UFC 169: Payout Perspective

February 3, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the Super Bowl Weekend card taking place at The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Barao handles Faber

To paraphrase Richard Sherman, “Barao is the best fighter in the game, when you put up a mediocre turtle defense like Faber, that’s the result, you going to get. “

A thumbs up couldn’t stop Herb Dean from calling this fight off.  Even if the fight would not have been stopped, it likely would have delayed the inevitable.

UFC_169_2_poster

Aldo demos Lamas

“I’m just ‘bout that action boss. “ – Money Lynch

At least rounds 1-4 Jose Aldo brought the action to Ricardo Lamas.  The combinations were devastating as were the leg kicks which were reminiscent of Aldo-Faber from WEC days.

Attendance and Gate

UFC 169 drew 14,308 in attendance for a gate of $1.651 million based on the announcement at the post-fight press conference. The last time the UFC came to New Jersey in April 2013 for Jones-Sonnen, it drew 15,227 for a gate of $2.7 million.  The actual numbers announced by the UFC point to a disappointing show when there was opportunity for bigger numbers with a lot of sports fans in the area for the Super Bowl.

Bonuses

Only Jamie Varner and Abel Trujillo received bonuses as there were no submissions on the card.  Notably, there were 10 decisions out of 12 fights on the card.

Varner and Trujillo received $75K for Fight of the Night and Trujillo scored the standard $50K for the KO of Varner.

Pre-UFC 169 Promotion

In order to appeal to those coming out for the Super Bowl, the UFC sent out an email to Seahawk fans (and likely Bronco fans) on its mailing lists reminding them of UFC 169 the day before the big game.

UFC 169

The UFC Countdown show worked around the language differences of Jose Aldo and Renao Barao to tell their stories.  I think this is a major hurdle in promoting both of these guys.  It’s nothing against them but I think many English speaking fans find it hard to get behind them because English is not their first language.

The UFC also brought its championship belt to NFL Super Bowl media day but were quickly muted by NFL PR staff.  The NFL thought that the UFC was the WWE and didn’t want it to outshine its day.  It was not until Jay Glazer straightened out the situation with the NFL did the staff at media day allow the UFC to stay so long as the belt didn’t get on the podium.

Then, look which belt the Seahawk GM was wearing:

"The Champs are here."

“The Champs are here.”

Probably small potatoes here, but shouldn’t he be wearing the UFC belt?  According to SB Nation, the picture was taken prior to the Super Bowl so maybe there’s an excuse for the UFC.

Sponsorships

The sponsors in the Octagon included the UFC”s UCasino.com, Dodge, Toyo Tires, Xyience, Harley Davidson, MetroPCS, Musclepharm, History Channel and Bud Light had the middle of the Octagon.

The History Channel’s series, “The Vikings” was a sponsor for 169 and it showed a promo video that included lots of blood and gore.  “The Vikings” logo on the Octagon mat was pretty hard to see.

It appears that Auto Shopper received the same deal as Dynamic Fastener as many fighters had the two sponsors on their shorts.  Dynamic Fastener appeared to own the back side of fighter shorts while Auto Shopper had the front of shorts.

MetroPCS offered digital autographs of Urijah Faber.

Post-UFC 169 Headlines

Who’s next for Aldo?  Short answer is Anthony Pettis.  The cynical question is what to do when/if Pettis gets injured.  The Pettis showdown would mean Aldo gives up the 145 belt (I guess you can’t hold belts in two different divisions) and the UFC could hype up a “superfight.”

Anyone left for Barao?  Is this the definition of clearing a division?  While Aldo may have Chad Mendes left in his division if he decides to stay, Barao has no one compelling to defend his belt against.  Maybe Dominick Cruz if he can ever get back but aside from that, TJ Dillashaw?

Odds and Ends

Toyo Tires re-signed with the UFC and will be an official sponsor for the company through 2015.

I wonder if Chris Caraiso earned any extra points from his sponsor, Training Mask, after donning the mask before facing off at weigh-ins.

Speaking of weigh-ins, I do not recall ever seeing so many people excited about making weight.

Faber wearing Uggs at weigh-ins?  Does that make him the Tom Brady of the UFC?

Super Bowl Fact.  Super Bowl Rings:  Dan Marino – 0, Tavaris Jackson – 1

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the greatness of Renan Barao and dominance of Jose Aldo will not mean much when it comes down to PPV buys.  In retrospect, when Fox announced that the UFC would be a part of Super Bowl weekend, one would have envisioned much more of a collaborative promotion between the NFL-UFC and Fox.  However, there was not much in terms of promotion of this event.  Even when the UFC made an appearance at Super Bowl media day, they were not recognized by NFL PR.

The nonperformance of the marketing efforts aside, UFC 169 may not do well in terms of buys simply because of the fighters on the top of the card.  Fighters under 155 pounds do not draw on PPV.  Is the UFC doing these fighters a disservice by not marketing their divisions correctly?  Or, are the fighters not marketable?  Urijah Faber could have been that guy but with Saturday’s loss he won’t be able to get another shot unless Barao loses and Faber gets on another win streak. Arguably, the top three fighters in the UFC fight below 155: Aldo, Barao and Demetrious Johnson. But, that does not seem to equate to viewers.

Due to the card and the lack of buzz, UFC 169 will likely do somewhere around 200K PPV buys.

UFC 168: Payout Perspective

December 30, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the last UFC event of 2013 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Weidman retains belt after Silva breaks leg

Corey Hill. That is what went through my mind as Anderson Silva’s shin was shattered on a Chris Weidman leg check.  Many may recall the lanky TUF competitor breaking his leg on an eerily similar

Leg checks are gruesome as it is and Silva’s kick that broke his leg looked like it was right on Weidman’s knee.

It appeared that Weidman may have knocked out Silva in the first but Silva was able to survive round 1 and even bloodied Weidman.  Although Weidman likely won round 1, the fight was still up in the air before the kick despite folks concluding that Weidman would have won the fight.  Weidman did look much improved from July and solidified his standing as the division’s champ.  It appears that Vitor Belfort may be next.  The question is will it be in Vegas or Brazil?

As for Silva, it’s likely the end to his career.  At 38, Silva has had a successful run and should be financially set for the rest of his life.  We may see him in the UFC in some sort of emeritus role but never again in the Octagon fighting.

UFC_168_event_poster

Rousey armbars Tate to retain title

Ronda Rousey submitted Miesha Tate although the challenger put up a fight and was the crowd favorite throughout.  Rousey refused a Tate handshake at the end which solidified her as the heel.

Tate was a heavy underdog and it seemed that surviving the first round was a victory in itself.  Despite not getting armbarred in the first or second round, Rousey was still dominating the match.  Her Judo was exceptional and one has to wonder why attempt to take Rousey to the ground when Tate scored with shots on her feet.

Rousey has a quick turnaround as she fights Sarah McMann on February 22nd.

Some have speculated that the Rousey-McMann fight was made to coincide with the Winter Olympics.  Both were medalists in the Olympics.  The only problem with this theory was that Rousey and McMann competed in the Summer Olympics.

Browne KOs the Warmaster

Travis Browne used his elbows to KO Josh Barnett in what was a mini-upset.  Browne propels himself to a fight with Fabricio Werdum with the fighter likely getting Cain Velasquez.

Attendance and Gate

As announced at the post-fight press conference, it was the second-highest gate for an MMA event in MGM history with 15,650 for a gate of $6.2 million.

Bonuses

Rousey, Tate and Browne were the recipients of the fight night bonuses.  Instead of the standard $50K each, the UFC upped the bonus to $75K.

FOTN – Rousey-Tate

Sub – Rousey

KO – Browne

As we previously pointed out, Jim Miller should have received the Submission of the Night with his slick setup and eventual arm bar of BJJ Black Belt Fabricio Comoes.

Salaries

The Nevada State Athletic Commission revealed the pay of the top 3 fights on the card (via MMA Junkie).  The rest of the card should be made public later this week.

Chris Weidman received a big pay increase in pay in his first title defense.  He received $200K to show and another $200K for the win for a total of $400K.

Silva received $600K and would have made another $200K if he won.

Rousey made $50K/$50K but with another $150K in bonuses she tallied $250K for the night.  Tate made $28K and another $75K for $103K.

Josh Barnett made $170K and Travis Browne made $56K ($28K/$28K) plus his $75K win bonus for a total of $131K.

Raise in PPV Price

One of the surprises that came before the fight was the $5 bump in price for the last PPV of the year.  UFC 168 was the first at $59.99 (HD) and $49.99 (SD).  White indicated that this would be the only time it would raise its price.  However, there is some confusion as to whether the $59.99 will remain in 2014 as the current prices on the UFC web page list UFC 169 an 170 at $59.99 although there are reports the listed price is a mistake.

There were many promotional commercials leading up to 168 that still promoted the PPV as $54.95 although you were likely made known of the price change when you went to order.

The rise in the price could mean more people went to bars to watch the PPV and maybe more fight parties.

Promotion of the Fight

The UFC went all out for UFC 168 with branding all over the MGM Grand including the key cards, slot machines and gaming felt.  I can attest the UFC has done the gaming felt back in the Tito Ortiz days (circa 2006).  Still, the constant reminders of the fight likely helped out.

ESPN got in on the action as it let Dana White take over its twitter and Instagram accounts on Saturday to hype the fight.  The obvious conflict is that White’s company is featured on ESPN’s newest competitor, Fox Sports 1.  The fact White is allowed to promote on ESPN and that ESPN wants White to promote the UFC infers that MMA is legitimately making strides as a sport that is newsworthy (well, except that ESPN got rid of the over the air version of MMA Live).

UFC used FS1 to promote the fight and showed Weidman-Silva I and also aired “Fighting Words” which was an interesting look at the first fight that included audio of the corners that caught what each said to their fighters.  It also included interviews by both fighters and audio from Jon Jones and Urijah Faber at the fight.  While UFC Primetime has been shut down, this show did a great job in recapping events leading up to the rematch.

The Saturday morning edition of Good Morning America did a spot on Ronda Rousey which is a pretty big even if it was the weekend crew of GMA.

Fight Pass

The UFC held a press conference prior to the fights to announce the UFC’s new digital network, the UFC Fight Pass.  More on this later but the sweetener for UFC fans is that it is giving users 2 months free before it charges your credit card $9.99 per month.

Sponsors

Sears was the newest “big” sponsor to the Octagon.  Maybe a “one off” but I’m sure the UFC hopes that it can bring it in as an official sponsor.  Tapout, MusclePharm, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Cinemax’s “Banshee”, Peter Berg’s movie, “Lone Survivor”, WarGaming.net, MetroPCS and Bud Light with the center.

UltimatePoker.com had the prep point outside the cage and AXS TV had the official weigh-ins.

Harley Davidson ran a promotion for its Project Rushmore motorcycles in which the winner of Weidman-Silva would win a motorcycle.

MetroPCS also had a unique activation for this event where twitter users could obtain a “personalized” digital photograph of Ronda Rousey.

Interesting sponsor of the night:  Autoshopper.com.  It was on a number of fighters including Miesha Tate.

1Law.com, a law firm out of Utah picked the right fighter to sponsor as it was on the front of the shorts of Travis Browne as he KO’d Josh Barnett.  It has sponsored Browne in the past.

Monster (an official UFC sponsor) headphones are going to be around more and more heads in the Octagon so get used to them having them on and not listening to anything.

Nike was noticeably absent from Anderson Silva.  When asked by Ariel Helwani in a pre-fight interview, Silva told him to ask Dana.  White deflected comment but it was clear that Nike did not pay or would not pay the sponsor fee for Silva this time around.  To be clear, Nike still sponsors Silva, it’s just that he was not on Silva’s shorts, shirt or banner.

Rousey was sponsored by the UFC in what looked like signature gear.  She was also sponsored by Xyience.

Tate had a number of sponsors including Autoshopper.com, Venum, Affliction and Training Mask.

Silva did have less sponsors this go round.  He had Wizard, Burger King, computer maker Lenovo and soccer club Corinthians Paulista.

Weidman had an assortment of sponsors including Bad Boy Club, Oak Grove Technologies, American Ethanol, Monster and investment firm InCapital.

Post-UFC 168 Headlines

The new faces of the UFC.  Saturday we saw the two new faces of the UFC in Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman.  With GSP and Anderson Silva gone within weeks of each other, Weidman should be marketed as the top UFC guy.  Even though Jon Jones has a fair argument here, his last couple of fights have not equated to PPV success.  Weidman took down the GOAT twice and we will see how long he can defend the belt in this division.

Despite being the “heel” against Miesha Tate, Rousey has the “it” factor that draws people to watch her.  She is brash, dominant and that look of determination walking to the ring would have anyone hiding their arms around her.  The question is whether the fame and time obligations may catch up to her.  With her next fight so close to this one and coming off of shooting two movies, we will see if it catches up with her.

Odds and Ends

-The UFC offered closed circuit of the fight at the MGM for $60 per person.  I do not believe the UFC put this PPV in movie theatres.

-There were over 5 million Google searches for Anderson Silva on Saturday night.  Most searchers likely wanted to see an image of his broken leg.

-It was the first time I recall the main event fighters coming out from different sides of the curtain at the weigh-ins.

-Over 14.6K people were on YouTube at the start of the very first fight which bodes well for viewership for the rest of the card.

-Rumors of Brock Lesnar in Vegas during UFC 168 is reminiscent of the two guards that sat in the courtroom that unnerved Colonel Jessup in “A Few Good Men.”  In other words, the UFC could have just flown Lesnar out to Vegas and create a story that wasn’t there.

-Rousey and Tate are complete opposites and this was most telling in their walkout songs.  Katy Perry (Tate) vs. Joan Jett (Rousey).

-Due to the short fights, there was a lot of downtime and “commercials” and the live fights ended at 9:30pm PT.

-Buried by the main event stories was the second straight impressive win by Michael Johnson on the Prelims.

-Uriah Hall saved his job, while Chris Leben likely heads to retirement.

Marc Jacobs is selling a Ronda Rousey t-shirt.

-Anyone else notice that the broadcast team kept pumping up the odds including right before the Tate-Rousey fight.  That might not be new, but what was new was that it directed people interested in odds to the UFC web site.

Conclusion

The hype for this fight was the biggest this year and the women co-main event had a lot to do with it.  It may be one of the highest HD PPV buys ever.  There was a lot of mainstream buzz for the fight which not always transfers into PPV purchases. But I think the buzz helped.  Despite the protests about the price increase, it will likely not affect the final PPV buys.  An estimation of around 750K PPV buys should be attainable if not surpassed after all is said and done.

UFC 165: Payout Perspective

September 22, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at the thrilling main event title defense of Jon Jones against Alexsander Gustafsson from the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Jones wins unanimous decision over game Gus

Jon Jones’ face told the story as he was battered but was able to do enough to defeat Alexander Gustafsson.  Despite being able to stifle most of Jones’ takedowns throughout the fight, in the end, Gus just ran out of gas in the 5th.

Jones connected on a spinning back elbow in the 4th which seemed to turn the match around.  The judge’s scorecards reflected a 3-2 split with Jones on top although one judge had 4-1 in favor of Jones.  However, most media scorecards had Jones winning with several outlets scoring it 4-1 for Jones.

For Jones, a Glover Texeira fight was set to be next however with such an exciting fight by Gustaffson, we may see a rematch before Texeira’s shot.  Much banter is going back and forth about putting the fight on Super Bowl weekend in New Jersey.

UFC_165_poster

Barao solidifies spot at 135

Despite a slow start, Renan Barao used a spin kick to derail Eddie Wineland in defense of the interim Bantamweight title.  Barao has his eyes set on a date with Dominick Cruz to unify the titles.  Cruz will have his work cut out for him.  First, when will he be back?  Not only will he be coming back from a 2 year absence, he will be going up against one of the hottest fighters in the UFC.

Attendance and gate

In its third time to the Air Canada Center, attendance was down but the gate revenue remained steady from its last visit. UFC 165 did 15,504 with a gate of $1.9 million. At UFC 152, it did more attendance (16,800) but same gate of $1.9 million.

Going into the event, there were concerns of dwindling gate revenue in the Toronto market but it appears that Saturday’s gate was on par with its last visit.  However, the attendance was definitely smaller.

Bonuses

Bonuses were the standard $50,000 each and were as follows:

Fight of the Night:  Jones-Gus

KO of the Night: Barao

Sub of the Night: Mitch Gagnon

Brendan Schaub could have received a sub of the night vote for his D’arce choke of Matt Mitrione.  I guess coffee will not be on him in Venice as he had exclaimed during the post-fight octagon interview.  Also, Stephen Thompson could have received a KO of the night for his work.

Promotion of the Fight

One of the more peculiar promos leading into a fight was the fact that the UFC highlighted the reach of Gus versus Jones.  While we’ve seen the UFC highlight size (e.g., Lesnar v. Overeem at UFC 141), I cannot think of a time when reach has been a selling point.  Obviously, the underlying point is that perhaps Gus could do something against Jones whereas others have not.

Jon Jones threw out the first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game.  This would have drew more press and fans if the Blue Jays had held up its end of the bargain by contending for a pennant as was predicted at the beginning of this season. The Jays did play the Yankees and of course Jones is seen talking with Alex Rodriguez.

Sponsors

The Octagon sponsors included Assassin’s Creed IV (the presenting sponsor), Alienware, Tapout, AXS TV, UFC Gym, MusclePharm, , Ultimate Poker, Dodge, Xyience and Bud Light in the center.

Xyience had the fighter prep point for tonight. SafeAuto Insurance sponsored the Tale of the Tape. And, Harley Davidson ran commercials during the PPV for UFC 166 which promoted Project Rushmore.

The big news was the addition of Gatorade as a sponsor for Jon Jones.  This, and Nike were, Jones’ only sponsors. ESPN’s Darren Rovell cast doubt on Gatorade’s sponsorship of Jones but later recanted citing that the sponsorship was a “one off” and unusual for the brand.

Jones was featured in more Nike Pro Training Ads (h/t FighterxFashion) and had a brief cameo in the latest Nike commercial.  He also had more shirts added to his Nike Collection including a “Not Quite Human” t-shirt he wore during the walkout.  Again, Jones threw out his Nike shoes to the crowd at the weigh-ins.

Alexsander Gustaffson thanked his sponsors in his post-octagon interview including Bad Boy. The clothing brand also showed training video of Gus before his fight.

A sponsor that has been around but has yet to be recognized here: Chegg.  An online student textbook store.  The logo is clear and easy to see and comes at a time when some students are heading back to school.  Just needed to know what it was.

Post-UFC 165 headlines

Who does Jones fight next? Glover Texeira was next in line and was even interviewed on the PPV after the fight.  But, how can the UFC not capitalize on the 165 momentum. Jones has been steamrolling over fighters in the division without much damage except for a broken big toe.  At UFC 165, his face was busted and his takedowns were stuffed all night long.  Doesn’t Gus deserve a rematch? Then again, Texeira could be a tougher opponent for Jones and with a game plan to attack the champ, Texeira might be the guy to finally topple Jones.

When will Cruz be ready?  Dominick Cruz has been out of action for the past 2 years.  If he cannot face Renan Barao in the first quarter of 2014, Barao should have the interim tag removed from the title.  Cruz has been a great commentator for the UFC, but if he cannot go, he should retire and allow the UFC to crown Barao the champion.  A Barao-Cruz fight would be interesting but how much has Cruz lost in the two years away?

Odds and ends

–  Not spoken by many, the actual PPV went approximately 3:40.  It hasn’t gone over 3 hours since its return to Japan at UFC 144.

– Rudy Gay and Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors were at UFC 165.  Gay was shown during the PPV broadcast.  Ross tweeted he was there supporting Jon Jones.

–  Something that the Prelims is doing is having the live camera in the corner of the fighters in between rounds while showing commercials in multi-split screen.  Its an interesting way to keep the cameras going while getting the ads in.

– We found out that the thing Khabib wears on his head is a traditional Russian headdress.

–  The event saw two fighters go unconscious from submissions.

–  Maybe Schaub redeemed himself with his BJJ skills from his grappling match this summer at Metamoris.

Conclusion

On Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer podcast, he predicted that the buy rate may be around 380,000 PPV buys.  A part of the explanation has to do with the fact that fans see that October, November and December have great PPV cards and 165 was a little less.  Moreover, many fight fans just spent $75 on Mayweather-Canelo.  Another $55 would put a hefty dent in PPVs for the month.  Thus, a consumer’s choice not to purchase this PPV.  Realistically, aside from Jones, there were no other big names to promote.  The UFC did not highlight the Bantamweight title matchup and Gustafsson going into the fight.  A PPV number around 300-350K is likely here.

Rousey signs Xyience sponsorship deal

April 24, 2013

Ronda Rousey has signed a one year sponsorship agreement with official UFC sponsor Xyience.  The monetary terms of the deal were deemed confidential.

Via Xyience press release:

Rousey will appear in advertising, on point-of-purchase materials and on the brand’s website. She will also make appearances at beverage trade and consumer events.

“Ronda’s excellence in athletic performance is only part of what makes her a huge inspiration to athletes and fans,” explains John Lennon, XYIENCE’s president. “She is a fearless agent of change within MMA, whose passion for her sport and dedication to achieving her goals embodies the spirit of our brand’s philosophy: Power to Win. We are proud to be associated with such a talented and articulate athlete.”

According to Lennon, XYIENCE Xenergy has attracted a large number of female consumers – approximately one-third of its consumer base. “According to research that we conducted in early 2012, females’ preferences for Xenergy included its superior flavor and the fact that it is sugar- and calorie-free. Ronda is an excellent spokesperson who will be an integral part of XYIENCE and communicating our brand message to this growing audience.”

Payout Perspective:  

Rousey’s in Octagon sponsors in her UFC debut was the UFC and Xyience.  The announcement makes this official.  Its likely that Xyience will utilize Rousey more so than most of its male UFC fighters.  It will be interesting to see what other sponsors Rousey will obtain.  One has to think that she’d pick up some more mainstream sponsors considering her retention of a Hollywood agency and the publicity she’ll have with the upcoming TUF series on FS1 in September.

Xyience signs The Iceman

March 9, 2013

Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell has signed an endorsement contract with Xyience.  The one year deal will have the former UFC champ promote the Xyience brand.

Via XYIENCE press release:

Liddell will appear in the brand’s advertising, on its website and in its point-of-purchase materials. Later this year, XYIENCE will launch a series of unique consumer promotions that incorporate Liddell.

“On so many levels, Chuck embodies the spirit of our brand: Power to Win,” says XYIENCE President John Lennon. “His career is a testament of the drive and deep-seeded passion that’s required to produce excellence in athletic performance. That’s the kind of inspiration we want to share with our consumers.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the UFC and Michael Levy, XYIENCE COO and CFO explains, “We built the XYIENCE brand in MMA, alongside the UFC. So this year it’s especially meaningful for us to work with an athlete like Chuck Liddell who continues to be a powerful force in the sport. While our distribution has skyrocketed the past few years and we’re a national brand, XYIENCE remains firmly rooted in MMA.”

XY_ChuckLiddellBranded


Payout Perspective:

The deal shows the mainstream appeal of Liddell.  Despite his retirement, he remains one of the most recognizable UFC fighters in the history of the company. Xyience is capitalizing on Liddell’s trademark mohawk and goatee in selling its product to fans.

UFC 157: Payout Perspective

February 25, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we take a look at UFC 157 from The Honda Center in Anaheim, California. In the main event, Ronda Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche in the first ever women’s bout in the UFC.

Rousey submits Carmouche, UFC wins

Saturday night’s title fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche could not have gone better unless it had gone 5 rounds…or even 2.  But, Rousey’s trademark armbar with just seconds left in the first round left the crowd and many fans satisfied with the main event.

UFC 157 poster

The fight legitimized women’s MMA.  Rousey did what she does (i.e., armbar) and Carmouche showed that she was not a tomato can.  In the end, the UFC ended up winning as it showed that the women could put on a show.  It took a risk in putting this as the main event and the women came through.  Now the only issue is where it goes from here.

Machida wins, the fans do not

This fight complemented the main event because it was not an entertaining fight.  If Rousey-Carmouche were not on top of the card it would have been this fight.  Fortunate for everyone, the UFC went with the women.  With that said, it was a tactical fight that was slow paced.  Whether it was Machida’s in and out or Henderson’s constant measuring of the Dragon, the fight lacked any excitement.

Machida will get another shot at Jon Jones but after watching this fight, I’m not sure if that excites anyone.

Faber chokes out Menjivar

The details of jiu jitsu.  If you have the fight on DVR, during the finish watch how Urijah Faber uses his non-choking arm to peel back the forehead of Ivan Menjivar which exposed his neck despite Menjivar’s attempts to tuck his chin.  With the neck exposed, Faber slid in his arm and coupled with the body triangle Menjivar was forced to tap. The peel back of the arm is what Carmouche was unable to do with Rousey when the two were in a similar position.

An impressive win for Faber as he looked fresh and reminiscent of his time in the WEC.  However, the rub is that he’s in a place where he’s better than the mid-card but not good enough to claim a title.  We’ll see what the UFC does with Faber.

Attendance and Gate

Announced at the post-fight press conference, the Honda Center was sold out with 15,525 for a gate of $1.4 million.  There was no confirmation on paid attendance versus comps.

As we detailed here, it was the highest attended event at The Honda Center which included UFC 121: Velasquez versus Lesnar.  It also bested the two Affliction events held at The Honda Center although Affliction: Banned earned more ($2.1M gate per MMA Payout’s Blue Book).

It seems as though Anaheim is the “go to” venue outside of Vegas.  This venue worked for this event.  The Honda Center is down the road from Rousey’s home in the LA area and up the road from Carmouche’s in San Diego.  Most fans could travel easily up or down Interstate 5 to support their fighters.  Southern California is a hub for MMA and is more progressive than most areas of the country.  Sure, it’s in Orange County but it’s in Anaheim, not Newport Beach.

Bonuses

As reported previously, the bonuses were $50,000 each and were awarded below:

Fight of the Night:  Dennis Bermudez v. Matt Grice
Submission of the Night:  Kenny Robertson
KO of the Night:  Robbie Lawler

Promotion of the Fight

Rousey was on every media outlet imaginable: ESPN, SI, The Jim Rome Show, Time and HBO Sports to name a few.  The UFC stated that this event received the most media attention ever and Rousey has received more media than Brock Lesnar.  The Rousey media blitz drew support from mainstream notables that gave their support via twitter.

 

 

The UFC pitched gay media to focus on the Liz Carmouche her story.  The UFC did a good job in marketing Carmouche as a pioneer for the gay community without exploiting her sexual orientation.  It also stressed the fact that she was a U.S. Marine.

With Danica Patrick competing at the Daytona 500, media were eager to jump on the women’s weekend.  Realistically, it’s hard to blame the media focus: it is historical, out of the ordinary and an easy lead that would get readers/page views.

UFC Primetimes

The 3 part UFC Primetimes were especially good this time around.  It had more meat to it for the obvious reasons.  Both fighters had compelling stories that drew you in.  It’s what the Primetimes are supposed to do.  It seemed more like the good HBO 24/7s especially the last 5 mins of the first and third episodes.  Good narration and great writing made the shows.

Sponsorships

The night’s sponsors in the Octagon included Xyience, MetroPCS, UltimatePoker.com, Toyo Tires, Dodge Dart, TapouT, new sponsor Head and Shoulders and Bud Light in the center.  Corn Nuts also sponsored the corner cam.

Rousey was sponsored by the UFC as she donned the UFC-Monster headphones and wore UFC sponsored gear although I believe that Lululemon Athletic made the fight gear.  Will double check on that.  She also had a Xyience patch on her shorts.

In addition to inside the Octagon, Rousey also has deal with Fuji gis.

Fuji gis

Carmouche had several sponsors including VA Home Mortgage (which sponsored several fighters on the card), Salesforce and Torque.

Henderson had his Twitter and Facebook handles on his shorts in addition to Clinchgear.

Machida was sponsored by official UFC sponsors Bony Acai and Head and Shoulders in addition to Venum,

Kenny Robertson won submission of the night and also gets the award for best sponsor:  Mason Funeral Home.  A funeral home sponsoring a UFC fighter?  Everyone dies so it is in the UFC demo.

Josh Koscheck and Lyoto Machida are still sponsored by Lugz.  I didn’t know that the company was still around.  But, these two have had long-term sponsor deals with the company.

Post-UFC 157 Headlines

What’s next for women’s MMA – It was a good debut for the women in the UFC.  It was an exciting, competitive match and no blood.  There was the concern of Rousey almost losing her top but the UFC avoided that issue. So, what’s next?  Rousey will be a draw the next time she fights.  But, the bigger issue is what happens when other women fight.  The UFC would not be able to get as much buzz for another women’s fight if Rousey is not in it.  We’ll see how the UFC uses women’s MMA to complement the male card.

Machida next for Jones – Is anyone excited to see this rematch?  Perhaps the UFC hoped for Henderson to win here to get a redo for UFC 151.  I’d rather see Alexander Gustafsson get the shot.

Odds and ends

–  Kenny Robertson will be teaching class on Monday at his “day” job.

– I was sitting on the tweet that Henderson was going to knock the head off of Machida’s shoulders all night.  It didn’t happen.

–  I wonder if there was a proposition bet on whether Carmouche would have gotten out of the 1st round.  If so, that would have been exciting.

–  It’s obvious that the UFC has a working relationship with Invicta as Carmouche’s coach wore the shirt and the logo was seen during the UFC Primetimes.  Zuffa wouldn’t let this happen unless there was a business relationship.  If women’s MMA starts to take off could we see another Zuffa purchase?  More likely I could see the UFC using Invicta like a farm system and call up fighters to fight on a UFC card.

Conclusion

With all of the great media attention the UFC received for Saturday’s event, it will be interesting to see how much of the media attention will convert to PPV buys.  It reached out to more media than usual in getting attention for this event.  Rousey and Carmouche have been great ambassadors for women’s MMA.  But, I think it will boil down to whether the casual viewer can stomach the possibility of seeing a woman busted open and bleeding like Joe Lauzon at UFC 155.  Or, can they watch an arm be broken right in front of their eyes.  These are questions that seem silly but will really determine whether women’s MMA can succeed with the UFC.

With that being said, a low to mediocre PPV buy rate would be disappointing considering the amount of public relations and press buzz the UFC received for this bout.  Yet, how many new viewers can be added for this event?  Would the backstory of Rousey and the novelty of the women’s fight be enough to convert non-UFC followers to pay for the PPV.  Last year’s PPV average hovered around 450,000 buys.  If UFC 157 hit the average it would be a success.

Despite UFC 151, Xyience event a success

September 5, 2012

Despite the loss of UFC 151, sponsor Xyience held its Xenart event in Las Vegas on Friday, August 31st.  The event was well attended and winners for the Xenart contest were announced.

According to Xyience spokesperson, Stephanie Forte, there were well over 200 people at the event held at the Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art in Las Vegas.  “So, in the end, the cancellation of UFC 151 did not impact the event as one would perhaps anticipate,” said Forte.

“We were thrilled to be able to bring together the art and MMA communities to celebrate the XenArt artists and our new beverages,” said John Lennon, XYIENCE’s president. “Congratulations to our winning artists and a sincere thanks to all of those who participated in the XenArt contest. We look forward to hosting another successful event next year.”

The event included many from the local MMA landscape rather than those that may have flown into town for the Jones-Hendo fight.  Nevertheless, the event was well attended as Xyience celebrated the winners of the Xenart contest.

The Winning Piece

Payout Perspective:

The lack of a more national presence is a result of the cancelled event.  However, the event reflects a unique perspective on the philanthropic endeavors outside of the octagon of MMA brands.  As we noted in a previous post, it also shows the varied skills of some of the UFC roster.  The art exhibition is a very different form of brand activation for a MMA sponsor but Xyience leveraged its social media (fans voted on winners through its Facebook page), introduced its new beverages at the art event.

Xyience hosts XenArt event pre-UFC151

August 2, 2012

Official energy drink of the UFC, Xyience, will hold a unique event featuring art from UFC notables including Dan Hardy, Mac Danzig and Brittney Palmer.  The event will be held the same weekend as UFC 151: Jones v. Henderson.

The event, XenArt: the Energy of Art, takes place August 31st in Las Vegas and will feature a red carpet event featuring Dan Hardy.  The art exhibit and silent auction will benefit local Las Vegas charity, Contemporary Arts Center.

Via Xyience press release:

On display will be work from Hardy, UFC welterweight fighter and artist, Mac Danzig, UFC lightweight fighter and landscape photographer, Brittney Palmer, UFC octagon girl and painter, Eric Williams, renowned sports and celebrity photographer, Evan Shoman, well-known sports celebrity sketch artist, Tracy Lee, noted MMA photographer, and others.  Select pieces from the MMA artists will be a part of a silent auction benefiting the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), a Las Vegas- based non-profit that provides a central venue for artists and the community to come together for education and to experience all varieties of artistic and cultural expression. Established in 1989, CAC is one of the most recognized institutions for cultivating the visual arts in the community.

In addition to the art exhibition and auction, Xyience is running a contest in which individuals can submit their own art and win a cash prize.

Payout Perspective:

Art…who goes there?  This is a unique promotion involving the UFC and Xyience.  Not only is there a component of brand activation for Xyience with the art contest and event but it provides a unique layer for UFC fighters.  Not only do Hardy and Danzig train and fight, they have outside interests.  This event should gain some press considering the red carpet photo op and the chance to look at the art and photos at the exhibit.  It also opens up Hardy, Danzig and Palmer with another interest in their lives.

UFC 145: Payout Perspective

April 22, 2012

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective!  This time the UFC hit Atlanta for UFC 145 where the much anticipated fight between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones took place.

Jones outclasses Evans

Did the fight live up to its expectations?  Despite the hype, the outcome was never in doubt.  Jon Jones dominated Rashad Evans to win via decision.  Jones’ ability to utilize his reach and unique strikes did in Evans.

Both fighters received their share of boos from the crowd.  It’s interesting to witness that folks hate Jones.  Is it due to the perceived arrogance?

It appears that Jones is heading for a clash with Dan Henderson in a fight where most fans will be behind Henderson.

Next big thing?

Rory MacDonald may be the next dominant fighter in the sport.  He dominated Che Mills to continue his ascent up the welterweight ladder.  He is adamant that he’d never fight GSP if it came down to it. But, that scenario is down the line.  We will definitely see more of him and he’s still very young.

Rothwell ends Schaub quickly

Honestly, I went out of the room during introductions and I came back and this fight was over.  This was the second straight fight in which Schaub was knocked out. A good win for Rothwell who looked like he was in much better shape than his last fight against Mark Hunt.

Attendance and Gate

The UFC announced on Friday that 145 had sold out the Philips Arena.  We’ll update the numbers once we recieve them.  UPDATED:  MMA Junkie reports 145 drew 15,145 for a gate of $2.2 million.

Sponsorships

–  The big news for UFC 145 was that headliner Jon Jones would sport UFC branded gear.  As we noted, it appears that this will be a trend for the future.  Frank Mir, who will take Alistair Overeem’s place at UFC 146, will be the next fighter to wear UFC gear.

As it turns out, MicroTech and Xyience were secondary logos on Jones’ UFC gear.  Xyience had prominent space on the back side of Jones. In the end, is this new trend a conflict of interest?

Evans was sponsored by MMA clothing manufacturer Jaco.  But, he also was sponsored by Bony Acai, MusclePharm and Corn Nuts.  Three UFC Official Sponsors.  Coincidentally, MusclePharm was a prime sponsor of the main event.

Frankly, we do not know the relationship between Official UFC Sponsors and what opportunities each gets in terms of signage/visibility at each event.  So, it’s possible that the UFC placing its official sponsors on UFC branded fighters is a complementary piece to its existing partnership.  It could also charge its official sponsors for being secondary marks on the UFC branded fighters.  The UFC has indicated that branding fighters is a sign of the future.  As we hypothesized, the UFC could be inching out other MMA sponsors from the fighters in the Octagon.  As a result, there might be a time the UFC could entice more sponsors to become official UFC sponsors so that it could be on fight shorts or walkout shirts.

– Metro PCS, Dodge, RYU, US Marines and Corn Nuts all sponsored different portions of the night.  Metro PCS sponsored the weigh-ins on Friday.  MusclePharm sponsored the main event.

– Some new fight sponsors I noticed last night:

Kalapaki Joe’s – Its is a sports bar in Hawaii.  Interesting that a sports bar with locations in the islands decided to sponsor UFC fighters.  The good news is that one of its sponsored fighters was Rory MacDonald.

Square – Full disclosure.  I actually use this device.  It allows businesses to swipe credit cards remotely.

Majors Pharmacy – Mark Bocek’s sponsor on the back of his trunks.  It was easy to see and it helped that Bocek had top position most of the fight.

Husky – Rashad Evans was sponsored by this company although after an internet search I could not find them.  Always have your website with your logo folks.  I seem to think that this is an industrial-type company but if any reader can help, I’d appreciate it.  UPDATED:  According to a commenter, Husky is a tool and construction accessory company.

–  The UFC didn’t have its usual walkouts as the main and co-main events were the only walkouts shown.  This is a new trend that may hurt sponsors in the end.  As it turned out, with the KOs, there was some filler time between fights which could have been done with walkouts.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports that the bonuses for the night were $65,000 each.

Submission of the Night:  Great ji-jitsu by Travis Browne to submit Chad Griggs.

KO of the Night:  As I stated earlier, I missed the Rothwell-Schaub fight because it was so quick.  But after rewinding, it was an impressive KO.

Fight of the Night:  Eddie Yagin and Mark Hominick – Hominick included his customary pushups after the final bell rang.  In return, Yagin did some situps.  It was like they were completing a workout or something.

Pre-Fight Hype

The UFC Primetimes were pretty interesting but were hidden away on Friday night and with TUF Live as a lead-in.  For all the efforts in promoting the fight, there were not enough opportunities to see a pretty good Primetime lead-in for the fight.

UFC Primetime Episode 1: 462,000 viewers
UFC Primetime Episode 2: 573,000 viewers

There was a lot of mainstream promotion for Jones-Evans.  The two traded verbal jabs on ESPN, UFC 145 sponsored a segment of Sportscenter (and I thought Dana White said the network hated MMA and the UFC?), they made an appearance on the NBA on TNT’s post-game show featuring Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal and Jones was featured in the Wall Street Journal.  The TNT appearance probably was due to the fact that the event was in Atlanta where TNT studios are located.

Mashable also had an article which featured the UFC’s social media strategy. In the article, it reports the UFC purchasing Promoted Tweets for UFC 145 which should increase trending visibility for the event. Despite paying for tweets, many UFC Fighters were trending topics last night on twitter organically.

The UFC is also starting to use Pinterest – which I still am not clear on how it works.

A criticism about the promotion of this card is the fact that not enough was done to promote the undercard.  There was little time spent on MacDonald-Mills, Rothwell-Schaub or any of the other fights.

Post-UFC 145 Headline

– Henderson next for Jones:  The only one real headline after the PPV.  The young lion versus the old vet.  Will Henderson have a chance against Jones?  Can he pull a Randy Couture?  Henderson packs more of a punch than Evans but will face the same reach disadvantages as Evans.  Also, Jones’ conditioning is phenomenal and one need only look to the Rua slugfest at 139 to see that Henderson may be in trouble.

Odds and Ends

– If the UFC is coaching certain fighters in interviews, it must have talked to Michael McDonald when he said he was going to party after his fight, “But not with alcohol, with the sweets.”  Ben Rothwell is another for thanking strangers, who he revealed were the fans of the UFC. Of course, I am joking about this.  I was chastised on twitter about making light of McDonald.  Now I know how Cage Potato feels.  Ok, not exactly.

–  Che Mills had the best walkout music of the night.  Too bad he faced Rory MacDonald.

–  I had hoped that Rashad Evans would have come out with his Bill Gates Mug Shot T-Shirt (FighterXFashion has the backstory).  The same one he wore after his knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 88 in Atlanta.  Evans did walkout to the same music at 88.

–  Anyone else think that the “Jones vs. Evans” lettering on the poster for UFC 145 was an odd choice?

Conclusion

In the end, the success of this PPV will hinge on the main event as the UFC put all of its marketing and promotional force behind the one fight.  It received some good mainstream acknowledgment which should help.  Also, Jones and Evans are great ambassadors for the sport.  This was the first PPV in which you could see some tweeks which could be influenced by Fox.  This included the elimination of walkout entrances of most fights except the main and co-main events. Venturing a guess as to the PPV buys, I would speculate we see somewhere in the 500K neighborhood.

Xyience takes center of Octagon May 5th

April 20, 2012

Xyience will hold the center of the Octagon in the UFC’s third network appearance May 5th.  The official energy drink of the UFC will also appear on the ring bumpers during the event..

Via Xyience press release details the importance of the visibility:

To gain perspective on what this means in terms of reach for XYIENCE Xenergy, the November 12, 2011 UFC debut on the network, UFC on FOX Velasquez vs. Dos Santos was ranked No. 1 among men aged 18–34. It also delivered more viewers of a younger age (35), and a higher concentration of males, than other live sports on broadcast television. The XYIENCE Xenergy logo could be found on the perimeter of the mat during that broadcast.

In support of the announcement, Xyience is staging local appearances by Matt Serra on May 4th and 5th.  Details can be found here.

Payout Perspective:

A good boost for the visibility of the Xyience brand for the event.  Similar to the November 12th event, UFC on Fox 3 will have to compete with a big boxing PPV the same night as Floyd Mayweather fights Miguel Cotto.  It’s likely that the two events will not directly cross paths that night as the Mayweather fight will likely occur later on in the evening after UFC’s event on Fox.

It’s interesting that we are seeing more brands having an opportunity to take the center of the Octagon for events.  As an example, Affliction was the center for UFC on Fuel 2.  We will see who will be next.

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