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Fact Check: Dana White Predicts 1.2 Million Buys for UFC 91, But Is That Just Crazy Talk?


(If Dana is right, Jack Link’s Beef Jerky is about to get their money’s worth.)

UFC president Dana White appeared on ESPN First Take today (thanks to our friends at MMA Fanhouse for the heads up) to talk UFC 91, and it seems he isn’t backing down from his earlier prediction that this event would do over a million pay-per-view buys. This time White got even more specific with his figures:

“We think it’s going to be the biggest pay-per-view draw in UFC history,” White said. “We think we’re going to do 1.2 million buys on this fight. It’s a big fight, the WWE cross-over for this fight, a lot of WWE fans are going to tune in to see if their former wrestling champion can win in a real fight. Vince McMahon might even buy this fight.”

One hopes that White is relying on some kind of consumer research, as he has claimed in the past, and not just spouting off a number. But 1.2 million buys, in the midst of a recession? That’s the kind of claim that makes me want to call ‘shenanigans,’ as the kids say.

The shakiest part of this logic is the dependence on the curiosity of the WWE crossover audience, especially the portion of that audience that typically passes on buying UFC events. This is Brock Lesnar‘s third UFC fight. Granted, it’s his biggest one yet, but only fans who follow the UFC enough to realize the importance of Randy Couture appreciate that.

To the casual WWE fan that White is depending on, isn’t this just another Brock Lesnar fight? And if these WWE fans are so eager to see Lesnar in a real fight, wouldn’t they have been just as willing to pay for his first big fight against Frank Mir?

Maybe they were. UFC 81, which featured Mir-Lesnar and Nogueira-Sylvia as co-main events, did an estimated 650,000 buys. UFC 87, where Lesnar beat Heath Herring on the same card as Georges St. Pierre‘s successful title defense against Jon Fitch, did somewhere in the neighborhood of 625,000, according to the most generous estimates.

Those are great numbers. If they’re accurate, they represent two of the UFC’s most successful pay-per-view events of 2008 thus far. But in order for White’s prediction to pan out, UFC 91 would have to pull in roughly twice the viewers with a card that is, on the whole, not nearly as good as either UFC 81 or 87. Each of the other events featured big name title fights in addition to Lesnar’s bout. This time around, Lesnar is in the big name title fight, but beyond that the card looks like a very solid Fight Night event on Spike TV.

And this is supposed to pull 1.2 million buys?

Based on this year’s numbers, you could make an argument that Lesnar is the UFC’s biggest draw right now, which lends credence to White’s faith in WWE fans as avid pay-per-view buyers. But the gulf between what we’ve seen thus far and White’s prediction is simply too great. UFC 91 could turn out to be the biggest event of the year (in spite of its weak undercard) and still not come close to breaking one million buys.

1.2 million, especially for an event with slow ticket sales, might be nothing more than a pleasant but outlandish dream.

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Paddy- November 11, 2008 at 9:31 am
UFC 91 could concievably do those numbers & pull in the wwe audience, if they were smart about it & went after that audience & educated them a little. Why not buy advertising time for the ppv during wwe programming, explaining to wwe fans who Randy Couture is & what hes done, then drop in that hes fighting Brock Lesnar this weekend. Hell half the wwe fans probably still dont know Brocks in the UFC.
ape- November 11, 2008 at 8:13 am
This is a title fight, not just a mir or herring vs. Lesnar fight.

If I was a fan of WWE then I bet there forums are full of Lesnar going for a title in UFC posts.

I think UFC will do about 850k to 900k of buys... I'm excited to see this fight even if Lesnar isn't due a title shot yet it's happening.

No matter what anyone thinks this fight is one people want to see, like Kimbo's first MMA bout in EliteXC
WWW- November 11, 2008 at 5:58 am
Hey "Roy Jones Or UFC 91?",


You are one dumb piece of shit.


Good one moron.
UFC fan- November 11, 2008 at 4:17 am
Don't be so hard on yourself TUF gay, you are a hub troll, and a moron, but don't beat yourself up....leave that to us, you scrawny pussy. :)
Anonymous- November 11, 2008 at 4:05 am
OMGOMGOMGOGM THEY ALREADY FAUGHT DAMNIT I should research this shit before I make a comment. LMAO fuck Im stupid omg okay I can see them reaching a million. LOL Sorry everyone Im a fucking dumbass. Whoever told me they are fighting on the same night is getting a fucking head kick. DAmnit, good thing I didn't put my real name...muahahahahahaa FUCK cock sucker
Roy Jones Or UFC 91?- November 11, 2008 at 4:02 am
They won't reach the expected number since Roy Jones JR is fighting that douche bag calzaghe. However you spell his faggot name. They are fighting on the same night correct? I know it's boxing but still Im sure that having the option of picking between two PPV's in one night will fuck up the UFC's chances of getting 1.2 million buys. Anyone agree? I personally hate boxing compared to MMA but still you can't ignore the fact that some people might choose boxing over UFC 91. I'm pretty sure it's on the same night anyways LOL correct me if Im wrong. :D
Vince McMahon- November 11, 2008 at 1:39 am
i depict 6 somthing....
Im saving my money for Dec 27. i predict 9 somthing for that!
Anonymous- November 10, 2008 at 9:47 pm
877k, i'm calling it.
Jay Smith- November 10, 2008 at 9:07 pm
I think they'll only pull in the same numbers as Brocks first 2 fights. I buy the ppv's pretty regularly, but I'm not buying this one, I'm buying the next one. It's a much better card, and I'd much rather have Forest vs Evans, Nog vs Mir, and Rampage vs Silva on my DVR. I'll go watch this one at Hooters or something.
CJ- November 10, 2008 at 9:03 pm
700k
Ha!- November 10, 2008 at 8:07 pm
Couture alone will pull in a large portion and with lesnar his opponent I can see this reaching maybe 1 mill.
J- November 10, 2008 at 7:17 pm
Count me out , the card is pretty lack luster IMO , I'll just check out the fight video's Sunday before they get taken down
TUF Guy- November 10, 2008 at 6:56 pm
Lodz Says:

November 11th, 2008 at 1:45 pm
Drowe, you are very, very confused. You should probably refrain from calling other people idiots and “p*ssy dumb asses” (what are you, 11?), when you have absolutely no clue who is fighting on this card. I wish I could see the look on your retarded face when you buy the PPV this saturday.

**************************************************

I agree. But just don't pay any attention to him. He's just trolling... I mean he can't be serrious,... maybe he is.
Lodz- November 10, 2008 at 6:45 pm
Drowe, you are very, very confused. You should probably refrain from calling other people idiots and "pussy dumb asses" (what are you, 11?), when you have absolutely no clue who is fighting on this card. I wish I could see the look on your retarded face when you buy the PPV this saturday.
Sodak- November 10, 2008 at 6:43 pm
by the way 1.2 million? whos he think cotures fighting Fedor?
Sodak- November 10, 2008 at 6:27 pm
I hope something stupid doesn't happen like an eye poke (ala coture belfort), a cut or blown out knee, cause theres not a single other fight on that card worth paying for.
hooligun- November 10, 2008 at 6:22 pm
650 k tops. The reason? Everyone saving their 50 bucks for Dec 27th!
Anonymous- November 10, 2008 at 6:13 pm
id like to fuck gina cerano in her fat pussy. and aryani celest and rachelle leih.
DEx- November 10, 2008 at 6:07 pm
With Brock in a title fight vs a name like Coture, I can see the WWE fans comming in droves. Still, 1.2 mil buys is alot to hope for. I don't see that kind of numbers.
drowe- November 10, 2008 at 5:59 pm
Yal are a bunch of fucking idiots. How could you say the under card is not good? Its fucking wvanderlei silva and rampage jackson and rashad evens vs. forest griffin. Main event is randy and brock. I think this is the best card i have ever seen. I think all of you are a bunch of pussy dumb asses and need to shut up. 1.2.... its going to happen
KChuck- November 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm
2 million buys easy. :p
Kelvin- November 10, 2008 at 5:57 pm
If they would have kept Wandy/Rampage 3 on this card...it would do 1.2 million...but as others have said...I'm expecting around 800K.
Eddi- November 10, 2008 at 5:41 pm
its going to be 735K and my shirt size is medium Royce Ken Dan Randy and Mark thank you in advance
devilmonkey- November 10, 2008 at 5:27 pm
851K
Shawn- November 10, 2008 at 5:25 pm
I'm saying it right now - 850k buys. 1.2 million ain't happening. I'm extremely excited for this fight and it is definitely in the top 5 UFC fights ever, if not top 3. Fact is, Liddell v. Ortiz 2 was a bigger fight than this and did 1.1 million. That fight also took place when the economy was a little better and also played off the actual animosity between the two which always helps buy rates. Couture v. Lesnar will make a ton of cash and break some records but it will not hit 1.2 million. 850k. That is the number.
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