UFC 203: Payout Perspective

September 11, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 203 from Cleveland, Ohio where CM Punk’s debut and Stipe Miocic’s title defense were the headlining events.

Gall mauls CM Punk

We all knew that this was going to happen.  3 pro fights in and Mickey Gall looks like a top prospect.  Of course, his opponent was former pro wrestler CM Punk.  Despite being a huge favorite, Gall had a game plan which was to take down and grapple Punk.  Gall is a brown belt, Punk is a white belt as astutely pointed out by Joe Rogan.  Gall had his way with Punk on the ground and eventually choked him out in round 1.

Mickey Gall wants fellow pretty boy Sage Northcutt next.  Please UFC, book this.  As for Punk, he gave a very nice speech about dreams and believing in yourself.  Certainly this was a huge risk for a person in his late 30s but if he does continue his MMA dream it appears that it would be on a smaller, regional card.  Or Bellator.

Stipe stops Reem

Stipe Miocic successfully defended his UFC 203 heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem in one of the best and craziest rounds of this year.  Miocic was in trouble early in the first and almost was submitted (Reem thought there was a tap) by Overeem.

It looks like that Stipe gets Cain Velasquez next.  So long as the fight is at sea level, this will be a tough fight for Miocic.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Cleveland came out for the UFC as the company reported a sell out for the event where the Cavaliers play.  The event drew 18,875 for $2.6M.

Bonuses went to Miocic-Overeem for Fight of the Night and Yancy Medeiros and Jessica

Promotion of the Fight

ESPN aided the UFC with the promotion as it had Stipe Miocic on Sportscenter talking up the fight.

Of course, there was the 3-part series on FS1 for CM Punk.

Miocic and Jessica Eye did local promotions since they are from the area.

The Cleveland Cavaliers through their support behind Miocic and Eye.

They also let Dana White handle the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Eye had a chance to throw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians home game as seen on Embedded.

There were tons of tweets from athletes, celebrities and pro wrestlers throwing their support for CM Punk.

Sponsorships

The newest sponsor in the Octagon for this PPV was IrishFireVodka.com.  The company is based out of Dallas, Texas per its web site. Aside from that, there were the usual sponsors including MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light and Monster Energy Drink in the center.  They also promoted the UFC 204 PPV in the octagon.

MetroPCS had the fighter prep point.  Throughout the PPV, they had voiceover ads for Topps Fighter Trading Cards App.

Odds and Ends

UFC offered a 10% discount on purchasing this PPV if you had previously filled out a survey regarding UFC Fight Pass.  I’m sure they offer this periodically.  It’s just another subtle way to get consumers to gravitate to the UFC web site as opposed to PPV cable and satellite distributors.

CB Dolloway was involved in an elevator accident after the weigh-ins which caused his fight to be cancelled.  Expect a lawsuit.

Jessica Andrade looks like a legitimate title contender for the 115 pound women’s division.

What went on in that Browne-Werdum fight?  If a fighter asks for a halt to the fight without the referee first calling it, shouldn’t that be a verbal submission?  Then there’s the fracas with Edmund Tarverdyan post-fight.

Embedded showed Ronda Rousey’s dog with Travis Browne, but no Rousey.  She was in Cleveland as she was present for a pro wrestling show the night before to support her friend and former MMA fighter Shayna Baszler.

The Ohio Athletic Commission allowing the CM Punk license was one thing.  Its explanation for doing it was another.  Punk has publicly admitted to several concussions while wrestling, is 37 years old and the OAC waived its license requirements citing he was a top end pro wrestler.  But, to show its force, it stated it would investigate the Jessica Eye-Bethe Corriea shoving incident at the ceremonial weigh-ins.  It also fined Alistair Overeem $500 for being late to the weigh-ins.  Speaking of the Browne-Werdum fight, why did the referee allow for Browne to call an injury timeout on his own and not know that if Browne called for a stop to the fight, the fight was over.  Will the OAC look into that debacle?

After Joe Rogan interviewed Stipe Miocic who thought he was knocked down by a kick (instead of a punch) and then Overeem believed Miocic tapped to a guillotine, Rogan made the comment that maybe he shouldn’t interview guys after a fight.  Especially those that have been knocked out.  Makes sense to me although this is unlikely to happen.

Conclusion

Saturday night’s event drew over 1M searches for UFC 203 and another 200,000 for “UFC 203 Fight Card.”  Certainly, the attendance at the event was great as it was pushing for Miocic and Eye as hometown favorites. But was the allure of CM Punk reason for casual viewers to purchase the PPV?  It may have received a bump from pro wrestling fans but unlikely to move much with the rest.  Although the PPV had a heavyweight title fight, Miocic-Overeem are not PPV draws.  Since there was a little more marketing behind this event, I think we could see about 325-375K PPV buys.

UFC 201: Payout Perspective

July 31, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 201 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  The main event featured Robbie Lawler taking on Tyrone Woodley for the welterweight title.

The wait was worth it: Woodley new WW champ

Tyron Woodley waited almost a year and a half for his shot at the welterweight title.  What was almost a nothing fight for the first minute exploded quickly as Woodley laid the hammer down on Lawler.  It has to be one of the bigger upsets in some time.  Then again, it’s yet another title change in the UFC.

So does Nick Diaz actually get the first shot at him?  It’s the “money fight” and could happen sometime this fall.  But, doesn’t Lawler deserve a rematch?  While he got caught, I doubt this could happen in another fight.  Lawler should still be near the top of the rankings for this division.

UFC-201-Lawler-vs-Woodley-Sq

Karolina edges out Rose for chance at Joanna

Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeated Rose Namajunas in the fight of the night.  We now get an interesting all-Polish for the women’s strawweight title.  Hopefully, the UFC can build this fight for women’s MMA as well as its international expansion.  Certainly, this fight with Joanna Champion should take place sometime this fall in Poland.

Attendance and gate

It’s not surprising that this event drew less than the prior two PPV events in Atlanta.  The previous two: UFC 88 and UFC 145, had highly anticipated fights in Evans-Liddell and Evans-Jones.  The UFC did draw a 1 million gate.  Specifically, 10,240 for a gate of $1.07M.

Bonuses

Bonuses of $50K each went to Rose-Karolina, Woodley and Jake Ellenberger.  Rose-Karolina earned the Fight of the Night while Woodley and Ellenberger scored the Performances of the Night for their respective stoppages.

Sponsorships

The usual UFC sponsors were in the octagon including Bud Light, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, UFC Fight Pass, MetroPCS, and Monster had the middle of the octagon.  QT, a software company, shared the post with Monster’s logo.

Also in the octagon was signage for UFC 202 August 20th for Diaz-McGregor.

EA UFC2 had the prep point.

Tyron Woodley wore Monster head phones to the ring.  This is something you rarely see any more.

Notably, MusclePharm was all over the UFC Embeddeds.  Matt Brown even drove a car with the MP logo on the side.

Odds and Ends

On Friday, UFC 201 drew 500,000 google searches which is corrected from our original report that it drew just 50,000 searches.  Still, it did not feel like strong momentum going into this.

Another thing going against this card was that the UFC Prelims were moved to FS2.

Recall this was to be a double title night with Demetrious Johnson defending his title against Wilson Reis.  Johnson was injured, so Reis was bumped off the main card.  He did record a submission victory over Hector Sandoval.

Why do fighters still strip down at the televised weigh-ins if their official weigh-ins were earlier that morning?  No need to be in your underwear in front of the crowd.  You can just wear your fight shorts.

It was interesting that Pat Barry, Rose Namajunas’ boyfriend and coach was not a part of the UFC Embeddeds.  Rose talked about this prior to the fight.

Speaking of the UFC Embeddeds, this is the first time that I thought most of them were bland.  However, the one thing that I enjoyed (aside from the Woodley kids) was that we were introduced to Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  The other thing we may have learned from the video series is that Coy Wire and Robbie Lawler look alike.

Ian McCall received his win bonus and show money after Justin Scoggins could not make weight.  McCall remained an alternate on the card which may explain him receiving the win bonus.  It’s the first time I’ve heard of a fighter receiving a win bonus when they did not fight.

Did Reebok get Erik Perez an official Lucha Libre mask?

Jake Ellenberger was going to be cut but was given one more chance.  He won with a liverkick that stopped Matt Brown.  It’s not his last fight after all.

Conclusion

This PPV felt like the “forgotten PPV” as it is sandwiched between UFC 200 and UFC 202 (featuring the rematch between Diaz-McGregor).  Both of these PPVs will draw over 1 million buys while 201 will fall far short of that.  While Robbie Lawler is an exciting fighter and produced some great battles.  Does it equate to his PPV average of 333,000 buys?  Perhaps.  But with the UFC seemingly promoting UFC 202 prior to UFC 201 even happening (e.g., Nate Diaz on Conan as well as the promos starting earlier), the PPV likely drew 285,000-300,000 PPV buys.

UFC 199: Payout Perspective

June 5, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 199 taking place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.  The show featured two title defenses.

Bisping shocks the world

Michael Bisping waited a long time for his shot at the middleweight title and he did not disappoint.  Perhaps exposing a suspect chin, Bisping KO’d the champion Luke Rockhold in the first round.  Rockhold appeared to be overconfident in the lead up to this fight and admitted as much post-fight.  Bisping is a polarizing figure but you have to respect his journey to the title.  We could see a rematch of the two or maybe Jacare Souza, who congratulated The Count on the way out of the Octagon would be a good choice.

UFC 199

Dominator overwhelms Faber

It was a very entertaining promotion for the fight, but in the end, Dominick Cruz showed that he was much better than Urijah Faber.  The oft-injured bantamweight champion secured a unanimous decision.  Joe Rogan seemed to focus on whether or not Faber would retire after this fight.

Would people be willing to pay $60 for a “superfight” with Demetrious Johnson?

Bonuses

Bonuses went out to Bisping and Dan Henderson (coincidentally opponents at UFC 100) for their performances.  Polo Reyes and Dong Hyun Kim earned Fight of the Night.  All received $50,000.

Attendance and Gate

The UFC announced post-fight that The Forum was a sellout with 15,587 for a live gate of $2,168,675.

Sponsorships

The sponsors in the Octagon included Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light, MetroPCS, and the TNT upcoming drama, Animal Kingdom.  Food 4 Less, a Compton, California-based “no frills” grocery was a sponsor in the Octagon as it shared a post with Monster.  As with most UFC events, Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.

Dominick Cruz sported a Monster patch on his Reebok black kit.  He also did an old school thank you to them post-match including holding a Monster can.

UFC Embedded appears to be the place to have your non-official UFC sponsors to be visible.  Luke Rockhold wore Adidas and Monster Milk during the vlogs.

Odds and Ends

Three big pieces of news not related to 199.  First, Brock Lesnar is back.  Despite how he left the company, he returns and the move should draw eyebrows as the WWE is allowing Lesnar to fight a month before the company’s second-biggest show of the year – Summerslam.

Second, Fedor Emelienenko will be on Fight Pass on an EFN card on June 17th.   Thus, the UFC will finally get Brock Lesnar-Fedor…just not together.

Finally, the rematch no one except Conor McGregor wants as Nate Diaz will face McGregor at UFC 202 in Vegas August 20th.  Interesting that the UFC is traveling less domestically.

There were 4 fights on UFC Fight Pass Prelims.  3 of the 4 fights were very good.

UFC Fight Pass introduced a promotion where fans can send in 1 minute videos to tell Dana White why they are the biggest UFC fan.  The winner will get to come to International Fight Week, meet Dana White and attend UFC Fight Night: Alvarez-RDA.

UFC allowed flags in lieu of sponsor banners in the Octagon.

Octagon ladies sport the Monster patch on their uniforms, do they get paid for doing so?

Watching Embedded, apparently the champions (Cruz and Rockhold) were given rental properties to stay in during fight week while the others stayed in a hotel.

The weigh-ins were different since newly instituted weigh-in rules with the California State Athletic Commission allowed fighters to weigh-in between a 10am-2pm window the day before the fight.  Thus, the televised weigh-ins we usually see did not include the official weigh-ins.

Did the finish of Hendo/Lombard look similar to Hendo/Bisping at UFC 100 with Hendo unloading on an already unconscious opponent?

Ariel Helwani and three others were escorted from the building during UFC 199.  Helwani tweeted that he had been banned by the UFC for life.  It was Helwani that broke the Brock Lesnar news on MMA Fighting.

The show concluded with a tribute to Muhammad Ali who passed away on Friday.

Conclusion

This was a very good show but it will likely be overshadowed by the news that Brock Lesnar is returning next month.  Google trends had 500,000 searches for UFC 199 on Saturday.  Notably, Brock Lesnar drew 100,000 searches on Saturday.  How many PPV buys will this card receive?  Without a proven PPV draw at the top of the card, yet a solid lineup for the PPV, the buy rate should be 350,000 to 400,000 PPV buys.

UFC 198: Payout Perspective

May 16, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 198 taking place from Curitiba, Brazil where Fabricio Werdum took on Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight title.

Miocic crowned Heavyweight Champ

Despite the massive crowd in favor of Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic knocked him out in the first round.  The KO stunned the massive crowd in Curtiba.  For Miocic, it was an emotional win and he showed it when he returned back home to Cleveland.  He also had a message for the city’s NBA team.

Cyborg does not disappoint in debut

The long-awaited debut of Cris “Cyborg” Justino did not disappoint the Brazilian fans as she overpowered Leslie Smith earning a TKO in the first round, just 1:21 in, despite a vehement protest from Smith.  Smith took to social media after the fight to vent her anger.

The obvious question was whether Cyborg could make weight, which she did.  Now, the next hurdle would be coming down another 5 pounds to challenge Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title.  Of course, maybe there’s a fight out there at the 140 pound catchweight that could happen (i.e., Ronda Rousey).

Attendance

It was a record crowd at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba Parana, Brazil as the announced attendance was over 45,000 (45,207 to be exact).  It made it the 3rd highest attendance in UFC history according to the announcement on the PPV telecast.  The tickets sold out in one day.  No gate was announced which seems to be the norm for Brazil shows.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50,000 went to Miocic, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Francisco Trinaldo and Yancy Medeiros.  Trinaldo and Medeiros won for Fight of the Night which aired on the UFC Prelims on FS1 and Miocic and Souza earned performance bonuses.

Sponsors

Budweiser was in the center of the Octagon.  Notably Nissan had signage in the octagon.   Bud Light was also present in the Octagon along with Toyo Tires, EA UFC 2, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Fight Pass, and ads for UFC 199 and 200.

Budweiser sponsored the Embedded episodes and also had the fighter prep point.  Bud Light was a big sponsor throughout the broadcast.

No Monster Energy Drink on the broadcast.  This may be due in part that TNT Energy Drink had been a UFC sponsor in Brazil.  According to this UFC press release, the Monster exclusive deal with the UFC, excludes Brazil.

Odds and Ends

This was a big show but think how much bigger it could have been with Anderson Silva-Uriah Hall.

Fans were given Werdum “faces” which had the former champ’s trademark smirk.  He did it a couple times during the walk out.  Werdum seemed like he had the time of his life until the fight started.

A subtle post-fight gesture for new champs is that they are given the champion’s “black” Reebok shirt.  Miesha Tate was given it after defeating Holly Holm.  Miocic was handed the shirt after his post-fight interview.

Matt Brown probably should never fight in Brazil again.  He gave the Brazilian fans the Stone Cold Steve Austin treatment at weigh-ins.  Although FS1 did not show it, there was footage of random fans taking shots at Brown on his walkout to the Octagon against Damian Maia.

Brown was submitted by Maia.  The next day, his ex-coach takes a swing at him.  Fortunately, authorities got a hold (literally) on the guy.

I know that there are practical reasons for this, but does anyone find it odd that Benson Henderson was once again wearing a UFC uniform in the corner of training partner, Bryan Barberena.

It looks like Jon Jones is really feeling it.

Big Nog was announced as the first UFC fighter to go into the company’s Hall of Fame this summer.  Little Nog had a KO of Patrick Cummins as the featured fight on the early UFC Prelims on Fight Pass.

There were 500,000 google searches for UFC 198 on Saturday.

Conclusion

UFC 198 was a very entertaining card with some good finishes.  But, did the Werdum-Miocic appeal to the casual viewers?  Probably not.  This was a card which was focused on Brazil.  The attendance looked very good and the crowds (including at the weigh-ins) were great.  However, the PPV buys for this event will likely come in around 325,000 buys.

Monster Energy re-ups with Bellator MMA

May 13, 2016

Bellator MMA has reached an agreement with Monster Energy Drink to extend its sponsorship agreement which will see the green “M” in the Bellator cage for years to come according to a press release.

Via Bellator MMA press release:

Monster will continue to own highly visible inventory inside the Bellator cage and sponsor concourse activations during events as well as additional off-site promotional activations. To complement the live event experience, Monster and Bellator will look to engage in a multi-faceted activation plan intended to build customer loyalty and drive tune-in of the Bellator broadcasts on Spike. The sponsorship extension will also see Bellator MMA continue to put on fights during the “Monster Energy Cup” – an event that showcases the world’s top supercross riders in a head to-head battle for the coveted “Monster Energy Cup” award and the chance to win one million dollars.

PHOTO © HANS MOLENKAMP// MONSTER ENERGY/All Rights Reserved

PHOTO © HANS MOLENKAMP//MONSTER ENERGY/All Rights Reserved

Payout Perspective:

Monster is also the “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC and with this agreement will have honed in on the MMA demo.  It’s clear that the company sees the MMA demo of young (mostly male) adults correlates with the company’s target market.  The announcement comes the day before Bellator 154 which features Phil Davis taking on King Mo. Davis is a Monster Energy-sponsored athlete per the Bellator release. In addition, Rampage Jackson, Joe Schilling, Michael Chandler, Joey Beltran and Brennan Ward are Monster-sponsored as well.

GGG gets Jordan Brand sponsorship

April 13, 2016

The USA Today reports that Gennady Golovkin will be sponsored by Jordan Brand for his upcoming fight April 23 against Dominic Wade on HBO.

GGG will wear Jordan Brand trunks and gloves for his fight next week.  He becomes just the third fighter to don the Jordan Brand in the boxing ring after Andre Ward and Roy Jones, Jr.

In addition to his Jordan Brand sponsorship, the fighter also has a deal with Apple.

Payout Perspective:

GGG and Canelo Alvarez are the next two fighters to top the boxing PPV landscape.  GGG is gaining popularity against David Lemieux last fall sold out Madison Square Garden.  Next week’s fight at The Forum in Inglewood should sell out as well.  GGG is gaining popularity among American fans and the Jordan Brand is jumping onto the fighter’s brand.  An anticipated showdown with Canelo Alvarez may happen later this year and certainly brands are preparing for that fight.

Alvarez featured in Tecate’s first national ad campaign

April 13, 2016

Tecate has launched its first national ad campaign featuring Mexican boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez.

According to AdWeek, Alvarez and soccer referee Felipe Ramos Rizos are featured in two commercials for Tecate.  The Alvarez spot is below.

The ad features Alvarez with the trademark Tecate black eagle.  Brand director Belen Pamukoff explained the company strategy to Adweek was to target second or third-generation Mexican Americans that are both proud of their heritage as well as being an American.

Tecate has doubled its spending for digital and social marketing which includes leveraging sponsorship opportunities with Alvarez.  In addition to Alvarez’s fight this May against Amir Khan, Tecate has already committed to sponsoring Alvarez for his fight this September.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that Alvarez is the heir apparent to the PPV boxing landscape after Mayweather and Pacquiao.  Tecate has landed Alvarez (over rival Corona) and is making a full-on commitment with the monetary investment in ad spending.  The AdWeek article noted that 2015 sales were up 46 percent.  Alvarez is a key figure for Tecate’s sports sponsorship as he is central to their target of the Mexican and Mexican American audience.

Exos becomes official performance partner of the UFC

March 30, 2016

The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reports that the UFC has signed a one-year deal with physical training, nutrition and physical therapy company Exos, makig it the official performance partner of the company.

You may recall that it forged the agreement with the company last year as part of a new Athlete Marketing and Development program.  The goal of the partnership was to reduce the number of injuries and increase the quality of athletes in the sport.  MMA Junkie covered the first UFC athletes training at the Exos Arizona facility.

Under the terms of the new, one-year agreement, up to 50 UFC athletes will train at Exos centers and Exos staff will work with UFC athletes at the promotion’s “Athlete Summits” throughout the year.

Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed.

The deal is only for one year because the UFC is set to open a new headquarters that will include a 40,000 square foot athletic complex.

Payout Perspective:

The partnership will be one that should benefit the training and overall health of UFC fighters.  It also benefits the UFC as the training should negate the number of injuries to fighters that are scheduled to fight.  This should decrease the number of scratches on cards that could affect business.  We will see if and how the partnership may continue once the UFC has an in-house facility for its contracted fighters.

UFC announces Harley renewal, Military Benefits Program

March 24, 2016

The UFC has formally announced its renewed partnership with Harley Davidson today via company press release.  The partnership features a new Military Benefits Program targeting those in the military.

The announcement was first made by the Sports Business Journal last month.

The press release issued today also notes a new Military Benefits Program:

In conjunction with the extension, both global companies jointly announce a new military platform to offer exclusive benefits to active armed services personnel and veterans. Military men and women, both active and non-active, will be able to access unprecedented offers, including: discounted tickets at select events, discounted subscriptions to UFC FIGHT PASS, fight week meet and greet opportunities with UFC athletes and personalities, entry to invite-only viewing parties and discounted passes to the annual UFC Fan Expo® during International Fight Week. In addition to this program, Harley will continue to offer its free riding academy services to military personnel and first responders.

Payout Perspective:

The Military Benefits Program is an interesting one that targets a key demo for the UFC and Harley Davidson.  The combination of UFC discounted offers for military as well as the inclusion of the Harley Davidson free riding program and showing PPVs at local dealers are a good way to bring in potential customers.

UFC signs deal with mouth guard maker

March 14, 2016

The UFC has signed a licensing agreement with GuardLab, a New York-based company that produces custom-fit mouth guards according to a report from the Sports Business Journal.  Financial terms were not disclosed for the multiyear global licensing and partnership agreement with the company.

The UFC will receive a portion of sales from every UFC-branded mouth guard sold.  The article states that UFC fighters will not be required to wear a GuardLab mouthpiece.  However, the UFC will offer the mouth guards free to fighters.  It will attend UFC events to meet with UFC fighters to explain the technology.

The licensing deal is the first time the company has signed on with a mouth guard company.  The UFC has looked into the prospects of such a deal about a year ago when it was approached about such a deal by several companies.

GuardLab will offer mouth guards with the UFC logo on them through GuardLab’s network of dentists nationwide or through its website.  The company also offers mouth guards that prevent people from grinding their teeth at night.  The company uses 3-D scanning technology to create custom-fit mouth guards.

On its web site, UFC branded mouth guards are $249.99 ($124.99 for an additional guard) for adults 18 and over and $149.99 ($99.99 for an additional guard) for youths 17 and under.

ufc_guard_normal

Payout Perspective:

While the deal might not seem like a big one, it actually is another savvy move to monetize the UFC business.  For people that train in MMA or BJJ, mouth pieces should be necessary equipment.  In recent years, you may have noticed designs on mouthpieces.  Oftentimes, if an MMA fighter wins, they will take out their mouthpiece (which usually displays a flag logo and show it to the camera).  While the price point is high, the technology sells the fact that it is custom-fit.  Frankly, custom-fit mouth pieces are much more comfortably than “off the shelf” models so it may be worth it.  Notably, UFC fighters will not be required to use it due to potential issues with liability.  Of course, the other issue is that requiring mouth pieces from a UFC sponsor could be another example of the UFC retaining the control of its contracted fighters.

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