UFC 220: Payout Perspective

January 22, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time, we take a look at UFC 220 taking place at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Miocic handles Ngannou

Stipe Miocic defeated Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision in what was an easy win for the defending champion.  Despite Ngannou’s punching power, he did not have any cardio or any type of grappling acumen to defend himself against Miocic.  This is confounding since this was the obvious test for the challenger since most of his fights are standing up.  Ngannou had no defense to the ground game by Miocic and was visibly exhausted most of the fight.

Truly a disappointing showing for Ngannou who was thought to be ready for his shot.  Obviously, he is a one-dimensional fighter at this point.  The good news is that he is still a very good one-dimensional fighter.  He just needs to extend his grasp of MMA and more cardio.

For Miocic, it truly was a very good game plan.  Even when he was not doing anything to Ngannou, he was leaning on him getting him tired.

Dana White indicated that a Daniel Cormier-Miocic fight would be a good matchup although DC confirmed that he would like to see his stablemate, Cain Velasquez get a shot by the end of the year.

For Ngannou?  Derrick Lewis, a guy who has had his own trouble with cardio was trolling the man from Cameroon last night and that might be a fun fight to see so long as it lasts just one round.

Cormier outclasses Volkan

Daniel Cormier proved that there are different levels of UFC fighter as he soundly handled Vokan Oezdimir and stopped him in the second round.  Cormier, still haunted by the ghosts of Jon Jones, gave a post-fight promo talking about getting his championship back.  Regardless of how much he tucks in his shirt to his pants and has a dad bod, he is still one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.  As he says, it’s not easy going against him.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

Boston fans came out for UFC 220 as the event was a sellout or close to it with the most fans-ever attending a UFC event at the TD Garden.  There were 16,015 fans in attendance with a gate of $2.45 million.  The gate was slightly less than UFC 118’s $2.8 million which had a main event of Edgar-Penn II.

The demand was down on the secondary market with the median price for tickets falling as of this past Thursday from $384 per ticket to $368 per ticket.  The get-in price on the secondary market was $136.  Ticketmaster had seats available although they were close to a sell out as of Friday.

The bonuses went to Cormier, Abdul Razak Alhassan, Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos.  Each earned $50,000.  Alhassan and Cormier earned the Performance bonuses while Kattar and Burgos drew Fight of the Night.

Promotion of the Fight

This felt like a big event for the UFC as it tried to kick off 2018 on a high.  Embedded was front and center as the tool to promote the event via social media.  This time around, there were no sponsors attached to the event.  It did show a lot of the promotion (i.e., media obligations, ESPN interviews, appearances) in addition to the training the main camps endured.

One of the more unique opportunities was Daniel Cormier being interviewed for Complex Magazine regarding his shoe game.  As someone that is somewhat of a sneakerhead, this was a good way to tie in Cormier with a personal interest with the underlying goal of promoting UFC 220.

Sponsorships

It was the first time that Modelo was a part of a UFC PPV.  The beer maker took over for Bud Light as the “Official Beer” of the UFC.  It was front and center during the UFC Prelims as the studio shots had the logo prominently displayed.  It was also on the canvas and Octagon posts.

BodyArmor also made its first appearance on a UFC PPV with the stools, drinks and towels having the logo.

Although no announcement has yet been made, Wish Shopping may be the next sponsor to fall in line with the UFC.  The company, which features online shopping, was one of the sponsors for The Money Fight this past August.  It also sponsors the Los Angeles Lakers.  During the PPV, it sponsored the Fighter Descriptions.

Gruntstyle.com, MetroPCS, Body Armor, Toyo Tires, Performance Inspired, Modelo, EA’s UFC 3, Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.  7-11 shared an Octagon post with Monster Energy.   The upcoming video game also had the fighter prep point.

MetroPCS offered its Periscope analysis during the event with Forrest Griffin, Demetrious Johnson, Tyron Woodley and Cody Garbrandt.

Performance Inspired also sponsored the UFC bonus announcements.

EA UFC3 offered up the video game versions of the main event participants.

Odds and Ends

As most know, the event went up against Bellator 192 on the reboot of SpikeTV now known as The Paramount Network.

Francis Ngannou, a native of Cameroon, had some choice words for the President.  I also wrote about it here.

The weirdest news out of this week was the internet feud between Daniel Cormier and professional wrestlers, The Young Bucks.  The two went back and forth before third parties decided to be jerks and both sides decided for cooler heads to prevail.

There were over 1 million google searches for UFC 220 on Saturday.  In comparison Bellator 192 had over 200,000.

UFC 220 was $5 more ($64.99) than PPVs last year.  If you wanted the 4K version it cost $74.99.

Luke Rockhold, a training partner of Cormier, trained in Florida with Volkan which caused somewhat of a stir but for the fact Rockhold immediately dispelled a myth of a fissure between himself and DC.

Conclusion

The google searches and promotion of the event leads me to believe that we should see a better than normal buy rate for this event.  While UFC 219’s mid-300s was a success despite the consensus feel that it was not, look for UFC 220 to do slightly better.  Perhaps the 350-375K range.

BodyArmor enters the Octagon as UFC sponsor

January 19, 2018

BodyArmor will have a strong branding presence at UFC 220 as the “Official Sports Drink” of the UFC.

The sponsorship agreement was announced late last year and had an initial rollout during UFC 217 in New York with Kobe Bryant in attendance at a media session during fight week.  This will be the first time that BodyArmor will have its brand throughout the Octagon.

The brand will be seen on stools, towels and buckets.  Certainly, the announcers will be pushing BodyArmor’s “Knockout Punch” drink, which was co-branded specifically for the UFC.

The brand also had a presence during The Money Fight this past August and the huge audience probably affirmed its investment with combat sports.

Payout Perspective:

The Body Armor deal is another positive sign for UFC business as it tries to find more and more brands.  Look for more sponsorship deals in the year.

Monster Energy renews deal to be “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC

January 17, 2018

The UFC and Monster Energy have renewed their global partnership agreement according to a UFC press release.  The renewal is a multi-year extension and continues it as the “Official Energy Drink” of the UFC.

The “M” will remain in the center of the Octagon and entrance logo placement inside.  According to the release, the brands will also work in conjunction on retail promotions during UFC events in select markets.

Via press release:

Monster’s logo will also remain prominently located on the UFC FIGHT NIGHT COLLECTION apparel of its sponsored UFC athletes. This current list includes: UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, UFC women’s strawweight Paige VanZant, UFC featherweight Yair Rodriguez and UFC welterweight Donald Cerrone.

Payout Perspective:

No financial terms were released.  Its not known whether Monster Headphones will continue as the UFC’s sponsor to continue the perceived confusion.  Also, interesting to see if Monster Energy will continue working with Bellator and Rampage Jackson.  The renewal is not surprising as the UFC continues to secure sponsors for this year.  Maintaining a relationship with Monster Energy makes sense and we shall see if the companies will try to use more integration in the relationship such as using more UFC stars in Monster Energy marketing/ad campaigns.

Boost Mobile signs on with Bellator

January 16, 2018

Boost Mobile has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Bellator MMA and will appear in the cage this Saturday as Bellator 192 relaunches Spike TV as the new Paramount Network.  According to the Sports Business Journal, the deal will make Boost Mobile the “official wireless carrier” of Bellator MMA.

Boost Mobile sponsored the World Series of Fighting but has been away from MMA until the news of this deal on Tuesday.  It also was a sponsor of the UFC in 2010.  The company has scheduled a meet and greets for this Thursday to promote Saturday’s event in LA.

The SBJ article quotes Scott Coker of describing Boost Mobile as a “blue chip” sponsor.

Payout Perspective:

No financial terms were disclosed but the report indicates the logo will be prevalent throughout the Bellator broadcast Saturday.  The wireless carrier is back sponsoring esports and the return to MMA shows a dedication to reach out to a young demo in its target audience.  Look for Bellator to seek out other sponsors in 2018 as it will compete with UFC for additional revenue in this business segment.

Modelo to feature Stipe Miocic as part of new sponsor’s ad campaign

January 11, 2018

ESPN reports that Stipe Miocic will be featured in a new ad for beer sponsor Modelo Especial.  The Heavyweight champ and his mother, Kathy Miocic, attended a commercial shoot as part of the new sponsor’s “Fighting Spirit” campaign.

Modelo’s marketing strategy features successful, blue-collar individuals.  As is widely known, Miocic’s job aside from fighting is a fireman for the Valley View Fire Department in the Cleveland area.  The commercial will air in the first quarter of 2018 according to ESPN.

Miocic defends his title against Francis Ngannou on Saturday, January 20th at UFC 220 in Boston.

Modelo signed a multi-year sponsorship deal replacing longtime beer sponsor Budweiser/Bud Light.

Payout Perspective:

One of the things that the new owners wanted from sponsors of the UFC was more integration with the brand.  We see that here as Miocic will be a part of the Modelo marketing campaign.  In 2018, look for more integration of UFC athletes with sponsors in marketing campaigns.  It’s not known if Miocic has agreed to a personal sponsorship deal with Modelo but I would think he will be wearing a patch on his shorts at UFC 220.  I would surmise we see the commercial next week as lead-up to UFC 220 and capitalize on the promotion.  Moreover, it will be the first PPV that we will see the new beer sponsors in the Octagon as it takes over for Budweiser.

UFC promoting Netflix blockbuster film, Bright

December 28, 2017

The UFC is collaborating with Netflix to promote Will Smith’s original movie on the streaming service, Bright.

The company is using its social media account to promote the film featuring the former Fresh Prince in a sci-fi movie about a Los Angeles cop partnering with an Orc, a mystical creature that lives alongside humans and elves.

The buzz for the movie has reached 11 million viewers that have watched the film in just 3 days on the service.  But,  the reviews have been terrible.  Netflix spent $90 million on the project and despite the poor reviews, the viewers have watched.

It’s the first big budget film by Netflix and it enlisted the UFC to recruit its young demo to watch.

There appears to be some sort of promo in which one of the film’s main character is squaring off with Travis Browne.  The character, Max Carlyle, has his own twitter handle.

Payout Perspective:

Look for “Bright” to be a part of the sponsor list this Saturday.  With Endeavor’s contacts in the entertainment business, we could see more of this integration of the UFC brand with companies.  In the video above, Matt Serra and Dana White make cameos.  Notably, the UFC Instagram post, states that it was paid by Netflix.  This brings up a question as to whether the streaming service could be a media partner when the company’s rights deal is up.

MPO Year in Review: No. 7 UFC secures new sponsors

December 28, 2017

The UFC brought in new sponsors for the company in 2017.  The sponsors reflect a new era brought in by WME-IMG.

One of the most notable departures from the sponsor list is Bud Light leaving the Octagon as the UFC forged a deal with multi-million dollar deal with Modelo Especial starting in 2018.

In addition, the UFC recruited Air Asia, Body Armor, TriFecta Nutrition, 7-Eleven, the Hospital for Special Surgery and Performance Inspired.  With the broad reach of WME-IMG, look for the UFC to announce new partners in 2018.  It appears that the UFC would like to work more with sponsors in integrating the UFC brand with sponsors.  For instance, UFC fighters are featured on Big Gulp cups at 7-11 and Cody Garbrandt did a spot for TriFecta Nutrition in leading up to his fight with T.J. Dillashaw this past November.

Look for the UFC to fill more sponsor spots.  Notably, Air Asia is the “Official Airline” of the UFC but the deal is limited to Asia and Australia.  We may see one for North America and Europe soon.  Also of note, you would think that will all of the Embedded filming at hotels, we do not see an “Official Hotel” of the UFC upcoming.  Based on its TUF appearances, we could see Geico serving as an “Official Insurance” company of the UFC.

MPO Year in Review: 9. UFC Performance Institute opens

December 27, 2017

The UFC Performance Institute unveiled its new 15-acre, 184,000-square foot campus in Las Vegas this year.  The institute serves as an upgrade to MMA training offering the latest in technology to help the company’s contracted fighters.

The Performance Institute serves as a facility for training for many of the UFC fighters.  Conor McGregor took advantage of the facility as he prepared for his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.  The UFC estimates 30% of its athletes have taken advantage of the Performance Institute.

The Institute has everything that a fighter needs for nutrition, health and injury rehabilitation and prevention.

One of the reasons for the Performance Institute is to help fighters train and train without getting injured.  In the end, the UFC has a vested interest in ensuring that fighters are healthy and are able to cut weight wisely.  Of course, its easier said than done, but the investment in this state of the art facility should help with the health of the fighter.  It also helps the UFC monitor the health of athletes.

Through the Performance Institute the UFC has forged partnerships with a couple surprising companies.  Endeavor (WME-IMG), the UFC’s owners, secured a sponsorship with New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery and Performance Inspired as “official sports supplement” of the UFC.  It also partnered with Body Armor to become the “official sports drink” of the UFC.  Recently, Trifecta Nutrition became an official UFC sponsor as well and will likely be a part of the Performance Institute’s nutrition menu.

While it was a big investment, the Performance Institute has opened up other areas of revenue through health and wellness that may not have occurred if it did not attempt to build the facility.

MPO Year in Review – The UFC Athlete Retreat

December 21, 2017

MMA Payout begins its annual year in review with the UFC Retreat held in Las Vegas in May.  Over 300 fighters descended on Vegas to attend.  What seemed like a good way to introduce the new ownership to its fighters, the Performance Institute and new sponsors turned into a little more than expected with several story lines coming out of the weekend.

There was the confrontation involving UFC lightweight Kajan Johnson with Reebok representatives about the fighter pay related to the clothing deal.  Johnson indicated he lost about 80% of his fighter pay due to the loss of sponsors. The discussion lasted 90 minutes and according to a report from MMA Junkie, the following proposals were discussed by fighters included bringing back sponsor banners, more transparency about the financials surrounding the UFC’s sponsorship deal with Reebok and hire a UFC rep to leverage local sponsors.

Reebok indicated that it would look for more collaborative solutions with the deal although the payouts have not changed since the discussion.  Reebok did involve athletes more into the design of cloths and introduced a new line at UFC 217.

Kobe Bryant spoke at the Fighter Retreat and Leslie Smith asked about the importance of the player’s association in the NBA:

It was an obvious poke at the bear with MMA fighter’s fledgling attempts to unionize or create an association.

There was also the confrontation between Angela Magana and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.  The Las Vegas Police was summoned but no charges came out of the incident.

As a result of the incident, Justino lost a sponsorship.

Finally, there was the claim that a Budweiser representative was intoxicated when he spoke to the fighters.

The UFC retreat seemed like a good idea in theory and perhaps we only received the outrageous news from the weekend. Will we see another one next year? Possibly, but getting fighters together is risky considering the hatred between some fighters.  Maybe everyone could just Skype into these meetings.

Trifecta Nutrition announces it is an official partner of the UFC

December 12, 2017

Trifecta Nutrition announced it is an official partner of the UFC.  The company touts former WEC/UFC fighter Urijah Faber as Managing Partner of the company.

The announcement was made by Trifecta Nutrition in an email blast.  The company’s signage was seen in the Octagon this past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 123.

The company describes its service in this YouTube tutorial.

In leadup to UFC 217, there was a Facebook video ad with former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt featured in a commercial for the company.

Payout Perspective:

The timing makes sense as healthy food options will likely be sought out at the beginning of the year as people try to lose the holiday weight.  The tie-in with Faber made it a natural fit for the company to be associated with the UFC.  Also, with the Performance Institute, the reference to Trifecta Nutrition as a means to eat healthy will garner even more traction for the company.

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