And they are… both good and bad. UFC 159 featuring Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones sold an estimated 520,000-555,000 pay-per-view buys. That number is good enough for the second highest selling pay-per-view of the year. When comparing numbers from 2010, the number isn’t that great but considering that the UFC nowadays is struggling to put together consistently high-selling cards, I’m sure that they are pretty happy with the number.
Still, considering in the last three years there are only seven cards that sold more than UFC 159, all in all in was a good number. I can’t say that I didn’t expect something more with the combination of a season of The Ultimate Fighter and Chael Sonnen’s antics but the marketing for UFC 159 wasn’t all that great. In fact, the main promo for Sonnen’s second fight with Anderson Silva ended with the exact same words as the promo for UFC 159: “Beat me, if you can.” That being said, Chael Sonnen drew better than every other Jon Jones opponent except for Rashad Evans. And it is still way above the average buy-rate of 450,000 buys over the past three years.
Maybe I’m thinking about the numbers incorrectly. Maybe I should just accept that today’s public isn’t quite as interested in specific UFC pay-per-views because there are so many nowadays that people have to make very clear choices as to which ones to buy. Very few people can afford to shell out $59.99 for the amount of pay-per-views that are aired in today’s day in age. In the UFC’s golden age of 2010, they reached a perfect balance of matchmaking and hype, properly spacing out each card to properly market and develop hype. So the days of averaging 600,000 buy event are long gone.
All in all it was a successful card but I can’t help but think they could have achieved a little more. Then again, maybe people saw through the squash match and decided they could catch the highlights. Or maybe some people figured they’d rather watch Mayweather fight then watch Jones beat down a middleweight.