There is no question about who the top draw in the UFC is: Brock Lesnar is number 1. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
MMA Payout has been playing around with different ways to calculate the top draws in the UFC. They've hit on a method that I think reveals something interesting. They take Derek Jenkins' list of the top 10 draws in the UFC that appeared on Yahoo! and compare cards featuring those fighters to cards lacking any of the top 10 draws.
Here's their chart:
Average buys for all UFC PPVs since 2008 that do not feature ANY of the ten fighters: 308,000
Events not featuring any of the ten fighters:
- UFC 85 (Hughes vs. Alves) - 215,000 buys
- UFC 93 (Franklin vs. Henderson) - 350,000 buys
- UFC 99 (Franklin vs. W. Silva) - 360,000 buys
- UFC 103 (Franklin vs. Belfort) - 375,000 buys
- UFC 110 (Nogueira vs. Velasquez) - 240,000 buys
Fighter Average PPV buys for cards featuring fighter Difference from "baseline" average Brock Lesnar 1,007,000 699,000 Georges St. Pierre 889,000 581,000 Quinton Jackson 735,000 427,000 Rashad Evans 693,000 385,000 Forrest Griffin 691,000 383,000 Lyoto Machida 610,000 302,000 BJ Penn 603,000 295,000 Randy Couture 573,000 265,000 Chuck Liddell 550,000 242,000 Anderson Silva 530,000 222,000
*Note that I've reordered the chart so that it lists the fighters from first to last in terms of "Difference from 'baseline' average".
No really big surprises here, but it's interesting to see how much of a bump Brock Lesnar and GSP bring to the PPV business. I think it's obvious that Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans are benefiting greatly from the mega-success of UFC 114 which may be a one-time event.
Lyoto Machida is another who performs stronger than I might have expected, but now that he's lost his light heavyweight title and his aura of invincibility, I doubt he'll remain a major draw.
Note also that Anderson Silva is at the bottom of this list. He remains only slightly more popular than Rich Franklin, the champ he deposed from the MW division.