UFC 82 Preview

February 29, 2008

A busy week on the business side has nearly overshadowed UFC 82. The show got a solid build on the Countdown show. Silva-Henderson is definitely a highly anticipated fight among the hardcore fan base, but what about the casual/mainstream fans? That is the difference between a baseline show in the 350-400,000 range and a breakout show above 500,000.

Silva’s track record on pay-per-view is fairly consistent:

  • 10/26/06 – UFC 64 – Silva v. Franklin – 300,000
  • 2/3/07 – UFC 67 – Silva v. Lutter – 400,000
  • 7/7/07 – UFC 73 – Silva v. Marquardt -425,000 (also featured Ortiz v. Evans)
  • 10/20/07 – UFC 77 – Silva v. Franklin II – 325,000

Henderson has never headlined a UFC pay-per-view before, however, his last fight with Quinton Jackson was watched by 5.9 million on Spike, making it the highest rated fight in MMA history.

At the end of the day, its hard for me to see this show topping 500,000, but I still believe that Silva is gaining momentum as a draw. Silva’s it factor combined with Henderson’s exposure of Spike could lead to an upside surprise here.

The co-main event of Heath Herring v. Cheick Kongo leaves a lot to be desired and is a testament to where the heavyweight division is right now. The live card is rounded out by a pair of Middleweight contender fights showcasing Chris Leban and Yushin Okami, as well as the return of Evan Tanner and a place holder fight for Jon Fitch.

The most interesting fights, at least from a business perspective, may be taking place off the live broadcast as Andrei Arlovski and Josh Koscheck each finish their current UFC contracts. Dana White stated at yesterday’s press conference that he intends to resign them both, but with the entry of several new players as well as aggressive moves by EliteXC and HDNet Fights, this promises to be the most competitive free agent market the industry has seen.

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