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)

Payout Perspective:

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.

8 Responses to “White reveals top UFC PPV draws in response to Toronto Sun column”

  1. Greg C on September 28th, 2012 6:28 AM

    Ufc 134. The event was aimed at the brazil market. It’s no big surprise that silva okami doesn’t hold up to silva sonnen in north america. Those payperview numbers don’t reflect the number of people who watched it in brasil.

    Ufc roster is growing, not fair to make guys sit around all year just so they can cut back on events. Maybe they just need to work on building more names.

    The injury issue is definitely a problem. It would be cool to see someone do some research on the historical injury rate per event. If it’s just a recent issue, then i don’t think it’s a good reason to cut back on events.

  2. Sampson Simpson on September 28th, 2012 10:09 AM

    Dana is quickly becoming a joke with his over the top responses. The public starts to lack respect for guys like that.

    I’m sure if other publications want free press, they can take future stabs at the UFC and dana will make the story bigger than it really is.

    Sad to see this to be honest.

  3. Brain Smasher on September 29th, 2012 1:00 AM

    I think it should be mentioned that Non US events dont do well on PPV which explains 134 and why 153 shouldnt carry much weight. However it should do well for a non US event. Silva when he has a good opponnent in the USA does very well. BUt Silva does have a history of not being a draw in the US when he become champ. So the UFC has often saved him for over seas fights when they dont have a big threat for him. Most people since Silva’s run of bad fights have wanted to see him beat. So if the opponent isnt seen as a threat by the US they wont buy and its best to us his name where it can draw or create a fan base.

    Also how can you scale back the events? People need to realize there is a balance here that cant be swung to far to either said. No one wants to see new fights. People were asking who is this bum, when Santos made his Debut vs Werdum. These new fighters have to be on the cards. You have to always be looking for the new generations of fighters or you never find the Jones, Santos, Cains, etc. You also have to have depth at all the divisions. So how can you run less cards, get guys their 2-3 fights which is already hard, get the prospects seen, and the contenders seen?

    You cant have future Jon Jones not being seen. You cant have the guy who is 2-3 wins from a possible title shot not being seen either or people wont know him when he fights for the belt.

    The only option is to do what Pride did. Refuse to open your doors to new talent. Run the same big name fighters for 10 years and give the perception they are the best in the world and never get old. The UFC could have Couture, Liddell, Tito, Coleman, rampage fight for the next 20 years. Someone will be the best of the group and the UFC can promote them. But do we want a product where 90% of the King of the Cage roster would run over the guy we believe are the best?

    If you stop seeing new fighters then you are watching a stale product. Another option is to learn to love fights and the fighters will grow on you and you will always be entertained. I love watching new fighters and trying to find the next contender before anyone else.

  4. Chris on September 29th, 2012 3:51 PM

    Whats hard to believe about Sonnen? I think its pretty clear the UFC views PPV draws as main event fights and if you believe Meltzers numbers that means 117 did I believe around 660k and UFC 148 did between 900k and 1 mill.

    So average them out, 1 mill and 660k you are looking at over 800k average.

    I’d say that qualifies Sonnen as one of the top draws in terms of PPV buys in main events. really thats probably only second to GSP.

    yes its only counting main events and its only two fights compared to many main events other fighters have but counting just main events SOnnen is a top draw.

  5. Brain Smasher on September 29th, 2012 11:42 PM

    Chael didnt sell his fight with Stann and he was coming off a long lay off. Maybe he wanted to get his ring rust off with little fan fare. BUt his fights with Silva did take Silva’s buy rates to another level. Who knows what he draws in a non interesting fight. He isnt going to do 500K verses anyone like Chuck used to do. BUt when the fights are interesting and it brings out Chaels A game trash talk then it will sell.

  6. William Hardiek on October 1st, 2012 10:16 AM

    I think Zuffa needs to continue using Strikeforce as a proving grounds, then poach all the top names to help strengthen the UFC brand name. Fighters like Rockhold, Melendez and Rousy will help add legitimacy and depth to a roster that is top heavy. Also, fighters like Nick and Nate Diaz, Josh Koscheck, Rampage and Urijah Faber need to be booked often. These guys are fan favorites, they also have personality, presence and a love em or hate em personality.
    It may be time for the UFC to think of a tournament, Grand Prix or something over the top. They need to create excitement, and the current product lacks imagination.

  7. ... on October 3rd, 2012 3:29 AM

    He “revealed” nothing. He said some names. Whatever correlation they have with reality has nothing to do with anything.

  8. adder on November 6th, 2012 12:17 AM

    UFC was a fad. nothing more. we are now in the decline period.

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