There has been considerable hand-wringing in the MMA media that UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones had failed to emerge as a major star despite his awe-inspiring talent and colorful fighting style. And while there is still some reason to believe that he is not connecting with fans as a favorite, the early estimates of pay-per-view (PPV) buys for UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans indicate that Jones has emerged as a star who can sell PPVs.
Dave Meltzer reports on the numbers at the Wrestling Observer (subscription required):
...the story was strong enough that early estimates of PPV numbers have topped 700,000 buys, by far the largest of Jones' career. The number was big for UFC, because they had not established a new young star who was a major consistent draw since the rise of Brock Lesnar, now retired, and Georges St. Pierre, out for most of the year. While the draw was in good part due to the storyline, the number was big enough to where it, combined with WrestleMania a few weeks ago, seems to contradict a lot of people's views of PPV as a dying industry. The big events, like this and WrestleMania, have done better than most expectations going in.
Jones has only been headlining UFC PPVs since UFC 128 when he took the title from Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
The buy rate estimates for his career at the top of the card are after the jump...
- UFC 128 Shogun vs. Jones: 490,000 buys
- UFC 135 Jones vs. Rampage: 520,000 buys
- UFC 140 Jones vs. Machida: 485,000 buys
- UFC 145 Jones vs. Evans: 700,000 buys
With UFC 146 featuring Heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir and UFC 148 with Middleweight champ Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen the UFC should have a very strong late Spring/early Summer coming up.