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The UFC's 5 Biggest Pay-Per-View Draws Right Now

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

The UFC's 5 Biggest Pay-Per-View Draws Right Now

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    In the wake of losing two of their biggest pay-per-views draws of all time in Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, the UFC has a lot of ground to cover in 2014.

    As two of the most consistent champions and main card mainstays of the past seven years, GSP and "The Spider" will surely be missed.

    However, that doesn't mean the world's biggest promotion will run out of key names to promote in a year that's growing vastly important for international expansion and website capitalization.

    Partially based on MMAPayout's blue book breakdown, here are the five biggest draws in the UFC right now.

Honorable Mention: Nick Diaz

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    Recent Buys

    UFC 158: 950,000 (main event)

    UFC 143: 400,000 (main event)

    Bad guys sell.  In Nick Diaz's case, bad guys sell a lot.

    The only problem is that Diaz is currently "retired" from the UFC and has shown no signs of wanting to come back in 2014.

    But with former welterweight king and nemesis St-Pierre gone for who knows how long, now is the time for Diaz to jump back into the mix and sell some fights.

    Not for nothing, but the guy is one of the more entertaining fighters in the sport today.  People know what they're going to get with Diaz, and they like it.

Honorable Mention: Urijah Faber

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Recent Buys

    UFC 157: 450,000 (main card)

    UFC 149: 230,000 (main event)

    With Dominick Cruz sidelined once again due to injury, Urijah Faber will step in to challenge now- bantamweight champion Renan Barao at UFC 169.

    Faber has been in this situation twice before, once losing to Cruz back at UFC 132 and again to Barao at UFC 149. 

    That means the third time should be a charm.

    Faber is already one of the most popular fighters in the world, even without a championship.  If he's able to capitalize on his divisional momentum and steal the belt away from Barao on Feb. 1, his pay-per-view stock will absolutely skyrocket.

     

Honorable Mention: Chris Weidman

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Recent Buys

    UFC 168: ??? (main event)

    UFC 162: 550,000 (main event)

    With two finishes over the greatest fighter of all time under his belt, middleweight champion Chris Weidman is on his way.

    But considering both of his biggest pay-per-view appearances came against the infamous Anderson Silva, nobody really knows for sure how he'll do without "The Spider" as his opponent.

    As dominant as Weidman has looked, it seems as if fans are going to want to see him fight.  We'll find out the real numbers when he defends his belt for the second time opposite Vitor Belfort later this year.

5. Ronda Rousey

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Recent Buys

    UFC 168: ??? (co-main event)

    UFC 157: 450,000 (main event)

    Ronda Rousey has only headlined one main card in her promotional career, producing an outstanding 450,000 pay-per-view buys at UFC 157, but she's still relatively new to this whole UFC thing.

    The fact that fans have started to turn on Rousey and look at her as a heel in the women's bantamweight division will only fuel her marketability.

    She's scheduled to headline UFC 170 opposite undefeated Olympian Sara McMann on Feb. 22, so we should really get a good gauge for her selling potential moving forward.

4. Junior dos Santos

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Recent Buys

    UFC 166: 330,000 (main event)

    UFC 160: 380,000 (co-main event)

    UFC 155: 590,000 (main event)

    UFC 146: 560,000 (main event)

    Even without the heavyweight championship wrapped around his waist, Junior dos Santos is one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in the world.

    Fans tend to favor big heavyweights capable of destroying opponents with one ferocious punch.  It just so happens that JDS fits that bill to a tee.

    So even if he can't fight champion Cain Velasquez again in the near future, the UFC will still be able to promote him as a top billing and reap the benefits of one of the biggest divisional stars of all time.

3. Chael Sonnen

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Recent Buys

    UFC 167: 630,000 (co-main event)

    UFC 159: 530,000 (main event)

    UFC 148: 925,000 (main event)

    Sure, Chael Sonnen hasn't looked overly productive of late, but his scintillating bravado remains too defined to ignore.

    As one of the best Octagon salesmen of all time, Sonnen still possesses potential for the next two or three years.

    With a move back to middleweight and a future grudge match opposite Wanderlei Silva looming overhead, Sonnen has all the room in the world to regain the pay-per-view prowess he may have lost at light heavyweight.

2. Cain Velasquez

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Recent Buys

    UFC 166: 330,000 (main event)

    UFC 160: 380,000 (main event)

    UFC 155: 590,000 (main event)

    UFC 146: 560,000 (co-main event)

    Known as "the baddest man on the planet," heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez is destined for pay-per-view glory.

    The 31-year-old has already served as one of the UFC's biggest draws, but with a future promotional expansion into Mexico, Velasquez's brand will inflate exponentially.

    However, 2014 is currently on hold for the champ as he recovers from December shoulder surgery.

     

1. Jon Jones

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Recent Buys

    UFC 165: 310,000 (main event)

    UFC 159: 530,000 (main event)

    UFC 152: 450,000 (main event)

    UFC 145: 700,000 (main event)

    No St-Pierre, no Silva, no problem.  Well, kind of.

    With the UFC's two biggest cash cows out of action for at least the entirety of 2014, Jon Jones is now the promotion's heaviest draw.

    Now, while Jones' skills may have been on par with GSP and Silva in the past, fans didn't seem to flock his way like they did them.  But that was then and this is now. 

    With an April title defense opposite Glover Teixeira on the docket and presumably a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson towards the end of the year, Jones has a chance to eclipse one million buys in 2014.

     

    For more UFC news and coverage, .

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