It's always interesting to look at the business side of things after such a huge event for any sport, but taking a look at the numbers for the UFC is critical, in my opinion, as the UFC continues its quest to become "the biggest sport in the world" according to President Dana White.
As we look at UFC 126 which took place this past weekend from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, we see that it attracted an attendance of 10,893 for a live gate of $3.6 million which puts it easily in the top five for its Vegas events. By comparison, UFC 100 which also took place at Mandalay Bay holds the gate record at $5.1 million with an attendance of 22 fewer people.
However, the UFC also sold 1,000 seats in a closed-circuit viewing on site in the hotel for another $45,100 which brings the gate even higher. The pay-per-view figures always take a few weeks to ascertain an accurate buy rate (and even then aren't 100% known because the UFC is a private company and usually doesn't release this information) but analysts of such things are already trending it as one of the biggest fights in the UFC's history.
This is important because Anderson Silva as the headliner has been a polarizing figure for the UFC for awhile and his fights tend to be more in the average category when it comes to PPV buy rates. When I do come across a PPV buy figure, you can be sure it will be posted that very same day right here. So stay tuned for that.
So after analyzing the amount of money that the UFC took in for UFC 126, a very very high amount if you figure conservatively at $1 million PPV buys for $50 a pop + $3.6 mil live gate and we get $53.6 million. This also doesn't include money generated from the movie theater showings around the country. Let's now look at the money spent on fighter's salaries for the entire fight card.
Anderson Silva: $200,000 (no win bonus)
Vitor Belfort: $275,000
Silva def. Belfort via KO (strikes) - Round 1, 3:25
Forrest Griffin: $275,000 ($125,000 to show, $150,000 to win)
Rich Franklin: $75,000
Griffin def. Franklin via unanimous decision
Jon Jones: $140,000 ($70,000 to show, $70,000 to win)
Ryan Bader: $20,000
Jones def. Ryan Bader via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 2, 4:20
Jake Ellenberger: $32,000 ($16,000 to show, $16,000 to win)
Carlos Eduardo Rocha: $8,000
Ellenberger def. Rocha via split decision
Miguel Torres: $56,000 ($28,000 to show, $28,000 to win)
Antonio Banuelos: $9,000
Torres def. Banuelos via unanimous decision
Donald Cerrone: $36,000 ($18,000 to show, $18,000 to win)
Paul Kelly: $19,000
Cerrone def. Kelly via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 3:48
Chad Mendes: $19,000 ($9,000 to show, $9,000 to win)
Michihiro Omigawa: $8,000
Mendes def. Omigawa via unanimous decision
Demetrious Johnson: $10,000 ($5,000 to show, $5,000 to win)
Norifumi Yamamoto: $15,000
Johnson def. Yamamoto via unanimous decision
Paul Taylor: $36,000 ($18,000 to show, $18,000 to win)
Gabe Ruediger: $8,000
Taylor def. Ruediger via knockout (strikes) - Round 2, 1:42
Kyle Kingsbury: $20,000 ($10,000 to show, $10,000 to win)
Ricardo Romero: $10,000
Kingsbury def. Romero via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 0:21
Mike Pierce: $28,000 ($14,000 to show, $14,000 to win)
Kenny Robertson: $6,000
Pierce def. Robertson via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 0:29
That total comes to $1.305 million. Then there were four bonuses of $75,000 apiece dished out for knockout of the night, submission of the night and fight of the night. Anderson Silva took home the KO of the night bonus, Jon Jones an additional $75,000 for Submission of the night and Donald Cerrone and Paul Kelly earned the Fight of the night bonus.
So as you can see from these numbers (and we still don't know an accurate PPV buy rate) even looked at from a conservative angle, the UFC is raking it in. And remember, they do approximately 16 PPV events a year.
As White plans expansion into Brazil, Japan and Sweden this year (not to mention continued journeys to Canada, Abu Dhabi and Germany), it really helps to analyze how the business is faring stateside.