During the UFC 190 Post Show, Dana White claimed that a fight between Ronda Rousey and Cyborg Justino would do around 2.5 million pay per view buys. White says all Cyborg has to do is make the weight, and the fight is on. 2.5 million ppv buys would be the biggest UFC event since UFC 100 when Brock Lesnar took on Frank Mir in a rematch, which sold around 1.6 million ppv’s. In my opinion, Rousey vs Cyborg would be a huge fight, but wouldn’t come close to selling 2.5 million. To get 2.5 million, they need all the star power they can get; UFC 100 was stacked with “needle movers”. It had Mir taking on the UFC’s biggest “needle mover”, Brock Lesnar, a GSP title fight, Dan Henderson vs Michael Bisping in a grudge match that was hyped by way of The Ultimate Fighter, and some guy named Jon Jones who would end up being one of the company’s biggest draws. Jon Fitch and Paulo Thiago were the swing bout, and at the time, they were both contending for a title shot. 2.5 million is not impossible, but also not easy to get to. I have some ideas as to how the UFC gets to 2.5 million.
First off, they are going to need a stadium big enough to house a night full of awesomeness. AT&T Stadium in Dallas should be enough; Dana wants the fight in the 100,000 plus capacity stadium, and should go ahead and go through with booking it. Ronda is without a doubt the biggest draw, but she may have to settle for a catchweight fight with Cyborg if she can’t make 135lb. Sure, a third fight with Tate would be alright, but if we’re talking 2.5 million, Rousey vs Tate 3 isn’t going to cut it. Ronda can’t do it all herself, she is going to need the help of her new biggest fan, Conor McGregor. His much anticipated match with Jose Aldo will definitely need to be on the card. They already have everyone’s attention, and could do a million buys if they fought tomorrow with no extra buildup for the fight. If it’s not too late, maybe the UFC could pull the plug on Faber and McGregor coaching against each other on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, and throw Aldo in there to replace Faber. Aldo and McGregor have real beef, not some grappling outside a backstage restroom when there just so happens to be a camera man hanging out waiting for Faber to take a piss, kind of beef. You would get to see the tension between the two build up to a boiling point once week.
Now that we have the venue, main event, and co-main event set, who else do we need on this card to hit 2.5 million? Dan Henderson versus Vitor Belfort, that’s who. The two are set to headline a UFC Fight Night in November, but they should consider postponing until December. That’s a classic fight between two veteran badasses, that doesn’t need much of a buildup to sell. Get a Diaz brother on the card as well, Nate just had a huge street fight with fellow lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov at WSOF. The trash talking leading up to that fight would be epic. Finish the card out with a “Karate Hottie” versus Paige VanZant match and add every Texas based fighter available, and you will get close to 2 million no problem. UFC’s ace up the sleeve to get to 2.5 million may be somewhat of a surprise, but CM Punk needs to be on this card, without a doubt. I know, I know, he’s not a “real” MMA fighter and “he doesn’t even have one pro fight”, and “he’s gonna get his ass whooped”, but he has a massive following from his days in the WWE. I know, I know, wrestling is fake, MMA is real, and we should never mix the two together, but people want entertainment. If you want 2.5 million people to buy this you, have to sell it before fight night. UFC needs to pump more money than ever into this thing, maybe try a little harder than Sinead O’Connor for some live music entertainment. The UFC is going to really need to step it up on this one, and not with the usual stuff either. 2.5 million is going to take a real dog and pony show of a buildup.
We will need some serious PR from the fighters. I want to see them on late night shows, morning shows, get Conor McGregor on Nancy Grace’s show; we need at least a couple of pre-fight scuffles too. That Jones and Cormier in the MGM Lobby should be a blueprint for how to do press tours. We need to see more on-screen staged fights that are more believable than the poorly staged “fight” between Chael Sonnen and Wandy Silva on the set of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. Don’t just stop there either, let’s get real crazy with it. Dana should keep his WWE trash talking up and even take it a few steps further, challenge Vince to a fight. The WWE are huge supporters of Ronda Rousey, and could easily use their weekly Monday Night RAW as a platform to promote Ronda vs Cyborg. In return, all Dana will have to do is let Ronda team with The Rock to take on HHH and Stephanie McMahon at WrestleMania 2016; maybe even step into the squared circle to take on his rival, Vince. (Vince wins in a real or staged fight.) Yeah, yeah, wrestling fans may be “lame” and like “soap operas”, but they are some loyal fans and there is plenty of them.
The UFC needs to reach all fans for this one to get 2.5 million, not just the obsessed ones or the average ones. They need to get the people who know nothing about the sport to tune in, the people who think Andrei Arlovski is a Russian side dish, and who think the guy from Fear Factor owns the UFC; those are the people they need to reach for 2.5 million. If they want all the bells and whistles before they spend the money on it, give it to them. I promise it will not kill the sport, just make it more entertaining for the everyday Joe who still wonder when Royce Gracie is going to fight Chuck Liddell.