Ladies and gentlemen, the numbers are in for UFC 232 and they explain exactly why the UFC was willing to pick up shop and move to Los Angeles on a week’s notice to keep Jon Jones on the card. According to the very reliable Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the card headlined by Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 and Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes pulled in 700,000 buys.
That makes UFC 232 the second highest selling PPV of 2018 for the UFC. A very distant second. First place, of course, goes to the Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight at UFC 229 which pulled in 2.4 million buys, making it the best selling UFC PPV in history.
UFC 232 would be the second highest buyrate of 2018 (according to reports) by a good margin.— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) January 11, 2019
Average 2018 PPV buyrate (per reports): 447,307
Average 2017 PPV buyrate (per reports): 339,583
Average 2016 PPV buyrate (per reports): 655,230 (3 Conor cards, 1 Ronda card, UFC 200) https://t.co/bcaRdfGWQ7
To compare with some of the more typical numbers, UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega reportedly did somewhere in the neighborhood of 240,000 to 300,000 buys, while UFC 230: Cormier vs. Lewis drew 250,000 buys. UFC 228: Woodley vs. Till had a buyrate of just 130,000. As usual, let us remind you that all these numbers are estimates from industry insiders, as the UFC guards its secrets like an angry dragon on top of a large pile of gold.
We think these numbers explain a lot as to how flexible the UFC is with their fighters. Be T-Wood, draw sub-200k numbers, and you’ll find the organization threatening to set up an interim title belt for Kamaru Usman to fight for. Be Jon Jones, have projections of 700k buys, and the organization will literally flip the script on an entire event to keep you on the pay-per-view.
As heavily reported at the time, the UFC moved UFC 232 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada to the Forum in Los Angeles, California after picograms of a longbterm oral Turinabol metabolite showed up once again in Jon Jones’ system. The UFC and USADA agreed the metabolite was likely the same substance Jones had just spent over a year and a half suspended for, and gave him a pass. But Nevada wasn’t willing to rubber stamp Jones’ continued participation on the card without a hearing. Rather than risk that hearing going sideways, the UFC moved to California where the CSAC approved the fight (without even knowing all the specifics).
The UFC’s bean counters clearly knew how well UFC 232 was trending with Jon Jones at the top of the card, and how poorly it would do without him. So while Dana White made a big deal about the millions it cost the company to move the card, in the end it was the only move they could make to ensure their second biggest pay-per-view went down. Sorry, folks who traveled to Vegas to watch the fight on NYE weekend.