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.

Cruz in pace car at Phoenix International Raceway

March 13, 2016

Dominick Cruz served as the official pace car driver for the Good Sam 500 in Phoenix Sunday.  The appearance continues a long-standing relationship with the Phoenix International Raceway.

Cruz served as the honorary pace car driver in 2012.  Prior to the UFC Athlete Outfitting Program, Cruz was sponsored by the Phoenix International Raceway.  Despite multiple injuries which had left him off the shelf, the Raceway has maintained the relationship with Cruz.

 Dom Cruz at PIR

Dominick Cruz ready to get in the pace car at #GoodSam500 and gets a visit from 6X NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson

Posted by UFC on Sunday, March 13, 2016

Payout Perspective:

The sponsorship between Cruz and the Raceway has continued despite the lack of brand visibility in the Octagon.  Cruz has remained relevant with his analyst position.  With Cruz winning the title, the Raceway benefits from Cruz’s celebrity.

Reebok secures deal with TriStar Gym

March 13, 2016

TriStar Gym has signed a deal with Reebok according to MMA Fighting.  The gym made famous by the likes of Georges St. Pierre will now have its fighters sponsored by the official brand of the UFC.

Based out of Montreal, Quebec, TriStar becomes the second gym to be sponsored by Reebok.  Late last year, Reebok signed a deal with Ireland’s SBG Gym – the home gym of Conor McGregor.

The deal expands Reebok’s Combat Training division as it appears that the clothier will now be worn by fighters training from TriStar.

Financial terms of the deal were not mentioned.

Payout Perspective:

An interesting move by Reebok to target gyms with its brand.  This likely means that we should see more of the Reebok brand in other MMA organizations.  It also shows that Reebok is committed to its alignment with MMA.

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