Vaseline signs on to become presenting sponsor for Ruiz-Joshua 2

December 6, 2019

According to Bill King of the Sports Business Journal, DAZN has secured a sponsorship deal with Vaseline ahead of Saturday’s fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz, Jr.

Financial terms were not disclosed but the petroleum jelly maker mainly associated with its application to boxer’s faces will be visible on the DAZN stream Saturday.  The brand will be in presenting sponsors positions and have its logo on a “corner cam.”

In addition, King reported that it has signed sponsors AutoZone and erectile dysfunction medication Roman for its North American telecasts.  Commercials for both will run during tomorrow’s telecast.

Payout Perspective:

The addition of a presenting sponsor reflects the big nature of this fight.  Despite what some believe is a controversial location for this fight, DAZN will see an uptick in subscriptions to watch tomorrow.  Vaseline, synonymous with boxing for its use on fighter’s faces to close and/or conceal cuts, will be all over the mat (perhaps literally) tomorrow in what the company believes will be a big value add.

BMF wing sauce at BWW for UFC 244

October 29, 2019

Buffalo Wild Wings is getting in on the “BMF” craze with UFC 244 taking place at Madison Square Garden Saturday Night.  The restaurant will be featuring the “BMF” wing sauce this weekend to accompany its showing of the PPV.

Buffalo Wild Wings, a UFC sponsor, will take advantage of the UFC applied-for-trademark with its own twist on “BMF” with a wing sauce that will accompany its wings.  The sports bar is known for frequently airing UFC PPVs for those patrons not wishing to shell out the $60 charge.

According to the company copy, “The UFC-inspired sauce combines the flavors of sweet mango, spicy habanero and the unrelenting heat of ghost peppers, which are then topped with the sweet and smoky chili pepper flavor of Desert Heat seasoning – creating a diabolical mashup worthy of the “BMF” moniker.”

The sauce will be available only on the day of the fight – this Saturday November 2nd.

Payout Perspective:

If you wanted to know what the UFC would do with the BMF trademark aside from a belt (which has yet to be seen), the UFC has licensed it (or just granted the right) to one of its sponsors for activation purposes.  Buffalo Wild Wings signage has appeared in the UFC octagon and you can see more publicity around the sauce as the fight nears.

UFC 241: Payout Perspective

August 19, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition we take a look at a very successful UFC 241 from The Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Stipe KOs Cormier to regain Heavyweight title

Stipe Miocic regained the UFC Heavyweight title with a KO of Daniel Cormier late in the 4th round.  DC had looked like the better fighter through most of the 4 rounds but Miocic’s strategy of body shots took its toll on Cormier leading to the KO.  Cormier had been leading on all cards at the time of the stoppage.

Despite the loss, Cormier has had a tremendous career and showed all class in what could be his last fight in the Octagon.  Personally, I think he still has a couple more fights in him before he retires.  It would seem as though a rematch would be the most logical thing to do although Miocic could wait to see the winner of the Walt Harris-Alistair Overeem fight or another fight with Francis Ngannou.

Diaz returns to defeat Pettis

The biggest question going into UFC 241 was determining how Nate Diaz would look like with 3 years off.  The answer was sensational.  Diaz looked fresh and used his dirty boxing tactics to stifle Anthony Pettis.  Showtime did break his foot during the fight but Diaz was clearly the dominant fighter tonight.

Diaz called out Jorge Masvidal for his next fight in what many believe would be a great fight to see.

Attendance and gate

For the first time, an MMA event in California drew over $3 million as UFC 241 drew $3,237,032 with 17,304 in attendance according to the UFC post-event.  It bested the previous record, UFC 214 by nearly $1 million.  Earlier in the week, SeatGeek noted the secondary market was up for this event.

Bonuses

The $50,000 bonuses went to Stipe Miocic, Khama Worthy, Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero.  Miocic and Worthy earned Performance Bonuses for their respective stoppages and Costa-Romero was a sight to behold with both fighters unloading big shots. Costa won by decision in the end.

Payouts

The California State Athletic Commission disclosed the payouts from the event.  Stipe Miocic topped the payouts with $750,000

Stipe Miocic: $750,000 (no win bonus)
def. Daniel Cormier: $500,000

Nate Diaz $250,000 (no win bonus)
def. Anthony Pettis: $155,000

Paulo Costa $120,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus)
def. Yoel Romero: $150,000

Sodiq Yusuff $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Gabriel Benitez: $40,000

Derek Brunson $190,000 (includes $95,000 win bonus)
def. Ian Heinisch: $25,000

Khama Worthy $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Devonte Smith: $23,000

Cory Sandhagen $154,000 (includes $77,000 win bonus)
def. Raphael Assuncao: $79,000

Drakkar Klose $56,000 (includes $28,000 win bonus)
def. Christos Giagos: $28,000

Casey Kenney $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Manny Bermudez: $20,000

Hannah Cifers $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Jodie Esquibel: $10,000

Kyung Ho Kang $44,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus)
def. Brandon Davis: $21,000

Sabina Mazo $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Shana Dobson: $12,000

Sponsorships

UFC sponsors in the Octagon included Toyo Tires, Roar Sports (“Aurora Canabis”), Motel 6, Devour, PariMatch, PokerStars, The Rock’s latest movie, “Hobbs and Shaw,” Nemiroff, Modelo, P3, Devour, Monster and Circle K shared an Octagon post and Monster Energy had the center.

Poker Stars also had the outside the Octagon standing area for the coaches.  Body Armor was all over the place last night including the drinks and stools for the event.

Devour had the fighter prep point.  It was also on most of the Reebok fighter kits including shorts and walkout shirt. Notably, it was not on Cormier’s fight kit as he had the Monster, “M” on his gear.

Trifecta Nutrition presented the 7 Embedded Episodes.

Daniel Cormier signed a deal with cbdMD as it was announced during fight week.

Odds and Ends

Nate Diaz ascended to superstar status at UFC 241.  If he was not already a star after defeating Conor McGregor at UFC 196, he reminded people after a 3-year absence why he believes he’s the best in the fight game.  Notwithstanding, you can argue that the UFC made some concessions due to Diaz’s new leverage.  As Embedded showed, he didn’t have to wait around at weigh-ins, he stayed in Corona del Mar near the Wedge (pretty posh neighborhood near Newport Beach) and he lit up a blunt (later clarified as a CBD cigarette from his business) at open workouts.  Yet, the UFC and ESPN went along with it.

The UFC is better with Nate Diaz than it is without him and Dana White admitted that he is a “needle mover.”

As part of the media strategy to reintroduce Diaz to the masses, the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning writer, John Branch, wrote a piece about him which highlighted the fighter’s anti-hero attributes.

During UFC 241, there was a lot of hype for next month’s UFC 242 taking place in Abu Dhabi. As a part, it relived the Conor-Khabib matchup from last October.

Nate Diaz had a bunch of unintentional funny comments during his post-fight presser.  Including this one:


There were many notable fighters in the crowd including boxer Terrence Crawford and various UFC fighters but no one drew the most heat than Colby Covington and his MAGA gimmick.

The best part of the Embedded was the “push-up pump” Romero did before getting his photos taken.

The Costa-Romero fight earned Fight of the Night.  During the first round, Romero used the “hey look over there” gimmick to buy time and nail Costa with a punch.  The winner talked about it after.

In spite of his loss, Daniel Cormier showed class in the face of adversity.  Embedded showed his busy schedule in promoting the fight which included throwing out the first pitch at the Angels game, a spot on Access Hollywood and other media.  It also showed the various businesses that he has which will take care of him after his fight career.

Conclusion

UFC 241 drew over 2 million google searches on Saturday which likely equates to a very good buy rate.  The return of Nate Diaz likely spurred the influx of interest coupled with the Heavyweight fight between Cormier and Miocic.  Something in the range of 400-450K PPV buys from ESPN+ would be a good estimate.

Daniel Cormier signs deal with cbdMD

August 16, 2019

The Charlotte, North Carolina based-CBD company, cbdMD, Inc. has signed UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier to a sponsorship deal.  The deal comes the same week as he prepares to defend his title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 241.

No terms of the deal were released.  cbdMD is a consumer cannabidiol brand whose products include a vast array of products from the newest fad in sports sponsorship.

cbdMD is making a push into sports sponsorship and Cormier is the latest added to the roster which includes golfer Bubba Watson, America Rallycross driver Steve Arpin and the BIG3 Basketball League led by rapper Ice Cube.  It also included Chael Sonnen until his recent retirement in June.

The UFC has its own cannabis-based sponsor, Aurora Cannabis.  So, this deal with DC means that he’d be doing promotion outside of UFC Fight Week.

Payout Perspective:

The deal shows the aggressive nature of the CBD industry at this point.  While most athletes will not go as far as Nate Diaz, who smoked a joint during open workouts, CBD is becoming more accepted by more athletes as a way to recover from physical stress.  Cormier’s sponsor deal reflects his notoriety and ability to help the brand even if he cannot directly promote it during UFC events.

More unredacted footnotes detail proportionality of revenue and origins of UFC sponsor tax

August 4, 2019

In our second installment of reviewing the unredacted portions of the expert report of Hal Singer, MMA Payout examines the argument that Zuffa retained its fighters despite not needing them.  It also looks at the comparative market between boxing and pro wrestling.

A link to the first report is here.  As I explained in the first post, Zuffa had requested portions of the report to be sealed due to trade secret or confidentiality purposes.  It has now unredacted portions which reveal a little more of Singer’s report which helps the reader deduce how the economist came to his conclusion.

The inference is that the arguments placed in the report would support the Plaintiffs’ contentions in its lawsuit.  Singer, an economist, goes meticulously through the discovery and depositions in the report.  Zuffa objected to the public seeing some of the information and hence were redacted from view.  It has now proposed a new version of the report for the public which reveals more of the report.

Proportion of revenue:

The impact of the Sponsor tax:

Singer’s report details the issue with the sponsor tax and how it had an impact on fighters and their existing relationship with sponsors.  The UFC tax put a premium on showing a brand and logo on fighter shirts or shorts.  The UFC charged $50,000 per sponsor, $35,000 for Strikeforce and $75,000 for both if a sponsor wanted to be included in each promotion at the time.  This effectively eliminated many small brands.

The tax meant the end to many smaller companies that attempted to get their brand out there through sponsoring fighters. Many fighters lost sponsors.  This included the likes of Jiu Jistu Pro Gear, Hooligans United and even basketball brand And1 which Nate Quarry wore in the Octagon for a while.  In correspondence to Quarry, UFC attorney Michael Mersch, wrote, “if And1 (or any other sponsor) doesn’t want to pay a fee or negotiate to pay ato ssociate their brand name with the UFC, they’re not going to be allowed to sponsor anyone.

 

The new fee also hurt fighters:

Mersch appeared to be one of the UFC execs on the front lines in letting fighters and their managers know that there were no exceptions to the tax policy.  Even, relishing in providing the news.

The fighters were financially hurt since sponsors that could pay the tax would have to work through the UFC and those that could not would no longer sponsor the fighters.

The move to the sponsor tax was an indication that the UFC brand equity was firm and company execs believed that this would add revenue.  Perhaps the foreshadowing was that the UFC would turn to what it has now.  All sponsorships controlled by the UFC.  As a repercussion, its independent contractors took a hit for the loss of its own payout.  Singer’s report highlights the cutthroat nature of ending off a major source of income for fighters while bolstering the company’s bottom line by diverting sponsor revenue from fighters to the UFC.  The details that are forthcoming from the report based on discovery reveal what some may see as heavy-handed tactics for the UFC’s financial benefit.

Aurora Cannabis and UFC launch joint research project on CBD

July 25, 2019

Aurora Cannabis and the UFC have launched an endeavor for researching the use of CBD products for MMA athletes.

The company’s CBD sponsor, Aurora Cannabis, is launching the research program which will produce multiple studies under the terms of the partnership with the UFC.

According to the release, the research will examine the use of hemp-derived CBD as an effective treatment for pain, inflammation, wound-healing and recovery on MMA athletes. The research data will be used to drive the development of ‘science-backed, hemp-derived CBD topicals that will be safe and reliable.’

Any resulting product will come to life in the U.S. under the new high-performance sports brand ROAR Sports, a portfolio of high-quality, hemp-derived CBD topical treatments scientifically formulated with elite athletes in mind.

The clinical study will take place at the UFC Performance Institute.

Payout Perspective:

This is a pretty big announcement that could change the way UFC athletes train and recover.  It also could mean a financial boon for the UFC.  The joint study between Aurora Cannabis and the UFC may result in a product that one would suspect the fight promotion would have a stake in.  The CBD industry is gaining momentum in the United States as many sports are looking into the benefits of cannabis as states have legalized it for medicinal and recreational use. The UFC is attempting to get ahead of the curve in how CBD is used and its ability for helping athletes.  This will be an interesting issue to keep in mind as the PI becomes more involved with UFC contracted athletes.

Bellator announces sponsorship deal with cbdMD

June 24, 2019

Bellator announced it has inked a multi-year CBD sponsorship with cbdMD according to a company press release.  The company touts itself as a nationally recognized consumer cannabidiol brand.

The partnership began at Bellator 222 in New York City.  As part of the deal, cbdMD will receive a depth of integrated partnership assets, including category exclusive branding inside the Bellator cage, to promote the cbdMD.

No financial details of the deal were announced.

Payout Perspective:

It was inevitable that Bellator would garner a part of the CBD industry.  The UFC partnered with Aurora Cannabis, it was only a matter of time before we saw other promotions secure CBD sponsor deals.  According to sources in a SBJ article, the deal with the UFC was reportedly worth $15 million over a 5 year span.  No word if cbdMD is paying anywhere near this deal, but it shoes the amount of capital the industry has at this time.

UFC 238 Payout Perspective

June 12, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at UFC 238 taking place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Cejudo dispatches Moraes and becomes double champ

Henry Cejudo recovered from a shaky first round to defeat Marlon Moraes with at TKO in the third round of the main event at UFC 238 to win the vacant UFC Bantamweight title. With the win, Cejudo holds the UFC Flyweight title and the Bantamweight title.

The fight showed Cejudo’s growth and maturity of an MMA fighter. The first round saw Moraes getting worked by Moraes with leg kicks. Cejudo seemed a little tentative in the first round but pressed Moraes in rounds 2 and 3 to get the victory.

Shevchenko leg kick KOs Eye

Valentina Shevchenko showed why she is the Flyweight champion. She almost submitted Jessica Eye with a Kimura in the first round, but used a perfectly timed leg kick to the head to knock Eye out. It was a very scary couple minutes as Eye lay on the mat unconscious.

The broadcast showed how Shevchenko set Eye up for the KO with leg kicks to the body drawing Eye’s guard low. Then, instead of a kick to the body Shevchenko went to the head as Eye braced for a body blow. A perfect setup.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

The event at the United Center drew 16,038 for a gate of over $2 million.  The bonuses went to Cejudo, Shevchenko, Ferguson and Cerrone.

Prefight Hype

UFC 238’s return to Chicago saw Henry Cejudo throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game. He also showed up at a media luncheon with “bodyguards.” At the face offs during media week, Cejudo wore a costume to face off against Moraes. Shaun Al-Shatti explained it here:

Cejudo’s act may be just that to get him some publicity.  But, if he continues to improve and dominate opponents, he may be bringing a throne to his next fight face-off.

UFC Embedded was sponsored by Toyo Tires.

Sponsorships

Octagon sponsors included Toyo Tires, Motel 6, P3, Nemiroff, Modelo, Poker Stars, Devour, PariMatch, Monster, Hudson Shipping and Monster Energy in the middle.

Modelo had the fighter checkpoint.

Interestingly enough, no real signs of the UFC’s newest sponsor, Aurora Cannabis.

Despite his loss, Donald Cerrone is one of the few UFC fighters with his own Monster Energy sponsorship with

Ratings

The UFC Prelims on ESPN did its best since March scoring 964,000 viewers.  It served as a lead-in for Top Rank Boxing.  The UFC main card went up against the return of GGG on DAZN.

Odds and Ends

The Tony Ferguson-Donald Cerrone fight was everything you could have wanted until Cowboy blew his nose.  Ferguson looked sharp and if the fight have lasted longer, probably would have won a decision over Cerrone.  He should face the winner of Khabib-Dustin.

Tai Tuivasa was likely the star of the Embeddeds based on his outgoing personality.  However, he’s now lost two in a row as he lost a unanimous decision to Blagoy Ivanov.

There were some great performances on the undercards including Eddie Wineland, Calvin Kattar and Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling had a good week:

It was interesting to see Moraes get upset at a heckler at media day face offs.  It seemed over the top although you may believe that he was thrown off by it considering this was supposed to be media at the event.

Jessica Eye did not have a good start to fight week as she had problems with here airline.

The broadcast crew is using more technology in explaining a lot of the strategy and moves going on in the Octagon.  A prime example saw Daniel Cormier go step-by-step explaining how Shevchenko was able to get a clear headkick over Eye.

Is this good or bad?

UFC 238 google searches drew over 500,000 for Saturday and another 500,000 on Sunday.  Tony Ferguson had 100,000 himself on Saturday night

Conclusion

UFC 238 was a very entertaining show.  It went up against Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and the return of GGG on DAZN.   But the prelim ratings were up which may equate to a better PPV buy rate.  Reports indicate that the buys since going to ESPN+ have been lower than when on satellite and cable providers.

UFC 235 (pre-ESPN+ only PPVs):  520K-650K

UFC 236:  >100K buys

UFC 237:  ~70K buys

With that being reported, its hard to think that UFC 238 did better than UFC 236 although one might be generous and state that the buys were likely around 100,000.

Despite loss, AJ sponsor Under Armour is sticking by the boxer

June 5, 2019

According to the Baltimore Business journal, Saturday’s loss to Ruiz received more news coverage due to the upset than if Joshua would have beat the heavy underdog.

Since the event was held on digital streaming service DAZN, still photos were used for coverage by ESPN and other reports.  The Under Armour “UA” logo was prominently displayed on the front of Joshua’s trunks.  Thus, there was more exposure than usual for the event if Joshua had knocked out Ruiz as many had anticipated.

While it is debatable that the publicity may have been bad since the UA-sponsored athlete lost.  But you could also argue that many did not know that Joshua was fighting since his US debut was meant to be against an opponent that he could easily defeat.  Ruiz was a fill-in opponent when Joshua’s original matchup failed his drug test.

Under Armour is sticking with Joshua after his loss.  Attica Jacques, the senior vice president of brand management told the Baltimore Business Journal that they would “stand with AJ and look forward to supporting him in the future.”  Under Armour once sponsored Canelo Alvarez but he is now a free agent per an interview last month.

Under Armour used Joshua’s fight week as an activation for its ‘Rush’ training apparel.  Joshua was one of three athletes featured in a marketing campaign for Rush.  Stephen Curry and U.S. women’s national team member Kelley O’Hara are the others.  Curry is currently in the NBA Finals and O’Hara and the U.S. National Team begin World Cup action this month.

Joshua was a part of a documentary on his training with the new ‘Rush’ training material showing behind-the-scenes training in lead-up to Saturday’s fight.  UA also created ring boots for Joshua to wear during his fight.  There was also social media promoting the UA brand.

While the loss may have hurt Joshua momentarily, UA is sticking by him for the long run.  UA says that activations were “extremely successful throughout fight week.”  It’s unlikely that the surprise loss will harm the marketing campaign for the new training apparel, but it may have hoped a win would propel the brand for future marketing campaigns.

Ruiz camp in talks with Snickers about sponsorship after Joshua upset

June 4, 2019

The Sports Business Daily (via NY Post) reports that Andy Ruiz, Jr. is in talks with Snickers about a potential sponsorship deal for the newly crowned heavyweight champion.  Ruiz stated his penchant for snacking on Snickers before big fights and the legend grew after his upset victory against Anthony Joshua Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

According to the article in the New York Post, Ruiz’s manager has had “semiformal discussions” with Mars, Incorporated, the McLean, Virginia headquartered company that owns Snickers.

A lot has been discussed about Ruiz’s body-type  since his upset of the taller, Adonis-figured Joshua.

Payout Perspective:

It’s not my money, but taking advantage of one of the bigger upsets in boxing in recent history would be worth the sponsorship dollars for Snickers.  If nothing else, Ruiz could have a new sponsor prior to his next fight which could be a rematch with Joshua.  If so, you would think that more people would be tuning into the rematch to see if Ruiz could duplicate his efforts yet again or if it was just a fluke.  This would be great marketing for the candy bar company and maybe draw up some notoriety with Ruiz.

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