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White hints that UFC 94 could set new record for total buys

UFC 66 has stood as the UFC’s unofficial all-time record holder for total buys for over two years. With 1.05 million pay-per-view buys and a main event of Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz battling it out for a second time it looked as though that record would stand for quite some time.

However, there are rumblings that the record could be about to be broken.

Fast forward to November 2008 and a perfect storm had hit the UFC. A freight train named Brock Lesnar was going to fight a returning hero in heavyweight champion Randy Couture.

Even though UFC 91 fell just short of the record with 1,010,000 buys it put the wheels in motion as the UFC was about to embark on a two month stretch that could quite possibly see the record broken twice.

UFC 92 anchored by two title fights and a grudge match between Wanderlei Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson did a reported 1.2 million buys. If that number proves to be correct it would have crushed the previous record.

Last Saturday’s dream match-up of welterweight champion and lightweight champion was boosted by a special 3 part series entitled UFC Primetime which was modeled after HBO’s “24/7”. This special consisted of three 1/2 hour shows that followed both fighters as they trained and also gave the fans a deeper introspect into B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre’s rise to prominence.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, UFC president Dana White is estimating that UFC 94 will become the top selling pay-per-view in company history with over 1.3 million buys. The show drew 14,885 fans which is a new record for a UFC fight held in Sin City. The gate reportedly drew an astounding $4.3 million which is good for sixth place as far as live gates are concerned.

White went on to add that the MGM Grand where the card was held was looking to add more seats at the last minute due to the overwhelming demand. Other casinos in the area were calling up looking for tickets due to an amazing 300,000 people who came in to Las Vegas over Super Bowl weekend.

This is just further proof at the rapid rise of mixed martial arts and is a true testament to the hard work that White and the rest of the UFC has put into helping this sport grow.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Remind me why some MMA fans hate White and the UFC. Without them, the sport would be obscure at best and non-existent at worst. They have their issues to be sure, but you have acknowledge their contributions.

  • meatloaf says:

    @ Mike Wolfe “Remind me why some MMA fans hate White and the UFC.”

    Well I honestly don’t know any MMA fans who hate watching UFC events, but as far as hating Dana White goes that’s another story he’s an arrogant SOB who can’t accept the fact he’s not the superstar face of MMA it’s the fighters in the cage who are. Not to mention you can’t take anything he says seriously because of his agenda to bash every non Zuffa fighter and event. Also please don’t give me the whole he’s just being a smart business man. People use that as a crutch to cover up the fact some of the bullshit he spouts are downright lies.

  • He is the perfect example of a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. His contributions are countless and without him MMA would probably be dead or being contested in a high school gym somewhere. On the other hand he rubs some people the wrong way with his abbrasive attitude and my way or the highway routine. All in all I would have to say he has done a lot more positive than negative.

  • kidneybeans says:

    I’m not going to get into the Dana debate, but I will say I am incredibly glad I did not buy UFC 94. It was largely due to the fact that I didn’t have the money but if I had, I surely would feel today that money was wasted. I did watch it, illegally, which I don’t feel bad about at all given the amount of money I have spent on UFC ppv’s. It was boring as hell and it is unfortunate that so many first time ppv buyers had this show as their first. Undoubtedly many of them will think long and hard before ordering another.

    Before any of you tell me I’m an idiot and proceed to explain why let me assure you I am not placing blame anywhere for the card being boring. I understand it’s impossible to predict how the fights will play out, I’m not a total retard. I’m simply stating it’s unfortunate all the new fans that tuned in to see this event could not have been treated to a more representative sampling of mma.

  • JOe K. says:

    @Mike Wolff – “Remind me why some MMA fans hate White and the UFC.”

    Because Nate Diaz only got $20,000 for opening the main card with 1.3 million buyers paying $45 a ppv.

    Even if the UFC only got half ($22.50) of the ppv money (which they get more than that) they still would have made 33 million dollars (with the gate).

    This total is not including merchandise sales, and undercard fights purchased on the UFC website.

  • nate says:

    well said JOe K.

  • GetItOn says:

    JOe K. – Nate Diaz signed a contract with the UFC and always has the opportunity to pursue negotiations for a larger salary. Don’t be upset with the UFC or Dana White for this. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Nate should make more money but it’s up to his management to make that opportunity happen. Also, you can’t say that Nate Diaz vs Clay Guida drew the majority of the crowd for this event. Main card or not. I’m sure you know but just in case you don’t, you also have to remember that these guys make money for PR and sponsorships as well.

  • JOe K. says:

    I am fully aware of the sponsorships and I think that the non-main event fighters don’t make that much for sponsorships (contrary to popular belief).

    I am also aware that yes, he does have the option to negotiate a higher contract however, where is the bargaining power? Could Nate Diaz be replaced by another fighter relatively easily for a lower contract?

    Where else do fighters have to go if they want to make bigger cash or a decent living? I bet Barker’s beauties on Price is Right make more than Nate Diaz does in a year.

    This was a huge event. Millions of people watched this event to watch these guys perform on the card. That pay is not adequate.

    I don’t care what Dana or anyone else in the business says about people complaining about low pay. How about scrap one of the Primetime shows and use that money to pay everyone an extra 30000?

    It is just so backwards. The fighters are why people watch yet they yield the least dividends from the events. Look at the percentages in all other major sports (its because they have unions).

    I can only hope that the UFC throws them a significant amount of extra cash in the locker room. It would also be nice if they contributed to an IRA and provided health care (while on contract).

    And again I hope as the UFC gets more established they’ll feel more comfortable paying their fighters more.

  • flyingogoplata says:

    The more I hear these debates about fighter purses the more I grow tired of the whining from people.

    JoeK – You have no idea what the expenses are to put on a UFC PPV event. The UFC gets about half of the PPV revenue plus live gate. However, they have to pay for the venue; buy the time on PPV (that’s why you only see a limited number of fights each event); pay fighter salaries; pay staff salaries; pay the Athletic Commision for sanctioning the event, providing refs, drug testing, etc.; pay for overhead for their office space; and most important MARKETING for the event.

    All of these expenses add up to a significant amount. It’s not just about fighter salaries, it’s about running a profitable business.

    You also need to take into account the FIght Night shows as well. These are generally viewed as financial losers that cost the UFC money but provide exposure for young fighters and act as an opportunity to build the image of young fighters to eventually make the UFC $$ on PPV cards. The losses on these shows need to be covered by the PPVs.

    The last point I want to make on this topic is that back when most of today’s fighters started fighting there was no big payday for MMA. Today’s fighters have been lucky enough to have the popularity of a sport they were training for simply for the love of the sport explode to the point where they can now make a living off of it.

    Fighting in 3 fights per year for a fighter like Diaz means $60,000 minimum base salary (assuming he goes 0-3) plus sponsorships (which are substantial for ANY fighter on a PPV main card) plus win bonuses, locker room bonuses, event bonuses (fight of the night, etc). In addition, most of these guys teach at gyms or due to the popularity they’ve gained fighting for the UFC have been able to start their own gyms. You’ll excuse me if I find it tough to feel sorry for the pay rate of these guys.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Yeah, I really feel sorry for Nate Diaz. He and Nick had to make the difficult choice between using their MBA’s on Wall Street and fighting for a living, right?

  • wardog says:

    I can say I do not like Dana for a number of reasons, and still respect what he has done for the sport. First I really do not like the way fighters are paid, but that is a contract issue I know. But perhaps the point I hate the most is that he seems to want the spotlight to shine on him more than the fighters or anyone else. I mean the guy is all over magazine covers, radio, tv, etc… when they should be promoting the fighters (who as pointed out get money from sponsors and could use more exposure). Also he needs to stop being all over TUF and at the beggining of PPV’s giving his opinions. I mean we know Dana as a business man wants certain fighters to win because he can promote them. We also know that the UFC does not care about rankings and will put on a fight for the sake of PPV sales. And I atleast can buy that. But when Dana gets on tv promoting some fighter who does not deserve to be on a main card or something else, then well it gets a little overbearing.


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