The Golden Goose is dead. Brock Lesnar, the UFC’s money man, its selling machine, has left the building to run back into Vince McMahon’s arms. And with him he took his golden touch in the pay-per-view realm. In the good old days, a Lesnar appearance on a PPV card guaranteed the UFC at least a million sales.
So where does the UFC go from here? Who can they look to to put the dolla dolla bills (y’all) into the company’s bank account?
We’ve studied the UFC’s pay-per-view sales info from UFC 33 (September 2001) up to the present to figure out which current UFC fighters are best at selling PPVs. Any fighter who appeared on the fight poster for an event was credited for a percentage of that event’s sales, with it being weighted to credit the main event fighters the most (example – main event participants get 75% of the buyrate total credited to them, other fighters on fight poster split the remaining 25%). So who came out on top? No real surprise at the name at #1, but the results did reveal some surprises:
(from UFC 33-UFC 146)
sales credited to fighter
Yes, no surprise that GSP is the king – but could you have predicted that Rashad Evans would come in second, ahead of arch nemesis Rampage Jackson? Suga benefited from headlining two cards (UFC 114 & 145) where his fight was the only one advertised on the fight poster, getting him credited for the full buyrate total. His UFC 114 fight with Rampage sold 1.05 million, while his tussle with Jon Jones got 700,000 buys. No doubt Mr. Evans can sell – if the company is comfortable only advertising your match PLUS the PPV still sells like hotcakes (whatever that means), you are doing your job.
Brazilian fighter Anderson Silva has been criticized in the past for not being a big box office draw, but our numbers debunk that myth. Also, heavyweights are though to be big draws, but Frank Mir is the only current heavyweight to crack our top 10 (and it has taken him 12 PPVs to get enough sales to do that). That says a lot about the UFC heavyweight division being in flux and not having any established stars in it (yet). On the flipside, three fighters who have fought at lightweight and/or welterweight have made the list; two of them place in the top three.
While these figures lean heavily toward veteran fighters (which makes sense since they’ve had more fights to accumulate sales from), we’ll report the top fighters based on average sales per fight next to see if a new breed is on the rise in the UFC.