The UFC expected 2012 to be a prosperous year. Instead, 2012 has seen the UFC's roster plagued with injuries, pay-per-view buy rates take a nose dive, and The Ultimate Fighter struggle to engender a fanbase.
Thankfully, UFC 154 may provide a much-needed boost to company stock. Did Georges St.-Pierre and Carlos Condit do enough to ensure that 154 is enticing?
In order to ensure that 154 enjoys a high buy rate, thereby defying 2012's overall downward trend, Georges St.-Pierre and Carlos Condit could have taken great strides towards marketing the event.
They could have contrived hostilities, slinging empty salvos at one another during the 154 countdown show, a la Chael Sonnen. They didn't. They stayed within themselves.
Conversely, they were mild-mannered and respectful. They did not generate any sense of belligerence, a model of marketing that Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen employed to help launch UFC 148 into prolific success.
So, does mutual respect sell pay-per-views? Casual fans eat up feuds, after all, because a seemingly genuine beef makes the match more visceral. Are St.-Pierre and Condit too peaceful, when they should be hostile in order to ensure a higher buy rate?
Georges St.-Pierre does not need to implement the tactful villainy that Chael Sonnen does in order to sell pay-per-views. Unlike Sonnen, who created a whopping blip on MMA's radar largely through his clever mouth and not his success in the Octagon, St.-Pierre doesn't need to run his mouth to make sales.
The clout of “Rush” is widespread: He's a sex symbol, he's a dominant champion, and he's one of Canada's favorite protagonists; a dashing hero and paragon of respect and discipline. His marketability withstands the fact that he's become known as a conservative fighter, or even worse...a “boring” one.
UFC 154 will mark the Canadian superhero's long-awaited return to action. How did his long layoff change him as a fighter? Will he continue to fight conservatively, or will we see the return of the exciting, bloodthirsty champion we once loved? Will Carlos Condit provide a stiff challenge?
Fight fans want to know the answers these questions, therefore 154 will be widely purchased despite the lack of tension between the long-time champion and challenger. In fact, UFC 154 provides one of the most intriguing storylines of MMA in 2012, despite the lack of star power underneath the main event.
Perhaps St.-Pierre and Condit could have manufactured a beef that would attract more casual fans to the event. That's just not their style.
The fact remains that St.-Pierre is credited with more PPV buys than any other MMA fighter, logging 5,331,250 as per MMA Manifesto. It stands that UFC 154 won't break that trend, and that it will be one of the most successful cards of the year.