UFC 193 trending toward becoming second biggest Pay-Per-View in history

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UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta told Yahoo Sports this week that UFC 193 is on course to be the company's second-best selling pay-per-view in their 22-year-history.

“It was a record-breaking night,” Fertitta said.

“In the history of combat sports, four females have never been able to drive the performance we were able to drive on Saturday...It’s our third-largest event of all-time and it’s trending to be our second-largest."


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The event was headlined by a women's bantamweight title bout between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, with the latter scoring one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

Few had given the Albuquerque native a chance of dethroning Rousey in Melbourne, but Holm put in the performance of a lifetime to become the new Queen at 135 pounds.

If the trend mentioned by Fertitta holds true, UFC 193 will have done at least 1.1 million pay-per-view buys. That is a stunning figure when you consider that throughout the whole of 2014, the UFC averaged only 266,000 buys per event.

The company's most successful event was UFC 100 over six years ago, where the inclusion of Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre helped the company reach an approximated 1.6m figure.

It is not only the pay-per-view success that has given the promotion cause for celebration.

The event also broke the UFC's attendance record, with 56,214 fans crammed into the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

That earned them a live gate of $6.79 million, a figure which sits fourth on their all-time list behind UFC 129 ($12.08 million), UFC 189 ($7.2 million) and UFC 168 ($6.9 million).

In short, UFC 193 was an overwhelming success. Given Ronda Rousey's growing level of stardom and mainstream attention throughout 2015, that should come as no surprise.

Impressive card

The event also featured another women's title fight, as Polish destroyer Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Valerie Letourneau fought a grueling 25-minute contest in the co-main event.

Jedrzejczyk retained her title by unanimous decision, marking UFC 193 as the first event in the promotion's history to feature two women's title fights at the top of the card.

At this point, women are not only here to stay inside the UFC's octagon, they are big business.

As for Rousey, the long-term financial effects of her loss are yet to be felt.

A rematch with Holm sometime in 2016 would be an easy sell, but if Rousey were to be defeated a second time it is unlikely she would continue to command the same level of fan interest going forward.

In 2006-07, then light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell dominated the promotion's 205lb division.

Dangerous path

Known for his vicious in-cage style, Liddell was a major crowd-pleaser and at the time the UFC's biggest star. Liddell averaged 862,500 pay-per-view buys for his final two title defenses. The second of those saw him lose his title to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 71.

When Liddell returned to headline UFC 76 against Keith Jardine, the event reached only 475,000 buys. Liddell would lose that fight as well, and the next time he headlined a pay-per-view event at UFC 88 in September 2008, he would againfall short of the 500,000 buy mark.

Whether Rousey's career will follow the same pattern remains to be seen, but a second consecutive loss would have a major impact on the former champion's status as a major pay-per-view commodity.

Clinging onto her spot as the biggest star in the sport today will not be an easy task.

In the UFC's history, there have been eight immediate rematches for UFC titles. Only twice has the result been reversed in the second fight.

In 2004 Randy Couture won his light-heavyweight title rematch against Vitor Belfort, then in 2010 Mauricio "Shogun" Rua avenged a loss to Lyoto Machida to win the same title.

If Rousey can emulate what Couture and Rua did before her then her position at the top of the sport remains assured. If not, the UFC may struggle to achieve the sort of record-breaking success of UFC 193, for some time to come.

Ronda Rousey

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