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.

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.

Monster Energy drops Dillashaw

May 9, 2019

Monster Energy has cut ties with former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw as the energy drink company is no longer a sponsor of the fighter.

Ariel Helwani first reported the business decision by the Orange County-based company.  Dillashaw is serving a two-year suspension from the UFC after USADA tests discovered EPO in drug tests.  Dillashaw did not appeal the ruling and in an Instagram post expressed regret for his mistake.

Monster Energy, a UFC sponsor, also has individual deals with several UFC and Bellator fighters including Jon Jones, Donald Cerrone, Joe Schilling and Rory MacDonald.

Payout Perspective:

Despite Jones’ past issues with USADA, Monster has not flinched with its support of Jones.  Of course, Dillashaw was found guilty of using EPO which many consider is worse than Jones’ past USADA indiscretions.  The business move makes sense considering Dillashaw’s brand needs some repair and time away from the spotlight may rehabilitate him.  So, it would make no sense for Monster Energy to continue to sponsor a fighter on the sidelines.

UFC 236: Payout Perspective

April 15, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  In this edition, we take a look at UFC 236 which took place at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia where fans were witness to two of the best championship fights in recent history.

Poirier earns lightweight title with win over Holloway

Dustin Poirier was too big for Max Holloway and it was clear that his power overwhelmed the 145-pound titleholder.  Poirier hurt Holloway several times in the first round and despite the featherweight champion’s heart, could not fight his way back into the match.

“Paid in full,” was the mantra Poirier proclaimed about his win.  Poirier had made his way back from losses to Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson on his journey to the championship.  He finally got his chance and now has a chance to unify the titles against Khabib Nurmogomedov in what is rumored to be September in Abu Dhabi.

Holloway will be influenced to return to his Featherweight division and the UFC is likely hoping that Alexander Volkanovski can defeat Jose Aldo next month to secure a date between the two for the 145 title.

Adesanya takes middleweight title from Gastelum

In what was a back and forth fight (and likely 2-2 going into the last round) Israel Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum to win the interim welterweight title and a shot at to unify the middleweight title with a showdown against Robert Whittaker sometime in the future in likely a big stadium on the continent of Australia.

There was a point during the fight that Gastelum had Adesanya hurt on his feet but instead of trying to finish him, Kelvin went for the takedown.  One can only assume that Gastelum was tired himself and could not continue on his feet.

But Adesanya poured it on in the 5th round to earn the victory.  One may argue that the ref could have stopped the fight in the final seconds of the fight.  Clearly, Gastelum was in no shape to continue but had the heart to finish.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

It was the first time that the UFC awarded two Fight of the Nights with the main and co-main events drawing the $50,000 bonuses.  There were no Performance Bonuses due to the dual FOTNs.

The attendance and gate for UFC 236 did not break records for UFC events at the Philips Arena but it definitely drew a lot of people for this event.  The event drew 14,297 for a gate of $1,908,721.

Past Atlanta, GA UFC PPV events:

UFC 88 (9/06/2008) Evans-Liddell: 14,736 for a gate of $2.6M

UFC 145 (04/14/2012) Jones-Evans: 15,545 for a gate of $2.2M

Payouts

Israel Adesanya and Max Holloway made $350,000 each for their respective fights.  All of the salaries are compiled here.

Promotional Guideline Payouts (compiled via MMA Junkie)

Dustin Poirier: $30,000
def. Max Holloway: $40,000

Israel Adesanya: $30,000
def. Kelvin Gastelum: $30,000

Khalil Rountree: $5,000
def. Eryk Anders: $5,000

Dwight Grant: $3,500
def. Alan Jouban: $10,000

Nikita Krylov: $10,000
def. Ovince Saint Preux: $20,000

 Matt Frevola: $3,500
def. Jalin Turner: $3,500

 Alexandre Pantoja: $5,000
def. Wilson Reis: $10,000

 Zelim Imadaev: $3,500
def. Max Griffin: $5,000

 Khalid Taha: $3,500
def. Boston Salmon: $3,500

 Belal Muhammad: $5,000
def. Curtis Millender: $4,000

 Andre Soukhamthath: $5,000
def. Montel Jackson: $3,500

 Poliana Botelho: $4,000
def. Lauren Mueller: $3,500

 Brandon Davis: $4,000
def. Randy Costa: $3,500

Sponsorships

For the first time, the UFC released a photo of the Octagon match which featured its core sponsors as well as the Cinemax series Warrior.  In addition, in the Octagon was Pari-Match, the international sports betting site sponsor of the UFC.  Also, convenience store RaceTrac shared space on the Octagon with Monster Energy.

The sponsors on the mat were as follows:

Monster Energy: Official Energy Drink of UFC

Modelo: Official Beer of UFC

P3: Official Protein Snack of UFC

Devour: Official Frozen Food of UFC

Nemiroff: Official Vodka of UFC

BODYARMOR: Official Sports Drink of UFC

Warrior: The new original series from Cinemax, premiering April 5

Poker Stars: Official Gaming and Poker partner of UFC

UFC 236 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the State Farm Arena.

UFC partner, Heed, offered data on the strikes of UFC competitors via sensors in the gloves of fighters. This was explained during a part of episode 3 of UFC Embedded.

The Embedded events were sponsored by the video game Fallout 76.

Odds and ends

It was the first time that ESPN+ became the sole PPV provider in the U.S.  and it came with headaches for many that decided to make the PPV purchase last minute.  Many were directed to a page that indicated they could not purchase the PPV.  Dana White acknowledged the issues and promised that it would be better by the next PPV.  Another critique of the UFC PPV.  No rewind.  Also, if you missed a portion of the PPV, you could not immediately turn back to the beginning.  Instead you had to wait for the full replay to be uploaded on the web site.  Finally, one last critique is that ESPN + was noncommittal about how long you could view a broadcast after purchase.

ESPN ratings for the Prelims were yet to be released at the time of this post but one might them to be north of 1 million viewers.

Kelvin Gastelum actually took off his fight shorts in his hurried rush to take off his sweats for the Octagon and had to put them back on before entering the Octagon.

With the main and co-main event being so good, there were some outstanding performances that did not receive the official bonuses.  This includes Brandon Davis, Khalid Taha, Nikita Krylov and a revamped Khalil Rountree.

From December, Max Holloway has his own Reebok, “It is what it is, headband.”

Shaq was a notable attendee at UFC 236 as he was shown in the crowd during the PPV.

There were over 1 million google searches for UFC 236 although the number may be misleading as some of these numbers are likely due to the inability to order the PPV.

The UFC marketed the co-main and main event with a Game of Thrones-inspired theme with the popular HBO series returning.

Rich Franklin was announced as heading to the UFC Hall of Fame this July.

Conclusion

We would normally give a buy estimate for this PPV but it’s highly unlikely that ESPN releases any numbers related to the buy rate of UFC 236.  If one had to give an educated guess, I would suggest that despite the buy problems for many fans, it still draws 425,000 PPV buys which is very good.  Adesanya is a rising star in the company and Poirier will get more notoriety as he should face Khabib this fall.

UFC releases photo of sponsors on the canvas for 236

April 12, 2019

The UFC has released a photo of the canvas for UFC 236 on Saturday.  Buffalo Wild Wings is the only non-Official UFC sponsor on the Octagon mat.

Per the UFC release:

Monster Energy: Official Energy Drink of UFC

Modelo: Official Beer of UFC

P3: Official Protein Snack of UFC

Devour: Official Frozen Food of UFC

Nemiroff: Official Vodka of UFC

BODYARMOR: Official Sports Drink of UFC

Warrior: The new original series from Cinemax, premiering April 5

Poker Stars: Official Gaming and Poker partner of UFC

UFC 236 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the State Farm Arena.

Payout Perspective:

It is Devour’s first time as a sponsor for a UFC PPV.  Also, Buffalo Wild Wings gets a slot on the mat.  One would expect similar signage on the posts of the cage which may include Monster Energy sharing a post with a convenience store.  The release of the sponsors pre-PPV is a new thing by the UFC and it seems like another way to help support its sponsors.

Report: UFC sponsorship revenue up due to new deals with companies

March 12, 2019

Last week’s Sports Business Journal included a report by Terry Lefton about the UFC’s 25 percent increase in sponsorship revenue largely championed by new deals signed by the company.

Coming in with a heavy debt load after WME’s acquisition of the UFC for approximately $4 billion, the new owners felt pressure to produce.

In speaking with the UFC’s senior vice president of global partnerships Paul Asencio, the UFC’s partnerships with Modelo, Kraft Heinz (for its Oscar Mayer P3 “official protein snack” and Devour as “official frozen food”) a global rights deal with Nemiroff Vodka, an official poker partner in PokerStars and a large renewal with Monster Energy have helped the company with the increase in sponsor revenue.  In addition, it has forged deals with Motel6, Trifecta Nutrition, Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum, Van Heusen and BodyArmor all since the company was purchased by WME.

Certainly, the UFC has worked on brokering more partnerships with bigger brand companies and segmenting some of its sponsors to cater to different regions across the globe.

Payout Perspective:

There are still more categories for the UFC to fill with sponsors including automotive, insurance and gambling/sportsbooks which all should garner lucrative deals for the company. In addition, the report includes the possibility of looking into the CBD oil category from cannabis business as that industry is starting to grow. The partnership with ESPN will help attract new partners as well.

Payout Perspective: UFC debuts on ESPN

January 22, 2019

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  We take a look at the UFC’s debut on ESPN and ESPN+ this past Saturday at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Cejudo KOs TJ in R1

Henry Cejudo may have saved the UFC Flyweight Division as he knocked out T.J. Dillashaw to retain his flyweight title.  Cejudo stunned Dillashaw with unassuming punch which knocked the bantamweight down. From there, Cejudo swarmed Dillashaw and the ref stepped in.

From first look, I thought that this was a quick stoppage as they usually allow a little more action for the fighter to recover in championship matches.  But after watching again, with less than a minute gone by in the round there was no way that Dillashaw could have held on and/or recovered.

Cejudo becomes the first champ to receive the new (and maybe controversial) UFC redesigned belt.  He also received props form Nikki Bella which may have been the biggest payoff. While Joseph Benavidez may be the next in light in the flyweight division, its clear that Cejudo would like to take this momentum and challenge Dillashaw for his 135 pound title.  One would think that Dillashaw will want a rematch as he claimed that the stoppage was too soon.

Hardy DQ’d in UFC debut

It was a controversial decision to have Greg Hardy fight on the ESPN debut.  It drew even more raised eyebrows when the UFC put him in the co-main event of the evening especially when you had Paige Van Zant and Donald Cerrone and Alexander Hernandez on the card as well.  Yet, Hardy faced Allen Crowder in a Heavyweight matchup.

While the imposing Hardy may have intimidated on the regional scene, it was Crowder that taunted the former football player.  But it was a knee to the head of a grounded opponent which, as Daniel Cormier described was “very illegal.”  There was no way for Crowder to continue after the knee and it was a disqualification.

Inauspicious debut for Hardy although the UFC does see something in him.  He is still a controversial figure considering his lack of contrition for his past domestic violence past.  We shall how the UFC books him in the future.  One thinks he will be a “Fight Night” athlete until he gets some more seasoning.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

The Barclay’s Center drew 12,152 fans for a gate of $1.23 million.  The last big UFC event at the Barclay’s Center was UFC 223 in April which drew 17,026 for a 3 million gate. Prior to that, UFC 208 in February 2017 which drew 15,628 for a gate of 2.275 million.

In comparison, the UFC’s debut on FS1 on August 21, 2013 drew 12,539 for a gate of $1.53 million at the TD Garden in Boston.  The main event was Chael Sonnen as he submitted Shogun Rua.

Pre-Fight Promotion

Having ESPN as a television partner dramatically increased the marketing and promotion of the event.  The UFC Countdown show for UFC 232 aired on ESPN and starting at the beginning of January you saw the UFC creeping into the network.  The fight library entered the digital platform for ESPN and during Fight Week there was a plethora of fights airing on ESPN2 and other networks.

Dana White did the ESPN car wash and was also on the Jimmy Kimmel Show among other outlets for the event.  ESPN+ also had a very good (if you could find it) shoulder programming featuring Dillashaw and Cejudo.

It was interesting that the criticism of having Greg Hardy and Rachael Ostovich died day during Fight Week.  This could be in part due to ESPN controlling the narrative and the airwaves and the casual ESPN media person not knowing much about the sport.  ESPN Outside the Lines did do a piece on Hardy but outside of that, there was not much else.

Sponsorships

The sponsors in the Octagon included Monster Energy sharing a post with Fastrac, Modelo, Toyo Tires, Nemiroff, Blackheart and Monster had the center of the Octagon.  ESPN+ was visible with signage in the Octagon as well.

UFC sponsor Van Heusen secured signage in the area where the corner stands outside the Octagon.  A new place for sponsors.

The prep point was given a new name and was sponsored by P3,

Also, Body Armor had all the water bottles and corner stools.

Paige Van Zant, who was dropped by Reebok prior to her fight on Saturday, picked up a new sponsor with Liv Body.

Odds and ends

Steven A. Smith on the broadcast was cringeworthy but he was not an embarrassment.  He relied on Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier to do a bulk of the legwork when discussing the fight.  In addition, I thought Trevor Wittman did well as an “expert” chiming in on fight strategy, etc.

The pacing could have been better but it was on par with what the UFC did on Fox.  Notably, there were commercials on ESPN+.

It could have been a little confusing for fans that had to switch from the digital platform to see the early prelims, then watch the prelims on ESPN and then tune back on plus to get the main card.  Hopefully, they will avoid doing this in the future.

We’ll get to see the ratings for this event in the next day or so, although I would think it had to do well over 1 million viewers.

The lead-in to the ESPN portion of the Prelims started 12-15 minutes late.  Fortunately, the college game featured Duke-Virgina, a battle of two of the top 5 teams in the nation.  There was also an early NBA game on ABC which promoted the UFC card too.

The UFC had over 1 million google searches on Saturday which came in second to Chiefs with over 5 million which related to the Kansas City-New England game.  Greg Hardy and Paige Van Zant had over 200,000 searches.  Donald Cerrone had over 100,000.

UFC 232 Payout Perspective

January 2, 2019

Welcome to another edition of UFC Payout Perspective.  This time around we take a look at UFC 232 which took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Jones tops Gus, calls for DC

Inside the Octagon, Jon Jones showed why you may consider him one of the best of all-time.  He thoroughly dominated Alexander Gustafsson and ended the fight by imposing his will on Gus, taking his back and reigning punches down on him to force the stoppage.

However, its outside the Octagon controversy and drama which makes people wince when they hear Jon Jones and USADA.  Moreover, the outright falsehoods and mistruths spewed by the people in control of the promotion makes you want to take a shower to clean off the grime of their words.

Jones made it clear he wants Daniel Cormier and it seems like the most logical fight to make.  While Anthony Smith and Corey Anderson made their overtures to the Champ, it’s clear that Cormier would be the fight that would draw most interest.

Nunes stops Cyborg, becomes double Champ

Amanda Nunes has now stopped, Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg.  The latter two Nunes stopped in the first round in impressive fashion.  Perhaps the KO of Cyborg was more impressive considering she had not lost since 2005.  Nunes used her superior speed to stun her with some big shots.

Nunes is now the Women’s Featherweight and Bantamweight champions.  The question is how it will market Nunes.  A lot of online debate took place over why the UFC has not marketed Nunes in the past.  It’s clear that she is the best women’s UFC athlete of all time despite the mainstream notoriety of Ronda Rousey and the dominance of Cris Cyborg.  It seemed as though the demolition of Cyborg validated UFC’s greatness.  Cyborg was the once-feared women’s MMA fighter that was too big and skilled for most women.  But, Nunes’ speed, accuracy and punching power proved too much for Cyborg.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Despite the short notice, the event was a sell out with 15,862 for a gate of over $2 million.  To be specific, the gate was $2,066,604.  The Fight of the Night went to Chad Mendes and Alexander Volkanovski.  The Performance Bonuses went to Ryan Hall and Amanda Nunes.

The event was moved earlier this week from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to The Forum in Inglewood, California for Jon Jones.

Notably, UFC 199 drew 15,587 for a live gate of $2,1687,675 in June 2016.  The fight featured last minute replacement Michael Bisping winning the middleweight title from Luke Rockhold.

Lance Pugmire indicated that his sources said that the attendance would be soft.  But that was not the case.  Let’s read these tweets as this occurred within 30 minutes.

Next tweet from Lance in which the UFC gets to him.

There was also this…

And then after the event…

Payouts

There were 10 fighters that grossed over six figures for UFC 232.  It was topped by the headliners splitting $1M a piece.  $500K for Gus and $500K for Jones for those that were unaware.

Of those clearing six figures, Andre Arlovski ($300,000), BJ Penn ($150K) and Carlos Condit ($115K) are well-paid fighters that aren’t living up to their pay scale at this time.  Chad Mendes, who just came back from a USADA ban, made $87K plus $50K for Fight of the Night.  But then stated he would retire.

Sponsorships

Perhaps the most noticeable for UFC 232 was a new “cryptocurrency sponsor” Litecoin.

Also, of note PokerStars continued its sponsorship and it appears it will be the official fight odds for the UFC.  Pari Match, an overseas book for the UFC, was also present in the Octagon.

There were a lot of sponsors in the Octagon for this end of the year event.  They included Monster and convenience store AM/PM sharing a post.  Another post included Pari Mutual, Toyo Tires, TriFecta Nutrition, Nemiroff Vodka, EA’s UFC3 video game, Modelo, Metro PCS, P3, Air Asia, Pari Match, Harley Davidson, Poker Stars, the movie “Happy Death Day 2U,” and Monster had the center.

It was announced that TriFecta Nutrition would be used in helping athletes with its nutrition.  P3 also appeared on the fighter shorts.

Nemiroff is spending a lot on its UFC sponsorship from the outset.

Cyborg signed an individual deal with Monster Energy.  Jon Jones also was sponsored by Monster Energy.

It was interesting to note that Amanda Nunes had to place tape over her headphones (likely Beats) because the UFC has Monster Headphones as its sponsor.

Ratings

The UFC Weigh-Ins drew 123,000 viewers on FS1.  The UFC Countdown Show on ESPN2 Friday drew 99,000 viewers.

The UFC Pre-fight show on FS1 drew 198,000 viewers according to Nielsen (via ShowBuzz)

The UFC Prelims scored just its second rating over 1 million when the UFC 232 Prelims drew 1.148 million viewers.

The UFC Post Fight Show on FS1 drew 227,000 viewers.

Odds and ends

$6 Million.  The amount that Dana White claims the UFC spent to switch the event from Las Vegas to Inglewood, California.  One has to wonder when they put a deposit on the building.  Or, does the UFC have a practice of securing other sites just in case.

As the UFC begins its partnership with ESPN, the Worldwide Leader aired the UFC 232 Countdown show on ESPN2.

With Carlos Condit taking on Michael Chiesa, I noticed that both fighters had cats on their right oblique.  Chiesa had some new ink with a Tiger and Condit has had his lion on his side for some time.

UFC announced a lot of original and new content for UFC Fight Pass in 2019.  This includes a gambling show which will be interesting to see how that goes.

Notably, Chuck Liddell was in attendance at UFC 232.  White had revealed Liddell’s pay in a Kevin Iole article earlier in the month, but I guess there is no hard feelings when you are comped tickets.

Anyone else notice that Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve Whiskey was a sponsor and ran commercial during the PFL’s Championships on New Year’s Eve.

Cris Cyborg was a champion in defeat as you can see with the troll job of Ronda Rousey. She took the KO in stride and congratulated Nunes for her victory.

The UFC announced its events for the second quarter of 2019 and there’s a lot of them.  Most on ESPN+

There were over 2 million google searches on Saturday night for UFC 232 which was behind Alabama vs Oklahoma in North America.  Jon Jones vs. Gustafsson drew 200,000 searches the same night.  Cat Zingano had an additional 100,000 searches likely due to the toe poke she received.

Conclusion

It was a strong ending for the UFC on FS1 with over 1 million viewers and the google searches on Saturday looks as though there was above average interest in the event.  Whether it was due to Jon Jones’ issues or the title fights, UFC 232 probably made out well even though the last minute change of venue really hurt fans.  I would expect a buy rate of between 350-375K total buys including traditional and digital.

 

 

Monster Energy renews sponsor deal with Bellator

November 16, 2018

Monster Energy will remain in the Bellator cage as the promotion announced a new three-year-deal per company release on Friday.  The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Via Bellator press release:

The partnership with Monster Energy has been an important component of our business since day one,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “They have played a factor in our success and we are thrilled to announce this new three-year extension. The hard work and passion that Hans Molenkamp and the rest of their team have for this sport is unmatched. We look forward to new and exciting opportunities for our brand, fighters and fans that this continued relationship brings to the table.”

Beginning in 2014, Bellator became the first MMA promotion to partner with Monster Energy, which paved the way in creating numerous future sponsorship opportunities throughout the combat sports landscape. Since that time, many of MMA’s most memorable events and elite athletes have been supported by the industry-leading energy drink brand.

“Bellator delivers compelling, high-action, adrenaline-pumping MMA events worldwide,” added Monster Energy Vice President of Sports Marketing Mitch Covington. “We are thrilled to continue our longtime partnership and look forward to evolving our relationship even further, allowing us to further integrate the Monster Energy and Bellator brands.”

Over the years, Monster Energy and Bellator have worked together to host unique and creative activations for fans. Previously, Monster Energy Bellator MMA fight series events have been held during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Monster Energy Supercross races. Drawing thousands in attendance to experience live MMA bouts and fighter autograph signings, these events are expected to continue and evolve under the new partnership.

In addition to Bellator, Monster is a sponsor in the UFC octagon and has forged individual deals with several UFC athletes.

(photo via Bellator press release)

Payout Perspective:

SoCal-based Monster is a big sponsor within extreme sports and MMA as it caters to the young, active demo.  With a new digital deal on DAZN for Bellator, Monster will get another source of visibility.  Not to mention it is heavily involved the UFC which solidifies itself as the energy drink brand in MMA.

UFC 230: Payout Perspective

November 7, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time around we take a look at UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden where Daniel Cormier took care of Derrick Lewis.

Double Champ takes care of Derrick Lewis

Daniel Cormier made easy work of Derrick Lewis using wrestling to negate Lewis’ KO power. DC easily tapped out Lewis in the 2nd round.

DC now sets his sights on Brock Lesnar with just one fight left on his contract.  However, you’d have to think that if Jon Jones pops up on the radar, that will be a fight to make.

As for Lewis, I would suspect he take some time off before getting back in the Octagon.  Two fights within a month is hard for any MMA fighter including a heavyweight like Lewis.

Jacare KOs Chris Weidman

Jacare Souza is a superior grappler, yet showed some flashy hands and dropped Chris Weidman in the final round.  The fight went back and forth and won Fight of the Night.  But Souza showed some strong combinations which stunned Weidman throughout the course of the fight and one to the former champ’s temple which put him down for good.

After this fight, Souza should be on the short list of fighters awaiting the winner of the Kelvin Gastelum-Robert Whittaker fight and perhaps he finally gets his title shot.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

UFC 230 drew 18,201 for a gate of $2,8471,718.16.  The bonuses of the night went to Chris Weidman and Jacare Souza for Fight of the Night and Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier for Performances of the Night. Each earned $50,000 bonuses.

According to secondary ticket seller SeatGeek, it was the second highest ticket for a UFC New York event outside of UFC 205.

Promotion of the Fight

Daniel Cormier joined the FOX NFL crew during halftime of Thursday night’s Raiders-49ers game to promote UFC 230.

He also did the intro on Fox Sports for his Saints.

Cormier did a lot of media.  He appeared on the Complex YouTube channel and played Connect 4 with Tony Mui.

As seen on Embedded, Derrick Lewis did a promotion at a Houston Rocket’s game and even sank a free throw to win money for his charity.

Sponsorships

The big sponsorship news for UFC 230 was the fast food wars that took over as DC and Lewis previously sparred over Popeyes Chicken.  The southern-based chicken restaurant forged a deal with Lewis.  In response, Carl’s Jr. came to the double champ’s corner.  It was an example of how sponsorships can happen organically.  Obviously, this may not happen for every UFC fighter but due to the visibility of the event and the social media followers for each, a sponsor’s deal became viable.

Embedded was sponsored by Air Force Reserves.

Motel 6 was also a sponsor of the co-main event.

Chris Weidman had a Monster patch on his walkout shirt and shorts which may indicate he has an individual sponsor with the company.

In addition, Cormier drew individual sponsor deals with Monster Energy Drinks and Nemiroff Vodka.

Inside the Octagon, Nemiroff Vodka, Modelo, Hospital for Special Surgery, Toyo Tires, the video game EA UFC 3, Metro PCS, Monster and convenience store Circle K shared an Octagon corner, Body Armor, P3 and Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.

Modelo had the Fighter Prep Point.

Modelo also introduced its “Fighting Spirit” award of sorts to Daniel Cormier.

P3 had sponsorship space on the shoulder of the fighter’s walkout shirt.

EA UFC 3 was featured once again in pre-fight promos.

Toyo Tires also sponsored the Backstage Interviews.  This one included Megan Olivi speaking with Daniel Cormier.

Ratings

UFC PPV Prelims on FS1: 205,000

UFC Prelims: 635,000

UFC PPV Post-Fight Show on FS1: 188,000

Odds and ends

UFC 230 drew over 1 million searches which is above average and bodes well for the PPV buys.

Paul Felder did an excellent job as color commentator along with Joe Rogan and Jon Anik on the PPV.

The Last Stylebender has one of the best nicknames in the MMA game and is someone to watch.

Outside of the octagon, Ben Askren was the darling of UFC 230.

Notice that the gloves have the 25th anniversary logo on them instead of the usual UFC logo.

Lando Vannata-Matt Frevola draw should have won the FOTN honors.

The Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier rivalry remains alive despite the fact both sides say its over.

Conclusion

I was surprised by the amount of promotion for this event.  Granted, it was the UFC’s annual November show at MSG, but the main event did not look all too competitive on paper.  The event did have some good exposure with Cormier on Thursday Night Football’s halftime and the fast food wars with Derrick Lewis.  I would think this event does above average for a UFC PPV. One might expect a buy rate in the 375K-400K range.

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