Despite offering a true superfight between UFC champions Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, UFC 226 earlier this month from Las Vegas didn’t quite live up to the hype.
According to a recent report by MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer, the July 7th event pulled in an estimated 380,000 pay-per-view (PPV) buys. That isn’t completely disappointing considering UFC has struggled to produce high-selling cards since Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, and Brock Lesnar hit the shelf, but the promotion most likely expected more buys from a Miocic vs. Cormier superfight.
That said, the late removal of a featherweight championship bout between current titleholder Max Holloway and undefeated contender Brian Ortega certainly didn’t help. The card did offer other recognizable fighters like Francis Ngannou, Anthony Pettis, and Derrick Lewis, but they weren’t enough to make UFC 226 a smashing box office success.
With these numbers in hand, it makes even more sense for the promotion to bring back Lesnar and have the former WWE superstar fight for the UFC heavyweight title in his return. And considering Cormier defeated Miocic via first-round knockout at UFC 226, “DC” will be the one to welcome the beast back into the cage.
On top of Lesnar, UFC can now leverage the massive selling ability of McGregor, who was recently given a slap on the wrist for his bus attack in Brooklyn earlier this year. “Notorious” has historically put up some of the biggest numbers in UFC history and could end up breaking all of his own records if a lightweight title fight with current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov takes form later this year.
At the end of the day, UFC PPV numbers are always going to be dictated by a select few. That’s just the way it works.
The promotion will ultimately try to make stars out of young prospects and evolving veterans, but there’s a reason big names like McGregor, Lesnar, and Jones get a little more slack than others. They sell big and UFC needs that.
UFC 227, which takes places on Aug. 4 from Los Angeles, Calif., will be the next big PPV to measure. That event will feature a main event bantamweight title rematch between champion T.J. Dillashaw and former king Cody Garbrandt, as well as a co-main event flyweight title rematch between pound-for-pound legend and current champion Demetrious Johnson and former Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo.