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.

Carl’s Jr. backs Champ Champ after Popeyes sides with Lewis before UFC 230

November 2, 2018

Less than 24 hours after Derrick Lewis secured Popeyes Chicken as a sponsor, Daniel Cormier has retained Carl’s Jr. in a sponsorship deal per the company’s twitter.

The SoCal Company with restaurants all over the country (except Seattle) changed the name of its twitter account to “Carl’s Jr/Daniel Cormier fan account” for the occasion.  Very active on twitter with mostly off-the-cuff humor, Carl’s Jr. entered the UFC world of promotion. It had a campaign with Ronda Rousey in 2015.

Similar to Popeyes offer for free chicken in Texas if Lewis wins Saturday night, Cormier announced that he’d be passing out free burgers when he defeats the Black Beast.

In addition, it appears that Cormier has an individual deal with official UFC sponsor Nemiroff Vodka.

Payout Perspective:

Credit to Cormier’s team and Carl’s Jr. for a chance at jumping on an opportunity.  This is great for Cormier, who made an appearance on the Fox Halftime Show of NFL’s Thursday Night Football and the promotion of Saturday’s event.  The fast-food war between Popeyes and Carl’s Jr. will likely help all involved.

UFC 229: Payout Perspective

October 9, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time it was one of the biggest events in company history with UFC 229 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Khabib submits Conor, brawl ensues

You’ve likely read all about the post-fight brawl.  Despite MMA fan that like to downplay the incident, this was not how you showcase your product to the millions of fans that watched the fight.  Rather than be professional, both sides were not.  Conor’s antics prior to the night, and Khabib’s during it were both wrong.  It was a disgrace to the sport and overshadowed the dominant performance by Khabib.

At this point, the Nevada Athletic Commission will have to suspend and fine Khabib for some time to make it look like an authority.  With that being said, it’s clear that the UFC will take no action despite its ability to do something about it.  The UFC has maintained its alibi of hiding behind the regulation of a commission to do its bidding when it comes to these types of disciplinary issues.  It is clear that if they wanted, they could terminate Khabib’s contract.  Dana White stated that any fighter from Khabib’s corner would no longer fight in the UFC.  But what about Khabib?

Conor is to blame as well.  His antics have helped put him in the stratosphere of earners in combat sports and brought millions of dollars to Zuffa.  As a result, he’s been allowed to do anything without repercussions.

The whole scenario points to a suspension for Khabib and being stripped of his lightweight title.  We should have Conor face Tony Ferguson for the title and/or Diaz/Poirier winner facing Ferguson with the loser facing Conor.

Ferguson returns to stop Showtime

Tony Ferguson stopped Anthony Pettis in a blood-splattering fight that showed El Cucuy is back.  Both fighters had their moments and the movements in the fight were out of the ordinary and extraordinary.  Ferguson used a somersault to get out of the way of Pettis and Showtime used capoeira moves in attacking and defending.  Pettis was sliced by one of Ferguson’s strikes and was bleeding like a pro wrestler.  He did damage Ferguson as well.  In the end it was the relentless Ferguson that earned the victory as Pettis could not continue due to a broken hand.

Attendance, Gate and Bonuses

The event set a record for an MMA event in Nevada with 20,034 for a gate of $17.2 million.  It eclipsed UFC 200 held at the same venue.  The gate for UFC 229 fell short of the company record of $17.7 million for the UFC’s debut at MSG at UFC 205.

According to SeatGeek, a standing room only seat for UFC 229 went for over $400, with the get-in price at $1,234.  Again, it was second to only UFC 205’s get in price.

The bonuses went to Ferguson and Pettis for Fight of the Night, Derrick Lewis and Aspen Ladd for Performances of the Night.  Each drew the standard $50,000 bonus.

Payouts

The payouts were highlighted by Conor McGregor’s $3 million purse followed by Khabib’s $2 million.  But, the NAC has held up Khabib’s payout pending an investigation in the post-fight brawl.  While it has issued the check to McGregor, it’s held Khabib’s pay pending an investigation

The rest of the payouts can be found here.

Promotion of the Fight

Conor McGregor did not do a “world tour” for this fight which would have probably brought even more interest to the event.  He did promote when needed such as their first press conference.

The press conference which was held between Conor-Khabib prior to fight week was done without an audience but was shown in Times Square.  It was also on ESPN which had to use its censor liberally due to all of the profanity.  Conor’s late arrivals at the presser and ceremonial weigh-ins really put stress on the networks to deal with stretching out the time.  With more losses, networks will get tired of this habit.

ESPN did air the UFC Countdown show on its network in addition to it airing on FS1.

Dana White appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show to promote the fight.  Conor McGregor made an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show and shared Proper 12 with his Irish counterpart.

In addition, there were multiple radio ads in addition to the television commercials.  Most of which highlighted the infamous Brooklyn bus attack.

Sponsorships

There were some new sponsors for this event including Conor McGregor’s Proper 12 Irish Whiskey and San Manuel Casino.  The latter sponsor is based out of Highland, California and was shown during the ceremonial weigh-ins.

One of the newest UFC sponsors, Portable Protein Pack aka P3, appeared on the front paneling of the UFC/Reebok shorts.  We may see more of this with existing official sponsors having secondary opportunities on fight gear.

In addition, Air Asia made a significant splash in its sponsorship activation which included stewardesses on stage with UFC Octagon girls during the ceremonial weigh-ins and with signage in the red corner of the Octagon to match the company’s branded color.

It was reported by Ariel Helwani that Conor McGregor signed a lucrative deal with Monster Energy which was said to be in the millions.

EA announced a new edition of its UFC3 video game featuring Conor McGregor.  EA conducted a fight simulation in which Conor McGregor KO’d Khabib in the 3rd round.

In the octagon, Toyo Tires, Harley Davidson, Bud Light, Nemiroff, Motel6, MetroPCS, P3, CircleK, Modelo, Air Asia, UFC3’s Notorious Edition, Autozone and the return of the Walking Dead and Monster Energy held the center. It was clear that there were more sponsors than ever before within the Octano on its corners and canvas.  Harley Davidson had the fighter prep point.

Ratings

The UFC Prelims on FS1 drew 1.3M viewers on Saturday.  The prefight telecast on FS1 drew 373,000 viewers.  The prefight show matched the one from UFC 223.  The 222-prefight show was the highest-rated this year with 431,000.

Odds and Ends

I wrote about the UFC brawl in depth and how the promotion of the fight allowed for this to happen.  The UFC faces a lot of fallout (good and bad) from the event.  Khabib and Conor are facing NAC sanctions for their actions and at least two fighters from Khabib’s team will likely be expelled from the UFC and from fighting in Nevada.  For a promotion that is looking to grow the sport and find blue-chip sponsors, one has to ask whether UFC 229’s brawl was good or ad for business.

Conor went after Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, a controversial MMA manager that has been linked to terrorist groups if you believe McGregor and some journalists writing on the subject.  Despite these alleged ties, it seems that a majority of MMA fighters trust Abdelaziz with their career.  During the fight, Abdelaziz and members from both camps stayed in the back as the UFC tried to prevent what happened Saturday from happening.

The internet searches for this event were huge.  On Friday, UFC 229 drew over 2M google searches.  McGregor-Khabib drew over 2M searches as well.

Conor McGregor drew over 5M google searches on Saturday.  Derrick Lewis drew over 200,000 and Michelle Waterson drew over 100,000 searches.  “McGregor Fight” drew over 1 million google searches on Sunday.

Derrick Lewis’ post-fight interview was an all-time classic and was one of the reasons he drew as many google searches.  He took off his pants, said Donald Trump called him and told him to be Alexander Volkov.

Khabib appeared at the post-fight press conference and indicated he received congratulations from Vladimir Putin.

Matt Damon turned down the opportunity to be on Saturday Night Live to go to UFC 229.  There were many other celebrities drawn to this event as well and the aftermath had everyone on social media talking about it.

Internal numbers for Internet purchases of the event were up over 60% from Mayweather-McGregor according to Dave Meltzer.  This would be an indicator (although maybe not the strongest) the buy rate surged past the record of 1.6M PPV buys.  White indicated that it did not reach 3 million but was over 2 million.

The UFC received a ton of mainstream coverage due to post-fight brawl.  But, does this tarnish their image or encourage the promotion to try more of this?

Conclusion

Dana White touted that based on the viewership of Embedded episodes and YouTubes views compared with McGregor-Mayweather, the PPV would break the UFC record and it appears he will be right.  Despite the lack of expanded promotion of the event, its clear that the UFC hit all of the trigger points to garner the casual fans to buy the event.  The controversy is whether it was right to include footage of the bus attack or allow McGregor to continue personal attacks on Khabib’s religion, family and friends.  But, the PPV buy rate will likely go over 2 million (say 2.2 million) buys and show that marketing the bus attack footage helped more than it hurt.  There will be a rematch and you can believe that they will show the post-fight melee.

UFC 228: Payout Perspective

September 12, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 228 which took place at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Woodley submits Till

Tyron Woodley used a D’arce Choke to earn his BJJ Black Belt and retain his UFC welterweight belt.  Woodley submitted Darren Till and earned a performance bonus.  Despite the belief by many that Till was the contender to dethrone Woodley, the champion had little difficulty with him.

Next up for Woodley looks to be Colby Covington.

Mottano stripped of title

The second title of the evening was scrapped due to Nicco Montano being sent to the hospital presumably as a result of trying to cut weight.  As a result, her fight with Valentina Shevchenko was taken off the card and Dana White stripped the TUF winner of her flyweight title.  Shevchenko will have the opportunity to fight for the flyweight title at a yet to be determined date.

Stripping Mottano of the title hurts her pay scale since she now will receive only $3,500 from the Reebok Outfitting Policy.  As the champion, Mottano (who never defended the title) would have made $40,000.

Attendance and Gate

The event drew 14,073 for a gate of $1.7 million at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.  There have been 5 PPVs in Dallas and of that UFC 228 was the lowest gate of the 5 held there since UFC 103.

Bonuses

There were a variety of finishes and stoppage for UFC 228 that could have received the $50,000 bonus.  Woodley, Jessica Andrade and Irena Aldana and Lucie Pudilova earned the bonuses.

Ratings

The UFC 228 Prelims on FX were the lowest of the year drawing only 560,000 viewers and peaking with 683,000 viewers.

The prefight show on FX averaged 271,000 viewers according to Nielsen.

The post-fight show on FS1 drew 64,000 viewers.

Sponsors

Fight week saw the announcement of 3 new “Official” UFC sponsors.  Nemiroff became the “Official Vodka of the UFC,” P3 became the “Official Protein Bar of the UFC,” and Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum became the “Official Rum of the UFC” in the US.  Nemiroff and P3 were in the Octagon for UFC 228.  Also in the Octagon was Motel 6, MetroPCS, Modelo, Toyo Tires, Harley-Davidson the movie Predator was also featured and Monster Energy had the middle of the Octagon.

The movie, Predator also sponsored the Embedded episodes.

Toyo Tires sponsored the backstage interview which was seen on Facebook.

Odds and ends


The visual seems to tell the story that most BJJ practitioners know. It’s hard to be awarded black belt in jiu jitsu.

If you watched the Embedded episodes, you may have noticed Woodley wearing a CbdMD shirt which one might infer, he is a sponsor.  In fact, the company sent out a PR release congratulating him.  I’m sure this is something that Woodley and his camp have looked into and ensuring that he does not cross the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

One of the judges in the Esparza-Suarez fight mistook Suarez for Esparza in the first round and gave Esparza, not Suarez a 10-8.

Xbox put out a tweet gaging interest in the event.

By the way, what was up with the poster? I realize that Till is taller but did they have to make him look like a giant?

This is an ominous tweet with a quote from Shevchenko’s manager.

One might infer that Shevchenko was not paid her fight purse or her win bonus for making weight despite her opponents’ trouble. Once again, this is an overarching issue that manager’s must handle in the contract. Until there is a union, association and/or collective bargaining unit that will address this situation, the athletes are at the mercy of the UFC.

There was a Fan Experience held in Dallas prior to UFC 228 with numerous sponsors and athletes:

There were over 200,000 google searches for Tyron Woodley Saturday.  On Friday, there were over 200,000 google searches for UFC 228.

Conclusion

UFC 228 was an entertaining event with a lot of finishes including Tyron Woodley making it known that he is one of the top UFC stars in the company.  But, going up against two other boxing events on the same night may have hurt PPV purchases.  Also, the big GGG-Canelo fight occurring the following week may have detracted the casual fan on a budget from purchasing this PPV.  It would appear that this event is likely to have drawn around 175,000 to 200,000 PPV buys.

UFC announces Nemiroff as Official Vodka sponsor

September 4, 2018

The UFC announced its first-ever Official Vodka Partner as Nemiroff becomes the “Official Vodka” of the UFC in a new sponsorship category for the company.

In return, Nemiroff will have a branded presence inside the Octagon starting with UFC 228 this Saturday.

Via the UFC press release:

“We’re excited that Nemiroff is joining us as UFC’s first-ever global Vodka partner,” said Paul Asencio, UFC Senior Vice President, Global Partnerships. “The alcohol and spirits categories continue to be an important component of our sponsorship business, and Nemiroff’s global popularity will help us grow UFC’s brand and the sport of MMA around the world.”

Additional partnership activations will include the integration of Nemiroff branding throughout UFC’s telecasts, as well as sampling, digital media, and other promotional opportunities. Through UFC’s worldwide programming distribution, Nemiroff’s brand exposure has the potential to reach 1.1 billion TV households in more than 160 countries and territories in 40 different languages.

Nemiroff was one of the first enterprises in Ukraine with foreign investment in the production of vodka.  It was established in 1992.  Production is based in Namyriv and was established on the place of a distillery that existed from 1872 specializing in the production of horylka.

Payout Perspective:

You may recall that when Bud Light was the official beer for the UFC it blocked potential liquor/spirit sponsorships.  With Nemiroff as the “Official Vodka” it’s likely we could see more official spirits of the UFC.  It’s a growing industry that is tailored for the younger demo of the UFC.