While UFC 129: GSP Vs Shields was a record-breaking event in terms of both it’s attendance (55,000+) and gate ($12m) due to the fanatical Canadian support, questions remained regarding whether it would also be a hit on pay-per-view.
Initial estimates sourced from The Wrestling Observer suggest that the event will fall somewhere in the region of 800,000 buys (down from the earliest prediction of just under 1 million).
Though it should be stressed this is based on trending data, if it proves to be accurate then that’s a relatively solid figure under the circumstances, given that there was a little less enthusiasm over the actual fight card as opposed to the number of fans who would be packing into the UFC’s first stadium event.
Prior to the event the headline bout between GSP and Jake Shields was struggling to capture fans imaginations, perhaps due to the fact many believed St.Pierre was set for a relatively comfortable victory, while the fact that Shields had spent most of his career outside of the UFC, and had failed to impress in his UFC debut last year, meant that he lacked real star power.
Further down the card Jose Aldo Vs Mark Hominick looked like being an exciting fight, but given that they have both built there reputations in the WEC the significance of the match-up could have been overlooked by the casual fan.
Randy Couture Vs Lyoto Machida on the other hand attracted more interest, particularly after hall-of-famer Couture announced that this would be his retirement fight, and that made this a strong third fight on the card.
Valdimir Matyushenko Vs Jason Brilz on the other hand felt very much like a fight that didn’t belong on such a high profile card.
So, all things considered, 800,000 buys is a healthy number, and one that perhaps owes a lot to the star power of St.Pierre, plus the level of curiousity regarding the visual spectacle and atmosphere that would be generated inside the Rogers Centre for this historic event.
By way of comparison, here’s a look at the last two times GSP has headlined a UFC card.
- UFC 111: GSP Vs Hardy – 850,000 PPV buys.
- UFC 124: GSP Vs Koscheck II – 785,000 PPV buys.