Report: UFC 134 PPV buy rate disappoints
According to Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Radio show and newsletter, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's return to Brazil underperformed on pay-per-view.
While UFC 134 (UFC Rio) was one of, if not the best PPV the promotion has aired this year, preliminary estimates indicate middleweight champion Anderson Silva still isn't the draw Zuffa hoped he would become. Coming into UFC 134, Silva had experienced a career rebirth as a solid PPV draw, but the buildup to his last two fights were largely carried by his opponents, Chael Sonnen (one hell of a talker) and Vitor Belfort (arguably Brazil's most popular fighter).
Meltzer indicated the PPV estimates are only preliminary numbers, but they suggest UFC 134 drew about 275,000-350,000 buys--similar to the cursed UFC 133 event in August.
If those numbers stay at that range, it's proof that Silva, no matter how great he is, still needs a game opponent with some crossover appeal to draw big numbers on PPV. Sonnen was able to talk fans into the building last summer with his pro wrestling-inspired promos, even after Silva put on an embarrassing, nonchalant performance at UFC 112 vs. Demian Maia. Belfort is not the trash talker Sonnen is, but is a big name, looks good, can speak English, and has a hell of a highlight reel.
Silva's UFC 134 opponent, Yushin Okami, doesn't speak English, doesn't talk trash, and certainly isn't the finisher Belfort is.
There's nothing wrong with having a language barrier for a fight you're trying to sell, but you better have something to make up for it. Quite frankly, Okami's win over Nate Marquardt last year to secure a title shot did not light the world on fire. UFC president Dana White even acknowledged that.
As fo\ar as the actual event goes, UFC 134 was an exciting affair, with memorable knockouts from the Brazilian headliners Silva, Shogun Rua, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. If there were any complaints I had from a production aspect, it would be the crowd noise translating to my living room. Zuffa should have absolutely mic'ed the crowd. The energy at the HSBC Arena was amazing, yet I, along with others who watched, didn't feel it when watching the Spike prelims and PPV broadcast. The crowd sounded louder when watching the Facebook prelims to tell you the truth.
Now I'm sure those will blame Hurricane Irene for the low PPV buy rate and rightfully so, since many Northeastern-ers like myself lost power (luckily for me, power went out AFTER Silva finished Okami). But as Meltzer states, that doesn't explain why the PPV drew so low in California and Canada, two UFC/MMA hotbeds.
To spin this positively, the fans that did order UFC 134 absolutely got their money's worth and went to bed happy. And chances are, Silva's next opponent, whether it'd be Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, Chael Sonnen, or war hero Brian Stann, are a hell of a lot more marketable than Okami. Dan Henderson might be tough to promote, but his highlight reel sells itself. Perhaps, booking Silva for a UFC on FOX show in 2012 is the way to go.
Maybe then, all UFC fans can truly appreciate the greatest fighter of our generation.