Is Jon Jones a star?
If the estimated pay-per-view (PPV) numbers for last weekend's (April 21, 2012) UFC 145: "Jones vs. Evans" mixed martial arts (MMA) event that went down at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., are any indication, the answer would point to an absolute, "Yes!"
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer reports that the event, which was headlined by the grudge match between Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and his former training partner Rashad Evans, pulled in a very impressive 700,000 PPV buys, up 200,000 from his headliner at UFC 140 opposite Lyoto Machida, solidifying Jones as the UFC's newest top draw.
With top PPV box office cash cow Brock Lesnar running back to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre riding the pine because of injury, UFC officials are smiling all the way to the bank. And, most likely, breathing a sigh of relief that it may have found a new honey hole.
Check out the complete UFC 145 PPV buy breakdown after the jump:
...the story was strong enough that early estimates of PPV numbers have topped 700,000 buys, by far the largest of Jones' career. The number was big for UFC, because they had not established a new young star who was a major consistent draw since the rise of Brock Lesnar, now retired, and Georges St. Pierre, out for most of the year. While the draw was in good part due to the storyline, the number was big enough to where it, combined with WrestleMania a few weeks ago, seems to contradict a lot of people's views of PPV as a dying industry. The big events, like this and WrestleMania, have done better than most expectations going in.
UFC 145 was focused solely on the main event between "Bones" and "Suga," and that was made ever so clear given the fact that the two combatants were the only two in attendance for the UFC 145 pre-fight press conference.
The promotion also pulled out all the stops when it came to marketing the fight, giving it the "Primetime" treatment, a "Countdown" show, and individualized promos for each fighter.
And it paid off ... big time.
Fans wondered why such a huge event was lacking in star power (no disrespect intended to the rest of the nights competitors, of course), but the card was not exactly "stacked" to the UFC's usual standards such as the case with upcoming events UFC 146 and UFC 148. After all, the co-main event was fast rising welterweight Rory MacDonald taking on a fighter who only had one UFC fight under his belt in Che Mills.
Perhaps it was all part of the plan.
The UFC was testing the waters to see just how much of a draw the 205-pound kingpin can be and he passed with flying colors. Let's remember Rashad Evans, though, who UFC President Dana White says is one of the most underrated fighters in the world, also played a major role in selling the fight. However, one would be hard pressed to argue that "Bones" wasn't the biggest factor.
Or would they?
Jeer him or cheer him, Jones is a legit star, perhaps the biggest in the UFC at the moment, and the proof, as they say, is in the buyrates.