After an event that was widely panned just for putting Chuck Liddell in an MMA cage, there was a glimmer of hope for Golden Boy Promotions when Google search interest on the night of the event was strong, potentially indicating a strong pay-per-view number. Now, nearly a week removed from the show, early estimates being thrown out by the L.A. Times’s Lance Pugmire and Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, have brought expectations down to earth. Pugmire tweeted that a source gave him a number of around 30,000 buys while Iole replied that he had been told 25,000.
Industry source tells me the Liddell-Ortiz PPV buys may be as low as 30,000….but the Tiger-Phil golf might reach 1 million (all refunded, but a glimpse of what a low price can generate).
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) November 30, 2018
Considering how promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Tito Ortiz were boasting of buys over 200,000 leading up to the show, this number must be disappointing. It must be especially disappointing for Liddell and Ortiz who were to receive a cut of pay-per-view revenue as payment for the fight.
Early predictions from us at MMATorch were as low as 10,000 buys. It is difficult to handicap an event from a new promotion with no television using fighters who have not been on pay-per-view in several years. Earlier pay-per-view efforts from non-UFC promotions saw around 100,000 buys, namely Affliction: Banned in 2008 which came at a time when MMA was peaking in popularity and UFC was doing consistently strong numbers on pay-per-view, even for low level shows. Bellator’s two pay-per-view events had the benefit of television promotion on Spike TV. Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 didn’t have any significant television presence and low level UFC shows aren’t doing anything close to what they were doing ten years ago.
The current low-mark for a modern UFC pay-per-view is the reported 85,000 buys for UFC 224 headlined by Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington this past May. This speaks to the power of UFC’s brand appeal and television exposure as even UFC’s worst offering of modern times was able to triple the Liddell-Ortiz number.
The fact that Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 did not do well on pay-per-view could put the brakes on the prospect of a future Golden Boy MMA show. It may also put to rest the ongoing feud between De La Hoya and UFC president Dana White.
OK, maybe that’s a stretch.