Pacquiao-Bradley II Payout Perspective

April 16, 2014

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at Pacquiao-Bradley II taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Pacquiao ousts Bradley

It was even until the middle rounds when Timothy Bradley began to fade and Manny Pacquiao poured it on.  Bradley showboated a little and tried to feign he was not hurt by Pacquiao’s punches.  Either he was going to be a genius or he was trying to lose. Even when Bradley invited Pacquiao into skirmishes and attempted to emulate the same strategy as Juan Manuel Marquez with his KO in December 2012, Pacquiao seemed to win them and/or evade the big shot.

Pacquiao now faces the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado on May 17th.  Most fans would probably like to see Pacquiao-JMM 5 because of the built-in storylines.  Their last battle drew 1.15 million PPV buys and would likely equal or eclipse that number.

Even though Pacquiao should face the JMM-Alvarado winner, the LA Times is reporting that the Pacquiao camp is lobbying for a shot at Mayweather.  Will this happen?  Don’t hold your breath.  However, the bargaining leverage is all with Mayweather.  Its Pacquiao with the reported money problems and he has been the one to concede the stricter drug testing and is willing to listen to a less than 50% split of a fight.  So, does that put pressure on Mayweather, or is this paragraph wasted time?  We have two different promotions and if you are Mayweather, only public perception would lead you to a fight with Pacquiao.  Does Mayweather really care about the public?

Attendance

Top Rank reported a sell out for the MGM Grand Garden Arena with 15,601 in attendance.  The weigh-ins a day earlier were at capacity as well with approximately 4,500 witnessing Pacquiao and Bradley weigh in and flex for those in attendance.

On Tuesday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission announced 14,099 tickets were sold for a total gate of $7.9 million.  H/t: Steve Kim


The gate was approximately $7,865,100 which is the lowest in years for Pacquiao.  The gate falls 24th on the list of top boxing gates for Nevada.  Pacquiao-Hatton in 2009 received an $8.8 million gate (15,368 in attendance) comes right before Pacquiao-Bradley II.

Payouts

It was reported that Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley would earn $6 million each.  However, Bob Arum indicated that Pacquiao would make no less than $20 million.  Both would receive PPV upside as well.

The undercard payouts are as follows via Bad Left Hook:

Ray Beltran ($85,000) vs Arash Usmanee ($80,000)

Khabib Allakhverdiev ($250,000) vs Jessie Vargas ($90,000)

and Bryan Vasquez ($55,000) vs Jose Felix Jr ($40,000)

Promotion of the Fight

As is custom with a big fight, Pacquiao made an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.  Bradley made an appearance on the NBA on TNT in which he was interviewed during a Laker game.

Top Rank Boxing also utilized its web site to hype the fight as well as livestream the weigh-ins.

The customary repeats of Bradley and Pacquiao’s greatest fights including their first encounter were shown on HBO and on the Audience network.

It’s notable that less showings of HBO’s 24/7 series occurred over the multiple networks owned by Time Warner.  You may recall in past fights that the series could be seen on TNT, TBS and even CNN.  This time around, there was little cross-pollination.

HBO added a special on-location, live pre-fight show the Thursday before the fight in addition to its usual 24/7 shows.

One thing that drew the ire of Bob Arum was the fact that the MGM Grand had signs for Floyd Mayweather’s May 3rd fight.  The signs were more prominent than those of Pacquiao-Bradley II which was pointed out by Arum whenever he could.  Indirectly, this likely upset sponsor Tecate, since Mayweather fights are sponsored by Corona.  There’s obvious brand confusion ther.  Mayweather has fought at the MGM 9 straight times and it appeared that the loyalty took precedence over the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch.  It may also be due to the fact that Mayweather’s promotion has a contractual agreement to hype the fight at the MGM a certain time before the fight which may be the reason.

Sponsorships

The sponsors for this event include Tecate, Smart Communications, the leading wireless services provider for the Philippines

Tecate had its usual PPV rebate offer for those purchasing its beer at selected retailers.

The newest and most visible sponsor was Sony with its PlayStation 4 platform receiving high visibility during the fight including trailers of the PS4 gaming experience.  An example of this activation had PS4 running trailers in between fighter weigh-ins during the live stream on Top Rank’s web site.

Bradley wore a variety of hats to promote certain sponsors.  During his NBA on TNT interview, he wore a SaxonyInvest.com hat.  During the 24/7 series, he wore a Pocial hat which is a social networking web site that connects people through polls.  I am not sure if this is a great way to brand yourself but certainly Bradley is getting paid for these advertisements.

Bradley is still sponsored by Nike and had custom “Desert Storm” gear for the fight.  He also was sponsored by Lexani – a high end car wheel manufacturer. The shirt was on display at the weigh-ins.

Juan Diaz sported a Body Armor hat in the corner of Bradley during the fight.

Pacquiao’s cornermen must have received Mitshubishis as the Cerritos, California and South Coast Dealerships were plainly visible as patches on Buboy and others in Pacquiao’s corner.

Odds and Ends

An interesting takeaway from the 24/7 series is that Timothy’s wife, Monica Bradley, has taken over as his manager.  According to the show, she brokered Bradley’s new deal with Top Rank including the financial terms for this fight.  Bradley earned $6 million for his second fight with Pacquiao which is $1 million more than he earned in the first fight.  It’s a big question as to whether or not it’s a good idea to have your spouse represent you.  Negotiations can get heated and while it’s easier to grasp what your client wants, there may be an issue as to if you can separate yourself from the personal relationship.

Some may have noticed that Freddie Roach wore an Under Armour shirt at weigh-ins.  It seemed a bit odd considering that Pacquiao is sponsored by Nike and has worn Pacquiao Nike gear in the past.

The LA Times had an interesting article on the enforcement of PPV fees on bars that intend to show fights.  The charge is dependent on the size of the bar and the more seats in a bar, the more the bar has to pay.  As an example, a 50 seat bar is charged $1,600 for showing the PPV, a 51-100 seat bar is charged $2,200.  For those bars that may attempt to evade the fees, promoters employ enforcement that sues bars showing the PPV without paying.  Zuffa employs similar enforcement to protect itself from piracy.

With this fight, it’s likely that Pacquiao solidifies his spot as PPV royalty as he moves closer to the second spot of all-time top PPV performers.  Oscar de la Hoya currently owns second while Floyd Mayweather tops the list.

And yes, there was Pacquiao’s mother.

Conclusion

This fight had more storylines yet seemed to lack the hype or buzz of previous Pacquiao fights.  Nevertheless, this is one of those fights that people will find and would be willing to pay the $70 to watch.  Industry experts estimated the buy rate at 700,000 while Arum suggests a more optimistic buy rate of somewhere over 1 million.  Their last fight was 890,000.  Notwithstanding Pacquiao-Rios this past November, Manny is still a valued commodity in the boxing PPV landscape while Bradley is still an entertaining fighter on the rise.  We may just throw out that fight in Macau as an anomaly.  Perhaps I may be just bullish on Pacquiao and refuse to see the writing on the wall, but I believe that this fight will do better than their first fight and hit 1 million PPV buys.

Sony’s PS4 brand to sponsor Top Rank fights this spring

April 7, 2014

The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reports that Top Rank Boxing has signed on with Sony for its Playstation 4 brand  to receive “prominent placement” at this week’s Bradley-Pacquiao II event and June 7th’s Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez PPVs.

In addition, the PS4 logo will be seen during the May 17th Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado fight on HBO.  Although no financial terms were revealed, SBJ estimates that the scale of such a deal would exceed $1M and “could approach $2M.”

The deal between Top Rank and Sony occurred via a LinkedIn “cold call” by Top Rank Exec VP Lucia McKelvey to PlayStation exec Guy Longworth.  The two had connected via the business-oriented social network site and McKelvey contacted Longworth about a potential sponsorship opportunity.  The pitch was premised upon using boxing as a means to target young Hispanic males “both inside and outside of the U.S.”

The activation includes a PS4 logo prominently displayed at all three fights and PlayStation trailers running on the PPV telecasts.  There also would be banners and pre-roll on Top Rank’s web site as well as social media integration during all three fights.

PlayStation 4 has sponsored UFC events as well as providing signage on the indoor rock wall for the memorable coaches TUF challenge between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate.

Payout Perspective:

The Top Rank-Sony PlayStation news may draw the ire of every young sales associate considering this lucrative partnership originated out of a cold call.  It’s clear that this cold call is much different than other ones but the fact remains it may not have happened without the initial pitch.  The partnership should help both brands as it gives the gaming console notable visibility during three of the bigger fights this year for the boxing promotion.  For Top Rank, it’s a blue chip brand that it has added to its portfolio of sponsors during a big stretch for the company.

Debate sparks over Fund a Fighter alternative to sponsorships

April 1, 2014

The state of sponsorships was brought up once again by dueling MMA Junkie articles which looked at the ways fighters can find additional revenue in what appears to be a dwindling sponsorship market.

The first article took a look at the MMA “crowd funding” in the form of Fund a Fighter.  Essentially, the purpose of the company is for fans to contribute to fighters’ fundraising campaigns as they prepare during a training camp in lead-up to their fight.  In exchange, the fighters provide the fans that contribute to their campaign with various “rewards” which varies based on the amount contributed.  The “rewards” can include a simple recognition on social media, to a t-shirt, to fight shorts worn on fight night.

It sounds like a great alternative to seeking out sponsors and dealing with concerns over payment, or lack thereof.  The obvious drawback is the uncertainty as to whether fans would be willing to fund a training camp for a fighter.

According to the Junkie article, the average campaign garners $2,100 which is far from the amount of money that a UFC fighter could have made in sponsorships a couple years ago.

Brian Ebersole and Dan Miller are the most notable fighters to use the web site which charges a 15% commission of the total amount each fighter receives. According to the Fund a Fighter web site he raised $3,250.00 for his fight against Rick Story at UFC 167.

On the other end, World Series of Fighter Rick Glenn received $275 for his fight at WSOF 5 in September 2013.  There are other fighters on smaller circuits that utilize this web site as well with varying degrees of success.

A couple days later, MMA Manager John Fosco talked to MMA Junkie and lashed out about the “crowd funding” strategy and described the Fund a Fighter web site as “welfare.” Fosco had strong words for the perceived problems with the UFC sponsor tax and tightening of funds by sponsors.  Essentially, he believes that there is still money out there for fighters citing (in the Junkie article) that he can get his fighter $8,000 for a Fight Pass fight and has done “way over $10,000” in sponsorships for a Facebook fight in the past.  Fosco lays blame with “lazy managers.”

The article goes on about how Fosco’s company, VFD Marketing, has looked for opportunities for its fighters outside of the Octagon as well as traditional sponsors on their gear.

Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout interviewed Fosco back in 2010 when he originally had secured Safe Auto as a sponsor for some of his fighters.  It became an official UFC sponsor.  Fosco indicated that Safe Auto sponsorship was based on a cold call to the company.

The articles give differing views of the current state of sponsorships.  It appears that Fosco has adapted with the sponsorship market and rails on those that complain about it.  Then, there is a site like Fund a Fighter which is an “out of the box” way for fighters to fund their training through donations.  Fund a Fighter appears to be a great strategy for fighters on the smaller circuits with regional popularity attempting to make it to the next step.  Basically, this allows someone with a full-time job some money to spend on food; gear and the ability to take time off work without having it hurt them economically.  From this standpoint, a site like this would be smart.  Similar to a small-time filmmaker seeking a way to put the final editing touches on their film, “crowd funding” appears to be a good way to seek out the help they need.

On the other hand, based on the information from its web site, it appears that UFC-type fighters could (and should) make more in sponsorships than what is being collected on a Fund a Fighter campaign.  There are many impediments of this happening:  the UFC sponsor tax, “lazy managers” as perceived by Fosco or just the inability to land sponsors.

Even if sponsors are landed, there may be issues with how they are obtained.  There are the Dynamic Fasteners and Auto Shopper.com’s which appear to have purchased sponsorships in bulk.  In a recent article, Dynamic Fastener described this as “bundle pricing” when DF negotiates sponsorships with an agent for the agent’s entire stable of fighters appearing on a card.  The problem here is whether the individual fighter is getting the best deal for themselves or are they being lumped in at a discount.  Cole Miller spoke out about the obstacles of the lower-to-middle card fighters getting sponsorships (and sponsor money).  Chris Camozzi and Mac Danzig have also spoken out about sponsors and both have refused to take on sponsors for their fights even though they are willing to pay.  You may recall Danzig even went as far as to accept no sponsors for a fight on Fox.

With the possible advent of UFC uniforms, will the sponsorship market in the UFC change yet again?  We shall see.

Sponsor speaks of ills of UFC “tax”

March 22, 2014

Bloody Elbow reports on MMA apparel maker Americana MMA and its issues with the UFC sponsor tax.  The article points out the hurdles that a small company has with losing athletes once they leave.

Americana MMA sponsored three women fighters while in Invicta FC that will be going to the UFC as part of the newly developed straw weight division.  Essentially, Americana MMA founder Peter Giannoulis talked about how the UFC had told him that his company would have to pay $50,000 plus a year if it wanted to continue to sponsor the fighters it had set up relations with in Invicta FC.  Thus, it lost three fighters it had good relationships with and it cannot continue the relationship.

If there was no tax, we assume that Americana MMA would continue sponsoring the fighters which would elevate the status of the fighters along with the brand as they would wear its logo in the Octagon.

Payout Perspective:

The sponsor tax/fee the UFC charges brands to sponsor fighters in the UFC is a definite barrier to entry for small companies with limited budgets.  And, while there is an argument for the UFC to have the sponsor fee, there are few indications that the fee is paying off…except for the UFC. There are few blue chip sponsors that have been brought in by the UFC since the implementation of the fee.  Certainly, Reebok has paid the fee to sponsor Johny Hendricks but it was made clear that it was with Hendricks and not a UFC sponsor.  Others like Nike have dipped its toe into the UFC with Jon Jones, JDS and Anderson Silva.  But a blue chip brand has not sponsored fighters on a greater scale.  The Americana MMA problem is an issue seen by many small companies in any sport with limited capital.  It is highlighted in the UFC because we’ve seen the company grow with inclusion of a variety of small sponsors helping fighters in the beginning and now its policy has shifted with the popularity which has forced out many companies like Americana MMA.

Team Takedown’s investment with Hendricks pays off

March 21, 2014

SI.com reports on Team Takedown’s unique investment in Johny Hendricks and other fighters when it agreed to manage and fund fighters in exchange for a 50-50 split in their earnings.

The brainchild of founder Ted Ehrhardt, along with his brother and business partner agreed to pay for living expenses, trainers and gym time.  According to the article, it costs the company $100,000 a year to fund just one fighter.  It has spent over $4 million in its 7 years in existence but does not break even with a fighter until those fighters’ earnings (including fight purses, sponsorship and other revenues) reach $200,000.  The good news for the fighter is that according to the article, the fighter need not pay back any of the money advanced by Team Takedown. 

The most telling, or outrageous, depending on what you believe, is the quote from Ehrhardt:

“[Former champion] Georges St-Pierre has gone public saying he makes $20 million-$30 million a year with all his sponsorships,” according to Ehrhardt.

Ehrhardt’s quote is contrary to a pre-UFC 167 Forbes article in November in which it stated that the former welterweight champion made $12 million per year.

Payout Perspective:

Team Takedown’s business plan is similar to MTX Audio’s plan back in 2009.  MTX Audio sponsored fighters such as Ben Henderson and according to MTX Audio, it provided the fighters with living expenses in order to train full time.  Team Takedown differs from MTX Audio in that its income is directly tied to its fighter’s success.

The financial managerial arrangement set up by Team Takedown is also similar to how agents, particularly in the NFL, recruit clients and advance training and living costs to them in hopes of recouping the investment when/if they get drafted.  The problems with this are evident.  Athletes can bolt for other agents, an athlete may not materialize or get injured and the agent is left without realizing on their initial investment or an athlete that hits it big may seek to break away from the company.  The company has much risk involved with the distinct possibility of no reward.

For Team Takedown, they must be good scouts to ensure that it finds the right fighters that will eventually succeed.  For the fighters, it’s an enticing tradeoff.  Most fighters are in need of funding to train and having an organization pay for you up front would make sense for the fighter at the time. Of course, if you finally make it and receive the big payday you worked hard for the fighter will realize that half will have to go to your management.

Forbes.com reports on “lean” UFC sponsor market and Hendricks/Reebok deal

March 20, 2014

Forbes.com wrote a piece on Johny Hendricks and his sponsor Reebok in light of his victory in the Octagon at UFC 171.  Notably, one of the takeaways from the articl focused on the fact that Reebok’s main goal was not to sponsor MMA fighters but to develop Reebok’s Fitness Marketing division.

It was noted that Hendricks was sponsored by Reebok for the fight.  Hendricks indicated to Forbes how he had problems getting gear from past sponsors and was thankful to Reebok for helping him without any issues.

John Lynch, Vice President of Reebok Fitness Marketing told Forbes that Reebok’s focus is on fitness. The Hendricks sponsorship for his fight was a byproduct of this.  Lynch stressed that while Hendricks only fights 2 times a year, he’ll be training year around and that is where the sponsorship ties in.

Hendricks and Jamie Varner both participated in The Spartan Race.  The race is an obstacle course which tests competitors as they navigate various physical challenges throughout the race.  Reebok sponsors the event and eventually came into partnership with Hendricks and Varner for the event.  It was not until UFC 167 did Reebok officially sponsor Hendricks in his title fight against GSP.  UFC 171 was the second time it sponsored Hendricks.  Despite the continued relationship, Reebok maintains that it is sponsoring Hendricks and not the UFC.  “We’re with Johny, but we’re not sponsoring the UFC,” Lynch told Forbes.

The article, written by sports and entertainment attorney Darren Heitner was a mainstream narrative on Hendricks and painted the MMA sponsor landscape as “lean” while noting “obscure brands” such as Dynamic Fastener spreading its sponsor dollars to multiple fighters.

In addition to the Forbes article, Sports Agent Blog wrote an article this week on “Mega Brands” entering the UFC sponsorship landscape.  The post mainly focused on Jon Jones and his deal with Nike although it touched upon the Hendricks and Reebok deal.  The article reads directly opposite to Heitner’s article.  Ironically, Heitner founded the Sports Agent Blog.

Payout Perspective:

Lynch’s quote can be interpreted several ways.  He could be just clarifying Reebok’s role as a sponsor of Hendricks and not an “official” UFC sponsor.  It could also be a note to MMA agents that it is not looking to expand its sponsorship of fighters in the Octagon.

These are two interesting reads that tell us what most MMA fans already knew.  The sponsorship market is tight but for a few fighters that a few mainstream brands will sponsor.  It’s interesting to note Reebok’s strategy of casting its audience very broad as it builds its fitness niche.  While Reebok has been tied to Hendricks and has appeared in the Bellator octagon (Reebok also sponsors Rampage Jackson), its main emphasis is on fitness, not MMA per se.  Both Hendricks and Jackson have starred in Reebok commercials promoting its sportswear line.  Those commercials emphasized fitness and exercise although the Hendricks commercial emphasized the fact he was a fighter.  But the question is whether these brands would sponsor athletes in MMA like a Dynamic Fastener?  It appears not.

The sponsor issue is one of the reasons Dana White has proposed a UFC uniform.  But, we probably should cross off Reebok off the list of potential suitors as the uniform maker.

Bellator MMA signs Bamboo Nutra as sponsor

March 18, 2014

Bellator MMA has signed on with global health supplement and lifestyle company Bamboo Nutra as its “Official Nutrition and Supplement Partner” for the promotion.  According to a Bellator press release the partnership will begin on April 4th on Spike TV at Bellator 115.

Via Bellator press release:

Bamboo Nutra will be strategically integrated throughout all live Bellator broadcasts on Spike in addition to activating a host of consumer touch points on-site and in-market during the coming years.

“In addition to the wide-ranging in the cage and on broadcast integrations with our new partners at Bamboo Nutra, we’ll also be working with our new partners to go into local communities to empower and inspire kids to be the best they can be,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney.

Bellator and Bamboo Nutra are launching a community outreach program called the “Champions Challenge” by going into local schools and jointly talking to kids about awakening the champion within.

According to Leighton Dean, VP of Bamboo Nutra, “We want to challenge the kids to step out of their own comfort zone and do something good for others. With that we are challenging the kids to post videos or write letters with what they are doing differently in their communities, including, and most importantly, showing compassion for others.”

Bellator-BambooN

Payout Perspective:

Today’s news follows Bellator’s string of announcements of new official partners with the promotion. The partnership follows the UFC footprint of targeting certain industries where the MMA demo match.  The press release indicates community outreach which should help with getting Bellator fighters out in the public so that people can identify with them.

UFC 171: Payout Perspective

March 17, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time well be taking a look at UFC 171 at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Hendricks wins vacant title

A scare with not making weight did not matter for Johny Hendricks as he defeated Robbie Lawler in the Fight of the Night.  For Hendricks, it was redemption from a controversial loss to GSP last time out.  Lawler was impressive in defeat but just didn’t have enough to win the title.

Hendricks was the top welterweight of the night as he will now look to a smorgasbord of challengers to the title which may include a couple fighters (Lombard, Woodley) on the card and one (Nick Diaz) that was in attendance.

UFC_171_event_poster

Woodley upsets Condit

Tyron Woodley may have moved to the top of the contender’s list for the welterweight division with his victory over Carlos Condit.  While the knee injury to Condit caused the stoppage, it should not take away from the fact that Woodley was impressive and can argue he is next in line for a title shot at Hendricks.

Attendance and Gate

As we reported on Sunday, the UFC announced its attendance at 19,324 for a live gate of $2.6 million.  The numbers reflect the largest U.S. crowd to see a UFC event.  The numbers bested the UFC’s last event in Dallas which did 17,428 for a $2.4 million gate at UFC 103.

There were no information yet on comps and the Texas Department of Licensing will confirm the numbers later this week.

Bonuses

The bonuses were awarded to Hendricks-Lawler, Ovince St. Preux and Dennis Bermudez.

Fight of the Night – Hendricks-Lawler

Performance of the Night – OSP (Von Flue!) and Bermudez.

Each fighter earned an extra $50K.  In addition, Harley Davidson ran a promotion in which one of the bonus winners could win a Harley Davidson based upon a fan vote on the UFC’s Facebook page.  Hendricks won the fan vote and a new motorcycle.

Sponsors

The usual suspects were in the Octagon including the official UFC sponsors of MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Alienware, Corn Nuts as well as Bud Light taking the center of the Octagon.  Fram Auto Filters was the latest addition to Octagon signage.  In addition, Robbie Lawler’s sponsor, the Air Force Reserve also had signage in the Octagon.

The most notable sponsor for Hendricks was Reebok. Hendricks wore a shirt with the hashtag Reebokzquick.  Hendricks co-starred in a commercial featuring the Reebok fitness line in a recent commercial It was the second time that the clothing brand has sponsored him in the Octagon.  With Hendricks as champ, we can expect that Reebok will extend its sponsorship deal.  Hendricks was also sponsored by two official UFC sponsors: Corn Nuts and Alienware.

reebok-johny-hendricks-ufc-171-shirt

Diego Sanchez had a product tie-in where he wore a Training Mask during his workouts on the UFC Countdown show.

Myles Jury was sponsored by a Panini America and Dee Zee truck accessories on the front of his shorts.  According to its web site, Jury will be making an appearance for his Panini sponsor.

mylesjury_headshot

Tyron Woodley signed on with Affliction Clothing prior to UFC 171 (via FighterxFashion).  He also snagged a deal with Monster Headphones.

You don’t f*ck with #TheChosenOne Tyron Woodley (<href=”https://twitter.com/TWooodley”>@TWooodley)! Let’s get that title shot, eh? #UFC171 #MonsterOctagon pic.twitter.com/c1VZnFJSLV

— Monster Products (@MonsterProducts) March 17, 2014

The UFC had a “Vote for the T” Contest where fans had a chance to design a t-shirt for the UFC to market and sell for $30.

Post-UFC171 Headlines

Who’s next for Johny Hendricks?  A lot of debate swirling that Woodley, Hector Lombard or even Nick Diaz should face Hendricks next.  Diaz, who flew to Dallas courtesy of the UFC, was featured on the company’s Instagram account mocking Hendricks when it appeared he had missed weight and needed to retry.  Despite the showings of the other welterweights on the card, the appeal of Diaz is that he can sell a fight without even trying (i.e. we’re not talking Wolf Tickets).  But, the bottom line is that the show revealed that the welterweight is a very competitive division with many challengers to face Hendricks.

Odds and Ends

Unfortunately, the UFC 171 Prelims were on FS2 due to college basketball tournament action as the prelim fights were probably the best in recent memory.

The Von Flue Choke will be the most demonstrated move in BJJ gyms across the nation this week.

Hendricks marketed “BeardHeads” riffing off of his trademark facial hair. There was a sponsor giveaway associated with the gimmick as well.

I am not clear why Diego Sanchez was eating quail egg and steak tartare before a fight.  It seems very suspect.

The top cities that searched the name Johny Hendricks on Google were Oklahoma City and Montreal.

Google trends revealed that Johny Hendricks was not getting as many searches as when he fought Georges St. Pierre but UFC 171 was getting significant traffic.

If GSP does come back against Hendricks, it could be the Cowboy Stadium show that the UFC wants and a 1 million PPV buy event.

Conclusion

While the attendance and gate numbers are impressive for a show not featuring GSP/Anderson Silva or Cain Velasquez (note we excluded Ronda Rousey based on her last outing), it’s hard to conclude a big buy rate.  There was nothing that stood out in the promotion of this event despite it being for the vacant welterweight title.  Still, the Hendricks win puts him in a position to be groomed to be the next big draw for the UFC.  With the lack of a big name at the top, and the minimal buzz for the event, a buy rate of 300,000 would be solid.

Hendo has design contest for next walkout shirt

March 13, 2014

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports writes about Dan Henderson’s latest walkout shirt he will wear on March 23rd.  It’s not because of a new sponsor but of a creative contest he ran to come up with his gear.

Henderson held a contest to let fans design his walkout shirt for his fight against Shogun Rua in Natal, Brazil.  Using his Facebook page in which he would sell the shirt, fans submitted designs to be judged by Henderson.

Henderson liked the idea as he told Iole:

“The sponsorship money that was being offered wasn’t great anyway, but this seemed like a pretty good idea and a way to get the fans involved,” he said. “When I looked at the other deals and the amount of money that was there, I said, ‘You know what, I’d rather have the fans do this and have some fun with it. I don’t need to make a lot of money off of it.’ We’ll sell it, but as I said, the point isn’t money.

Henderson requested that the theme of the shirt be Patriotic USA.  The winner would receive signed replica fight shorts and a walkout shirt signed by Henderson.

The winner of the design contest was Robert Davis, a Marine from Oklahoma.  Henderson also liked fan designs from two other contestants and those are on sale at his online store.

Payout Perspective:

Henderson’s t-shirt contest is an interesting way in getting fan interaction as well as turning the lack of sponsorship dollars into an opportunity.  Also, fans had the chance to design a t-shirt for a fighter.  The one question that was not explained from the piece was whether the fans received a benefit (i.e., part of the sales), aside from “replica” shorts and t-shirt from winning the design contest.  Hendo indicated the shirts are selling well (at $30 a piece). It’s not clear if the profits from the sales are being donated to a charity.  So, while sponsors are not offering enough money to Henderson, he’s gaining some revenue back from the t-shirt sales.

Unibet signs on with UFC as official betting partner

March 7, 2014

The UFC has brokered a sponsorship deal with Swedish online gaming company Unibet.  The 2 year agreement will start tomorrow at UFC Fight Night London and will make it the official betting partner of the UFC.

The deal will cover events held in the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Australia according to the Sports Business Daily (subscription required).

250px-Unibet_logo

Via GamingIntelligence.com:

The UFC said that the quality of Unibet’s iGaming offering set it apart from other operators, and the strength of the desktop and mobile products provided an ideal synergy with the business.

“This is a great opportunity for our fans to step into the world of the UFC in a new and engaging way,” Garry Cook, executive vice president and managing director of UFC EMEA commented.

“We are delighted to partner with one if the world’s fastest growing online betting companies,” Cook continued. “The UFC is hosting more events than ever internationally in 2014 allowing us to reach more potential fans across the globe.

Unibet chief marketing officer Nils Anden indicated that Unibet was working on providing exclusive bet offers for UFC events.

Established in 1997, the company “provides a platform for sports betting, casino, games and online poker,” according to its web site.  It touts that it has 8.6 million customers in over 100 countries and over 900 employees.  It is a publicly listed company on the NASDAQ QMX Nordic Exchange in Stockholm.

Payout Perspective:

Occurring on the eve of UFC Fight Night 37, this is good news for the UFC and Unibet.  Certainly, the Fertittas and their UltimatePoker.com web site is heavily promoted on UFC shows in the U.S. and it made sense for the company to partner with a European online gaming site with its ongoing expansion into Europe.  While I do not personally visit these sites, I understand that the opportunity for more oddsmakers and odds available is a good thing.  It also caters to the UFC’s target demo.  Look for the Unibet logo in the Octagon tomorrow.

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