December 14, 2012
Mashable.com conducted an interview with UFC head Dana White on the company’s social media presence. The interview was done in lead-up to the BusinessNextSocial conference next month in Las Vegas where White will be the keynote speaker.
The article/interview talks about how White transformed the public perception of the UFC with help from social media. As most know, the UFC has been ahead of the curve in its social media efforts. White has over 2.3 million followers and the article highlights the fact that the company’s fighters compete for quarterly bonuses for its use of twitter.
Notably, White points to twitter and his vlogs which are posted on YouTube as the two platforms of social media White utilizes the most. The video blogs are heavily viewed by UFC fans. White also talks about the livestreaming of fights on Facebook and the company’s use of Spotify.
The article touts the social media successes of the UFC as White will be a speaker at a conference on social media use next month. It does not cover some of the social media issues White has had in the past such as the various outbursts he has had with fans on twitter. Overall, the company has used social media to connect directly with fans without the need of the use of an intermediary (i.e. the media). This can be a good and bad thing.
September 23, 2012
Welcome back to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 152 coming from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Jones survives scare, subs Phenom
A first round armbar out of nowhere and Jon Jones almost saw his unblemished (let’s not count Hamill DQ) record go away and one of the biggest upsets this side of Matt Serra. But, Jones survived and does what he does: dominate opponents. This time, it was a Keylock that made Belfort submit.
Belfort gave a lot more than expected but it was a definite mismatch after the armbar attempt. This match showed the beauty of jiu jitsu in the UFC. First, Belfort’s armbar was perfectly executed and he would have subbed, or broken the arm, of almost every other fighter in the UFC. Secondly, Jon Jones’ elbows sliced Belfort’s forehead and as Jones positioned himself for what everyone believed to be a mounted crucifix to reign more elbows on Belfort, Jones saw Belfort’s arm was bent and immediately went for the keylock. Excellent strategy by Jones.
Mighty Mouse wins Flyweight title
Demetrious Johnson won a split decision over Joseph Benavidez to win the inaugural Flyweight title. It was a great technical match up. I had thought Johnson won the fight outright but the judges had it at a split decision.
It’s a great win for a guy with a good backstory as we learned from the Countdown show.
The fans were booing during the end of the match which made no sense to me. Sure, the fight had slowed but its due to the pace in the early rounds. The crowd reaction drew some criticism from Joe Rogan on the broadcast.
The Count includes Stann as win
Michael Bisping used his superior cardio skills and outclassed Brian Stann to stake a claim for the next title shot against Anderson Silva. For as outspoken as Bisping is, he backs it up and did a good job of muting Stann’s offense.
Attendance and gate
MMA Junkie reports that the attendance at the Air Canda Centre in Toronto drew 16,800 for a gate of $1.9 million. In comparison, the UFC 140 which featured Jon Jones taking on Lyoto Machida last December drew 18,303 fans for a gate of $3.9 million.
It’s interesting with the card shuffling that even with the addition of Jon Jones it did not move the ticket sales as compared to last December.
MMA Junkie reports the bonuses which were announced at the post-UFC 152 press conference. Each fighter received a $65K bonus.
KO of the Night: Cub Swanson
Submission of the Night: Jon Jones
Fight of the Night: Evan Dunham vs. T.J. Grant
The octagon sponsors included Edge, Marines.com, Dodge, the upcoming film, “Here Comes the Boom”, video game Assassin’s Creed , UltimatePoker.com, TapouT and Bud Light with the center. MetroPCS, RYU and Corn Nuts also sponsored portions of the PPV.
New UFC sponsor Allfuse had the prep point. This is the second straight PPV where a new sponsor has had the spot where fighters get greased before heading into the octagon. I’m not sure if its being used as a one off for sponsors looking to dip its toe in the sponsorship game.
The biggest new sponsor was Nike as Jon Jones sported the swoosh in the Octagon for the first time. The Bones Knows t-shirts were worn by Jones on each media obligation he had prior to the fight.
In addition, Jones was sponsored by Muscletech. In order to get some notoriety with the sponsorship, it aired a short swim workout Jones did in conjunction with the sponsor. It was tweeted out to Jones’ followers.
Xyience is also a sponsor of Jones. After the fight, one of Jones’ corner men reminded Jones he needed to hold the can when he had his hand raised. But Jones shrugged him off and handed the can back to him. Xyience was probably not happy about that considering a part of the deal is that he have the can. After further review, Jones’ right arm was the one that was armbarred so maybe he couldn’t or didn’t want to hold it.
SKY was a prominent sponsor for Vitor Belfort. Also, Gillette, BMG, Jaco and RVCA were on Vitor’s person. Despite losing the fight, Vitor did well for himself.
Mighty Mouse was sponsored by Xbox once again. Probably, one of the best brands and the strongest outside of the Swoosh to endorse.
UltimatePoker.com had a sponsor tie in with a “Belt the champ” contest in which the winner was able to put the belt on Jon Jones.
SE Solutions sponsored Brian Stann. SE Solutions is an IT company servicing federal agencies focused on protecting America’s security. The sponsorship fits with what Stann has done and who he is and that’s a good thing.
The cutmen were back to TapouT vests as opposed to RYU ones which they had last PPVs.
Here Comes the Boom, the upcoming movie about a mild-mannered teacher becoming a UFC fighter to raise money for his school. The UFC gave James, a huge UFC fan before it became mainstream, license and access for the movie. But, was Kevin James supposed to look that big in the promo for the movie, “Here Comes the Boom.” James is living the dream. Not only was he in the King of Queens opposite Leah Remini (at her best), now he’s opposite Selma Hayek in a role where he allegedly becomes a MMA fighter. I know, we are supposed to suspend reality…
Roger Hallet was sponsored by MMA Bodyguards. The company offers security assistance leveraging their MMA training. Former UFC fighter Josh Neer is on the web site.
Sponsor Assassin’s Creed had a UFC tie-in with Royce Gracie winning a contest voted on by the fans. Sure, we’ll buy it. The contest and the video game. Edge had a similar activation with Joseph Benavidez winning the Edge new “fresh face”
Although the two companies can be considered competitors , RYU sent a welcome to Nike.
Welcome to the #octagon swoosh.
— RYU (@RYUapparel) September 23, 2012
Post-UFC 152 Headlines
What’s next for Jones?
Is a Chael Sonnen showdown really what the UFC needs? Sure, it will sell a PPV but what about the long-range direction of the division. We can argue that the division has been cleaned out and now the UFC should just find the biggest fight. Sonnen can hype a fight. But does he stand a chance on winning.
How much will we see the Flyweight division?
With the crowning of a champion, it will be interesting to see how much we will see this division featured on PPV. I think that the division should start out on Fuel and FX Prelims and eventually gravitate to PPV. But, from the crowd reaction, it may take some time for fans to adjust.
Does Bisping deserve a title shot?
We may hate him as much as Jon Jones but Michael Bisping is a top contender in the middleweight division. He controlled Brian Stann and should be thought of as the next in line for a title shot against the Spider.
Odds and ends
-The initial headliners: Johnson-Benavedez and Stann-Bisping did some promos where they hung off of the CN Tower. All that and they didn’t even receive top billing
-We outlined the PR issues Jon Jones has and the main point from that is Jones needs to mature and be himself with the understanding that he couldn’t please everyone. But his entrance song last night: Bob Marley’s “Could you be Loved” as if it were a plea to his fans to like him.
-I believe it is now mandatory that Ronda Rousey appear at anything UFC related. She was seen in the crowd at the event. Also, Strikeforce fighters Luke Rockhold (wearing black) and Daniel Cormier (wearing white) to which Cormier mouthed to the camera “Ebony and Ivory”. It’s the details that make me laugh.
-Any twitter jokes that the Marines Keys to Victory figures of Benavidez v. Johnson were their actual sizes?
-Can someone tell me the other man that Matt Hume told he should quit his full time job to train as a fighter? Mighty Mouse was one, who was the other?
-We will address Dana White’s post-UFC152 fury at a Toronto columnist in a separate post.
It will be an interesting buy rate for UFC 152. Arguably, the cancellation of 151 could have helped with buys since fans would be Jonesing for UFC fights. Still, the card shuffling and main event of Jones-Belfort didn’t seem like it was a real attraction. A buy rate of 450K-500K would be a success. But think what the buy rate would be if Jones was not on this card.
July 16, 2012
The Sports Business Journal commissioned a survey which looked at social media trends in sports. The survey confirmed, among other findings, that younger fans, like those in MMA, are the most engaged users of social media.
There were approximately 500 respondents to the survey who use social media to follow college basketball or football, MLB, NBA or NFL team or MMA. It should be noted that MMA and UFC are used interchangeably in the survey and SBJ article.
The study noted that MMA fans are receptive to brand engagement and, more than any other sports fans, will access sponsor promotions via social media sites.
MMA and college basketball fans have the largest growth over the past year in use of social media to follow a fight or a game. Put another way, over the past year more fans are using social media to keep track of events and games.
The survey revealed 90% of MMA fans use Twitter or Facebook while watching the fights. Also, 50% of MMA fans stream video to watch fights. The SBJ notes that the survey revealed 12 percent of UFC fans say they use social media as their primary source of media. Its the highest percentage out of the six major properties (NBA, NFL, NHL, NASCAR and MLB) in the survey. The UFC’s (9.64 million followers on Twitter and Facebook combined as of the date of the article) reach in social media is more than any of the other properties. The NFL is second with 9.46 million.
Also, it notes that teens and Hispanics age 18-34 are receptive to athlete endorsements.
Via SBJ (subscription required):
Two groups that make up a considerable part of the MMA fan base are also the most receptive to brand connections with athletes in general: 69 percent of teens and 66 percent of Hispanics age 18-34 say they would be more likely to purchase a brand mentioned by an athlete on a social media site, compared with a 53 percent rate for the survey-wide total.
A lot of interesting numbers from the survey. Although one may argue that the sample size is on the small side, it paints a picture for sponsors. The first impression is that UFC fans are social media savvy. In comparison to other sports properties, the UFC has the most followers on Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps they are early adapters to technology (although the amount of tablet owners was low for MMA fans).
One of the takeaways from the survey is that UFC fans are multi-taskers. Not only do they watch fights, they want to interact with others and comment about them in real time via social media. It is interesting to see the number of people commenting on twitter during fights and after fights. Social media is a way to vent or boast about the fights. Its also a rumor mill which many people like.
Also, MMA fans are familiar with streaming content (hopefully legally) online. This may be due to the various ways to watching the UFC Facebook prelim fights, fights on YouTube, the UFC.com site or other MMA sites. Another takeaway from the survey was the rise of the fan-managed blog in other sports. Obviously, MMA fans are aware of the many MMA sites to visit.
Good news for sponsors of MMA is that many users of social media are aware of the sponsored brands and are receptive to engagement. This may be due to the many sponsor promotions that occur.
July 8, 2012
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we look at the biggest card of the year: Silva v. Sonnen II at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Silva KOs Sonnen in 2nd round
Anderson Silva eluded a spinning back elbow from Chael Sonnen and began and assault with a knee to Sonnen’s chest which was beginning of the end for the challenger. Although it looked like an illegal knee, the replay showed that it was to the body and not the face. In a first round that resembled most of their first fight at UFC 117, Sonnen took down Silva and attempted to ground and pound the champ. It looked like Silva played dead as it looked like the Spider held onto Sonnen and closed his eyes.
Was Silva making a point by laying down in round 1 and then outstriking him in round 2? For all of the hype, the fight was somewhat anti-climactic as Sonnen crumpled to the mat after a couple of Silva’s shots. For all of the hype and the backing from fans , Sonnen’s performance in round 2 was disappointing.
Aside from the knee, Silva detractors will cite grabbing Sonnen’s shorts to avoid a takedown and rubbing the Vaseline on his brows onto his body during introductions as reasons to hate on the Spider. But, you cannot deny Silva is one of the best fighters ever in the UFC.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. Can the UFC really do Silva-Sonnen III based on this ending? Its hard to say because Sonnen promos have been geared toward being an “Icon” and the “real champ”. His post-fight
Griffin bolts before winning decision
That can describe the end of round 3 in the Forrest Griffin-Tito Ortiz fight. At the end of the round, Griffin bolted the Octagon as he did in Philadelphia when he was outright humiliated by Anderson Silva. While it’s easy to gather that he likely left because he believed that the judges would give the fight to Ortiz (and we know that Forrest is not the best of sports) for sentimental reasons it upstaged the final bout for Ortiz.
After receiving the UD, Griffin, apparently attempting to make amends, conducted the post-fight interview of Tito Ortiz. To compound the confusion post-fight, Ortiz was heard complaining that he didn’t have his patented post-fight t-shirt which he was able to display at the very end.
It would have been nice if Griffin left after getting his hand raised. That would leave Ortiz to soak up his fans and thank them for all the years of supporting him. Instead, it was a rather awkward end to the Bad Boy’s career. Ortiz will still be around MMA in some capacity (most likely commentator/guest analyst) and maybe a for Forrest a Griffin-Bonnar III would be a good Fox fight in the future.
40 year old Le gets first UFC win
Overshadowed by the main event was a very entertaining fight (and my pick for FOTN) between Cung Le and Patrick Cote. Although Le was fading toward the end of the fight, he had enough to beat Cote. Despite losing, Cote showed he could trade with the former Strikeforce Champ. Le proved he still can be an asset to the UFC and it’s a no-brainer that he’ll be on the Macau card this November. His international appeal is the reason for his lofty base salary. As for Cote, he is still a respectable fighter and can be a mid-tier guy that can be gatekeeper for the division.
MMA Weekly reports the bonuses:
All 3 received $75,000 each. What about Chad Mendes’ KO of Cody McKenzie (who looked like a slim Mick Foley)? Interesting that the 3 top salary earners from last night also received the bonuses. It would have been nice to award a FOTN to Le-Cote.
UFC 148 set an MMA attendance record for the state of Nevada with a reported $6.5 million gate $7 million. It’s the biggest in the history of the state beating Ortiz-Liddell II from 2006. The attendance for the event was 15,016.
Forrest Griffin earned the highest salary of the night $275K ($150show/$175win) however it’s likely that Anderson Silva will make the most overall with his cut of the PPV. Surprisingly, Chael Sonnen’s salary is relatively low compared to the amount he’s done in promoting the UFC (and himself). Also, Cung Le took a significant pay cut from his UFC 139 salary of $350,000 to $150,000 at UFC 148. Patrick Cote made $21,000 for his game effort.
Promotion for the Fight
A little surprising that the UFC did not do a three part UFC Primetime for this event. Also a slight surprise that the lone UFC Primetime was not aired on Fox. The UFC Countdown show was aired once in prime time during fight week. One has to wonder if the UFC detoured from this platform for this event or whether it will be the norm. With Sonnen , one would have to think the UFC wants him in front of a camera. With the initial numbers, the UFC Prelim numbers on FX should be above average.
A unique promotion for this event included daily cartoons of Sonnen and Silva on the UFC Facebook page. It also segued into a monetization opportunity as the UFC sold Sonnen/Silva cartoon hero t-shirts.
Jim Rome Smackoff in May. Silva infamously added his own trash talk to the fight via UFC teleconference.
In addition to the main event, it was Tito Ortiz’s last fight with the UFC. It was an added touch that he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame during the same day as his last fight. He did various media rounds and helped with promoting the card. Ortiz is a polarizing figure but nostalgia has regained some popularity he may have lost.
The Las Vegas Review Journal provided some timely articles on the business of the week including the UFC obtaining a TRO to fight bootleg vendors and the economic impact of International Fight Week. Based on the UFC report, the LVRJ wrote that Vegas expects an $140 million boost from this week’s activities. It’s hard to fathom that this week could have that much impact despite factoring in the many fans flying in (including from Brazil).
The UFC also released several big fights of its co-main eventers. Usually, you’d have to purchase them from the UFC library but the UFC granted fans the access. It was a great way to highlight the fighters and get the casual fan interested in purchasing the PPV.
The UFC also bought ad space at the Facebook login page. Did anyone see this? The UFC also scoured the backgrounds of most major MMA web sites.
ESPN did an extensive job of covering UFC 148 including a Sonnen promo montage and featured the fight on its “What 2 Watch 4” segment at the end of Sportscenter Friday night. In fact, it probably did more in on air promotion of the fight than Zuffa’s partners at Fox. According to Dana White, ESPN hates the UFC. I wonder how much it would promote the sport if it actually liked it.
International Fight Week
The UFC partnered with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority to sponsor International Fight Week. The UFC Expo was a part of International Fight Week along with a plethora of events which took advantage of the Fourth of July holiday to entice visitors to come and stay for the fight festivities.
It included a session where MMA media could be trained by UFC fighters. Interesting way for the fighters to get back at those keyboard warriors. Of course, some of them train full contact 4 times a week.
The thought is that this will be an annual event which would be a great way to work in conjunction with Las Vegas to promote tourism and the UFC.
Ortiz sported Soul Headphones instead of the customary Beats, which has become the chique headphone for athletes. The company had its logo on Ortiz’s shorts too.
Silva came out at the weigh in wearing a shirt with Burger King and Nike logos as well as his marketing agency 9ine. It was interesting that his training shirt had a bigger Nike Swoosh than normal. Also, Silva’s fight banner was adorned in swooshes. He was also sponsored by Philips.
Courtesy of MMAFighting.com
Edge Shave Gel took its turn as the sponsor in the prep zone.
Sonnen sported the MP of MusclePharm on his shorts.
UltimatePoker.com was on the mat among other places for UFC 148.
Odds and ends
How much would have a Faber-Cruz fight added to the interest of UFC 148?
Not only is Tito Ortiz out of business , the person that prints up Ortiz’s shirts is probably done as most shirts have sponsors all over them.
Ortiz-Griffin did that “soccer jersey exchange” thing but Griffin was seen wiping his face with Ortiz’s shirt.
Interesting that Silva shook the hand of Jon Jones before entering the cage last night. Also, does Silva’s picture with LeBron James make you like or hate him more?
Can someone who speaks Portuguese confirm Anderson’s post-fight words to Chael about attending a barbecue?
Speaking of Silva, did anyone else think that Anderson Silva’s post-fight speech to the fans was reminiscent of Rocky Balboa at the end of Rocky IV?
The definition of gaunt was Demian Maia at weigh-ins. His face was reminiscent of James Irvin’s attempt at middleweight. But, he won so that all that matters.
This was a big show for the UFC and it invested a lot of promotion into creating a buzz for the Sonnen-Silva showdown. The reported gate of $7 million shows the interest in this event and the UFC hopes it can bank on this equating to a huge PPV number. I am a bit skeptical about whether it can do UFC 100 numbers as promoted by Dana White, but it may hit a respectable $800K buys. A number like this could equate to a third fight between Silva and Sonnen for the end of the year. But, based on the result, how much better could a third fight be and would Silva agree to a third fight against a fighter he’s beaten twice.
MMA Payout will have more on post-UFC 148 news this week.
June 27, 2012
Kickboxing organization K-1 will be conducting open tryouts at Muscle Beach in Los Angeles, California on July 19, 2012 for events later this year.
Via K-1 press release:
K-1 is offering this unprecedented opportunity for K-1 hopefuls to fight in a 2012 event and the chance to compete for $2 Million in prize money. $1 million will be awarded to the 2012 K-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix winner along with $300,000 for second place, as well as $300,000 for the winner of the 2012 K-1 MAX tournament.
“K-1 would like to invite all talented stand-up fighters to come to Muscle Beach in LA on July 19 and show us what you have, and why you belong in the K-1 family,” said Doug Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer, K-1. “K-1 is the gold standard in stand-up fighting, and we are searching for the best new athletes out there to represent K-1 and possibly become one of kickboxing’s newest icons.”
Signing up for the K-1 Open Tryouts is easy – simply visit the K-1 FACEBOOK page at:http://www.facebook.com/K1GlobalTV.ENG. After registering, you will receive your confirmation via email.
Make sure you sign a waiver before you tryout in July. According to our friends at Liverkick, there will be a K-1 event in Los Angeles on September 8th. While the card is not set for September it appears that some of the participants will be drawn from this open tryout.
The open tryout should boost its Facebook traffic as those K-1 hopefuls will need to visit the page to sign up. It’s an interesting way to promote the organization and the upcoming event in LA. There is a question as to the level of talent obtained from an open tryout but it should gain some media attention and with the backdrop of the beach, it would be a good photo/video op.
For those wondering about K-1’s parent company going bankrupt, the reports of its demise were incorrect.
June 26, 2012
The UFC is pulling out all of the stops to ensure that UFC 148 is a success including a comic book strip depicting Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. The comic depictions appear on the UFC’s Facebook page and will be updated daily to promote July 7th’s showdown.
Via UFC press release:
Reigning UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and bitter rival and No1 contender Chael Sonnen have long been known as two of the most colorful characters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship® organization. But that has been taken to a whole new level in a special comic strip which will countdown to the UFC 148 main event between the two bitter rivals.
Each day another page of the strip will be published on the UFC’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/UFC leading to the biggest fight of the summer at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on July 7.
The strip has been drawn by British artist Dave Golding, 37, a professional comic book artist since 2006. Golding was the original artist for the critically acclaimed Dare graphic novel ‘The Hunter’, which has recently been optioned by Hollywood, and his work has been featured throughout the medium as well as on designs for various science-fiction shows for British television.
The strip – which launched on Sunday on Facebook – will tell the story of this almost-inevitable rematch of the 2010 fight of the year, and is peppered with in-jokes long-time UFC fans will appreciate.
Golding has also re-imagined Silva – a lifelong comic book fan – and Sonnen as costumed heroes for two special faux comic book covers. Silva dons the tights as ‘the Silver Spider’ and wears an outfit featuring the colors of his beloved Brazil’s national flag. Sonnen, meanwhile, is taken at his word and has been transformed into the ‘American Gangsta’, and given a patriotic Old Glory color scheme.
Silva said: “I’ve always been a comic book fan since I was young. I liked heroes who had everyday problems but still tried to help people.”
Sonnen said: “What a thrill, to see myself in comic book form. Never before has a real life super-hero been turned into a mortal in a comic book, you will never see this in your lives again.”
This is a unique way to promote this match and great tie-in to utilize social media via its Facebook page with a new comic each day. The obvious inference made by the comic strip depictions are that Silva and Sonnen are superheros on a collision course of enormous importance. It’s a reason for fans to keep returning to the UFC page and a constant reminder for fans to order the PPV July 7th.
June 23, 2012
Bad Left Hook reports on Showtime Sports launching a new mobile boxing scoring game which you can play on your iPhone or Droid. The game was launched before tonight’s Ortiz-Lopez fight.
Launched in advance of Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast-Ortiz vs. Lopez, play SPLIT DECISION to test your skills against all players and see how you stack up. Each player’s pre-fight predictions and live scoring will be judged against the official decision and the round-by-round scores. Earn points with correct predictions and scorecards that match that of the officials at ringside.
All players this weekend get entered into a random drawing to win a trip to a future SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING event.
To play, log on to SD.SHO.COM (http://sd.sho.com) from your iPhone or Android, create your account in a few simple steps and make your predictions. Then, during the live fights (both SHO televised fights) score the fights round by round.
Shortly after the fights, check your score and see where you rank on the leaderboard.
Post your predictions on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter.
A timely app considering the controversial Pacquiao-Bradley decision. Tonight would have been a good night to be a judge up until Victor Ortiz quit (which is another story). Yet, it’s another sign of boxing reaching out to fans through the use of social media. Not only will the app make watching the fight more interactive, one can post their picks on Facebook or Twitter.
April 27, 2012
AdvertisingAge reports that Anheuser-Busch, a major blue chip sponsor for the UFC, has “reprimanded the mixed-martial arts organization for remarks made by some fighters”. Multiple advocacy groups have recently criticized UFC employees and fighters for using comments described as “sexist and homophobic.”
A-B recently released a press release which stated the following:
“We’ve communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act”
In a statement to AdAge regarding the A-B situation, UFC issued the following response:
With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don’t condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values
…. unlike most other sports leagues, we encourage our athletes to engage online. It is part of our company culture, and whenever you are at the forefront of a trend or initiative, it comes with its own pitfalls. We will continue to embrace social media while looking for better ways to stay in front of the issues. This includes a mandate for our athletes to attend sensitivity training and a seminar on proper use of social media.
AdAge also cited three recent incidents that were documented in a letter by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. One involves UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson urging Japanese fans to say homophobic statements, another of UFC fighter Rashad Evans hyping his fight against Penn State alumni Phil Davis inappropriately stating “I’m going to put those hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State”. The last is not a fighter, but UFC announcer Joe Rogan, who used sexist and misogynist language against Yahoo Sports blogger Maggie Hendricks after she pointed out Rampage Jackson’s inappropriate behavior towards female reporters. Plenty of other instances regarding UFC president Dana White performing similar acts have also been reported within the last few years, but were not cited in the write-up.
The letter that caused a lot of the recent commotion for A-B and the UFC was a letter from the group Alcohol Justice, who titled it “An Open Letter to Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) Shareholders – RE: Opposition to sponsorship of the Ultimae Fighting Championship (UFC).
The letter states the following:
As fellow shareholders and as public health advocates, Alcohol Justice (formerly Marin Institute) asks you to vigorously oppose ABI’s sponsorship of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s largest promoter of violent cage-fighting events.
We believe ABI’s sponsorship of UFC must come to an end as there is a very tangible risk to the bottom line of dividends and stock price value as well as long term bad press as the relationship of this patently brutal blood sport to predatory marketing of Bud Light to underage youth are played out on the global stage of public opinion. It’s already being called “Blood Light.” This cannot be good for business, sales, or long-term profitability.
Alcohol Justice, the alcohol industry watchdog, has served as a leading research and advocacy institution for over 24 years. We monitor and expose the alcohol industry’s targeting of youth and minority populations, as well as the industry’s adverse effect on public health and the environment globally.
There is compelling evidence that exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing increases the likelihood of underage drinking. Since 2001, at least seven peer-reviewed, federally funded, long-term studies have found that young people with greater exposure to alcohol marketing — including on television, in magazines, on the radio, on billboards or other outdoor signage, or via in-store beer displays, beer concessions, or ownership of beer promotional items or branded merchandise — are more likely to start drinking than their peers.
As the primary sponsor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) is delivering harmful content to millions of underage youth. At center stage is the ever-present Bud Light logo, imbued throughout all of UFC’s violent events, including live fights, Pay-Per-View, and television broadcasts that reach 354 million homes worldwide. These homes are filled with children!
In addition, millions of UFC fans of all ages have access to live streaming of fights via Facebook, and limitless YouTube videos of bloody fights, promotions, and “pornohol” such as Bud Light Lime ads featuring UFC “Octagon Girl” Arianny Celeste topless, underwear-clad and rolling around in a bed of limes.
UFC President Dana White has been quoted as saying “our targeted audience is anywhere from age 17 to 35.” He and a number of UFC athletes have recently come under fire for sexist, homophobic, violent and derogatory remarks, including jokes about rape and sexual assault. As A-B InBev shareholders we should be outraged by this behavior.
Given that alcohol is the number one drug of choice among America’s youth, and the U.S. Surgeon General estimates that approximately 5,000 people under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries involving underage drinking each year, board members, shareholders, and consumers will become more aware of the ethical ramifications that continued sponsorship of UFC will have on ABI. Do we really want Bud Light ads to be condemned for irresponsibly delivering harmful content to millions of youth, exposing them to people beating one another to a bloody pulp?
We believe this will lead to mounting litigations, inevitable regulatory and legislative actions, and growing concerns about the safety of youth exposed to harmful content by viewing UFC promotions. All of this can only hurt ABI’s reputation as a corporate citizen and its robust revenue.
As shareholders we have an obligation to help protect stock value by holding the corporation to higher standards of responsibility, especially those related to underage consumption and harm. We can insist that management address these ethical issues with more integrity by pulling its support of this graphic, violent, bloody sport. While the world may still want to enjoy a Bud Light, it does not need “Blood Light.”
Bruce Lee Livingston, MPP Executive Director/CEO
That very same day, Business Insider Advertising also wrote a write-up titled “Budweiser Threatened To Pull Its Ad Dollars From The UFC After Seeing This Guy’s Nazi Tattoos”. They went to state that the statement released by A-B regarding the inappropriate language and behavior is “almost unheard of in sports sponsorship, where advertiser displeasure is usually delivered to media partners behind closed doors”. The website also stated “While the sport can’t be expected to be a bastion of Edwardian manners, it is not until you see a collection of the kinds of things said by UFC pros that you realize just how unprofessional the organization is. What follows is a slideshow of incidents in which offensive language and behavior is used in the UFC”.
This is not the first time A-B has reprimanded the UFC. If you recall back at UFC 100 – the biggest show in UFC history to date – Brock Lesnar stood on the Bud Light logo, pointed at it, and said he was looking forward to going home with his wife and “drinking a Coors Light because Bud Light won’t pay me anything”. That problem was dealt with behind closed doors as both the UFC and Lesnar were reprimanded by A-B and during the post-fight press conference, Lesnar issued an apology for his post-fight behavior and continued to answer questions as a Bud Light bottle was strategically placed in front of him.
Regarding who is responsible for triggering most of this recent bad press for the UFC, look no further than the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, who has had ongoing labor dispute with Station Casinos and UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta – who are both firmly against labor unions. So far, the Culinary Union has been credited for keeping the UFC out of the state of New York for several years by backing anti-MMA legislators in the state, triggering a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation, writing letters to UFC advertisers and TV partners (FOX) informing them of the inappropriate language and behavior of the organization and its fighters, the creation of http://www.unfitforchildren.org/ (a website illustrating many of these examples), and just recently, drafting up a version of MMA Bill of Rights and presenting it in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and recently in front of the California State Athletic Commission.
In terms of the labor union’s efforts against the UFC owners, this week has been a rewarding one. The letters to UFC sponsors and multiple anti abuse and violence groups has increased the awareness of lack of etiquette it has haunted the UFC in the past, when they just weren’t quite mainstream enough for anyone to care. Landing the recent FOX deal and essentially putting all their main competitors out of business in recent years has caught the attention of mainstream groups in the last year. Earlier this week, the proposed Bill of Rights hearing in Sacramento (AB2100) passed committee on a 5-3 vote. This bill would essential give fighters rights – many derived up from the Ali Act in boxing – which the UFC greatly apposes. UFC representatives essentially told the committee that if the bill passed, it would essentially drive the UFC away from California, which would have a great economic impact on not only the fighters, but also on the state. It would also cause a heavy burden and expense on the CSAC, which they are not equipped to handle.
List of parties who are in favor and against AB2100 amendments:
Support: American Rights at Work, Arete Agency. California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union. California Conference of Machinists. California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. California Police Activities League. California Teamsters Public Affairs Council. Engineers & Scientists of California, IFPTE Local 20. Fighters Online, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Jockey’s Guild, Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association, Patient Networks, Professional & Technical Engineers, IFPTE Local 21, United Food & Commercial, Workers Western States Council, UNITE-HERE, AFL-CIO, Utility Workers Union of America, Local 132, two private citizens (Eddie Goldman & Juanito Ibarra)
Opposition: Goossen Tutor Promotions, Honda Center, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, HP Pavilion at San Jose, Ultimate Fighting Championship
Notice the opposition here.
- UFC is a given.
- Notice HP Pavilion in San Jose. Last year, the UFC’s purchased Strikeforce, which at the time was it’s main competitor, from the Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment based out of San Jose, who also owns the San Jose Sharks and manages the HP Pavilion. The problem with owning Strikeforce was that it kept UFC out of San Jose, a hotbed for MMA at the time, due to the nature of being competitors. Part of the deal to sell Strikeforce to Zuffa was for the UFC to put on several shows at the HP Pavilion per year. Since the purchase, Zuffa has visited San Jose for UFC 139 late last year and is currently scheduled for the Strikeforce HW GP finale on May 19th. Another date for a smaller UFC show was discussed for July and another big UFC numbered event is in talks before the end of the year. A bill which would would drive the UFC away and it’s now close ties to the promotion would obviously be bad business for the San Jose based venue.
- The Honda Center is the other California venue listed as opposition. Interestingly enough, that’s the UFC’s preferred venue when visiting Southern California, where they can heavily push and market towards the Hispanic demographic as they did for Cain Velasquez against Brock Lesnar and most recently on their FOX debut against Junior Dos Santos. UFC’s plan was to host another big event at the Honda Center by the end of the year.
- The other is Goossen Tutor Promotions, which is partly ran by Dan Goossen, a boxing promoter and the manager of ex-boxing champ James Toney, who previously fought for the the UFC back in 2010 against Randy Couture back in 2010. Goossen negotiated Toney’s contract to fight in the UFC at the time. Goossen also wanted to do James Toney vs Tito Ortiz even further back in 2003-2004 and a previous Toney vs Couture bout about five years ago.
Looking at the Culinary Union’s efforts the past few years, it’s apparent that their efforts have focused on keeping the UFC out of New York, trying to do the same in California (one of their biggest current markets within the US), and impacting the relationship between their major blue chip sponsors is quite the strategic plan. All would impact the UFC’s bottom line. I’m not sure the labor union can continue to be successful and continue to lobby against the UFC for years to come, but they are doing something most other groups have failed to do in a very long time, and that’s pose a challenge. If they weren’t taken seriously before, I can assure you no one from Zuffa is laughing at their efforts now. At the very least, it causes a few annoying and pesky headaches here and there for the Fertitta brothers in hopes that one day both sides can come to an agreement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that a compromise will be reached anytime soon.
April 22, 2012
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This time the UFC hit Atlanta for UFC 145 where the much anticipated fight between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones took place.
Jones outclasses Evans
Did the fight live up to its expectations? Despite the hype, the outcome was never in doubt. Jon Jones dominated Rashad Evans to win via decision. Jones’ ability to utilize his reach and unique strikes did in Evans.
Both fighters received their share of boos from the crowd. It’s interesting to witness that folks hate Jones. Is it due to the perceived arrogance?
It appears that Jones is heading for a clash with Dan Henderson in a fight where most fans will be behind Henderson.
Next big thing?
Rory MacDonald may be the next dominant fighter in the sport. He dominated Che Mills to continue his ascent up the welterweight ladder. He is adamant that he’d never fight GSP if it came down to it. But, that scenario is down the line. We will definitely see more of him and he’s still very young.
Rothwell ends Schaub quickly
Honestly, I went out of the room during introductions and I came back and this fight was over. This was the second straight fight in which Schaub was knocked out. A good win for Rothwell who looked like he was in much better shape than his last fight against Mark Hunt.
Attendance and Gate
The UFC announced on Friday that 145 had sold out the Philips Arena. We’ll update the numbers once we recieve them. UPDATED: MMA Junkie reports 145 drew 15,145 for a gate of $2.2 million.
- The big news for UFC 145 was that headliner Jon Jones would sport UFC branded gear. As we noted, it appears that this will be a trend for the future. Frank Mir, who will take Alistair Overeem’s place at UFC 146, will be the next fighter to wear UFC gear.
As it turns out, MicroTech and Xyience were secondary logos on Jones’ UFC gear. Xyience had prominent space on the back side of Jones. In the end, is this new trend a conflict of interest?
Evans was sponsored by MMA clothing manufacturer Jaco. But, he also was sponsored by Bony Acai, MusclePharm and Corn Nuts. Three UFC Official Sponsors. Coincidentally, MusclePharm was a prime sponsor of the main event.
Frankly, we do not know the relationship between Official UFC Sponsors and what opportunities each gets in terms of signage/visibility at each event. So, it’s possible that the UFC placing its official sponsors on UFC branded fighters is a complementary piece to its existing partnership. It could also charge its official sponsors for being secondary marks on the UFC branded fighters. The UFC has indicated that branding fighters is a sign of the future. As we hypothesized, the UFC could be inching out other MMA sponsors from the fighters in the Octagon. As a result, there might be a time the UFC could entice more sponsors to become official UFC sponsors so that it could be on fight shorts or walkout shirts.
- Metro PCS, Dodge, RYU, US Marines and Corn Nuts all sponsored different portions of the night. Metro PCS sponsored the weigh-ins on Friday. MusclePharm sponsored the main event.
- Some new fight sponsors I noticed last night:
Kalapaki Joe’s – Its is a sports bar in Hawaii. Interesting that a sports bar with locations in the islands decided to sponsor UFC fighters. The good news is that one of its sponsored fighters was Rory MacDonald.
Square – Full disclosure. I actually use this device. It allows businesses to swipe credit cards remotely.
Majors Pharmacy – Mark Bocek’s sponsor on the back of his trunks. It was easy to see and it helped that Bocek had top position most of the fight.
Husky – Rashad Evans was sponsored by this company although after an internet search I could not find them. Always have your website with your logo folks. I seem to think that this is an industrial-type company but if any reader can help, I’d appreciate it. UPDATED: According to a commenter, Husky is a tool and construction accessory company.
- The UFC didn’t have its usual walkouts as the main and co-main events were the only walkouts shown. This is a new trend that may hurt sponsors in the end. As it turned out, with the KOs, there was some filler time between fights which could have been done with walkouts.
MMA Junkie reports that the bonuses for the night were $65,000 each.
Submission of the Night: Great ji-jitsu by Travis Browne to submit Chad Griggs.
KO of the Night: As I stated earlier, I missed the Rothwell-Schaub fight because it was so quick. But after rewinding, it was an impressive KO.
Fight of the Night: Eddie Yagin and Mark Hominick – Hominick included his customary pushups after the final bell rang. In return, Yagin did some situps. It was like they were completing a workout or something.
The UFC Primetimes were pretty interesting but were hidden away on Friday night and with TUF Live as a lead-in. For all the efforts in promoting the fight, there were not enough opportunities to see a pretty good Primetime lead-in for the fight.
UFC Primetime Episode 1: 462,000 viewers
UFC Primetime Episode 2: 573,000 viewers
There was a lot of mainstream promotion for Jones-Evans. The two traded verbal jabs on ESPN, UFC 145 sponsored a segment of Sportscenter (and I thought Dana White said the network hated MMA and the UFC?), they made an appearance on the NBA on TNT’s post-game show featuring Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal and Jones was featured in the Wall Street Journal. The TNT appearance probably was due to the fact that the event was in Atlanta where TNT studios are located.
Mashable also had an article which featured the UFC’s social media strategy. In the article, it reports the UFC purchasing Promoted Tweets for UFC 145 which should increase trending visibility for the event. Despite paying for tweets, many UFC Fighters were trending topics last night on twitter organically.
The UFC is also starting to use Pinterest – which I still am not clear on how it works.
A criticism about the promotion of this card is the fact that not enough was done to promote the undercard. There was little time spent on MacDonald-Mills, Rothwell-Schaub or any of the other fights.
Post-UFC 145 Headline
- Henderson next for Jones: The only one real headline after the PPV. The young lion versus the old vet. Will Henderson have a chance against Jones? Can he pull a Randy Couture? Henderson packs more of a punch than Evans but will face the same reach disadvantages as Evans. Also, Jones’ conditioning is phenomenal and one need only look to the Rua slugfest at 139 to see that Henderson may be in trouble.
Odds and Ends
- If the UFC is coaching certain fighters in interviews, it must have talked to Michael McDonald when he said he was going to party after his fight, “But not with alcohol, with the sweets.” Ben Rothwell is another for thanking strangers, who he revealed were the fans of the UFC. Of course, I am joking about this. I was chastised on twitter about making light of McDonald. Now I know how Cage Potato feels. Ok, not exactly.
- Che Mills had the best walkout music of the night. Too bad he faced Rory MacDonald.
- I had hoped that Rashad Evans would have come out with his Bill Gates Mug Shot T-Shirt (FighterXFashion has the backstory). The same one he wore after his knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 88 in Atlanta. Evans did walkout to the same music at 88.
- Anyone else think that the “Jones vs. Evans” lettering on the poster for UFC 145 was an odd choice?
In the end, the success of this PPV will hinge on the main event as the UFC put all of its marketing and promotional force behind the one fight. It received some good mainstream acknowledgment which should help. Also, Jones and Evans are great ambassadors for the sport. This was the first PPV in which you could see some tweeks which could be influenced by Fox. This included the elimination of walkout entrances of most fights except the main and co-main events. Venturing a guess as to the PPV buys, I would speculate we see somewhere in the 500K neighborhood.
March 29, 2012
MMA Weekly reports that Facebook streams of UFC fights have received as many as 140,000 viewers on its web page. This information comes from Dana White after the UFC 146 press conference this week.
In speaking with the press, White offered up a number of viewers to its Facebook streams which have aired prior to prelims on television. “I think the most we’ve ever had watching on Facebook was something like 140,000 people. That’s a good number,” White added, “If you look at some of the numbers that some of these other organizations have pulled whether it’s on HDNet, MTV2, or whatever it might be, to pull 140,000 is a good number.”
White indicated that the Facebook streaming comes at a cost to the company.
Via MMA Weekly:
It does come at a cost, however. White didn’t put any numbers to dollar signs, but he did say that cost was a factor when they recently opted not to stream just a single fight on Facebook when there wasn’t space for it on television.
White told reporters that he didn’t know how many people that watch on Facebook actually buy the PPVs stating that there’s no way to accurately track it.
The Facebook stream viewership has been one of the bigger secrets held by the UFC and its sponsors as no one has put a number to them. It appears that White is pleased with the use but also looks to the fact that the costs may override the marketing benefits. In the past, there have been sponsors for Facebook which may offset some of the UFC’s costs to stream. But, one must think of the content its placing on Facebook. Most of the fights are the opening bouts as the more interesting prelim fights are now televised. With the Fox deal and the availability of Fuel and FX, Facebook may become less of a need.
Obviously, taking live fights off of Facebook somewhat flies in the face of the UFC’s championing of social media. But, if the UFC steers away from live streaming of its fights on its Facebook page, I’m sure there’s other ways it can drive its fans to its Facebook page.