UFC on Versus 3: gate, ratings and payout

March 5, 2011

The numbers for UFC on Versus 3 are in and the biggest surprise is the generous bonus Dana White awarded Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann.


In its first time in the state of Kentucky, the UFC drew 8,319 for a live gate of $471,450. The UFC announced this at the post-fight press conference according to MMA Junkie.


Ratings for the Thursday night broadcast received a 0.67 rating with an average of 681,000 viewers. Of the three times the UFC has been on Versus, this is the poorest showing. There are some factors that may contribute to the showing. First, it was the first time the UFC event took place on a Thursday. The first two were Sunday night. Also, the first two UFC events had Jon Jones in the main event.

Of course, Zach Arnold points out that TNA received a 1.4 rating for the same time slot. TNA, not even WWE, beat the UFC.

Via MMA Junkie:

…the MMA ratings are slightly above average for Versus, which averaged a little more 601,000 viewers for the 18 WEC events it aired between 2008 and 2010, though the numbers often fluctuated wildly depending on the depth of the fight cards. In fact, just three events in WEC history (WEC 41, WEC 38 and WEC 34) drew more viewers than UFC on Versus 3. However, the figures still fall short to those generated by the UFC’s usual cable partner, Spike TV, which generally draws in the 1.5 million to 2 million viewers range for events of similar prominence.


The bonuses for Thursday saw an eye-opening $160K bonus for Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann for their performance in the night’s main event.

In addition, Shane Roller (Knockout of the Night) and Brian Bowles (Submission of the Night) received $40K for their performances.

The$160K bonus for Fight of the Night may placate the many people that thought Kampmann
won the fight. Yet, Sanchez won via unanimous decision. Some might see the extra cash as incentive and a sign to all fighters to give it their all in the Octagon and they will be rewarded.

Odds and Ends

The UFC split screen during commercials was executed much better than its last try. The use of stats, facts and figures was a good touch.

Anyone else notice that Brandon Vera was in the UFC Store commercials. Not only is he back, he is a face for the UFC. Either that, or the UFC was using a B-Reel commercial. Watching the UFC and its attention to detail, I am not sure what to think of it.

SafeAuto Insurance is making itself a fixture in the UFC as it sponsored the Facebook streaming this time around. We are attempting to get numbers on how many people logged in to the UFC page to watch the fights. We will pass those along once we receive them.

Payout Perspective:

Speaking to the ratings, Arnold argues that while UFC live events are still ascending, television
may have plateaued.

I don’t think UFC has plateaued by any means in terms of live business, but the TV side may be where it’s going to stay the same or decline a little. With Australia proving its worth as a big-time foreign market and Canada proving to be golden, the question now becomes what to do internationally and on television in a landscape where a lot of fans Stateside are giving more fighters the thumbs downthan the thumbs up in terms of paying to watch them or even watch them for ‘free’ on cable. I would be remiss in forgetting to note how Strikeforce did on Showtime last month as compared to some of UFC’s cable TV events.

It may be too early to say that UFC ratings have hit the ceiling. While TUF ratings may have declined this past cycle, we might need to wait until the next Fight Night or June’s UFC on Versus to see if the ratings are the same or lower than Thursday to determine a trend.

8 Responses to “UFC on Versus 3: gate, ratings and payout”

  1. mmaguru on March 5th, 2011 9:14 AM

    Low ratings for what I consider a really good event. Every fight was good and the headliner was one of the better fights this year. I’m sure for the UFC this would be considered a low rating but the way Dana is dishing out the bonuses you can only assume they made some money.

  2. Mils on March 5th, 2011 9:15 AM

    That UFC store commercial with Vera in it has been around for a while…over a year I think.

    Also, did anyone notice at some points in the program the banner ads for 128 still said Shogun VS Evans?

  3. TheRage on March 5th, 2011 2:25 PM

    UFC 122 was a similar quality card that received much higher ratings. The problem seems to definitely be with versus.

  4. BrainSmasher on March 5th, 2011 3:08 PM

    I think it was a very poor card. Diago has been bouncing around weight class getting smashed in each one and Kampman was coming off a loss and is not well known and hasnt been very impressive in any recent fights. That was the headliner. Not exactly an up and coming prospect like Jones or Couture vs Vera. After that it was a bunch of filler from WEC cards.

    I was going to go to the event but had to work. My brother went and is now going to the SF event tonight. I would have choosen the SF event over the UFC event for a few reasons one of which was the watered down nature of the UFC card. Most all WEC events have better name recognition than this UFC. They also had headliners people actually care about. I dont think much of Kampmans skills and i dont see how anyone can respect Diego at this point. He is just a punching bag who lacks the strength to tie his shoes let alone secure a take down.

    I would also like to point out the Verses hasnt done well since they come back on Direct tv. I dont watch them like i used to because they are so high up on the dial that i never run across verses unless i am tuning in directly for a UFC. All the channels anyone has heard of is between 200 and 300. Verses is in the 600’s with all the fox sports package which i dont get. That has nothing to do with this even doing poorly compared to the last event on Verses but it does show that it is going to be an up hill battle if NBC is going to try and compete with ESPN with that channel location.

  5. el chango on March 5th, 2011 3:58 PM

    If the UFC kept all it’s content on Spike and the numbers continued to decline, then I would say they’re in trouble tv wise. Casual fans think of SPike when they hear about a tv UFC card. The last prelims did record numbers… 2 million.

    Brainwhatever…. dude. Are you for real? wow.

  6. Cool2010 on March 5th, 2011 5:07 PM

    Fans are getting sick of watered down UFC cards

    This will hopefully force them to stack their cards

  7. el chango on March 5th, 2011 6:05 PM

    What a watered down card to you guys? No big names? People that you guys don’t know?

  8. Machiel Van on March 7th, 2011 11:49 AM

    What I think Brainsmasher meant was that on paper this was not a very compelling card. The headliner simply couldn’t garner the interest of the last two UFC on Versus cards because the angle of “the next big thing” (Jon Jones) could not be used, as the fights were mostly made up of veteran fighters who have been seen before. There was no real immediate significance behind a lot of the fights in terms of divisional landscapes, and all of the above factors likely influenced the poor ratings, along with the Thursday evening slot on Versus and the poor promotion. O doubt the UFC or Versus thought it would be a slam dunk, so the number shouldn’t really spark any worry (although it won’t help the UFC in their negotiations with Spike TV). On paper, it looked like a card that would not draw a lot of buzz or a large audience.

    That said, it was an amazing night of fights on “free” TV, and in retrospect I would’ve paid to see them. I’m not sure why some of the hardcore fans weren’t more excited for this card, I though it looked good, but it certainly delivered beyond expectations. It’s easy to criticize fans for sleeping on this card, but in the end that’s the story here: the event delivered WELL beyond expectations in terms of exciting fights, and those initial expectations were reflected by the ratings. I doubt anyone didn’t enjoy the actual event, there just wasn’t enough enough pre-fight hoopla to garner more interest.

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