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Amadi's Take
AMADI: UFC 128 pay-per-view buyrate no worse than expected with ebb and flow of UFC's pay-per-view business
Mar 25, 2011 - 4:00:25 PM
AMADI: UFC 128 pay-per-view buyrate no worse than expected with ebb and flow of UFC's pay-per-view business
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By: Jason Amadi, MMATorch Columnist

Staff10Amadi_130_46.jpg
It is no secret that the MMA blogosphere is rife with sensationalist headlines, but I usually take such things in stride. However, I often find myself particularly upset by the over-the-top "sky is falling" rhetoric that seems to follow UFC pay-per-views that wind up on the wrong side of 500,000. As if somehow getting less than half a million homes to dish out $49.95 (for standard definition) is the evidence of oversaturation that so many have been waiting for. I usually don't get upset reading blogs that declare that the UFC's pay-per-view business has begun to decline (because it probably will at some point). Instead, I simply roll my eyes in January where the same exact blogs champion the UFC for breaking the pay-per-view record that they'd set the year prior.

According to early estimates from Dave Meltzer, UFC 128 generated between 415,000 and 470,000 pay-per-view buys. This is a fairly impressive number considering the fact that in February, UFC 126 did between 700,000 and 750,000 buys. This is in addition to the UFC sneaking in UFC 127 and doing between 250,000 and 300,000 buys with a fairly weak card supporting a non-title main event.

The real genius of the UFC's business model is that between events like UFC 127 and UFC 128, Zuffa pacifies paying customers with free cards like UFC on Versus 3, which came earlier this month, or events like the Ultimate Fight Night card this weekend. After this weekend's show, Zuffa presents Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley on Showtime in early April, and then will likely do monster numbers again with their most consistent pay-per-view draw, Georges St. Pierre, headlining a stacked UFC 129 card at the very end of April.

Quite frankly, talk of slowed momentum is completely unsubstantiated. The UFC typically does big numbers, modest numbers, strong numbers, and then big numbers again. There really isn't anything that can consistently produce the kind of numbers that UFC events do. Boxing can certainly do big business a couple times a year, but the UFC simply does more shows, some of which do comparable numbers to the biggest drawing shows in boxing. The WWE at one time was the king of pay-per-view and really blazed the trail for the UFC, but their numbers are on a steady decline.

The fact that Jon Jones' assault of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was "only" able to pull down 415,000-470,000 buys is no slight to Jones, and is in no real way a reflection on his drawing power. At this point, the UFC is simply doing such big business that it's hard to imagine how Jones and Rua could have gotten much more than they did. It just so happens that Jon Jones dominating Mauricio Rua was sandwiched in between pay-per-views featuring MMA's top two pound-for-pound fighters. Some might try to spin this into an indictment of Jon Jones' drawing power, but the UFC and Jones are likely laughing all the way to the bank.


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