The early pay-per-view sales estimates are in for the recent UFC 165 and UFC 165 events, and it’s fair to say they are both some way below expectations.
First up, September’s UFC 165 event,which featured a light-heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, is reported to have done in the region of 300-325,000 sales according to MMAfighting’s Dave Meltzer.
Given that Jones’ headlining fights up until this point have been generally doing around the 450,000-500,000 mark that’s very disappointing indeed.
UFC 166 earlier this month featuring a rubber match between current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos hasn’t faired much better with the early estimate suggesting that around 325,000-350,000 purchased the PPV.
When you consider that the last time these two fought at UFC 155 it notched up 590,000 buys then this is another big blow for the company.
These two fights were considered amongst the best on offer this year and were promoted as such, including all four fighters joining the UFC on a week-long ‘World Tour’ earlier this year to drum up interest in what looked like a stellar line up of PPV shows running right the way through the rest of 2013.
If your looking for a reason for this sudden slump, then certainly in UFC 165’s case you could point to the record breaking, expensive Mayweather Vs Canelo boxing event on PPV just a week earlier which did appear to suck many combat sports fans wallet’s dry.
That may not be the only reason though, and it also doesn’t explain why UFC 166 slumped too.
Another factor that could be having an impact is the UFC’s recent switch to FOX Sports, which has undoubtedly proven to be a step back for them so far.
Ratings are down heavily for the UFC’s live events and TUF show since the move to the new network in August, and that hurts the UFC’s ability to spread the word about upcoming PPV events. Also, with less people engaging in their content on a regular basis, it results in an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ effect.
It’s very unfortunate as it turned out that UFC 165’s main event between Jones and Gustafsson was one of the best title fights we’ve seen in quite some time, while UFC 166 is now considered as one of the best event’s in the promotions history.
The UFC have two more major pay-per-view shows lined up in the remaining months of 2013 and they’ll go a long way to telling us if what we’ve seen recently is just a blip on the radar, or a major cause for concern.
GSP Vs Johny Hendricks is next at UFC 167, and the current welterweight champion has been as solid as a rock for the promotion on the PPV front for years, clocking up 700,000+ buys on a continual basis. Given that it’s also the UFC’s 20th anniversary show, If it falls below that number then the alarm bells will surely be ringing at UFC HQ.
Beyond that lies UFC 168 and the highly anticipated rematch between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. Dana White rather boldly suggested when it was first announced that this could become the most watched pay-per-view in UFC history, but even at the time that seemed ambitious (UFC 100 holds the current record with a stellar 1.6 million buys), and the numbers from UFC 165 and UFC 166 that have arrived since also suggest otherwise.
With a rematch between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate scheduled for the co-main event and the fact that it’s their end of year show it should still be a big hit on PPV though – at least 800,000+ buys. Again, if it doesn’t then it’ll serve as a real warning that something’s wrong and serious questions will need to be asked.
Despite this potential doom and gloom there’s still good reason to be optimistic about the upcoming shows.
Even looking past the fact that both cards are very strong, UFC 167 also serves as the UFC’s 20th anniversary show and so there should be a lot of good publicity in the lead-up to that one, while ‘UFC On FOX 9’ takes place in December which will serve as a great platform for them to get the word out about the upcoming UFC 168 event later that month.