UFC 76: Business Preview

September 22, 2007

I thought the Countdown and All Access shows made a great late push for the show. Even with what has generally been regarded as a weak lineup, I think this show has the potential to surprise to the upside. 300,000 buys looks to be the baseline for the UFC these days, but Chuck drew 400,000 against Babalu last year. Headed into this week I thought 400,000 would be a good number, but after seeing the late push I wouldn’t be surprised to see 500,000 buys. This is a good test of just how effective the hype shows are at moving pay-per-views because I sensed very little momentum for this show heading into the week. Forrest Griffin got an especially effective push and could truly emerge as a major business force with a win this weekend. A quick look at the main card from a business perspective:

LIDDELL v. JARDINE – A Jardine upset is a complete disaster for short term business. The UFC has two million-plus buyrates riding on Liddell’s right hand (Liddell-Silva and Liddell-Jackson III).

RUA v. GRIFFIN – Griffin is already one of the most popular fighters on the roster and a win could launch him as a legitimate pay-per-view draw. It can’t be emphasized enough what a star Griffin looked like on the hype shows. Best case scenario for business is an all-out war that elevates both men. A Griffin win would put him in line for a title shot and setup another potential million-plus pay-per-view show. This is really a win-win as a Rua title fight should also do big business, especially if Jackson is the champ with the storyline of Rampage trying to avenge his previous loss to Rua.

FITCH v. SANCHEZ – Fitch can put himself in line for a Welterweight Title shot (behind GSP), but a Sanchez win means more for business. To me this is a bigger fight for Fitch than Sanchez. Sanchez has already made something of a name and could survive another loss. This is Fitch’s first time in the spotlight and as the old saying goes you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A loss here and he’ll be back to toiling away in anonymity on the undercard. They pushed this as a potential fight of the year on the Countdown special.

NAKAMURA v. MACHIDAMachida is undefeated, but fights an incredibly safe and boring points style. It’s amazing they’re putting him on the main card considering that in his last fight, against David Heath in Manchester, it was so bad that they cut it off the tape delayed broadcast even after pushing it on the Countdown special. It’s not clear to me where the winner of this fight goes. With a win Machida should in the title mix, probably in the king/contender maker role, but a boring fight here could bury his career.

TAVARES v. GRIFFINTavares is undefeated and Griffin is 9-1. The winner will enter the title picture at 155 pounds in what could be the fight of the night.

The show isn’t a sellout as the Southern California market continues to prove much tougher than originally anticipated.

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