While we wait patiently to hear just how many pay-per-views UFC 91 sold and whether it lived up to Dana White’s optimistic prediction of 1.2 million, White is already off and running with his next oversized claim. This one, not surprisingly, revolves around UFC 94’s B.J. Penn-Georges St. Pierre superfight:
"I’m just coming off a promotion where I got done saying it’s the biggest fight in UFC history in terms of most pay-per-view buys," White said. "I truly believe this fight has the potential to break that. BJ and Georges are heavyweights when it comes to star power."
Is this what we’re going to do every time now? Has Dana White become a boxing promoter, calling every fight the biggest fight ever, until the next fight? I realize he’s talking to a Honolulu paper so he has to say some of this stuff, but words mean things.
MMA Payout sees this as an opportunity for us to find out whether the sport of MMA (two established champions, both pound-for-pound greats, neither of whom have been in the WWE) sells as well as the “spectacle” of MMA (Brock Lesnar against that other guy). You’d like to say that it does, but then again you’d also like to believe that the cute waitress is being so nice because she actually likes you and not just because she works in the service industry and her kids need new shoes.
If the UFC wants to capitalize on their first-rate main event at UFC 94 and turn that into record-breaking PPV numbers, the way to do it is by loading up on the undercard.
One side effect of the internet age is that one-fight events now have considerably less drawing power. No matter how vigilant Zuffa is about pulling videos of their fights off the internet – and they are – fans who are savvy enough will know that they can always catch the one fight they care about on one of the many video sites on Sunday morning. But a whole event? It’s just not as fun to watch fight after fight on your computer, even if you are the geekiest of geeks.
At the time of this writing, UFC 94 has two other fights on the official online fight card: Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva (hardcore appeal, yes, but fans who know Machida also know what to expect from him), and Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones (…are those crickets? how did crickets get in here?). Even if it’s not on the website yet we can also expect to see Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono, also known as the fight that almost never was.
You can judge for yourself whether that sounds like a record-breaker of a card or not. While I wouldn’t miss Penn-GSP II for anything, not even the birth of another one of my illegitimate children who I won’t acknowledge as my own until Maury Povich confirms it, this is a rematch of a fight we’ve already seen. I don’t recall the first meeting breaking a million, and that event had Mike Swick vs. Steve Vigneault (!) on it. If that puppy can’t sell big, what can?