MachidaEarlier this week, many were surprised to see that Lyoto Machida had requested to receive “Anderson Silva money” to fight Rashad Evans at UFC 133. This request prompted Dana White to go on another famous rant of his which is discussed in detail by Neil Springer at the Toronto Sun. Here is a selected quote from White’s Rant:

“When you make these kinds of phone calls, you know the guys that are going to be tough (to deal with)…Never do I expect to have a guy accept the fight and then call him back and he says, ‘Yeah, you’re going to have to pay me Anderson Silva money.’ It’s not even like their camp came back and said ‘We want this and extra this or that.’ They came straight out and said they want Anderson Silva money.

“Anderson Silva has been undefeated in the UFC since 2006. He’s broken every record there is in the UFC. He moved up a weight class and beat two guys at 205 easily…[He’s] dominated and cleaned out an entire 185-pound division – and you want his money?”

I was originally skeptical of the whole situation, but Lyoto confirmed the story, as reported by our friends over at Bloody Elbow. As evident from Dana’s retort, he was far from thrilled – and actually quite caught of guard – by this demand from Machida’s camp.  But is it really that off-base? Does Lyoto Machida deserve Anderson Silva money?

At SeatGeek we have been tracking UFC ticket demand for over a year now and we know Machida, like Silva, is a top-draw. So we decided to take a closer look at the numbers and do a little tale of the tape between Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva.

The Tale of the Tape: Machida Wins Out, Deserves a Raise

Machida Deserves Anderson Silva money

Note: Data is the avg. of each fighter's last two headlining fights as reported on mmapayout.com

  • Surprise! Machida wins in 2 of the 3 most tracked statistics when it comes to the success of a UFC event
  • Machida’s main events at UFC 113 and UFC 123 had an average gate of $2,685,000 ($100,000 more than Silva’s avg. gate draw of $2,582,863 at UFC 117 and UFC 126)
  • UFC 113/123, with Machida in the main event, drew an average of 17,026 in attendance (43% more than Silva’s average of 11,932)
  • In Silva’s defense, he did win out on PPV buys with estimated average pay-per-view sales of 675,000 versus Machida’s 510,000 (though both are well over the 2011 post-Brock Lesnar average – Lesnar single handedly elevated the 2010 average during his reign as Heavyweight Champion)

Ok, ok, so Silva has the lead in the “coveted” PPV buys category, but if that is the main factor, then Rich Franklin, Frank Mir, Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin all deserve Anderson Silva money (see: The 10 Greatest UFC PPC Draws).

And I know Silva was the originator on the front-kick to the face, but he was completely swaggerjacked in the best possible way with Machida’s knockout of Randy Couture . This was hands down the best moment in MMA for me in the last 12 months and single-handedly propelled Machida as my most desired fighter to watch.

Look at the Silva/Machida payment argument when it comes to key event success metrics, there is a strong case for Machida’s recent request to earn more money. There are many ways to look at worthiness of salary and many might disagree with this analysis. If so, I would love to here your responses. If you have posts on the topic of your own, feel free to send me a link at chad[at]seatgeek.com and/or post in the comments below and I’ll probably do a round-up/summary later in the week. If you are interested more in the business of MMA, MMAPayout (used for much of the data above) is a great resource.