UFC 204: Payout Perspective

October 10, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 204 from Manchester, England which pitted Michael Bisping defending his UFC middleweight title against Dan Henderson.

Bisping outlasts Hendo

The rematch was 7 years in the making and despite the time in between fights, everyone knew the backstory from UFC 100.  Hendo hit an “H Bomb” that knocked out Bisping and then landed on the Brit with another shot while he was on the ground.  This was the story that sold the fight otherwise the matchmaking never made sense aside from Bisping wanting to avenge a loss.

The fight itself was great.  Hendo almost recreated his KO of Bisping in round 1 and picked his spots which stung Bisping and bloodied his eyes.  However, Bisping’s excellent cardio kept him in the fight and staying on top of the 46-year-old appeared to be the critical factor in the decision.

A matchup with Jacare Souza seems like the most logical matchup for Bisping but we’ll see what happens next.

ufc-204

Mousasi stops Belfort

Vitor Belfort’s days as a top-level fighter are over as Gegard Mousasi had little difficulty with the former champion.  Belfort looked much different in terms of body composition than previous fights and for a black belt did not handle being mounted too well.

Mousasi called out Anderson Silva in his post-fight interview in what you can call a “resume builder” for the middleweight.

Attendance and Gate

The event took place at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England and drew 16,000 for a live gate of $1.96 million.  The attendance was impressive considering the event took place in the middle of the night to accommodate American PPV.

The attendance and gate come in second to UFC 105 held at the same arena.  That event which featured Randy Couture-Brandon Vera drew 16,693 for a $2 million gate.

Bonuses

$50,000 bonuses went to Hendo-Bisping for Fight of the Night and Iuri Alcantara and Jimi Manuwa for Performances of the Night.  Mike Perry and Danny Roberts and Stefan Struve could have won bonuses too.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC did its usual promotional events for the fight.  As seen on the Embedded series, Dan Henderson visited the Manchester City Football Club.  Bisping is a fan of Manchester United, the rival club.

Sponsorships

Monster Energy Drink, UFC Fight Pass and Bud Light were thenotable mainstay sponsors for the night.  In addition, video game Gears of War 4 and “What Now?” the upcoming Kevin Hart comedy also had signage in the Octagon.  Also,  Twinzz.com, a European hat maker was also in the Octagon.  IconicFaceOff.com which features a Conor McGregor commercial on its web site was also on the mat.   Also, UFC 205 signage including it’s “Can’t Wait” tag was in the Octagon.

Odds and ends

UFC 204 had 500,000 plus searches on Friday in the US.  I couldn’t find the number of US searches for Saturday for UFC 204 which might be an oversight or the fact that there were other searches more popular than the event.  However, in the UK UFC 204 registered 200,000 plus searches on Saturday

The post-fight show usually on FS1 was switched to FS2 due to college football.

Brian Stann served as the color commentator in place of Joe Rogan and was fantastic.

The trailer for UFC 205 were shown during the telecast.

Appealing to their apparel sponsor, one of the Embedded showed a picture of a young Michael Bisping wearing a Reebok sweatshirt.  Also, an episode showed Hendo picking out a cup for the fight.

The PPV ended early due to the early stoppages in the first 4 main card fights and the telecast filled it with the Brad Pickett-Iuri Alcintara fight.

Conclusion

Since this fight did not occur in the U.S., it seems that there was less buzz for it.  Then again, if you did not like the main event, there was not much for the casual viewer.  While the Bisping-Hendo fight brought some history and curiosity I don’t think Bisping is a PPV draw unless he’s fighting a name brand opponent.  Hendo is great but he is not a PPV draw.  UFC 199 featuring Rockhold-Bisping drew 320,000 buys.  But, with this happening during college football season, the PPV will likely do 275,000 PPV buys.

UFC 203: Payout Perspective

September 11, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 203 from Cleveland, Ohio where CM Punk’s debut and Stipe Miocic’s title defense were the headlining events.

Gall mauls CM Punk

We all knew that this was going to happen.  3 pro fights in and Mickey Gall looks like a top prospect.  Of course, his opponent was former pro wrestler CM Punk.  Despite being a huge favorite, Gall had a game plan which was to take down and grapple Punk.  Gall is a brown belt, Punk is a white belt as astutely pointed out by Joe Rogan.  Gall had his way with Punk on the ground and eventually choked him out in round 1.

Mickey Gall wants fellow pretty boy Sage Northcutt next.  Please UFC, book this.  As for Punk, he gave a very nice speech about dreams and believing in yourself.  Certainly this was a huge risk for a person in his late 30s but if he does continue his MMA dream it appears that it would be on a smaller, regional card.  Or Bellator.

Stipe stops Reem

Stipe Miocic successfully defended his UFC 203 heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem in one of the best and craziest rounds of this year.  Miocic was in trouble early in the first and almost was submitted (Reem thought there was a tap) by Overeem.

It looks like that Stipe gets Cain Velasquez next.  So long as the fight is at sea level, this will be a tough fight for Miocic.

Attendance, gate and bonuses

Cleveland came out for the UFC as the company reported a sell out for the event where the Cavaliers play.  The event drew 18,875 for $2.6M.

Bonuses went to Miocic-Overeem for Fight of the Night and Yancy Medeiros and Jessica

Promotion of the Fight

ESPN aided the UFC with the promotion as it had Stipe Miocic on Sportscenter talking up the fight.

Of course, there was the 3-part series on FS1 for CM Punk.

Miocic and Jessica Eye did local promotions since they are from the area.

The Cleveland Cavaliers through their support behind Miocic and Eye.

They also let Dana White handle the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Eye had a chance to throw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians home game as seen on Embedded.

There were tons of tweets from athletes, celebrities and pro wrestlers throwing their support for CM Punk.

Sponsorships

The newest sponsor in the Octagon for this PPV was IrishFireVodka.com.  The company is based out of Dallas, Texas per its web site. Aside from that, there were the usual sponsors including MetroPCS, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light and Monster Energy Drink in the center.  They also promoted the UFC 204 PPV in the octagon.

MetroPCS had the fighter prep point.  Throughout the PPV, they had voiceover ads for Topps Fighter Trading Cards App.

Odds and Ends

UFC offered a 10% discount on purchasing this PPV if you had previously filled out a survey regarding UFC Fight Pass.  I’m sure they offer this periodically.  It’s just another subtle way to get consumers to gravitate to the UFC web site as opposed to PPV cable and satellite distributors.

CB Dolloway was involved in an elevator accident after the weigh-ins which caused his fight to be cancelled.  Expect a lawsuit.

Jessica Andrade looks like a legitimate title contender for the 115 pound women’s division.

What went on in that Browne-Werdum fight?  If a fighter asks for a halt to the fight without the referee first calling it, shouldn’t that be a verbal submission?  Then there’s the fracas with Edmund Tarverdyan post-fight.

Embedded showed Ronda Rousey’s dog with Travis Browne, but no Rousey.  She was in Cleveland as she was present for a pro wrestling show the night before to support her friend and former MMA fighter Shayna Baszler.

The Ohio Athletic Commission allowing the CM Punk license was one thing.  Its explanation for doing it was another.  Punk has publicly admitted to several concussions while wrestling, is 37 years old and the OAC waived its license requirements citing he was a top end pro wrestler.  But, to show its force, it stated it would investigate the Jessica Eye-Bethe Corriea shoving incident at the ceremonial weigh-ins.  It also fined Alistair Overeem $500 for being late to the weigh-ins.  Speaking of the Browne-Werdum fight, why did the referee allow for Browne to call an injury timeout on his own and not know that if Browne called for a stop to the fight, the fight was over.  Will the OAC look into that debacle?

After Joe Rogan interviewed Stipe Miocic who thought he was knocked down by a kick (instead of a punch) and then Overeem believed Miocic tapped to a guillotine, Rogan made the comment that maybe he shouldn’t interview guys after a fight.  Especially those that have been knocked out.  Makes sense to me although this is unlikely to happen.

Conclusion

Saturday night’s event drew over 1M searches for UFC 203 and another 200,000 for “UFC 203 Fight Card.”  Certainly, the attendance at the event was great as it was pushing for Miocic and Eye as hometown favorites. But was the allure of CM Punk reason for casual viewers to purchase the PPV?  It may have received a bump from pro wrestling fans but unlikely to move much with the rest.  Although the PPV had a heavyweight title fight, Miocic-Overeem are not PPV draws.  Since there was a little more marketing behind this event, I think we could see about 325-375K PPV buys.

UFC 200: Payout Perspective – Part 1 of 2

July 11, 2016

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 200 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Nunes upsets Tate to win women’s title

If I were to tell you at the start of the year that the main event for July’s UFC 200 would be Amanda Nunes versus Miesha Tate, you probably would have thought that it was a joke.  However, due to Ronda Rousey’s movie career, Conor McGregor’s poorly played power move and a Jon Jones drug test, we received Nunes-Tate as the final fight on what was/is supposed to be the biggest card of the year for the UFC.

Amanda Nunes looked sharped and started off quick as she always does.  She peppered Tate and may have broken her nose.  Once it got to the ground, Nunes applied the rear-naked choke (or chin crank) for the victory.  You could see Tate being broken as the round went on.  She barely made weight for this fight despite seemingly calm throughout the rest of the camp.

Nunes was emotional and became the first openly gay UFC champion for the sport.  It was fitting as it was the same weekend that the UFC announced its line of apparel in support of the LGBTQ community.  Of course, the weekend was somewhat tarnished by comments made by Donald Cerrone on Sunday although The Cowboy did apologize immediately.

Nunes may have Holly Holm or a returning Ronda Rousey at year’s end.  If Rousey decides to return to the Octagon, I could envision a New York defense for Nunes against Rousey.

UFC 200

Lesnar dominates Hunt in return to Octagon

Brock Lesnar surprised most of the MMA fanbase as he defeated Mark Hunt in a 3-round heavyweight bout.  Although Lesnar’s last time in the Octagon looked very bad (a loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141), he looked quick and his wrestling helped squash Hunt.  In another surprise, Lesnar’s post-fight interview was far-less dynamic and much more humanitarian than beast-like in his UFC 100 tirade which even UFC Fight Pass censors due to his comments about sponsor Bud Light.

This was supposed to be a one-time thing for Lesnar as he was on “loan” (for $2.5M +) from the WWE.  We will see if he will fight again.  If he does, you have to think he’s close to being in line for a title shot.

Aldo wins interim belt as McGregor watches on

Jose Aldo looked like his old self in securing a unanimous decision win over Frankie Edgar.  Aldo’s ability to stuff takedowns and score on the outside helped him defeat a game Edgar.  Aldo should receive his much-anticipated rematch against Conor McGregor (after his one-off with Nate next month).

Not sure what Edgar will do next.  He had been on a great run up until Saturday.  However, he’ll have to hope for a Conor win to get another shot at the 145 title.

Attendance and Gate

The UFC set a gate record in Nevada with $10.7 million for the 18,202 in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50,000 went to Amanda Nunes, Cain Vevlasquez, Joe Lauzon and Gegard Mousasi.  All were performance bonuses as there was no Fight of the Night.

Payouts

The biggest payout was Brock Lesnar and his $2.5 million.  Even with no win bonus, it’s the largest reported payout for a UFC fighter.  No complaints from anyone else as Lesnar likely brought in many PPV purchasers.  Lesnar likely will make more from his PPV cut.

Lesnar’s opponent, Mark Hunt, received $700,000 for stepping in with the WWE superstar.  According to Kevin Iole, the Nevada State Athletic Commission stated that Cormier was slated to make $1 million for his fight with Jon Jones.  But since that was cancelled, he made $500,000.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC bought ad time on Adult Swim in an effort to expand its reach as well as touch upon the network’s African American demo.  At the time, the main event was Cormier-Jones.

In addition, the UFC had a “confrontation show” on FS1 with Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier talking about their fight.

Bud Light and Monster Energy held promotions months in advance holding trips to win a chance to go to UFC 200.

The UFC did their usual media stops although it did not seem as broad a reach as UFC 196.

Sponsors

The special gold mat included the usual sponsors as well as a couple new ones.  EA UFC2, Harley-Davidson, MetroPCS, Toyo Tires, Bud Light and Monster were all in the Octagon with the energy drink having the center of the Octagon.  Hudson Shipping Lines, a mainstay sponsor on many International UFC cards had signage in the Octagon.  DirecTV promoted its original show, Kingdom.  It showed clips of the show as well as showing stars in attendance.  Also, Speedway was also in the Octagon sharing a signage post with Monster.  The company is a gas and convenient store with most of its locations on the East Coast.  It ran a promotion in conjunction with Monster leading up to this event.

Bud Light had the prep point at the televised weigh-ins and at the event.

As we mention, Bud Light and Monster Energy had promotions far in advance of 200.

Odds and ends

Yes, we’ll address the sale in another post.

The mat probably was to be more a gold look but was yellow to commemorate UFC 200.

The UFC offered 200 in 4K.  It was the first time ever and event was offered in PPV.

This was the first reveal of the Reebok kits.  It had more colors.  Notably the yellow looked good for Anderson Silva as it was his usually color.  But, the yellow also was the same as the mat.

Interesting that DC was wearing his Nike Air Max shoes during fight week including during the Embedded where Dana White told Cormier that his fight with Jones was off.

The WWE did not actively promote UFC 200 although the PPV featured an ad for Summerslam.  It was not until Brock’s win did the WWE social media machine engage.

While there is so much love for Lesnar right now, an injury-free Cain Velasquez at sea-level is probably the best heavyweight out there.

It’s been slightly over 1 year with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and the company’s biggest event is greatly affected by it.  At least we know that there are no favorites in the process.

The UFC and Snapchat announced a multi-year partnership for coverage of its live events which began at UFC 200.

The UFC Prelims on FS1 were sent to FS2 for the first half hour due to the MLB game that preceeded the event going to extra innings.  The FS1 audience missed out on the Sage Northcutt fight.  Despite an average (maybe below) average performance, Sage secured an individual Reebok sponsorship.

The Exclusive UFC Fight Pass Prelims had some of the more exciting fights of the night on it as it produced two bonus winners (Lauzon, Mousasi).

Speaking of Fight Pass, I was interviewed by The Verge about how the UFC became the ‘Netflix of Combat.”

Conclusion

We’ll have more on the event, the Expo, Jon Jones and more in part 2.  But, everyone probably wants to know what an estimated buy rate would be for this event.  While we pondered whether this event could draw 2 million PPV buys, that would be unlikely after the Jon Jones debacle.  Jones is not a big PPV draw but the promotion and marketing was centered around the feud with Cormier.  UFC 182 drew 800,000 PPV buys.  With Lesnar and two other title fights, one would think that it could draw near the 2 million mark.  Even without the feud, UFC 200 should do well with just the name Brock Lesnar attached.  UFC 200 should doing something between 1 million to 1.2 million PPV buys.  While it won’t eclipse UFC 100’s buy rate, it will be a good sendoff for Zuffa.

UFC 199: Payout Perspective

June 5, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 199 taking place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.  The show featured two title defenses.

Bisping shocks the world

Michael Bisping waited a long time for his shot at the middleweight title and he did not disappoint.  Perhaps exposing a suspect chin, Bisping KO’d the champion Luke Rockhold in the first round.  Rockhold appeared to be overconfident in the lead up to this fight and admitted as much post-fight.  Bisping is a polarizing figure but you have to respect his journey to the title.  We could see a rematch of the two or maybe Jacare Souza, who congratulated The Count on the way out of the Octagon would be a good choice.

UFC 199

Dominator overwhelms Faber

It was a very entertaining promotion for the fight, but in the end, Dominick Cruz showed that he was much better than Urijah Faber.  The oft-injured bantamweight champion secured a unanimous decision.  Joe Rogan seemed to focus on whether or not Faber would retire after this fight.

Would people be willing to pay $60 for a “superfight” with Demetrious Johnson?

Bonuses

Bonuses went out to Bisping and Dan Henderson (coincidentally opponents at UFC 100) for their performances.  Polo Reyes and Dong Hyun Kim earned Fight of the Night.  All received $50,000.

Attendance and Gate

The UFC announced post-fight that The Forum was a sellout with 15,587 for a live gate of $2,168,675.

Sponsorships

The sponsors in the Octagon included Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Bud Light, MetroPCS, and the TNT upcoming drama, Animal Kingdom.  Food 4 Less, a Compton, California-based “no frills” grocery was a sponsor in the Octagon as it shared a post with Monster.  As with most UFC events, Monster Energy had the center of the Octagon.

Dominick Cruz sported a Monster patch on his Reebok black kit.  He also did an old school thank you to them post-match including holding a Monster can.

UFC Embedded appears to be the place to have your non-official UFC sponsors to be visible.  Luke Rockhold wore Adidas and Monster Milk during the vlogs.

Odds and Ends

Three big pieces of news not related to 199.  First, Brock Lesnar is back.  Despite how he left the company, he returns and the move should draw eyebrows as the WWE is allowing Lesnar to fight a month before the company’s second-biggest show of the year – Summerslam.

Second, Fedor Emelienenko will be on Fight Pass on an EFN card on June 17th.   Thus, the UFC will finally get Brock Lesnar-Fedor…just not together.

Finally, the rematch no one except Conor McGregor wants as Nate Diaz will face McGregor at UFC 202 in Vegas August 20th.  Interesting that the UFC is traveling less domestically.

There were 4 fights on UFC Fight Pass Prelims.  3 of the 4 fights were very good.

UFC Fight Pass introduced a promotion where fans can send in 1 minute videos to tell Dana White why they are the biggest UFC fan.  The winner will get to come to International Fight Week, meet Dana White and attend UFC Fight Night: Alvarez-RDA.

UFC allowed flags in lieu of sponsor banners in the Octagon.

Octagon ladies sport the Monster patch on their uniforms, do they get paid for doing so?

Watching Embedded, apparently the champions (Cruz and Rockhold) were given rental properties to stay in during fight week while the others stayed in a hotel.

The weigh-ins were different since newly instituted weigh-in rules with the California State Athletic Commission allowed fighters to weigh-in between a 10am-2pm window the day before the fight.  Thus, the televised weigh-ins we usually see did not include the official weigh-ins.

Did the finish of Hendo/Lombard look similar to Hendo/Bisping at UFC 100 with Hendo unloading on an already unconscious opponent?

Ariel Helwani and three others were escorted from the building during UFC 199.  Helwani tweeted that he had been banned by the UFC for life.  It was Helwani that broke the Brock Lesnar news on MMA Fighting.

The show concluded with a tribute to Muhammad Ali who passed away on Friday.

Conclusion

This was a very good show but it will likely be overshadowed by the news that Brock Lesnar is returning next month.  Google trends had 500,000 searches for UFC 199 on Saturday.  Notably, Brock Lesnar drew 100,000 searches on Saturday.  How many PPV buys will this card receive?  Without a proven PPV draw at the top of the card, yet a solid lineup for the PPV, the buy rate should be 350,000 to 400,000 PPV buys.

UFC 198: Payout Perspective

May 16, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 198 taking place from Curitiba, Brazil where Fabricio Werdum took on Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight title.

Miocic crowned Heavyweight Champ

Despite the massive crowd in favor of Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic knocked him out in the first round.  The KO stunned the massive crowd in Curtiba.  For Miocic, it was an emotional win and he showed it when he returned back home to Cleveland.  He also had a message for the city’s NBA team.

Cyborg does not disappoint in debut

The long-awaited debut of Cris “Cyborg” Justino did not disappoint the Brazilian fans as she overpowered Leslie Smith earning a TKO in the first round, just 1:21 in, despite a vehement protest from Smith.  Smith took to social media after the fight to vent her anger.

The obvious question was whether Cyborg could make weight, which she did.  Now, the next hurdle would be coming down another 5 pounds to challenge Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title.  Of course, maybe there’s a fight out there at the 140 pound catchweight that could happen (i.e., Ronda Rousey).

Attendance

It was a record crowd at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba Parana, Brazil as the announced attendance was over 45,000 (45,207 to be exact).  It made it the 3rd highest attendance in UFC history according to the announcement on the PPV telecast.  The tickets sold out in one day.  No gate was announced which seems to be the norm for Brazil shows.

Bonuses

The bonuses of $50,000 went to Miocic, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Francisco Trinaldo and Yancy Medeiros.  Trinaldo and Medeiros won for Fight of the Night which aired on the UFC Prelims on FS1 and Miocic and Souza earned performance bonuses.

Sponsors

Budweiser was in the center of the Octagon.  Notably Nissan had signage in the octagon.   Bud Light was also present in the Octagon along with Toyo Tires, EA UFC 2, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Fight Pass, and ads for UFC 199 and 200.

Budweiser sponsored the Embedded episodes and also had the fighter prep point.  Bud Light was a big sponsor throughout the broadcast.

No Monster Energy Drink on the broadcast.  This may be due in part that TNT Energy Drink had been a UFC sponsor in Brazil.  According to this UFC press release, the Monster exclusive deal with the UFC, excludes Brazil.

Odds and Ends

This was a big show but think how much bigger it could have been with Anderson Silva-Uriah Hall.

Fans were given Werdum “faces” which had the former champ’s trademark smirk.  He did it a couple times during the walk out.  Werdum seemed like he had the time of his life until the fight started.

A subtle post-fight gesture for new champs is that they are given the champion’s “black” Reebok shirt.  Miesha Tate was given it after defeating Holly Holm.  Miocic was handed the shirt after his post-fight interview.

Matt Brown probably should never fight in Brazil again.  He gave the Brazilian fans the Stone Cold Steve Austin treatment at weigh-ins.  Although FS1 did not show it, there was footage of random fans taking shots at Brown on his walkout to the Octagon against Damian Maia.

Brown was submitted by Maia.  The next day, his ex-coach takes a swing at him.  Fortunately, authorities got a hold (literally) on the guy.

I know that there are practical reasons for this, but does anyone find it odd that Benson Henderson was once again wearing a UFC uniform in the corner of training partner, Bryan Barberena.

It looks like Jon Jones is really feeling it.

Big Nog was announced as the first UFC fighter to go into the company’s Hall of Fame this summer.  Little Nog had a KO of Patrick Cummins as the featured fight on the early UFC Prelims on Fight Pass.

There were 500,000 google searches for UFC 198 on Saturday.

Conclusion

UFC 198 was a very entertaining card with some good finishes.  But, did the Werdum-Miocic appeal to the casual viewers?  Probably not.  This was a card which was focused on Brazil.  The attendance looked very good and the crowds (including at the weigh-ins) were great.  However, the PPV buys for this event will likely come in around 325,000 buys.

Fight Pass adds SHOOTO Japan

April 20, 2016

UFC Fight Pass announced on Wednesday that it has signed an exclusive rights live-event and on-demand content deal with SHOOTO Japan.  No financial terms were released although the press release from the UFC indicates it is a multi-year deal.

Via UFC press release:

SHOOTO Japan is widely considered the world’s oldest mixed martial arts organization. Founded in 1985 by retired Japanese pro-wrestling legend Satoru “Tiger Mask” Sayama, SHOOTO Japan promoted its first professional show in 1989. Since then, some of the biggest stars in MMA history have competed on its cards, including UFC® icons Anderson Silva, Dan Severn, Nick Diaz, Matt Hughes and Takanori Gomi.

“We’re excited to announce our deal with the historic SHOOTO Japan organization,” said Eric Winter, UFC Senior Vice-President and UFC FIGHT PASS General Manager. “SHOOTO Japan also joins sister promotion SHOOTO Brazil in our ever-expanding library. Featuring exclusive UFC cards and live events from some of the biggest combat sports promotions around the world, UFC FIGHT PASS represents unbeatable value for fight fans.”

SHOOTO Japan’s first event takes place late Friday night, April 22nd on Fight Pass.

Payout Perspective:

It’s the third deal with a promotion in the last month: Cage Warriors in the UK, Combate Americas (which caters to a Hispanic audience) and now Shooto Japan.  These deals which grant access to the promotion’s library and/or live events provide more content for the digital platform.  As we know from Netflix, one of the things that keeps this type of business going is content to attract and retain subscribers.  As we also know from Netflix, the question of expanding and retention is a constant question that the company must figure out.  Unlike the Los Gatos company, there does not seem to be a concern about growing the product yet.  With these new offerings, as well as the influx of attractive live UFC events, the digital platform should have sufficient content to appease MMA fans.

Combate Americas joins Fight Pass stable

April 18, 2016

UFC Fight Pass has added Combate Americas to its stable of promotions that will offer live cards on its over the top digital platform.

Original UFC creator Campbell McLaren created Combate Americas and signed the multi-year deal with Fight Pass.  The deal begins Monday with a show in Los Angeles.

According to MMA Fighting, it will be the first of a minimum of 8 events on Fight Pass this year.

Prior to its deal with Fight Pass, Combate Americas was seen on NBC Universo and was geared toward a Hispanic audience.

The acquisition is just the latest by UFC Fight Pass.  Last week, it signed Cage Warriors to its list as the UK-based promotion live streamed its latest event this past Friday on Fight Pass.

Payout Perspective:

Content is key in the digital landscape and the deals with Combate Americas and Cage Warriors is evidence that live streamed events are important for Fight Pass.  The more there is on the network, the more opportunities to garner subscribers.  Combate Americas probably is pleased with the deal as it likely expands its audience to more MMA fans.

RDA-Alvarez headlines UFC Fight Night during International Fight Week

April 15, 2016

The UFC announced that Rafael dos Anjos will defend his lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez on July 7th opening up three nights of fights as part of International Fight Week.  The event, dubbed UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs. Alvarez, will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and be exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

RDA returns from an injury while Alvarez comes off a split decision victory over Anthony Pettis this past January.

Alvarez is 2-1 in the UFC since coming over from Bellator.  RDA is 14-5 and this will be his second title defense.

Payout Perspective:

This is a very good main event for the first fight card out of three in three days.  It will also be the biggest fight on UFC Fight Pass to date.  The event ensures that each night a title will be up for grabs (Joanna-Claudia Friday, Tate-Nunes and Aldo-Edgar Saturday).  For those that will be heading to Vegas for International Fight Week and priced out of UFC 200, this Fight Night event should be a nice alternative.

Liddell and Griffin to coach TUF Latin America

April 11, 2016

UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin will serve as coaches in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America to be shot in Latin America.

The season will begin airing in Buenos Aires, Argentina this spring with the season 3 finale taking place November 5th in Mexico.  The series will air on UFC Fight Pass as well as local networks in the region.

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Via UFC press release:

The first Spanish speaking series of the reality show, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, was launched in 2004 reaching an average of seven million viewers per episode in Mexico and millions more viewers around Latin America. The second season followed the footsteps of the first with viewership in UFC Network, Chanel 5 and 14 free-to-air networks. For 2016, UFC has recruited talent from all over the region and divided them into two teams: Team Liddell and Team Griffin. Both teams will represent a combination of Latin American countries. The series will also include special guest appearances by additional UFC athletes brought in by both coaches to enrich their team’s training experience.

Payout Perspective:

The inclusion of Liddell and Griffin for TUF Latin America is a way to attract Fight Pass viewers.  It also helps draw in some U.S. fans as most international TUF events are mainly for that region.  With the two Hall of Famers coaching it’s clear that the UFC is pushing its TUF brand and it’s over the top digital platform.

UFC 196: Payout Perspective

March 7, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 196 which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  In the main event, Conor McGregor took on Nate Diaz.

Diaz chokes out McGregor

Despite being a late replacement, Nate Diaz used his length and superior jiu jitsu skills to end the mystique of Conor McGregor with a second round tap out of the featherweight champion.  The fight was back and forth in the first round with McGregor making the best of the exchanges.  However, Diaz’s boxing skills took over in round 2 as he touched up McGregor who seemed to gas out.  This became apparent once McGregor attempted to take Diaz down.  Once it was to the ground, Diaz secured a rear-naked choke and McGregor tapped quickly.

It was very interesting how some in the media spun the loss to applaud McGregor into doing something most would never try.  ESPN’s Chael Sonnen stated that McGregor’s star was brighter after the loss.  It’s clear that the UFC does not want to lose the luster of a fighter that earned them two straight attendance and gate records in 2015 and has helped resurrect its PPV business.  McGregor still can be a dominant fighter in the lower weight classes.  But, any dreams of winning titles in 3 or 4 divisions is over.

For Diaz, his career should take off.  He should receive a “money fight” next with either a top welterweight or maybe even a title shot at 155.

Tate chokes out Holm for title

According to the scorecards going into Round 5, Holly Holm led Miesha Tate 38-37 after winning 3 rounds but losing Round 2, 10-8 on all of the scorecards.  Tate knew that she had to win Round 5 and try to submit Holm.  She secured a takedown and was able to get Holm’s back and sink in the rear-naked choke.  Holm attempted to fight it off but eventually went unconscious to the choke.

The loss showed Holm’s inability to defend a rear-naked choke.  The deficiency in her jiu jitsu should be worked on before Holm returns to the octagon.  Based on how great this fight was, I do not think anyone would be mad if we saw this fight at UFC 200.

For Tate, you have to be happy for her.  She was contemplating retirement and was likely never going to get a shot at the bantamweight title so long as Ronda Rousey was the champion.  Due to Holm’s upset in November, it opened the door and Tate walked right through it.  Of course, Ronda Rousey is likely waiting for her this fall if she survives her first title defense.

Attendance and Gate

UFC 196 drew 14,697 for a gate of $8.1 million according to the post-fight press conference.  Another impressive outing in Vegas with McGregor as the headliner.  It was the least attended of the three but was a higher rate than UFC 189’s $7.2 million.

Bonuses

The bonuses went to McGregor, Diaz (x2) and Tate.  Each earned an additional $50,000 per bonus which means Diaz drew $100,000 for Fight of the Night and Performance Bonus of the Night.

Unfortunately, the performances of Teruto Ishihara and Vitor Miranda did not get them extra money.

Salaries

Conor McGregor became the first UFC fighter to make a reported $1 million.  Despite the fact that he stated in a CNBC interview he would make over 10 times that amount, it is mere speculation.  In addition, Holly Holm and Nate Diaz both earned $500,000.  Diaz made an additional $100,000 for his double bonus.  Miesha Tate was the only one of the four to make less than $100,000 without a bonus ($46K/$46K).  Of course, with Tate’s Performance bonus she made $150,000.

Diego Sanchez was the only other fighter to make more than $100,000 at UFC 196.  The rest of the payouts can be found here.

Promotion of the Fight

For a show that had its main event fall out within two weeks before, the UFC did an excellent job in putting together a compelling fight.  The press conference between McGregor and Diaz at the UFC Gym in Torrance was great as over 20K tuned into YouTube to watch it live.  Now, over 2.9M have viewed the pre-fight presser.  I’m sure not as many saw his brother and GSP in the infamous “wolf tickets” presser but it was as entertaining, if not more entertaining.

The Embedded episodes, sponsored by the new UFC video game, featured McGregor and also caught up with Diaz.  It also followed Holm and Tate.

On the Jim Rome Show, Dana White promoted the fight and stated he did not like the Holm-Tate fight for the specific result that occurred.  Holm-Rousey II was the fight the UFC wanted.  If that happens, there will not be as much build for it since both will have a loss.

Conor McGregor appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  Obviously, the jinx was in effect.  Fanatics (a company McGregor has a sponsorship deal with) and UFC.com.

CNBC did an interview with McGregor and Diaz in which Diaz walked off.  Frankly I would have too.  It attempted to be cute and informative but ended up just being condescending and stupid.

Sponsors

MetroPCS, 7-11, Monster Energy Drink, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, the movie Hardcore Harry, Bud Light.  Monster had the center of the Octagon.

McGregor wore a Monster Energy Drink patch on his Reebok shorts.

The fight clock and prep point were sponsored by EA UFC 2.

Notably, Harley Davidson renewed its sponsorship agreement with the UFC as they announced it at the beginning of fight week.  One of the unique parts of the new deal was viewing parties at Harley Davidson dealerships across the country.  During the FS1 prelims, it showed a live viewing party at a Harley Davidson dealership in San Diego.  UFC fighter Ricardo Lamas made an appearance at the viewing party.

Odds and ends

The weigh-ins revealed a new camera view on the scale which is a “go-pro” look at the fighter on the scale.  Maybe it is to get the anxious look on a fighter’s face looking to make weight.

Speaking of “go-pro” cameras, the cutmen wore them as they were also sponsored.  The question should be whether the cutmen get a “cut” of the sponsorship money.  Remember Stitch.

5 million google searches for UFC 196 on Saturday night.  On Friday, there were 100,000 searches and Nate Diaz had another 100,000 for Diaz on Thursday.

On a night that Tate wins the title, Ronda Rousey garnered 100,000 google searches.

UFC Fight Pass offered 20% off to fans wanted to purchase the PPV on its digital platform.  This may be a test for the future as the company would receive a greater part of the gross revenue from PPV purchase.  Even with a discount, the UFC probably cleared more than sharing with a PPV distributor.

Fight Pass offer

Tom Lawlor wore a fake McGregor tattoo at weigh-ins.

Since I’m from Seattle, this is great.  I understand most of the rest of the world it probably means Tate is trying to be a heel.

NAnyone else notice McGregor steal a lyric from Jay-Z at the end of the first Embedded, “I’m not a business man…I’m a business…man.”

It did not go unnoticed that Royce Gracie (who just fought in Bellator) made an appearance on Embedded as he met McGregor.

Speaking of the Embedded series, will McGregor command a full rental mansion in Vegas when he returns for UFC 200 or will he have more of a scaled back Penthouse suite?

Not sure EA intended for its cover to have two fighters coming off of losses when the video game debuts.

Conclusion

The UFC gambled with both McGregor and Holm. While this may be a short-term gain for the company, it could be a long-term worry. The substitution of Nate Diaz proved to be the right replacement but the wrong result. With Tate winning the belt, it means a possible Rousey-Tate III. But it also negates a Holm-Rousey II which could have proved to be big business if Holm remained undefeated until Rousey returned. But for UFC 196, the amount of press and buzz for this event makes me think we see another McGregor fight drawing close to 1 million PPV buys. With the loss, can he continue to draw these numbers past. We will see.

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