Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is participating in a sport that most say is ‘dead’, yet he is the highest paid athlete in all of sports. He has A-list celebrities like P. Diddy, Lil’ Wayne, 50 Cent attend his fights. He is able to generate over one million pay-per-view buys for 9 consecutive fights, averaging 1.06 million buys per fight. Yet, he is constantly accused of cherry-picking fights and refusing to participate in a superfight with Manny Pacquiao. Why is Mayweather so successful at marketing himself and why can’t the UFC create a similarly successful star?
You have to believe that Dana White would love to have an athlete with Mayweather’s drawing power working for Zuffa, LLC. However, because the UFC would rather spend time marketing itself instead of marketing specific fighters, they have struggled to maintain the same pay-per-view buy rates that they attained in 2010. Zuffa, LLC. believes that the UFC brand is enough to sell pay-per-views. And in some ways, they are right. The UFC name sells some pay-per-views. But not a lot. Brand name alone will not give them the record numbers they achieved at UFC 100. The UFC is still profitable but they have to hold more events to make similar profits that they made in 2010.
Mayweather will always take home a larger cut of profits than any UFC fighter does because he negotiates his own terms and doesn’t have to divide his purse. But just comparing straight pay-per-view buys, it is clear that the UFC is clearly lagging behind a guy like Mayweather. Their biggest star, Georges St. Pierre, averages 750,000-800,000 buys per fight. Jon Jones, who is probably their most intriguing and exciting fighter, should be being marketed as the next big thing. Instead, the only promotion we saw for his bout with Chael Sonnen revolved around Sonnen’s bad schtick.
The UFC has a fighter in Jon Jones who can be just as dominant as Mayweather has been over the course of is career, yet the UFC would rather book their biggest rising star in a squash match with a middleweight. And on top of that, the undercard for UFC 159 was poor. The UFC needs to learn name alone won’t create stars. And stars are what sells pay-per-views.
Photo Credit- Jayne Kamin-Oncea- USA Today Sports