UFC 195: Payout Perspective

January 3, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we ring in the new year with UFC 195 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Robbie Lawler defended his middleweight title against Carlos Condit.

Lawler wins via split decision in all-out battle

The 5th round of Lawler-Condit may have been the greatest rounds in the history of the UFC.  Both men gave it all they had and were exhausted at the end.  Fights like these are the reason why the UFC added two more rounds to championships fights.  Condit was the more active fighter based on stats, but it was Lawler’s aggression significant strikes which may have sealed this win.  It really depends on how you scored round 3.

UFC 195 score card

A rematch could be in the offing although Condit stated after the fight that he is contemplating retirement.  If there’s not a rematch, then Tyron Woodley should be the next in line for the title shot.

Stipe stuns Arlovski

It took less than a minute for Stipe Miocic to stop Andre Arlovski with a shot to the temple and then finishing him off with strikes on the ground.  Miocic immediately went over to Dana and Lorenzo asking for his title shot.  His performance Saturday gave him ample reason for the request.

Look for Stipe to be the one to face Cain-Werdum.  Possibly Memorial Day card?

Attendance and Gate

What a difference 3 weeks makes.  It was clear that UFC 195 would not be as big as UFC 194.  Attendance topped 10,300 for a gate of over $2 million.  This was off from UFC 194’s attendance/gate record and not as much as the Jones-Cormier showdown at UFC 182 this time last year.

Bonuses

Bonuses were self-evident as Lawler-Condit earned FOTN and Miocic and Michael McDonald earned te $50K performance bonuses.  McDonald countered and arm and triangle choke by Masanori Kanehara with a rear naked choke.

Brian Ortega and Abe Trujillo could have been candidates for bonuses as well.

Promotion of the Fight

This PPV is always hard for promotion purposes as most of the mainstream hits are focused on the holidays.  Notably UFC Embedded caught Dustin Poirier doing interviews which goes in line with a stronger push for the UFC Fight Pass platform.

Sponsorships

UFC Fight Pass, Monster Energy, Metro PCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light, Reebok, WGN America’s new show, “Outsiders” were in the Octagon with Monster Energy having the center.  The energy drink also had the fighter prep point.

Getting back to the WGN America show, the PPV showed a preview and had two of its stars in the crowd.  What does it say about the demo that it appears that the show is about mountain hillbillies?  But let’s move on.

Sharing the Octagon posts with Monster Energy was 7-11.  The corner neighborhood store and Harley Davidson are rolling out a promotion which shall culminate at UFC 200.

UFC Fight Pass continued with its push as there was a commercial for Dana White’s upcoming show, “Looking for a Fight,”  to be airing on YouTube and previewed on Fight Pass prior to the YouTube release.

Robbie Lawler still sponsored by Adidas?  Looks like it as the logo was shown throughout the Embedded episodes.  As we know, Adidas owns Reebok so not really any conflict.

MMA Junkie reports the Reebok payouts for this event which totaled $172,500.  Outside of Lawler ($40K) and Condit ($30K), Larkin ($10K), Poirier ($10K) and Arlovski ($15K) were fighters making more than $5K.

Odds and Ends

There was a rumor that Carlos Condit had a concussion prior to the event.  Nothing resulted out of that initial report.  Condit jokingly said in his post-fight Octagon interview that he was not “neurologically” damaged heading into the late rounds.  As in other sports (i.e., football) whether or not Condit should have fought due to a purported concussion may never surface.

The Embedded episodes this time around made special focus on the Fight Pass participants to push the platform.

Also on the UFC Embedded episode, it showed Condit swimming…without goggles.  That is hard to do.  Also featured with Carlos Condit…the Dolce Diet.

Despite the lack of strong needle movers, UFC was the number 1 trending google search in the US on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

It will be interesting to see the UFC Prelims ratings on FS1 as the UFC moved its strongest prelim fight to Fight Pass.

Conclusion

This was a very good card for fans of the UFC.  Did it do enough to reach past the core fan base of UFC fans?  Probably not.  It’s unlikely that this show will do anywhere near UFC 182 last year.  But, comparing the two New Year’s cards would not be fair considering there was so much promotion and hype for Cormier-Jones.  While it’s clear that this year’s main event was much better, it will not post a big PPV buy number.  I would suspect a range of 375-400K here.

UFC 194: Payout Perspective

December 13, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time it was the long-awaited UFC 194 featuring Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo.

Only 13 seconds needed to crown the King

UFC 194

The long-awaited fight between McGregor and Aldo was anti-climactic.  One exchange in the fight and it was over as Conor McGregor beat Jose Aldo to the punch with a counter left hand that floored the champ.  With one punch, Aldo’s 10 year winning streak and string of 7 successful UFC title defenses came to an end.

With the win, we are officially into the McGregor era which may mean a huge financial windfall and overall takeover for the undisputed UFC Featherweight champion.  There are rumors that McGregor may want to renegotiate his current fight contract which may make sense.

Notably, McGregor took over the post-fight press conference.

Are we to look into the fact that McGregor did his FS1 post-fight interview shirtless?  As in, not wearing his Reebok-issued fight kit.  McGregor already has an individual sponsor deal but could the post-fight non-apparel be a sign that he may be in need of more money.  Also of note, McGregor was the only fighter that had “custom” green and black Reebok fight shorts.  The custom clothes may not be enough for McGregor.

As for Aldo, one must feel for him.  All of the taunts he received throughout from McGregor during the promotion and he only lasted 13 seconds.  Moreover, with how the fight ended we are in a situation similar to Cat Zingano’s loss to Ronda Rousey at UFC 184.  An interesting fight that ended too early.  But, the problem is will there really be a clamor for a rematch based on how it ended?  Also, with McGregor proclaiming to move up to 155 to challenge for the title, it may mean Aldo will have to wait.  In addition, with Frankie Edgar winning in impressive fashion on Friday night, Aldo may not even be the first choice to challenge for the Featherweight title if/when Conor defends the belt.

Rockhold stops Weidman to earn light heavyweight title

It was the Fight of the Night and deservedly so.  Luke Rockhold should have won in the third round but despite about 30 straight punches/elbows from mount, Herb Dean did not stop the fight.  Dean stopped the fight a round later.  Perhaps it was a wheel kick that did not connect which was the downfall for Weidman.  But, that should not discount Rockhold’s performance on Saturday.  American Kickboxing Academy now has the middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champions in the UFC.

As for Weidman, I would not be opposed to a rematch.  But, he was really handled in rounds three and four.  Moreover, news is surfacing that Rockhold was dealing with multiple injuries during his camp so if all were the same, this fight may have been more one-sided.

Attendance and Gate

Prior to the event, there was talk that the gate would reach $9 million as this was a guaranteed sellout.  Well, the reported gate for the event hit $10.1 million making it the highest MMA gate in Vegas.  The previous record was McGregor’s last Vegas fight in July.  UFC 189 drew $7.2 million.

The 16,516 in attendance for UFC 194 and the MGM Grand Garden probably paid a premium for the seats.  There were likely 1,000 or so comps for this event so one might estimate about 15,000 paid.  Thus, the average ticket hovered around $670.

Bonuses

The bonuses, as announced at the post-event press conference, went to Rockhold, Weidman, McGregor and Leonardo Santos.  All received the standard $50K.  Rockhold and Weidman drew FOTN with McGregor and Santos getting the performance bonuses.

Promotion of the Fight

The standard promotion for this event included the UFC Embedded Series which was sponsored by EA Sports which it proclaimed was a “Fight for the Cover.”  This was in reference to the announcement that the winner of the Aldo-McGregor matchup would be on the cover with Ronda Rousey.

McGregor was on Jimmy Kimmel and did the Jim Rome radio show.   White was also on the Rome show.

There were the standard media hits for the fighters promoting this event.

Was it me, or did this promotion seem less than that of July’s promotion?

Sponsors

The Octagon featured UFC sponsors Toyo Tires, MetroPCS, DraftKings, Harley Davidson, Reebok, Bud Light, the Quentin Tarantino movie Hateful Eight, a promo for UFC on Fox, UFC Fight Pass and Monster Energy Drink had the center of the Octagon.

EA Sports, UFC Fight for the Cover, had the fighter prep point.  It also played a big role in promoting this fight.  In the end, EA likely got the best cover for advertising purposes as it will have Rousey and McGregor for the cover this spring.  Fight for the Cover

2015-conor-mcgregor.mobile

Also of note, Carl’s Jr. (linked with Ronda Rousey) ran commercials during the UFC 194 Prelims on FS1.

Fight Pass is starting to brand itself as it is stepping up the level of prelim fights it will have on the over the top network.  Notably, Dustin Poirier and Joe Duffy will “headline” the UFC Prelims on Fight Pass on January 2nd for UFC 195.  This should help with subscriptions, but how will FS1 feel about it?

7-11 and Harley Davidson also collaborated on a promotion which was announced during the PPV.

Conor McGregor draw a couple sponsors prior to the big event including supplement company BSN and exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics Authentic.

Odds and Ends

It was a big three days for the UFC as it held two events at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas and then the PPV at the MGM Grand.  The UFC Fight Night 80 and the TUF 22 Finale look to be well received and we know that UFC 194 was going to be big.

Sage Northcutt is the nightmare for all dark, jaded MMA fans.  Too young, too happy with the world still ahead of him.  Perhaps on his way to being “too rich” as he’s already earning $40K and $40K per the NSAC.

Hopefully, Santos, who was a heavy underdog when he KO’d Kevin Lee, will not be punished for jumping the fence to celebrate.

2-hour weigh-ins on FS1 on Friday to start off 7 hours of UFC on the network Friday night.  Look for big ratings on the network when they are reported Monday or Tuesday,.

New camera angle for the weigh-ins which appears to have a camera right on the scale.   Also a new camera angle during the fights with a low level ground camera for better sight of the ground fighting.

There were as many as 50,000 people watching the weigh-ins on the UFC’s YouTube channel which might mean that the FS1 weigh-ins should have the highest rating ever.

Face the Pain returned to start the PPV broadcast.

Maybe the worst PR for this fight was a flight from New York to Las Vegas had to turn around because unruly passengers heading to UFC 194 got into a fight on the plane.

Demian Maia was impressive with his win over Gunnar Nelson.  He was even more impressive to give a concise and succinct reason that he should get the next title shot.  It’s hard not to dismiss him.  He’s come on of late.

“Aldo v. McGregor” google searches only drew 20,000 searches on Friday but “UFC 194” drew 200,000.  Look for the numbers to grow for Saturday searches due to the short fight as folks probably headed online to look for the finish.

Interesting that UFC 193, the company issued a preventive copyright notice about it monitoring for possible infringement due to airing a short fight.  Little did they know they should have issued it for this fight.  An ESPN reporter put the whole McGregor fight on vine post fight.  I do not know if the UFC will take action.

Conclusion

UFC 194 ended one of the best year’s on PPV for the company.  This event should add to the big year.  While I do not believe it will eclipse UFC 100’s 1.6 million PPV buys, it will likely hover around 1 million PPV buys.  Perhaps 950,000.   The buy estimate is based on a strong card but due in large part to Conor McGregor.  He has proven his worth to the company and the UFC may be facing a situation where it will need to pay more than ever for his services.  This, in the end, should be a good thing for the UFC.

MMA Payout will keep updating you on the payouts and ratings from UFC 194 so stay tuned.

McGregor signs deal with Fanatics Authentic

December 9, 2015

Conor McGregor has signed an exclusive agreement with memorabilia company Fanatics Authentic.  No terms of the deal were disclosed but it’s another deal for the fighter leading up to Saturday’s UFC 194.

Fan Authentic

Last week, McGregor signed a deal with nutritional supplement company BSN.

In addition to McGregor, the company has deals with NFL’s Aaron Rodgers and the NBA’s Stephen Curry.

Payout Perspective:

The signing comes leading up to UFC 194 as the company hopes to capitalize on the anticipated swell of focus on the Irish fighter.  The company is the official “game-used” shop of the UFC meaning that you can purchase items previously worn by fighters.  Taking a look at its shop they sell “event worn” fight shirts and hats (pre-Reebok era) from a variety of fighters.  The McGregor signing makes sense for the company as a lot of his fans may want some memorabilia outside of a Reebok shirt.

McGregor signs deal with BSN

December 2, 2015

Conor McGregor has secured a sponsorship with Bio-Engineered Supplements and Nutrition, also known as BSN.  McGregor announced the deal on Twitter and BSN’s home page included a depiction of McGregor.

2015-conor-mcgregor.mobile

The announcement comes a week prior to the long-awaited meeting with Jose Aldo at UFC 194.

BSN has been involved in sponsoring UFC fighters in the past.  Aside from McGregor, Vitor Belfort is the only other UFC fighter that is currently sponsored by the company.

Payout Perspective:

As we inch closer to UFC 194, we might hear more sponsor deals from fighters participating during fight week.  Although fighters cannot wear the logos during their fights, big name fighters such as McGregor, Aldo, Chris Weidman and maybe Luke Rockhold might announce deals in the next week or so.

Bud Light and Monster Energy slate promotions for UFC 200 starting early 2016

November 26, 2015

The Sports Business Journal reports (subscription required) that UFC sponsors Bud Light and Monster Energy Drink will roll out major national promotional campaigns for UFC 200 starting early 2016.

Monster Energy drink, the current sponsor of the center of the octagon, will kick off a national promotional campaign in January in approximately 45,000 retail outlets.  The “Win a trip to UFC 200” promotion will be supported by digital and social campaigns as well as promoted on PPV broadcasts.

But Light, the prior sponsor of the center of the octagon, will start a “Road to UFC 200 Sweepstakes” in approximately 5,400 Circle K Stores with displays within the stores.

The promotions will run for three months and feature Ronda Rousey in their displays/materials.  The Bud Light promotion will also include Conor McGregor.

Payout Perspective:

The promotions make it clear that it does not promise Rousey or McGregor at UFC 200 although it’s likely that one or both will be on the card.  The campaigns focus on the historical mark of UFC 200.  The article notes that sponsors that use sports properties in national retail promotions like long lead times and recognizable athletes.  It points out that the nature of combat sports makes this uneasy.  Rousey is the prime example.  Despite losing at UFC 193, she will still spearhead the campaign.  No word if Holm would be a late replacement although it might be hard to do so at this late date.  If McGregor were to lose in December, the campaign would start off flat as it would feature two fighters coming off losses.

 

Holly Holm’s sponsor questioned

November 19, 2015

In light of the Holly Holm victory over Ronda Rousey on Saturday, one of Holm’s sponsors, Intel Pharma wished her congratulations. The company sells supplements containing substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and federal law.

According to MMA Junkie, the company has offered products it claims contain prohormones and a steroid alternative known as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMS).  It appears on the WADA banned substance list.Anti-doping experts have sounded off against this business relationship as not looking good for the new champion.  Holm’s manager, Lenny Fresquez, indicated that they were aware that the company sold products containing banned substance prior to signing the sponsorship deal.  “Holly didn’t really use them so it’s not a big deal,” Fresquez told USA Today, “I’m sure she didn’t use any of them. She might have taken a picture with one.”

Fresquez indicated that the sponsorship deal was for just one-fight and they have not decided whether to extend the deal.

Intel Pharma CEO, Landon Suggs, stated that his company stopped producing and selling products with SARMs “no later than June” before the sponsorship deal with Holm.  Suggs stated that it issued a recall for the products as well.

The company also updated its Facebook page on November 17th congratulating Holm.  It had not updated the page since October 9th.

We, at Intel-Pharma, wanted to create an innovative supplement company that customers could trust to provide the best products and personal service in the industry. As a new company we have learned hard lessons along the way, but those same lessons have reinforced our initial stated mission, which is to be the most innovative sports supplement brand on the market. Long before UFC 193 was announced we were interested in partnering with Holly Holm’s to be one of our featured athletes because she shares our values of faith, family and hard work. That hard work is what was on display Saturday in Melbourne, Australia. There is no other “secret” to Holly’s success other than that hard work, along with an incredible team of coaches, sparring partners, family support, and just plain crazy athleticism. As unbelievable as it may have seemed to the greater population at large, Holly’s success was not a shock to those of us who knew of her talent long before Saturday. And we couldn’t be more thrilled for her that the world now knows what we always believed.

Holly Holm

Payout Perspective:

One would think that Holm will not continue the relationship with Intel Pharma since winning the women’s title from Rousey.  Certainly, her win should open up more doors for sponsor opportunities.  Also, the price for her name probably went up with the win.  Her accomplishment should not be sullied by this association despite how innocuous it might be.  The fact is that the company is associated with banned substances that Holm, as champion, should not be associated with even if Holm never took the product.

UFC 193: Payout Perspective

November 16, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at the happenings taken place down under in Melbourne, Australia as Holly Holm upset Ronda Rousey to win the women’s bantamweight title.

Holm, game plan takes out Rousey

No one would have thought this would have been the ending.  But, a headkick knocked out Ronda Rousey and the aura of invincibility was over.  Holly Holm, who hovered around an 8-1 to 12-1 underdog depending on where you looked, outclassed Ronda Rousey at UFC 193.  Holm’s game plan trumped Rousey’s athletic ability.  Moreover, Rousey’s boxing was exposed and it was clear that she was exhausted at the end of Round 1.

For Holm, it was the culmination of a long-term plan that had her and her trainers preparing for Rousey even before she was in the UFC.  Her management fought tooth and nail with UFC management in negotiating her signing with the company.  Turns out it was worth it.

As for Rousey, her loss seemed to satiate the thirst of every Rousey hater.  Everyone was quick to tweet with glee her loss and KO.  As is with most MMA fighters that gain more popularity than the others, MMA “fans” began to despise Rousey.  The good news for them is that she lost and MMA fans will turn their attention to Conor McGregor in December silently hoping for him to lose as many have those tweets ready for their timeline.

UFC Melbourne

Joanna Champion still Champ

It was not a dominant performance, but Joanna Jedrzejcyzk retained her 115 pound title with a unanimous decision over Valerie Letourneau.  Letourneau came down 20 pounds to fight at 115 pounds and you have to think that it might have played a factor.  Overall, it was an entertaining fight with Joanna retaining her title.

Attendance and Gate

It was a record setting night for the UFC as the announced attendance was 56,214 with a gate of $6.8 million (U.S.).  It did better than UFC 129 which drew 55,724 in Toronto.  However, the gate did not exceed the 55,724.

As Darren Rovell tweeted, there were many comps for the event although the UFC no longer reports on the number.

Bonuses

This was a little curious as Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey and Kyle Noke earned the $50,000 bonuses.  Holm won for both Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night. Noke earned a Performance of the Night Bonus. Rousey drew a Fight of the Night bonus although you might argue that she didn’t deserve it for her part in the fight.  Certainly, there were other fighters (e.g., Ben Nguyen) that could have received a Performance of the Night Bonus instead of Rousey receiving one for FOTN.

Promotion of the Fight

Ronda Rousey went on Good Morning America in late August to announce her fight with Holly Holm.  Originally scheduled for January 2nd, the event was moved up in part to replace the main event of UFC 193 as well as attempt to set a new UFC attendance (and gate) record at Ethiad Stadium.

Perhaps the best video promotion for a UFC event was produced for UFC 193.  It debuted on Ellen’s web site which featured a younger Ronda Rousey learning martial arts with the underlying message that women could do anything.

A lengthier feature was shown after the UFC 193 PPV.

You might recall Dana White announced in a phone interview Rousey-Holm was moved from January 2nd to November 14th on a Friday night on ESPN. The date was moved up due to the usual injury issues.

The event was a reward for the province as a law which prohibited cagefighting was lifted.  With opposition still abound in the area, the attendance at the event (albeit with some comped seats) was still strong. USA Today reported on the “stir” in Australia with opposition to the sport of MMA.  Rousey spoke with local media about the controversy.

UFC Embedded, the video series, aired on Fox the Saturday before the fight.  Usually, it’s online but with a Rousey fight, it seemed to demand more visibility.  Also, Ruby Rose was the narrator for the series.

Rousey was also on the front page of the NY Times Sunday Styles Section in October.  This was one of several media obligations which catered to women.  It will be interesting to see if Holly Holm can continue this trend and appeal.

Sponsorships

In the octagon, we had a couple international UFC sponsors as well as the usual mainstays.  Unibet, Xbox’s Tomb Raider, DraftKings, Wargaming.net, Bud Light, the upcoming film, “Creed,” Bud Light, Reebok and Monster Energy Drink had the center. Unibet had the fighter prep point.   Holly Holm was sponsored by Unibet and announced a new deal with GRRRL Clothing.

Odds and Ends

Since it always comes back to gambling.  The betting line on Holm in Vegas and the aftermath:

 

Donald Trump weighed in on Ronda Rousey tweeting that he was glad that she lost because she is not a nice person.  I didn’t know they knew each other. 

EA Sports announced that Rousey would be on the cover of its latest UFC game coming out this spring.  Was it a video game cover curse?

Should we read into the fact that Ronda’s mother was not at the fight a sign of discontent with her?  It is a long plane ride to Australia for sure, but her mother has already been there for her fights.

Rousey’s hang up during a UFC 193 Conference Call was an act of unprofessionalism despite the question asking about Travis Browne.  Even worse, the excuse that her “phone died” just insults everyone’s intelligence.  You mean, the UFC and/or Rousey’s management could not have given her a phone to finish the call?

At the end of Episode 3 of the Embedded series, Rousey uses an analogy about being bankrupt.  All the while, it shows her hitting mitts with Edmund.  His bankruptcy filing occurred this summer and comes to a head this month.  This issue had not been a problem in the past, but with the news surfacing now, it all makes it more of a deal. 

Letourneau was informed by USADA that Hector Lombard could not corner her for her fight as Lombard’s participation would have violated the new anti-doping policy.  Lombard, who admitted to using PEDs earlier this year would fall under the “prohibited association” rule of the UFC anti-doping policy. 

Lenny Fresquez, the agent/manager for Holly Holm, won six figures betting on her client.  There’s something that seems unsettling with a manager that is already making off of her client for representation to bet money on her client.  Sure, it’s legal and acceptable, but is there a conflict of interest?  

Notably, Fresquez said that Holm has 2 more fights under her existing contract.

FS1 could not carry the post-fight show until late due to the Pac-12 game between Utah and Arizona going to double OT.  Most of the post-fight was on FS2.

The PPV went over the 3 hour mark which is a rarity.

It was interesting that not much was made of the fact that one of the biggest cards in UFC history and it was headline by two women’s title fights.

In anticipation of a Rousey “vine” like finish, the UFC sent out a reminder to media outlets that you would be in violation of Zuffa’s copyright of the PPV.  It appeared as though the Huffington Post Sports twitter feed was allowed to post the finish (as it did).  Still, others posted the finish online.  In protection of its copyright (and in order for people to buy the PPV), the UFC wanted to deter people from posting their videos.   

Certainly a Rousey-Holm rematch seems ripe for July’s UFC 200.

Conclusion

It was interesting that despite Ronda Rousey google searches hitting 500,000 on Friday, there was a slight downturn (note: in the link the google trends embedded link is constantly changing over time which I think is pretty cool) in searches right around the time after the weigh-ins.  But, the searches jumped back up on Saturday afternoon.  What does this mean about PPV buys?  Who really knows?  But, if we are to look into the past history of Rousey fights, one might think this still does well.  I would predict 750,000 PPV buys. 

Rousey signs on with Monster Energy Drink

November 6, 2015

Ronda Rousey has signed an endorsement deal with Monster Energy Drink.  The news comes ahead of her fight next week against Holly Holm.

Notably, Rousey sported a Monster logo on her official Reebok kit at UFC 190.  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In addition to Rousey, Donald Cerrone, Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier are sponsored by Monster Energy Drink.

The latest endorsement deal adds to Rousey’s stable of sponsors which include Reebok, Carl’s Jr., Metro PCS and Buffalo Jeans by David Bitton.  In addition, Rousey has a deal with Monster Head Phones.

Payout Perspective:

Maybe I am the only one to think that there might be confusion from an athlete endorsing both “Monster” products.  Then again, the companies might have a working agreement.  Only guessing there.  As for the agreement, it was just a matter of time before Monster Energy forged a deal with Rousey.  With just a week before UFC 193, the timing is probably right for the deal so that Rousey could sport the Monster Energy brand for fight week.

Jon Jones signs sponsor deal with GAT

November 5, 2015

Jon Jones has signed a new sponsorship deal with GAT, a sports nutrition products company.  It is the first sponsorship deal since Jones was reinstated by the UFC.

Jones will become the first MMA fighter to be sponsored by the company which caters to bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts.

You may recall that Jones lost all of his sponsor deals including one with Reebok and a deal with Nike lapsed.

According to the press release, Jones’ manager Malki Kawa approached the company about a potential sponsorship with the former UFC light heavyweight champion.

Via GAT press release:

“I was thrilled when Malki Kawa called me to discuss TEAMGAT expanding to include MMA athletes and signing Jon Jones as our first,” said Mark Post, Vice President of GAT. “I’ve been a fan of his since he entered the sport. Everyone at GAT is excited about signing Jon. The whole world will be watching when he gets back into action. TEAMGAT will be proud to be in his corner.”

No details on the financials of the deal or what the sponsorship deal will cover.  Jones cannot wear the GAT logo in the octagon but we assume he will be on its web site and in advertisements.

Payout Perspective:

The sponsorship deal is a building block for Jones as he seeks to make a comeback in multiple arenas.  Obviously he is preparing for his return to the octagon.  But, he is also trying to rebuild his presence outside the octagon.  His last run-in with the law stripped him of everything he had in MMA (his title, sponsors and the opportunity to fight in the UFC).  The sponsor deal is not a high profile one but it allows Jones a chance.  For GAT, it’s a calculated risk but a good one if Jones is able to keep himself out of trouble.

UFC sponsor Draft Kings ushered out of Nevada

October 16, 2015

The Nevada Gaming Board deemed that Daily Fantasy Sports is gambling according to Nevada law.  As a result, Daily Fantasy Operators including UFC sponsor DraftKings are pulling out of the state.

According to the decision on Thursday, a daily fantasy operator must obtain a gambling license in the state of Nevada if it is to continue to operate in the state.  None of the sites have a license and all have or will pull out of the state.  The decision is just one of the many recent happenings in the unregulated world of daily fantasy sports.

While it’s not immediately known, the departure from Nevada probably has no impact with its UFC sponsorship.  There are still many states where daily fantasy sports is legal.  We probably will not know if it will still maintain a presence in the Octagon until the next UFC event in Nevada which would be UFC Fight Night 80 on December 10th.

Prior to UFC 182, Draft Kings announced a deal with Jon Jones prior to his title defense against Daniel Cormier.  It announced a sponsorship deal with the UFC in late February of this year.  The UFC is just one of the multitude of sports sponsors that Draft Kings and other daily fantasy operators have brokered since coming onto the scene.

Nevada rules on DFS by JASONCRUZ206

Payout Perspective:

While the Nevada ruling is a big blow, sponsorship of sporting events, programming, teams and leagues remain intact for the most part.  An interesting question to ask is whether the loss of markets (i.e., states where consumers can play legally) will mean the loss of national sponsorships.  If there is a nationwide overhaul of this particular industry, we could see the end of the sponsor deal with the UFC.  Certainly the UFC-Draft Kings sponsorship deal must have an ending point with the opportunity to renew.  We shall see what happens next in this industry.  The loss of a sponsor might have some impact to the UFC despite it having a very good financial year.

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