Are there enough champs for 11 more PPVs in 2014?


SI's mighty Jeff Wagenheim details a problem.

The UFC had two title fights at UFC 169, Ronda Rousey at UFC 170, Johny Hendricks at UFC 171, and has 11 more PPVs in 2014.

You need a champ to headline a successful PPV. The UFC did 13 PPVs in 2013, and the only one without a champ. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans vs. legend Dan Henderson did just 140,000 buys, the worst of the year.

Of the UFC's nine champs, Chris Weidman, Johny Hendricks, Cain Velasquez and Anthony Pettis are injured. Ronda Rousey is shooting movies. 

Of the remain champions ready to fight, only Jones has major drawing power. The PPV numbers for Jose Aldo, Renan Barão, and Demetrious Johnson are not nearly in keeping with their extraordinary abilities.

Are there enough champs left to carry nearly a dozen PPVs?

Velasquez has targeted a November return from shoulder surgery, so that takes care of one show. If Jones escapes UFC 172 healthy, he's probably good for one more 2014 fight. Weidman goes on July 5 and might have one more in him, too. Hendricks is aiming for a fall return after biceps surgery. Pettis, recovering from knee surgery, also is being penciled in for a fall return, taking on Gilbert Melendez after the two coached a season of The Ultimate Fighter. So, if all goes well, these champions might account for six of the 10 PPVs that'll likely remain after Jones vs. Teixeira.

If all goes well.

Even in the healthiest-case scenario, the UFC will have to rely on Rousey and its littlest belted men -- Aldo, Barão, and Johnson -- to carry the load on the four other PPVs. 

So yes, injuries affect all fighters, from the bottom of the roster on up. But the ones that hurt the bottom line are the ones that allow a shiny belt to collect dust.

Of course, maybe expectations are different in the UFC's office these days. The company has grown into more locales and onto more platforms. Earlier this month, it put a light heavyweight No. 1 contender's bout on Fight Pass, its new streaming subscription service. In May, it will present events in Germany and Brazil on the same day. PPVs will always be part of the business model, White insists whenever one of these innovations is announced, but maybe pay cards no longer are asked to carry as much of the load as before. Still, there's nothing like the shimmer of a championship belt. It mesmerizes us, and fans pay to sit in its presence. And boy do we notice its absence.

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Recent Comments »

bigtreechris site profile image  

3/27/14 3:46 PM by bigtreechris

I've always liked the idea of a tournament set up. The top 20 guys in the division. I've always enjoyed the ppvs that showcased a single division, just gives you a better idea where everyone is at by the end of the night.

BushidoAristotle site profile image  

3/26/14 6:32 PM by BushidoAristotle

Bring back tournaments. Tournaments create momentum, give fights context, and build stars. You could dedicate one PPV to a division's opening round 16-man tournament; 10 fights, 20 fighters, including 4 replacements. Another PPV could feature the second round of two divisions. And so forth.Fight Night cards could be bouts fought to get into said tournaments, with a main event featuring top fighters who have been eliminated from their respective division's tournament.

The Winter Soldier site profile image  

3/26/14 6:08 PM by The Winter Soldier

How would seasons work when most fighters get 60-90 day suspensions after a fight, where they cant even train, nevermind fight? I like the idea though.

Watch Bellator on Spike site profile image  

3/26/14 4:02 PM by Watch Bellator on Spike

You have 3 title fights ready: Mighty Mouse vs Baugotinov Aldo vs Mendez Barao vs Assuncao You can save the schedule:   UFC 173: Mighty Mouse vs Baugotinov Barao vs Assuncao JDS vs Miocic   UFC 174: Aldo vs Mendez Rory vs DIaz Cormier vs Hendo   UFC 175: Weidman vs Machida Ronda vs Carano/cyborg Hector vs Woodley   UFC 176: Jones vs Gustaffson 2   and then by the fall the injured will have recovered.  Regardless, this is not going to be a great year in total ppv revenue compared  to past years but you can atleast get the baseline back up to where you're not pulling sub 200k anymore.

Jason site profile image  

3/26/14 3:58 PM by Jason

split by divisions, PERFECT :)

dabigchet site profile image  

3/26/14 3:46 PM by dabigchet

i think you could definitely increase PPV buys with a season format. there is going to be 10 champions after the womens strawweight is crowned. so, 5 champions per 6 month season. that's 10 scheduled championship fights, minimum. every season the 2 champions who fight in the first month fight 3 times in that season. so 6 PPVs in the season, 12 championship fights. some of those, of course, are going to be affected by injury, but like i said earlier if you are expected to be injured for the whole season a new champion is crowned. all of your FS1/2 and fightpass cards in that same season stick to the same 5 divisions only, which would increase interest as the season progressed.entirely possible that a fighter no one knows on month 1 could fight for a title at the end of the season with this format.

AdmiralCackbar site profile image  

3/26/14 3:34 PM by AdmiralCackbar

ThisAnd imagine if they all went to decisions.

ShowtimeWreckedMyLeever site profile image  

3/26/14 3:31 PM by ShowtimeWreckedMyLeever

I like your ideas, however I do not see the UFC pulling 10 million buys in the next10 years regardless of the card. Sports just not big enough.

Rookie Fighter site profile image  

3/26/14 2:59 PM by Rookie Fighter

Seasons are a great idea but its not optimal money maker, the ufc is all about money.

Richie Muldanno site profile image  

3/26/14 2:49 PM by Richie Muldanno

I think they're good ideas