Recent MMA Ratings Take a Hit, Cause For Concern?


The sport of MMA has come so far since its beginning that it’s almost humorous that a recent report from Dave Meltzer showing “low” pay-per-view numbers is causing a discussion.

Meltzer’s numbers show that the two most recent UFC PPV’s, UFC 165 Jones vs. Gustafsson and UFC 166 Vasquez vs. Dos Santos 3, each brought in 300,000 – 325,000 in the Northern America market. To give you a comparison, UFC 99 has been considered the low mark for UFC PPV’s, that card brought in 360,000. UFC 99 was broadcast from Germany and aired in the states mid-day and featured a non-title fight in its main event. So of course there are a lot of questions and concerns here. Why did big names like Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez bring in such low numbers?

Meltzer had these conclusions,

“There is no question (UFC 165) was hurt by two different factors. The first and most important was it came a week after the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez boxing match. That fight did 2.2 million buys, the second biggest of all-time.
While UFC and boxing have different audiences, the Mayweather fight transcended boxing and became a cultural event like boxing has only seen a few times since the heyday of Mike Tyson. There is little doubt that a large number of UFC regular big event buyers had either paid $75 for, or gotten together with friends for the boxing match. Faced with another $45 or $55 bill a week later, and having already spent the prior Saturday watching fights with buddies, it’s not just understandable, but expected that the UFC number would be down from usual.

It’s UFC 166 that is more concerning. … The Houston show did go head-to-head with the MLB playoffs, college football and HBO boxing.

More than 9 million people saw the first Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos fight on television in the United States alone two years ago in the company’s debut on FOX.

It was Velasquez’s only professional loss, a one-punch knockout in barely one minute. First impressions are the most lasting. It may be that no matter how dominant Velasquez has been since, that to millions of Americans who never saw him before, he’s still that guy with all that hype they saw laying on the canvas and not getting up. Perhaps they simply refuse to believe he’s really that good.

Some would jump to a conclusion and say it’s a rapidly changing business and people are far less apt to purchase pay-per-views, unless it’s a big blockbuster event that really captures the sports world. But UFC’s business from February through July contradicts that. The UFC had a great deal of success with shows headlined by fighters with more personality, but were not the same level of match ups when it comes to the inarguable top two in a division of the era”.

The sport as a whole took a major hit in the television broadcast fights over the weekend as well.

-Bellator 105 520,000 viewers -Spike TV, Friday prime time
-UFC Fight Night 30 122,000 viewers -FS2, Saturday early afternoon
-World Series of Fighting 6 161,000 viewers – NBC Sports, Saturday night

A lot have also pointed to the UFC’s move from Spike TV to Fox. Although Fox sports 1 and 2 are more geared towards sports and in the long run should help bring MMA to a higher “sport” audience, it should be pointed out that these channels are far less accessible to the average person sitting at home flipping through basic TV channels. Should the UFC be worried? Or is this just a minor bump in the sports journey?

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