If the UFC 225 low buyrate is to be belived, the UFC might have some real problems on their hands.
UFC 225 buyrate estimates are in at about 150,000. That’s shockingly low considering how good the card was. At the same time, an attorney for the UFC says that the estimate is wrong by a number in excess of six figures. That could be 100,000 or 200,000 or more. Even if the estimate is wrong and the actual buyrate was around 350,000, that’s still too low for a card of this quality. It was originally supposed to have two title fights and a bunch of other name fighters, but when Yoel Romero failed to make weight the card lost one title fight. I don’t know how much that affected things, but it might have cost it a bit.
350,000 would be roughly in line with what the UFC has done recently. It’s safe to say there’s been a downturn in business. Things are cyclical, though, so there’s always going to be up years and down years.
However, this is indicative of a bigger problem for the UFC, and that’s their own inability to properly promote the fighters they have. Yes, this is going to be another blog of me complaining about the UFC’s failures at promoting so fair warning.
UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker should be a bigger star than he is. His previous fight against Yoel Romero also did about 150,000 buys, which doesn’t seem right.
Whittaker is an exciting likeable fighter. He’s also been very successful. He’s the champion in a division formerly ruled by Anderson Silva. There’s a lot of reasons he should be a bigger draw and not many as to why he shouldn’t be.
Even the weight argument, which is one used to try to explain why UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson isn’t a bigger draw, doesn’t hold weight, no pun intended. There’s been other draws in this division over the years. Silva got himself over with his explosive wins and highlight reel knockouts. It’s not fair to expect someone to do that on a regular basis, Silva is the exception, he’s an anomaly.
Whittaker is a great fighter, but you can’t expect him to finish guys like Romero and other top contenders. It’s true he did finish Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza when they fought, though, so it does happen but it’s not an all-the-time kind of thing.
The most glaring example of the UFC’s failure to properly promote its fighters is UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Here’s a guy who should be one of the UFC’s biggest draws, yet his cards are generally about average or so.
Miocic an exciting fighter, having finished five of his last six fights, has a great story with still being a part-time firefighter paramedic, and is in the heavyweight division. That’s supposed to be the money division. That’s the one that’s supposed to draw all the attention.
Yeah, the fighters share some of the blame here, they need to do more to promote themselves, but at the same time they also must train and work out and improve their techniques and all the other stuff that goes into being a top-level athlete.
One of the UFC’s main jobs is to promote, so you think they would be pretty good at it. I don’t want to make it sound like they’re inept and incompetent but there comes a time where you have to say, “Something isn’t right here” and that time is now.
When a man who many consider the greatest heavyweight in UFC history isn’t drawing huge buyrates, something is wrong.
There comes a point where the UFC as a collective unit needs to stop and consider that they’ve done a lot of things that have hurt their business and they should stop doing those things.
Maybe putting CM Punk on a pay-per-view instead of a fight involving Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes wasn’t the best idea? Though with that you could argue that more people watched Blaydes stop Overeem on cable than would have seen it on the PPV so maybe that works out better?
Side note: I think too many people are being way too hard on Punk. He’s not the one putting himself on PPV when he should be on prelims.
Maybe having so many interim titles is a dumb idea and dilutes what being a champion means? Maybe letting Conor McGregor do whatever he wants without repercussion is a bad idea?
Maybe letting Dana White castigate fighters, especially your champions, for no reason is a bad idea?
Maybe letting White shoot his mouth off over and over and contradict himself in literally his next sentence is a bad idea?
Maybe sidelining top contenders so you can chase a money fight is a bad idea? Maybe having your go-to phrase that you use for every promotional video you put out be “He’s/She’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet!” is a bad idea?
Maybe changing rules without consulting the fighters is a bad idea? Maybe running so many shows a year is a bad idea?
Some of these things are completely horrible ideas, some of them have good parts and bad parts, and some of them might even turn out okay in the end. However, you have to be willing to take a critical look at things and assess them in an honest and real manner.
It’s not panic time, I’m not trying to say that, but it’s past time for the UFC to address these things. You can’t expect the next Conor McGregor-type, who’s going to do all the promotional work for you, to come walking through that door. He or she might, but to expect that would be setting yourself up for disappointment. Or perhaps a dolly thrown through the window…
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank