When the main event for UFC 91 was announced, most felt it had a realistic chance of breaking the all-time UFC PPV record of just over a million buys for UFC 66. Forecasts are not as bright any more. The event has been plagued by slow ticket sales (partly thanks to the enormous prices the UFC set) and now low ratings for its Countdown show. Some have blamed the economy, which promptly went into the gutter a couple weeks after Dana White announced the "biggest fight in MMA history" between Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar would headline UFC 91. Never one to be bashful, White has repeatedly said this PPV will break records. I'm starting to have my doubts.
The first problem is the card is not strong from top to bottom. MMA fans have become accustomed to the UFC's biggest events having 3-4 solid fights. While I'm interested in seeing Demian Maia take on Nate Quarry, I don't think it registers as a must-see for most people. If you are buying UFC 91, it is for the main event. That is a tough sell in this economy, especially when the last UFC PPV ended with the Silva/Cote fiasco.
The UFC's upcoming PPVs in December and January also make it more difficult to sell UFC 91 as a one of a kind event. When fans look ahead a month and a half and see a much better card for UFC 92, they immediately look less favorably on UFC 91. If you can only see two PPVs in the next three months, UFC 92 and 94 are the best choices. They have big fights, along with solid undercards, which means they can overcome a main event that does not live up to the hype. UFC 91 does not have this luxury and it is causing many fans to question the purchase.
It will be interesting to see where UFC 91 ends up ranking. My guess is between 700,000 to 800,000 PPV buys. This would make it the biggest draw of the year thus far, but well below the initial expectation of over a million buys.
(Rear Naked News will have UFC 91 Live Results this Saturday night. Do not miss any of the action with our exciting Live Coverage.)