Despite a stacked card that included two title fights, UFC 136 is believed to have performed poorly in the pay-per-view market.
According to initial estimates stemming from Dave Meltzer at The Wrestling Observer, UFC 136 delivered just 250,000 PPV buys. If so that would be the lowest ever for a UFC card headlined by a title bout.
It’s unfortunate as the main event saw Frankie Edgar retain his lightweight title against Gray Maynard after another remarkable come-from-behind performance that could well feature as a ‘Fight Of The Year’ candidate.
Meanwhile the co-main event also had title action as Jose Aldo also successfully defended his featherweight belt in a five rounder with Kenny Florian.
The failure of these two fights to draw a solid PPV number could be put down to a number of reasons. Firstly many casual fans just don’t respond as well to the lighter weight classes, with BJ Penn in his heyday being a rare exception to the rule.
The bantamweights and featherweights are finding it particularly difficult to gain traction at this time since they have still only been a part of the UFC for under a year, so while Aldo is considered one of the world’s top fighters he hasn’t had many chances to prove it to a large audience yet, and his victories in the UFC so far haven’t been as eye-catching as those he enjoyed in the WEC.
Often-times personalities can help sell fights. On this occasion that wasn’t the case however.
Though there was plenty of history to talk about between the headliners at UFC 136, the reality is that Maynard is to say the very least a man of few words and emotions while Edgar rarely deviates from ‘safe’ middle-of-the-road pre-fight soundbytes.
So, despite trying their best to hype it up the UFC weren’t able to engage the casual audience with the rivalry between the two.
Another reason to lament the lack of PPV sales is that the event was pratically a ‘triple-bill’ given that Chael Sonnen Vs Brian Stann was also involved.
Sonnen’s already proven that he can whip fans into a frenzy with his pre-fight trash-talking, but on this occasion he had nothing but good things to say about Stann, and with many people correctly suspecting that his wrestling was going to be too much for Stann, it appeared that fans were overlooking this match-up and already anticipating a potential rematch with Anderson Silva next year instead.
While all these factors certainly played a part in the event underperforming we also have to accept that at the present time the UFC is suffering from something of a pay-per-view slump in 2011.
I believe part of that can be blamed on a particularly rough spell as far as injuries to key fighters is concerned, but other factors such as the large number of PPV events the UFC puts on each year and the continued downtrodden economy also have to be considered.
I believe the future still looks bright though. There’s a number of very big events planned for the rest of the year and in 2012 the UFC’s move to FOX should bring the sport to a much wider audience that can surely only benefit the promotion’s pay-per-view figures which remains a core foundation of their business.