— Jed I. Goodman (@jedigoodman) December 15, 2016
Max Holloway beat Anthony Pettis to win the UFC featherweight interim title at UFC 206. Early PPV buy estimates show that there were 150,000 purchases. The low PPV buys match the low viewership for the prelim fights on FS1. The 771,1000 prelim viewers were the second-lowest this year.
From MMA Fighting:
The lowest number of the year for pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 was 678,000 viewers before UFC 204, the Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson headlined show. UFC 198, which was headlined by Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight title win over Fabricio Werdum, saw the prelims do 786,000 viewers, similar to Saturday’s show. That show ended up doing 217,000 buys on pay-per-view.
The viewership on Saturday was 32 percent below the 2016 average of pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 of 1,136,000 viewers.
The Holloway-Pettis main event replaced Daniel Cormier against Anthony Johnson for the UFC light heavyweight championship.
While the PPV buys were low, Toronto showed that it is still a solid foundation for MMA. It was announced that 18,057 people attended for a gate revenue of $1.843 million.
A lot was lost when Daniel Cormier’s star power was removed from the card after an injury he sustained during training camp. The UFC filled the spot with a championship fight that will lead to a fight against Jose Aldo, although the fight date between Holloway and Aldo is yet to be determined because of an ankle injury Holloway sustained in his fight against Pettis.
With more interim title fights happening and opening up new weight divisions there is beginning to be too many belts for the casual sports fan to keep track of. Boxing has a more extreme version of too many champions because of the four governing bodies, each giving out belts for junior and senior segments of a weight division. When there are fewer belts to win then casual sports fans are able to easily understand the significance of a title fight. When there are so many champions it is possible that casual fans begin to care about individual’s personalities and the storylines more than they do about championship fights. There is a risk that what the core UFC fans and casual sports fans want from the UFC are so different that they could be mutually exclusive.