UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier’s history-making heavyweight championship triumph vs. Stipe Miocic was billed as a superfight, the question is did it produce the strongest pay-per-view buys of 2018? Well the answer appears to be yes, but it looks like they’ve still yet to eclipse the 500,000 mark.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer has the preliminary estimates:
The expectation going in was that this would be the biggest show so far this year. But the most preliminary of pay-per-view estimates have the show doing a little under 400,000 buys. There are those who believe the loss of Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega hurt interest, but Cormier vs. Miocic on its own should have been able to do bigger numbers.
For Cormier, this would be the best pay-per-view main event he’s done outside of the two Jon Jones fights, and the second-highest for Miocic behind UFC 203, which did 450,000 buys with the help of CM Punk’s MMA debut.
Another positive for UFC 226 was the live gate, which came in at just under $5.7 million, one of the ten highest gates in the history of MMA events in the state of Nevada. Usually a number that strong would yield a stronger buyrate than the current early estimate of less than 400,000.
If Cormier vs. Miocic was an indication of anything, it’s that champ vs. champ “superfights” aren’t going to draw massive buyrates unless at least one of those fighters involved is an A-side superstar. Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn 2 and Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez certainly set themselves apart from DC and Stipe, and the PPV numbers and interest reflect as such. It also gives you a good idea as to how Demetrious Johnson vs. T.J. Dillashaw could potentially do as a PPV main event, and it’s certainly not “400,000 buys” territory.
The UFC 226 preliminary card had roughly the same viewership as UFC 225, averaging 668,000 viewers and peaking at 800,000 for Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Uriah Hall. Albeit on a Saturday night with not much in the way of big programming, UFC 226 did rank 5th among Nielsen’s top-50 rated cable TV broadcasts that night, so the low viewership may not be impressive, but they did command attention from the 18-49 demographic.
As for Friday night’s TUF 27 Finale, it only averaged 499,000 viewers and peaked during Alessio Di Chirico’s thrilling win over Julian Marquez. It is the least-watched night-time UFC event on FS1 in the promotion’s history, faring worse than the TUF 26 Finale back in December, which did 501,000. Israel Adesanya may as well have been better off on UFC 226 than headlining his own show.