Low UFC PPV Numbers, What is the Solution?

With reports of the recent pay per view numbers hitting an all-time low at the past UFC events it raises the questions, why are they so low and what is the solution? Now I believe there were many external factors into why the pay per view numbers were so low this past weekend that the UFC had no control over. What happened in Las Vegas just six days prior to UFC 216 is a horrible tragedy and to have to follow that horrific tragedy and put on a booming pay per view show is going to be hard to do.  With all that being said, there are reasons to the low pay per view numbers as of late and solutions for these problems.

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As to why the numbers are so low, I think this time period is a hard time period to compete for pay per view buys. The massive event Mayweather vs. McGregor was at the end of August and Canelo vs GGG was in September. Both of these events (UFC 215 & UFC 216) that hit a record low for back to back pay per views in the UFC since UFC 42 and UFC 43 were both near these massive events. Mayweather vs McGregor did over four million pay per view buys at 100 dollars so it is hard to expect consumers to buy four pay per views in the span of six weeks.

Another reason for the numbers on these pay per view cards being so low is because there are so many UFC cards and pay per view cards for that matter. Right now the UFC runs over 50 events in the span of a year. With an over saturation of events it is natural for some events to not do as well as others. In addition, with all of these events the UFC can only pick and choose which events to spend lots of marketing dollars for, and I feel that for these last two cards the UFC were not all in on the way they have marketed these events due to them expecting to not draw well. So far, this year, the worst the company has had in a while, have had many reasons to the low pay per view numbers on UFC cards, but there are some solutions to fix the problems.

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One solution would be to limit the number pay per view events the UFC does each year. I think if the UFC did five or six pay per views rather than having 13 pay per views a year it would be beneficial. With doing this, the UFC could stack each pay per view card more to entice consumers to buy each one. Also, with spacing out the pay per views fans would be more willing to spend the $59.99 or $69.99 every two months with better fights on each card in comparison to having cards as often as they do now, having the cards be weaker and expecting people to spend the money once or more than once a month.

With all of the illegal streaming that happens for pay per view events, it is very hard to do amazing numbers for pay per views. I think that once the TV deal is up that the UFC will begin to move towards less pay per view events and more towards online streaming, fight night like events on various networks, and by a result, the viewer would be getting a better bang for their buck. With the way that some of the current pay per views are, the UFC is having a hard time justifying why people should buy them.

The Best Fighters Outside the UFC

With the recent competition with Scott Coker and Bellator, as well as other organizations around the world, it raises the question, who are the best fighters outside the UFC? There are plenty of amazing fighters outside the UFC, but here are a few of the best outside the UFC.

Ben Askren

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Ben Askren may be the best welterweight in the entire world. Former two time NCAA wrestling champion and Olympian wrestler Ben Askren has dominated the fight game with his incredible wrestling.  In his career, Askren is undefeated and has dominated just about everyone including current Bellator Welterweight champion Douglas Lima. Askren also has a dominating win over Andrey Koreshkov who has been a mainstay for Bellator. After his next fight in his current promotion ONE Championship, Askren has announced he will retire. It is a shame we never got to see Askren face off against the best of the UFC, but there is no doubt in my mind Askren would do just fine.

Rory MacDonald

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MacDonald is most known for his epic wars with Robbie Lawler in the UFC. When Georges St Pierre stepped away from the sport everyone believed MacDonald would take over as the face of MMA in Canada, and he has delivered. In MacDonalds career, he has defeated current UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley, Demain Maia, Jake Ellenberger, BJ Penn, and Nate Diaz. At only the age of 28, Bellator is getting a MacDonald in the prime of his career. Now under the new banner of Bellator, MacDonald has a win over Paul Daley and is fighting Douglas Lima for the Welterweight title in January.

Ryan Bader

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Ryan Bader just recently signed with Bellator and has already captured the Light Heavyweight title. In Bader’s career, he has only lost to the elite of the light heavyweight division and has wins over quality opponents. Bader has wins over Rashad Evans, Ovince Saint Preux, Little Nog, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and two wins over Phil Davis.

Michael Chandler

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Chandler has been a staple for Bellator in the lightweight division. The second former Missouri wrestler on this list (Askren being the other) is one of the most well-rounded lightweights in the world. I understand that Chandler may not be the champ of division currently, but his resume speaks for itself. Chandler has two wins over Patricky “Pitbull” Freire as well as wins over two former UFC lightweight champions in Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez. Michael Chandler is amongst the best lightweights in the entire world regardless of promotion.

Douglas Lima

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Lima who is the current Bellator Welterweight champion has an impressive resume. His only recent losses are to Ben Askren who was previously mentioned, and Andrey Koreshkov that he later avenged. Lima has other wins over Lorenz Larkin, Paul Daley, and Ben Saunders. A win over Rory MacDonald in January would catapult Lima into the conversation of best welterweight in the world.

 

Khabib Asks for Ferguson at UFC 219

On this weeks edition of the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Khabib Nurmagomedov called for Tony Ferguson at UFC 219. If you remember, Khabib and Tony Ferguson were scheduled to fight in Brooklyn at UFC 209, but Khabib was forced to pull out due to weight cutting complications. On the MMA Hour, Khabib went on to say he that he believes Ferguson is the real champion. He also went on to say that the UFC should do Nate Diaz vs McGregor 3 and him vs Tony. Die-hard fans seemed to be very interested in the Tony vs Khabib fight back in March, but did that ship sail, or are fans still very much interested in that bout. He went on to say how he knows he needs to fight and does not want 2017 to be a waste for him, his family, and his fans. Khabib said how Ferguson is the dream fight for him, and how he wants it at UFC 219. Do you think the UFC brass books him vs Ferguson and Conor vs Nate next?

Guys on the Rise

For this topic what I did was pick one guy in each division outside of the top ten that by the end of 2018 could make a huge climb up the division. In most cases, these guys are younger guys who have shown flashes of potential in recent fights. This is purely based off of each division in the UFC and the UFC Rankings.

Flyweight- Magomed Bibilatov

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Despite just losing to John Moraga at UFC 216, Bibilatov has huge promise in the flyweight division. Prior to the UFC, the Russian born Bibilatov was able to become the ACB Bantamweight Grand Prix winner and the World Series of Fighting Flyweight title. Bibilatov is highly regarded in talks around the practice room with coach Mark Henry, as well as fighters Frankie Edgar, Edson Barbosa, Eddie Alvarez, and Marlon Moraes. Before his first fight, Fox Sports wrote an article on how Bibilatov has potential to do big things in the flyweight division (you can check that article out here http://foxs.pt/2oRpUXw). After a devastating knockout defeat to John Moraga in which Bibilatov was a huge favorite, Bibilatov will look to rebound and climb back up the flyweight rankings.

Bantamweight- Cody Stamann

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At this moment Stamann is not ranked in the top 15 in the bantamweight division. Stamann is a big bantamweight who just beat hot prospect Tom Duquesnoy at UFC 216. Prior to the bout, Stamann felt slighted by the MMA world for not getting the shine Duquensoy got in the lead up to the fight. After this fight, Stamann is sure to be on the MMA world’s radar. After watching the fight I was impressed with Stamann’s striking ability against a highly regarded striking prospect in Duquesnoy. Stamann was able to mix in his wrestling nicely with his striking and is definitely someone to watch out for in the bantamweight division.

Featherweight- Dohoo Choi

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Most notably known for his bloodbath fight against Cub Swanson, Dohoo Choi has a fighting style that is very fan friendly. Almost a full year since the Swanson fight, Choi has not competed since then. Activity could be one factor that halts Choi from making a rise up this division as he has really only fought one fight per year as of late. If Choi is able to be active he can be a huge player in the featherweight division.

Lightweight- Al Iaquinta

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Quite frankly, Iaquinta has the talent level right to be ranked higher than 11 on the UFC Rankings. In his UFC career, Iaquinta has wins over Diego Sanchez, the #4 ranked welterweight Jorge Masvidal, and the man who just fought for the interim lightweight title, Kevin Lee. Due to injuries and other disputes with UFC brass has not been able to be as active as he may have liked. “Ragin’ Al” is scheduled to fight Paul Felder in Detroit on December 2nd. With a win here, expect a top ten opponent for Iaquinta as it is well deserved.

Welterweight- Mike Perry

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Recently cracking the top 15 in the welterweight division Mike “Platinum” Perry is a welterweight to look out for. Perry has a record of 11-1 with knockout victories over Alex Reyes and Jake Ellenberger. Over time now, Perry has grown on many fans for his exciting fighting style, as well as his strong Twitter presence. Perry is booked for December 16th against #9 ranked Santiago Ponzinibbio in a fight that could launch him into the top ten in the rankings.

Middleweight- Brad Tavares

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Tavares is coming off a dominant win at UFC 216 against Thales Leites. Prior to this fight, Tavares was not ranked but is currently ranked #13 in the Middleweight division. Tavares has wins over Elias Theodorou, Nate Marquardt, Lorenz Larkin, and Phil Baroni. Most of Tavares losses have only come against top contenders in the middleweight division such as Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero. Look for Tavares to make a climb up this division that has five fighters over the age of 37 ranked ahead of him.

Light Heavyweight- Tyson Pedro

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In a division that is starving for young talent, Tyson Pedro may be the answer. The 26-year-old has knockout power as well as a jiu-jitsu background. Pedro is coming off a rather lackluster loss to Ilir Latifi at UFC 215. Look for Pedro to face another top 15 opponent in his next bout, possibly Gian Villante.

Heavyweight- Curtis Blaydes

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The heavyweight division is another division that is in dire need of young talent. Chicago resident Curtis Blaydes may be able to provide young excitement in this division. Blaydes is currently ranked #12 (tied with Andrei Arlovski) in the heavyweight division is big heavyweight known for his physical attributes. Blaydes is currently booked against #9 ranked Aleksei Oleinik at UFC 217. A win here will certainly jump Blaydes into the top ten and an even bigger fight next.

Biggest Upcoming Fights to Close out 2017

With the end of the year wrapping up, the UFC has put together a great list of Pay Per Views as well as free fight nights to finish the last quarter of the year. Below is a list of all the best fights to finish off the end of the year.

UFC Fight Night Gdansk, Poland Oct 21th

Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till

UFC Fight Night Sao Paulo, Brazil Oct 28th

Derek Brunson vs. Lyoto Machida
Demain Maia vs. Colby Covington

UFC 217 Madison Square Garden New York, NY Nov 4th

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Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre
Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillashaw
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal

UFC Fight Night Norfolk, Virginia Nov 11th

Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis

UFC Fight Night Sydney, Australia Nov 18th

Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura

UFC Fight Night Shanghai, China Nov 25th

Anderson Silva vs. Kelvin Gastelum

UFC 218 Detroit, MI Dec 2th

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Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar
Alistair Overeem vs. Francis Ngannou
Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje
Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis

UFC Fight Night Fresno, CA Dec 9th

Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega

UFC Fight Night Winnipeg, Canada Dec 16th

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Robbie Lawler vs Rafael Dos Anjos
Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas

UFC 219 Las Vegas, NV Dec 30th

Main Event TBD
Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera

Former World Champs Square Off

Rafael Dos Anjos and Robbie Lawler will face off December 16th. Dos Anjos who was the former lightweight champ, now ranked #5 in the welterweight division, is facing former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. Lawler is coming off a decision win against Donald Cerrone back in July, while Dos Anjos is coming off a submission victory over Neil Magny. The winner of this fight will most likely get the next title shot with currently injured Welterweight champ Tyron Woodley when he is able to return to the octagon.

The “Money Fights” Everyone Wants

These days of the UFC are much different than any other time in the company’s short history. A lot of people can take credit for the change in time including the new ownership in WME. Ultimately, the new age of MMA has become the “money fights” or “super fights”. A couple factors such as Conor McGregor making massive money, for MMA standards, with this method has led to fighters following his footsteps as well as, WME just purchasing the UFC for 4.2 billion dollars and they need to find a way to make sure they get a return on their investment. These are some super fights we could possibly see in the future.

Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz

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Before everyone starts flipping out, I know and I agree. Tony Ferguson should be and I believe will be the next fight for Conor McGregor. It is time for Conor to fight the true #1 contender and I believe Conor knows that. There has not been another MMA fighter who has always known the proper step to take next in their career like Conor. With that being said, the Conor vs Nate fight will never go away. That trilogy fight will always be there and always will be a huge sell. Now if Conor is to face Tony Ferguson next, win or lose he can fight Nate after for a huge “money fight”. If Conor skips the Ferguson fight to fight Nate and happens to lose the Tony Ferguson fight will not be there anymore and neither will the belt. Quite frankly, Nate Diaz vs Tony Ferguson would be an awesome fight, but just is not going to do the same Pay per view buys that a Conor McGregor vs Tony Ferguson fight would do. In conclusion, I think it is smartest for all parties involved (Conor and UFC) to do the Tony Ferguson fight first to restore order in the lightweight division, which could still probably do 1.5 million pay per view buys and then do the Nate Diaz trilogy “money fight” that could eclipse the two million mark.

Demetrious Johnson vs Bantamweight Champ

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After Demetrious Johnson’s record-breaking title defense, I think everyone wants to see how he would match up with the best Bantamweights in the world. What is an interesting caveat to this is that both of these guys have openly said they would drop down to 125 pounds to fight Demetrious. Whether this future fight with one of these two guys happens at 125, 135 or even a catchweight fight of 135 pounds it is a fight everyone would be intrigued about. Will it happen, I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. After the fight, Demetrious had mentioned how he thought the winner between Henry Cejudo and Sergio Pettis would be the rightful next contender. There were rumors that came out via the San Francisco Chronicle that Cejudo had suffered a broken ankle escaping the California wildfires, but MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani reported that Cejudo just suffered burns and should be able to compete come UFC 218 in Detroit. Depending on how things play out, I believe that Demetrious will fight the winner of this fight, while the winner of Cody Garbrandt/ TJ Dillashaw may do another title defense against the Dominick Cruz/Jimmie Rivera winner, but after each division gets sorted out I feel the UFC will push for the super fight between Demetrious Johnson and whoever is the Bantamweight champion.

Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier

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Right now with the possible long-term drug suspension looming for Jon Jones who was going to make the move to heavyweight, I would love to see Cormier move up to heavyweight and make this fight! At light heavyweight Cormier has nothing else left to prove. Sure, he could face a rising Volkan Oezdemir, but what does that do for his legacy. For Cormier to cement himself as one of the best clean fighters this sport has ever seen a win over Stipe would be exactly what the doctor ordered. Cormier is no stranger to the heavyweight division and tends to walk around at about 230 pounds if not heavier. Come fight nice Stipe Miocic usually weighs about 240-245 pounds. In Cormier’s career, he has won multiple fights in heavyweight division over top level competition such as Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, and Josh Barnett.

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For Miocic, this may be the name he needs on his resume as heavyweight champ to launch him into the general public’s eyes. Miocic has now already beaten Fabricio Werdum, Allistair Overeem, and Junior Dos Santos, which are all the top contenders in the heavyweight division. The only people that he already has not beaten would be Francis Ngannou if he is able to get by Overeem, and Cain Velasquez if Cain is able to get healthy. With Cain being teammates with Cormier I think that is the only possible roadblock in making this fight. If Cain continues to stay sidelined though there a real possibility of Stipe and Cormier squaring off. In my opinion, this fight makes a lot of sense from both camps.

Whether as a fan you like it or not, “money fights” or super fights are the new way of matchmaking in the UFC. I think all three of these fights are legit fights that not only the general public will be interested in, but also the die-hard fans of the UFC. Will they happen, who knows, but they do all make some sense and I could realistically see them all being made in the future.