Last night’s UFC Fight Night 67 event in Goiania, Brazil had the dubious distinction of having the lowest crowd ever for a UFC event in the country, with just 3,500 fans watching in the stands.
That’s a massive drop when compared to the first time the UFC visited Goiania for UFC Fight Night 32: Belfort Vs Henderson II back in November of 2013 which drew 10,565 fans.
At last night’s post-fight press conference, UFC Brazil boss Giovani Decker blamed the country’s current economic problems for the poor turnout this time around.
“We know Brazil is going through an economic crisis,” Decker told the assembled media. “That reflects in all areas of the economy, so also reflects here in the events.”
It is true that Brazil’s economy is suffering at this moment in time, but it feels like there’s more to it than that to have experienced such a big fall-off in the attendance.
In terms of pure star power, there’s no doubt that Belfort Vs Henderson was a bigger draw than last night’s Condit Vs Alves headliner. Also, while Alves is technically Brazilian, he’s spent so much time living and fighting overseas, and in the U.S in particular, that fans here don’t have the same affinity for him as they do for some other homegrown favorites.
Looking deeper into the situation, the UFC has been milking the Brazilian crowd for all it’s worth since the sport started booming here a few years ago with a large number of events scattered right through each year since, and at times it’s felt like they’ve been somewhat taking the market for granted with less than inspiring line-ups.
Whatever the reason, the softening market in Brazil has forced a reaction from the UFC with Decker acknowledging that there’s now one less event in the country this year than was originally planned with the TUF Brazil 4 Finale being shifted from Sao Paulo to Miami in the U.S.
“We will do one less card with this event going from Sao Paulo to Miami,” Decker revealed. “We had an issue on this card. Like I told you when I entered the UFC two months ago, we want better cards, but we couldn’t get the fight the main event deserved. We moved this card to Miami, which has a big Brazilian and Cuban communities, but UFC Brazil will do the entire event. All sponsors from TUF Brazil will have the same rights as if it was here in Brazil.”
However, Decker did stress that it’s not all doom and gloom for the Brazilian market in 2015.
“In terms of pay-per-view numbers on Combate, we’re reaching historical numbers. If we didn’t do good numbers today, MMA continues to do historical numbers in other sides. We’re doing fine, thanks.”
The UFC also has an ace up it’s sleeve in the coming months with the eagerly anticipated UFC 190 woman’s bantamweight clash between Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correia in Rio De Janeiro on August 1st.
It was Rousey herself who requested the opportunity to fight Correia in her own backyard and the UFC agreed and have backed her up with a card featuring the likes of Marucio ‘Shogun’ Rua Vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and his brother Antonio Rodriogo Nogueira taking on Stefan Struve.
That feels like it’s shaping up to be a card that’s more worthy of Brazil’s extraordinary level of support for the UFC in recent years and hopefully that’ll be reflected in the attendance levels on the night.