Early reports of the UFC 108 buyrate based on trending patterns were overly pessimistic. In this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription only), Dave Meltzer reported that the show pulled in an estimated 300,000 buys based on early numbers rather than trends. The numbers come from cable companies and are more accurate than the trending numbers.
If this number holds up, it means the show did the numbers most experts expected it to do ahead of time. The week of the event I gave myself a pretty large margin for error, predicting the buyrate would fall between 260,000 and 325,000 buys:
This is truly the show that will test the North American base number. My suspicion is that the base is somewhere around 300,000 buys, which is still a healthy number, but hitting that base over and over again will push it lower. The only hope for a decent number is Rashad's popularity coming off the reality show, but I'm hard pressed to see this doing better than 325,000, and I wouldn't be surprised if it dipped as low as 260,000 buys.
After UFC 108, Dana White crowed that critics were proven wrong. He also claimed the show would do between 400,000 and 500,000 buys. Of course, nobody can tell ahead of time if a fight like Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout is going to be a standard lightweight decision or a shockingly exciting fight. People can tell ahead of time though that nobody is interested in that fight and that the numbers will be as low as the company can possibly do in North America.
I wrongly predicted the show itself would be boring--it turned out a lot of the fights were exciting. But I was correct about the fact that the card was dreadful from a public anticipation standpoint, and would draw the worst North American number in a long time. Fightlinker put it best: sometimes the prelims on a show end up being particularly exciting, but that doesn't mean the UFC should charge $50 to see prelims on PPV.
The number for UFC 109 will be very interesting. There is already a pretty good amount of press coverage for Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman and the fight is two weeks out. The show will benefit from the long gap since UFC 108, but at the same time Randy is being asked to draw a buyrate with no help whatsoever. Mark Coleman has never drawn a big number in North America, and there's nobody else on the card that resembles a draw.
Will fans be sold on the idea of seeing two active UFC hall-of-famers fight? My guess is the answer depends on how much Mark Coleman decides to ham it up on the countdown show. If he antagonizes Randy and says some of the things he's said in the past about Couture, the fight could end up being a pretty decent draw.