WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST: UFC 203 draws big buyrate according to early estimates, big interest in Punk apparently, plus more news

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor


While it’s early to say anything with certainty, it looks like C.M. Punk was effective in boosting the buys for UFC 203.

The show, with an official main event of Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem for the Heavyweight Championship, may have done between 650,000 and 800,000 buys according to a tweet by MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi (via Bloody Elbow). While solid pay-per-view estimates usually take at least a few weeks, two other metrics that can be predictors of pay-per-view outcomes paint a conflicting picture.

The prelims averaged 870,000 viewers on FS1 with a featured bout between Bethe Correia and Jessica Eye. As reported by Dave Meltzer, it would place fifth among the eight pay-per-view prelims this year. If UFC 203 were to be the fifth most bought pay-per-view this year, it will have done between 300,000-350,000 buys. That is probably higher than the show would have done without Punk, but is not a blow away number by any means.

Google Trends, which can also be an indicator of pay-per-view success, are more in line with Raimondi’s projections. Looking at the chart comparing Google searches for Punk and UFC 203, they are very much in line with each other which shows there was a strong awareness that Punk was fighting that night and compared to UFC 202 searches, Punk was 38 percent as popular on Sept. 10 as UFC 202 was on Aug. 20 while UFC 203 was 33 percent as popular. Using those percentages and the estimated number of 1.65 million buys for UFC 202, that would give a range of about 545,000 to 627,000 for UFC 203. If that ends up being close to the final numbers, then Punk likely doubled the buys for the show single-handedly and has to be considered a big commercial success.

None of these projections are official and we will have a more accurate picture in a few weeks.

Punk was submitted by Mickey Gall at 2:14 of the first round.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: It looks like at the very least, this show did slightly above average and at the high end may have done exceptionally now. For all of the criticism of Punk being in UFC and how poorly he performed, this shows that in the end, the public are willing to pay for a fight they want to see regardless of the skill level of the fighters. What we don’t know is if Punk could boost numbers for a second fight or if this was a one-time curiosity buy for most and the intrigue would be gone for a second fight. If there is a second fight for Punk in UFC, it would need to have some sort of grudge built in to create interest as the idea of “how will he do” isn’t going to be there anymore. If UFC 203 did at the high end of some of these projections, UFC will have a difficult decision to make as if they let him go, they could be letting someone who is proven to move the needle, go to the competition. They will need to weigh out whether the blow to their credibility is worth the increase in business.


Sage Northcutt’s father is claiming that his son has a staph infection and won’t be available to fight Mickey Gall at UFC 205.

-Sam Alvey vs. Alex Nicholson in a middleweight bout has been added to UFC Fight Night: Manila on Oct. 15. Alvey fought in June, July, and August and went 2-1 over the stretch. Yao Zhikui vs. Jenel Lausa has also been added to the show. (SOURCE LINK)

-Andre “Touchy” Fili will replace Brian Ortega to fight Hacran Dias at UFC Fight Night in Portland on Oct. 1. (SOURCE LINK)

-Jordan Mein, who surprisingly announced his retirement a year ago at 25 years old, will be returning to UFC according to Bas Rutten on Joe Rogan’s podcast and confirmed by MMA Junkie. Mein will be subject to the USADA four-month testing window before he is eligible to fight again. He re-entered the pool last month and could fight as soon as December. No return fight has been announced.

-Former UFC middleweight contender Yushin Okami will fight Paul Bradley on the Nov. 12 WSOF show headlined by Jon Fitch vs. Jake Shields for the WSOF Welterweight Championship. (SOURCE LINK)

MORE NEWS IN YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 9/13: Diaz and McGregor facing discipline, Jon Jones interested in heavyweight fight against Miocic, Overeem and Punk medically suspended, more

(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)

TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 9/13: Diaz and McGregor facing discipline, Jon Jones interested in heavyweight fight against Miocic, Overeem and Punk medically suspended, more

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