UFC 96 Pegged At 350k Buys
April 4, 2009
The pay-per-view buy rate for UFC 96 on March 7th gives the best indication to date of the singular drawing power of Quinton Jackson, who headlined the event against Keith Jardine. The show drew about 350,000 buys, according to The Wrestling Observer. Unlike most of his other UFC bouts, Jackson’s fight against Jardine positioned him as the main draw on an entire card, which was low on star power.
The 350K number has to be looked on as somewhat of a disappointment. No one would expect Rampage to draw on the level of the company’s top PPV draws, like GSP, Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, or Chuck Liddell, all of whom have shown the ability to do near or over 500k buys every time out. The other end of that range would be top card guys like Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva, who have drawn in the lower 300K range for most of their UFC tenure. A fair expectation would be for Rampage to fall somewhere in the middle, at about the 400 to lower 400K level, but Rampage as a draw on PPV would look to fall in the latter group, despite his being positioned by the UFC to do better numbers:
Rampage has been uniquely primed to be a stand alone draw for the UFC. He faced off against Chuck Liddell for the belt, a fight that drew over 600k PPV buys. That was followed up by a title defense on Spike TV that drew one of the largest US television audiences for a MMA fight. After a long-ish delay, his next fight, this time against Forrest Griffin, was given the benefit of an entire season of build on TUF and drew over 500k buys. Rampage had his noted indiscretions after his loss to Forrest, but it didn’t seem to affect folk’s appetite for watching him perform. His face-off vs Wanderlei Silva for a third time was part of a tripleheader PPV that as of this writing has came in at approximately a million buys. Few on the roster of the UFC have such a strong mix of high profile PPV match-ups and cable television exposure via Spike. While Rampage hasn’t had to carry the entire weight of the PPV on his shoulders, he has certainly been put in the best possible position to succeed. UFC 96 will let us know if Quinton is up to the task.
While Rampage has had the benefit of all those high profile slots, there looks to be something of a disconnect with the UFC audience that has held him back from being a top PPV draw. Rampage’s defeat of Chuck Liddell gave him the championship at 205, but it didn’t seem to endear him to the UFC audience that until that time had viewed The Iceman as the face of the promotion.