International UFC events have never been known to produce good numbers for the UFC, but last weekend’s trip to Japan for UFC 144: Edgar Vs Henderson appears to have been a relatively successful one as early reports indicate that it garnered around 375,000 pay-per-view buys.
It should be stressed that this is an early estimate established by The Wrestling Observer from talking to industry sources, but if true that’s certainly more than had been anticipated.
Edgar’s last two title fights with Gray Maynard in 2011 certainly drew significantly less, with UFC 125 doing 270,000 while UFC 136 did 225,000, as did recent international shows such as UFC 142: Aldo Vs Mendes (225,000) and UFC 134: Silva Vs Okami (335,000) in Brazil, and UFC 127: Penn vs Fitch (260,000) in Australia.
So based on those numbers the UFC are likely to be patting themselves on the back based on UFC 144’s showing, but what’s caused the numbers increase?
There’s actually a number of potential reasons. For one, the fact that they were heading back to Japan, which thanks to the PRIDE era still brings about feelings of nostalgia for many, may have enticed the hardcore fan-base.
While Edgar hasn’t proven to be a strong PPV headliner financially he’s been putting on exciting fights of late and a fight with Henderson did look a good one on paper. On top of that the main event was backed up by a relatively deep fight card for an international show.
Moreover I believe the UFC made a good move by breaking from tradition by going with 7 fights on the PPV card rather than the usual 5. Pay-per-views are expensive, especially in these tough economic times and this gave a better feeling of value for money, something the UFC may take note of for the future. Also it’s worth noting that the PPV start times have now shifted back to their traditional slots an hour later than they have been for much of the last year, and that could be having a positive effect.
Finally, it can’t be discounted that the UFC is now starting to enjoy the residual effect of there new deal with FOX, and the fact that the entertaining UFC 144 prelims special on FX drew 1.5 million viewers may have encouraged fans to dig into their pockets to extend their evening’s entertainment.
When you factor in the solid buy-rate and improved prelim TV ratings on FX along with the strong and surprisingly vocal audience in attendance at the Saitama Super Arena all the evidence points to the UFC’s return to Japan having been a succcess, and something that’s likely to be repeated in the future.
Next up is what’s going to be one of the most hyped PPV events of the year as Jon Jones finally faces his bitter rival Rashad Evans at UFC 145 on April 21st, and I’d anticipate that providing us with the year’s best buy-rate so far, so things are moving in the right direction for the UFC at this moment in time.
UFC PPV Sales In 2012:
UFC 142: Aldo Vs Mendes – 225,000
UFC 143: Diaz Vs Condit – 400,000
UFC 144: Edgar Vs Henderson – 375,000