While UFC 225 featured a stacked lineup of fights from top to bottom, as well as the novelty act that was CM Punk’s second professional MMA bout, it may not have fared well in terms of pay-per-view buys.
An industry insider told the Los Angeles Times that UFC 225’s buyrate was below 150,000 buys. The card was headlined by middleweight champion Robert Whittaker’s thrilling split decision win over Yoel Romero, and also included Colby Covington winning the interim welterweight title over Rafael dos Anjos.
Usually “early” PPV estimates don’t come out that early, so there is reason for skepticism on that total. Site traffic certainly didn’t have the same feel of a 150,000 buy card. However, one worrisome sign is the fact that UFC 225’s preliminary card on FS1 averaged just 667,000 viewers, peaking at 848,000 for the feature bout between Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes. That’s the least-watched PPV preliminary card special on FS1 this year, and only better than UFC 224, which averaged 574,000 on FX. In fact, it’s even lower than last year’s June PPV, which saw the UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway prelims average 732,000 viewers. As far as Nielsen ratings, UFC 225 prelims did rank 12th among all cable television programming in the 18-49 demographic, although there was also no major sports competition whatsoever apart from FOX’s Major League Baseball broadcast.
Again, it’s still an early estimate and it could be considerably higher than this, but usually strong preliminary card viewership and mid-to-high pay-per-view buyrates go hand in hand for the UFC. For example, UFC 217’s prelims averaged 1.27 million viewers, while UFC 214 still managed 886,000 viewers on FXX, which is in fewer homes than both FX and FS1. Both of those cards exceeded 800,000 buys. Compare that with UFC 213, which only did 657,000 viewers and had a buyrate somewhere in the 125,000-150,000 buys range.
If UFC 225 wasn’t a pay-per-view success, then that means there was virtually no improvement from the first Whittaker vs. Romero bout, and that certainly gives away the low level of interest in seeing CM Punk compete again. The good news for the UFC is they had over 18,000 at the United Center and a live gate over $2 million, so they fared well on that front.
Next month’s pay-per-view is UFC 226, headlined by heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic vs. light heavyweight king Daniel Cormier, as well as featherweight champion Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega. That event takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 7th, as part of International Fight Week.