UFC 104 Buyrate Prediction: 398,000

October 27, 2009

MMAPayout.com promised a more detailed explanation of the regression analysis used to derive the linear equation used to predict 398,000 buys for last weekend’s UFC 104 PPV event. We like to keep our promises!

Regression Analysis Explained

Regression analysis is a statistical technique that allows us to explore the relationships between different sets of numbers (or what the stats community call “variables”). Regression analysis pairs the variables into data sets (x and y values), and then derives a linear relationship between those variables. The linear relationship or y = mx + b equation is then used to predict a change in the y variable for every change in the x variable.

In other words, plug in an x-value and out pops a y-value. Or, plug in this week’s viewership to Countdown to UFC 104 and outcomes a prediction of UFC 104’s buyrate based upon the relationship between both variables that regression analysis was able to uncover.

However, for the prediction to be accurate, the variables must show a fairly strong correlation – a change in one variable is met by a similar change in the other. If the variables are only slightly related – or, much worse, have no relation at all – then no linear equation can be established with reasonable predictive power.

Regression of Spike’s “Countdown to UFC” Data

Regression Statistics
Multiple R 0.703014387
R Square 0.494229228
Adjusted R Square 0.474776506
Standard Error 223708.858
Observations 28


UFC 104 Countdown Regression


Regression of UFC Live Gate Data

Regression Statistics
Multiple R 0.708874563
R Square 0.502503146
Adjusted R Square 0.490369077
Standard Error 198310.5745
Observations 43


UFC 104 Gate Regression


MMAPayout.com Prediction

The regression analysis of both independent variables produced the following predictions:

  • Spike’s Countdown to UFC 104 viewership of 524,000 predicted 437,000 PPV buys.
  • UFC 104’s live gate revenue of $1.9 million predicted 366,000 PPV buys.

 A weighted average of those predictions using 45% Countdown and 55% live gate then predicted the following:

  • 398,000 buys

Final Thoughts

I suppose this is the part where I include a host of disclaimers:

1.) The PPV data used to form the dependent variable are largely all sourced estimates – they aren’t hard numbers. If the MMA community were privy to the UFC’s numbers there wouldn’t be a point to any of this.

2.) The correlation, standard error, and p-values are good for the considered sample size of anywhere between 25-45 data sets. I understand there have been quite significant differences in the variables in the past – they may happen again – but the charts generally speak for themselves.

Side note: I’ve actually considered throwing in log or squared functions on the advice of some statisticians I’ve consulted, but I’ll probably wait until the end of the year before I really mess with anything.

3.) I’m open to suggestions on other variables to consider – preferably something that’s more timely than the Countdown or live gate figures. As I said, this is about giving the MMA community a statistically-backed prediction tool. Unfortunately, the prediction can only be used for forum fodder at the moment, because the prediction itself comes just days before (or after) the event has taken place.


I couldn’t have put together all of this information without the help of some truly dedicated and passionate people within the sport of mixed martial arts:

Thank-you all very much!

10 Responses to “UFC 104 Buyrate Prediction: 398,000”

  1. mma guru on October 27th, 2009 7:25 AM

    Without using the math and using a hunch, I’d guess 375K to 400K as well, possibly even lower as there was no star power anywhere on that card.

  2. Namk on October 27th, 2009 10:42 AM

    Did you consider locating the values (events) that deviate with statistical significance from the set. And from there backtrack to find variables to consider, in other words common denominators. .. such as whether or not Brock Lesnar was on the card, title fights headliners etc… Those are obviously low hanging fruits but there are sure to be others, such as concurrent programming that caters the same target audience.

    Thanks for an interesting view on the MMA world. Keep up the good work!

  3. Joseph on October 27th, 2009 1:28 PM

    400K-600K has always been my estimate for this card. I only go as high as 600K because it is unknown what type of fan base Tito and Forrest still have after long layoffs for Tito or the terrible performance from Forrest. 0-4-1 is the combined record from their last 5 fights.

  4. eDDie on October 27th, 2009 3:49 PM

    I say 275,000 to 316,000.

  5. mma guru on October 27th, 2009 5:01 PM

    unfortunately even when we get the unofficial number it’s just hearsay. my guess is true numbers are likely anywhere from 10% less than posted numbers by sources such as meltzer. i wonder why the actual numbers never get posted if companies like viewers choice are public. it really makes little sense.

  6. Brain Smasher on October 27th, 2009 11:57 PM


    The UFC could sell 300,000 PPVs with all black ads with just the letters U F C on it. No names or anything.


    I dont know who Viewers Choice is. But i assume they are not a privately owned company running PPVs. Zuffa dont release the numbers because they dont have to. The UFC belongs to them. Its like letting someone look in your check book. Honestly some of the numbers people guess are way more than 10% off. Metger is the best source for PPV buys but there is events where he clearly is drawing conclusions with only seeing small pieces of the puzzle(PPVs are reported by many different cable and satelite companies. He dont have access to all of them and the ones he does some take a long time to come in.) To prove how inaccurate he can be sometimes. Look at UFC 100. He made public at least 3 numbers. Starting blow 900K, then 1 million, then kept raising it.

  7. AmericanPankration on October 28th, 2009 7:17 PM

    450K minimum. Machida came off three dominant, publicized victories. A win over tito put his name on the board, got people curious. His knock-out of silva solidified the curiosity of main-stream fans. Then his incredible performance over Evans made him a decent star, with decent draw power. The ufc is phenomenally smart with hyping selected fighters. The karate style of Machida made him even more marketable. Shogun would have been the buy downfall, but he knocked out liddell in a card I believe sold close to 700,000 ppv. Conclusion: buys are higher then an estimated first glance would give. I say 450-490k. Lets see…

  8. Kelsey Philpott on October 28th, 2009 8:34 PM


    I’ve got a pretty intense UFC event log going that tracks just about every stat you can imagine. I wanted to get this debut out of the way and a few correct range predictions under my belt before I started getting fancy.

    With that said, separating some of the outliers and working backward is a good idea. It would be easier to do that with someone like Liddell (where his sample size is larger than Lesnar’s). Nonetheless, it should be doable.

    Keep the ideas coming.

  9. Ufc 104 projected to do 398,000 buys - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on November 1st, 2009 5:24 AM

    […] 104 projected to do 398,000 buys UFC 104 Buyrate Prediction: 398,000 : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA That is much lowert than I was expecting I had 104 at around […]

  10. Ufc 104 projected to do 398,000 buys - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on November 1st, 2009 5:29 AM

    […] 104 projected to do 398,000 buys UFC 104 Buyrate Prediction: 398,000 : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA That is much lower than I was expecting I had 104 at around […]

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