White reveals top UFC PPV draws in response to Toronto Sun column
September 28, 2012
At the UFC 152 post-fight presser, Dana White admonished a Toronto Sun column which questioned the organization’s future. Not only did White assail the columnist at the press conference, he provided evidence that the UFC is not in trouble.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun penned an article critical of the UFC as it visited Toronto this past Saturday. “UFC a Jugger-Not” takes to task the problems with the UFC: the spate of injuries, the absence of PPV draws GSP and Brock Lesnar and the debacle of UFC 151.
It poses the question of whether the UFC should condense its events due to the rash of injuries and card shuffling. It also suggests the company is “at a crossroads” although he makes clear the suggestion is not one of demise. But, the crossroads assertion makes a point predicated on fighter injuries, attendance and PPV buy rates.
In response, White charged back defending his product as one would expect. In an effort to back his defense with evidence he provided a list of current top 5 PPV draws. The list includes GSP, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen. (via MMA Junkie)
The Toronto Sun column was not a hatchet job on the UFC although White’s response seemed like it did. The column was critical and maybe its sole personal attack was referencing Jon Jones’ DUI. Still, the column provides valid points along with the suggestion that the UFC cut back on the number of events in order to prevent replacement cards which equate to lower attendance, buy rates and eventually interest.
As for White’s response, it’s not surprising albeit over the top. The injury bug is a legitimate issue in the UFC especially with the cancelling of two Zuffa events in a month’s time. The continued shuffling of fighters is necessary, yet should not be a constant. The suggestion from the Sun is that eliminating several cards would create cards that are more competitive from the bottom to the top of the card. Thus, if the main event is cut due to an injury, there is enough competitive and name-recognizable fights that the UFC could still hold the card. With the multitude of cards Zuffa runs, there is zero room for fighter injury.
Only Chael Sonnen is questionable as a top PPV fighter named by White. This is in part due to the fact he was in the main event with Anderson Silva for two of his top PPV draws (UFC 117 and 148). Recall that UFC 136 where he fought Brian Stann, only drew 225,000 viewers. So the question is whether Sonnen sold those Silva fights and was the fact that Stann is not a fighter one can readily demonize was the problem with selling that event. He also participated in UFC on Fox 2 which drew 4.3 million viewers (notably Rashad Evans was the main event on that card). Silva is a legitimate draw despite a 335,000 viewer performance at UFC 134 – Brazil. We will see what type of numbers he can draw at UFC 153.
GSP, Silva, Jones and Evans are legitimate PPV draws and despite a blip with a card (e.g., Evans at UFC 133), each of the 4 fighters have a high PPV buy average. Jones is beginning to gain momentum as a PPV draw and we will see what the official buys are for 152 to see if his name added value to the card.