At first glance, the pay-per-view numbers that just came in for UFC 159 don’t seem all that terrible. Truth be told, it would be near impossible to declare the event’s 550,000 estimated buys anything less than a success. However, when you realize that the sole reason the fight was booked in the first place was to cash in on the Chael Sonnen circus act, that 500k kind of pales in comparison to the 925,000 UFC 148 pulled in. In fact, it’s pretty much in line with the average Jon Jones-headlined pay-per-view, save his 700k-earning fight with Rashad Evans at UFC 145. MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer reports:
Preliminary estimates for UFC 159, headlined by Jon Jones’ successful light heavyweight title defense against Chael Sonnen, indicate pay-per-view buys coming in between 520,000 and 550,000.
There was hope for bigger numbers in the days after the fight, due to the strong ratings of UFC 159 shoulder programming. The weigh-ins were the second-highest rated since Fuel began airing. The event also drew the highest ratings for post-fight coverage of a pay-per-view on Fuel. Prelim match ratings on FX were 32 percent above average.
The number would be the company’s second largest of 2013, trailing UFC 158, with Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz, but ahead of the now No. 3 event of the year, UFC 157, headlined by Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche.
So yeah, the event was a success by most standards, yet it only managed to pull in 70,000 more buys that Jones’ UFC 140 title defense against Lyoto Machida, who Jones once begrudgingly referred to as “my lowest pay-per-view draw of the year.” For some reason, this image seems to sum things up nicely.
To be fair, the coaching combination of Jones and Sonnen did manage to raise the ratings for the seventeenth season of The Ultimate Fighter out of the abysmal cesspool in which they once resided. But if you honestly believe the ratings boost was a result of the “rivalry” between coaches — which was all but completely glossed over due to a lack of any on set disputes between the two — and not as a result of the increased production value and flat out brilliant fights that were on display last season, then you are f*cking delusional.
Fortunately, the next season of The Ultimate Fighter will feature a champion squaring off with someone who has actually earned at shot at them. Unfortunately, that challenger’s chances of victory are pretty much the same.