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that King Mo Lawal, Cheick Kongo and Bobby Lashley have been added to Bellator 123 which takes place on September 5th in Connecticut.  Lashley is a pro wrestler with TNA Wrestling and is currently its Heavyweight champion.

In addition to his pro wrestling experience, Lashley has competed in MMA.  The move attempts to bulk up an already stacked card which is headlined by Pat Curran defending his Featherweight title against Patricio Freire.

Bellator 123

The current card via Bellator press release:


Bellator Featherweight Title Fight: Pat Curran (20-5) vs. Patricio Pitbull (21-2)

Bellator Heavyweight Feature Fight: Cheick Kongo (21-9) vs. Lavar Johnson (18-9)

Bellator Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: King Mo (12-4) vs. Tom DeBlass (9-2)

Bellator Heavyweight Feature Fight: Bobby Lashley (10-2) vs. Josh Burns (8-7)

The Bellator card will go head to head with a UFC Fight Night card that has been bulked up due to the cancellation of UFC 176.  The card, which takes place at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut is headlined by Gegard Mousasi taking on Ronaldo Souza.

Payout Perspective:

September 5th will be a big night for MMA fans as it’s the first time the two organizations go head-to-head on television and in the same state.  The signing of Lashley is somewhat surprising but it does add name recognition for the crossover pro wrestling fans.  With TNA Wrestling taping most of its shows through August already, it’s unlikely that Bellator can take advantage of the crossover on its weekly TNA shows (which draw over 1M viewers) unless it edits in info about Lashley in voiceovers.  Lawal and Kongo also make sense as Lawal can sell his fights and the ratings reflect that Kongo (for some reason) produces good ratings for Bellator.

TUF 19 Final DVR numbers are in

July 15, 2014

MMA Payout has obtained the final DVR numbers for TUF 19. Although the Live day viewing was considerably down the DVR numbers saw significant gains.

In the end, the average Live/Same Day viewing which includes the same day replay averaged 476,00 viewers. TUF 18 (Rousey-Tate) averaged 684,000 viewers.  TUF 17 (Sonnen-Jones) averaged 832,000 viewers, which was the last season it was on FX.

TUF 19 DVR +3 viewership was up from TUF 18.  It averaged a gain of 278,000 viewers from the live number.  This is up from TUF 18 which averaged a gain of 250,000 viewers from DVR viewership.

Notably, not one episode this season drew over 1 million viewers.  The highest rated show was Episode 6 with the controversial judging ending.  There was extra push from social media on how it was a “have to watch” episode and it just topped out at 973,000 viewers with DVR viewership.

TUF 19 Wrapup

Payout Perspective:

The important number for advertisers is likely the Live/Same Day number which has dipped from TUF18.  While the DVR numbers are great, it does not make up for the loss of live viewership.  As Fox has maintained, its happy with the ratings that TUF is producing and is not just looking at the live ratings when considering its success.  The averages reflect a steady drop since TUF left FX.

Fight Pass features McGregor “On the Fly”

July 15, 2014

The UFC is presenting a new, original three-part series on its UFC Fight Pass digital network featuring Conor McGregor.  “UFC on the Fly” features McGregor as he makes his final preparations for his fight Saturday night in his hometown against Diego Brandao.

A sample of the series is here:

Payout Perspective:

This has to be a risk for the UFC to invest so much in McGregor as he has not had any signature wins and is coming off of a big injury.  He talks a good game and has a fan-friendly fight style.  McGregor has the “it” factor and the UFC hopes he is someone that can open up new global markets for the company.  The new, slick look of this program is well done and tells a good story.  Now, all McGregor has to do is put on an entertaining fight…and win.  This is the type of content that should supplement UFC fan interest in subscribing to its digital network.

Sonnen must answer to NSAC on July 23rd states Nevada AG

July 14, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that despite admitting guilt for testing positive for banned substances, the Nevada Attorney General is still requesting that Chael Sonnen appear before the NSAC to answer for failing the drug tests.

The Nevada Deputy Attorney General advised Junkie that Sonnen must personally appear before the commission and testify under oath.  “He [Sonnen] is expected to answer questions about the prohibited substances detected in his system as a result of the out-of-competition tests performed on May 24 and June 5,” stated Deputy AG Chris Eccles.

In response to the AG’s First Amended Complaint against Sonnen, his attorney (which is also his management company at MMA, Inc.) attempted to waive his right to a hearing and accept whatever discipline that the Commission “deems necessary and appropriate,” according to the letter response. The letter also requested that the Commission consider “mitigating” factors when determining his punishment.

However, the NSAC is requiring Sonnen appear to answer questions about the failed drug tests of May 24th and June 5th.

Payout Perspective:

A couple initial questions come to mind.  First, has the AG exercised its subpoena powers under NAC 467.932?  If it did, it had to have issued it in within 10 days of the hearing which would have been Monday since the 10th day before the 23rd was a Sunday.  Assuming it has not issued a subpoena, the fact that the NSAC wants him to come to its hearing does not mean Sonnen has to show up.  Second, if there is no subpoena, then what is the remedy?  Does it fine Sonnen?  Or does it just reschedule?

For Sonnen, the answer to the NSAC First Amended Complaint attempts to mitigate the potential discipline.  The letter points out that Sonnen was terminated from the UFC, from his analyst job at Fox and he has lost all “endorsement relationships.”  The request to take these things into consideration is to show how he has already been disciplined by others.  The strategy is to avoid a hearing on the merits by admitting guilt.  Thus, the argument by Sonnen’s reps is why discuss a matter he has already admitted.  In Sonnen’s scenario, it avoids the potential embarrassment that may occur if he has to ask questions about his use of banned substances.

Boxing asks what UFC fan has been for a while: are there too many PPVs?

July 14, 2014

Boxing writer Steve Kim of the new Undisputed Champion Network web site wrote an article on whether boxing has too many PPVs on the eve of Canelo Alvarez’s third appearance on PPV within 12 months.  The question is not new to UFC fan as they have been asking the question for some time.

For the UFC fan, UFC 174 exemplified the thesis that there are too many PPVs.  Preliminary reports have that PPV featuring Flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson anywhere between 95,000 to 125,000 PPV buys.  Regardless of where that number ended, it was the lowest output for a UFC PPV since 2006.  It reflects the new market for PPV in the UFC.  Fans will pick and choose which cards they want to purchase and it’s unlikely we’ll see 1 million PPV buy main events in the near future.

Kim talked to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza prior to Canelo-Lara:

“I think we’re having a confluence of pay-per-views really, simply because we have three or four fighters who can legitimately carry a pay-per-view and they’ve decided to make the decision to go there,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive VP and GM for Showtime Sports and Event Programming, whose company is distributing this weekend’s event. “As for the network, we’d always prefer to have everything on the network. There’s certain realities which make that unrealistic but ultimately, it’s the fighter and the promoter that make that decision of when they want to go pay-per-view, when they don’t.

Kim also questioned whether boxing can go down the UFC road:

Still, a pay-per-view a month? What is this, the UFC? Does boxing really have that many fights worthy of such a designation?

The cynical MMA fan would say that the UFC doesn’t have that many PPV-worthy cards yet the UFC offers monthly cards on PPV for $55 per event.

Payout Perspective:

For those that follow us, we touched on boxing beefing up its PPVs back in April.  If you were to replace boxing with MMA in the article, the issues would be the same with the exception that Espinoza comments place the issue on the fighter/promoter rather than the network.  In the UFC, the decision is all on the company whether it runs a PPV event and who will be on the card.  In my opinion, a reason for more PPVs in boxing is a trickle-down theory in combat sports. Fighter/promoter payouts can be mitigated if a fight is put on PPV.  Essentially profit margins are wider if you charge fans $60 for a fight rather than put it on subscription based television.  It seems like this is the strategy rather than the previous strategy of waiting for a big fight with two top names.  Certainly fighters have fought on HBO and Showtime in hopes that their career would ascend to a PPV.  In recent weeks, boxing has put on some exciting fights on both premium subscription networks.  So, the question is whether boxing fan will shell out $60-$75 for a fight that used to be on the networks.


Holm signs with UFC, Carano next?

July 13, 2014

MMA Junkie reported earlier this week that the UFC has signed Holly Holm.  The Holm signing is only one of two signings the UFC hopes to accomplish this month as Dana White now sets his sights on finalizing a deal with Gina Carano.

The Holm signing was announced by White via twitter.  White told that he and Lorenzo Fertitta will be traveling to Los Angeles next week to finalize a deal with Carano and her people.

Both Holm and Carano negotiations have been tough for the UFC.  However, it appears that the UFC is making an assertive push to secure these two bantamweights to challenge Ronda Rousey in the future.

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

Payout Perspective:

It would be no surprise if Carano were to sign on with the UFC this week with guarantees about pay and that she would receive a shot at Ronda Rousey it what would be one of the bigger PPVs in some time.  It’s true that Carano has been a movie star the past couple years than fighter but her name was made in Strikeforce and still carries some clout. As for Holm, she has been making her name on the regional circuit and has been a sought after free agent.  She hopes to fight late October or November according to her manager.

The two represent a couple things.  First, the need for competition for Ronda Rousey. After a 16 second title defense this month, the UFC would like to give Rousey some competition and something to keep her coming back to fight.  Second, women’s fighting has been generally accepted.  With TUF 20 upcoming, the UFC Fight Pass-Invicta FC deal and these signings, it’s clear that the UFC believes women’s fighting is key to its content.

Invicta FC announces first card on UFC Fight Pass

July 11, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that Invicta FC’s first card on the UFC Fight Pass will be on September 6th from Kansas City, Missouri.  The announcement was made during a conference call on Thursday in which the promotion was described as part of the “UFC Family.”

Via MMA Fighting:

The show will be the all-female organization’s first in nine months, and is expected to be headlined by duel title bouts, with Stephanie Eggink (4-1) and Katja Kankaanpaa (9-1-1) vying for the vacant Invicta FC strawweight title in the night’s co-main event, and atomweight champion Michelle Waterson (11-3) attempting the first defense of her belt against Yasuko Tamada (15-8-3) as the headlining attraction.

Payout Perspective:

On the conference call, it sounded like the UFC would assist Invicta with further distribution of its product.  We will see how this relationship progresses.

The conference call also included the announcement that the Invicta FC library would be available on the UFC Fight Pass.  It’s a win-win for the UFC and Invicta.  For the UFC, it adds more content for the digital network which has been an overall success.  It also serves as a quasi-lead to the upcoming TUF 20 season which should debut in September.  The 20th season will feature the new women’s straw weight division. For Invicta, it gives it the platform it desperately needed especially with the news that Ustream, its iPPV provider, has gone out of the iPPV business.  Also, the UFC relationship looks like it will help them broker further distribution deals.

TUF 19 Episode 12: 586,000 viewers

July 10, 2014

MMA Payout has learned that the season finale of TUF last Wednesday received 586,000 viewers which was the third highest in the season.  Overall, the season average was 477,000 viewers.

TUF 19 Episode 12 Graph

Payout Perspective:

We will be trying to obtain the DVR number to round out the graph.

Unfortunately for UFC fans, this was one of the more disappointing seasons in the TUF franchise. The fights were boring, not a lot of characters were drawn out and even the coach’s challenge wasn’t that fun.  With the exception of a scoring controversy, there was nothing remarkable about season 19.  The irony is that both finals were action-packed first round finishes.

So what do we make of the ratings.  One thing that stands out was episode 11 registered one of the lowest (if not the lowest) rating ever on TUF.   However, it was the highest rated show on FS1 for that day.  This tells us that despite the decline that MMA fans have seen over the years, Fox execs are still pleased with its performance.  One of the things that Fox has been pleased with is the amount of people watching on the DVR as DVR +3 ratings have gone up gaining 278,000 viewers compared to TUF 18’s DVR +3 average of 250,000 viewers.

It will be interesting to see how TUF 20 is received with it being the all women house. One thing seems to be certain, TUF is here to stay.

Report: UFC 174 lowest buy rate since 2005

July 10, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that last month’s UFC 174 from Vancouver received a lowly PPV buy rate between 95,000 to 115,000 buys.  The buy rate is the lowest

Yahoo! Sports reported that the show featuring Demetrious Johnson and Ali Baugitinov received 125,000 PPV buys. Regardless, the PPV buy rate is the lowest in the “modern era” of the UFC.  You would have to go back to June 2005 and UFC 53 to find the last UFC PPV with such a low buy rate.  UFC 53 which featured Andre Arlovski in the main event drew just 90,000 PPV buys.

Via MMA Fighting:

On Saturday night after UFC 175, Dana White talked about how UFC business is changing to being a worldwide promotion, and that people are going to not be watching every show and he’s accepting of that. He said that the Johnson vs. Bagautinov fight did exactly what they projected and they were not unhappy with the number, saying that the featherweight division is new, praising Johnson as champion and saying he would have no qualms about headlining another pay-per-view show with him.

It marks the third straight June that a UFC PPV has drawn the lowest buy rate of the year.

If not this was bad news for the company, Johnson’s challenger, Bagautinov was found to have taken EPO by the BC Athletic Commission today.

Payout Perspective:

The overarching issue here is that the UFC appears to have resigned itself that there will be PPVs like this.  While it’s not ideal for the company, with its strategy for growth, there will be low PPV buy events.

As the MMA Fighting article points out, the UFC has given every chance for Johnson to become a star.  He’s been featured on 3 different cards on Fox as well as its shoulder programming to promote the card.  Not only did Johnson win those fights, he was dominant in each.  Yet, if we are to go by strict PPV returns, Johnson’s in-Octagon success is not translating to a PPV attraction.   This goes back to the fact that not one fighter below 170 pounds is a PPV draw (maybe we Rousey is but the point is most are not).  It’s not clear what can be done for fighters like Johnson as he’s one of the top fighters in the company but he lacks the following.

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