The Numbers Don’t Lie: No, UFC 225 Isn’t the Flop It Was Made Out To Be

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Robert Whittaker Yoel Romero UFC 225
Credit: Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com

Based on a sampling of PPV numbers obtained by Cageside Press, UFC 225 did just over twice as many buys as the previous UFC event on PPV, Brazil’s UFC 224 — putting it in the 300,000 to 350,000 range.

In recent days, very early reports regarding the UFC 225 buyrate on Pay-per-View had placed it solidly in the flop category. Those reports seemed based off a throwaway line by L.A. Times journalist Lance Pugmire, in an article on the ongoing court case involving UFC megastar Conor McGregor. Pugmire cited “an industry official” who claimed the card, headlined by middleweight champ Robert Whittaker, drew less than 150,000 buys on PPV. Numbers that low would put it towards the very bottom of PPV events in the modern UFC era — shocking given that, beyond the main event, UFC 225 was an all-around stacked card.

The low number quoted by Pugmire immediately made the rounds elsewhere. All the various stories could be traced back to the original source, though poor ratings for the UFC 225 preliminary card didn’t help matters. Prelim numbers are usually an indicator of interest in a main card, after all. With so much talk of doom and gloom, all sorts of side debates broke loose. The UFC should never have put CM Punk on the main card, some argued (this despite Punk trending online on fight night, another indicator of fan interest). Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes should have been on the PPV, said some. Others argued having a non-title fight main event (after Yoel Romero missed weight) and the lack of star power for champ Robert Whittaker played a role.

However, numbers obtained exclusively by Cageside Press from a sampling of PPV capable homes show that roughly twice as many viewers (by about 2.1 times) tuned in for UFC 225 than did for the previous UFC PPV, Brazil’s UFC 224. With UFC 224 widely reported to be around the 150,000 buy mark or even a bit under, that would put UFC 225 around the 300,000 buy range. Considering that the sample data came from areas with no local fighters on the card, the number could potentially trend upward with other regions included.

In any case, UFC 225 was far from the bust it has been made out to be. That said, it’s just as shocking that a card as stacked as UFC 225 appears to have failed to crack the 400,000 buy mark.

A UFC attorney confirmed the original report of UFC 225 doing in the 150,000 range was off by “something in excess of six figures,” according to an update by Pugmire. Hunter Campbell, the attorney in question, referred to the figure as a “material misrepresentation” of the card’s buyrate, though declined to give an actual number.

The 300-350K range that the latest sampling shows puts the event in line with other UFC PPVs this year, outside of the low experienced by the Amanda Nunes-led UFC 224.

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