WTF? It’s internet slang, but if the anonymous numbers that Dave Meltzer reported on Monday are true, it could be a bad sign for MMA fans screaming doom and gloom to boxing. Apparently, according to Meltzer’s Monday morning Wrestling Observer column, Bradley/Marquez sold more pay per views than one of the UFC’s biggest events of the year. That fight was the UFC 166 headlined by the heavyweight title fight of Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos. It’s not a good sign for the UFC as the pay per view giant is now declining in PPV sales.
Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez while a good fight lacked the supporting undercard to merit a high buy rate as many on the fence to purchase the fight may not have been familiar enough with the fighters before the main event and had trouble justifying the purchase. The UFC has prided itself on strong undercards to the main fight, yet with so much exposure, over 30 UFC shows alone spread throughout network, cable and PPV, it seems as though fans are having a hard time getting excited about a major event anymore. If Bradley/Marquez had one thing going for it, it was that boxing only has, at most, four PPVs a year. Those PPVs have been: Mayweather, Pacquiao, one Top Rank PPV card and one Golden Boy PPV card.
Most startling when looking at the numbers is that the UFC has not sold a million PPVs since the summer of 2010 when Brock Lesnar made his return to the ring. In contrast, the second meeting of Dos Santos vs. Velasquez, which was billed as the biggest rematch in history totaled 590,000 buys according to MMApayout.com. The last two PPVs have not even netted 300k and if the speculation is right about UFC 166 underselling Bradley Marquez, it would appear that streak could continue as early rumors indicate that Bradley Marquez sold 360K unofficially.
On the other hand, this also speaks to the loyalty of the U.S. boxing fan who is sometimes faulted as lacking loyalty. If this is true, this is one of the first instances in which the boxing fan used their dollars to make a political statement. They invested their money in the sport and in two fighters who have earned the right to be PPV headliners. It now seems to be a foregone conclusion that neither Bradley nor Marquez will be on anything but PPV from this point on.
The big question now is whether the UFC has shifted the dynamic of the boxing world by creating stacked cards that have viewers tuning in. The boxing world took note and built up a similar type of model, showing prelims and making cards more stacked. With the overexposure of the sport of MMA, the question now becomes how they adjust to the economically challenged world we live in.