Last Saturday’s UFC 216, which featured Tony Ferguson’s triangle choke of Kevin Lee, as well as Demetrious Johnson’s outrageous suplex-to-armbar finish of Ray Borg, had a live gate of about $678,000, which MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer said was “the lowest gate in more than a decade.” In terms of PPV buys, Meltzer wrote in his Wrestling Observer newsletter that, “very early indicators look up about 20 percent from last month, but that was a rock bottom 100,000 buy show.”
Meltzer had already written in his previous newsletter that UFC 215: Nunes vs. Shevchenko 2 was estimated at 100,000 buys, so 216’s early projections have it at roughly 120,000. This would be the first time since 2005 that consecutive UFC pay-per-views have drawn less than 150,000 buys. UFC 213 also topped off at around 150,000, so three of the last four UFC PPVs have not even cleared 200,000.
While 2016 was phenomenal for the UFC, 2017 has been a struggle. Conor McGregor, who had three bouts inside the Octagon in 2016, has had more boxing fights than UFC fights this year (although the enormous commercial success of the Floyd Mayweather match proved to be a major revenue source). Ronda Rousey looks to be retired for good after her blowout loss to Amanda Nunes, Jon Jones’ latest drug test failure has put his future in jeopardy, and Georges St-Pierre’s comeback was delayed for several months.
On the plus side, the UFC will have GSP back on November 4th, as he takes on Michael Bisping in the UFC 217 main event. UFC 218 on December 2nd features Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar as the headliner, and UFC 219 on December 30th is still TBD, although we may see McGregor wind up on that card. At the very least, Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm is targeted for the traditional New Year’s Eve show.