Popeyes Chicken center of PR issue?

May 22, 2014

Dan Henderson delivered Popeyes Chicken to Daniel Cormier as a joke with the knowledge that Cormier is in the midst of cutting weigh but is fond of the fast food restaurant.  However, the seemingly innocuous rib may be seen as a prospective PR gain for opponents of MMA in New York.

If you missed it, in the UFC’s new “Embedded” series Cormier was delivered the tasty treat by Henderson.  Cormier is in weight cut mode and Popeyes would be a definite weight gainer.  Cormier told the story of eating Popeye’s for comfort after learning that his fight earlier this year with Rashad Evans was off.  As we know, the UFC found a replacement for Evans and Cormier returned to a diet without Popeye’s before he destroyed Patrick Cummins.  It a bit of gamesmanship Henderson personally delivered the chicken to Cormier.  It did not appear form the video that Cormier was personally offended by Henderson’s delivery.

Bloody Elbow points out the potential PR faux pas by the UFC.  Cormier is African American and Henderson is Caucasian (UPDATED: Hendo is part Native American).  Most of us knew this.  The stereotype that African Americans like Chicken is unintentionally perpetrated here.  BE indicates that this will likely be picked up by the Culinary Workers Union 226, the prime organization behind the efforts to block the efforts to legalize MMA in New York, as ammunition to persuade legislators to vote against MMA.  The belief is that it would use this episode as painting the sport as racist.

Payout Perspective:

An underlying issue in this whole Popeyes Chicken delivery is that KFC has been sponsoring TUF this season.  Certainly, KFC can’t be happy its competitor is getting more publicity than the actual UFC sponsor.  As for the PR issue, certainly BE has made a case for this joke to be a credible PR problem.  While we know the context of how the joke was made, put in a snippet to someone already weary of MMA and a bias is born (i.e., MMA is racist).

UPDATE:  05/23/14  A reader pointed out that Hendo is part Native American.  Still, the issue that someone giving Cormier chicken perpetuates some stereotype is the issue.  I think its hard to utilize this since Cormier has admitted to liking Popeyes and the joke was taken without much offense by Cormier.

Fertitta talks expansion, UFC’s continued popularity

May 20, 2014

Last week Lorenzo Fertitta made an appearance on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” where he spoke glowingly about the growth of business overseas including the announcement of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America.  Fertitta also touched on other subjects in the brief spot on the program.

Among the things Fertitta talked about was the company plans of expanding internationally including Europe and Asia.  He also identified Brazil and Latin America as “hotbed” growth areas.   Fertitta talked about the upcoming TUF Latin America

Fertitta touted that the UFC has the highest average price per ticket in sports at $254.  He indicated that Vegas have “pricing power” which he stated the UFC could charge fans a premium price.  Brazil was another area with “pricing power.”

He also spoke about Ronda Rousey and how women have been drawn to the sport “migrating into the demographic base” as a result of the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.

There was also the New York issue which Fertitta gave the generalities on the bill.  He identified that the reason the bill is held up was due to the Culinary Union and acknowledging that it has done a “great job in lobbying the state of New York to try to keep us [the UFC] out.”

Payout Perspective:

Notably, Fertitta pivoted when directly asked about the ticket sales for this Saturday’s event.  Fertitta is a polished, credible spokesperson for the UFC.  The greatest example is how he seemingly complimented the Culinary Union’s efforts to keep the UFC out of New York during the interview (at 2:27). It’s clear that the UFC sees international expansion as an area of opportunity to grow revenue and we will see how opportunities like TUF Latin America will do for the brand.

WWE renews with NBC Universal

May 15, 2014

Variety reports that the WWE has come to terms with NBC Universal and will stay with its USA and SyFy networks.  While financial terms have not been disclosed, the decline of its stock price may foreshadow a lower than expected renewal rate.

In after-hours trading Thursday, the stock had fallen almost 24% to $15.50.  Of course, this may also be due to the announcement that its WWE Network may not make up lost money from PPV and on-demand revenue until 2015.

Per a WWE press release, the company “reached a multi-year agreement in principle with NBCU for the renewed U.S. licensing of WWE’s flagship programs and ratings juggernauts Raw and SmackDown.”

The announcement that Nikki and Brie Bella would be attending the NBC Universal “up fronts” on Thursday was a sign that the WWE reached an agreement with NBCU for its rights fee deal.  However, the deal is likely not what the company had expected.

The WWE wanted $280 million according to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer in his May 14th podcast. While some analysts had predicted that the WWE doubled its $140 million deal, it was downplayed by the WWE.  In its press release announcing the domestic deal, it also announced its work on deals in the U.K., Thailand and its intent to selling its rights in India. This would be something that would not be highlighted if it received a great deal.

The WWE earned $106 million of revenue from domestic broadcast rights in 2013 and $55 million overseas according to the Wall Street Journal.

Payout Perspective:

Based on the recent history of sports deals, including the news earlier this week that the MLS brokered a big deal with ESPN/Fox/Univision for five times the current value of its television deal, the WWE had hoped it would have capitalized on the market.

However, it appears that the WWE overvalued its worth.  While it has strong ratings for its RAW and SmackDown brands, its advertising rates were comparatively low.  There is also the perception problem.  Although revenues have grown since the WWE has gone family friendly from the “Attitude Era” of the 1990s, the mainstream view of professional wrestling remains that it is low class and the choreographed violence is unappealing.

With all the good news of the launch of the WWE Network coinciding with the rise in the WWE stock price exceeding $30 for a brief time, the news of its rights fee deal may cause a short term depression for investors.  In fact, the downward spiral in after-hours trading reflects this.

From NBCU’s perspective, renewing the WWE helps the value for the USA Network from a PR standpoint as Raw is one of the top-rated shows on cable.  This helps its overall cable ranking.  It can promote itself as one of the best in cable even though the WWE may not add much in overall financial value.

It will be interesting to see how WWE stock reacts in the next couple days when financial terms are released.

UFC-Nike butting heads over fighter appearances?

May 5, 2014

Last week the Strait Times reported on a developing story that underscored the continuing tension between Nike and the UFC.  A Nike-sponsored world tour which touts appearances by Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre is being called “false advertising” by the UFC.

The 11 city overseas tour began in Paris May 5th and runs through June 7th with a final stop in Manila.  Jones and Silva are sponsored by Nike.  Although GSP is sponsored by Under Armour, organizers claim he will be making an appearance.

The Strait Times, which is based in Singapore, indicates that the fighters will host a clinic and meet and greet there.  Fans will pay as much as $888 for the clinic and/or $128 for the meet and greet.

The Strait Times claims that the UFC has addressed the appearances and stated that the promotion of the UFC fighters was “false advertising” and advised fans not to buy tickets as the fighters are not involved.

Payout Perspective: 

The report appears to show the continuing rift between Nike and the UFC.  The Beaverton, Oregon sportswear giant seems to be unwilling to yield to the UFC sponsor fees.  The latest sign was the lack of the swoosh on Jones during his latest fight at UFC 172.  At the weigh-ins, any signs of the Nike were taped over.  This included the shirts worn by Jones’ brothers who accompanied the champ to the scales.  There was no word whether the three were in Paris on Monday.

UFC 172: Payout Perspective

April 28, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 172 taking place at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland where Jon Jones successfully defended his light heavyweight title against Glover Texeira.

Jones wears out Glover

Jon Jones fought Glover Texeira’s type of fight but still overwhelmed the challenger.  Jones used his reach and generally out struck Texeira causing his mouthpiece to be dislodged on a couple occasions. It definitely looked like Jones was going 100%.

With the impressive win, Jones moves on to a likely rematch with Alexander Gustaffson with Sweden discussed as a possible place for the fight.  After that, it’s possible he takes on the winner of Daniel Cormier (assuming he beats Hendo) versus Anthony Johnson.

ufc172_620x240_generic

Johnson upsets Davis

Phil Davis used most of the pre-fight publicity to antagonize Jon Jones. It could be that he did not focus on his opponent or it could be that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was hungry for a win.  Johnson may have been hungrier due to the decree that if Johnson did not make weight he would receive a lifetime ban.  But Johnson looked comfortable at 205.  He had crisp striking and constantly stuffed Davis’ takedown attempts.

The win propelled Johnson back to the top of the light heavyweight title picture while Davis is knocked down a few rungs on the ladder to become top contender.

Attendance and Gate

It was a near sellout at the Baltimore Arena as attendance and gate for UFC 172 was 13,485 for a live gate of $2.3 million.  Capacity at the Baltimore Arena is 14,000.  There was no info on the comps for the event.

The gate of $2.3 million was second best to UFC 171 this year.

Bonuses

The bonuses went to Takanori Gomi, Issac Valle-Flaag, Joseph Benavidez and Chris Beal.  All received $50,000 bonuses.

Max Holloway, Jim Miller, Danny Castillo and Luke Rockhold all could have argued for the bonus.

On Monday, Joseph Benavidez won a Harley Davidson as a result of a fan vote of the four bonus winners.

Promotion of the Fight

Unlike past events, Jones was mostly cheered by the Baltimore crowd.  This was due in part to Arthur and Chandler Jones being by his side. Arthur played for the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. USA Today wrote an article on Arthur Jones and his relationship with his brother.  Ray Lewis also was in the crowd at UFC 172 and the LHW paid homage during his walkout.

Ronda Rousey threw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game.

Chuck Liddell interjected himself into the pre-fight hype as he took the side of Glover Texeira.  This grabbed some headlines as the Iceman boasted that he could beat Jones in his day.

Dana White did his usual rounds in the media including the ESPN “car wash” where he was on several of the network’s shows.

The New York Times wrote a piece about Jon Jones being the “face” of the UFC.

Sponsorships

The usual suspects were in the Octagon: Xyience, Harley Davidson, MusclePharm, Alienware, MetroPCS and Bud Light in the center.  AxsTV, Fram Auto Filters and the Air Force Reserve also had a presence in the Octagon.  Toyo Tires also sponsored certain portions of the broadcast. Xyience had the fighter prep point.

USA Wrestling sponsored the “Tale of the Tape” for UFC 172.

Glover Texeira was sponsored by MMA brand, Red Nose.

Several fighters were sponsored by “The Memory Tag.”  The company, according to its web site, allows customers “to put your videos on greeting cards, stickers, and postcards.”

Curious sponsor of the night was Tim Boetsch and his PS I Love You Books walkout shirt.  The company offers wedding picture books.  It’s not the first time that Boetsch has been sponsored by this company.

Nike non-sponsorship

The Jones brothers walked out with their brother at the UFC weigh-ins.  Noticeably, the Jones brothers wore Nike shirts with the swoosh taped over as it was apparent the UFC is not allowing Nike logos without it paying the sponsor fee.  But, Jones wore Nike products without the iconic swoosh.  Here is an example of the Jones shirt with and without the swoosh logo.  Jones was sponsored by the new EA UFC game on fight night.  Still, it was clear that the apparel (fight shorts and shirts) were Nike made despite the lack of a swoosh.

So, the question is, does it hurt Nike not to pay the UFC sponsor fee?  One might argue it does not since we all know Jones wears Nike.  He was in another Nike commercial and has been in recent Nike ads.  Even though there was no swoosh, fans associate Jones with the Nike brand.  While the lack of a swoosh may have casted doubt on whether Jones was still sponsored by the swoosh, the t-shirts would have told the smart fight fan that those were Nike made.  In the end, even though Nike did not pay the sponsor fee to the UFC, it did not hurt the company presence.

Even though Nike was not an official approved sponsor, it did not go unnoticed.

Odds and Ends

-On the Steve Austin Podcast, Paul Heyman revealed that WWE talent receives a free pass to the WWE Network. Based on Jon Jones’ tweet, UFC fighters do not get a Fight Pass account for free.

-Did they institute a dress coat for Joe Rogan?

-Jon Jones did the “Ray Lewis dance” pre-walkout.

-Ticket demand was up from UFC 171 as the average ticket on the secondary market was $290.

-According to Google Trends, the most searches per country for “Jon Jones” on Saturday were 1) Brazil, 2) Philippines and 3) US.  Sweden ranked seventh.

-An ominous sign for the PPV buys for UFC 172 was that the number of Google searches for Jones was down from his fight with Gus at UFC 165. You may recall that Jones-Gus did 310,000 PPV buys.  While we recognize Google Trends may not be conclusive evidence, the less interest in Jones in lead-up to 172 may be cause for concern for PPV buys.

Conclusion

The local buzz appeared good for the UFC 172 and the UFC did its rounds with the national media to get the word out for the event.  But, did all the hype help sell the PPV?  While looking at what’s trending on Google or Twitter may not equate to how many people buy a PPV, it has been a helpful indicator.  Based on this information, its likely we see a buy rate of less than Jones’ last PPV which would be something less than 310,000 buys.

Jon Jones: face of the UFC?

April 26, 2014

The New York Times‘ William Rhoden penned a piece for the paper in lieu of the UFC event in Baltimore which deems Jones a face of the UFC.  Rhoden writes, “Jones is the perfect ambassador for a polarizing sport.”  Rhoden could have used polarizing to describe Jones as well.

Obviously, Rhoden is not a full-time MMA fan.  If he were, he would know that Jones is passionately loved and hated by fans.  Jones has had his fair share of PR troubles stemming back to his DWI  in May 2012 to being blamed for the cancellation of UFC 151 later that year to the latest issues with his Instagram account.  This does not include some of the off-putting comments he makes which seem to annoy the average MMA fan.  With all of this negativity that is drudged up, it’s hard to recall that this was the same guy that helped stopped a robber the same day he had a title fight.

Throughout these problems, it has not hurt him from obtaining blue chip sponsors.  Nike is the biggest sponsor for Jones (based on the weigh-ins on Fridays, it appears that Nike does not want to pay the UFC sponsor fee).  At UFC 165, he also wore a Gatorade logo on his trunks.  Few UFC fighters could obtain these sponsors.

When you look at the PPV numbers, Jon Jones is the top active UFC fighter in terms of overall PPV buys.  Certainly, the numbers are skewed (i.e., UFC 94, 100) with some PPVs since he was riding the coattails of a main event.  Still, the numbers are the numbers.

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

Jon Jones UFC PPV appearances

625,000 UFC 87
920,000 UFC 94
1,600,000 UFC 100
725,000 UFC 126
490,000 UFC 128
520,000 UFC 135
485,000 UFC 140
700,000 UFC 145
450,000 UFC 152
550,000 UFC 159
310,000 UFC 165

 

The PPV numbers reflect that Jones averages 610,455 buys in his PPV appearances.  If you want to be more specific, in those PPV events where he has been in the main event (essentially UFC 128 – UFC 165), Jones has averaged 500,000 PPV buys.  For those wondering, Ronda Rousey averages approximately 597,000 PPV buys in her three appearances.

Payout Perspective:

I would expect a warm reception from the Baltimore crowd on Saturday as his NFL-playing siblings will likely be a part of the entourage during his entrance to the Octagon.

Even if Jones was not the true draw in all of his PPV appearances, he has to be considered the face (or at least “co-face” with Ronda Rousey) of the UFC based on how the UFC is marketing him and the fact he is the Light Heavyweight Champion.  The UFC is in need of a fighter that can generate the interest that a GSP and/or Anderson Silva can bring to a PPV.  Jones has now had 7 PPVs where he has been in the main event with moderate success.  The 500,000 PPV average is very good but some of that can also be attributed to his opponents (i.e., Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson, Chael Sonnen).

In September 2012, we took a look at the PR predicament of Jon Jones post-UFC 151 cancellation.  The takeaway was that he had yet to learn to be comfortable with his role as a UFC headliner.  More than two and a half years later, how has he done?

As Jones faces another test on Saturday night, his image is polarizing.  He is revered by mainstream media outlets as he is come across as a genuinely nice guy.  But MMA social media, web sites and those who comment on them have a different opinion.

Certainly the perceived ego and his PR gaffes have contributed to the online hate for the champ.  Many have soured on him despite his dominance in the division.  If Jones gets past Texeira, he will likely have at least two big fights upcoming that could draw big PPV numbers:  a rematch with Alexander Gustaffson and Daniel Cormier.  If Jones were to prevail, it would solidify him as one of the greatest fighters in the Octagon.  But, will fans warm up to him or continue to root for his opponents.

MMA sponsor offers $5K for Rousey KO

April 21, 2014

Bloody Elbow reports that MMA sponsor Americana is offering a fighter $5,000 if they are the first to KO UFC’s women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey.

You may recall that Americana MMA was the same brand that claimed the UFC priced it out of sponsoring three women fighters that were leaving the independent ranks to be a part of the newly forming UFC women’s straw weight (115lb) division.  It appears the reason for the offer is based on Rousey’s statements about Cris “Cyborg” Justino and the lack of a reprimand for them.

Americana MMA would not be the first sponsor willing to motivate a fighter to beat Rousey.  Dynamic Fastener offered Miesha Tate a little more than its standard sponsor payout ($6,500) and a $10,000 bonus if Tate beat  Rousey at UFC 168.

Payout Perspective:

This is a nice bit of PR for Americana MMA.  Although it cannot afford the UFC sponsor fee, it is getting publicity (including this site here) by offering less than what a sponsor normally has to fork over to the UFC.  So, the question is whether the UFC will allow its (independently) contracted fighters to collect on a “bonus” from a sponsor not associated with the UFC.  Alexis Davis may have the first shot at this July 5th.

McMahon featured in Forbes

March 26, 2014

Forbes.com posted an article which features WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon.  The article boasts the achievements of McMahon while cautioning about the risks of the WWE Network.

The article, written by Lifestyle editor Michael Solomon, is an overall positive piece on the McMahon success story.  The piece highlights the company’s big investment in the network which is underscored by the fact that revenues “have barely budged (remaining at $500 million since 08) over the last few years.”  This may be due to the $75 million it has reportedly spent on setting up the WWE Network.  It also writes about the company’s failed attempt to establish its network as a “premium” channel to be distributed on the network. The Forbes.com piece spins this in the positive for the WWE and mostly everyone has bought into the“over the top” strategy of the network.

As it is currently set up, the network needs 1 million subscribers to break even.  At 2 million subscribers, it projects adding $50 million to its EBITDA.  The first numbers on the network will come out after Wrestlemania.

Due to the network, the WWE has cannibalized its PPV business which will change how the company will do business.  The shift has drawn the ire of DirecTV and Dish Network.  DirecTV had some harsh words for the WWE and Dish Network actually told its subscribers that it would not carry Wrestlemania XXX this April 6th.  However, it has since backtracked on its stance and will now carry the show.

The article will be published in the print edition of Forbes the week leading up to Wrestlemania Sunday giving it a prime PR piece leading up to its biggest event of the year.

Quick strikes…

Television by Numbers reports the second episode of Total Divas (9pm ET/6pm PT) scored a viewer average of 1.28 million viewers on Sunday night.  Thus, it did better than the last hour (936K average) of UFC Fight Night 36 although the last quarter hour featuring Rua-Hendo did 1.25 million.

Last week the WWE and Mattel, Inc. announced new kids property called WWE Slam City.  In addition to merchandise, the WWE has launched a series featuring WWE characters which appears on WWESlamCity.com, YouTube and its Network. The obvious hope is that this property will facilitate continued growth in its consumer products division.

Chope terminated by UFC after news of military charges of domestic violence

March 24, 2014

The UFC has let go of featherweight Will Chope when it was discovered that he was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force for domestic violence as indicated in court documents.  His fight at UFC Fight Night 38 was scrapped due to the news.

The news, broken by Bleacher Report, occurred one day before his fight with Diego Brandao after Bleacher Report revealed the details of his legal troubles.  The news broke after weigh-ins as Chope made weight and faced off against Brandao.  So, it’s obvious that the reason for the cancellation and subsequent dismissal was the news of his domestic violence discharge.  The issue here is why didn’t the UFC know of Chope’s background and the fact he had a criminal history.

The court documents from the Air Force deny Chope’s appeal of the severity of his sentence related to assaulting his wife.  The key phrase in the court record that causes you to recoil is Chope, “physically assaulted her [Chope’s then wife] on multiple occasions.” He also “disobeyed an order given to prevent future assaults.”

Chope’s sentence of a “bad-conduct discharge and confinement for 5 months,” was upheld.

The UFC released a statement on Chope:

Tonight’s featherweight bout between Will Chope and Diego Brandao has been canceled after UFC officials were made aware of Chope’s previous military conviction. The UFC does not condone behavior of this nature whatsoever and Chope has been released from his contract.

Brandao will receive both his show and win money for the bout.

Payout Perspective:

Did the UFC do the right thing?  Certainly there have been other fighters in the UFC with sordid backgrounds and charges of domestic abuse.  But, how did the UFC not know of this issue prior to Sunday’s bout?  Chope debuted with the company in January of this year.  One might imagine that legal documents, especially those in the military, may be hard to obtain.  One would have hoped that the UFC would have done its due diligence especially since Chope indicated he had a criminal charge on his record.

Should the UFC have dismissed Chope?  It’s obvious that he is a PR issue in the UFC especially with the Culinary Union looking for any misstep by the UFC to jump on.  The UFC is trying once again to legalize MMA in NY and opponents believe that the sport is barbaric and Chope’s domestic violence charge would affirm these perceptions.  Moreover, with the UFC expanding to more countries, it is trying to put its best foot forward.  We will see if the UFC will undergo much more of a vetting process after this incident.

For Chope, it’s a hard situation if we believe his regret for the incident and his wanting to move forward from it.  The UFC is the pinnacle of one’s career in MMA and it’s apparent that he will not get a chance to fight for the organization again.

UFC 170: Payout Perspective

February 24, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 170 held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Knee, not armbar, stops McMann

Ronda Rousey didn’t need her patented armbar to stop Sara McMann, but a knee to the liver downed the former Olympian.  While there may be some controversy about the stoppage, things were not going well for her.  Granted, she did mark up Rousey’s face.  Rousey did appear to be in dominant control after the knee.

Rousey will juggle movies and training as while it’s not clear who will be her next opponent will be and when that fight may happen.

Final_UFC_170_event_poster

Cormier makes short work of Cummins

There was sufficient hype for Patrick Cummins in short time to give folks the belief he could give Cormier a good fight.  In the end, Cormier was mad that he was hit twice by Cummins as the fight was a classic example of a mismatch.  Surprisingly, Cormier still put over Cummins in that he would still have an future in the UFC.

Cummins had a good enough story (walk-on to wrestling team at Penn St., working at coffee shop) that the UFC pushed which glossed over the fact that he was incarcerated for some time.

For Cormier, he should be close to a shot at the 205 title and may have one more fight in the division before he gets the shot.

Attendance and Gate

The attendance for the event was reported at 10,217 for a live gate of $1,558,870.  The announced gate was one of the lowest in Vegas for a PPV in several years.

Dana White was surprised by the gate as he proclaimed on Thursday that it would do $2.1 million.

The NSAC will have final numbers sometime later this week.

Bonuses

We previously reported, Ronda Rousey, Rory MacDonald, Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson received the $50,000 bonuses for the night.  MacDonald and Maia was the Fight of the Night and Rousey and Thompson received the Performance Bonuses.  As I stated, in the previous post, Erik Koch could have staked claim to one of the Performance Bonuses.

Salaries

The salaries were announced earlier than usual and are here.  Notably, Daniel Cormier had the biggest base salary ($80K and $80 to win).  Rousey earned $55K to show and $55 to win for a total of $110K.  She also earned the $50K performance bonus and thus earned $160K for the night – the same as Cormier.  Rory MacDonald was the third top earner of the night with $150K ($50K/$50K plus bonus).

Pre-UFC 170 Issues

Three newsworthy issues occurred in the run-up to this event.

The first was the Jessica Eye situation. Eye tested positive for marijuana after her October 2013 fight which caused her win to be changed to a no-contest. Instead of admitting this and showing contrition, she took to twitter to attack those reporting about her failed drug test.  Then she went on The MMA Hour to give a vague denial of the situation.  In fact, after her interview with Helwani, the Texas test results that she tested positive and waived her right to an appeal, she had some explaining to do.  To the UFC’s credit, it attempted to protect its contract fighter.

Via Fox Sports:

Eye was caught in a lie and there was no getting around it, but UFC president Dana White defended the fighter on Thursday saying that she honestly meant no harm in the matter.  White knows that Eye got caught up in not telling the truth in one interview, and then it just spiraled downhill from there and before you know it a snowball turned into an avalanche.

In the end, Eye should have received some media relations advice on addressing the situation and decide whether or not to appear on shows to discuss the situation.  Moreover, attacking press for a story that was for the most part factually correct is never a good idea.  The media relations and public relations part of the business is not as easy as it looks.

The second is the injury to Rashad Evans and the subsequent replacement of Patrick Cummins.  Cormier wanted a fight with someone since he had worked so hard to drop down to 205.  Cummins, according to the UFC, was the only one willing to take the fight on such short notice.  The UFC scrambled to create some buzz for the fight and did so with Cummins violating the unspoken rule of revealing that he made Cormier cry during training.  This created ample buzz as it made the fight a little more interesting since it drew the ire of Cormier.

The third was how the PPV was promoted regarding the Olympics resume of its main eventers.  The belief was that since the Winter Olympics were ongoing   The UFC commercial promoting the Olympians was a dubbed Mike Goldberg voiceover which stated that Rousey was the first woman to win a medal in Judo.  Of course, this could not be the case since Olympic medals have been awarded in women’s judo since the 1992 Summer Olympics.  As BE points out, she was the first American women to take home an Olympic judo bronze.

Goldberg’s voiceovers are always manipulated for PPV promos in order to promote what needs to be promoted.  Whether it was a willful omission or a blunder, the commercial was factually incorrect.  Whether this persuaded anyone to purchase the PPV or not is de minimus yet since this was identified by the press it puts the UFC marketing folks look like they dropped the ball.

Sponsorships

USA Judo was the notable new sponsor in the Octagon.  Obviously this was due in part to Rousey’s involvement.  In addition the usual UFC sponsors were in the Octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UltimatePoker.com, Harley Davidson and Bud Light.  Also, History Channel’s series “Vikings” had signage in the Octagon as well as EA’s UFC video game coming this spring.

Cage Fighter had a coming out party of sorts for its sponsorship of Daniel Cormier and Sara McMann in the top two fights of the night.  The “Rise and Grind” moniker which is associated with CF was somewhat misappropriated by Mike Goldberg during the PPV.

Cormier was wore an “Ultra Lube” hat which relates to industrial, agriculture, auto/truck, household and outdoor uses.

Training Mask, Dynamic Fastener, AutoShopper.com and PeopleFinder.com were prevalent sponsors on multiple fighters during the night.

Rousey wore a Muhammad Ali Roots of Fight t-shirt at the weigh-ins.  Dana White also said some nice things about the clothing brand in a tweet. It’s a good brand which features many notable fighters, boxers and martial artists from the past.

I actually purchased a Roots of Fights T-Shirt in Vegas.  Unfortunately, it came with a preset ink stain.  Ugh.

Odds and Ends

A lot of talk at the pre-fight media scrum on the state of sponsorships.

Was it planned for Rousey to down McMann in front of the USA Judo signage in the Octagon?

Were you offended by Marlon Wayans’ Tweets?  Comedians have no bounds so jokes like these are expected.  Or should they be?

The Rock sent out his support of Rousey:

Bigger first?  Daniel Cormier eating salad for the first time during training camp or Dwayne Wade eating fish for the first time during All-Star Weekend.

Cormier’s performance at the pre-fight press conference was great as he was articulate, introspective and funny.  The revelation that he never had a salad before this training camp was as shocking as White not knowing the attendance figures before they were announced.  His breakdown of why street fights don’t last long (built on emotion) was great as well.

After Cormier’s admission of his love for Popeye’s Chicken, the chain provided his family with a meal after his decisive win.  But, no sponsorship from the company?

If any fighter wants to brand themselves, they should check out Patrick Cummins’ web site.  It tells his story in a short span and he has a memorable t-shirt he sells on his site.  That is what I found when I did a google search on him.  I did not find out about his jail time until later.

The UFC actively promoted using twitter.  Reading tweets from the #UFC170 hashtag seems to be the newest thing to involve social media.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk, Nick Diaz and Will Smith were notables attending the event.  Please no more CM Punk to MMA talk.

Conclusion

According to Google Trends, Ronda Rousey was the third hottest search on Saturday with over 100,000 searches.  She was behind Justin Timberlake at 2 and El Chapo Guzman at 1.  Does this equate to PPV buys?  It’s hard to say but UFC 170 will be a test on whether Ronda Rousey is truly the top draw for the company at this point.  The fact that the Cormier-Evans fight fell through did not help.  UFC 157 did a buy rate of around 500K and while UFC 168 did over 1 million buys this is partially due to the Silva-Wiedman rematch.  Based on the late buzz, we could see this event doing 400,000 PPV buys.

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