For some reason, we MMA fans are obsessed with the business side of ultimate fighting. Every single event gets broken down and analyzed to death, with pay per view numbers and ticket sales being carefully tracked and corelated to whatever ‘MMA is booming’ or ‘MMA has stagnated’ angle is currently popular amongst blogs. So it goes with UFC 131, and here’s your details on how that went:
On Sunday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required), Dave Meltzer reported that after Lesnar pulled out of the fight May 12, the show sold less than 1,000 tickets, and probably closer to 500 based on what the gate was then ($2.7 million) and what it ended up being announced as ($2.8 million).
The attendance for Saturday’s show, which emanated from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, was announced at 14,685 by the UFC. Meltzer says, with the gate, that would equate to between 10,000-11,000 paid.
“They sold no tickets once Brock pulled out of the card,” Meltzer said.
“They sold, I believe the number was 9,000 tickets the first day (April 14) and the paid, when all is said and done, will probably be in the 10,500 range. That says everyone that wanted to buy a ticket got it right away and a lot of it might been some scalpers as well. There were two things that were apart of this: Even with Brock, whatever it was, they didn’t sell a lot of tickets after the first day, and losing Brock, nobody new wanted to buy tickets to see Shane Carwin, even though some people said, ‘Wow, it’s a better fight,’ the fact is there’s like nobody extra that wanted to buy tickets to see Shane Carwin.”
Seems pretty straightforward to me. You had an event that was the culmination of the least watched season of TUF. It was gimped by the loss of it’s main draw Brock Lesnar. Then the stupid Vancouver Canucks go and make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in over 15 years. The city is in the middle of big tantric playoff orgy and their team played game five the freaking night before the UFC rolled into town, sucking up all the oxygen and sportsfan interest.
Yet despite all that, the UFC still sold an assload of tickets and made a ton of money. No, they didn’t sell out. But so what? Considering the circumstances I’m amazed things went as well as they did.