Beginning with tomorrow night's historic UFC 129, all UFC pay-per-views will begin at 9pm eastern standard time as opposed to 10pm EST. UFC 129 will be a tough card to judge whether or not the new start time will have an impact, if any at all, on pay-per-view buys.
The reason is simple, Georges St, Pierre is headlining the card. Fans will tune in at any time to watch the UFC Welterweight Champion defend his title regardless of who his opponent is. You also have the potential of seeing Randy Couture fight for the last time which should pique fans interest as well.
The real test will be on a card that has a main event consisting of a fighter or fighters who are historically weak or at best mediocre PPV draws. UFC 130 for instance, could have been a strong test with a main event of UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.
That all went out the window after the two put on one of the best lightweight fights of all time at UFC 125 in January. That bout ended in a draw and now fans have a real interest in seeing one man win over the other. Even with a semi-weak main card, UFC 130 should do quite well because of Edgar-Maynard III.
UFC 131 is up next in June, but lo and behold the main event has the man many consider to be the biggest draw in all of mixed martial arts, Brock Lesnar. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion looks to rebound from a loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121. His opponent is also his opposing coach on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter, Junior Dos Santos.
It may not be until July when UFC 132 takes place with a main event of UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and No. 1 contender and former WEC Featherweight Champion and poster-boy, Urijah Faber. The California Kid is quite possibly the biggest draw in any weight class under 155lbs, but is his name big enough for people to plunk down their hard earned money.
Now that the pay-per-view starts an hour earlier, the Spike TV preliminary fights will begin earlier as well. The UFC knows they are going to do well in bars and restaurants in which their pay-per-views are shown because when people are going out another hour isn't going to make much of a difference.
Where the earlier hour may prove to be beneficial is in private homes. Asking people who have worked all week long and then did the family thing all day on Saturday to stay up past midnight is tough. Knowing they can be in bed an hour earlier may change the minds of some fans who were on the fence. Having the prelims on earlier will help to get fans captivated and may allow them to throw any concern of a long night to the wayside.
All of this may be a moot point and the earlier start time may not make a difference one way or another, but I for one an happy knowing that I won't have to wait as long for the fights to start and I won't have to sit up past midnight waiting for the last bout to end. How many fans feel the same way I do? We may not find out until the middle of the summer or we may not find out at all.
What about you, will the earlier start time effect whether or not you buy the pay-per-view?