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.
July 9, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 175 which was the centerpiece for International Fight Week. The main event from the Mandalay Bay in Vegas had Chris Weidman defending his middleweight title against Lyoto Machida.
Weidman defends belt against Machida
It was a tough title defense, but Chris Weidman did enough to defeat Lyoto Machida and retain his welterweight title. Machida put the heat on Weidman in the championship rounds but Weidman did enough to win. Weidman will face Vitor Belfort next.
Gone in 16 seconds
If there was ever a time where a moment overwhelmed an athlete, the look on Alexis Davis face during the walkout told the story. It took more time for Ronda Rousey to do her mean mug strut to the Octagon than it did for her to finish Davis. The real action happened post-fight when Joe Rogan seemingly received a question to ask Rousey from a producer in the truck as to whether she would fight next month in Los Angeles. At that point, Rousey looked as uncomfortable as Davis did heading to the Octagon. It turns out that Rousey is injured and the UFC cancelled its trip to Los Angeles.
Attendance and Gate
Announced at the post-fight press conference, UFC 175 did 10,044 for a gate of $4.4 million. Dana White had predicted the gate to do $5 million. However, he was slightly off. Notably, the last time the UFC was at the Mandalay Bay (UFC 170) it had a higher attendance but lower gate which reflects the fact that ticket prices were much higher. In fact, according to SeatGeek, UFC 175 was the most expensive ticket of 2014.
Bonuses were the standard $50,000 each and were given to Weidman-Machida for FOTN. Rousey and Rob Font won the Performance Bonuses.
Weidman ($450K + $50K = $500K) and Machida ($200K + $50K = $250K) were the top earners for the night with Rousey ($120K + $50K = $170K) and Faber ($120K) following behind on the pay scale.
It was International Fight Week and beside the array of events during the week leading up to the fight weekend, it was the annual UFC Expo.
It was likely the best Embedded series so far. The short vlogs have been a great replacement for the UFC All Access show.
White took over ESPN’s Instagram account for the weigh-ins.
An email was sent out promoting the Fan Expo and the events this past weekend which had the tag line “Sh**t’s Going Down This Saturday.” Perhaps a little too enthused about the fights.
The sponsors in the Octagon included Toyo Tires, MusclePharm, UltimatePoker, the EA UFC video game, Corn Nuts, MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, the upcoming movie Sin City and Bud Light in the center.
USA Wrestling owned the fighter prep point as we see more organizations buy space with the UFC. In the past, Tae Kwon Do and Judo have bought real estate during the PPVs.
There was some talk about why Urijah Faber was not on the PPV. It would have added another name to sell for the show but he was placed on the prelims as the main event of the prelim card against Alex Caceres. One might infer that putting Faber on the prelims was a way to create enough buzz and promotion for last minute fans on the fence on purchasing the PPV. It could also be that Fox wanted a named-fighter to close out the show for its ratings.
The Prelim show did average 1 million viewers which is much better than the 174 prelim show.
Odds and Ends
-Subtle and overlooked, the weigh-ins for the big events like UFC 168 and this past weekend have a big time feel with the additional stage and screens.
-One of the better fight posters this time around which highlighted the fact it was going to be International Fight Week.
-The big controversy coming out of UFC 175 was Joe Rogan asking Ronda Rousey post-fight whether she would be available for UFC 176 in Los Angeles on August 2nd. It put Rousey on the spot and White looked genuinely upset at the question. In the end, it was a moot point since the UFC cancelled UFC 176 and Rousey could not have fought because she was medically suspended.
-Perhaps the greatest Hall of Fame speech ever came from Pat Miletich this past weekend. It was quick and to the point. Not many can do that.
-Who looked sadder on their walkout this weekend? Alexis Davis on Saturday or BJ Penn on Sunday?
-Should we be concerned that Chris Weidman did not remember anything about the fight right after it happened as he told Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview?
It looks like the initial reports from Dave Meltzer have the show at 500K PPV buys although that is not official.
If we are to follow Google Search data, searches were down for Ronda Rousey from her last fight. The loss of the Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva fight also took away from the buzz of the event. Still, one would have hoped that the combination of Weidman and Rousey would get this card to 450-500K PPV buys. Anything less should be a concern. As alluded to at the press conference, look for Rousey and Weidman to stick together on a card. The UFC probably knows the combination is one of the better shots at a big gate and an above average PPV buy rate.
July 3, 2014
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is one of several athletes vying for the cover of a Wheaties box. Announced a couple days ago, the Wheaties sponsorship includes this campaign which will have Pettis asking fans to vote for him.
Via Wheaties press release:
For the first time in the 80-year history of the brand, Wheaties will offer America the opportunity to select the next elite athlete to be featured nationally on the iconic Wheaties box. Kicking off today is the Wheaties NEXT Challenge powered by the leader in Connected Fitness, MapMyFitness. Five world-class athletes from five emerging sports will compete for this honor in an innovative way—by asking their fans to get out and move. Challenge participants will vote for their favorite athlete by logging workouts through the MapMyFitness platform – either manually documenting online, recording through any of the apps (MapMyFitness, MapMyRun, MapMyRide, MapMyWalk) or by connecting any one of the 400+ compatible devices. The Wheaties NEXT Challenge runs through August 31, and the athlete with the most votes via workouts logged will appear on the Wheaties box in early 2015.
In addition to Pettis, motocross star Ryan Dungey, track and field para-athlete Blake Leeper, lacrosse player Rob Pannell and women’s soccer player Christen Press.
The press release explains the marketing campaign in partnership with MapMyFitness which requires the followers to do a little bit of exercise to vote for their favorite. It’s an innovative campaign and we’re likely biased but Pettis should be favored in this competition.
July 2, 2014
Showtime was picked as a Reebok guy due to his “…explosive speed, and bold confident style,” told Reebok executive John Lynch to MMA Junkie.
Via MMA Junkie:
“For our newest running shoe, ZJet, Reebok wanted to partner with an athlete who had explosive speed, and bold, confident style. With his lightning fast kicks, quick double leg takedowns, and flashy fighting technique, we knew Anthony would be the perfect fit. Running is an integral part of Anthony’s training regime, and we know ZJet will help him to be in the best possible shape ahead of his highly anticipated fight in December.”
The sponsorship with Reebok comes shortly after signing a deal with Wheaties. Pettis becomes the second UFC fighter to be sponsored by Reebok after Johny Hendricks. Reebok also sponsors Rampage Jackson in Bellator. The deals reflect the popularity of Pettis. Good looks, flashy moves and the Showtime Kick has propelled his brand. He gets sponsored by UFC’s official sponsors (Corn Nuts, Toyo Tires, etc.) as well as his two new mainstream companies. As we wrote previously, Showtime can thank his marketing and business reps for the sponsorship deals considering he will have not fought for over a year when he steps into the Octagon in December.
June 28, 2014
Jon Fitch will be sponsored by a digital currency company when he fights next week for the WSOF as it makes in debut on network television on NBC. The sponsorship is the first of its kind for an MMA fighter.
The news was disseminated on CNBC’s web site via commentary produced by Brian Kelly, who owns Nautiluscoin. According to its web site, it “is a next generation digital currency and free payment network designed to process transactions faster than Bitcoin with reduced volatility.”
Via Kelly’s CNBC article:
…I’m sponsoring Jon Fitch (www.jonfitch.net), the No.2 Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) World Ranked Welterweight, in his upcoming fight on July 5 on NBC. Like many of us, Jon has recently caught the digital currency bug and with this sponsorship, he will become the first professional athlete to be paid in a digital currency.
Fitch takes on Dennis Hallman in the main event of WSOF 11 which will air on NBC next Saturday.
Fitch is not the only MMA fighter thinking about digital currency, Rory MacDonald talked about wanting to be paid in Bitcoin on his Instagram account. However, that may be just a joke.
For Nautiluscoin, this is a great sponsor opportunity considering it wants publicity for its company and with WSOF being on network television, it will get eyes on its company logo. As for Fitch’s side, it’s an interesting investment opportunity. You may recall Fitch’s complaints about his pay while in the UFC. He had talked about the financial impact when not fighting and that sponsors were tighter with money. So, one might wonder why he would want to receive payment in digital currency if he had issues with fighter pay in the UFC. At this point, the digital currency market is in its infancy and who really knows where that might go. Perhaps due to the tightening of sponsor dollars, Fitch is taking the calculated chance. Being on network television had to help Fitch with attempting to get sponsors, but maybe this opportunity will go beyond a mere patch on his shorts.