UFC 170: Payout Perspective

February 24, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 170 held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Knee, not armbar, stops McMann

Ronda Rousey didn’t need her patented armbar to stop Sara McMann, but a knee to the liver downed the former Olympian.  While there may be some controversy about the stoppage, things were not going well for her.  Granted, she did mark up Rousey’s face.  Rousey did appear to be in dominant control after the knee.

Rousey will juggle movies and training as while it’s not clear who will be her next opponent will be and when that fight may happen.

Final_UFC_170_event_poster

Cormier makes short work of Cummins

There was sufficient hype for Patrick Cummins in short time to give folks the belief he could give Cormier a good fight.  In the end, Cormier was mad that he was hit twice by Cummins as the fight was a classic example of a mismatch.  Surprisingly, Cormier still put over Cummins in that he would still have an future in the UFC.

Cummins had a good enough story (walk-on to wrestling team at Penn St., working at coffee shop) that the UFC pushed which glossed over the fact that he was incarcerated for some time.

For Cormier, he should be close to a shot at the 205 title and may have one more fight in the division before he gets the shot.

Attendance and Gate

The attendance for the event was reported at 10,217 for a live gate of $1,558,870.  The announced gate was one of the lowest in Vegas for a PPV in several years.

Dana White was surprised by the gate as he proclaimed on Thursday that it would do $2.1 million.

The NSAC will have final numbers sometime later this week.

Bonuses

We previously reported, Ronda Rousey, Rory MacDonald, Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson received the $50,000 bonuses for the night.  MacDonald and Maia was the Fight of the Night and Rousey and Thompson received the Performance Bonuses.  As I stated, in the previous post, Erik Koch could have staked claim to one of the Performance Bonuses.

Salaries

The salaries were announced earlier than usual and are here.  Notably, Daniel Cormier had the biggest base salary ($80K and $80 to win).  Rousey earned $55K to show and $55 to win for a total of $110K.  She also earned the $50K performance bonus and thus earned $160K for the night – the same as Cormier.  Rory MacDonald was the third top earner of the night with $150K ($50K/$50K plus bonus).

Pre-UFC 170 Issues

Three newsworthy issues occurred in the run-up to this event.

The first was the Jessica Eye situation. Eye tested positive for marijuana after her October 2013 fight which caused her win to be changed to a no-contest. Instead of admitting this and showing contrition, she took to twitter to attack those reporting about her failed drug test.  Then she went on The MMA Hour to give a vague denial of the situation.  In fact, after her interview with Helwani, the Texas test results that she tested positive and waived her right to an appeal, she had some explaining to do.  To the UFC’s credit, it attempted to protect its contract fighter.

Via Fox Sports:

Eye was caught in a lie and there was no getting around it, but UFC president Dana White defended the fighter on Thursday saying that she honestly meant no harm in the matter.  White knows that Eye got caught up in not telling the truth in one interview, and then it just spiraled downhill from there and before you know it a snowball turned into an avalanche.

In the end, Eye should have received some media relations advice on addressing the situation and decide whether or not to appear on shows to discuss the situation.  Moreover, attacking press for a story that was for the most part factually correct is never a good idea.  The media relations and public relations part of the business is not as easy as it looks.

The second is the injury to Rashad Evans and the subsequent replacement of Patrick Cummins.  Cormier wanted a fight with someone since he had worked so hard to drop down to 205.  Cummins, according to the UFC, was the only one willing to take the fight on such short notice.  The UFC scrambled to create some buzz for the fight and did so with Cummins violating the unspoken rule of revealing that he made Cormier cry during training.  This created ample buzz as it made the fight a little more interesting since it drew the ire of Cormier.

The third was how the PPV was promoted regarding the Olympics resume of its main eventers.  The belief was that since the Winter Olympics were ongoing   The UFC commercial promoting the Olympians was a dubbed Mike Goldberg voiceover which stated that Rousey was the first woman to win a medal in Judo.  Of course, this could not be the case since Olympic medals have been awarded in women’s judo since the 1992 Summer Olympics.  As BE points out, she was the first American women to take home an Olympic judo bronze.

Goldberg’s voiceovers are always manipulated for PPV promos in order to promote what needs to be promoted.  Whether it was a willful omission or a blunder, the commercial was factually incorrect.  Whether this persuaded anyone to purchase the PPV or not is de minimus yet since this was identified by the press it puts the UFC marketing folks look like they dropped the ball.

Sponsorships

USA Judo was the notable new sponsor in the Octagon.  Obviously this was due in part to Rousey’s involvement.  In addition the usual UFC sponsors were in the Octagon including MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Xyience, UltimatePoker.com, Harley Davidson and Bud Light.  Also, History Channel’s series “Vikings” had signage in the Octagon as well as EA’s UFC video game coming this spring.

Cage Fighter had a coming out party of sorts for its sponsorship of Daniel Cormier and Sara McMann in the top two fights of the night.  The “Rise and Grind” moniker which is associated with CF was somewhat misappropriated by Mike Goldberg during the PPV.

Cormier was wore an “Ultra Lube” hat which relates to industrial, agriculture, auto/truck, household and outdoor uses.

Training Mask, Dynamic Fastener, AutoShopper.com and PeopleFinder.com were prevalent sponsors on multiple fighters during the night.

Rousey wore a Muhammad Ali Roots of Fight t-shirt at the weigh-ins.  Dana White also said some nice things about the clothing brand in a tweet. It’s a good brand which features many notable fighters, boxers and martial artists from the past.

I actually purchased a Roots of Fights T-Shirt in Vegas.  Unfortunately, it came with a preset ink stain.  Ugh.

Odds and Ends

A lot of talk at the pre-fight media scrum on the state of sponsorships.

Was it planned for Rousey to down McMann in front of the USA Judo signage in the Octagon?

Were you offended by Marlon Wayans’ Tweets?  Comedians have no bounds so jokes like these are expected.  Or should they be?

The Rock sent out his support of Rousey:

Bigger first?  Daniel Cormier eating salad for the first time during training camp or Dwayne Wade eating fish for the first time during All-Star Weekend.

Cormier’s performance at the pre-fight press conference was great as he was articulate, introspective and funny.  The revelation that he never had a salad before this training camp was as shocking as White not knowing the attendance figures before they were announced.  His breakdown of why street fights don’t last long (built on emotion) was great as well.

After Cormier’s admission of his love for Popeye’s Chicken, the chain provided his family with a meal after his decisive win.  But, no sponsorship from the company?

If any fighter wants to brand themselves, they should check out Patrick Cummins’ web site.  It tells his story in a short span and he has a memorable t-shirt he sells on his site.  That is what I found when I did a google search on him.  I did not find out about his jail time until later.

The UFC actively promoted using twitter.  Reading tweets from the #UFC170 hashtag seems to be the newest thing to involve social media.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk, Nick Diaz and Will Smith were notables attending the event.  Please no more CM Punk to MMA talk.

Conclusion

According to Google Trends, Ronda Rousey was the third hottest search on Saturday with over 100,000 searches.  She was behind Justin Timberlake at 2 and El Chapo Guzman at 1.  Does this equate to PPV buys?  It’s hard to say but UFC 170 will be a test on whether Ronda Rousey is truly the top draw for the company at this point.  The fact that the Cormier-Evans fight fell through did not help.  UFC 157 did a buy rate of around 500K and while UFC 168 did over 1 million buys this is partially due to the Silva-Wiedman rematch.  Based on the late buzz, we could see this event doing 400,000 PPV buys.

UFC 160: Payout Perpective

May 26, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 160 at The MGM Grand where Cain Velasquez made quick work of Bigfoot Silva.

UFC-160-poster

Same time this year

364 days before Saturday Bigfoot Silva wore the crimson mask and bloodied the Octagon canvas at the hands of Cain.  This time, the canvas was already bloody from previous fights but the result was similar.  Cain owned Bigfoot.  This time it was a 1-2 that floored the giant and he could not withstand the rain of punches.  A good stoppage despite Bigfoot’s protest.

As most thought the result would be the same, it was quicker work this time around.  Cain now gets someone else he owned in their last fight: Junior dos Santos.  But, the rubber match is warranted considering JDS’s performance Saturday.

Hunt for Gold ends with spinning heel kick

Two weeks in a row a spinning heel kick gave UFC fans a highlight reel KO.  This time, already way ahead on the cards, JDS decided to try to finish Mark Hunt.  It gained a lot of respect from the crowd that was deeply behind the underdog.  Hunt ate a huge looping right to his ear in the first but got up like it was nothing.  JDS wore Hunt down and the kick in the third showed Hunt’s fatigue.

JDS gets the trilogy and fans will wonder which fight will they see: the first or second fight.  

TJ Grant crashes Lightweight Title Picture

Its why they have the fight.  TJ Grant wasn’t supposed to win and get the next shot at Benson Henderson.  But, when Dana White made the promise that the fight would determine the next challenger for Bendo, Grant had a shot and did it in impressive fashion.  

Attendance and Gate

As reported at the post-fight press conference, the unofficial attendance was 11,089 for $2.942 million.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission will announce the official attendance and gate.

According to Dave Meltzer on the Wrestling Observer podcast, the attendance was relatively low based on the initial sales.  He reported that casinos did not purchase as many tickets as in the past.  

Bonuses

JDS, Hunt, TJ Grant and Glover Texeira won the bonuses for FOTN, KO and Submission of the Night.  According to Dana White, Mike Tyson influenced him to award the KO of the night to Grant instead of JDS.  Each received $50,000.

Sponsorships

Prestone, which had signage in the octagon for the TUF series was the newest presence inside the Octagon.  MetroPCS, UFCFit.com, Harley Davidson, TapouT, Dodge, UltimatePoker.com and Bud Light in the center of the Octagon.  Also Affliction returned to the Octagon.  

Mark Hunt did not have any sponsors.  He came to the ring without a walkout shirt and just UFC shorts.  It could be due to the fact that it was unknown if he would get a visa into the country.  There is speculation that his reps were trying to get sponsors on the day of the weigh-in.  However, the fighters have until Thursday night to turn in their fight shorts for review by the UFC.  Its unfortunate that Hunt did not have existing relationships with sponsors to have just in case he received a visa.  

A lot of negative reaction on twitter for the “infomercial” on online poker.  It was forced, odd and a blatant plug for the site.  The comparison of MMA and poker was atrocious.  But, it is an official sponsor and owned by the Fertittas.  Coupled by the fact the PPV was short on time makes it acceptable as it did not take away from any fights.  Still, carving out any time to promote the poker site seems out of place.  

Junior dos Santos had new Nike gear and his performance had Nike execs breathing a sigh of relief considering his last fight wearing the Swoosh was with Cain.  JDS was sponsored by TNT energy drink, a Brazilian energy drink.  You may recall it being the center of the Octagon for UFC on Fox 8.  Its web site also list Jose Aldo has an endorser.

A lot of bumpers for the UFC App which is trying to catch-up to the Bellator and WWE Apps.  

In addition to the Online Poker plug, there was a plug for the city of Las Vegas featuring Dana White and Ronda Rousey.  

Cain’s one flaw: social media

Is Cain using his twitter the wrong way?  His twitter timeline is littered with sponsors.  Cain even plugged Harley Davidson in his post-fight Octagon interview.  Usually there is a healthy bit of insight on the fighter’s life, fighter/fan interaction as well as the sponsor plug.  

Here’s a sampling of Cain’s twitter feed:

 

 

 

While Cain’s use of twitter is not wrong (one need only took to Nate Diaz among others for examples), its not engaging and its an overt commercial for his sponsors.  Yes, social media campaigns are based on receiving celebrity endorsements but Cain’s is straight copy.  If there’s a flaw with Velasquez its his marketability and we’re not talking about his “Brown Pride” tattoo either.  But, we’ll leave that for another post.

Post-Fight Headlines

UFC 160 has some intriguing post-fight headlines.  First, when and where will they hold JDS-Cain III.  While Vegas is always the old standby, the possibility of Mexico or Brazil are definite possibilities.  The UFC is looking to hold an event in Mexico by the end of this year and what a better way to make a splash into a new market.

TJ Grant-Benson Henderson for the TV Title Lightweight Title is rumored be on the Boston card for UFC on Fox Sports 1: 1.  There is also the possibility its on an event in the fall.

Glover Texeira continues his ascent in the Light Heavyweight division with a first round sub over a very good James Te Huna.  Texeira could be a fight or two away from Jon Jones.

Donald Cerrone v. Josh Thomson?  I’ll set the DVR.

Odds and Ends

- With the NHL and NBA Playoffs running opposite UFC 160 Prelims on FX, it will be interesting to see its ratings.

- Unless you were on Facebook/YouTube, you probably missed the fight that caused all that blood on the canvas.  There was no way to try the clean the mat between fights like it does when the UFC is on Fox?

- After the initial controversy with the UFC rankings, are we starting to accept them in looking at title contenders and matchups?

- At the post-fight press conference, it was announced that Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin were going into the UFC Hall of Fame.  I understand their first match being a “Hall of Fame” type moment but I can see arguing against either one having a HOF career.  Bonnar is the most suspect here especially since he was caught taking PEDs his last fight.  What type of message does that send?

- George Roop doesn’t look healthy at 135.  Yet, he keeps winning so we’ll likely see more of him at this weight.  

- Will Bloody Elbow use the shot of Cerrone showing Noons his elbow on its front page from hereon out?

Bloody Elbow 1Bloody Elbow 2

- It seemed like Mike Tyson received more camera time than anyone this weekend.  He looked like he was genuinely having a good time and each fighter was appreciative that he was there.  Its good to see that he’s turned his life around.

Conclusion

The attendance and gate seem to infer that UFC 160 might not draw as well as past Heavyweight cards featuring main events.  However, based on the previous PPV history of Cain and JDS, we’re probably looking at a buy rate of around 550-575K. 

Nate Diaz suspended for tweet

May 17, 2013

MMA Fighting reports that Nate Diaz has been suspended pending an investigation for a tweet in which he made a gay slur.  Diaz sent the tweet in defense of Pat Healy as he had been stripped of bonuses for testing positive for marijuana use.

Diaz used the slur to refer to Brian Caraway, the UFC fighter that received the submission of the night bonus after the UFC stripped Healy of the bonus.  Incidentally, it was Caraway that lobbied Dana White for the raise in bonuses for UFC 159.

We all remember that the UFC suspended Matt Mitrione for statements that he made on The MMA Hour in relation to Fallon Fox.  The suspension was short-lived as Mitrione was scheduled a fight after only two weeks of discipline.

Diaz is coming off his second loss in  a row as he suffered the first TKO of his career against Josh Thomson.  MMA Junkie reports Diaz’s manager, Mike Kogan, advised Diaz not to delete the offensive tweet and that people look up the offending word in the dictionary.  He explained that the word is slang in Northern California.

Payout Perspective:

This probably violates the UFC’s Code of Conduct.  Maybe the UFC should have another Fighter Summit to refresh its fighters on what is appropriate to tweet or say to the media. Even if Diaz believed the name calling to be benign and not a slur against homosexuals, but more of dissing Caraway (something seemingly explained by Kogan), he should have called him something else.  With Kogan supporting Diaz’s stance and choice of words, it will be interesting to see what happens next.  Certainly, the standard way to address issues like this is to apologize for the choice of words.  Here, we are asked to refer to a dictionary. We will see how this works.

Alvarez produces “smoking gun” document

May 13, 2013

Eddie Alvarez produced via twitter a document he claims Bellator altered after he had agreed to the terms of the renegotiation period. Alvarez stated that Bellator changed the matching issue from “all terms” to “material terms.”

 

In the October 30, 2012 letter from Bellator to Alvarez sent via email and Certified Mail, the letter states in reference to matching terms with Zuffa:  “Upon receipt of such an offer, you are thereafter obliged to produce to Bellator a true copy of the proposed agreement with Zuffa, LLC at which time Bellator shall have fourteen (14) business days from receipt of the full agreement to consider whether it will match the material terms of the offer.” (our emphasis in bold and italics).  In a subsequent letter, the sentenced was changed from material to all.

Alvarez had noted this change during his interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and on MMA Junkie Radio.  He essentially cited this as an unethical business practice.

Bjorn Rebney responded to Alvarez’s claims in an article on MMA Fighting.  The November 1, 2012 letter was produced which stated “all terms” instead of material terms was produced in the article. Rebney refuted Alvarez’s accusations stating that he was aware of the language and that Alvarez’s attorneys were aware as well.  Rebney also responded to several issues regarding pay concerning Zach Makovsky, Cosmo Alexandre and whether or not Bellator attempted to sign Leonard Garcia.

Payout Perspective:

The letter produced by Alvarez attempts to show that Bellator amended terms without his knowledge.  Rebney indicated that this is not true and that Alvarez’s attorneys had the chance to review the letters.  Did Alvarez’s lawyers not see the November 1st letter?  Based on what the Court has opined in the Preliminary Injunction, will the “material” vs. “all” terms matter?  If you recall, the Court indicated that it would apply a common sense approach to matching terms.  Regardless of one might think, this lawsuit is going to start to heat up.  Moreover, arising out of the lawsuit are PR issues which Rebney, Bellator and Viacom must address and determine how to put out the fires.  By implicating other issues with fighters, we might see Makovsky, Alexandre and Garcia get pulled into this lawsuit as witnesses.

Alvarez talks about legal case with Bellator

May 9, 2013

After tweeting his displeasure for his legal troubles, Eddie Alvarez made his appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday to give his side of the story in the Bellator battle.  He also made an appearance on MMA Junkie radio Tuesday pleading his case.

Although he said he didn’t know too much about law when talking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Alvarez gave a legal update on his case.  To be fair, Alvarez correctly stated that the case was in the discovery phase.

The MMA Hour interview came after tweeting about Bellator and how Bjorn Rebney was a “grunt” and that Viacom and Spike are “idiots.”

But the bulk of the interview on The MMA Hour dealt with the legal case and a rehashing of the contract matching issue which the Court denied in Alvarez’s motion for a preliminary injunction in January.  A favorable ruling would have allowed Alvarez to negotiate a contract with the UFC and leave Bellator behind.  However, the Court decided that the factual issue of whether or not Bellator matched the terms of the UFC contract would be determined at a later date.  Alvarez stated on MMA Junkie radio that he didn’t expect the Court to grant the Preliminary Injunction.

On MMA Junkie Radio, Alvarez indicated that he talked with Bellator in New Mexico in an effort to settle the case but stated that he could not reveal the substance of the communications.  Legally speaking, the settlement discussions are confidential and governed by certain evidentiary rules.

Alvarez claimed that Bellator changed words in his original contract which included an addendum which waived a renegotiation period and allowed an exclusive negotiating period with Zuffa.  However, Alvarez claims that a term in the addendum was changed from “all terms” in to “material terms.”  The documents do not appear to be in the legal filings in the case.  Alvarez indicated he would post the documents on twitter which shows the different terms.  However, as of the time of this writing, the documents have not been posted.

Payout Perspective:

Alvarez stated his case well but the issues he argues doesn’t do anything other than the possibility of getting him into more legal troubles.  The “matching” issue was already decided by the Court at the Preliminary Injunction in that there would be no decision on the matching issue.  Its definitely the Court punting on a key issue in the matter but there is a legal basis for waiting to hear the information provided in the discovery process.  However, in the Court PI opinion, it did cite that the Court “must apply a common-sense interpretation to the word “match.”  This was in reference to the issue of whether Bellator had to match the Zuffa contract verbatim.

But, why go after Viacom?  It may not know anything about MMA, but it is investing money into the sport.  Without Fox and Viacom investing in MMA, it would not be as popular as it is today.  Certainly, I do feel for Alvarez to a certain extent as he’s been put in a tough position.  He no longer wants to work for his employer but his employer is pulling him back in.  Perhaps he didn’t know that he’d be in this position when he signed his contract with Bellator or didn’t think that Bellator would put up such a fight.

Regardless of whether or not Alvarez is telling the truth, talking (and tweeting) is a risky move especially in contentious litigation.  There is the potential for further claims and using tweets and Alvarez’s interviews as evidence in the future.

Eddie will go…Alvarez proclaims Bellator case will go to trial

May 5, 2013

Eddie Alvarez will be appearing on The MMA Hour Monday to presumably talk about his legal fight with Bellator.  The appearance comes after a weekend of tweets in which he went after Bellator, Spike and Viacom.

Alvarez’s official twitter handle, @Ealvarezfight, indicated that he was moving to train with the Blackzillians.  It also stated he made money after selling real estate as to imply that money is no issue at this point.

Alvarez tweeted that there would be no settlement and “let the truth come out in the end.”  (ed. note: famous last words).

He also wrote to his 9,000 plus followers that he placed blame for the lawsuit with Viacom and Spike rather than Bjorn Rebney.

Payout Perspective:

In a civil lawsuit, most parties position their case toward a favorable settlement.  Alvarez proclaiming that there would be no settlement is a bad move from a legal and PR standpoint.  Regardless of what you think of what has happened to Alvarez, its not a good move to tweet, write or be interviewed about this lawsuit without gaining clearance from legal counsel.  Just like cops say on tv shows, “anything that you may say (or write in this instance) can be used against you.”  Even if Alvarez believes what he says is true, what he writes on twitter may be construed differently by Bellator attorneys.

Moreover, if the Court forces the parties into mediation or a settlement conference and the case settles, Alvarez did not speak the truth about going to trial.  It just makes him look like he had no understanding about the legal process.

From an overarching perspective, the goal of MMA fighters is to make the most money out of your short career.  The reason why the UFC likes the FOX relationship is that there is more money involved and the product is exposed to the mainstream.  Alvarez has to look at the situation and determine what’s best for his fight career. Sit and fight a battle he may actually lose, or try to find a resolution as soon as possible.  Trials are long and drawn out.

Unless Bellator is unwilling to enter into settlement talks, he should try to settle for a shorter fight deal with Bellator in order to be released from his contract.  Alvarez is in the prime of his career and he does not want to end up muddied in a contract dispute.  Although under separate circumstances, a similar contract issue sidelined Brandon Vera for some time and he has never been the same fighter since.

Hopefully Alvarez will cancel Monday’s appearance and/or give generalities of his legal situation rather than talk himself into more problems.

Rovell calls out White on UFC numbers

May 1, 2013

ESPN Business Reporter and UFC head Dana White went back and forth on twitter on the state of UFC business.  The UFC drew the scrutiny of ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell.  If you didn’t know, Rovell covers the business of sports and is as active on twitter as Dana White.  Rovell sent a tweet out the following tweet after UFC 159.

This drew the ire of UFC fans, media and eventually got back to Dana White.  And in usual form, he escalates the criticism to make it personal.

Rovell didn’t seem pleased about the “ESPN” remark and defended his reason for inquiry.

After a query to substantiate the numbers that the UFC was still on the rise, White indicated to Rovell that he’d get him those numbers

On Wednesday, three days after the initial back and forth, Rovell received his request.  It appears to either be a cut and paste of a Fuel TV press release, a hastily put together word document and/or both.  You can click on the pic to see it close up.  As you can read, White tells Rovell that Zuffa is a private company.

The following tweet is a lesson in making sure you read what you tweet.  White’s response to Rovell.

Rovell did concede that the UFC had some strong indicators of improvement.

Rovell then addressed the data White provided to a follower that believed White had shown the reporter up.

Rovell did make a back-handed complement about the back and forth with White.

He then makes the most sense in the following tweets in requesting information that most would ask about a company’s financials.

Prior to receiving the data from White, Rovell ran a poll for his twitter followers.  Its something he does periodically to create engagement.  The poll asks whether UFC has mainstream potential.  As you can read, a little over half don’t think so.

You can also head over to Storify to see the original version of this.

Payout Perspective:

Its an interesting back and forth between a mainstream business reporter and White.  Certainly, there are errors on both sides of the conversation.  Rovell frames the questions differently.  He first states that the UFC has lost its “edge” based on the anecdotal evidence that a friend bought a ticket for substantially less than face value.  He then asks about the UFC slowing down financially and would like to see its net profits.  White responds over the top.  Rovell baits him to provide him data that the UFC is doing better and then White gives him something that can’t be substantiated.  Being a reporter, Rovell is upset and White relies on the “private company” safe harbor to protect the UFC from having to release its numbers.

At times, Rovell uses financial information to dampen the mood for fans.  For example, when a player drops in the NFL Draft, he’s the first to tweet how much money that player is losing.  Still, Rovell is being a journalist here and it would have looked better if White could have just said granted him an interview to talk about it or provided him information that did not look like it was a press release.

Stephens arrested this morning, will still fight tonight

October 5, 2012

MMA Fighting reports that Jeremy Stephens was arrested this morning on a Felony charge that has yet to be disclosed.  Despite the arrest, Stephens will fight his scheduled fight tonight as part of the undercard bout on FUEL.

Although no word has come out yet on the charges, Dana White confirmed to Ariel Helwani that he is still scheduled to fight.  He also sent out a tweet about Stephens.

Payout Perspective:

Another public relations issue for the UFC and one that appears to be serious considering the gravity of the charges.  The UFC is in a bind as to whether to cancel the fight or let Stephens fight.  This cannot be good for Stephens as I’m sure his mind may be somewhere else.  Conversely, maybe this makes Stephens  this much focused in his fight based on the problems.  It will be interesting to see how the broadcast team handles this matter and how White addresses this post-fight press conference.

UFC 152: Payout Perspective

September 23, 2012

Welcome back to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 152 coming from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.

Jones survives scare, subs Phenom

A first round armbar out of nowhere and Jon Jones almost saw his unblemished (let’s not count Hamill DQ) record go away and one of the biggest upsets this side of Matt Serra.  But, Jones survived and does what he does: dominate opponents.  This time, it was a Keylock that made Belfort submit.

Belfort gave a lot more than expected but it was a definite mismatch after the armbar attempt.  This match showed the beauty of jiu jitsu in the UFC. First, Belfort’s armbar was perfectly executed and he would have subbed, or broken the arm, of almost every other fighter in the UFC.  Secondly, Jon Jones’ elbows sliced Belfort’s forehead and as Jones positioned himself for what everyone believed to be a mounted crucifix to reign more elbows on Belfort, Jones saw Belfort’s arm was bent and immediately went for the keylock.  Excellent strategy by Jones.

Mighty Mouse wins Flyweight title

Demetrious Johnson won a split decision over Joseph Benavidez to win the inaugural Flyweight title.  It was a great technical match up.  I had thought Johnson won the fight outright but the judges had it at a split decision.

It’s a great win for a guy with a good backstory as we learned from the Countdown show.

The fans were booing during the end of the match which made no sense to me.  Sure, the fight had slowed but its due to the pace in the early rounds.  The crowd reaction drew some criticism from Joe Rogan on the broadcast.

The Count includes Stann as win

Michael Bisping used his superior cardio skills and outclassed Brian Stann to stake a claim for the next title shot against Anderson Silva.   For as outspoken as Bisping is, he backs it up and did a good job of muting Stann’s offense.

Attendance and gate

MMA Junkie reports that the attendance at the Air Canda Centre in Toronto drew 16,800 for a gate of $1.9 million.  In comparison, the UFC 140 which featured Jon Jones taking on Lyoto Machida last December drew 18,303 fans for a gate of $3.9 million.

It’s interesting with the card shuffling that even with the addition of Jon Jones it did not move the ticket sales as compared to last December.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports the bonuses which were announced at the post-UFC 152 press conference.  Each fighter received a $65K bonus.

KO of the Night:  Cub Swanson

Submission of the Night: Jon Jones

Fight of the Night: Evan Dunham vs. T.J. Grant

Sponsorships

The octagon sponsors included Edge, Marines.com, Dodge, the upcoming film, “Here Comes the Boom”, video game Assassin’s Creed , UltimatePoker.com, TapouT and Bud Light with the center.  MetroPCS, RYU and Corn Nuts also sponsored portions of the PPV.

New UFC sponsor Allfuse had the prep point.  This is the second straight PPV where a new sponsor has had the spot where fighters get greased  before heading into the octagon.  I’m not sure if its being used as a one off for sponsors looking to dip its toe in the sponsorship game.

The biggest new sponsor was Nike as Jon Jones sported the swoosh in the Octagon for the first time. The Bones Knows t-shirts were worn by Jones on each media obligation he had prior to the fight.

In addition, Jones was sponsored by Muscletech.  In order to get some notoriety with the sponsorship, it aired a short swim workout Jones did in conjunction with the sponsor.  It was tweeted out to Jones’ followers.

Xyience is also a sponsor of Jones.  After the fight, one of Jones’ corner men reminded Jones he needed to hold the can when he had his hand raised.  But Jones shrugged him off and handed the can back to him.  Xyience was probably not happy about that considering a part of the deal is that he have the can.  After further review, Jones’ right arm was the one that was armbarred so maybe he couldn’t or didn’t want to hold it.

SKY was a prominent sponsor for Vitor Belfort.  Also, Gillette, BMG, Jaco and RVCA were on Vitor’s person.  Despite losing the fight, Vitor did well for himself.

Mighty Mouse was sponsored by Xbox once again.  Probably, one of the best brands and the strongest outside of the Swoosh to endorse.

UltimatePoker.com had a sponsor tie in with a “Belt the champ” contest in which the winner was able to put the belt on Jon Jones.

SE Solutions sponsored Brian Stann.  SE Solutions is an IT company servicing federal agencies focused on protecting America’s security.  The sponsorship fits with what Stann has done and who he is and that’s a good thing.

The cutmen were back to TapouT vests as opposed to RYU ones which they had last PPVs.

Here Comes the Boom, the upcoming movie about a mild-mannered teacher becoming a UFC  fighter to raise money for his school.  The UFC gave James, a huge UFC fan before it became mainstream, license and access for the movie. But, was Kevin James supposed to look that big in the promo for the movie, “Here Comes the Boom.”  James is living the dream.  Not only was he in the King of Queens opposite Leah Remini (at her best), now he’s opposite Selma Hayek in a role where he allegedly becomes a MMA fighter.  I know, we are supposed to suspend reality…

Roger Hallet was sponsored by MMA Bodyguards.  The company offers security assistance leveraging their MMA training.  Former UFC fighter Josh Neer is on the web site.

Sponsor Assassin’s Creed had a UFC tie-in with Royce Gracie winning a contest voted on by the fans.  Sure, we’ll buy it.  The contest and the video game.  Edge had a similar activation with Joseph Benavidez winning the Edge new “fresh face”

Although the two companies can be considered  competitors , RYU sent a welcome to Nike.

Post-UFC 152 Headlines

What’s next for Jones?

Is a Chael Sonnen showdown really what the UFC needs?  Sure, it will sell a PPV but what about the long-range direction of the division.  We can argue that the division has been cleaned out and now the UFC should just find the biggest fight.  Sonnen can hype a fight.  But does he stand a chance on winning.

How much will we see the Flyweight division?

With the crowning of a champion, it will be interesting to see how much we will see this division featured on PPV.  I think that the division should start out on Fuel and FX Prelims and eventually gravitate to PPV.  But, from the crowd reaction, it may take some time for fans to adjust.

Does Bisping deserve a title shot?

We may hate him as much as Jon Jones but Michael Bisping is a top contender in the middleweight division.  He controlled Brian Stann and should be thought of as the next in line for a title shot against the Spider.

Odds and ends

-The initial headliners: Johnson-Benavedez and Stann-Bisping did some promos where they hung off of the CN Tower.  All that and they didn’t even receive top billing

-We outlined the PR issues Jon Jones has and the main point from that is Jones needs to mature and be himself with the understanding that he couldn’t please everyone.  But his entrance song last night:  Bob Marley’s “Could you be Loved” as if it were a plea to his fans to like him.

-I believe it is now mandatory that Ronda Rousey appear at anything UFC related.  She was seen in the crowd at the event.  Also, Strikeforce fighters Luke Rockhold (wearing black) and Daniel Cormier (wearing white) to which Cormier mouthed to the camera “Ebony and Ivory”.   It’s the details that make me laugh.

-Any twitter jokes that the Marines Keys to Victory figures of Benavidez v. Johnson were their actual sizes?

-Can someone tell me the other man that Matt Hume told he should quit his full time job to train as a fighter?  Mighty  Mouse was one, who was the other?

-We will address Dana White’s post-UFC152 fury at a Toronto columnist in a separate post.

Conclusion

It will be an interesting buy rate for UFC 152.  Arguably, the cancellation of 151 could have helped with buys since fans would be Jonesing for UFC fights.  Still, the card shuffling and main event of Jones-Belfort didn’t seem like it was a real attraction.  A buy rate of 450K-500K would be a success.  But think what the buy rate would be if Jones was not on this card.

Nike MMA Commercial Forthcoming

September 16, 2012

Jon Jones announced via his Twitter that Nike will film an MMA commercial which presumably stars Jones.  The news comes after it was announced this week Anderson Silva’s global sponsorship with Nike.

According to Jones’ twitter, Nike filmed scenes for the commercial in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As for Silva, his manager Ed Soares stated that Silva’s sponsorship with Nike has gone from an exclusive Brazil sponsorship to a global sponsorship.  This is big news for The Spider as he fights next month.

Payout Perspective:

Its obvious that the commercial will at least feature Jones and Silva.  The news of a Nike commercial is good news for the UFC as two of its biggest stars are now sponsored by the Swoosh.  This a blue chip sponsor that the UFC needs to grow and attract more mainstream sponsors.  We will see how Nike presents MMA in its commercial and how active it will become in the UFC.

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