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UFC 177′s PPV Numbers Confirm That Nobody Cares About Little Bantamweights, Either


(“I’m not mad at you, TJ, I’m just disappointed.”)

Let’s be honest, UFC 177 was all but doomed to be a pay-per-view failure before it even got out of the gate. The only fight with even a trace of heat on it was the main event, an all-too-soon rematch between Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw, which lost one of its players the day before the event was scheduled to take place. Toss in the fact that the card was reduced to just 8 fights after Henry Cejudo went and Henry Cejuodo’d and you’ve got yourselves the makings of a real stinkeroo right there.

And while it’s true that UFC 177′s PPV figures are supremely underwhelming – MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer pinpoints the number around 125,000 buys — the card really performed better than it had any right to. Despite losing its main event at the last minute, UFC 177 still outperformed UFC 174, which final estimations pinned between 95,000 to 115,000 buys. In any case, UFC 177 marks just the third time in the modern era that a UFC pay-per-view has scored below 200,000 buys, along with 174 and UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie, which netted just 180,000 buys.

The concerning issue here is that the amount of exposure given to the lighter weight classes through FOX events has had little impact on the pay-per-view numbers generated by its most reliable stars — specifically, Demetrious Johnson, who has headlined three UFC on FOX events but has yet to see any increase in his PPV sales despite his success. As Meltzer explained:

Johnson headlined three of the four FOX events in 2013, doing 4.22 million viewers against John Dodson (although a major part of that show’s success was Rampage Jackson fighting for the first time in years on a free television show), 2.38 million against John Moraga and 2.8 million against Joseph Benavidez. That’s three main events, as well as three FOX preview specials with him as the featured player. It was also three wins.

Nobody should have benefited more from FOX exposure in the past year. But to the general public, none of that meant a whole lot. At the end of the day, it was not a fight that the masses wanted to pay to see.

On Saturday night after UFC 175, Dana White talked about how UFC business is changing to being a worldwide promotion, and that people are going to not be watching every show and he’s accepting of that. He said that the Johnson vs. Bagautinov fight did exactly what they projected and they were not unhappy with the number, saying that the featherweight division is new, praising Johnson as champion and saying he would have no qualms about headlining another pay-per-view show with him.

So basically, the story remains much the same for “Mighty Mouse”, one of the most technically brilliant yet financially underwhelming fighters alive, as well as the lighter weight classes in general (UFC 173, which was a much more stacked card by any standards, just barely broke the 200k mark). We hate to say that Michael Bisping was right, but it sure is starting to seem that way. In other words, TJ Dillashaw needs to start dressing in custom-tailored suits and insulting every fighter he comes across if he ever wants to be considered a star. Let’s hope his fight with Dominick Cruz is able to inject some much-needed life back into the division.

-J. Jones 

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