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The business significance of UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva II

anderson silvaThe UFC 168 event will arguably be the biggest event of the year when it  takes place on Saturday, December 28, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event will feature the epic rematch between UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman as he’ll be out to prove that his KO win over former champion Anderson Silva wasn’t a fluke earlier this year.

Also, the co-main event will feature UFC women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey as she’ll be taking on arch nemesis Miesha Tate for the second time. A heavyweight matchup between former UFC champion Josh Barnett and Travis Browne will also have big implications depending on how it unfolds.

The year end PPV events usually garner huge PPV buyrates and this one will be no different. This PPV should do well north of 700,000 PPV buys because Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey are proven draws. However, there’s a lot more to this PPV than the number of PPV buys it does.

If Weidman defeats Silva for the second time will he prove to be a PPV draw moving forward? Will Miesha Tate prove to be a star if she’s able to dethrone Ronda Rousey? Does Josh Barnett have enough in the tank to take out Travis Browne and establish himself as a threat to Cain Velasquez in 2014?

The latter isn’t too important as Velasquez will be out of action for months due to shoulder surgery. However, the heavyweight division has always been thin historically, and they need all the legitimate challengers than can find. Barnett has always been one of the best heavyweights in the world(provided he can pass a drug test), and a win against Browne would certainly put him in contention.

Miesha Tate is a former Strikeforce champion who is known by most hardcore fans. She’s beautiful while also being extremely tough and gritty, yet she lacks the drawing power of Ronda Rousey. One simple measurement of Twitter followers is a good indicator as Rousey has roughly double the amount of followers that Tate does. Rousey has also headlined a UFC PPV that did well when UFC 157 was able to garner roughly 450,000 PPV buys. That’s a legitimate PPV draw as there are reigning UFC champions that can’t touch that number. Should Tate be able to best Rousey, would she become a legitimate PPV draw? Would the UFC grant Rousey an immediate rematch since she’s been fairly dominant in her MMA career(she’s never been out of the first round and finished every opponent via armbar)? If there’s no immediate rematch who would Tate face in her first defense? Would it be Cat Zingano who earned the title shot after defeating Tate? Zingano was replaced by Tate after injuring her knee in training. If Rousey doesn’t retain her title, the UFC will lose a proven PPV draw for the time being.

Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva via KO at UFC 162 earlier this year, but there’s a large sentiment that Weidman won via lucky punch as Silva was clowning around with Weidman with his hands down. Weidman arguably needs this rematch more than Silva to validate the first win over Silva. If he is able to beat Silva in impressive fashion he may be able to become a legitimate PPV draw for the UFC. If Silva is able to recapture his belt, the UFC will certainly have a proven PPV draw on the roster with a couple of big fights lined up for him in the future.

The UFC will have an interesting year business wise in 2014. While they are diversifying their revenue streams and becoming less dependent on PPV numbers, the PPV business is still a huge cog in the UFC machine. The retirement of their largest PPV draw in Georges St-Pierre has certainly impacted how things will be moving forward. Ronda Rousey and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones are the only current champions that have garnered over 450,000 PPV buys. If both Silva and Rousey lose on Saturday night, we’ll certainly get to experience just how good the UFC hype machine is in 2014.

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