This has been the most landmark year for the UFC since its inception in 1993. With the help of a charismatic Irish fighter, the UFC shattered records this year, and reached a level of profitability that many never saw coming.
Four out of the company’s top five highest drawing PPVs of all time took place in 2016. The company finally held an event inside Madison Square Garden, and to top everything off the company was sold for $4 billion. After only an investment of a few million, the Fertitta brothers must be happy they took their high school friend Dana White’s suggestion to buy the fledgeling company seriously.
For the purposes of this article I used numbers provided by Tapology to rank the events by buyrate.
Before we go into the top six events however, let’s take a look at some events that didn’t do too well this year.
The Bottom Half
UFC 204 (Bisping vs. Hendo 2) 290,000 buys
UFC 199 (Rockhold vs. Bisping 2) 283,000 buys
UFC 201 (Lawler vs. Woodley) 240,000 buys
UFC 195 (Lawler vs. Condit) 230,000 buys
UFC 198 (Werdum vs Miocic) 217,000 buys
UFC 206 (Holloway vs. Pettis) projected to be the lowest of the year (not yet known)
UFC 207 (Rousey vs Nunes) hasn’t happened yet
Both Robbie Lawler and Michael Bisping proved they aren’t big box office draws this year. This despite the fact that Robbie Lawler had won the “UFC Fight of the Year” award in both 2014 and 2015 for his fights against Johny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald. That his PPV events did poorly this year goes to show that exciting fights don’t draw on PPV for some reason. Casual fans want big names, otherwise they aren’t going to buy the show.
Michael Bisping’s 2 PPV main events this year didn’t draw that well either. Considering that Dana White ticked off the entire middleweight division by giving Hendo the title shot at UFC 204, you’d at least hope he made some money off it.
Here are the top 6 PPVs in 2016 (in terms of buyrates)…
6. UFC 197 Jones vs. OSP
From April 23rd 2016, the 6th highest grossing PPV in 2016 (not counting UFC 207, which hasn’t happened as of this writing) was UFC 197.
This was supposed to be the rematch between Cormier and Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, after Jones had been stripped of the belt following his arrest for hit-and-run. Cormier injured his foot however, so Ovince Saint Preux filled in and the UFC made it for the interim championship.
Jones would win but failed to impress the 322,000 who bought the show with his performance. While Jones would win the interim title, he would later be stripped of it following his drug test failure from UFC 200.