It’s no secret that UFC 175 is the biggest event the Ultimate Fighting Championship has put together so far in 2014. The promotion has gone all-in by placing two title fights on one card, as Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey will defend their belts.
UFC is also in a fight of its own. Not against another promotion but rather dwindling pay-per-view figures that have continued into 2014. UFC 175 will be an interesting test of the current strength of the promotion as a whole.
One of the big storylines this year is the fact that UFC is suffering from dropping PPV buyrates. This is not a new trend, as the issue first began to rear its head back in 2013.
A review of the PPV buyrate figures provided by MMAPayout.com shows that numbers were up and down throughout most of the year. Bright spots in the forms of UFCs 158, 159, 162 and 168 stand out as the only events for which UFC cracked the 500,000-buyrate threshold.
One interesting point about those cards is that each one featured a fighter who is no longer competing. Georges St-Pierre (UFC 158) Chael Sonnen (UFC 159) and Anderson Silva (UFC 162 and 168) are all away from the sport for one reason or another. They were some of the most important names of the sport at the time.
Whether intentionally or not, the baton has been passed to today's fighters, and results haven't been great.
UFC 175 does feature two individuals who were a part of the biggest cards of 2013. Weidman and Rousey helped carry some of the more successful events of 2013. However, they did not do it alone, and this weekend’s card is missing some key components of those nights.
Weidman is fighting Lyoto Machida, who has never been a huge PPV draw. Rousey is facing off against Alexis Davis instead of coming off a season of The Ultimate Fighter with Miesha Tate. These two factors can drastically affect the success of this fight card. If fans don’t show interest in Machida and Davis as foils to the champions, then this show’s numbers will not break the current trend.
As Dave Walsh of MMANuts.com stated, “UFC 175 is a chance for both [Rousey and Weidman] to not only prove themselves in the cage, but to prove themselves as legitimate stars and champions. They’ll have to do it without the help of Anderson Silva, which should make this a lot more interesting.”
Another blow to this card occurred with the removal of Sonnen vs. Vitor Belfort. That rivalry was a major talking point which was broken up by Sonnen’s failed drug tests, retirement and eventual termination from the promotion. Losing that fight weakens the undercard of an event that even features Urijah Faber in the preliminaries.
UFC 175 is about more than two champions looking to walk out of the Octagon with their belts in tow. This card will help understand how UFC’s scheduling model has affected the interest in their current product.
If Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman really are two of the biggest stars that this sport has to offer, then PPV numbers will support that “fact.” If not, UFC will find itself in an interesting position that will need to be addressed one way or another.