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Lesnar -- 10/6 Sports Business Jornal

So I'm looking at the 10/6-12 issue of Sports Business Journal, which has "Who will step up for UFC" as one of its cover stories. Further into the story, they highlight UFC's top draws since January 2006. A quick recap, if I may:
  • Brock Lesnar has the two highest drawing PPVs in UFC history and 3 of the top 5, two of which were against Frank Mir and Shane Carwin. Let me repeat those opponents - Frank Mir and Shane Carwin.
  • Brock Lesnar made 7 appearances in UFC, 5 as headliner (top two matches on the card). As a headliner, Lesnar averaged over 1 million buys. the next highest, GSP (their most consistent draw), averaged more than 300,000 fewer buys. ronda Rousey is averaging 395,000 buys and we think it's a big deal.
  • After re-joining WWE, the company decided to put him in a B-show and then have him LOSE to John Cena.
Shouldn't the investors be filing class-action lawsuits over this and not the network? 

​I'm gonna have to stick up for WWE a bit here, in that it's apples and oranges.  Lesnar had a unique charisma in UFC precisely because he was a "fake pro rassler" who was coming in and daring to beat longtime "real" fighters while cutting WWE-style promos about it.  Hardcore fighting nerds HATED him and gladly paid $70 a pop a million at a time hoping to see him lose.  

The WWE audience dynamic was totally different, in that everyone basically was happy to have him back and didn't really associate him with UFC any longer at the point when he returned.  Yes, it was a fuckup to have him lose to Cena, of course, but his wrestling drawing power was in a totally different league than his UFC drawing power.  He was a giant WWE star, yes, but he was an invading monster in UFC and it was the kind of special magic that probably won't ever be duplicated again.

As for Rousey, 350K is good now because UFC destroyed their own PPV business by oversaturating the market.  Even Brock returning would probably only do 700K at the high end now.​

Comments

  1. He should have been presented as an outsider (Ala nwo) immediately. Instead he was cutting bad promos and losing to cena.

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  2. I had always thought the vibe was that Brock was a UFC guy coming (back) into wrestling. I thought that being a UFC champion was very much a part of his wrestling character.

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  3. They tried a bit but then he was thrown into the wwe machine

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  4. Well yeah, he got neutered, sure.

    But "everyone basically was happy to have him back and didn't really associate him with UFC any longer at the point when he returned" doesn't add up to me.



    Part of the excitement of his return was that he was this UFC monster. If he'd been raising goats in the forest since he left, it would still have been a big deal, but not so big of a deal.

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  5. People seem to forget that Brock lost his 1st UFC match against Mir. Yet he still became the biggest draw ever. That's why I really have no problem with the Cena loss. So he got cocky, and Cena got a fluke win. Plus, one streak breaking and 1 Cena squash , and he's back to the biggest bad ass machine ever.

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  6. That's one of many reasons I never had a problem with it. The chief reason is, of course, that it didn't matter. What really set Brock back was the Triple H series.

    If I could put my fantasy booking hat on and be given full autonomy- and I'm kinda high, so prepare to be amazed- I'd have done the Brock/Taker match a year sooner at WM29 and then done the main event that should have happened, a Cena/Rock/Punk triple threat. And then Daniel Bryan's WM30 triumph comes against Brock Lesnar.

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  7. He would have had a built-in feud with Daniel Bryan

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  8. Brock was the king of the "Big Fight Feel". He had it, Chuck Liddell had it, GSP, Anderson Silva, Rampage, I'm sure everyone has their share of guys who they felt the same way about.


    Now none of those guys are fighting, and there's basically a UFC every week between this guy and what's his name. I ordered PPVS when they felt special, and now there's so many no one stands out. I realized I enjoyed the big fight feel more than the fights themselves.


    Rousey comes closest to being a draw for me, but not enough to put my money down anymore.

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  9. Taking issue with the end here. "Even Brock returning would probably only do 700K at the high end now.​"

    Patently untrue. UFC has legitimate draws, they just can't get them to stay upright, get into a cage and agree to fight each other. On the occasions that they DO get these things to magically happen they can still pull numbers. Jones vs. any other top 5 guy is 500k buys minimum. Jones vs. Gustaffson is 750k minimum. If Anderson and Nick Diaz actually make it to their fight (which may already be called off due to Nick's fun with the law) that's 750k minimum. If GSP comes back that's 800k minimum.

    There are big draws out there who will get the casuals to open up their wallets. They just aren't fighting very often due to injuries.

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  10. Jones vs Gustaffson 1 was a great fight but I think that only did like 320k. I have a hard time seeing the rematch doube that.

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  11. If Vince was 15 years younger in 2012 he would have made Brock a way bigger attraction.

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  12. That fight was a "stay busy" fight because nobody took Gustaffson seriously at the time. If anything losing the fight in controversial fashion put him over better than winning any #1 contender's match possibly could have been. Plus with Jones ducking him repeatedly in the interim, the fight has picked up steam among the fans.


    I see that one as a potential big money fight now whereas the first fight I don't think I even went to a bar to see. I was probably just posting about it on the blog when it happened tbh.

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  13. Yeah I'm a big MMA fan, but the magic is definitely gone. Even guys that are medium draws like Cain take a year off between title fights, so what does that leave UFC to promote? And I have Fight Pass, and would love to dip more into the archives, but I'm too busy trying to keep up on the current product. I keep saying this Fox deal is bringing the ship down.

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  14. It was so short sighted though. I mean it was right there and so obvious for them - Brock beats Cena and then have Cena win a rematch at a later point. Still never understood that one.

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  15. Wasting Brock against Triple H three times in a row was an incredibly stupid move, especially since Brock won 2-out-of-3. He ended up winning the series, so why not just end it at the first match, when Triple H's attempt to milk sympathy ended so laughably?

    I get that WWE only wants Brock to fight big names and won't have him against, say, Cesaro (no matter how awesome that would be). But surely they could've scrounged up somebody to fight him twice more in 2013 than Triple H.

    The fact that they didn't do Brock vs. Batista at some point during Batista's recent return (The Beast vs. The Animal) is another stupid point.

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  16. I think the Brock redemption story ended up actually working better with the destruction of Cena at Summerslam, but we'll see how well his title reign ends up going.

    Anyway, my point isn't that it was good or bad, it's that it didn't really matter.

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  17. If UFC had huge draws in 2014 they'd be doing more than 400k per fight. They're not.



    Until they prove otherwise, there are no huge draws. Your examples rely on a lot of "ifs"

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  18. Does Cena bring a big fight feel?

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  19. I was at Summerslam, and I can say it was as much about Cena as it was about Brock before the match started. Then, it was very much all Brock.

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  20. "Look at the adjective"


    If Nash can survive that, Brock could survive one lousy promo.

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  21. ... But then Cena wins the feud....If they were to exchange wins, it 100% had to be Cena winning the first by fluke, then Brock destroying him. That way, Brock > Cena.

    Cause really, what you just described was the Cena/Rock WM 28 and 29 matches.

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  22. That hhh trilogy killed his drawing power, maybe forever. At least heyman said he was overcoming a illness and wasn't 100 percent.

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  23. That's like saying "if boxing had huge draws they'd do big numbers" if Pacquiao and Mayweather haven't fought.

    The UFC's drawing problem has to do with injuries and layoffs.

    Jon Jones hasn't fought since April
    GSP hasn't fought since Nov 2013
    Anderson hasn't fought since Dec 2013
    Nick Diaz hasn't fought since March 2013

    Cain hasn't fought since Oct 2013


    They've had 1 fight out of their biggest drawing stars in a year and it was wasted on Glover Teixiera. That's the problem, horrendous luck with their big draws.


    Pretend that GSP is retired for real (he's not) and that Nick Diaz was never going to come back. They should have had 2 Cain fights since then, 1 extra Jones fight, 2 Anderson fights.


    Where's the money gone? There it is.

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  24. Crikey Mate Down Under AussieOctober 14, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Where are you pulling these numbers from?

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  25. Estimates based on what happens when fighters fight other drawing opponents. There's generally a baseline for each fighter. No Jones fight does under 300. No Cain fight does under 300. Apparently no Ronda fight does under 300. GSP, Anderson do 400s generally. These are when fighting non drawing opponents.

    vs. other drawing opponents baselines go up.

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  26. I love Rousey.


    Her threatening to beat up Kim Kardashian put at the top of my list of celebrity crushes.

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  27. I see nothing wrong with this.


    Seriously, Rock/Cena II was horrible in so many ways, one of which was the crowd which gave little to no shit when Cena pinned the Rock. Another was Rock having to be carried by Cena after he tore about thirty muscles in his stomach. Adding Punk in there would have at least given Cena and Rock some breathing room, but divided the crowd on Rock and Punk.


    And yeah, Tasker having the streak ended a year earlier would have been cool, and saved us from another match where the crowd doesn't react to Triple H as a face unless Shawn is there.

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  28. UFC kind of comes across as a bit of a fad that's now normalized into more of a "reasonably popular" attraction, no longer the "Must See" it once was. It was inevitable- their superstars have a shorter shelf life than almost any other sport, Dana White gladly tosses aside "useless fighters", and they over-did the hype, TV & PPV for a couple years, grinding it out with people.

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  29. Brock's last fight with Overeem only did 700k.

    Also Brock was always the headliner in the UFC (co-main or main event) - his fights with Heath Herring and Frank Mir were co-main event fights on the cards they were on.

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  30. Ronda Rousey is my favorite armbar aficionado since Man of 1004 Holds Chris Jericho.

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  31. The original Jones vs. Gustaffson fight only did 325k. I'd be shocked to see the rematch do anything over 600k. Probably more realistic to say 475 to 500.

    To sell Brock again they would need to give him a fight with a heavyweight credible enough to make him look good but vulnerable enough to lose, I'd say the Stefan Struve/Alistair Overeem winner or Gabe Gonzaga would be good choices and build him up toward a rematch with Cain Velasquez.

    Realistically Brock will be pushing 40 and had multiple surgeries for his diverticulitis. I think his days as a UFC star are done. I honestly think they'll go the attraction route of having him fight the Stefan Struve/Gabe Gonzaga/Roy Nelson midcard heavies.

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  32. GSP and Anderson do much more than 400. 400 was Anderson vs. a weak opponent.


    Rousey is a draw but Cain vs. Werdum is going to underwhelm, I predict 400k.

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  33. Dana would kill to do 500k per PPV average. They did 550k for UFC 175 which, despite the injuries hitting the card including a fight pulled the day of the show was still one of their strongest lineups of the year including two title matches and it overall delivered.

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  34. Jones vs. Gustaffson II looks a lot like Mayweather vs. Maidana II did; this time Jones figures him out and makes him look really stupid. Probably submits him. I still don't take Gustaffson seriously; I think Jones was off his game and still outlasted Gustaffson and landed the better shots.

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  35. Rousey would be a draw against credible opposition. They need to get moving on getting Carano, Justino, etc.. into the fold. Zingano has a following and I think will do better than usual Rousey numbers. I think they pair Rousey/Zingano with Cruz/Dillashaw for the January show prior to the Silva/Diaz card.

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  36. Brock would have probably TKO'd him if not for some really poor officiating. Nifty kneebar by Mir though.

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  37. It was a conscious decision on their part though to make more shows than anyone would be able to watch all of. They took the hit on PPV buys in order to get to a place where you could see UFC every week. Dana wanted them to be a sport like baseball that's basically always on TV for people to dip into, rather than be a big monthly PPV attraction. He felt that would be the best way to establish UFC as a mainstream sport. I don't know if he's right, I definitely preferred it before. But I still watch, hard as it is to keep up. Two weeks ago there were TWO five hour shows (with prelims) in one day.

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  38. Dana could do 500k if he wanted to, but he'd rather boost the Fox shows and expand the international shows. It's a deliberate move to take a hit on PPV in order to boost other areas of the business. I'm sure he would love to do 500k as well, but it's not a main priority.

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  39. Brock and Fedor are the two guys who brought the big fight feel the most--to me at least. He had an aura about him. The stoic Russian destroyer. Goddamn Fedor was awesome.

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  40. I always assumed Nash said that on purpose. He seems too clever to make that mistake. Who knows, maybe he was nervous.

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  41. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 15, 2014 at 6:02 AM

    when Triple H's attempt to milk sympathy ended so laughably

    And THAT'S why we got three matches.And HHH still isn't fully retired as a wrestler yet.

    He WILL get his standing ovation, dammit!

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  42. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 15, 2014 at 6:06 AM

    If I'm a WWE investor, I'd be less worried about Brock losing his first match on a "B" show and more concerned that they paid him $5 million dollars to do so and apparently weren't entirely sure that they'd get a second match out of him. CEOs in other fields get ousted for lesser issues all the time.

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  43. Considering Rousey/Tate was promoted really really well (with Rousey as heel) and did in the high 300s-low 400s, I don't think Zingano will bring out a buyrate of more than 400K. Carano may be a different story.

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  44. Ronda is just great. She started out as a heel, but did a face turn a few months ago. She's great as both. To me, she's the best thing going in an increasingly mundane UFC.

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  45. Every UFC show is a 5 hour show which may be as big of a problem as the 50 shows a year is.


    Dana made his bed, but it's still not too late if they see the light.

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  46. They're published pretty much everywhere, most of the wikipedia articles even have sourced buyrates.

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  47. He wants PPV to succeed. He said he had no plans on dumping PPV or moving to a WWE network model. Partially because Fight Pass is half implemented and doesn't have apps. NeuLion also clearly has more technical struggles than MLB does for WWE with streaming live events.

    I think they'd be well advised to move to a tiered fight pass system. I'd pay 25 bucks a month if I got all PPVs out of it and they'd make far more off me than they do when I steal the PPVs.

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  48. The shows are also not paced well. If you have a 90 second fight you have thirty minutes of stalling to get to the next one.

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  49. Rousey vs. Tate was part of the Weidman/Silva II card that did 1.2 million buys so no way to gauge it.

    Tate comes across like such a huge piece of shit I have no idea how anybody could think Ronda is the heel.

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  50. And he'll deserve it when it happens, in fairness. But in front of a smarky crowd that just saw a bad match, he had no chance.
    I think the reason we got three Brock/HHH matches probably has more to do with there being a small number of guys they entrust to work with Brock and saving him for big matches. That's still no excuse for doing three painfully mediocre matches, especially when Brock won the feud in the end anyway, but I at least get why they did Brock/HHH as the Summerslam main event in the first place.

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  51. Eh, even smart guys say dumb things sometimes.

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  52. Brock a guy fresh out of the ufc losing to Cena is not the same as Lesnar barely in MMA going out and losing his second pro fight. Not a good comparison it looked absurd for him to lose to cena when he had just been a UFC champion. Brock was unproven when he fiought Mir. By the way Cena just nearly beat him a month after the squash somehow figuring Brock out after a month.

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  53. he said that about the cena match. The third match in the cage had Brock literally crying in the cage for help. It was so pathetic that creative did that.

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  54. rly just beat him sorry no Brock should have won the first one and then cena got his revenge

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  55. They can't oust anybody as long as WWE owns >50% of the shares, no?

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  56. Cena-Rock 1 had it.

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