In my opinion, the WEC consistently puts on the best cards in MMA in terms of sheer fight quality.
But even factoring out the DirecTV/Versus mess, WEC ratings have been on a slide and aren't likely to get better now that the Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres have lost their status as invincible members of the top P4P fighters list.
I also don't see the pay-per-view doing well. Lighter-weight fighters just don't generate big numbers if they aren't named BJ Penn. And BJ Penn is a bigger draw than the entire WEC roster combined.
Now I will agree with many critics that the WEC isn't looking so hot.
But Zuffa is not in trouble in any way, shape, or form.
Let's look at recent history. The UFC has had a string of lousy PPV numbers due to a shocking number of injuries to key fighters, including four of the promotion's five champions.
When guys beat the sh*t out of each other for a living, they're going to get hurt. That's life.
And do I even need to bring up the fact that these PPV numbers are UNVERIFIED?
Furthermore, the UFC is a growth company, and like any growth company, there will be peaks and valleys along the way. Google and Apple didn't grow into giants in a perfectly straight line. And don't forget the economy - consumer confidence is in the crapper, and that's not good for pay-per-view buys.
Lorenzo Fertitta recently testified to Congress that the UFC gets about half its revenue from pay-per-views. So it also makes plenty of dough from TV deals and licensing, which offset the inherently cyclicality of the PPV business. The video-game deal alone probably generates as much profit as several PPV events put together.
The UFC is also bright enough to compensate its big names with bonuses based on PPV buys, which means the company doesn't make huge payouts for events that bomb.
As for UFC on Versus, who cares if it doesn't do well? Versus is a network most people can't even find in their channel guides, and it's crippled by not being on DirecTV.
Are you really going to judge the strength of the most-successful company in the history of MMA on how a string of events with no title fights or reliable PPV draws does? Or how the WEC is doing?
The only real disaster was UFC 106, which should have done better with Tito on the card. And we can all agree that there are way too many PPV events these days. I'd rather see one a month, with each one being a really big deal.
Look at the big picture.
If the UFC was strictly interested in short-term profits, they would not be holding as many overseas events as they do. Cards in the UK and other places don't do that much business because of the time-zone difference, but Zuffa is making long-term brand power the priority.
Dana White and the Fertitta brothers want to build MMA into the biggest sport in the world, with the UFC as the only big boy in town.
That's a completely irrational goal. But if these people were remotely rational, they wouldn't have bought the UFC in the first place.
P.S. I am a proud UFC/Zuffa fanboy. They're not perfect but I truly fear the alternatives.