The UFC’s parent company Zuffa has seen it’s profits drop by 40% (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in the past year according to a new report from the credit agency, Standard & Poor.
The agency had previously pegged the drop at 30% a month ago, but revised their figure on Wednesday to a 40% loss, “primarily due to a change to a marquee fight card in the fourth quarter of 2014 as a result of another fighter injury causing anticipated pay-per-view buys and event ticket prices to decline further, as well as higher remarketing expenses for the event, and additional costs related to the company’s international expansion.”
Given the timing, the marquee fight card in question may well have been this past weekend’s UFC 180 event which suffered a major blow when heavyweight title holder Cain Velasquez was forced to pull out of his fight with Fabricio Werdum at short notice due to a knee injury.
In general it’s been a rough year for the UFC on the personnel front with the aforementioned Velasquez not having fought in 2014, along with their biggest PPV stars like Anderson Silva (broken leg) and Georges St. Pierre (indefinite hiatus).
The biggest hit of the year was having to cancel UFC 176 in August entirely after headliner Jose Aldo pulled out injured, while the much hyped light-heavyweight title showdown between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier being postponed from UFC 178 to the beginning of 2015, again due to an injury, was also a bitter pill to swallow.
However, Standard & Poor are more upbeat about Zuffa’s chances of turning things around in the coming year providing certain things come to fruition.
“Our preliminary expectation is that negative trends in 2014 will reverse in 2015 as injured fighters return and PPV buys and ticket prices increase to levels comparable with fiscal 2013,” the report states.
The promotion certainly have a strong line-up of events coming in the early months of 2015, with the Jones Vs Cormier fight finally set to kick off the year in style at UFC 182 on January 3rd, while Anderson Silva Vs Nick Diaz should also make UFC 183 a pay-per-view blockbuster on January 31st.
UFC 184 then serves up Chris Weidman Vs Vitor Belfort at the end of February, and if that all goes off without a hitch then the everything should be looking a whole lot rosier in the UFC’s garden.
There’s reason to proceed with caution though. Part of the reason this year has been so rough is that, due to a ramped up schedule that saw the promotion put on more events than ever before, their talent pool was stretched thin, resulting in less stacked PPV cards and fewer options at their disposal to replace high profile fighters when they did pick up injuries.
Despite that, the UFC hasn’t sought to revise their strategy for the coming year, with the grand unveiling of their 2015 calendar of events this past Monday at a press conference in Las Vegas showing a very similar schedule that features no less than 45 different events spread over 52 weeks.