UFC 241: Payout Perspective

August 19, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at a very successful UFC 241 from The Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Stipe KOs Cormier to regain Heavyweight title

Stipe Miocic regained the UFC Heavyweight title with a KO of Daniel Cormier late in the 4th round.  DC had looked like the better fighter through most of the 4 rounds but Miocic’s strategy of body shots took its toll on Cormier leading to the KO.  Cormier had been leading on all cards at the time of the stoppage.

Despite the loss, Cormier has had a tremendous career and showed all class in what could be his last fight in the Octagon.  Personally, I think he still has a couple more fights in him before he retires.  It would seem as though a rematch would be the most logical thing to do although Miocic could wait to see the winner of the Walt Harris-Alistair Overeem fight or another fight with Francis Ngannou.

Diaz returns to defeat Pettis

The biggest question going into UFC 241 was determining how Nate Diaz would look like with 3 years off.  The answer was sensational.  Diaz looked fresh and used his dirty boxing tactics to stifle Anthony Pettis.  Showtime did break his foot during the fight but Diaz was clearly the dominant fighter tonight.

Diaz called out Jorge Masvidal for his next fight in what many believe would be a great fight to see.

Attendance and gate

For the first time, an MMA event in California drew over $3 million as UFC 241 drew $3,237,032 with 17,304 in attendance according to the UFC post-event.  It bested the previous record, UFC 214 by nearly $1 million.  Earlier in the week, SeatGeek noted the secondary market was up for this event.

Bonuses

The $50,000 bonuses went to Stipe Miocic, Khama Worthy, Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero.  Miocic and Worthy earned Performance Bonuses for their respective stoppages and Costa-Romero was a sight to behold with both fighters unloading big shots. Costa won by decision in the end.

Payouts

The California State Athletic Commission disclosed the payouts from the event.  Stipe Miocic topped the payouts with $750,000

Stipe Miocic: $750,000 (no win bonus)
def. Daniel Cormier: $500,000

Nate Diaz $250,000 (no win bonus)
def. Anthony Pettis: $155,000

Paulo Costa $120,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus)
def. Yoel Romero: $150,000

Sodiq Yusuff $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Gabriel Benitez: $40,000

Derek Brunson $190,000 (includes $95,000 win bonus)
def. Ian Heinisch: $25,000

Khama Worthy $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Devonte Smith: $23,000

Cory Sandhagen $154,000 (includes $77,000 win bonus)
def. Raphael Assuncao: $79,000

Drakkar Klose $56,000 (includes $28,000 win bonus)
def. Christos Giagos: $28,000

Casey Kenney $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Manny Bermudez: $20,000

Hannah Cifers $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Jodie Esquibel: $10,000

Kyung Ho Kang $44,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus)
def. Brandon Davis: $21,000

Sabina Mazo $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Shana Dobson: $12,000

Sponsorships

UFC sponsors in the Octagon included Toyo Tires, Roar Sports (“Aurora Canabis”), Motel 6, Devour, PariMatch, PokerStars, The Rock’s latest movie, “Hobbs and Shaw,” Nemiroff, Modelo, P3, Devour, Monster and Circle K shared an Octagon post and Monster Energy had the center.

Poker Stars also had the outside the Octagon standing area for the coaches.  Body Armor was all over the place last night including the drinks and stools for the event.

Devour had the fighter prep point.  It was also on most of the Reebok fighter kits including shorts and walkout shirt. Notably, it was not on Cormier’s fight kit as he had the Monster, “M” on his gear.

Trifecta Nutrition presented the 7 Embedded Episodes.

Daniel Cormier signed a deal with cbdMD as it was announced during fight week.

Odds and Ends

Nate Diaz ascended to superstar status at UFC 241.  If he was not already a star after defeating Conor McGregor at UFC 196, he reminded people after a 3-year absence why he believes he’s the best in the fight game.  Notwithstanding, you can argue that the UFC made some concessions due to Diaz’s new leverage.  As Embedded showed, he didn’t have to wait around at weigh-ins, he stayed in Corona del Mar near the Wedge (pretty posh neighborhood near Newport Beach) and he lit up a blunt (later clarified as a CBD cigarette from his business) at open workouts.  Yet, the UFC and ESPN went along with it.

The UFC is better with Nate Diaz than it is without him and Dana White admitted that he is a “needle mover.”

As part of the media strategy to reintroduce Diaz to the masses, the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning writer, John Branch, wrote a piece about him which highlighted the fighter’s anti-hero attributes.

During UFC 241, there was a lot of hype for next month’s UFC 242 taking place in Abu Dhabi. As a part, it relived the Conor-Khabib matchup from last October.

Nate Diaz had a bunch of unintentional funny comments during his post-fight presser.  Including this one:


There were many notable fighters in the crowd including boxer Terrence Crawford and various UFC fighters but no one drew the most heat than Colby Covington and his MAGA gimmick.

The best part of the Embedded was the “push-up pump” Romero did before getting his photos taken.

The Costa-Romero fight earned Fight of the Night.  During the first round, Romero used the “hey look over there” gimmick to buy time and nail Costa with a punch.  The winner talked about it after.

In spite of his loss, Daniel Cormier showed class in the face of adversity.  Embedded showed his busy schedule in promoting the fight which included throwing out the first pitch at the Angels game, a spot on Access Hollywood and other media.  It also showed the various businesses that he has which will take care of him after his fight career.

Conclusion

UFC 241 drew over 2 million google searches on Saturday which likely equates to a very good buy rate.  The return of Nate Diaz likely spurred the influx of interest coupled with the Heavyweight fight between Cormier and Miocic.  Something in the range of 400-450K PPV buys from ESPN+ would be a good estimate.

UFC releases economic data of UFC 229 a day before Conor-Khabib NAC hearings

January 28, 2019

A day before the commission’s disciplinary hearings involving Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmogomedov, the UFC released an economic impact statement on how the fight drove the economy in Las Vegas.

According to the release, UFC 229 delivered $86.4 million in total economic output according to a study conducted by the research firm Applied Analysis.  According to the release, it’s the largest economic impact for a single UFC event measured globally.

Via UFC press release:

Key Highlights of the UFC® 229: KHABIB vs. MCGREGOR economic impact study:

  • $86.4 million total economic output
  • $17.2 million total salaries and wages paid
  • 414 jobs supported in Southern Nevada
  • $3.7 million total taxes paid by visitors
  • 40% of UFC 229 visitors traveled from international locations
  • 50% of attendees were between the ages of 21 to 34
  • 50% of attendees reported an annual household income of $100,000 or more
  • One in five attendees stayed in Las Vegas for at least five days
  • Nearly two in five attendees reported spending more than $2,000 on non-gaming activities

Payout Perspective:

Was the study commissioned by the UFC?  Obviously, if it was, there are reasons to be skeptical.  These economic highlights are impressive and one might think the UFC could produce something like this for its International Fight Week in July as well.  But the reason for this information might be due to the disciplinary hearings occurring Tuesday for Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmogomedov.  Although it was an economic boon for the city, it was a black mark for MMA as Khabib jumped the cage and Conor took a swing at one of Khabib’s teammates.

UFC sponsoring Outsports LGBTQ Pride March in New York

June 22, 2018

MMA Fighting reports that the UFC is sponsoring the LGBTQ Pride March in New York for SBNation web site Outsports.  It is the presenting sponsor of the Outsports NYC Price March.

Outsports covers LBTQ athletes and is a sister-site of MMA Fighting and Bloody Elbow.

Tecia Torres, Nina Ansaroff and Sijara Eubanks will be part of the march this weekend.  All 3 are openly gay.

Payout Perspective:

The sponsorship for the event makes sense considering the number of openly gay athletes in the UFC.  Perhaps there’s a scheduling issue but I’m surprised Amanda Nunes is not a part of the event.  Ansaroff and Nunes are engaged.  Torres also is dating fellow UFC fighter Raquel Pennington.  A couple years ago, the UFC made an effort to reach out to the LGBTQ community and its nice to see them lend their support once again.

Dodson will not be paid after Munhoz fails to make weight

February 2, 2018

John Dodson will not be compensated for traveling to Brazil, making weight and being ready to fight Pedro Munhoz Saturday after the Sao Paulo native did not make weight.

MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz confirmed with UFC officials that Dodson will not be compensated.  Munhoz was unable to make weight for his fight at 135 pounds.  According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the hotel that Munhoz was staying at ran out of hot water which prevented him from cutting the necessary weight.

Regardless of the reason why Munhoz missed weight, the issue of the other fighter has surfaced once again.  Last month Vitor Belfort was not paid due to the fact Uriah Hall had to go to the hospital due to complications with weight-cutting.  The UFC did not compensate him.  It was noted that they attempted to get him a replacement or a fight on a card the next weekend.

Here, Dodson traveled to Brazil for the fight, had to pay for a fight camp and perhaps some of his coaches.  You might recall that UFC heavyweight Tim Johnson set up an online fund so that his full coaching stuff could travel to Brazil.  So, it’s a huge financial undertaking for the fighter if they are to fight in another country.

Payout Perspective:

I’ve always wondered why UFC contracts do not allow for the fighter that makes the weight to obtain their show money.  It could be that the contractual language allows the UFC to terminate the contract if one side fails to fight for whatever reason.  If that were the case, it would create a huge issue for fighters since the contract would favor the UFC who may unilaterally pull the plug on a fight and not have to pay anyone.  Also, if another fight were to be offered, it would seemingly force the fighter to make weight to have to take the match even if they did not want to do it.  We will see if the UFC addresses it from a PR standpoint and compensate Dodson for traveling to Brazil.

Covington issues apology for comments, UFC will review issue

October 29, 2017

The UFC will review post-fight comments made by Colby Covington in the Octagon last night at UFC Fight Night 119 in Brazil.  Covington has issued an “apology” of sorts but the comments show the line between gimmick and insensitivity.

Covington earned a victory over Demian Maia and proceeded to call the Brazilian crowd “animals” and Brazil a dump.  UFC exec David Shaw noted that they were not very happy with Covington’s comments.

Covington issued an apology of sorts:

Of course, Covington is not employed by the UFC if that who he is referring to in the tweet.  As we know, UFC fighters are independent contractors.

Covington noted that the crowd was hostile toward him and it appears that his comments were made in retaliation.  It is not the first time an American has received less than hospitable greeting from a Brazilian crowd.  Also, it is not the first time that a UFC fighter has made racially insensitive remarks.  Conor McGregor had made derogatory remarks about Jose Aldo and Brazil.  Whether or not he realized it, McGregor also made racially driven comments about Nate Diaz and Floyd Mayweather.  During his feud with Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen made remarks about Brazilian kids “playing in the mud.”

Payout Perspective:

Covington’s comments are not uncommon which is an issue the sport must address.  If you want to be a professional, you have to handle yourself accordingly and I assume under the new ownership they will want their fighters to act like a pro.  This would mean not responding to taunts from fans and understanding what is correct and what is not correct in making comments.  While a portion of this may do with inciting a reaction, there is a fine line that a professional must know without going over the line.   Moreover, you have to realize your place in the company.  While a McGregor may have more of a rope with his comments, Covington is not a known name.  I would expect the UFC to address this situation with some sort of sensitivity training.

McGregor caught using homophobic slur on camera

October 23, 2017

Conor McGregor used a homophobic slur at a UFC over the weekend which will test the UFC as to how to handle the situation with its biggest superstar.

Cameras caught McGregor using the slur when talking to Artem Lobov.  Videos showing the slur were deleted from official accounts.

McGregor has been vocal for equality when the question of same sex marriage arose and supported a referendum in favor of it.

This past summer McGregor used the term “boy” when referring to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. during their press tour which drew a stir about the racial insensitivity of the remark.

Earlier this month Fabricio Werdum was admonished by the UFC and ordered to do LGBTQ outreach for homophobic remarks made during a UFC press conference.

No word from the UFC if there will be any repercussions.

(h/t:  MMA Fighting)

Payout Perspective:

The obvious difference between McGregor’s remarks and Werdum’s was that the UFC heavyweight made the remarks during an official UFC event while McGregor’s were intended to be private.  Still, that does not absolve him of the insensitivity.  But, the UFC will have to make a decision on what to do since it has sponsors that it does not want to offend.  The slur by McGregor is one of those “locker room” remarks that is no longer acceptable.  In fact, it should never have been acceptable but for ignorance.  One would expect McGregor and the UFC to comment with an apology soon.

UFC to host more than 1,500 first responders at 216

October 6, 2017

Dana White announced that over 1,500 first responders as well as some injured in the horrific shooting on Sunday will attend UFC 216 Saturday.  White told TSN the news the day before the event.

Everyone at the weigh-ins on Friday were Vegas Strong apparel in support of the community after the tragic mass shooting on Sunday night.  The shirts, made by Fanatics, are being sold at UFC.com with proceeds going to help the families affected by the shooting.  In addition, earlier this week, the UFC announced it was donating $1 million to families of the shooting victims.

Payout Perspective:

It will be an emotional night for the UFC on Saturday.  It was a nice gesture by the UFC and a showing of community by the Vegas-based company.  Of course, the underlying issue here is that the event was not selling well as there are still many tickets available on the primary market with the get-in price at a very affordable $55.

UFC “disappointed” with Werdum, will do LGBTQ outreach

October 1, 2017

Fabricio Werdum will do outreach in the LGBTQ community as a result of a tirade at a UFC 216 Media Lunch last week with Tony Ferguson.  Werdum used a homophobic slur directed to Ferguson during a confrontation with the UFC lightweight.  As a result, the UFC has issued a statement expressing its disappointment with Werdum.

The UFC released a statement (via MMA Fighting):

The UFC organization is disappointed with recent comments made by Fabricio Werdum at a promotional event in Los Angeles. The nature and implication of his comments do not reflect UFC’s views and will not be tolerated, no matter the manner in which they are used.

We acknowledge and appreciate that Fabricio has since apologized to the organization and to anyone he may have offended with his words. As high profile athletes, role models, and global ambassadors of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, athletes under contract with UFC are required to abide by the Athlete Conduct Policy. Given his breach of this policy, Fabricio has agreed to perform community outreach within the LGBTQ community in Las Vegas, taking steps to enact change and make a direct impact within the community.

Werdum attempted to apologize himself explaining away his comments:

Payout Perspective:

Regardless of Werdum’s explanation, he should understand that this is not the gym and he has to carry himself like a professional.  Getting into a heated argument with someone not even in your division makes no sense and has no payoff.  Not only does Werdum look bad, but he created a public relations issue for the UFC which won’t do him any favors with the UFC.

Mayweather-McGregor may use 8 ounce gloves

August 10, 2017

The Nevada State Athletic Commission will be looking into changing the glove size for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight at its next meeting on August 16th.  Mayweather has requested that the glove size be changed from the typical 10-ounce gloves for the 147-pound weight division to 8 ounce gloves.

In MMA, the glove weight is four ounces.

In a report on BoxingScene.com, Association of Boxing Commission rules dictate that boxers must wear 8 ounce gloves contested at the 147 pound weight limited and lower.  Above the 147 pound require boxers to wear the 8 ounce gloves.

Mayweather went on social media to make it known that he is making the request for the change.

Don’t believe what you hear in the media. Don’t believe what you hear on blog sites. If it’s not coming directly from me, then it’s not true. I’m telling McGregor, “Let’s fight in 8 oz gloves”. McGregor can fight in any brand he prefers or chooses. I’ll be wearing 8 oz Grant gloves. Whatever advantage McGregor needs to feel more comfortable in the ring, I’m willing to accommodate. Let’s give the boxing and MMA fans what they want to see. @grantworldwide @mayweatherpromotions

A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on

According to the report, the parties may have a right to submit a waiver before the commission to use the 8 ounce gloves and explain the reasons why.  The commission will then vote on the waiver.  However, it appears that this has rarely, if ever, has happened.

This is not the first time Mayweather has sparred with his opponent over gloves.  He disputed the use of Everlast gloves by Marcos Maidana in their first fight in 2014.

Payout Perspective:

At first, it seemed like a ploy with Floyd knowing that the contract stated it was 147 pounds.  But now – it still seems like a plea for fans to watch the fight.  The public relations aspect here is that Floyd wants to make it clear that Conor McGregor has a chance of beating him.  The smaller gloves are supposed to be advantageous for the MMA fighter.  With most analysts acknowledging that McGregor has little, if any chance, the parties are thinking of something to make it seem more competitive.  The 8 ounce gloves provide some semblance of leveling a playing field with the opportunity for McGregor to knock Floyd out.  I would assume this happens as the commission will likely allow the sides to proceed so long as each party agrees.

UFC PR Exec Sholler leaves for NBA job

October 13, 2016

Dave Sholler, the UFC’s Vice President of Public Relations, Athlete Marketing and Development, is leaving the UFC to take on a role with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.

Dana White first broke the news on UFC Tonight and Sholler confirmed his departure on twitter.

Sholler worked in PR with the WEC and came over to the Zuffa-owned UFC brand upon the merger in 2009.  Sholler is best remembered for his attempt to stop a face of altercation between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones in August 2014.

Sholler’s last event with the UFC will be the November 5th for UFC’s debut in New York.

Payout Perspective:

Back when Sholler was with the WEC he pitched a story for a local Seattle outlet that I wrote for about an up and coming WEC fighter that was originally from Federal Way.  The fighter was Benson Henderson.  Through the years he has helped get access to Henderson and a couple others for the local Seattle outlet.  Overall, he’s been very fair and from what most say is an overall good guy.

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