Is GSP the UFC’s biggest PPV star?

September 22, 2011

After the UFC 135 press conference yesterday, Dana White told reports that Georges St. Pierre is the biggest PPV star in MMA today. This, despite the numbers reflecting that Brock Lesnar should hold that distinction.

White did state that GSP’s fight style has changed. Nevertheless, White believes he’s the top draw regardless. White might be pushing this statement and its likely to hype GSP’s upcoming fight. But, the numbers reflect that Brock Lesnar is the top MMA draw when it comes to PPV.

Via the Blue Book:

Brock Lesnar

UFC 121 vs. Velasquez – 1,050,000

UFC 116 vs. Carwin – 1,160,000

UFC 100 vs. Mir – 1,600,000

UFC 91 vs. Couture – 1,010,000

UFC 87 vs. Herring – 625K

UFC 81 vs. Mir – 600K


UFC 129 vs. Shields – 800K

UFC 124 vs. Koscheck – 785K

UFC 111 vs. Hardy – 710K

UFC 100 vs. Alves – 1,600,000

UFC 94 vs. BJ Penn – 920K

UFC 87 vs. Jon Fitch – 625K

UFC 82 vs. Serra (GSP regains title) – 530K

The two have shared the same card twice: UFC 87 and UFC 100.

Payout Perspective:

Looking at the numbers, Brock Lesnar is the king of PPV buy rates for the UFC. We should see a huge spike in PPV buys as he takes on Alistair Overeem at the end of the year. But, I believe White is making the point that GSP is the standard for MMA. Definitely, losing to Matt Serra has caused a change in his style and while he is winning, he is not finishing off opponents. Could the GSP decisions reflect the PPV buy rate between the two fighters? Or, is it once again the fact that fight fans favor the heavyweights? In case you were wondering, Anderson Silva has not surpassed a 1 million PPV buys in any of his main events. The highest buy rate for The Spider was 725K last February against Vitor Belfort.

15 Responses to “Is GSP the UFC’s biggest PPV star?”

  1. Machiel Van on September 22nd, 2011 11:21 AM

    UFC 87’s anomalous buyrate will forever convince me that Jon Fitch is a PPV anti-draw.

  2. Jack Frost on September 22nd, 2011 12:29 PM

    It would be interesting to see what kind of numbers GSP could do if he was exciting again.

  3. CAINtheBULL on September 22nd, 2011 2:35 PM

    Brock is leaving. He has one fight left in his contract. Dana must know that Brock is leaving. UFC must have tried to get Brock to sing another contract extension and he turned them down.

    Dana is transitioning to promoting GSP as the biggest draw in MMA because he will be.

  4. mmaguru on September 22nd, 2011 3:17 PM

    If Jones can keep winning I think he will surpass GSP in PPV buyrates in the years to come. His style is overtly exciting and you know he comes to win, not just “not to lose”.

    Lesnar is without doubt the king of MMA PPV.

  5. Jack Frost on September 22nd, 2011 3:22 PM

    No way they let Brock leave, especially if he beats Overeem. He would be sitting out a year or more until he signed an extension just like Couture, Tito, Vera and everyone else that tried to leave. They wouldn’t give him a top contender that he has a good chance of beating if he was leaving.

  6. CodeMaster on September 22nd, 2011 4:30 PM

    I don’t think any discerning fan believes Dana when he is in ‘promotion’ mode.

    Brock is the undisputed PPV king. His drawing power has to do with his size, and look–as well as his former job as a WWE star. Whether to hardcore MMA fans or to cross-over wrestling fans–he is a compelling figure.

    I know that it is fashionable to whine about GSP not finishing his opponents–but much of the complaints overlook the fights themselves. GSP has DOMINATED one fighter after another–that means he beat the crap out of Jon Fitch, Alvez, Penn, Serra, Koscheck, Hughes–made Hardy look like an amateur–and compassinately did not rip his arm out of its socket..

    GSP ended Jake Shields 14 fight winning streak with only one good eye after a blatant poke, and he stopped Jon Fitch’s 16 game win streak–and Fitch has not been beaten since GSP. Most of GSP’s opponents have shown they are extremely hard to finish. Shields was finished Ellenberger but had not been finished since March of 2000. When you are the champ–you always fight the top guys, and GSP has done that for years now–taking on all comers.

    He does not have the knockout power of a Mike Tyson or Anderson Silva–but Muhammed Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard were not known for their KO power, but on their technique. Not all great fighters are the same.

    When you are on top–and consistently winning–many look for feet of clay just out of general principles.

  7. BrainSmasher on September 22nd, 2011 8:02 PM

    I see where Dana is coming from. It comes down to how you want to look at what he calls the PPV king. Brock at his peak draw was vs Carwin. It got very good buys. But he looked very bad in that fight and i believe it hurt him and his drawing ability. His next fight with Cain was on the back of a huge Hispanic push that was very successful. Even with Cain being a better draw than Carwin it didnt get the buys as Carwin vs Brock. Brock seemed to have last a lot of buys due to his performance vs Carwin. Now we have to see how many more he has lost due to losing to Cain on top of his Carwin fight and inactivity.

    In the end both guys are dependent on winning. Brck has already showed signs of his buy rate dropping. Now he has another fight he will likely lose. Although GSP is a frowing list of contenders who will give him problems. He will still be able to be a contender even if he does get knocked off. Brock needs UFC protection in match making to keep him relevant.

    Also GSP has sold more PPVs in his MMA career than Brock has. So Dana could be looking at it that way also. If i was buying stock on who will sell more PPVs from this point on. GSP is who i would be buying. His fight with Condit will do well, then he has the Diaz fight on the horizon, maybe a Rory McDonald fight at some point, a rematch with who ever beats him be it Condit, Ellenburger, Story, etc. Brock will has 3 bad fights in a row if he loses to Overeem. That will really kill his drawing power. Even if he wins he is right back fighting winner of Cain/Santos which he cant win. Then he is back to 4 of 5 fights being bad.

  8. The Fight Nerd | Friday Link Club – September 23, 2011 Edition on September 23rd, 2011 7:32 AM

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  9. Mossman on September 23rd, 2011 7:46 AM

    Dana is just pumping the card. He knows people will pay to see BRock no matter what. Love him or hate him Brock will draw no matter what because the dude is a freak and is still an idiot promoter from his days at WWE.

    Not to mention, he pulls a bit from that douche-y WWE fan no matter what, out of the curiosity factor. Its actually the finest example of organic brand building in the market place today… As much as Dana doesnt want to admit it… Brock builds the consumer base with WWE turds everytime he steps into the octagon.

  10. Friday Link Club: UFC 135 & DREAM.17 Previews on September 23rd, 2011 7:55 AM

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  11. mmmathehardway on September 23rd, 2011 11:34 AM

    This is some of the best informed feedback comments I’vd seen in a long time. I agree with everyone that goes in detail about GSP. Just because he hasn’t headkicked someone out cold in the last few years doesn’t mean I can’t wait to see his next fight. What I like is how his strategy is. Just like Couture, he has very well through out game plans that he almost always executes without error.

    Regarding Brock, I’m one of those guys that wants to seem him get beat. I watch every show, so I’m not a good judge of what I like best. I think that Jon Jones could become the top draw in the next 2 years because of his unorthodox style and growing highlight reel.

    The thing is, Anderson Silva needs to be in this conversation. Ever since his poor performance in Abu Dhabi at UFC 112, he has been on a mission to destroy.

  12. CAINtheBULL on September 23rd, 2011 4:55 PM

    About Anderson Silva…. He’s had two overseas cards, UFC 112 and UFC 134. Overseas cards sell much less and are dragging down his average. He’s more of a PPV draw than his numbers show. GSP and Lesnar’s PPVs all took place in North America.

  13. Jason Cruz on September 23rd, 2011 10:25 PM

    Hardway and Cain:

    I am surprised Silva isn’t more of a PPV draw. The Belfort fight was a benchmark for him. I think we should discount UFC 112 not due to the performance but for the fact the live PPV was during the day here in North America. That had to hurt the buy rate with a card that had BJ (recall he was on a big roll before Edgar) and Silva.

    I tend to think it has been part him trying to rebuild his rep after 112. He certainly has done it with his last 2 performances.

  14. BrainSmasher on September 24th, 2011 1:57 PM

    Just think Silva was the worst draw in the UFC at one time behind Franklin. Remember the UFC started consciously pushing him aroudn the time of his fight with Irvin on UFN? They really bombarded the fans with Silva fights and marketing and it has paid off. Of course he almost killed it with his fights with Thales and Maia. But in a way that might have helped. Before that you either didnt care are liked him because he was so good. After his crap fights it made him polarizing. You either like him or hate now. There is no in between. I respect his skill but i dont like him.

  15. mmagenius on September 22nd, 2012 10:25 PM

    Not many liked Lesnar. Most just wanted to see him get beat. I have a hard time believing he drew in over a million PPV besides UFC 100 which in my opinion was because of GSP. No, he will never get high numbers again. He was never a martial artist, just a big dumb bum.

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