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Tag: pay per view

UFC Learns the Hard Way That Title Fights = PPV Buys

Dana White sweaty UFC president
(Antiperspirant is for pussies, apparently. Photo courtesy of Esquire.)

Though all of the big-money fights scheduled for the spring/summer promise to turn their fortunes around, Zuffa has taken some serious hits lately. First we heard that WEC 47 pulled in a dismal 373,000 viewers, which was their second-smallest audience in two years — not exactly the level of heat you want going into your first pay-per-view card. Now, we hear that UFC 110 is trending at an estimated 215,000-240,000 pay-per-view buys, which follows very disappointing performances by UFC 108 and UFC 109. Sure, we all knew the UFC’s fall/winter injury curse would have fans playing pick-and-choose, but the numbers are straight-up grimVia BloodyElbow, here’s how the UFC’s pay-per-view cards have performed starting with the high-water mark of UFC 100 last July:

In 2009 the UFC averaged 620,000 buys per ppv event. If we look at the percentage each event was above or below that average we can definitely see a downward trend from 100.
UFC 100 1,600,000 + 245%
UFC 101 850,000 + 29%
UFC 102 435,000 -30%
UFC 103 375,000 -40%
UFC 104 500,000 -20%
UFC 106 375,000 -40%
UFC 107 620,000 +/- 0
UFC 108 300,000 -51%
UFC 109 275,000 -55%
UFC 110 240,000 -62%
Average with title on line 820,000
Average with non-title main event 370,000

UFC Breaks All-Time PPV Record for Second-Straight Month

BJ Penn Georges St. Pierre UFC MMA UFC 94 GSP punch
(Photo courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas.)
For nearly two years, UFC 66 — which featured the light-heavyweight title bout between the organization’s two biggest stars, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz — was the UFC’s best-selling pay-per-view card of all time, with an estimated 1,050,000 buys. Few UFC events even came close to the lofty record, until UFC 91 in November almost surpassed it on the strength of the Couture/Lesnar superfight, bringing in a reported 1,010,000 buys. A month later, the stacked-to-death "Ultimate 2008" card smashed the old record with 1,200,000 buys. And now, if Dana White is to be believed, last Saturday’s UFC 94 show has broken the record again, with an estimated 1,300,000+ pay-per-view buys. That figure even beats the 1,250,000 buys that the Oscar De La Hoya/Manny Pacquiao boxing match pulled down in December. 

Could the UFC be a recession-proof business, with a steadily growing base of consumers? Or are the killer numbers for St. Pierre vs. Penn 2 a direct result of the event’s marketing blitz, which included the flashy new documentary series UFC Primetime? And how long will this new record last? Though there are no bonafide superfights on the schedule right now, DW reminds us that we have Mir/Lesnar, Penn/Florian, Rashad Evans’s first title defense, and Randy Couture’s next fight coming up, so there’s no shortage of great matchups to be had. Meanwhile, the UFC’s competition is thrilled to get 150,000-200,000 buys, which just illustrates the gulf in success between the top MMA outfit in the world and everybody else.

Unfortunately, not all is rosy in the financial realm of Zuffa. Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta’s Station Casinos empire announced that it would be going through a "prepackaged bankruptcy" to avoid being crushed by the $2 billion in debts it accrued when the company went private in 2007. Station has been one of the hardest-hit casino groups during the current economic downturn, which has greatly affected Las Vegas’s tourism and real estate markets.


Dear Mr. Shamrock: An Open Letter

(‘Sup.  Can we talk?)

Hey Ken.  Do you mind if I call you Ken?  Awesome.  Look, Ken, it’s about this Tim Sylvia stuff.  I’m concerned.  I know, I know.  Your management said you weren’t interested, and I was glad to hear it.  But then I heard that these Xp3 people are pressing the issue, planning to put you two into a pay-per-view bout in the spring of ’09.  Pay-per-view, Ken.  

The reason I’m concerned is because I think I know how this will play out.  First you’ll say no, then Big Tim will launch some half-assed personal assault against you in the media, and that’s when, easily infuriated as you are, you’ll give in.  Also, there’s money involved.  You know how you get when you’re mad and there’s money.  It isn’t pretty.

But Ken, I’m here to tell you that no matter how much you’re tempted – and you will be tempted – you can’t take this fight.  It’s like the sirens’ song: you’ve just got to tie yourself down and resist it, because it will only result in ruin.  Don’t believe me?  Well here are five good reasons why it’s a horrible idea.  Please, take a look.

1. You’ll lose…again.

I know everyone said the same thing about the Kimbo Slice fight that you had to pull out of.  And while I think they were probably right then, they’re definitely right now.  With Kimbo you had a reasonable shot to get him down and submit him.  You have much less of a shot against Sylvia.  His takedown defense is good and his jiu-jitsu is solidly in the ‘aiiiight’ range.  So he’ll just stand at a distance and hit you with those weird, lanky arms of his until you fall down.  Then he’ll act like he’s the king of the world and you’ll complain to the ref that it was an early stoppage.  It will be a huge mess.


Sokoudjou and Gurgel Get Laid Off + More UFC News

(Photo courtesy of

Well, it looks like the Octagon will be short one dreadlocked Camaroonian. Multiple sources have confirmed that charismatic Team Quest fighter Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou has been released from his fight contract following his TKO loss to light-heavyweight up-and-comer Luis Cane at UFC 89 last month; the defeat dropped Soko’s UFC record down to 1-2, and his overall record to 5-3. Though he entered the UFC on a wave of hype last year with quick knockout victories over PRIDE stars Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona under his belt, Sokodjou’s relative inexperience was exposed in his unsuccessful debut against Lyoto Machida, and now he’s been pink-slipped to sharpen up his game elsewhere.

Speaking of fighters who never lived up to the promise of their pre-UFC performances, Rich Franklin’s BFF Jorge Gurgel has been cut — despite winning a $60,000 Fight of the Night bonus at UFC 91 — and picked up by Strikeforce. Gurgel’s decision loss to Aaron Riley earlier this month was just another frustrating example of Gurgel brawling his way to defeat rather than use the fearsome jiu-jitsu that earned him a 9-1 record (with all wins by submission) before being signed by the UFC. Within the Octagon, Gurgel went 3-4, with all but one fight going to a decision.

Though he told MMA Junkie that the cut was "very humiliating" and "a crushing of my childhood dream," he also sounded hopeful in a press release distributed by Strikeforce, saying "To me, this is like a new start. I’m coming in fresh…I make some bad decisions because I have too much fun. I have never used my Jiu Jitsu in the UFC…[people] ask me why I don’t use my Jiu-Jitsu. I have so much fun standing up and I completely think I’m winning all the time…I will always bring the same intensity and I’m always going to fight 110 percent. I just want to be able to use everything that I know."

UFC 91 PPV numbers and more after the jump…