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SBD/Issue 204/Events & Attractions
UFC 100 Draws Big Crowd, But Is The Sport Ready To Go Mainstream?
Published July 13, 2009
Saturday's UFC 100 drew an estimated 11,000 fans to Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas for a "staggering live gate" of $5.1M, according to Dann Stupp of MMAJUNKIE.com. The Nevada State Athletic Commission will release official numbers later this week, but "if the figure holds up, the live gate will go as the second largest in UFC history." Tickets for the event, which sold out during a pre-sale period, were selling "for as much as $45,000 each on the secondary market" (MMAJUNKIE.com, 7/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole reported PPV sales are "almost guaranteed to surpass 1 million and there is a chance that the final number would exceed 1.5 million, which would make it the biggest non-boxing PPV in history." Closed-circuit sales were "so strong in Las Vegas" that UFC parent company Zuffa officials "opened the MGM Grand Garden to accommodate the demand." In addition, UFC President Dana White estimated that 30,000-50,000 fans attended the UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on Friday and Saturday (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/12). White said of PPV buys for the card, "There was a lot of buzz behind this event this weekend. There wasn’t a lot going on in sports, so we had a good feeling that we were going to do a million and we’re confident we did well over a million” (“ESPN First Take,” ESPN2, 7/13).
UFC 100 Could Be Biggest-Selling Non-Boxing
Event On PPV With More Than 1.5 Million Buys
BREAKING INTO MAINSTREAM: YAHOO SPORTS' Iole wrote MMA "took a huge step forward Saturday," and the "upshot of the huge reaction to the UFC's biggest show is that there will be more fights on free television, whether on Spike, another cable network or a broadcast network." White said, "I'm a big believer in having free fights on television. ... I believe when you put on pay-per-views and the fans are buying, you need to give back to them and have big fights on free TV, too." Iole noted the controversy over Lesnar's behavior will "last a few days and get beaten around by media who have never covered the sport before," but the impact of a "first-rate week which included the Fan Expo and a superb night of fights, will live much longer than any distaste for Lesnar" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/12). ESPN.com's Franklin McNeil wrote UFC 100 was "nearly flawless," and "every bout was action-packed" (ESPN.com, 7/12). USA TODAY's Beau Dure notes the question is whether Lesnar can "carry mixed martial arts on his sculpted shoulders further into the mainstream." White "knows he's walking a fine line and that feuds can sell" (USA TODAY, 7/13). In Las Vegas, Ed Graney noted having Lesnar as a "hated champion probably owns some serious mileage," because there are "many ways to market a champion" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/12). In Miami, Jim Varsallone wrote UFC will "rise to the next level with Lesnar, and that means millions" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/12). SI.com's Arash Markazi wrote under the header, "Lesnar A Perfect Villain For UFC" (SI.com, 7/12).
Brutality In UFC Fights Could Keep Sport
From Reaching Mainstream Status
COMING A LONG WAY: In Las Vegas, Brett Okamoto writes UFC 100 was "as much a celebration of the UFC as it was an actual event." Everything from the PPV numbers to the "fan expo to seeing Lesnar's smile behind the ESPN booth were testaments to how far this once-struggling organization has come." ESPN MMA Live analyst Kenny Florian said, "We still have some work to do to get it more mainstream. I don't know how close we are, but hopefully each time we get closer and closer to that goal." Okamoto notes the UFC "won't sit back and rely" on ESPN exposure to "drive its brand." The organization has "extended its partnership with Spike TV" through '11, including four more seasons of "The Ultimate Fighter" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/13).