McGregor’s Beats Diaz, But Does Not Top Himself
At UFC 202 Conor McGregor exercised the demon of UFC 196 in an epic bout with Nate Diaz. However, his recent triumph was only his fourth highest grossing live event.
Now to put that in proper perspective, UFC 202 pulled in an announced $7,692,010, making the card the fifth highest grossing live MMA event ever to be held in Nevada.
Last week this column explored the uphill battle UFC 202 faced when trying to top UFC 200 in terms of the Nevada gate record.
While UFC 202 did not break any gate records, the spectacular card will likely pay higher future dividends than the goliath that was UFC 200.
UFC 202 was the type of event that will make fringe fans feel vindicated for spending $59.99 on pay-per-view and make ardent fans wish they would have gone to Vegas.
UFC does not publicly disclose pay-per-view buys, but if UFC 202 breaks any existing records, the promotion will surely tout their accomplishment.
Not to mention the massive potential that Diaz vs. McGregor 3 would have if no roadblocks occur (“Ahem,” McGregor’s Featherweight Championship).
McGregor Beats Lesnar
Although Conor McGregor will likely never get to settle his war of words with Brock Lesnar in a cage, McGregor has beat Lesnar in the wallet.
McGregor received a disclosed purse of $3 million for his UFC 202 bout with Nate Diaz.
The $3 million topples the then-record setting $2.5 million Lesnar received for facing Mark Hunt at UFC 200.
MMA in the Olympics
The 2016 Summer Olympics have not only brought up international conversation on the truthfulness of Ryan Lochte, but have also stimulated discussion on MMA being an Olympic sport.
While the MMA world may have to wait awhile to see their favorite sport on such a global stage, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated gave a fictional hypothetical version of what MMA could have looked like in Rio.
Similarly, Sherdog.com did an extensive series, creating hypothetical MMA Olympic teams for ten different nations.
Conversely, Greg Savage of Sherdog.com makes a quite blunt case to keep MMA out of the Summer Games.
All three pieces are excellent conversation starters.
Big Debuts Made Streaming-Exclusive for Bellator 160
On Friday August 26, Spike TV will air Bellator 160 headlined by the Lightweight clash between Benson Henderson and Patricio Freire.
In addition to a strong main event, Bellator 160 will feature the promotional debuts of Kevin Ferguson Jr, (son of Kimbo Slice) and Chinzo Machida (brother of Lyoto Machida).
Both debuts will take place exclusively on Bellator.com during the streaming portion of the card.
“As everyone knows, in today’s world it’s important to have a strong digital presence and do everything possible to draw attention and really drive traffic to Bellator.com,” Bellator President Scott Coker told SI.com.
The use of high profile fighters in preliminary matches is nothing new in MMA programming. However, the approach of Bellator is unique, in that cost does not change when the platform alters.
This is in contrast to the three phase system that UFC employs on major cards.
Typically UFC cards begin on UFC Fight Pass (subscription required), followed by prelims on Fox Sports 1 (cable subscription required), and conclude on pay-per-view for a fee. Each portion of the card is used to entice the viewer to purchase the next option.
In the case of Bellator, the promotion is gambling on their television audience migrating to the web prior to the televised portion of the card.
Bellator 160 seems like the ideal event to use special attractions on Bellator.com. A strong main event gives the promotion some wiggle room when structuring their card.
However, the Bellator roster may not be deep enough to keep potential draws off of Spike TV on a regular basis.
More on Bellator’s Strategy
Speaking this week on “Inside MMA,” Bellator President Scott Coker emphasized the importance of drawing casual fans to the product.
“It’s not just about the hardcore audience… to me it’s worked for us. We’ve got some great ratings,” said Coker.
Coker is not wrong. For instance, Bellator 149, a card largely sold on nostalgic acts Ken Shamrock, Kimbo Slice, and Royce Gracie, drew near record ratings for MMA on cable television.
The approach of Bellator has drawn a fair share of criticism for presenting Bellator as a “Senior Tour” of UFC.
“Some of the negative backlash is only in the hardcore community, right?” said Coker. “I mean how many fights have we done that have really been appealing to the hardcore fight fans this year? I would say 90 percent of them.”
While Bellator takes a fair amount of flak for their use of special attractions, UFC engages in similar practices.
The use of both Brock Lesnar and Phil “C.M. Punk” Brooks in 2016 suggest that even the UFC juggernaut seeks to add eyeballs outside of their core base of fans.
The occasional use of former UFC stalwarts in Bellator is a wise move, so long as that strategy does not become the sole identity of the promotion.
(Robert Vallejos writes a new Specialist column for MMATorch titled “Media & Business” focused on, you guessed it, the media coverage of MMA and the business side of MMA. He is fascinated by the presentation, business decisions, media strategy, and press coverage of both UFC and MMA as a whole, and will bring that curiosity to explore and delve into that side of MMA to his weekly Specialist column here at MMATorch. He explains his approach: “As a sport in its relative infancy, MMA does not receive the same level of scrutiny and informed analysis from the sports media as other more established entities. This is why it is vital for independent outlets such MMATorch to grow, while featuring a variety of voices. Unlike mainstream outlets, MMATorch is not beholden to any organization. Therefore I believe it is essential for individuals such as myself to explain not only the ‘what’ but also the ‘why’ of MMA.”)