UFC 129: "St. Pierre vs. Shields" was not only a booming success at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, it was also an unmitigated smash hit on pay-per-view (PPV).
According to the Sports Business Journal, the April 30, 2011 event, headlined by Canadian superstar Georges St. Pierre defending his welterweight title against Jake Shields, brought in an outstanding 800,000 PPV buys.
More flashy numbers from the report:
UFC 129 drew the largest crowd ever for the company, reported as 55,724, more than double the record of 23,152 set in December. With a gate of $12.075 million, it also dwarfed the previous high of $5.4 million set in 2009. The economic engine that drives the sport, pay-per-view TV, generated at least $40 million from about 800,000 buys.
This continues the trend that's been clear for years now: St. Pierre is undoubtedly the number two draw in the UFC, behind only box-office behemoth Brock Lesnar.
Here's a look at how the last five chronological events stack up with the last five that featured GSP:
Last five UFC event PPV buys:
Last five featuring Georges St. Pierre:
(All numbers via MMAPayout.com)
If Brock Lesnar's rapid ratings decline throughout season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) is any indication of the kind of business his future PPV shows will do, GSP just may be the new king of the mountain.
Of course, it's entirely possible that Lesnar will not return to action at all, thanks to a second bout with diverticulitis that has him re-evaluating his career options.
Either way, St. Pierre continues to draw huge numbers despite a growing reputation as a boring fighter that fights safe instead of exciting.
Even still, the French-Canadian is dominating the landscape of MMA and the sky could be the limit. With rumors running rampant that a title unification bout against Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz is on the horizon, possibly back in the Great White North, UFC executives are surely fitting themselves for bigger pockets.
The formula is simple: GSP + Canada = Watch the money pile up.