September 29, 2014
FighterXFashion reports that Adidas has signed on UFC fighter Luke Rockhold. Although no terms of the sponsorship have been revealed, its anticipated that Rockhold should be repping the three stripes in preparation for his fight against Michael Bisping on November 8th.
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) September 29, 2014
Robbie Lawler is the only other UFC fighter to be sponsored by Adidas.
The news of Rockhold’s deal might be seen as an expansion of Adidas’ Combat Sports Division. The Three Stripes should translate well overseas as Rockhold’s fight against Bisping takes place
in Sydney, Australia as the main event for UFC Fight Night 55. We’ll see if the signing means that Adidas is in the race to be the official uniform for the UFC.
September 29, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. In this edition, we review UFC 178 which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Demetrious Johnson took on Chris Cariaso in the main event.
Johnson outclasses Cariaso
Despite the lack of fan support (i.e., PPV buys), Demetrious Johnson can legitimately stake a claim to being the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC. It was clear in the first minute that Johnson was the better fighter and ended Cariaso in the second round with a submission.
Johnson is getting prime placement on UFC shows and it’s the second PPV he’s headlined this year. One should also stress the fact that Johnson has not been hurt during his title reign and is not an outside-the-Octagon problem. So, why don’t people buy his PPVs?
Cowboy welcomes Eddie to UFC
The skeet shooting and wakeboarding training regimen pre-fight aside, Donald Cerrone is an extremely good fighter. In what was one of the more entertaining fights on the card, Cerrone defeated Eddie Alvarez. It was the long-awaited debut for the former Bellator champ and the first round he showed why the UFC wanted to acquire his services. Yet, Cerrone moves on looking for another fight before 2014 closes.
McGregor makes quick work of Poirier
You would have thought that this was the main event based on the crowd reactions. The hype, trash talk and vitriol between the two (especially during any face off promoting the fight) was classic in what to do to have people interested in purchasing your fights. The Conor McGregor experience continues and likely his most impressive fight on the biggest platform so far. McGregor easily handled Dustin Poirier in the first round. It’s clear that McGregor is ready for a title shot after Saturday night.
Attendance and Gate
The attendance and gate announced at the post-fight press conference was 10,544 for a gate of $2.2 million. Out of 9 PPVs this year, it ranked 7th in attendance.
The bonuses of $50K each were awarded to Yoel Romero-Tim Kennedy for Fight of the Night and Dominick Cruz and Conor McGregor for Performances of the Night.
Promotion of the Fight
The Embedded episodes continue to be popular as the UFC has found a formula to promote the fights digitally. For the most part, viewers got to see Cowboy Cerrone wakeboarding and skeet shooting prior to his fight with Eddie Alvarez, Conor McGregor get a haircut, Demetrious Johnson getting a shave and Dustin Poirier at the Whole Foods at Vegas. The one thing really missing from the embedded episode was a profile on Chris Cariaso. The Countdown show did have a profile on Cariaso but it seemed incomplete. Even if it was a foregone conclusion that he would likely lose (which happened), it would have been nice for them to have elevated his profile for this fight. It seems to get better reviews than the UFC Prime Time episodes because they are short and can be viewed whenever people want to see them.
Conor McGregor did a good amount of pre-fight press.
Mighty Mouse appeared on the local Fox affiliate in Seattle last week hyping UFC 178.
Salaries have been disclosed via MMA Junkie:
Demetrious Johnson: $183,000 (includes $54,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Cariaso: $24,000
Donald Cerrone: $126,000 (includes $63,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Alvarez: $100,000
Conor McGregor: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)
def. Dustin Poirier: $34,000
Yoel Romero: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus)
def. Tim Kennedy: $70,000
Cat Zingano: $18,000 (includes $9,000 win bonus)
def. Amanda Nunes: $15,000
Dominick Cruz: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Takeya Mizugaki: $32,000
Jorge Masvidal: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. James Krause: $15,000
Stephen Thompson: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Patrick Cote: $33,000
Brian Ebersole: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. John Howard: $21,000
Kevin Lee: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Jon Tuck: $10,000
Manny Gamburyan: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Cody Gibson: $10,000
Some interesting figures including Demetrious Johnson being paid like a champ (base of $129K). The last official report of his purse was at UFC on Fox 9 where he made a base of $125K (notice a bigger bonus for that Fox event). You might assume that June’s UFC 174 he made a base of $127K although those salaries were never officially reported. Eddie Alvarez was paid $100K (show) for his first UFC fight. You might recall when he was originally offered a UFC contract which precipitated the Bellator lawsuit, he was offered $70K for his first match in the UFC. Conor McGregor is already up to $75K base. Cat Zingano only made $9K/$9K which is only a $2K bump from her last fight in April 2013 against Miesha Tate.
The octagon sponsors included MusclePharm, MetroPCS, Alienware, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Fram, UltimatePoker.net, Assassin’s Creed’s latest game, Matefit.me and Bud Light in the center.
Missing from the octagon was long-time sponsor, Xyience, which was purchased by another company that quickly pulled the sponsorship with the UFC.
Yoel Romero was sponsored by likeaboss.com. I’m not sure what they do.
Cain Velasquez appeared in a promo for Harley Davidson Motorcycle’s “Hometown Throwdown.”
Mighty Mouse had his traditional sponsor of Xbox 360. The only sponsor for Johnson, his fight banner told folks to pre-order an Xbox One. I thought those were already available? If you were wondering, on his recent Wrestling Observer podcast, Dave Meltzer did not know how much Johnson is receiving from Microsoft.
Cariaso was sponsored by Mountek. Really.
Dominick Cruz was sponsored by the Phoenix International Raceway which stuck with him despite Cruz being on the shelf for a long time. It paid off as PIR had a prominent logo on Cruz as he was demolishing Takeya Mizugaki. He also wore the shirt in his post-fight interview.
Odds and ends
-Didn’t mention this earlier, but Cat Zingano-Amanda Nunes fight was the way to start a PPV. Zingano has been through a lot and it appears that she will be the next for Ronda Rousey.
-MMA Fighting has backstage footage of Tim Kennedy confronting Yoel Romero about the extra time he took to get up from his stool in between rounds.
-Interesting that the UFC are rolling out different types of Bruce Lee t-shirts. Hopefully some of the money that I suppose the estate is receiving from licensing his likeness is going toward this.
-Dominick Cruz won me over in just the 61 seconds of work. First, his Jay Z/Cypress Hill remix entrance, Then, the plain black CRUZ sweatshirt. Easily the best thing anyone has worn to the octagon in the history of this sport. Finally, his “Alpha-Fails” drop is probably one of the best post-fight lines in a while.
-UFC on Fox YouTube channel has the whole 61 second Cruz return fight.
-Some argument as to whether Cruz fight should have been on PPV. You can see it as perhaps a concession to boost FS1 ratings. In hindsight, all of the fights on the PPV were great and hard to see replacing one.
-The good news is that the clay pigeons that Cerrone shot during that Embedded episode were not real as they were made at the same place that Floyd Mayweather got his fake weed from All Access.
-Not surprising, but according to Google Trends, Dublin and Ireland were the most interested city and country for search term “UFC 178”.
This was to be Jones-Gus II. But after that was scrapped, it was Jones-Cormier. After the Jones-Cormier media day brawl in August, one could have made the argument that UFC 178 would be the second-biggest PPV event of the year after UFC 175. But with Jones getting injured, the need to adjust the lineup probably hurt the buy rate. Overall, this card was very solid with every PPV fight being an entertaining one. However, selling the Johnson-Cariaso was tough and you might infer that most of the pre-fight hype was for McGregor-Poirier. Although McGregor could be a breakout PPV star, he is not one yet.
While Google Trends saw an uptick in searches for UFC 178 from Ireland, it’s worth to note that the US was the 4th interested country for the event. In the end, a buy rate of 300,000-325,000 seems reasonable.
September 26, 2014
MMA Junkie reports on Phoenix International Raceway and its continued sponsorship with Dominick Cruz despite his prolonged absence from the Octagon. Cruz returns to action this Saturday at UFC 178 as the headliner of the FS1 prelims.
In the past, Cruz has served as an “Honorary Pace Car Driver” for a NASCAR event at the raceway back in 2012. Despite the string of injuries that had kept him sidelined, the racetrack kept Cruz and its logo will appear on Cruz’s shorts Saturday.
Previously, Jon Jones, Benson Henderson and Anderson Silva have crossed lanes into NASCAR events to serve as pace car drivers and make appearances prior to races.
The raceway also announced Chuck Liddell will appear at the November 9th NASCAR event as a pace car driver.
The continued relationship with Cruz shows patience and belief that he would return to the Octagon. Cruz is an Arizona native so it did make sense to continue the relationship since there was a natural tie-in. Also, Cruz has remained visible as an analyst for Fox so it was not like he had fallen off from the public view. The raceway wants to tap into the UFC audience as it sees it sharing the same demo as MMA.
September 23, 2014
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones stated that he lost his sponsorship with Nike due to his August 4th brawl with Daniel Cormier. Jones revealed this information during Tuesday’s Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing.
Jones expressed remorse for his role in the fight and indicated he lost his Nike sponsorship as a result of the fight. According to Jones’ attorney, the Nike deal was “over six figures” a year. His attorney also indicated another potential sponsorship was lost due to the Cormier dustup.
In the end, the commission found Jones a credible witness and believed that he was truly sorry for what happened. As a result, it ordered a $50,000 fine and 40 hours of community service.
If Jones lost Nike due to the brawl it was a big blow for his sponsorship portfolio and shows the fragile relationship he must have had with the swoosh. But let’s look at the recent landscape of when Nike decides to terminate deals. Certainly it is image conscious and protects its brand. It has pulled the contracts from Lance Armstrong, Ryan Braun and Michael Vick. More recently, it pulled deals from Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Notably, Peterson’s deal was reported to be worth $750,000 a year per a recent Bloomberg article.
But in contrast, Nike has stood by other athletes such as Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods when there were reports of infidelity.
So let’s look at the reasons each of the above-named athletes’ wrongdoing and what necessitated Nike to pull its support.
Lance Armstrong – admission of doping
Ryan Braun – drug violations
Michael Vick – dogfighting
Ray Rice – domestic violence
Adrian Peterson – alleged child abuse
Jon Jones – media day fight
What doesn’t belong? You may recall that Jones had a DUI in May 2012 pre-dating his sponsorship with the apparel giant, yet he was still picked up later by Nike.
Obviously the above list is not a compilation of all of the reasons Nike pulls an athlete’s endorsement deal but it gives one a good snapshot.
So in this case, either Nike jumped the gun on dismissing Jones from his sponsorship, used the fight with Cormier as a reason out of its sponsorship or just did not want to sponsor him anymore. Perhaps Nike does not have the same respect for MMA that it does for other sports like MLB, NBA, NFL or cycling.
UFC fighter Jon Jones says Nike terminated his deal because of a press conference fight. Doubtful it's that alone.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) September 24, 2014
September 15, 2014
Multiple beverage industry trade outlets reported last week that Xyience had been sold to Big Red, Inc. of Austin, Texas. As a part of the transaction, the Xyience brand will no longer be an official sponsor of the UFC.
MMA Payout has confirmed the sale from two independent sources.
Xyience was established in 2004 in Las Vegas and had become one of the more visible brands within the UFC. It also sponsored various UFC fighters, notably Ronda Rousey.
Big Red, Inc. is one of the top 10 beverage companies in North America dating back to 1937. It will look to expand the Xyience demo by targeting other sports including Crossfit, Color Run participants and marathoners according to an interview Big Red CEO Gary Smith did with Bevnet.com.
The acquisition is a blow for the UFC as it will seek to replace Xyience with another “official energy drink sponsor.” We will see how the UFC will do and how soon it can find a replacement. It is interesting to note that Big Red apparently will continue to seek out the sports demo but will not continue the sponsorship with the UFC.
Although this went under the radar, this summer it signed Matefit Herbal Tea as its “official herbal tea partner.” The partnership is only for one year and at this point has far less brand recognition.
MMA Payout will keep you posted on this story as it continues.
September 2, 2014
Anthony Pettis has won the Wheaties cereal box cover according to his Instagram account. Pettis won a vote as part of the cereal maker’s contest.
This was a great promotion although it received a critique from sports business guy Darren Rovell who indicated he had not heard of the 5 athletes competing for the cover:
Wheaties with a cool idea. Problem: Haven’t ever heard of the 5 athletes you can choose from pic.twitter.com/GYyHrc78Pv
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) September 2, 2014
For those wondering, Pettis was up against motocross star Ryan Dungey, track and field para-athlete Blake Leeper, lacrosse player Rob Pannell and women’s soccer player Christen Press.
It’s likely that Pettis took advantage of his social media account and his UFC fame to propel himself to the win. The Wheaties box is another accolade in the champ’s (remember, he’s the lightweight title holder) sponsor portfolio. Now, if he just stayed healthy enough to stay in the Octagon.
August 15, 2014
ESPN reports NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick’s athlete management agency, KHI Management, has signed Miesha Tate to a multiyear commitment. Reports are that Tate will be sponsored by Budweiser in her next fight against Rin Naka on September 20th.
It is the second MMA fighter to be signed by KHI as it has Donald Cerrone in its stable. Cerrone was the first MMA fighter in recent memory to be sponsored by Budweiser in the Octagon. Aside from Budweiser, he is also sponsored by golf brand EZ-Go.
Harvick told ESPN about its approach to UFC sponsorships:
“UFC has a younger demographic,” Harvick said. “NASCAR doesn’t have quite the reach UFC does. It took us a little bit to figure out exactly how we wanted to activate sponsors at a UFC fight. But in the last three fights, we’ve kind of taken a different approach and we’ve had great participation from all the sponsors we’ve entertained.”
Harvick does not identify what its done differently, although its clear his NASCAR contacts have helped Cerrone obtain non-traditional MMA sponsors.
Harvick has been featured many times on FOX as that NASCAR driver that attends UFC fights. His agency may have an edge in recruiting MMA fighters for its company as it can pitch the fighter to non-traditional MMA brands. It obviously has an “in” with Budweiser and EZ-Go. These two brands (and there may be more) are not on any fighter aside from Cerrone. Now Tate will sport the Budweiser brand (and maybe the golf cart company too). We will see if KHI gains traction in recruiting MMA fighters to its company.
July 28, 2014
Although Mossholder did not indicate the clothier, he stated that the UFC were in active negotiations with a “premium apparel line” per the AdWeek article. But, it appears to be an exclusive deal to outfit any UFC fighter that will step into the Octagon for the company.
Both articles state that a clothing deal could be a financial boon for the UFC as it listed Nike’s 5 year, $1.1 billion deal with the NFL as an example.
As an indicator of Rousey’s draw, the Adweek report states that Rousey is No. 3 in ticket sales for the UFC and Xyience sales jumped 12 percent when it place images of the women’s bantamweight champ on its cans. Rousey has become the top requested athlete by UFC sponsors when it comes to fighters they want to endorse its brand.
The overarching news here is that the UFC will have uniforms at some point. The not so breaking news is that Ronda Rousey is star. AdWeek identifies Nike, Under Armour and Adidas as potential clothing sponsors while Fox Sports also includes Reebok. Each of the clothing sponsors have fighters it represents. Notably, Adidas just signed Robbie Lawler (although Lawler wore no visible Adidas gear on Saturday), Under Armour worked with GSP, Reebok signed Anthony Pettis and Johny Hendricks and Nike has Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Junior dos Santos. We shall see what happens. Whatever choice is made, we can expect Rousey to sport the gear in print ads and commercials.
July 25, 2014
Anthony and Sergio Pettis star in a web commercial selling the Reebok ZJet running shoe. Showtime recently signed a deal with Reebok.
The web commercial can be seen on Reebok’s YouTube page. In the commercial, Showtime talks about persevering to be the best, becoming the UFC champ and dealing with pressure. The video briefly shows the UFC Lightweight title. Sergio also makes a brief non-speaking appearance.
The ZJet retails for $129.99.
It appears that Showtime will be a part of the Reebok ZJet launch. Commercials (which did not include Pettis) for the shoe were played during the Bellator telecast on Spike TV Friday night. Pettis is a good-looking, well-spoken fighter and it would not be surprising to see more spots with Pettis selling Reeboks.
July 24, 2014
Robbie Lawler has signed on with Adidas Combat prior to his fight with Matt Brown Saturday. The deal comes on the heels of the recent launch of the Adidas-specific web site dedicated to combat sports.
There’s no word on whether Lawler will be able to wear the three stripes into the Octagon on network television Saturday.
— robbie lawler (@Ruthless_RL) July 21, 2014
Adidas is also the official sponsor of Resurrection Fighting Alliance, the organization headed by Ed Soares. It also sponsors Glory Kickboxers.
Lawler becomes the first Adidas signee in recent memory. It’s not clear whether it will start to target other fighters in the league. Still no word on a UFC uniform deal but maybe we can throw Adidas as a possible uniform maker. For those wondering, Under Armour announced its second quarter earnings and business is good as it exceeded analyst expectations. Although previously the front runner, if a deal were imminent, certainly we would have heard some rumblings in order to stir the pot for the stock even more. Reebok could be a possibility as it has signed on Johny Hendricks and Anthony Pettis. Adidas has worked with RFA for a while and its known as a possible feeder organization for the UFC.