Week in MMA & Boxing #50
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
September 9th - September 17, 2016
CM Punk gets Dominated
The journey of C.M. Punk to the UFC octagon is over, as he was smashed last weekend at UFC 203 in Cleveland. Punk was taken right down by opponent Mickey Gall when he got aggressive trying to strike. Gall started landing hard punches as Punk’s ground defense was very limited against a far more experienced ground fighter. Gall went for a guillotine, but Punk escaped that. Gall got his back and went for a choke, gave it up and started landing a lot of punches. The second time he went for a choke, Punk escaped. The third time, Punk was submitted in 2:14.
Aside from a few early punches while on his back, Punk got no offense in. It’s questionable how good Gall is, given his first UFC opponent was a reporter who dabbled in fighting and Punk was a novice. But UFC did luck into a charismatic guy who did a great job of taking advantage of his lottery ticket as “the opponent.”
Going forward, you can also possibly give a new phrase to someone who is out of his league and takes a quick beating in UFC. They got Punked.
UFC 203 Business
Punk’s debut from a business standpoint which, based on early evidence, looks to be a success. Early indications based off internet PPV numbers are that the show will do something in the range of 450,000 to 460,000 buys (and keep in mind any number based strictly on iPPV buys could be off significantly) for a show that would have probably done about 270,000 without him. Based on a few numbers, coming in at about 70 percent to double that of UFC 201, that would indicate a number in the 425,000 to 475,000 range, but those figures could easily be off this early. The number greatly exceeded company projections. So if we estimate it as 180,000 more buys due to him at nearly $30 per head to the promotion, that’s $5.4 million in added revenue, not to mention any other value as far as bar purchases, merchandise, whatever value he brings to other UFC products and the like. When the word came out that he was paid $500,000, a lot of people were shocked and upset.
The reality is that he would have almost certainly had a cut of the PPV since he was the top draw on the show. While it doesn’t appear the PPV did a monster number, with a PPV cut, you’re probably talking about a few hundred thousand more dollars added on to that purse. And given the revenue he brought to the table and the interest level, right now it looks to have been a bargain for UFC. I was shocked that in 2016 people would complain about what he earned when it was clear he was going to drive some revenue, and $500,000 is only 17,000 extra buys, a number even the most conservative of estimates should have figured he’d blow past.
The number based on early estimates is a lot more than I expected given how long it had been since he had been featured on television and that he did nothing particularly memorable in his promotion of the fight past a reality show that did very low numbers. If anything, the success of the show showed that pro wrestling fans were more loyal to Punk than previously believed, or are more willing to purchase a UFC PPV to see a pro wrestler in action, at least for the first time. It was clear the day of the show that there was a lot of buzz, as far as just curiosity.
“Nothing against C.M. Punk make half million for his MMA debut,” wrote former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. “But I think champs should been make that too, people who dedicated a entire life.”
“C.M. Punk made 500k on his entry fight while the rest of us pay to fight?” wrote former title contender Cat Zingano. “F*** this. Y’all should be ashamed.”
“Didn’t throw or land a single punch and still banks 500K,” noted Kelvin Gastelum. It should be noted that he did throw a few punches while on his back.
Tom Lawlor, in particular, was furious, stating that it cheapened the idea of being a UFC fighter.
“He leveraged his name and contacts for a 500K payday and created a false narrative to seem altruistic. F*** him.”
Considering how hard they train, and that only the top tier are really making big money, it’s easy to sympathize with the fighters that were furious when that came out. But it’s a business reality and I’m not sure how anyone could have been surprised. Part of the frustration on the fighters’ side is that the company was just sold for $4 billion and many recognize just how high the profits have been for the owners, and the fighters are only getting a small percentage of the big pie. But Punk making money doesn’t change that dynamic. Punk’s $500,000 doesn’t mean that $500,000 is money that other real fighters wouldn’t earn. In actuality, based on theory, he’s generating far more than he’s paid, increasing the pie for earnings.
In reality, Punk being on the show helped Stipe Miocic, who also got a PPV cut and also had more people see him win an exciting main event. It helped Gall, giving him an avenue to make a name for himself. More eyeballs saw Fabricio Werdum, Jimmie Rivera, Bethe Correia and Jessica Andrade win, but that gain for them is really minimal. For everyone else, it neither helped nor hurt them. The show will go on. The big fights will continue to be big. The fights people don’t want to see, well, they still won’t want to see them.
The reaction was interesting. For the most part, after he lost, most pro wrestlers and fighters were congratulatory, saying at least he tried and bucked the odds. Then, when it came out what he was being paid, a lot of fighters were furious. You can understand the emotion, in the sense they were the real deals and being paid a fraction what he was being paid when he really didn’t even deserve based on skill level and training time to be in the same cage as them. But he created far more revenue then he earned and the fight business is just that, a business.
Was this it for Punk?
There was a part of him disappointed by his performance, and the tears he started shedding at the post-fight press conference seemed a mixture of joy and disappointment. What brought him to tears was his wife telling him how proud she was of him.
He was adamant he would fight again, and that he was going to try MMA, whether he started in the UFC or in a small show. The reality is, with his name value, he was never going to start in a small show. Had UFC not taken him, Bellator would have. The fact that every MMA organization and even non-MMA fighting companies had at least contact and some talks with Alberto Del Rio when he left WWE tells you that. Granted, Del Rio had fought in MMA before and was a world class Greco-Roman wrestler in his youth, but Punk was also a far bigger star than Del Rio as far as what he would bring to the table.
If UFC drops him, and given that a gimmick like Punk figured to be more of a sure thing as a television draw than a PPV draw, he’s tailor made for Bellator. Given Scott Coker’s history, whether Punk would win or not, Coker almost surely line up an opponent far easier than Gall, knowing it’s in his best interest to have Punk win, and then come back for another go after having looked good.
UFC 203 Fights
Stipe Miocic retained his heavyweight title after being dropped in the opening seconds by Alistair Overeem, finishing the Dutch Demolition Man in 4:27.
The fight capped off a weird show, with a fighter calling time out and the referee accepting it, a fighter going three minutes without being able to see in one eye, somebody claiming that the referee missed a tap until Joe Rogan put the footage on the screen.
Miocic got one of the biggest pops in UFC history, when, in his home town, he knocked Overeem out with punches on the ground to retain his title. Miocic would seem to most likely face Cain Velasquez for the title next, although former champion Fabricio Werdum said he should get the next shot, ad others feel Junior Dos Santos should get it since he defeated Miocic last.
In the first round, Werdum, who was seemingly copying a lot of his offense from moves popularized by Jushin Liger, threw a punch that either broke or dislocated one of Browne’s fingers. Browne turned his back and wanted a time out. The ref then stopped the fight calling for an injury time out, which makes no sense. The blow was legal and there is no such thing allowable as injury time outs from a legal blow. When Browne turned his back, the fight should have been stopped.
The doctor came in to examine Browne. Then everyone in the cage started getting confused on whether or not you stop a fight over a dislocated finger. Even though the stopping of the fight for the injury should have meant the fight was over, whether Browne could or couldn’t continue after a respite or being examined, the decision was made that Browne was okay to fight. Werdum ended up taking the decision.
The show drew a sellout of 18,785 fans to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland for a gate of $2.6 million. It was UFC’s first show in the market and had a local star defending the heavyweight title on top. The place was pretty much sold out on the first day tickets were put on sale to the general public. The gate was the largest in the history of the building other than Cavs NBA playoff games.
The ratings were interesting. At first glance, the 870,000 viewers for the prelims would indicate not a very big PPV show. The audience was likely hurt by ABC, FOX, ESPN and ESPN 2 all having college football head-to-head and drawing more than 11.5 million viewers combined against the UFC show. NBC Sports did 2,706,000 viewers with the NASCAR Sprint championship race at the same time.
The UFC number would only be in fifth place for the eight PPV prelims on FS 1 so far this year. But what happened was there was a good-sized television audience, but they came to the show late.
UFC PPV Update
With the monster numbers of the two Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz fights, UFC has done about 6.35 million PPV buys so far this year. UFC’s most buys were 8.8 million in 2010, so they would need 2.45 million to reach that mark and are well ahead of last year’s record revenue pace. If we go with 300,000 in October for Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson, that leaves an MSG show, which if it is McGregor vs. Jose Aldo or McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez, could hit 1 million and maybe more, and a December show, which, if it was the Rousey return, which I’d figure would be another 1 million minimum, which makes 2.3 million. Keep in mind I’m estimating conservatively, so if Rousey does fight in December, they have a shot at this being a record year. If not, there doesn’t look like there’s a shot, but as long as McGregor fights once more this year they should beat last year for revenue.
The 10/8 show in Manchester with Michael Bisping defending the title against Dan Henderson sold out in six minutes. I think that pretty much says they should have done that thing in a stadium. There may be noise issue problems as the show will start at either 11 p.m. or midnight local time and end somewhere between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. because of the feeling that a PPV has to be live (and I do think a UFC PPV should be live) and also has to be at 10 p.m. Eastern. Because people are creatures of habit and UFC does big business with bars on the West Coast that don’t want the PPV starting before 7 p.m., it’s screwed for the European fans live.
Brock and Jones Day in Court
The Nevada Athletic Commission hearing on 10/10 may be the biggest one of the year. That is the hearing at this point for the drug test failure of both Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar (which could have pro wrestling ramifications in the sense in states where commissions license wrestlers he’d be on the suspended list if there was a commission ordered suspension) as well as the bottle throwing incident at the McGregor/Diaz press conference. The latter will probably have some strong sanctions.
UFC Middleweight Division
UFC must have made an offer worthwhile financially to Luke Rockhold this week since he agreed to a fight with Ronaldo Jacare Souza as the main event of an 11/26 show in Melbourne, the company’s second show in the market. This announcement would indicate a Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero fight, with Madison Square Garden on 11/12 being the most likely date since it’s well known they were looking for a big Weidman fight on that show. UFC sources have indicated that’s a likely direction and Romero on Instagram announced he was fighting Weidman on that show, before taking down his post some time later. If Dan Henderson wins the title and retires, the winner of those two fights would become champion. If Henderson doesn’t retire or Bisping wins, then the most impressive winner of those two fights will have the leg up for a title shot. But if Bisping wins, there is also still; the chance of Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre, which would be a huge money fight and both Bisping and St-Pierre have indicated interest in it.
MSG Show Building
Add Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum for 11/12 in Madison Square Garden after Robbie Lawler pulled out of that show. Gastelum was originally to face Jorge Masvidal on 11/5 in Mexico City. They are working on a new opponent for Masvidal.
Also added to the MSG show is Gian Villante, of Long Island, against Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy is also being worked on for that show. Evans is originally from upstate New York.