UFC PPV 2013 Review + Updates

December 31, 2013

Now that thirteen UFC PPV’s are in the books for 2013, we can start to analyze UFC’s performance this year in terms of their most important revenue stream, PPV purchases.


Although PPV buys were estimated throughout the year, many are quietly adjusted and made more accurate throughout the year. Here is an updated list, which you can also find in our Blue Book Pay-Per-View section.

UFC PPV Buys 2013


PPV Buy Rate

Main Event

UFC 168


Weidman-Silva II




UFC 166


Velasquez-JDS III

UFC 165



UFC 164



UFC 163



UFC 162


Silva-Weidman I

UFC 161



UFC 160


Cain-Bigfoot II

UFC 159



UFC 158



UFC 157



UFC 156



Total: 5.05M*, Average: 420K*


UFC Fighter PPV Average Buys 2013

Fighter (main event)

PPV Buy Rate Average

Georges St. Pierre


Andeson Silva*


Ronda Rousey*


Jon Jones


Cain Velasquez


Jose Aldo


* Excludes UFC 168
** Only 1 event used in average


Payout Perspective:

Some of the big updates to the list include the final number for UFC 167, which can now be listed at 630K PPV buys, which falls to one of the lowest PPV numbers GSP has pulled in quite some time but still ranks second in 2013 (excluding UFC 168).  The second number to look at is UFC 165: Jones vs Gustafsson.  This PPV number has now dropped to 310K, which is the lowest PPV buy number Jones has ever done as a champion.  UFC 159: Jones vs Sonnen also suffers a slight drop from 550K to 530K buys.  Last but not least, is UFC 161’s buyrate of 140K, which ties UFC 147: Frankling vs Wandy II, which is the lowest UFC PPV Zuffa has promoted in the last 10 or so years. On the positive side, UFC 163: Aldo vs Zombie gets a small boost from 170K to 180K PPV buys.

In terms of PPV draws for 2013, GSP is once again the PPV king, followed by Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey, and Jon Jones.  Cain Velasquez and Jose Aldo come in near the bottom.  Its also important to note that the UFC will be without GSP and Anderson Silva for at least most of 2014, so it is going to be a trying year with many obstacles to overcome.

Reference:  MMA Payout’s Blue Book &  Dave Meltzer (The Wrestling Observer).

20 Responses to “UFC PPV 2013 Review + Updates”

  1. Tops of on December 31st, 2013 4:11 PM

    Top 4 ppvs this year came from silva and gsp….2014 is viacom’s perfect time to build bellator brand…pour more capital and publicity….

  2. Tops of on December 31st, 2013 4:11 PM

    Marketing I mean

  3. AK on December 31st, 2013 4:23 PM

    What’s crazy is how crazy, craaaazy arbitrary and unscientific Meltzer’s PPV estimates are, yet they are THE only numbers and gold standard. Yes, I wholly understand that it is what it is because there simply are no other people who try. Still….it’s pretty damn crazy when you think about it. I remember reading an article a year or two ago that detailed how Meltzer arrives at his numbers, and I was extreemely blown away regarding its unscientific nature. A shot in the dark here, but any of you out there have any idea what I’m talking about? I’ve completely forgotten where I read it and all of the contents of the piece.

    On a related note, for the life of me I’ve never, ever understood why we have to resort to PPV estimates in the first place. It seems a very, VERY situation to me, as each cable provider seemingly would be able to tell you the EXACT number of buys. It’s preposterous that the entire TV industry takes Nielsen ratings numbers as absolute fact when all Nielsen is doing is extrapolating numbers from like the 28 households (what is it… something like 12k to represent 110 MILLION households?) with boxes to represent the entire country…. yet we can’t get PPV numbers when there would appear (to me at least) to be a very clear paper and accounting trail? Does it have something to do with Zuffa not being a public company?

  4. Jose Mendoza on December 31st, 2013 4:39 PM


    I’ve confirmed with many sources throughout my years that the numbers provided by Meltzer are for the most part accurate. Second, yes, Zuffa is a private company and they would be the ones to release that information. They release Gate and Attendance for example, but are secretive about PPV sale numbers.

    FYI: Zuffa hired Meltzer to provide PPV estimates for their own events during the Eddie Alvarez trial as a way to convince the judge that Zuffa’s contract was more valuable than Bellators.

  5. Tops of on December 31st, 2013 5:17 PM

    I stated this issue before….that’s why I don’t beleive you can compare meltzers number to that which hbo or showtime releases because it’s official vs unofficial….UFC wants a number out there that when something/somebody challenges those numbers for legal or transparency purposes they can easily disown it saying its unofficial…

  6. AK on December 31st, 2013 6:27 PM

    Thanks, Jose. Any idea what article I was referring to? It wasn’t a hit piece or anything, and for some reason the name Jordan Breen comes to mind (maybe his podcast). Also, I’m still profoundly confused — why in the world would the UFC need Meltzer at all, let alone for “estimates.” X amount of PPVs are sold, the cable providers get their 50% cut or whatever, UFC gets the rest, and that’s that… right? Why/how in the world is this so complicated???

  7. BrainSmasher on December 31st, 2013 7:17 PM

    I would guess the UFC used his so they don’t have to release any exact numbers. If they release actual numbers they can be compared to Daves estimates and people would know if he is right, close, or way off. Even just a few events would be enough to see the credibility of “estimates”. There is also the possibility that PPV numbers could be way more or way less than estimates. Then again why release your private numbers when Daves estimates are all you need. They only needed to show a number of sales that BFC couldn’t compete with. So why show your hand when you don’t need to?

    From what I have heard over the years following the PPV estimates and countless sites reporting and Dave commenting. The direct TV numbers are pretty clear cut. It is the cable buy rates that are the problem. The reason is due to the cable companies being broken up into dozens of small cable companies. It takes a long time for those smaller companies to send their information in to the mother companies. So there is a trickle up effect that takes time for all of them to come in. You also have replays that are being sold for a month or two after the live PPV. Then im sure Dave has to have contacts inside each of the major cable companies to get those numbers.

  8. BrainSmasher on December 31st, 2013 7:38 PM

    I do think it is weird that Dave is the only source. I have been following the sport for a very long time and Dave has always been the only source. Even if he has contacts. You would think after all these year, in an industry so big now, that others would have been able to weasel in and get some contacts inside the TV industry.

    BTW, I don’t trust the reported PPV buys for Boxing either.

  9. BrainSmasher on December 31st, 2013 7:57 PM

    One more thing. If the UFC did release their own PPV buy rates. All the haters would never believe them.

  10. Chris27 on January 1st, 2014 8:08 AM

    Looks like Diaz is a good B side.
    Does not look good for UFC PPV, no stars, and the brand isn’t as popular as it was a couple of years ago.

  11. mmaguru on January 1st, 2014 9:12 AM

    Considering that some fighters make cuts from PPV buys, there is likely some way for sports managers to verify the numbers. I don’t think Dave is the only one that has the information, he is probably the one that seeks the info from the different sources that he is in contact with.

  12. duck on January 1st, 2014 11:26 AM

    All fighters with a PPV cut and their management team get the actual PPV numbers if they want it, the fighters and management just don’t make it public.

    Meltzers estimate numbers did line up to the ones the UFC officially released during the Randy Couture lawsuit.

    They also lined up to the WWF and WCW PPV back in the 90’s before the WWE went public and had to release them.

  13. AK on January 1st, 2014 1:22 PM

    OK, thanks all for your responses. It’s just so damn upside down to me. Again, like 24 homes have the Nielsen boxes, yet national TV ratings are accepted as cold-hard fact (not ratings “estimates”…fact) that literally dictate how hundreds of billions (trillions? what is the TV ad market?) are spent every year by giant corporations. Then there are PPV “estimates” for something that would appear to be very clear cut.

    Aaanyway, happy new year Jose and the great MMAPayout staff and readers!

  14. Jose Mendoza on January 1st, 2014 5:54 PM

    Happy New Years everyone! Thanks for reading and looking forward to what should be a fascinating and very telling 2014 for MMA.

  15. Diego on January 2nd, 2014 9:03 AM

    You guys do a great job Jose. This is my most visited MMA site by far.

    AK, in case you missed it – my response to your comments on UFC 168.


  16. LeonThePro on January 3rd, 2014 7:22 AM

    Yep still keepin up with my payout reading on vacation here in the sunny south. Happy New Years and good job Payout staff!

  17. AK on January 3rd, 2014 4:26 PM

    Hey Diego, I’m gonna cheat here and steal a response from the comments section in a recent Junkie piece regarding the fight (I hope that’s OK?): http://goo.gl/pi2T7q

    “I have one thing to say in regards to the Weidman/Silva fight. Reporters and discussion boards keep using the term that Chris Weidman won by default, usually accompanied with the caveat, but he was winning the fight. I have had a pretty good history with different martial arts, and fighting has been part of my culture for the majority of my life. I am no superstar and do not claim to be Cain Velasquez or Felix Trinidad, but I still have to make a comment people are not going to like. Chris Weidman did not win that fight by default, he won that fight fair and square, and deserves to be the MW champion 100% in my book.

    Nearly everyone says Anderson Silva broke his leg, his leg is broken, but did he break it, or was it broken because Weidman was timing Silva’s leg kicks, and threw the perfect check at the perfect time? A check that landed the hardest part of Weidman’s knee directly against a weaker set of bones in Silva’s leg. Anyone paying attention could tell that Weidman had focused on checking those leg kicks from the first bell. Sure Silva connected a couple of times, but nowhere near the first fight, Weidman was checking those inside leg kicks and kicks to the thigh nearly every time one was thrown. For those who don’t know Chris Weidman’s strength is definitely one of his advantages in a fight, or grappling match. I say Chris Weidman broke Silva’s leg, just as much if not more than Silva broke his own leg. Without the kneecap check meeting the force of the shin with its own force there would have been no break, and the fight would have continued. Unless Anderson Silva secretly has osteoporosis, which I highly doubt.

    Overall, point being Silva would not have broken his leg if the inside leg kick would have landed, but since Weidman has been honing in on the skill of checking those leg kicks, and did so with one of the hardest parts of the body. It would be just as easy to say Weidman broke Silva’s leg. Even Joe Rogan revealed after the first fight following the knockout of Silva, John Danaher instead of being jovial and celebrating Weidman’s victory, first stated, that they had to work on checking those leg kicks. So next time you read an article that states Silva lost because he broke his leg, remember its not like he got in a car wreck. He broke his leg, because he tried to kick Chris Weidman on his inner thigh, but instead kicked a kneecap that Weidman put their intentionally to avoid getting kicked, and that is how his leg broke. His leg was broken by another man, he didn’t do it on his own. Weidman owns the gold fair and square.”

  18. AK on January 3rd, 2014 4:59 PM

    Now, regarding you taking major issue with my implications of race having something to do with it, I can see where you’re coming from. I get called a racist and bigot everyday for having the audacity to be a conservative/Republican and believe in what works (though if I was white I’d probably hear it 10x a day), and it was sorta fun using the race card on my behalf on someone else for like the first time ever. But that wasn’t solely used out of some juvenile fun, I think I had more than enough backing to use it (not relating to you specifically, but MMA and America in general).

    Brazilian MMA fans, like most other countries, support their own. Doesn’t matter if they’re white, khaki or black — if they’re Brazilian, they will be cheered for. America, however, is a country COMPLETELY obsessed by race, where kids are beaten into their heads from day one to see racism behind every tree, bush and blade of grass (“Those USA chants are RAAACIST and xenophobic!”). As such, many Americans, so unbelievably tragically, go through life viewing everything through the prism of race. If an honest survey was done, I will be willing to bet a very, very large amount of money that not only were the majority of black Americans rooting for Silva, but a mass, MASS majority of them were rooting for Silva. In WHAT other country do you see that???

    Now I’m sure you’re gonna go with the “uh well, he just happens to be their favorite fighter. They can’t root for who they want?” route, but are you gonna sit there and tell me with a straight face that race has NOTHING to do with their seemingly odd/random rooting interests? From the TV at least, the MGM crowd was pretty clearly heavily pro-Silva. Yes, a fair amount of Brazilians were there, but I can guarantee you the Brazilians were nowhere near the majority of pro-Silva fans present. Again I ask, in WHAT other country do you see that? (Don’t even get me started on Cain and his Brown/Mexican Pride Everything.)

    Admittedly very unscientific, I was monitoring Twitter throughout the evening, and seeming every black person was rooting for Silva. Now I’m sure 99% of them were people with absolutely ZERO connection with Silva or Brazil, at ALL. Yet they were rooting for him. Of COURSE people are free to root for whomever they wish, but again, are you gonna tell me that race has NOTHING to do with that (and also again, the Silva-Weidman disparity wasn’t even CLOSE)? So can you blame me thaaaat much for simply floating the theory out there that race MIGHT have something to do with your rooting interests? (And yes, of course I assumed you were something other than white judging by your name.)

    People are free to root for whoever they want. In my opinion, it is just a very, VERY sad reflection on the troubled/disjointed state of American society. Brazilians support their own; Americans don’t.

  19. AK on January 3rd, 2014 5:20 PM

    And speaking of the despicable race-baiters of America, as you can imagine, I’m a big MMA fan and frequent a great many of sites. What I find most despicable and mind-boggling are the writers and commenters who say with absolute authority that the USA, USA chants are racist and xenophobic. You’ll notice, though, that it is only EVER brought up when it’s a white American fighting someone of a darker tone of another country.

    I just watched the Jon Jones All Access special (or whatever it’s called) for the Shogun fight, and granted, they never really took off full flight, but you could clearly hear the chants on a couple occasions in that fight. Recently, I believe they were heard in the Howard-Siyar fight (or was it Johnson-Tibau?). Those are just two examples off the top of my head, and the funny thing is, you never see the writers or readers bring it up in such instances — only when it’s a white American. Again, I’m not white, and the reason I bring this up is to help illustrate my point about how crazy hypocritical so many people are in this country in their selective outrage. Some, of course, are genuinely concerned and do genuinely think it’s racism-based; most, probably, are simply displaying retarded trollish behavior (a la mini-Jesse Jacksons of the world).

  20. Sportsbook Reviews on April 20th, 2014 11:35 AM

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for Sports Betting Reviews

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