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« | Home | »

The value of Gina Carano

By Zach Arnold | March 22, 2009

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Sam Caplan says she’s worth $100,000USD a fight. He uses the examples of the paychecks UFC gave to Brandon Vera and Fabricio Werdum to support this opinion.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

The market will support whatever promoters feel fit Gina is worth. Dana White is not interested in women’s MMA, so the value of Gina in the marketplace automatically goes down.

So, the next question to ask — is Gina worth $100,000USD per fight for Strikeforce or Affliction? How do you determine her value? For starters, can she sell $100,000USD worth of tickets or PPV buys for a promoter? Nobody knows. She certainly has mainstream star crossover appeal, but that doesn’t mean that she can attract the big money as a fighter.

Then there is this argument:

If ProElite was willing to pay Antonio Silva $200,000 and Kimbo Slice at least $500,000 for his last fight, then Gina should be worth 100K.

There’s a reason why Pro Elite lost $55M USD in under two years. This had something to do with it. Telling promoters to pay Gina $100k a fight because others did and are out of business is purely an emotional, not logical business argument at this point. Gina needs the exposure more than Strikeforce needs the exposure in terms of generating revenue as a fighter in-and-out of the ring. Showtime and CBS is a platform for her to do it on. If Strikeforce can give her that platform and she can make ancillary revenue from it, why should they pay her $100k per fight? Doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy watching her fight or that I don’t think she’s a star — but put yourself in the shoes of a promoter right now trying to compete in a UFC-dominated marketplace where everyone is basically losing their ass financially.

The reality of women’s MMA right now is that until Dana White is willing to make an investment in it, it’s going to be a very steep, uphill climb for the girls in the MMA industry to get paid on a big scale outside of Zuffa.

Topics: Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 43 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

43 Responses to “The value of Gina Carano”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Vera was worth $100,000 when the UFC had no contenders for their Heavyweight Division. And now he is worth about $50,000 a fight, which is in line with a bunch of other UFC Light Heavyweights. And Werdum has signed with exactly whom to warrant a contract even close to the amount that Zuffa had him signed for? Nobody will touch him.

    I think in general… Women don’t sell tickets. They might get really casual fans to tune in to see the freakshow element to it. Because let’s be honest…. For too many people, female fighting is a freakshow…. No matter how skilled those lady athletes are.

    If Carano signed with Zuffa, it will be for the WEC… And they will use her to get more viewers. Beyong her, I don’t think Zuffa has much interest in promoting women fighting.

    I wouldn’t pay a female fighter more then $30,000 to $50,000 per fight…. And Carano is the only one who can warrant that size purse. The rest can be signed for $5,000 to $10,000 a fight.

    If a female wants to make more beyond the amounts I have stated, she needs to be getting good sponsors.

  2. Steve says:

    She wont be worth that much after Cyborg finishes with her.

  3. Chris says:

    You called it Zach,

    If you can tell me that Gina Carano can fight in a main event and draw 10,000 15,000 fans live gate, and another 100.000 buys on PPV, then maybe she’s worth that kind of money. But we all know that’s not the case.

    I love women’s MMA. But paying Carano $100k is bad business. Especially since women’s MMA in america is still in it’s developmental stage. If Gina really thinks she can recieve 100k from any promoter, god bless her. But that promoter should not be Strikeforce.

    Part of learning from Pro Elite’s mistakes, is to actually be fiscally responsible, and not burn through huge amounts of money. Here’s hoping that they stick to their guns.

  4. Alan Conceicao says:

    ProElite paying Carano money was the least of their troubles. Spending $4 million dollars to acquire Spirit MC? Different story.

    I see what you’re saying Zach and I agree to an extent. I thought I about writing something today about how many of the old developmental shows are now more often than not unwatchable messes featuring horrible fighters that aren’t even regional talents. But then you point out some pro-am event that ran a Massachusetts expo center off the back of some ex-TUF scrub? See, that’s part of the problem. Sign a Sammy Morgan type to a one fight contract and find some local “prospects” of questionable skill, talk about not wanting to compete with the UFC (as if you ever could), pay a couple bloggers (not necessarily you, mind you), and you too can be called the next great regional promoter. Why do we even need the “next Strikeforce”? Don’t we already have Hooknshoot, MFC, Rage In The Cage, Gladiator Challenge, Palace Fighting Championship, Sportfight, etc etc etc?

  5. robthom says:

    Oh, you mean to fight?
    I was gonna say left testicle, an arm, ears…

  6. S.R. says:

    Carano is a ratings star and she is definitely worth $100K per fight. She appeals to both men and women and she is marketable for the advertisers (e.g., she was in the Pepsi SuperBowl ad).

    Carano brings the ratings. Dave Meltzer: “Based on the data available, the Carano vs. Kelly Kobold fight was the hit of the night, adding 950,000 viewers from the previous segment. That makes Carano two-for-two as the top ratings mover. Carano’s fight with Kaitlin Young on May 31 added 1,020,000 viewers. The disappointment of the night was Andrei Arlovski. The former UFC heavyweight champion’s fight with Roy Nelson, the last IFL heavyweight champ, lost 110,000 viewers from the Carano fight.”

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mma/news?slug=dm-excratings100608&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    Scott Coker knows that Strikeforce is now a TV based promotion. See the video at 3:53.

    http://fiveouncesofpain.com/2009/03/14/5-oz-video-interview-with-scott-coker-strikeforce-ceo-talks-dream-matchups/

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    1. She can’t really sell tickets.

    2. Her fights last about 20 minutes of the telecast tops.

    3. During those 20 minutes, can they actually recoup $100,000 of advertising to warrant her salary? And keep in mind they would need more then that so both Strikeforce and CBS each get their piece.

    There is likely a reason why Kimbo & Gina aren’t signed yet. It makes me think Coker isn’t making stupid signings… Which Carano for anything close to $100,000 would be (in my opinion).

  8. David says:

    Great article Zach… Put things into perspective for those wondering (though I don’t think that many people are contemplating on how much Gina should make per fight).

    Great post. thank you.

  9. Mr. Roadblock says:

    Caplan is out of his mind on this one. Actually he’s probably just trying to get attention. Mission accomplished I guess.

    I donth think Gina attracts much interest at all beyond the Internet fans. The argument about her adding eyeballs on CBS is misguided. There was no posted bout sheet on those shows meaning no one knew who would fight when. I think people happened to tune in during her fight to see if Kimbo was up then left.

    If you know anything about business our be nuts to pay her more than $10-20 grand. Nobody else is bidding for her services. Tell her if she’s such a big star make up that money in advertising on her shorts. If you are Strikeforce and she tells you Affliction is offering $50 letb her go there it’ll only help put them out of business faster then you can offer her $5 grand when Affliction folds.

    This whole game of guessing what fighters are worth is crazy. Yes I would like to see fighters make a great living. But business wise nobody outside of a few UFC main eventers are “worth” more than $10g per fight. What you are worth is how many seats and Pay Pe Views you sell. It has been proven that no one in Affliction including Fedor(hands down the most overpaid athlete in MMA) can draw.

  10. steve says:

    She should get $100K for Cyborg, not some she-can. If she beats Cyborg, she should get whatever she wants, because she would then be the real deal. Maybe. If she is fighting cans on TV, she should pay the promoter.

  11. Alan Conceicao says:

    If Carano was really only worth $10,000 a fight, she’d have been picked up by the WEC already. But she’s obviously worth more than that, regardless of whatever you think her drawing ability may be or what you consider women’s fighting to be valued at. Same goes for everyone else: If Fedor isn’t worth the money he’s getting, then people will stop paying him. But for all the talk about how people won’t actually enter DA BIZ~ this year, I keep seeing press releases about new promoters entering the fray and TV deals almost monthly.

  12. 45 Huddle says:

    “If Carano was really only worth $10,000 a fight, she’d have been picked up by the WEC already.”

    That is incorrect. She could have been offered $50,000 a fight…. but if she thinks she is worth $100,000 or $200,000…. That is likely the reason she hasn’t signed yet.

    In my opinion…. Female fighters are in a position the guys where back when SEG owned the UFC. Basically, they should be doing this because they love it, not because of the money.

  13. Alan Conceicao says:

    That is incorrect. She could have been offered $50,000 a fight…. but if she thinks she is worth $100,000 or $200,000…. That is likely the reason she hasn’t signed yet.

    She and her management (who seem pretty adept) would have to have reason to think that she’s worth $100,000+, not just idle speculation. In any case, its pretty obvious she’s in demand from a lot of people, and when you’re in demand you can ask for more money. Good for her. Hopefully she gets everything she can guaranteed instead of being suckered into some bonus driven contract.

  14. James says:

    The idea that a fighter’s worth lies only in the amount of tickets or pay per views their name is able to sell, while well meaning, is a bit of an antiquated notion especially when dealing with the complexities of the Strikeforce business model and unique nature of women’s MMA.

    Gina Carano brings two things to the table that far more experienced and talented male athletes cannot.

    First off, her last appearance on CBS drew a gigantic boost in viewers while Andrei Arlovski then lost almost half that many.

    Many claim that there is no financial benefit to pulling eyes to a free TV show. This may be true of TNA Wrestling or something of that nature, but Strikeforce now has a pretty lucrative deal that makes them around $500,000 per show. How long do you think that deal will last if they pull no viewers to free TV? EXC already proven you cant get viewers with Robbie Lawler – Jake Shields. Gina is a growing star who is one of the best financial deals in MMA at drawing viewers to free TV, which brings me to my next point.

    Strikeforce is trying to grow a brand nationally, internationally and across three television networks. Making oneself as ubiquitous to MMA as the UFC is no cheap endeavor. Over the lifetime of their current deal millions will be spent in advertising. This high price of advertising and exposure is exactly what necessitates a high salary for Gina Carano. Gina gives one instant exposure on Entertainment Tonight, E! News, David Letterman, Conan, etc…a level of interest and exposure reserved to less than a handful of MMA fighters.

    Gina is worth $100,000 and more, whether she can sell one pay per view or not because the public loves Gina, and she can make the public fall in love with Strikeforce.

  15. 45 Huddle says:

    Who even wants her to fight for them?

    Any small organization won’t pay her likely asking price. No major MMA organization in Japan has ever done a female fight. Affliction is likely out of business soon.

    And Zuffa probably hasn’t even talked to her, as they have a policy to not neogitiate with people with contracts to other companies (which she currently has).

    Even if she was a free agent… Her power is between Strikeforce and WEC. WEC won’t pay her more then Faber or Torres out of principle alone (I would assume). And from what it sounds like, Coker is SMART with his money, and isn’t going to be giving out any huge contracts at this point.

    She has such little power right now in demanding a high contract price.

  16. 45 Huddle says:

    “Gina is a growing star who is one of the best financial deals in MMA at drawing viewers to free TV”

    Growing star? She hasn’t been on TV in a while, and she has zero PPV Power or ticket power. You might think this doesn’t matter, but it does. Especially when talking about likely one of the Ten biggest contracts in Strikeforce. Not to mention…. And I think even guys like Coker & White know this…. She is one fight away (with Cyborg), from having her stock fall faster then Citigroup’s. They have both been in the fight game a long time. If she was so valuable, both would have jumped on it already. They are fully aware that everybody wants to see Carano/Cyborg, and Carano could be finished after that. Strikeforce doesn’t have the finances to afford her high ticket price, nor the TV time to promote Cyborg and her in two different divisions.

    And just like with Kimbo, you can’t build an organization with a weak foundation (Kimbo).

  17. Alan Conceicao says:

    Who even wants her to fight for them?

    Pretty much any promoter? She’d get more than $10,000 fighting absolute cans for some XFC level type show, much less WEC or Strikeforce.

  18. Alan Conceicao says:

    Growing star? She hasn’t been on TV in a while, and she has zero PPV Power or ticket power.

    She probably has more PPV power than Frank Shamrock, and I can pretty much guarantee you Frank Shamrock is making more than $50,000.

  19. […] See the original post here:  The value of Gina Carano | FightOpinion.com – Your Global … […]

  20. 45 Huddle says:

    Once again Alan, you are taking pieces of a discussion and twisting them.

    Re-read this: “Who even wants her to fight for them? Any small organization won’t pay her likely asking price. No major MMA organization in Japan has ever done a female fight. Affliction is likely out of business soon.”

    It’s nice that XFC wants her to fight for them, but they probably can’t afford her, nor would her agent/manager likely allow her to fight with TV behind it.

    So if you read my entire post, you will see she really only has 2 options… Which is Strikeforce and UFC… And neither seem to be that interested at this point.

    As for Frank Shamrock…. I can’t stand the guy… He ducks top competition and then talks a big game. But he sells tickets. Especially in the San Jose market. Not sure about PPV’s at this point… But the guy can talk and promote a fight. He is worth more then Gina by far. Not to mention that he is a MALE…. Which automatically gets a fighter more money in the current state of the sport.

  21. Mr. Roadblock says:

    Where dies this notion that the gneral pblic loves and beds to we he fight come from? I think that’s Internet guy talk. American Gladiators was a huge flop. It’s not like she has some great personality I something and stood next to a normal girl she doesn’t look good. Shlooks like a guy with a pretty face and big cans. Maybe it’s jet me and that’s not what I’m into. If you like dudes who look like a lady or whatever thats fin. Reason I bring that up is because that is what you guys are really talking about is the novelty aspect and bringing fans in.

    As for Shamrock he and Cung Le are big draws in San Jose. They boy pack he HP Pavillion and this are worth what they get. Some of the above arguments would get you failed out of business school.

  22. Alan Conceicao says:

    So if you read my entire post, you will see she really only has 2 options… Which is Strikeforce and UFC… And neither seem to be that interested at this point.

    So then why is Strikeforce talking with her management and why does Zuffa mention her so often? Its obvious there’s interest from both. Hell, if they could get a one-off with Affliction for a handpicked opponent, they’d be stupid not to do that too.

    She’s gonna get more than $25K for her next fight. Pretty much a given.

  23. Alan Conceicao says:

    As for Shamrock he and Cung Le are big draws in San Jose. They boy pack he HP Pavillion and this are worth what they get. Some of the above arguments would get you failed out of business school.

    Neither man has actually packed the HP Pavillion against anyone not named Gracie or against each other. If Strikeforce was any other promotion, people would be out trying to count empty seats and proclaiming that doom was imminent.

  24. frankp316 says:

    I have posted a new interview with Gina Carano on my blog.

    http://frankp316.blogspot.com/2009/03/gina-carano-speaks.html

  25. 45 Huddle says:

    Strikeforce is talking to her because she fills in a card nicely. It’s an added attraction to a card. Like I said, she is worth $30,000 to $50,000 a fight.

    Josh Koscheck fills in a card nicely. I don’t see him getting $100,000 a fight. And Koscheck is more well known then her.

  26. Alan Conceicao says:

    Strikeforce is talking to her because she fills in a card nicely. It’s an added attraction to a card. Like I said, she is worth $30,000 to $50,000 a fight.

    And that’s your opinion. If she signs for more, then I guess you’re wrong.

    Josh Koscheck fills in a card nicely. I don’t see him getting $100,000 a fight. And Koscheck is more well known then her.

    I doubt he is, actually. Plus, since he’s turned into slugtastic gatekeeper, he definitely isn’t worth Carano money.

  27. 45 Huddle says:

    The fact that she is still not signed shows that she isn’t worth what she is asking for. That much is certain. And Strikeforce is highly unlikely to sign big contracts at this point.

    Outside of main eventers in the UFC, nobody is really worth much. The fact the companies like Zuffa pay guys like Fitch over $50,000 for a win is more based on them doing right by the fighters. If they decided to cut all of their non-main event fighters pay in half, only some of them could find equal pay somewhere else. The rest would have to take the paycut because their isn’t much of a market for fighters.

  28. […] Sam Caplan and Zach Arnold have sparked a debate about how much Gina is worth. I don’t know the answer, but someone […]

  29. Garret says:

    There’s no way she’s worth $100,000 per fight. She has yet to prove that she can draw.

  30. prefernottosay says:

    tara larosa is laughing her way to the bank

  31. Alan Conceicao says:

    The fact that she is still not signed shows that she isn’t worth what she is asking for.

    Or they could be working out finer aspects of the contract.

    Outside of main eventers in the UFC, nobody is really worth much.

    Except a bunch of guys like Le, Frank Shamrock, Tamura, Yoshida, Cro-Cop, Sapp, etc. The argument that the UFC could just stop paying its midlevel fighters is hilarious. Yeah, they could do that and then they’d all head over to Strikeforce, DREAM, etc. for comparable money and revitalize the talent bases there. They left those places because the UFC pays so much more to begin with.

  32. 45 Huddle says:

    You really think DREAM, Strikeforce, and Sengoku could absorb all those fighters? And for the same price?

    Sengoku & DREAM are likely losing money, and their ratings continue to plummet. Strikeforce could only sign a few, and would be risking a lot by putting so many larger contracts on the books without the UFC name.

  33. Alan Conceicao says:

    You really think DREAM, Strikeforce, and Sengoku could absorb all those fighters? And for the same price?

    Same price as who? A UFC that cuts all its non-main event fighters down to 10K/12K? They’re paying that now for lesser fighters.

  34. 45 Huddle says:

    If the UFC is paying guys so badly, then how come the only one’s they have really lost in a long while are:

    Tito Ortiz – Wants TONS of money

    Andrei Arlovski – Got tons of money.

    Zuffa almost never loses guys for money reasons. So what you are saying makes no sense.

  35. Alan Conceicao says:

    45, who are you arguing with? I thought you were claiming that the UFC could slash fighter pay and everyone would stay.

  36. James says:

    This weekend I was at the MMA Fight Expo in San Diego. Kimo, Joe Stevenson, Diego Sanchez and many others were in attendance. These fighters were walking around seeing the sights and talking to an occasional fan, signing a few autographs as they went. Gina Carano on the other hand was like the pied piper of MMA. Everywhere she went she was followed by a swarm of children and adults alike. Much to the dismay of many hard-cores, Gina is a star.

    This is the real world and the fact of the matter is that an attractive female fighter is a bigger deal to mainstream America than most top level male fighters.

    This comment section is proof enough. Zach and Sam are writing about her, people are talking and arguing about her. How many people are out there arguing about Jake Shields or Bigfoot Silva? Not that many.

    As I previously stated, Gina is worth the money simply for the mainstream media attention she can bring to your product. A couple of appearances on late night talk shows and an interview on ESPN are worth far more, advertising wise, than the $100,000 we are talking here.

    She is a star the media will cover and talk about more so than any available fighter save for Tito ortiz

  37. James says:

    45,

    I have zero doubt that Gina is a rising star.

    American Gladiators on its worst day had double the ratings of EXC’s Lawler-Smith installment. Yahoo named her one of their 10 most influential women of 2008, she starred in the Fight Girls TV series on the Oxygen network, she is featured on the major video game Command & Conquer 3 along with Ric Flair and Randy Couture. She is also starring in the upcoming feature film Blood and Bone.

    Danica Patrick is valuable no matter her skill as a race car driver. Whether she wins or not, she has value as a marketing icon. The difference between Danica and Gina is that Gina has had continued success in her sport.

    There are people out there who cant name the UFC HW champ but they sure as heck know who Gina Carano is because they have seen her on TV, read about her in magazines, seen her in Maxim, etc…

    Whether you like it or not, she is a star, and in my opinion is the best financial bargain in MMA today.

  38. Ultimo Santa says:

    “45 Huddle Says:
    1. She can’t really sell tickets.”

    You don’t know that. You can’t.

    Let’s just say, hypothetically, that the UFC decided run Gina Carano vs. Whomever on a PPV. They send her on the interview circuit to do Regis & Kelly, late night with Jimmy Fallon, a bunch of magazine and newspaper interviews, etc.

    Gina Carano ALONE could boost PPV numbers by 50,000 – 250,000 buys (?). Who knows? Unless Zuffa stops being sexist and allows women to compete in their organization, we’ll never know what she can achieve on the biggest stage.

    In reality, if Gina in fact does land in WEC for a fight, we’ll get a better idea of her drawing power since they seem to be gaining popularity, but UFC is obviously the biggest litmus test.

  39. 45 Huddle says:

    So a bunch of MMA nerds at an MMA convention means she is popular? Ali Larter is treated like the Queen of England at Comic Con, doesn’t mean she is a huge star outside of geekville. Nor does it mean she can make people go see a movie based on her name value alone.

    Ultimo Santa… You really think Gina could increase a PPV by 250,000? Or even 100,000?

    Plus, as I said before…. She is one fight with Cyborg away from being an after thought. People love pretty ladies…. They don’t like seeing pretty ladies get KO’d.

  40. Ultimo Santa says:

    Gina’s popularity is proportional to her promotional vehicle. If the UFC chose to promote her, and feature her on the main card of a PPV (say as a co-main event), then my guess would be yes – she could bump the PPV numbers significantly.

    Many hardcore fans (I’d bet you included) laughed off Lesnar’s value to the UFC. Both McMahon and White agreed there was no cross-over potential for WWE/UFC fans.

    One year later, Lesnar has been a f’ing cash machine. He hasn’t been on a PPV that’s posted less than 600,000 buys!

    UFC 81 – Mir vs. Lesnar – 600,000
    UFC 87 – GSP vs. Fitch – 625,000
    UFC 91 – Couture vs. Lesnar – 920,000

    Anderson Silva, the best P4P fighter on earth according to Dana White, does half that:

    UFC 82 – A.Silva vs. Henderson – 325,000
    UFC 90 – A.Silva vs. Cote – 300,000

    So yes, Gina Carano could DEFINITELY bump a UFC PPV number significantly by bringing in her own fanbase and the casual viewer. But unless she’s promoted properly and given the chance, we’ll never know.

  41. Alan Conceicao says:

    45 was all about Lesnar before he had ever fought.

  42. ferocitytv says:

    I’m a huge fan of women’s mma, but I also realize that Dana White won’t promote female MMA for many years to come. He says it’s because he’s never been a huge fan of women fighting or that there’s just not enough women out their fighting. The later is definitely not true. Both of Dana’s comments help deflect attention from the real reason Dana won’t promote female MMA anytime soon. Quite simply it’s about “sanctioning.” Dana’s working to get MMA sanctioned in a number of states and overcome the stigma of the sports early roots as brutal and “no holds barred.” I’m guessing he’s worried about protectionistic legislators seeing a brutal woman’s fight on his card and having a more negative response than if they saw a couple of guys getting banged up. A brutal woman’s fight could influence them to not to sanction the sport. Dana has stated that getting MMA sanctioned in all 50 states has been his number one goal for MMA to reach it’s full potential for the athletes and promoters. I’m guessing he fears a brutal woman’s fight would set this goal back several years. People tend to be more protective of women getting hurt than men and he doesn’t want to risk what this could mean in getting the sport sanctioned state by state. As a result, we won’t see women fighting in the UFC until the sanctioning battle is won. Carano or no Carano. By then, Carano will be retired unfortunately. Sanctioning has been a slow painful process.

  43. 45 Huddle says:

    Lesnar has a look and the “it” factor. He also does a fantastic interview.

    Gina is one of the worst interviewers out there. The girl is a walking “um, yeah, oh okay”.

    Not to mention that no woman, in boxing or MMA has really been a draw to this date. Boxing has had a few women with potential, and none could do it. I don’t see how MMA would be any different. Until this is proven otherwise, I can’t see how people like Ultimo Santa can argue differently.

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