The UFC has experienced astounding success over the past decade. It and the Zuffa company have seen their sport, once diminished by critics as "human cockfighting," become embraced by most into the fold of the general sporting landscape.
Today, UFC's recent failings are few and far between, with consistently strong showings both in ratings and event buys. It's accepted peak was at UFC 100, and since then there have been massive pay-per-view successes.
But, no matter how much success one attains, there are going to be low points. Some pay-per-view events simply do not pull in the numbers that a production like the UFC should.
Here is a list of the 10 lowest-grossing pay-per-view events since UFC 100.
*All total taken from MMAPayout.com/blue-book/pay-per-view/
The October 29 card held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center was a mix-match of main-eventers who were not originally scheduled to fight.
Nick Diaz had originally been pegged to fight Georges St. Pierre, only to lose his place after failing to make his way to a press conference.
Carlos Condit was given the title shot instead, and Diaz switched opponents, taking on Penn in the co-main event. However, Georges St. Pierre was forced to pull out of the fight due to a knee injury.
Penn vs. Diaz was promoted to the main event.
On the main card, Sam Stout was forced to pull out of his fight with Dennis Siver. Tim Credeur was forced out of his bout with Brad Tavares, who ended up pulling out himself. That left a completely uninteresting bout between Dustin Jacoby and Clifford Starks.
The show pulled in 280,000 pay-per-view buys, with injuries taking their toll. A theme that follows many shows on the list.
The event held in Sydney, Australia sold out faster than any card in UFC history. It took mere hours to fill up the 18,000-plus Acer Arena. Yet the buys for the show were low, likely due to the tape delay of the event for the United States and Brazil.
Unlike many events on the list, UFC 127 did not have any injuries to water down the card. The one injury of note was Carlos Condit's, which occurred leading up to his bout with Chris Lytle. While Condit and Lytle both had some drawing power, they were not household names.
Curiously, New Zealand's own Mark Hunt was placed on the preliminary card rather than the main card. The long-time veteran was a draw amongst hardcore fans.
The added benefit of being heavyweight always adds draw to shows.
UFC 127 pulled in 260,000 buys, placing it ninth overall.
The February 20, 2010 card was right in the middle of the injury-filled spell for the UFC. It appeared almost every event had two or three fighters pulling out of fights, and UFC 110 was no different.
Ben Rothwell, Dong Hyun Kim and Elvis Sinosic, all pulled from the card due to injury. Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen had their bouts moved to UFC 109 prior to the show.
Neither the heavyweight match-up, nor the Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping bout could bolster the show to high ratings. Buys ended up at a dismal 240,000 total.
While the little guys don't always get a lot of love from casual fans, UFC 149 had so many problems leading up to the event that it is amazing the show even took place.
Champion Jose Aldo was set to fight Erik Koch until he fell to injury and the fight was postponed.
Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama was forced out of his bout with Thiago Alves, leaving the Brazilian to face Siyar Bahadurzada.
Then Alves himself was injured, leaving Bahadurzada to face Chris Clements.
Soon after the announcement, Bahadurzada was injured and Matthew Riddle was pegged to face Clements.
Heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was forced to pull out of his bout with Cheick Kongo, who was matched up with Shawn Jordan.
Meanwhile, Michael Bisping suffered an injury and Hector Lombard pulled out from his UFC on Fox match-up to take on Tim Boetsch.
Bibiano Fernandes was set to make his debut at the company, after negotiations with the UFC fell through, ended up joining One FC. That left his opponent, Roland Delorme, to face Francisco Rivera. James Head had to face Brian Ebersole after Claude Patrick came up injured.
It was a nightmare of a card from an organizer and a fan standpoint.
The show ended up with 230,00 buys overall.
The main card at the Toyota Center in Texas was filled with smaller fighters.
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard was the main event, while a second title bout between Jose Aldo and Kenny Florian took up the co-main position. Whether it is fair or not, the casual fans don't respond well to smaller fighters, and it showed at UFC 136.
There is not much more Edgar and Maynard could do to prove to people that the small fighters are fun to watch. Their previous meeting was one of the classic battles of all time.
Meanwhile, Aldo had proved he was one of the most exciting fighters on multiple occasions. The usually vocal Chael Sonnen could not rally lesser fans to the showcase thanks to his utter respect for his opponent, military veteran Brian Stann.
While there were injuries to the card, the big bouts stayed intact. The event held quality firepower, but the casual fans just weren't in it.
UFC 136 drew 225,000 buys.
Injuries and visa problems, along with Jose Aldo in a main event, put the UFC 142 card at the HSBC Arena in an unfortunate company on the list.
Injuries did not help this card, which already lacked casual-fan appeal.
Hot prospect Erick Silva was set to face peer Siyar Bahadurzada before injury befell the latter competitor. That left under-qualified Carlo Prater to step in as a replacement. Meanwhile, Gabriel Gonzaga actually gave the card a name-recognition upgrade when he replaced Rob Broughton in a heavyweight showdown.
To make matters worse, Anthony Johnson failed to make weight by a shocking 11 pounds for his bout against hometown veteran Vitor Belfort.
The card ended up with a mere 215,000 total. Aldo, as the main event, once again became an albatross for total buys.
Coming in at No. 3 on the list is a show that had both casual fans and hardcore fans feeling a bit lackluster.
The main event pitted Benson Henderson against Frankie Edgar in a rematch, and with little in the name of fighters known for quality finishing power, the event buy-rate suffered.
All of the fire and luster gained by Edgar in his runs against BJ Penn and Gray Maynard had petered out by the time the Colorado event took place. Henderson was well known for his point fighting at that point, and few beyond the most hardcore fans were interested in another sparring battle between the two.
The backup to the show was meager, outside of a certain firework show between Donald Cerrone and Melvin Guillard as the co-main event.
But their draw power was minimal at best, as was the remainder of their support.
Both Yushin Okami and Jake Shields were known for putting on less-than-exciting performances. There were no big names in the undercard to draw in viewers.
The show ended up with 190,000 buys.
Aldo once again shows up on the list, this time at No. 2 for the worst buy-rate event since UFC 100.
The show had originally pitted Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis, but the challenger was forced to bow out of the event due to an injury. The UFC did all it could to make the event enticing, adding in Chan Sung Jung to the main event to draw on the Korean's rising popularity and immense skill set.
The backing for the main event was likely its downfall. While countryman Lyoto Machida was a quality draw, he was matched with Phil Davis, who was already established as more of a point fighter than a finisher.
Despite Aldo having a true challenger in Jung and the UFC seemingly pushing the event more than others with their hype commercials, the end result was 170,000 buys.
UFC 161 was expected to house a Interim Bantamweight Championship bout between Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland until Barao fell to injury.
The card's lackluster performance in buys was not only due to injury. A low-weight title fight is often not a strong draw, as shown by previous entries on the list. Evans and Henderson were the only interesting fighters left standing by the time the show aired, save for a late entry of Roy Nelson.
The event drew in 150,000 buys in the end. The second lowest in the modern UFC age.
In an event that was supposed to house the rematch between UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen inside a stadium in Brazil, UFC 147 ended up being a showdown of what could have been the lowest-grossing pay-per-view.
The event originally had been slated to house the middleweight rematch—Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen—and was sure to bring in big buys from fans across the globe.
The co-main event was set to be a historic rematch between Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva following their season as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.
The changes were such a letdown to the ticket-holding fans that the UFC issued a refund policy for those who no longer wanted to see it.
Over 16,643 still showed up to the event, but the buy rate for the pay-per-view was 140,000.
Not only did it cultivate the lowest buyrate since UFC 100; it was the lowest since UFC 55 when Arlovski took on Paul Buentello for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.