UFC 173 estimated at just over 200,000 buys; Bellator PPV possibly outdid UFC 174 buyrate?

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Unsurprisingly, UFC 173 didn't fare well at the box office, and that's not a good sign for UFC 174.

The numbers are in for UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw, and as you can expect, it's on the low side. Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting reports that the May 24th event had a buyrate somewhere between 200,000 and 215,000. The previous bantamweight main event was at UFC 169, which had two championship bouts but only pulled in a reported 230,000 buys.

UFC 173 had a co-main event featuring Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson, plus Robbie Lawler versus Jake Ellenberger, all of whom are presently ranked in the top 10.

What is (potentially) a much bigger talking point is the predicted number for last week's UFC 174, which lacked name value and saw regular "free TV" headliner Demetrious Johnson in his first PPV main event against the little-known Ali Bagautinov. Meltzer wrote the following on 174 in his latest newsletter: (Subscription required)

"It's too early to get accurate numbers, but every indication we've gotten was very bad, and that it showed a steep decline from UFC 173, which was among the lower numbers of the last eight years. UFC PPV shows usually range from 200,000 to 500,000 Google searches after the event, and are usually in the top few searched for items in the country. A bad show may only do 100,000. Bellator's show last month hit 100,000. A big show can top 500,000, with the shows that hover around 1 million buys usually doing anywhere from 1 million to 5 million searches. This show did less than 20,000, unheard of for a PPV."

With the Google trend numbers, which are publicly available, at an extraordinary low, it is quite feasible that UFC 174 barely outdrew, was equal to, or performed worse than Bellator 120, which has stood firm at 100,000 buys. The UFC hasn't had a sub-100k PPV since 2005 (UFC 53), and this could possibly break that streak.

The preliminary card ratings for UFC 174 averaged 784,000 viewers on FX, up from 697,000 on FS1 for UFC 173, but that may have been spurred on by the fact that FX is available in more households. As far as attendance, the live gate was just $1.14 million despite 13,000+ in attendance, and it is likely that the UFC handed out plenty of comp tickets when you consider that they reportedly had eclipsed the $1 million gate number a few weeks prior to the event.

Unfortunately for Demetrious Johnson, his first crack at a PPV main event, which was already perceived as a weak card to begin with, has all the makings of being a massive box office failure.

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