UFC 231: Payout Perspective

December 12, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 231 taking place from Toronto, Ontario, Canada where Max Holloway reminded people he is still one of the greatest in the UFC today.

Holloway forces doctor stoppage

Returning to form, Max Holloway successfully defended his Featherweight title by stopping Brian Ortega after the fourth round.  Holloway exuded confidence throughout and made one of the top challengers to his title look slow.  Ortega showed his heart throughout but was beat up to the point that he could not see out of one of his eyes forcing the stoppage between rounds.

Holloway’s cardio, quickness and ability to make subtle changes to stay out of range is remarkable and its hard to see another current Featherweight taking his title.  Although it is not going to happen, it would be fun to see him get his rematch against Conor McGregor in 2019.   Ortega is still a force in this division but just wasn’t on Holloway’s level.  He’ll be back although I would suggest he take some time to recover.

Shevchenko wins 125-pound women’s title

Valentina Shevchenko just has Joanna Jedrzejczyk number.  Shevchenko dominated the former strawweight champion for a 5 round unanimous decision over Joanna.  The fight was not even close.  It was a masterpiece by Shevchenko.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Toronto continues to be a city the UFC counts on for big attendance.  It sold out ScotiaBank Arena per UFC officials with over 19,000 fans and a $2.4 million gate.

Fight of the Night:  Ortega and Holloway

Performance Bonuses:  Holloway and Santos

All won $50K in addition to their reported purses.

Ratings

UFC 231 Pre-Fight Show on FS1:  211,000

UFC 231 Prelims: 786,000

UFC 231 Post-Fight Show: 136,000

It was a busy Saturday night of combat sports with HBO’s final boxing offering, Showtime’s replay of the Fury-Wilder fight and the Lomachenko fight on ESPN.  The ratings were up from last month’s PPV Prelims which may be a good sign.

Pre-Fight Hype

Max Holloay and Brian Ortega did a lot of media going into this fight.  There was the Holloway-Drake meetup at a Toronto Raptors game which MMA folks were giddy about.  Holloway also did a GQ video where he explained his tattoos.  The mag has done this in the past and it’s a pretty cool piece.  Also of interest, he was on the Alex Wong (Stevie LeBron) podcast early in the week and said that last spring’s unexpected pull out of April’s fight with Khabib was a surprise to him as UFC officials and Holloway’s team requested he pull out and seek more medical evaluation.

ESPN, the future home of the UFC, did a great long-form piece on Ortega and his background.

Sponsorships

Two interesting sponsors from Saturday night included PokerStars and online betting web site Pari Match had signage in the Octagon.  Look for this trend to continue and/or the UFC secures an “official” online betting site as a sponsor.

In the Octagon was Toyo Tires, Nemiroff Vodka, MetroPCS, Circle K, P3, Monster Energy, Motel 6 and Monster Energy had the center.

Also of note, Hooters was on the mat for UFC 231.

P3 were on the Reebok kits of the fighters.  According to multiple reports, the fighters are not directly receiving payment for wearing the logo.  Instead, P3 is paying the UFC.

UFC sponsor Bixler jewelry also appeared on the Embedded episodes giving Valentina some UFC 231 swag.

Odds and ends

It looked as though Max Holloway had a Reebok-branded bandana that stated his phrase, “It is what it is,” on it at the weigh-ins.

The Jimi Manuwa-Thiago Santos fight on the PPV was a heavy-hitting affair.

Worst “almost crime of the night”: Hakeem Dawodu just winning via split decision.

Dana White threw a tantrum when asked about Greg Hardy being on the same card as a domestic violence survivor.  The new media relations ploy is to act pissed when you don’t want to ask a question.

Also helpful for UFC media relations, it was discovered that a Bloody Elbow writer critical of the UFC is also into bestiality and kiddie porn.  This will lead to a new managerial technique of google searching writers that you don’t like.  If nothing is found, see Dana White’s tactics above.

Conclusion

The two championship fights seem to be the way the UFC hopes to stack its PPV cards where there is not a huge name to build around.  If Holloway can remain healthy, the UFC could probably do a standalone PPV with Holloway defending in Hawaii.  Not only would they sell out the venue, but get some decent PPV buys from it.  But, that would require the UFC to relax their ask from the state of Hawaii.  As for this event, 500K google searches and on a busy night of combat sports probably puts it around 275,000-300,000 PPV buys.  Perhaps above average for these types of non-“big card” fights.

UFC 231 Prelims draw 786,000 viewers on FS1

December 11, 2018

The UFC 231 Prelims on FS1 drew 786,000 viewers on Saturday night.  The event featured the strawweight matchup between Nina Ansaroff and Claudia Gadelha with Ansaroff pulling off the upset victory.

The event drew 394,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and a 0.46 share per ShowBuzz Daily.

The UFC 231 prefight show drew 211,000 viewers on FS1 and a 0.08 in the A18-49 demo for a 90-minute show.  The post-fight show drew 136,000 viewers and a 0.06 in the A18-49 demo for a 60 telecast.

Payout Perspective:

The Prelims ratings fared well considering the uncertainty of how the PPV would sell.  The pre-fight show as 90 minutes and still drew a respectable 211,000 viewers.  The PPV ran over 10pm PT so the post-fight show ran late.

Lomachenko fight draws over 2M viewers on ESPN Saturday night

December 11, 2018

The Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza fight on ESPN on Saturday night drew 1.865 million viewers on the network for its two-hour broadcast which was preceded by the Heisman Trophy telecast.

The lead-in likely helped the Top Rank Boxing ratings but Lomachenko is becoming destiny television for many fans.  The event drew 0.63 in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.  The fight alone during the telecast drew 2,013,000 viewers and peaked at 2,100,000 per Nielsen.

Its the second-most viewed fight on ESPN this year after Terrence Crawford’s win over Jose Benavidez this past October.

The Heisman Trophy Presentation on ESPN drew 2.928 million viewers and came on a night of a UFC PPV, HBO Boxing and the replay of Fury-Wilder on Showtime.

Lomachenko’s last fight on ESPN this past May against Jorge Linares drew slightly over 1 million viewers.

He drew 1.73M viewers last December for his win over Guillermo Rigondeux.

Payout Perspective:

Lomachenko was put in this same timeslot in 2017 after the Heisman Trophy Presentation and did better this time around.  It could be that more fans are aware of Lomachenko and used to Top Rank on ESPN that improved the ratings.  But, viewers are definitely gravitating toward Lomachenko as the ratings dipped after the Heisman telecast and then rose again when Lomachenko was about to fight.  We shall see what he does next as his next anticipated fight looks to be in April.

UFC Fight Night 142 draws 702,000 viewers, prelims 471,000

December 4, 2018

UFC Fight Night 142 from Adelaide, Australia drew 702,000 on Saturday night according to Nielsen.  The prelims drew 471,000 viewers.

The main card featured Junior dos Santos as he defeated local favorite Tai Tuivasa.  The former UFC heavyweight champion stopped the previously undefeated Tuivasa in the second round.  The main card drew 396,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo per ShowBuzz Daily.

The prelims featured Alexey Kunchenko as he defeated Yushin Okami via unanimous decision.  The event drew 210,000 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are good considering that there was a lot of combat sports on Saturday including the big Fury-Wilder fight, Bellator and Showtime Boxing.  Considering that this card was on the second of a back-to-back UFC telecast, the ratings are solid.

TUF Finale 28 main card draws 399,000 viewers on FS1

December 3, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale drew 399,000 viewers on FS1 Friday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the event drew 353,000 viewers.

The main card saw Kamaru Usman defeat Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision.  There was a slight overrun for the event.  In addition, two TUF champions were crowned in Juan Espino and Macy Chiasson.

The TUF 28 post-fight show on FS1 drew 139,000 at 1:07am ET on FS1.

In the final bout of the prelims, Kevin Aguilar defeated Rick Glenn by unanimous decision.

Payout Perspective:

The finale drew over 100,000 less viewers last year for the main card.  It fell off only slightly from the prelims.  The ratings may be due to a heavy-sports Friday night as well as the unfortunate slow-demise of this series.  While there were other interesting fights the show, it looks like fight fans were not interested in back-to-back UFC cards.

Usman, RDA top TUF Finale payouts

December 3, 2018

The Nevada State Athletic Commission has disclosed the payroll from Friday night’s TUF Finale from The Pearl Theatre at The Palms in Las Vegas.

In a losing effort, Rafael dos Anjos had the biggest purse payout in $110,000 but Kamaru Usman made the highest overall purse on the card making $150,000 with $75,000 to show and $75,000 to win.

Via MMA Junkie:

Kamaru Usman: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)
def. Rafael dos Anjos: $110,000

Juan Espino: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Justin Frazier: $15,000

Macy Chiasson: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Pannie Kianzad: $15,000

Pedro Munhoz: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. Bryan Caraway: $21,000

Edmen Shahbazyan: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Darren Stewart: $22,000

Antonina Shevchenko: $36,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Ji Yeon Kim: $14,000*

Kevin Aguilar: $25,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Rick Glenn: $20,000**

Joseph Benavidez: $146,000 (includes $73,000 win bonus)
def. Alex Perez: $22,000

Maurice Green: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Michel Batista: $10,000

Leah Letson: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Julia Stoliarenko: $10,000

Roosevelt Roberts: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Darrell Horcher: $15,000

Tim Means: $98,000 (includes $49,000 win bonus)
def. Ricky Rainey: $14,000

Raoni Barcelos: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Gutierrez: $10,000

Payout Perspective:

Usman also received a $50,000 bonus which makes it a great night of earning for the welterweight.  The first asterisk notes that Kim, who lost to Antonina Shevchenko, forfeited $6,000 of her purse for missing weight.  The second asterisk notes that Glenn, who also lost, forfeited $5,000 of his show money for missing weight.  Also of note, it looks as though the TUF contestants made a little more than in previous TUF finales.

Usman heads up TUF 28 Finale bonuses

December 1, 2018

The TUF 28 Finale took place on Friday at The Pearl Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Kamaru Usman defeated Rafael Dos Anjos in the main event and Usman also scored with a performance bonus.

There was no fight of the night which but Usman, Benavidez, Juan Espino and Roosevelt Roberts earned $50,000 performance bonuses.  Notably, Espino won the TUF 28 Heavyweight bout with Justin Frazier to become this season’s Ultimate Fighter.  In the other TUF event of the evening Macy Chiasson defeated Pannie Kianzad to be the women’s featherweight Ultimate Fighter.

The event took place at the intimate Pearl Theater which drew 2,020 for a gate of $204,600.

The numbers were disclosed by the UFC post-event.

Payout Perspective:

Seven stoppages on the evening which made the bonuses a little hard to choose from but also a quicker evening than usual.  Usman should be in line for a major fight after dominating the former lightweight champion.

The finale episode of TUF 28 draws 140,000 viewers

November 29, 2018

The last episode of The Ultimate Fighter 28 on FS1 drew 140,000 viewers via Nieslen.  The 12th and final episode of this season was also the last on the network.

In the last fight of the episode, Macy Chiasson defeated Leah Letson to win the last spot to be in the TUF Finale which will happen Friday.  Chiasson won via TKO in the very first round.  She will face Pannie Kianzad in the women’s Featherweight final.

 

TUF 28
Live + SD
Episode 1 186,000
Episode 2 195,000
Episode 3 183,000
Episode 4 205,000
Episode 5 174,000
Episode 6 173,000
Episode 7 128,000
Episode 8 147,000
Episode 9 119,000
Episode 10 152,000
Episode 11 159,000
Episode 12 140,000

Payout Perspective:

The episode was the last in the TUF Gym as another one will be built when the promotion moves to ESPN.  It’s still not known about the future of the TUF franchise.  Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series has seemingly taken over the spot as the show for up-and-coming fighters looking to make their break into the UFC.  While the coaching dynamic was interesting at first, the novelty has worn off as the ratings for this series has fallen off and even the DVR ratings have waned.  In the end, it was a great way to introduce the product to fans and brought the reality television aspect to a casual viewing audience, but with the inundation of the product, we have readjusted our expectation of ratings.

TUF 28 Episode 11 draws 159,000 viewers

November 26, 2018

The penultimate episode of TUF 28 drew 159,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving episode featured the final Heavyweight fight of the house as Juan Francisco Espino Dieppa defeated Maurice Greene via submission.  Espino will now face Justin Frazier a the TUF Finale on November 30th.  The final fight of the season will be Leah Letson taking on Macy Chiasson.

The episode also featured the team challenge which was a 5K race between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum.

TUF 28
Live + SD
Episode 1 186,000
Episode 2 195,000
Episode 3 183,000
Episode 4 205,000
Episode 5 174,000
Episode 6 173,000
Episode 7 128,000
Episode 8 147,000
Episode 9 119,000
Episode 10 152,000
Episode 11 159,000

Payout Perspective:

The season average rests at 166,000 viewers although DVR ratings prop up the ratings for the TUF season.  The team challenge is usually a highlight of the season for me but this time around it just seemed like an afterthought running around a track.  One thing that is interesting is noting the perceived lack of cardio on the part of Gastelum for not being able to run 3.1 miles.  While it looked to be a hot day in Vegas, one hopes Gastelum is working on his cardio leading up to the two fighting.

Bellator 209 peaked at 574,000 viewers

November 21, 2018

Bellator 209 peaked at 574,000 viewers on The Paramount Network per Nielsen.  The tape-delayed event from Israel drew 448,000 viewers in DVR + 3 ratings.

The event featured Patricio Freire as he defeated Emmanuel Sanchez.

The Live + SD viewership of the event on Friday drew 381,000 viewers.

The DVR numbers did not add much to the event which is unfortunate but expected considering this was a tape-delayed event.

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