While its last two pay-per-view (PPV) events didn't exactly break the bank, business for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is alive and well.
That's according to promotion president Dana White, who says that despite the fact that some PPV events, like UFC 174, didn't bring in huge numbers at the box office -- not that he expected it to -- the promotion is still thriving and making money; all while hosting a record-breaking number of events across the world.
In his assessment, the fact that the flyweight division is fairly new is part of the reason why not that many fans have gravitated toward those bouts and its division champion, Demetrious Johnson.
Furthermore, despite the belief that too many events, in addition to UFC Fight Pass and multiple shows on the same day is hurting the company rather than helping it, White assures everyone that is far from the case.
He recently took the time to give his take on the recent PPV buys -- or lack thereof -- as well as crunched some numbers and dished out some stone cold facts to Yahoo! Sports:
"Demetrious is a guy who's getting better and better, and if he keeps finishing people and winning fights, sooner or later, he's going to break through. People are still getting familiar with him and with that division. We didn't go into that fight with the thought it would do a massive number. We know the market and our projection for what it would do was right on the money. This kind of [expletive] is stuff I've heard for years and I'm just sick of listening to it, because it's so [expletive] stupid and wrong. People are [expletive] without any facts. We built this business in the U.S. and everyone kept telling us we couldn't. Then we built it in Canada and Brazil and now we're doing the same thing around the world. This is how you invest and build your business to make it strong for the long haul."
Since its inception, UFC Fight Pass has garnered some pretty harsh criticism from fans who feel that paying $10 a month to watch fights on TV at odd times off the day is just another way for the Zuffa-owned company to get in their pockets.
As White reiterated, the events that are aired on the digital network aren't necessarily created to please the hardcore fans in the United States and neighboring countries; but rather, for the other people clear across the globe.
"This business has never been bigger and never been crazier. I hear all this [expletive] about the Fight Pass cards, but Americans can't wrap their heads around the fact we're not doing those cards for them. The fights are for the people in those countries. Say what you want about a card, but there is nothing like a live UFC event. We've found that people who go to one of our live events tend to become regular UFC fans. We are looking at a total attendance in these fight cards of 60,000, so those are 60,000 people we're developing into UFC fans. We put the fights on Fight Pass so that the hardcore people who might want to watch them have a way to see them. This has nothing to do with us trying to sell those fights to the fans here. If you want to watch them, great, it's 10 bucks a month. We have Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt fighting in Japan coming up. That's going to be an unreal fight. If you want to see it, it's 10 bucks and you can cancel it after a month. If you don't want to see those cards, we don't give a [expletive] because we're not doing the shows for anybody but the countrys we're doing them in. We're putting the shows on for the people in these other markets where they can see the shows live in their prime time instead of having to watch at three, four or five in the morning."
Fight fans have also voiced their displeasure at the quality of fights they are getting for certain events; blaming the not-so-stacked fight cards are a result of the company's desire to host numerous events in one calendar year; going as far as hosting two events on the same day, albeit in different parts of the world.
Case in point, last weekend (Sat., June 28, 2014) the promotion aired UFC Fight Night 43: "Marquardt vs. Te Huna" in Auckland, New Zealand on Fight Pass and then broadcast UFC Fight Night 44: "Swanson vs Stephens" -- which took place in San Antonio, Texas -- on Fox Sports 1 later that day.
Two different countries, two different time zones, two entirely different markets, according to White.
The Las Vegas fight boss went on to use UFC Fight Night 44 as a prime example of how good business really is.
According to his tally, the event earned $728,358. Is it the best? Obviously not, but it's still better than the boxing match between bona fide star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Brian Vera, which also took place in San Antonio a few months earlier.
That event drew an attendance of 7,000 for a gate of $650,000, according to the report. White went on to reveal that UFC Fight Night 43, which featured a main event between slumping stars Nate Marquardt and James Te Huna, nabbed a gate of $913,000.
Those numbers, however, will pale in comparison to what UFC will earn this weekend (July 5, 2014) as it returns home to Las Vegas, Nevada to host two events on consecutive days.
UFC 175 -- which features Chris Weidman defending his middleweight belt against Lyoto Machida and Ronda Rousey does the same with her bantamweight belt against Alexis Davis -- goes down on Sat., July 5, 2014. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 Finale, which features the Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn trilogy fight, takes place on Sun., July 6, 2014; both at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Thanks to the heavy-hitters on both cards, White revealed that UFC 175 will do close to a $5 million paid gate while the TUF 19 Finale will do around $500,000.
Still, even those hefty numbers will be but a slight portion of how much coin the fight promotion will generate for the city of Las Vegas, as White declared that -- per an analyst -- thanks to the two fight cards as well as all of the events going on during International Fight Week, which includes the annual UFC Fan Expo, "Sin City" will be the beneficiary of nearly $175 million.
No, that's not a typo.
For the six events UFC will have staged since UFC Fight Night 42 all the way through Fourth of July weekend, White's says the company will have earned $9 million-plus at the gate and more than 13.7 million television viewers. That's 13.7 million viewers in the United States alone, not counting the millions more that are earned from around the world thanks to the company's numerous television deals such as this one and this one.
In the end, despite the criticism and assumptions from fans and media that UFC isn't prospering as much as it used to, White makes it very clear that the dollars are still rolling in for the company and the cities that play host to its events.