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Dave Meltzer: Ronda Rousey is the number five PPV draw in UFC

By Zach Arnold | March 5, 2013

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A summary from a Sunday radio interview on Sherdog:

The early estimate for the UFC 157 PPV buy rate is in the 400,000-500,000 range, more or less in the middle of that range. Dave claims UFC budgeted itself for 250,000 PPV buys for the Anaheim Pond event, hoping that Ronda would draw around what the smaller fighters like Jose Aldo & Frankie Edgar draw. Drawing 250,000 PPV buys is fine, 300,000 is good, and 400,000 is very good.

“A big success” even though “it’s still Liz Carmouche in the main event.” Both women made north of $150,000 USD in terms of money from the fight.

When Dave first saw the original PPV barker ad for the UFC 157 show (the now infamous Rousey mean/smile combo ad), he said it hit him that it’s two girls fighting and that it wasn’t going to draw so well. The early ticket sales in Anaheim were around 4,000 sold for $600,000 at the gate. However, unlike normal UFC business trends, the event ended up sold out and had more momentum for the close.

While the amount of paid tickets sold and gate wasn’t as high as a typical big UFC show is concerned, there were a few reasons for this. The first reason is that Los Angeles/Anaheim is a very tough market for UFC to draw big numbers in. Second, “there was fear” when they put Ronda Rousey on top of the Anaheim Pond card. When the early indications showed slow ticket sales, “they had to be scared” that a ton of empty seats would have Ronda look like a flop to the masses. Over 7,000 tickets were sold in the last couple of weeks. The momentum for the fight surged greatly two weeks before the event and Ronda Rousey being a Southern California girl made it a big deal.

Dave thought the fight would draw 200,000-300,000 PPV buys tops, similar to what Frankie Edgar or Jose Aldo draw. Instead, it drew much stronger numbers.

“She’s gonna be a good PPV draw.”

Dave claims that DirecTV is stating that no other UFC PPV show has ever sold more buys for the High Definition telecast than UFC 157 drew. The early web PPV buys UFC got for the show led them to think the show would draw 300,000 PPV buys but momentum grew and then they started feeling that the show could hit the 500,000 PPV buy mark.

The belief is that Ronda was able to attract a different kind of PPV audience — one more affluent and female. However, the live audience at the Anaheim Pond was still 80% guys and pretty much standard UFC event far.

Jack Encarnacao asked where Ronda Rousey ranks as a UFC PPV draw, given that she’s a bigger attraction than Frankie Edgar, Dan Henderson, Urijah Faber, and Ben Henderson. Dave said Rousey/Carmouche out-drew Anderson Silva/Stephan Bonnar and was parallel to the Jon Jones/Vitor Belfort fight. The fight had some novelty appeal and drew way more media coverage than any other UFC fight.

“I suspect Ronda (will be) no worse than the #5 draw in the company if she continues to win.” Dave says that one UFC company source believes Ronda can draw 700,000 PPV buys a fight if she continues her winning streak over the next year. Dave says it’s a “wait and see” situation regarding whether or not Ronda can regularly draw more than 400,000 PPV buys per fight. However, if she loses…

“Will the people stay with her when she’s lost once?”

Ranking UFC’s top 5 PPV attractions: Georges St. Pierre, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Cain Velasquez, and Ronda Rousey. Each fighter appeals to a certain fan base. St. Pierre appeals to Canadians. Jones is the superstar, dynamic athletic. Anderson Silva attacts tons of Brazilian fans. Cain appeals to Hispanics. Ronda appeals to female fans and non-traditional UFC fans with cash to burn.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 14 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

14 Responses to “Dave Meltzer: Ronda Rousey is the number five PPV draw in UFC”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    So basically we have the largest 4 male divisions and Ronda Rousey being solid PPV draws. Lightweight and below (outside of BJ Penn) has never done good number for the UFC. Aldo/Penn is rumored to have done only 300,000…. And that is WITH Evans & Overeem. That is horrible.

    The interesting thing will be if they can sustain WMMA over a 5 year stretch. Sure, Rousey is selling good now…. but is it a viable Money Division like some of the male divisions? History in female sports would say no.

    WMMA might end up being like the Lightweight Division…. Where if they have a star they can sell it… but if they don’t…. It will do very solid FOX numbers.

    The UFC is in good shape for PPV sale for 2013. If their Top 5 fighters each compete only 2 times, they will have 10 solid PPVs.

    This really relegates Lightweight and below to smaller PPVs, FOX, and FX. I don’t think that is a bad thing. It gives them more title fights for free TV which will drive up ratings.

    And speaking of ratings…. UFC on FUEL TV 8 did 485,000 viewers. And that is still without Comcast.

    And the reason why Dana White is so happy about the UFC moving away from FX is because FOX Sports 1 will feature at least some NFL and MLB games. This will drive up the ratings and visibility of the channel instantly.

    Personally I thought he was insane for being happy about the move away from FX…. But now that more of the facts are coming out, it makes sense. Long term, the UFC needs to be on a SPORTS channel. And it sounds like FOX has big plans.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    RT ?@richarddeitsch Fox Sports 1 will air live UFC fight nights every Wednesday starting on launch night: Aug 17.
    — Josh Gross (@JoshGrossESPN) March 5, 2013

    WOW…. The UFC finally is pulling the trigger on a weekly show. Best news I have heard in a long time. But it doesn’t make sense that they would get rid of so many fighters and then increase the number of cards…. Very strange.

    • 45 Huddle says:


      The UFC will have 12 Live Fight Nights between August 17th and the end of the year…. All of them being on Wednesday.

      It is still an increase in the number of shows.

      I wonder if the prelims will air on FOX Sports 2???

      I would be shocked if they did 52 live Wednesday shows a year. Maybe like Bellator where they did 25 to 30.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        And now the MMA Junkie source is saying it isn’t happening…

        Gross with the wrong scoop? Should have figured…

  3. Zack says:

    45 Huddle is still here talking to himself these days, eh?

    :::backs slowly away from website:::

    • Jonathan says:

      Sort of what I was thinking…

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Um no.

        I was just posting information here as it became available….

        • Chromium says:

          Information completely unrelated to the article. So basically spam.

          On topic though: Rousey being a PPV draw is sweet schadenfreude. I predict a second Womens division within 2 years.

        • Zheroen says:

          Breaking news that was incorrect. You’re such an asset to these boards.

  4. Eduardo says:

    Numbers are fantastic, but i think it takes more than one show to evaluate a fighter’s ranking as a PPV draw. If I recall correctly Machida’s two title defenses against Shogun were both over 400k , 104 was around 450 and 113 was around 520 if im not mistaken. Granted Kimbo was at one of the cards, but they werent overall super stacked cards at that time.
    157 had a solid promotional push with primetime and all that, and Machida was on the card fighting Hendo. Do i believe Machida is a draw? Hell no! But im just pointing that during his time as a champ he did good numbers.
    Rampage x Rashad had solid promotion behind it and did amazing ppv numbers!
    I think it has a lot to do on how much you promote a fight. Ronda can be a top 5 draw but theyll have to keep promoting the fights like big ones, and it shoiuld only be evaluated for sure after a couple more imo. So far so good!

  5. RST says:

    Welcome to the 21st century you misogynists!

    Plus now we can finally change the name from MIXED martial arts to ARMBAR martial arts

    Or even better, PRO armbar martial arts

  6. david m says:

    Overeem out against JDS with an “injury”. Me thinks he doesn’t want to get KTFO 2 fights in a row.

  7. James says:

    Strange article. You state GSPs success is because of Canadian ppv buyers. Canada has one tenth our population. I am a huge GSP fan and I do know many here in the states that consider George their favourite fighter so I believe your mistaken. As for Rousey, put her headlong a weak card and see if she can pull big numbers. She can’t. The majority are not interested in women’s mma even tho the media is stuffing it down our throats.

  8. […] career. Rousey has become in, Paul Heyman’s eyes, the “biggest draw in PPV”, and according to Dave Meltzer was performing better than the likes of Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar immediately upon her entrance […]


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