The UFC can no longer rely on its brand alone to sell large numbers of pay-per-views.
It’s been a rough 2017 for the UFC as far as ratings and pay-per-view sales go, one that may have fans a bit concerned about the long term health prospects for the sport. Ironically, this all came about following the monumental sale of the UFC to entertainment giants WME-IMG for $4.3 billion dollars. That hefty sum was only possible due to a record setting year for the UFC back in 2016, one that featured big money fights from Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
Unfortunately for the UFC, McGregor has been absent from the cage and Rousey will probably never come back. Without those two superstars to headline cards, the promotion has struggled to string together events that fans feel are worth the $60 PPV price tag. Up until UFC 214, no PPV event in 2017 managed to break the 300,000 buy mark, and UFC 213 scraped a miserable 150,000 buys.
Things rebounded nicely with UFC 214, a card featuring a stacked card and three title fights. It was also anchored by the long awaited rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. Early estimates have that card breaking a million buys, which once again proves the new reality of UFC PPV sales: the fans will still buy big fights. Unfortunately for the UFC, the years of being able to rely on the brand alone to sell over 500,000 buys seem over.
Watch the above video for a more detailed breakdown of the UFC’s pay-per-view numbers over the years.