UFC 111 Business Expectations

Capturep_mediumUFC 111 is the biggest UFC show in a long time.  Georges St. Pierre, their biggest star outside of Brock Lesnar, finally makes his return after 8 months on the sideline, and an interim heavyweight champion will be crowned.  The show is already a success at the gate, having sold out to a tune of over $4 million.

How will it do on pay per view?  It's hard to say.  The company has done three straight weak numbers, but all for cards that nobody expected to draw anyway.  The best point of comparison is UFC 107, which featured BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez and Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo.  That card did about 650,000 buys.

GSP is a bigger draw than BJ Penn, primarily due to the fact that every GSP card brings in an extra 100,000 purchases from Canada.  But is Dan Hardy a draw at all?  He has a big personality, but he's certainly not as credible in the eyes of UFC fans as Diego Sanchez.  Based on the poll pictured above, the vast majority of UFC fans expect Dan Hardy to lose.  Will over 600,000 fans buy a card just to see GSP dominate a random opponent?

UFC 107 built a ton of steam the week of the event thanks to Frank Mir, who relentlessly antagonized Cheick Kongo.  Mir has done nothing but compliment Shane Carwin this time around, most likely because he wants to avoid the spotlight so soon after the "scandal" over his comments.  Shane Carwin means next to nothing to casual UFC fans from a buyrate perspective.  

From a business perspective, Mir-Carwin may be the most important fight on the card, because the winner is probably fighting Brock Lesnar at UFC 116.  If Mir wins and they set up a third fight, it's probably worth in excess of 500,000 buys more than a Lesnar-Carwin fight.

The card took a big blow in the loss of Thiago Alves.  I don't expect that to affect the buyrate much, but it was the fight on the card I was looking forward to the most, and I don't think I'm alone there.  

I think this card will do between 575,000 and 650,000 buys in North America, which is a really strong number if you consider the fact that it's really just for one man: Georges St. Pierre.

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