While 2016 was a banner year for UFC Pay-Per-View events, 2017 has seen a tremendous reverse in fortunes.
The UFC doesn’t release its PPV numbers, but industry insider Dave Meltzer is largely credited with acquiring the most accurate estimates for how the fight promotion’s PPV buys perform. His insight doesn’t paint 2017 in a good light.
Meltzer’s early estimates for the promotion’s two most recent efforts put them among the lowest draws in modern UFC history.
According to MMA insider Jed I. Goodman, Meltzer’s reports in WrestlingObserver‘s newsletter put UFC 215 at an estimated 100,000 PPV buys, while UFC 216 is only expected to do about 20-percent better with roughly 120,000 PPV buys.
Meltzer early estimates for #UFC215: 100k buys & #UFC216: 120k buys#UFC
— Jed I. Goodman (@jedigoodman) October 12, 2017
Those numbers, when combined with the rest of the 2017 UFC events represent a staggering downturn for the UFC year over year.
The UFC reportedly drew more than 1 million buys for five events in 2016. Thus far in 2017, there have been zero events estimated to have draw 1 million or more buys. 2016 was also better on the low end, never recording less than 200,000 buys. With UFC 215 and UFC 216 expected to be so low, the total number of events under 200,000 buys in 2017 is currently at three.
The obvious missing elements leading to the 2017 slide? The absence of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
While Rousey is coming off of back-to-back losses and is widely expected to retire, her lone fight in 2016 drew over 1 million buys. Each of McGregor’s three bouts last year also drew more than 1 million buys. The only non-Rousey or McGregor event to amass such numbers was UFC 200, which featured Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes, as well as Brock Lesnar’s return to the cage.
Neither Rousey nor McGregor has fought for the UFC in 2017.
McGregor has had one bout in the last year, that being his money grab with Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. The UFC was a partner in that event and benefited from it financially, but it wasn’t a UFC promotion. That could take some of the sting out of the bottom line, but the fact of the matter is, there is a ship that needs righted.
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There is hope that McGregor still might fight at UFC 219 on Dec. 30. That coupled with the likelihood that Georges St-Pierre‘s return at UFC 217 in November could give the UFC a much needed boost as the year comes to a close, but even then, it’s not going to hold up well against the banner year that was 2016.
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