The UFC will get their 2012 schedule underway tomorrow night in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil with UFC 142, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that this one is destined to be a pay-per-view flop.
For starters the line-up isn’t the strongest we’ve ever seen from the promotion. To be fair there is a featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes on tap, but it’s not a fight that’s grabbed many fans attention.
There’s a number of reasons for that, including the fact that Aldo has yet to recapture the scintilating form he showed during his run in the WEC, while Mendes has a solid 12-0 record, but his two bouts in the UFC so far were contained to the prelims.
With that in mind a strong main card built around the headliner would be required to move the needle PPV wise, but the fights they’ve lined up appear to be more tailored towards the Brazilian audience, featuring a whole host of homegrown talent, but perhaps not the big names we witnessed when they visited Rio back in August last year.
Truth be told I really like the idea of the co-main event with the hard-hitting Anthony Johnson moving up to fight another deadly striker in Vitor Belfort, but while it’s intriguing the sense I’m getting from fans is that it’s not a must-see scrap.
Perhaps it could have been if there had been some sort of bad-blood between the two, but like the rest of the card there’s been very little done to hype up the bout by either the fighters themselves or the UFC.
Beyond that the card tapers off very quickly, with fights like Terry Etim Vs Edson Barboza likely to appeal to hardcore fans from a stylistic perspective, but generally floating competely under the radar pre-fight.
The fact that the event is being held in Brazil has also diminished the amount of media coverage that it has been getting back in the U.S, with even seasoned MMA journalists like Ariel Helwani from MMAfighting not flying out for the show.
Throw in the fact that the event will be going up against a major NFL play-off between the Denver Broncos And the New England Patriots that’s expected to attract 10’s of millions of fans and it looks like we could be heading for one of the lowest buy rates for a UFC event in quite some time.
As for an estimate, consider the fact that Aldo’s last title fight, which took place back at UFC 136 in October against Kenny Florian, only garnered 225,000 PPV buys.
Those disappointing numbers came despite the fact it was as more hyped fight that on this occasion, and in fact it played second fiddle to another title fight between lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard while Chael Sonnen Vs Brian Stann also featured on the main card.
With that in mind I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume we could well be heading into sub 200,000 readings here, and that’s dire from the UFC’s perspective.
To counteract that they’ll no doubt be hoping that the show proves to be huge in their biggest emerging market at this moment int time, Brazil where it will air on free television via Globo.
They are getting ready to launch the first internation edition of The Ultimate Fighter there soon and there’s rumors of a stadium event in June potentially featuring Brazilian superstar Anderson Silva, so if UFC 142 is a hit there – and with the huge surge in popularity of the sport there and amount of homegrown fighters on the card it should be – then the event may still be considered a success regardless of the pay-per-view numbers.