UFC Fight Night 99 attendance, gate and bonuses

November 20, 2016

UFC Fight Night 99 took place from Belfast, Ireland on Saturday.  It was the first of two UFC events on a busy day for combat sports.

The UFC announced the event drew 7,222 and a live gate of $850,000.  The event took place at SSE Arena Belfast in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Previously, the UFC held an event in Belfast in 2007 at SSE Arena Belfast.  The event drew 8,000 fans for a live gate of approximately $1.2 million.

The bonuses for the night went to Jack Marshman, Kevin Lee, Abdul Razak Alhassan and Justin Ledet.  Each earned Performance of the Night.  There were no Fight of the Night Bonuses.

TUF 24 Episode 10: 247,000 viewers

November 17, 2016

The Ultimate Fighter 24 Episode 10 drew an average viewership of 247,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night per Sports TV Ratings.

It was the lowest-rated episode this season.  The episode drew 147,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

Eric Shelton defeated Ronaldo Candido via unanimous decision and Tim Elliott tapped Matt Schnell in the first round.  Shelton and Elliott advance.

episode-10

Payout Perspective:

A third consecutive week with lower ratings.  It is a substantial decrease from last fall’s TUF 22 Episode 10 which registered 499,000 viewers.  NBA Basketball featuring the Raptors-Warriors and Grizzlies-Clippers on ESPN were the top cable sports programs on Wednesday night.  We’ll see if TUF can break the streak of decreasing ratings in the last two episodes.

Machida accepts 18-month USADA suspension

November 16, 2016

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida has accepted an 18-month sanction for an anti-doping policy violation after declaring the use of a prohibited substance and subsequently testing positive of the substance.  The suspension is retroactive to April 2016.

Machida, 38, was pulled from a matchup with Dan Henderson at UFC on Fox 19 this past April due to the infraction.

7-keto-DHEA was the prohibited substance taken by Machida.  The former champion noted he had taken the substance on his sample collection paperwork.  The substance is in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The drug is marketed as a dietary supplement with the implication that it may accelerate weight loss, increase metabolism and prevent age-related changes.  A WADA-accredited lab reported to USADA that Machida’s sample demonstrated an elevated level of the prohibited substance.

Due to his immediate admission of the use, USADA saw it as a mitigating circumstance in reducing the standard 2 year suspension to 18 months.

Payout Perspective:

At 38, Machida’s suspension likely means his career with the UFC is over.  He was coming off of two straight losses with his last fight in June 2015, a KO loss to Yoel Romero.

UFC 205 merchandise sales best ever for company

November 15, 2016

The UFC sold more merchandise during UFC 205 than for any event in company’s history according to Darren Rovell.

Reebok introduced New York-themed clothing for the event which ranged in prices from $16-$50 per a report by the Sports Business Journal.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC expected $14-$15M in live event revenue from Saturday night’s debut in New York.  The good night in merchandise is a positive sign that the UFC would achieve its benchmark.  Saturday night was a good night for the company and it appears that business was very good.

UFC 205 Prelims draw 1,801,000 on FS1

November 15, 2016

The UFC 205 Prelims drew 1,801,000 million viewers on FS1 Saturday night per Sports TV Ratings.  It is the second-highest rated UFC Prelims on FS1 this year and third-highest all-time on the network.

Only March 2016’s UFC 196 drew more viewers with 1,863,000.  UFC 194 in December 2015 drew 1,931,000 viewers.  Both shows featured Conor McGregor in the main event of the PPV.

The UFC 205 Prelims featured Frankie Edgar taking on Jeremy Stephens in the last fight of the prelims on FS1.  It also had Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Michael Johnson in a lightweight matchup.

The event drew 1,106,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings.

ufc-ppv-prelims-through-205

Payout Perspective:

The show had very good matchups and we see the correlation between Conor McGregor shows and the rise in ratings for the FS1 prelims.  One should expect a huge PPV buy rate as a result.

UFC Featherweight notified of potential USADA violation

November 14, 2016

Zubaira Tukhugov has been notified of a potential USADA violation as a result from out-of-competition sample collection made on September 7, 2016 and October 29, 2016.  As a result, the UFC has removed him from his fight against Tiago Trator on December 9th.

UFC officials are seeking to find a replacement for Trator.  Tukhugov was 3-1 in the UFC coming off of a loss to Renato Moicano at UFC 198 this past May.

The UFC issued its standard statement for these type of flagged tests which provisionally suspends fighters.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, Tukhugov was flagged for 2 tests that were about 6 weeks apart.  The 25 year old Featherweight is subject to a two-year suspension although this may be mitigated dependent on the banned substance he may have taken.

UFC 205: Payout Perspective

November 14, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at UFC 205 taking place at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

McGregor wins lightweight title from Alvarez

Conor McGregor once again backed up his talk as he stopped Eddie Alvarez in the second round to win the UFC lightweight title.  He now holds the featherweight and lightweight titles.

It was rather easy work for McGregor who displayed his power and showed no fear against Alvarez including dropping his hands and putting them behind his back.

McGregor cut a promo which included calling the UFC “cheap” for not providing him two belts immediately and apologizing to no one.

In all likelihood, McGregor’s next fight will be at 155 and he’ll likely have his choice of Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmogomenov.

Woodley, Wonderboy goes to a draw

Sometimes you have to wonder about coaching.  Tyrone Woodley dominated Stephen Thompson in the first round on the ground and you could argue that his dominance deserved a 10-8 1st round.  Yet, he neglected to attempt another takedown throughout the rest of the fight.  Instead, Thompson was able to utilize his length and standup to stifle Woodley standing with the exception of a couple shots in the 4th round that almost stopped the fight.

An immediate rematch seems like the most logical thing although it seems unfair to a patient Demian Maia.

Jedrzejczyk dominates Kowalkiewicz

Joanna successfully defended her strawweight title with a 49-46 unanimous decision over Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  It was a one-sided, 5 round fight with Kowalkiewicz winning a couple skirmishes but Jedrzejcyk earning 4 rounds.

Joanna Violence does not know who’s next but she plans to fight sometime mid-2017.

Attendance and Gate

UFC 205 eclipsed the previous record gate from UFC 129 in Toronto of $12 million. The Madison Square Garden debut drew $17.7 million with 20,427 in attendance according to a UFC official post-fight.

Bonuses

Conor McGregor, Yoel Romero, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson earned the bonuses.  McGregor and Romero won performances of the night and Woodley and Thompson won for Fight of the Night.

Promotion to the Fight

The UFC went all out for its debut including an ESPN Car Wash and various articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.  There was local as well as national coverage promoting the event.

The Embedded episodes gave us a glimpse of the fighters getting ready for the fights focusing on the 3 championship fights.  You have to wonder with all of the episodes at hotels the UFC does not have a partnership with a hotel chain.

Sponsorships

Budweiser sponsored the 6-episode Embedded series.  It also had the fighter prep point.  Notably, Twinzz.com and IconicFace.com were in the Octagon as well.  Both made appearances at UFC 204 in England.  Twinzz.com is a hat manufacturer while IconicFaceoff.com appears to be a fantasy sports web site.

Qalo, a wedding ring manufacturer that touts silicone rings for the active person was a sponsor in the Octagon last night.  It worked with Chris Weidman in leadup to UFC 205.

In addition, Monster Energy Drink had the center as well sharing a corner with 7-Eleven.  MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Geico and Budweiser.

The upcoming movie, “Bleed for This,” the story of boxer Vinny Pazienza was featured during the PPV.  The movie was introduced by Michael Bisping.

Tyron Woodley and Conor McGregor sported the Monster logo on their Reebok kits.

Reebok introduced New York-specific UFC 205 merchandise for this event.  It also sold Conor McGregor-specific shirts including a “I Whoop People for Truckoads of Cash” shirt.

Odds and Ends

Probably the best UFC Prelims ever as the fights could be its own PPV.  Look for it to eclipse the record-setting ratings of UFC 200.

Are MMA purists ok with the WWE-style promotion that McGregor has provided for this event?  The fur coat and faking like he was going after Alvarez with a folding chair seems very much spectacle than reality.

Miesha Tate’s retirement seemed out of nowhere.  She was still a top-ranked fighter but maybe she sees other opportunities on the horizon.

There should be a rule that all interpreters should not have man-buns as Yoel Romero’s did.

Kevin Gastelum did not make weight once again which eliminated his fight with Donald Cerrone from the card.

Despite the talk about blue chip sponsors partnering with the UFC, there were no big surprises.   Budweiser the only real change although Bud Light has been a part of the UFC sponsorship.

One of the storylines from the newfound regulations in New York is the requirement that combat sports promoters needing to provide $1M coverage for brain injury for each fighter on the card.  The UFC paid $1,675 per athlete which came out to $40,200 for UFC 205.  Boxing promoters have been outspoken in speaking out against this measure which was a part of the law that would legalize MMA in the sport.

Apparently, Bruce Buffer knew he was reading the wrong decision in the Woodley -Thompson fight.  However, he can only read what is on the judge’s scorecard.  This is why he left the cage to confer with the judges.

No Trump at UFC 205, but there were other luminaries in the crowd including Demi Lovato and Odell Beckham, Jr. (the NY Giants WR also made a cameo in meeting Tyron Woodley on an episode of Embedded.)

Does McGregor really demand an ownership stake in the UFC, or is this just pure hype and bluster?

UFC 205 pulled over 2 million google searches on Saturday night which usually means a healthy PPV buy rate.  Also over 1 million searches on Saturday were Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey.  Rousey searches likely due to the unveiling of the very good promo for her return on Friday, December 30th.

Conclusion

This event should flirt with the PPV record of 1.6 million PPV buys.  Certainly, college football and the fact that many fans purchase the event at UFC.com could detract from the overall number.  However, with 3 title fights on the main card including the company’s biggest PPV star, Conor McGregor, we should see a PPV buy rate around 1.5-1.7 million PPV buys

Dana White target for deposition in antitrust lawsuit

November 14, 2016

The Sports Business Journal reports that lawyers on behalf of former UFC fighters intend to depose Dana White as part of the antitrust lawsuit ongoing in federal court in Nevada.

The lawsuit is in its discovery phase with both lawyers for the plaintiffs and lawyers for the UFC exchanging documents.  Depositions involving key witnesses has commenced.  Notably, the article indicates that Nate Quarry has been deposed by the defendants.  Plaintiffs lawyers intend to depose Dana White in likely questioning about the UFC’s business practices which relate to their antitrust claim.

Discovery ends May 1, 2017 which means that we should see more UFC executives deposed by the plaintiffs’ attorneys as well as some of the former fighters which may include Cung Le, Jon Fitch and Brandon Vera.

The article indicates that plaintiffs’ attorneys may seek to depose executives from the new ownership group at WME-IMG as well.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see if and when they depose White.  His deposition is likely imminent since he’s had a major hand in the operations of the UFC when the alleged issues have occurred.  We will see if plaintiffs’ attorneys will be able to obtain his testimony from the FTC investigations as well as previous lawsuits involving the company.  One might expect a lengthy deposition (i.e., multiple days) for White.

UFC 205 sets gate record

November 13, 2016

MMA Junkie reports the attendance, gate and bonuses from UFC 205 from New York City on Saturday night.

The $50,000 bonuses went to Conor McGregor, Yoel Romero, Stephen Thompson and Tyron Woodley.  McGregor and Romero earned the Performance bonuses while Thompson and Woodley drew the Fight of the Night.

UFC 205 drew a record $17.7 million gate before a crowd of 20,427 at Madison Square Garden.  The gate eclipsed the UFC’s gate attendance of $12 million at UFC 129.  You may recall that 129 was a stadium show in Toronto with 55,724 in attendance.

The numbers were announced post-fight by the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

A great night of fights.  Certainly, Khabib, Vicente Luque or Tim Boetsch could have won Performance bonuses as well as Joanna and Karolina for Fight of the Night.  The attendance and gate were a forgone conclusion that they would set records.  With the buzz of it being the first UFC event in New York after the ban was lifted on MMA and the astronomical ticket prices, the gate would set records.  Just looking at the previous record where over 55,000 were in attendance versus this event with almost 20,500 in attendance, the ticket prices were much more for New York.

McGregor may be late for “The Notorious,” other trademarks

November 10, 2016

UFC 205 is set to debut in New York and will likely set gate records and will flirt with the company’s PPV buy record.  Capitalizing on his brand, it’s headliner, Conor McGregor has filed for trademarks in Ireland.

According to the Irish Patents office, McGregor’s company, McGregor Sports and Entertainment Limited has filed for “The Notorious,” “Conor McGregor,” and “The Mac Life.”  Notably, as of this date, McGregor has not filed for similar trademarks with the USPTO

We may assume that McGregor is seeking to monetize his brand by filing for these trademarks.

McGregor might run into some legal issues with obtaining the marks as there are similar trademarks already on file with the Irish Patents Office.

Of course, the global popularity of McGregor means that his trademark is available all over the world.  Per a Law360.com article the U.K, an individual has applied for the marks, “The Notorious Conor McGregor,” “Conor The Notorious McGregor,” and “Conor McGregor The Notorious.”  The person has also obtained domain names with similar names with the champion.  At this point, the individual has yet to officially obtain the marks.

Payout Perspective:

You may recall Ronda Rousey applied for trademarks with the USPTO regarding potential business opportunities.  It appears that McGregor will do something similar.  McGregor may be a little late with filing for his marks and it seems as though he should have applied for international trademark protection earlier on in his career.  Obviously, it was up to him and his management team on a business strategy and obtaining trademarks is one of the details needed to monetize a brand.

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