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.

Rousey signs deal with Fanatics

March 10, 2016

Ronda Rousey has signed an exclusive multi-year memorabilia agreement with Fanatics, Inc.  In signing the agreement, Fanatics will be the only distributor of authentic Ronda Rousey signed memorabilia.

Fans will be able to obtain Rousey collectible on the Fanatics web site or the UFC store site.  Rousey joins the likes of Conor McGregor, Steph Curry and Peyton Manning as those athletes signing exclusive deals with the company.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ronda Rousey Fanatics

Payout Perspective:

If you wanted an indication whether or not Rousey would be back, the signing makes it seem clear that Rousey should be back in the UFC after she is done with her Hollywood obligations.  Obviously, the Miesha Tate win made it more likely.  But, this signing should mean that Rousey intends to be back with the UFC.  The sports memorabilia industry is big business and while MMA memorabilia is still a small, niche within the sports collector’s landscape, Rousey and McGregor are two prime figures that would garner a fan base willing to purchase collector’s items.

UFC 196: Payout Perspective

March 7, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 196 which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  In the main event, Conor McGregor took on Nate Diaz.

Diaz chokes out McGregor

Despite being a late replacement, Nate Diaz used his length and superior jiu jitsu skills to end the mystique of Conor McGregor with a second round tap out of the featherweight champion.  The fight was back and forth in the first round with McGregor making the best of the exchanges.  However, Diaz’s boxing skills took over in round 2 as he touched up McGregor who seemed to gas out.  This became apparent once McGregor attempted to take Diaz down.  Once it was to the ground, Diaz secured a rear-naked choke and McGregor tapped quickly.

It was very interesting how some in the media spun the loss to applaud McGregor into doing something most would never try.  ESPN’s Chael Sonnen stated that McGregor’s star was brighter after the loss.  It’s clear that the UFC does not want to lose the luster of a fighter that earned them two straight attendance and gate records in 2015 and has helped resurrect its PPV business.  McGregor still can be a dominant fighter in the lower weight classes.  But, any dreams of winning titles in 3 or 4 divisions is over.

For Diaz, his career should take off.  He should receive a “money fight” next with either a top welterweight or maybe even a title shot at 155.

Tate chokes out Holm for title

According to the scorecards going into Round 5, Holly Holm led Miesha Tate 38-37 after winning 3 rounds but losing Round 2, 10-8 on all of the scorecards.  Tate knew that she had to win Round 5 and try to submit Holm.  She secured a takedown and was able to get Holm’s back and sink in the rear-naked choke.  Holm attempted to fight it off but eventually went unconscious to the choke.

The loss showed Holm’s inability to defend a rear-naked choke.  The deficiency in her jiu jitsu should be worked on before Holm returns to the octagon.  Based on how great this fight was, I do not think anyone would be mad if we saw this fight at UFC 200.

For Tate, you have to be happy for her.  She was contemplating retirement and was likely never going to get a shot at the bantamweight title so long as Ronda Rousey was the champion.  Due to Holm’s upset in November, it opened the door and Tate walked right through it.  Of course, Ronda Rousey is likely waiting for her this fall if she survives her first title defense.

Attendance and Gate

UFC 196 drew 14,697 for a gate of $8.1 million according to the post-fight press conference.  Another impressive outing in Vegas with McGregor as the headliner.  It was the least attended of the three but was a higher rate than UFC 189’s $7.2 million.

Bonuses

The bonuses went to McGregor, Diaz (x2) and Tate.  Each earned an additional $50,000 per bonus which means Diaz drew $100,000 for Fight of the Night and Performance Bonus of the Night.

Unfortunately, the performances of Teruto Ishihara and Vitor Miranda did not get them extra money.

Salaries

Conor McGregor became the first UFC fighter to make a reported $1 million.  Despite the fact that he stated in a CNBC interview he would make over 10 times that amount, it is mere speculation.  In addition, Holly Holm and Nate Diaz both earned $500,000.  Diaz made an additional $100,000 for his double bonus.  Miesha Tate was the only one of the four to make less than $100,000 without a bonus ($46K/$46K).  Of course, with Tate’s Performance bonus she made $150,000.

Diego Sanchez was the only other fighter to make more than $100,000 at UFC 196.  The rest of the payouts can be found here.

Promotion of the Fight

For a show that had its main event fall out within two weeks before, the UFC did an excellent job in putting together a compelling fight.  The press conference between McGregor and Diaz at the UFC Gym in Torrance was great as over 20K tuned into YouTube to watch it live.  Now, over 2.9M have viewed the pre-fight presser.  I’m sure not as many saw his brother and GSP in the infamous “wolf tickets” presser but it was as entertaining, if not more entertaining.

The Embedded episodes, sponsored by the new UFC video game, featured McGregor and also caught up with Diaz.  It also followed Holm and Tate.

On the Jim Rome Show, Dana White promoted the fight and stated he did not like the Holm-Tate fight for the specific result that occurred.  Holm-Rousey II was the fight the UFC wanted.  If that happens, there will not be as much build for it since both will have a loss.

Conor McGregor appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  Obviously, the jinx was in effect.  Fanatics (a company McGregor has a sponsorship deal with) and UFC.com.

CNBC did an interview with McGregor and Diaz in which Diaz walked off.  Frankly I would have too.  It attempted to be cute and informative but ended up just being condescending and stupid.

Sponsors

MetroPCS, 7-11, Monster Energy Drink, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, the movie Hardcore Harry, Bud Light.  Monster had the center of the Octagon.

McGregor wore a Monster Energy Drink patch on his Reebok shorts.

The fight clock and prep point were sponsored by EA UFC 2.

Notably, Harley Davidson renewed its sponsorship agreement with the UFC as they announced it at the beginning of fight week.  One of the unique parts of the new deal was viewing parties at Harley Davidson dealerships across the country.  During the FS1 prelims, it showed a live viewing party at a Harley Davidson dealership in San Diego.  UFC fighter Ricardo Lamas made an appearance at the viewing party.

Odds and ends

The weigh-ins revealed a new camera view on the scale which is a “go-pro” look at the fighter on the scale.  Maybe it is to get the anxious look on a fighter’s face looking to make weight.

Speaking of “go-pro” cameras, the cutmen wore them as they were also sponsored.  The question should be whether the cutmen get a “cut” of the sponsorship money.  Remember Stitch.

5 million google searches for UFC 196 on Saturday night.  On Friday, there were 100,000 searches and Nate Diaz had another 100,000 for Diaz on Thursday.

On a night that Tate wins the title, Ronda Rousey garnered 100,000 google searches.

UFC Fight Pass offered 20% off to fans wanted to purchase the PPV on its digital platform.  This may be a test for the future as the company would receive a greater part of the gross revenue from PPV purchase.  Even with a discount, the UFC probably cleared more than sharing with a PPV distributor.

Fight Pass offer

Tom Lawlor wore a fake McGregor tattoo at weigh-ins.

Since I’m from Seattle, this is great.  I understand most of the rest of the world it probably means Tate is trying to be a heel.

NAnyone else notice McGregor steal a lyric from Jay-Z at the end of the first Embedded, “I’m not a business man…I’m a business…man.”

It did not go unnoticed that Royce Gracie (who just fought in Bellator) made an appearance on Embedded as he met McGregor.

Speaking of the Embedded series, will McGregor command a full rental mansion in Vegas when he returns for UFC 200 or will he have more of a scaled back Penthouse suite?

Not sure EA intended for its cover to have two fighters coming off of losses when the video game debuts.

Conclusion

The UFC gambled with both McGregor and Holm. While this may be a short-term gain for the company, it could be a long-term worry. The substitution of Nate Diaz proved to be the right replacement but the wrong result. With Tate winning the belt, it means a possible Rousey-Tate III. But it also negates a Holm-Rousey II which could have proved to be big business if Holm remained undefeated until Rousey returned. But for UFC 196, the amount of press and buzz for this event makes me think we see another McGregor fight drawing close to 1 million PPV buys. With the loss, can he continue to draw these numbers past. We will see.

Harley Davidson renews sponsorship with UFC

February 29, 2016

Harley Davidson has renewed its sponsorship deal with the UFC according to the Sports Business Journal (subscription required).  While no terms were disclosed, the agreement is being reported as being a multi-year deal.

The motorcycle maker has been a mainstay with the UFC since 2007 and it is the third time that Harley Davidson has renewed with the UFC.

The article notes that the UFC does not designate differing levels for each sponsor but customizes its partnerships.  The two sides have worked for several months on the new deal which includes “new components.”  The new deal with the UFC includes showcasing Harley Davidson across multiple UFC platforms as well as sponsoring the arrival of fighters on PPV and other broadcasts.  It also includes the presentation of a UFC fight to be held on a U.S. military base.

In a unique move by the two sides, the sponsor deal will include showing UFC PPV events to motorcycle customers at 600 Harley Davidson dealerships across the country.  The dealerships will receive the PPVs at a discounted rate.

Recently, Toyo Tires re-upped with the UFC.  DraftKings ended a 1-year partnership with the company.

Payout Perspective:

The news of the renewal comes at an appropriate time as UFC 196 will air this weekend.  The most notable part of the sponsorship is the ability for Harley Davidson to show UFC PPVs at its dealerships. One would think that this move would help promote sales for Harley Davidson as customers could feasibly come in for the fights and leave with a new motorcycle.  Also, the sponsorship at a UFC base helps promote the Harley brand to many U.S. service men and women.  This deal appears to be most beneficial to the Harley brand while continuing an existing relationship with the UFC.

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