2008 Pay Per View champion: Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar’s popularity is a mixed bag with MMA fans. When asked their opinion of Lesnar, most fans are very vocal one way or the other. Whether you hate him or love him, one thing is certain, you have to respect his marketability.

Brock was the the most watched PPV fighter in all of 2008. That’s right, more than any “mainstream” boxer, pro wrestler, or anyone else who earns a living in the cage or ring.

Lesnar topped 2.2 million buys in his 3 ppv fights this year, second in UFC history only to Tito Ortiz, who did 2.25 million in 3 events in 2006. This is especially amazing considering Brock, the current UFC Heavyweight champion, has only had 4 professional MMA fights.

The numbers break down like this: UFC 91: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture brought 1,010,000 buys, which is second in UFC history behind UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz, which did 1,050,000. Brock brought 600,000 buys for each of his other two appearances on PPV this year; one, a loss to Frank Mir, and
the other, a victory over MMA veteran Heath Herring.

If you sum up the cost of PPV’s now as opposed to 2006 (approximately 5-10 dollars higher), then Lesnar has, in his short but thrilling MMA career, grossed a record amount in revenue and profits for the UFC.

Another positive factor is that Lesnar’s fights brought a new audience to UFC broadcasts, with company officials estimating close to half the audience for his debut fight had never purchased a UFC event before.

With one more PPV to go in 2008, the UFC stands a good chance of breaking the all-time record for PPV revenue set by one organization in a calendar year, which is held by the WWE.

World Wrestling Entertainment did approximately $260 million on pay-per-view during its heyday, fueled by headliners “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in 2001. The UFC needs about 514,000 buys out of its final show of the year to break the WWF single-year revenue record, which, by the lineup of the card, looks to be a guarantee.

Love him or hate him, fans may owe Brock Lesnar a huge thank you, because with numbers like that, the UFC wont be going away any time soon and neither will he.

Here’s a list of the top ten Pay Per View events for 2008:
1. Boxing: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao, Dec. 6, 1,250,000
2. UFC: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, Nov. 15, 1,010,000
3. Wrestling: WrestleMania, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Paul “Big Show” Wight, March 30, 670,000
4. UFC: Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch/Lesnar vs. Heath Herring, Aug. 9, 625,000
5. UFC: Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, Feb. 2, 600,000
6. UFC: Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin, July 5, 540,000
7. UFC: St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra, April 19, 530,000
8. Boxing: Felix Trinidad vs. Roy Jones Jr., Jan. 19, 500,000
9. UFC: Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans, Sept. 6, 480,000
10. UFC: B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk/Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida, May 24, 475,000

-Jeff Howard

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