If this week’s report on the pay-per-view buys for June 9’s UFC 225 from Chicago are true, the show didn’t do quite as bad as initially reported – but it still isn’t great.
After word came from the LA Times’ Lance Pugmire last week that the stacked pay-per-view had only drawn ‘less than 150,000 buys,’ the UFC’s attorney vehemently denied that was true, insisting that the number was off by a number in excess of six figures despite refusing to give a total.
According to a report from MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer, that estimate from attorney Hunter Campbell may be closer to being true, as industry sources with knowledge of the number clarified that UFC 225 was estimated to have garnered a total of 250,000 buys.
While the number is quite a bit higher than what was first reported, the overall buyrate is still a disappointing figure considering UFC 225 was scheduled to have two title fights until Yoel Romero missed weight for his rematch with middleweight champ Robert Whittaker. Although the fight produced a classic middleweight title affair, it failed to produce big numbers with both Romero and Whittaker having proven unable to carry a PPV event with last July’s UFC 213.
The interim welterweight title bout between Colby Covington and Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event, despite being fueled by the bad blood of Covington’s anti-Brazil campaign, apparently didn’t help either, falling in line with the trend of interim title fights not selling well on PPV. This one had the dynamic of actual champion Tyron Woodley returning soon working against it as well.
But UFC 225 was also littered with top stars (or at least names) from top to bottom, with former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm picking up a one-sided win over previously hyped featherweight Megan Anderson and former WWE champion CM Punk returning for his second UFC bout. The luster of him competing in MMA was clearly lost for this fight, however, as he obviously didn’t bring many overall views to the card.
Punk was the top-searched Google name in conjunction with the card, yet that apparently didn’t translate to people wanting to spend their money to watch him fight.
Based on the above estimate, UFC 225 would trail April’s UFC 223, where lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated last-minute replacement Al Iaquinta to finally win the title as well as a women’s strawweight title fight between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and January’s UFC 220, where heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier both defended their belts with impressive performances in terms of pay-per-view buys for the year.
Overall, it’s an indictment on the concerning trend that the UFC can’t sell a pay card without a top star like Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, however.