Calvillo claims loss of Body Armor sponsorship after positive test for marijuana

March 20, 2018

Cynthia Calvillo claims that Body Armor dropped her as a sponsor as a result of her drug-test failure for marijuana at UFC 219.  Calvillo is serving a 6 month suspension from USADA and was given an additional 3 months from the Nevada Athletic Commission for the infraction.

In an interview Monday on The MMA Hour, Calvillo admitted to the use of marijuana which led to a drug test failure after her loss to Carla Esparza.  Calvillo was doled a 6-month suspension by USADA for a test that was over the allowable limit for marijuana and its metabolites.  However, the Nevada Athletic Commission gave her a 9-month suspension and fined her 15% of her fight earnings from December’s bout.

Calvillo stated in her interview that she was told that her usage on Christmas Eve prior to her December 30th fight would be fine.  Calvillo holds a medicinal marijuana card.  In California, where she resides, marijuana use is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes.  However, it is still a banned substance per the UFC Anti-Doping Policy guidelines and the Nevada Athletic Commission.

She believes that her sponsorship with Body Armor was rescinded due to the suspension.

Payout Perspective:

Calvillo’s loss of a sponsorship is unfortunate for the budding star.  It shows that there are companies that may be conservative with the people it chooses to represent it in public.  Notably, Kobe Bryant, the former NBA star was on trial for sexual assault, is a big investor in the company.  Yet, many companies have moral clauses which they may sever a sponsorship due to infractions like this.  Thus, its upon Calvillo to ensure that she does not get into any issues like failing a drug test.

UFC 222: Payout Perspective

March 7, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 222 which took place at the T-Mobile Area in Las Vegas.

Cyborg easily handles Kunitskaya

Cris Cyborg took care of Yana Kunitskaya as the UFC women’s Featherweight champion earned the TKO victory in round 1 of their championship bout.  The former Invicta champ earned a takedown in the beginning seconds of the bout and had a couple fleeting moments of offense before being overwhelmed by Cyborg.  It was clear that Kunitskaya did not want to do anything with Cyborg’s striking and was an easy victory for the champion.

In a division that does not have many challengers, Cyborg may fight  Amanda Nunes in a “superfight” or go after Megan Anderson.

Ortega KO’s Edgar for next title shot Brian Ortega made his presence known in the Featherweight division with an impressive KO of Frankie Edgar.  The durable former lightweight champ went down for the first time.  He had never been submitted or was stopped before in his UFC career.

Ortega looked great and the high-level blackbelt also showed his striking ability.  A matchup against Max Holloway is next.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

UFC 222 drew 12,041 for a gate of $1,367, 672 according to the UFC.  The event took Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The last event in Vegas was UFC 219 in December which featured Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Holly Holm.  The event drew 13,561 for a gate of $1,760,628.74.

The bonuses were awarded to Brian Ortega, Alexander Hernandez, Sean O’Malley and Andre Soukhamthath each earned $50,000 fight-night bonuses at Saturday’s UFC 222 event.

According to SeatGeek, the average resale price on the secondary market was $222.

Payouts

Cris Cyborg led the list of athletes Saturday night earning $500,000.  Brian Ortega earned $100,000 plus another for his win over Frankie Edgar.  Ortega also earned another $50,000 for his KO.

The rest of the payouts via NAC:

Cris Cyborg: $500,000 (no win bonus)
def. Yana Kunitskaya: $100,000

Brian Ortega: $200,000 (includes $100,000 win bonus)
def. Frankie Edgar: $195,000

Sean O’Malley: $44,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus)
def. Andre Soukhamthath: $19,000

Andrei Arlovski: $275,000 (no win bonus)
def. Stefan Struve: $77,000

Ketlen Vieira: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Cat Zingano: $35,000

Mackenzie Dern: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Ashley Yoder: $12,000

Alexander Hernandez: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)
def. Beneil Dariush: $48,000

John Dodson: $82,000 (includes $41,000 win bonus)
def. Pedro Munhoz: $34,000

C.B. Dollaway: $92,000 (includes $46,000 win bonus)
def. Hector Lombard: $62,000

Zak Ottow: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Pyle: $55,000

Cody Stamann: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Bryan Caraway: $21,000

Jordan Johnson: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Adam Milstead: $12,000

The Reebok payouts are listed here.  Notably, Edgar and Arlovski are in the rare 21 UFC bouts or more category garnering $20K.

Promotion of Event

The biggest promotional event was a joint endeavor with the city of Las Vegas and other sports helding events in the city this past weekend as the Ultimate Vegas Sports Weekend.  A “pep rally” was held at the Toshiba Plaza on the Wednesday before the fight.

Sponsorships

Modelo, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Monster Energy and EA UFC 3 were in the Octagon.  Notably, Dollar General was also present in the octagon.

Just a little over a month releasing its latest version of its video game, EA has reduced the price due likely to poor sales.  During the PPV, it advertised the sale.

The movie “Hurricane Heist” was given some airtime during the UFC broadcast.

Ratings

The UFC Prelims drew a respectable 905,000 viewers with the peak happening during the last quarter hour for Mackenzie Dern’s fight.  The event drew 11,009 viewers streaming.  Dern’s fight peaked at 1,076,000 viewers.

The prelim showed had a higher than normal viewership with 431,000 viewers on FS1.  The Post-Fight show drew 177,000.

Also on Saturday night, were two boxing telecasts on HBO and Showtime.  Deontay Wilder’s fight on Showtime drew an impressive 1,055,000 viewers on the network which beat out HBO’s fights featuring Sergey Kovalev.  The boxing events occurred during the PPV and did not compete with the FS1 Prelims.

Odds and ends

The biggest bit of business news coming out last week was that Amazon has signed on to stream UFC PPVs.  Similar to ordering via Fight Pass or UFC.com, it cost $64.99 and you have access to the PPV for 24 hours.

There were rumors that Conor McGregor offered to fill-in to save UFC 222.  Of course, this sounds like someone trying to stay relevant while taking time off.

Mike Pyle retired after his loss on Saturday.  A good career despite going out with a loss.

Mackenzie Dern has a lot to work on but the UFC is hoping she turns into another mainstream star similar to Ronda Rousey.

There were 7 Embedded episodes with 6 of those coming before Friday ended.  Most were done to promote potential new stars Dern, Sean O’Malley and Ortega,

Over 200,000 google searches for UFC 222 on Saturday night.  Same for Deontay Wilder.

Conclusion

All indications pointing toward this PPV doing between 340,000-380,000 PPV buys based on the prelim ratings, google trend searches and past history with Cyborg on PPV.  Not an exact science, but if this does mid-300s, you have to think this is a success considering that the card was built on one fight (Max-Frankie) that fell through.

 

UFC 221: Payout Perspective

February 13, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the UFC’s first event in Perth for UFC 221.

Romero misses weight but KO’s Rockhold

Yoel Romero missed weight which threw the main event into question.  Romero was fined 30% of his fight purse which was given to Rockhold.  The awkward stipulation was that Rockhold could win the interim title but Romero could not.  It was expected that Rockhold likely received further incentives to fight Romero.

And hopefully he did because Romero KO’d Rockhold in Round 3 to destroy his chances of winning the interim middleweight title and a showdown with Robert Whittaker.

For Rockhold, it has to be a disappointing result. One might suggest he not go through with the fight since Romero missed weight but I’m sure it was a matter of getting paid for the event.  It sounds as though he is looking to move up to light heavyweight next.

Blaydes earns decision over Mark Hunt

Curtis Blaydes earned a unanimous decision victory over Mark Hunt.  The New Zealander was the fan favorite but the now 10-1 (5-1 in the UFC) Blaydes earned the biggest win of his UFC career.  The good news for Blaydes is that he it was the penultimate fight on his UFC fight contract which means he has some leverage going into negotiations for a new deal.

On the other end, Hunt, who is still embroiled in a lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar indicated that he would be ending his time with the UFC.

The UFC may need Blaydes.  Currently 9th in UFC rankings, the division is suffering from lack of known fighters and/or injuries.  Perhaps he is paired with another UFC 221 star, Tai Tuivasa, who defeated Cyril Asker.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

UFC 221 did well despite the Sunday morning start in Perth.  It drew 12,437 fans for a live gate of $3.6 million Australian dollars (or $2,810,520 American).

The bonuses went to Israel Adesany, Jussier Formiga, Jake Matthews and Li Jingliang.  Adesanya and Formiga earned Performance Bonuses while Matthews and Jingliang drew the “Fight of the Night.”  All received $50,000 bonuses.  There was some controversy in Jingliang’s receipt of the Fight of the Night since he eye-gouged Matthews while attempting to get out of his guillotine.  No foul was called despite calls for at least a point deduction.

Sponsorships

Air Asia, Hudson Shipping Lines, Fetch, General Tire and Monster Energy had the center of the octagon.   I do not believe Modelo was a part of the signage for this event.

Fetch is an independent internet pay television provider.

Odds and ends

The promotion in the U.S. was minimal.  The UFC Countdown Show on Sunday night did register in the Nielsen 150 with 102,000 viewers and 0.04 in the A18-49 demo.  The post-fight show on FS1 drew 188,000 viewers.

The UFC 221 Prelims on FS1 drew 697,000 viewers on FS1.  It was the lowest-rated UFC Prelims event since UFC 216 on FX drew 653,000 viewers.  UFC 216 drew about 120,000 PPV buys.

Luke Rockhold arriving to open workouts on a camel was some Ricky Jarrett from HBO’s Ballers-type stuff.

Tai Tuivasa could be a fighter to watch out for in the heavyweight division.  Drinking out of the shoe was different.

Tyson Pedro also gave a great post-fight promo and Jon Anik was able to catch his attempt at a mic-drop.

There were over 200,000 google searches for UFC 221 on Saturday.

Conclusion

One might expect that this PPV to do very poorly.  Romero not making weight may have added some intrigue to the matchup.  This card would have been an interesting FS1 card but to pay $65 for the card is very hard to reconcile if you are a casual viewer.  Moreover, the fact that there is another UFC card next weekend makes skipping a PPV like this easier.  One might expect a buy rate of around 125,000.

Holloway signs deal with former UFC official sponsor Budweiser

February 3, 2018

Max Holloway has secured a sponsorship deal with Budweiser.  The UFC lightweight champion made it known via social media.

UPDATED:  Just as I posted this, the news that Holloway is out of UFC 222 puts a damper on this news.

Excited to be on the @budweiser team #blessed #kingmoments #staytuned #ufchawaii

A post shared by Max Holloway (@blessedmma) on

Nothing else is known about the terms of the deal.  Budweiser and Bud Lite had been longtime official sponsors of the UFC but Modelo has taken over as the company’s official sponsor starting this year.  Holloway is scheduled to headline UFC 222 in March.

Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone are other the other UFC fighters that have had deals with Budweiser.

Payout Perspective:

Since Modelo is the official UFC sponsor, it appears that Holloway’s deal would include out of Octagon promotion.  One could see the company using Holloway in targeting Hawaii and other regions where the fighter is popular.  It is an interesting signing considering Budweiser has just exited the company as sponsor.

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.

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