Pictured: Brock Lesnar when he was UFC champion and the biggest PPV draw in the sport. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
It may seem strange that we're going back to a card that happened at the end of 2011, but there is a reason. Brock Lesnar's final fight in the UFC (and in his career) was initially marked at 750,000 buys, which was the 2nd highest selling show of a fairly disastrous 2011 for the UFC in the PPV market. According to Dave Meltzer, who originally had 750k as the estimate, the revised numbers are much much much lower to the point where it's the worst selling Lesnar PPV ever at 535,000.
Catching up on some business numbers. The 12/30 Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem PPV did about 535,000 buys. That’s far less than original projections and predictions. As for why, there are two conclusions you can come to. The first is that Lesnar losing the title and his health issues hurt his aura as a draw, even though the two giant heavyweights going at it promotion was good and it was still on Spike with a strong performance by Overeem in the Countdown show. Overeem had never been in UFC, and didn’t look good in his prior Strikeforce fight with Fabricio Werdum even though he won. The other was it was a Friday night show and as silly as that sounds, I did think that was going to hurt somewhat. While UFC and WWE are different in a sense when it comes to winning and losing and drawing power, the argument that Lesnar lost to Velasquez and came back and drew big with Overeem isn’t quite accurate.
More analysis from Bloody Elbow after the jump.
Well I have to say that's a heavy readjustment, in fact it's almost a 30% drop from Meltzer's early estimates. As it stands with the new numbers, it's now the 3rd best selling card of 2011 behind UFC 126 and 129, and only marginally better than UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage.
One of the bigger talking points leading up to Lesnar vs. Overeem was the drawing power of Lesnar having experienced another major health crisis and decisively losing his belt to Cain Velasquez. Would the aura surrounding Lesnar die down as a result of his latest bout with diverticulitis and essentially getting dominated for 90% of his last two fights? Despite promoting his comeback against fellow giant Alistair Overeem, it definitely did dissipate.
Additionally, as Meltzer pointed out, this was a rare Friday show because December 31st fell on their traditional Saturday slot, and the UFC figured much of the public would rather be partying on the Las Vegas strip or Times Square than watching fights at home. But given the card did only 535,000 buys it's highly unlikely it would've magically doubled to the usual million that Lesnar has drawn in the past by simply shifting it to Saturday.
Maybe the next question to hopefully be answered soon is not about Brock Lesnar or the viability of putting UFC shows on Friday nights, but how well a potential Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem card would sell.
Brock Lesnar's Pay-Per-View numbers summary:
UFC 100 - 1,600,000 buys
UFC 116 - 1,160,000 buys
UFC 121 - 1,050,000 buys
UFC 91 - 1,010,000 buys
UFC 87 - 625,000 buys (Lesnar was co-main event)
UFC 81 - 600,000 buys (Lesnar was co-main event)
UFC 141 - 535,000 buys