Even though it's the holiday season, much of the mixed martial arts community is anticipating the real gift that is UFC 168 coming on Saturday. Headlined by two title rematches and a number of other good fights on the under card, this is just the way that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would want to end an action packed fourth quarter to 2013. Still, there is a lot riding on this special card.
According to expectations from experts within the industry and UFC President Dana White the initial idea is that UFC 168 will be one of the most purchased events in the company's history. White has gone on record to say he believes the show will get between 1.2 to 1.4 million buys. If this event actually hits those numbers it will be placed second all-time to only UFC 100 which was held four years ago. That event was also headlined by two title fights in Brock Lesnar versus Frank Mir with Georges St. Pierre against Thiago Alves as the co-main event.
UFC 168 will benefit from additional promotion that was unavailable in the time of UFC 100. For example, current middleweight champion Chris Weidman has already appeared on ESPN twice to promote this fight; once with Anderson Silva by his side. He's also been featured on CNN in recent weeks leading into the bout. Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate just spent months competing against each other as coaches on the 18th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” which has generated a different type of buzz than anticipated. Combine those two factors with the UFC's partnership with the FOX network it's easy to see how White and others can come to such lofty claims.
It's vital that this show hits those numbers as well because overall 2013 has been a mediocre year for the UFC when it comes to PPV buy numbers as a whole. In fact, the narrative that followed many of the UFC shows were that numbers were surprising low on the PPV outlet. The major shows that were featured on FOX have done well with ratings, but the organization has struggled to create the interest around fighters who were placed in headline positions for Pay per View. If UFC 168 can hit the 1.2 to 1.4 million range that will greatly boost the year's numbers on the whole which is the type of momentum the company needs leading into 2014.
Another reason this show is important is because it gives the promotion an opportunity to create new stars. With Georges St. Pierre leaving the sport for the time being there is a gaping hole on the UFC's roster that needs to be filled by a strong PPV draw. Anderson's numbers have gone up and down depending on who he's placed against so that gives Chris the opportunity to build himself into that role. Rousey has already carried an event to 450K and her exposure in movies, magazines and television can continue to build those numbers. UFC 168 is the company's best chance to create two new stars in the wake of loosing their biggest name a few weeks earlier.
The UFC has put together a strong card to end the year on a positive note. Two rivalries for two titles along with another strong under card to lead into the show, along with the enhanced promotion that the company brings to the table as a whole sets the stage for the biggest show of the year.