Mike Fagan: I think we all had the same thought when we read Dana White's tweet announcing Georges St. Pierre's knee injury. The UFC had a horrific summer at the box office, and the early numbers for UFC 136 -- Dave Meltzer is reporting 250k buys -- are down from even the most pessimistic predictions. (I predicted 300k prior to the event and was told I was short selling things.) The last time St. Pierre drew under 500k buys was back at UFC 69 in his first fight with Matt Serra, and he's averaged over 800k buys in his last three fights against Shields, Koscheck, and Hardy.
Penn and Diaz is a great fight with an interesting backstory, but it doesn't seem like it can carry a card -- especially one with Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo in the co-headliner -- on its own. I think it was safe to pencil 137 in for 700-800k with GSP, but what's a realistic number without him?
Leland Roling: I still think it draws 500k buys. While B.J. Penn isn't a massive draw by any stretch, he should bring in a decent number alongside Nick Diaz, who has seen a growth in interest over the last couple of months. I wouldn't normally predicate a number on a social abnormality, but I know many casual fans who don't keep up religiously with news. I imagine some fans will buy the card not knowing GSP is off it, and the consistent run of UFC 137 ads featuring GSP vs. Condit during The Ultimate Fighter will prolong that confusion. We've also had a break in pay-per-views, which could equal some added business from fans replenishing their pockets.
Somebody bring me back to reality.
Chris Barton: The fact is GSP is the only PPV star in the UFC that fights on a consistent basis. His presence adds at least 300k buys and, really, I believe that's a very low estimate at this point.
Penn used to pull good PPV numbers but I don't think that's the case since he lost his LW title. Short of him making another title run, which would of course include GSP, I don't see him being able to personally account for large buys but he might still be worth a little boost. Nick Diaz is a PPV non-entity.
Fraser Coffeen: Leland, I got your reality: 250k. Is that a low-ball number? Hell yes, it is. But it's in line with the last time Penn headlined at UFC 127. Diaz is an exciting name to hardcore fans, but I don't think he's a casual draw yet. Add in the short time to promote this as the main, the juggling at the top of the card, the lack of any strong undercard,
and the swamped schedule these few months and you have a low number coming.
Tim Burke: UFC 127 was in Australia, it had Jon Fitch in the main event, and the card was Aussie-heavy and had nothing resembling a solid fight on it below the main event.
I believe it will do in the 400-450k range. Despite all the hoopla surrounding Nick Diaz, the average casual UFC fan might not be aware of his exploits in Strikeforce and there's no way to tell what kind of drawing card he is yet in terms of PPV. B.J. can carry a card to a degree, but I think the lack of GSP is going to ruin this card's buyrate. Especially since BJ and Diaz are friends and neither are talking poopy.
Mike Fagan: I saw a couple tweets this week about people who said they skipped the last couple PPVs so they could buy this one. With the next PPV not coming until November, I'm curious if those people throw down anyway.
Leland Roling: I find it difficult to believe Penn vs. Diaz draws the same number as Edgar vs. Maynard, especially since B.J. is a well-known fighter and Diaz, at the very least, has increased interest in himself and has a fanbase from ages ago still around supporting him.
Tim Burke: I can't wait till Roth jumps in on this - "So, is Nam Phan on this card? He totally should be, and he should be getting a title shot!"
Matt Roth: See here's the thing. As far as this card goes, it's not casual friendly. Sure, B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz is a fun fight, but it's not one that draws any better than Rampage vs. Jones. In fact, it probably does somewhere around 350k total. Outside of the main event, it's a deep card as far as hardcore fans are concerned, but a casual fan is gonna say "who the hell is Hatsu Hioki?" Mitrione is beginning to break through and Cro Cop still has a bit of a name, but no one really matters at the box office. The fact that people are even expecting at least 400k is hilarious. The only thing this card has going for it is that it doesn't compete against the World Series.
Tim Burke: People care about the World Series? It's baseball though.
Brent Brookhouse: It all comes down to how many people realize GSP isn't on the card. His name has been closely tied to the event for long enough now, and the ads still show him vs. Condit as the headliner so there will still be people who buy the event to see that fight. Although if they start catching countdown shows and doing pre-event searches they may decide against it.
Penn has never been a major draw but he's a well known enough name that I don't think this has any danger of being sub-300k in the buys. There's a really strange idea that Diaz is some sort of draw though. He wasn't Strikeforce's biggest draw and he never showed steady improvement in viewer interest. The rematch against Noons did 350,000 viewers, Cyborg fight did 561,000 (with help from Herschel Walker) and the Daley fight did 528,000 viewers. Those aren't bad numbers, but they're not the numbers of a guy who is a big draw. And I don't fully understand the idea that he's bringing extra attention by skipping calls and whatnot. No one is suddenly going to decide to buy a show because a guy is missing some calls.
Mike Fagan: But Brent, HE WAS TRENDING ON TWITTER.
Let's wrap this up with some final predictions. I'll say 350k buys.
Tim Burke: 425k
Leland Roling: Compelling arguments. I'll dumb mine down to 450k.
Chris Barton: 375k
Fraser Coffeen: 300k
Matt Roth: Tops at 350k, and that's being crazy. Probably closer to 300k.