The UFC has suffered some lackluster Pay Per View numbers in recent times, largely thanks to the injury crisis that has plagued the company in the second half of the year.
Today though it appears they have received an early Christmas present, courtesy of Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, who reports that their most recent event, UFC 107, has pulled in an estimated 620,000+ PPV buys.
Earlier this year the UFC’s PPV rate seemed to be showing a dramatic increase. UFC 100 was an historic night that had been expected to do well, but the estimated 1.7 million buys for the event shocked everyone. When UFC 101 went on to do a higher than expected 850,000 PPV buys it appeared that the company had reached a new plateau.
Things quickly changed quickly though, as can be seen from the numbers below:
- UFC 100: Lesnar Vs Mir: 1,700,000
- UFC 101: Penn Vs Florian: 850,000
- UFC 102: Couture Vs Nogueira: 435,000
- UFC 103 Franklin Vs Belfort: 400,000
- UFC 104 Machida Vs Shogun: 450-500,000
- UFC 105 Couture Vs Vera (Free To Air On Spike TV)
- UFC 106 Griffin Vs Ortiz 2: 330-370,000
- UFC 107 Penn Vs Sanchez: 620,000+
While UFC 107 isn’t back up to the levels seen in the July-August period, it is a significant upturn from recent events, and higher than most people had been estimating (400-500,000).
So what’s the reason for the increase?
This was one of the most compelling cards we’ve seen in recent times. It featured a title fight topping the bill, of which there have been relatively few lately, and had solid match-ups throughout the rest of the card, which had mercifully remained untouched by the recent injury crisis.
The card also had star power. BJ Penn’s ability to draw a crowd was perhaps underestimated leading into this event. Penn Vs GSP 2 at UFC 94 did around the million sales mark last year, followed up by the estimated 850,000 buys for Penn Vs Florian at UFC 101.
In both of those cases other factors were believed to have contributed to the events success. At UFC 94 it was believed to be the combined star power of Penn and Georges St.Pierre, plus a heavy marketing campaign that included a special 3 part ‘Primetime’ preview show that helped the buy rate.
At UFC 101 the Anderson Silva Vs Forrest Griffin co-main event, along with the residual feelgood factor from UFC 100, were believed to have been factors in it’s success.
While not achieving the heights of either of those events, the latest numbers from UFC 107 confirm Penn as a genuine PPV draw.
That’s not to discount the other fighters on the card. Diego Sanchez is not a major star, but his unique, eccentric personality, coupled together with his memorable three round war with Clay Guida only months earlier made him good foil for the lightweight champion.
At the same time Frank Mir did an excellent job of talking up his co-main event fight with Cheick Kongo, generating more interest in the outcome than there might otherwise have been.
So is the UFC now back on an even keel heading in to 2010?
Not quite. Things are likely to go back downhill again the early stages of next year thanks to the UFC’s casualty list. Next up is UFC 108: Rashad Evans Vs Thiago Silva on January 2nd, hich has been effected more than any other card, and is certainly going to be one of the weaker cards they’ve put on pay per view.
UFC 109, headlined by the two oldest fighters on the roster, Randy Couture and Mark Coleman could throw a curve-ball due to the fact they are both ‘legends’, but it’s seen by many as another relatively weak card.
Things should pick up a bit with UFC 110 from Australia, and really get back into gear after that though, starting with UFC 111 at the end of March featuring a potential interim heavyweight title fight between Frank Mir Vs Shane Carwin.
In the mean time the UFC will no doubt just be happy to have had some good news for a change.