If initial reports prove true, last weekend’s (Sat., June 9, 2018) UFC 225 from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, was a massive flop at the box office.
According to a report from the LA Times’ Lance Pugmire, the Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero-headlined pay-per-view event did under 150,000 buys, putting it on par amongst the worst-selling UFC pay-per-views of all-time.
UC 225 was supposed to be the biggest pay-per-view of 2018 thus far, a card featuring two title fights (although one became a non-title bout due to Romero missing weight) and the return of supposedly bankable pay-per-view seller CM Punk. But the card reportedly failed to deliver on that hype, with both title fights and the former pro-wrestler’s ghastly second UFC bout failing to top even 200,000 buys – or reportedly even 150,000.
The promotion has seen a number of cards hit that low mark in recent years, with last July’s UFC 213, also headlined by a Whittaker vs. Romero interim title fight also drawing in the neighborhood of 150,000 buys after its original Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko main event fell through at the last minute. Overall, the number puts it in the territory of multiple pay-per-views headlined by dominant flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who is often derided for his lack of an ability to sell PPV cards.
However, from the looks of things, it may not just be Johnson’s fault, as the UFC’s lack of true stars in addition to seemingly never-ending last-minute changes to events due to weight cutting has put them in a clear down period for pay-per-view buys.
The absence of Conor McGregor, who will appear in court tomorrow on assault charges stemming from his April 5 outburst in Brooklyn, New York, obviously has much to do with the UFC’s continued down stretch of PPV buys, but so could the supposed oversaturation of UFC content – a trend that doesn’t seem to be ending with the promotion’s new television partnership with ESPN.
At this point, it’s looking like more than just a down stretch, because it’s been happening for over a year now.
What, if anything, can the UFC do about their slumping pay-per-view sales?