Over the last two decades, the UFC has become the biggest MMA organization in the world. But as they say, without the athletes, there would be no Octagon to grace. Some fighters have used the platform to amass a massive fortune and name for themselves. Whereas others struggle to remain marketable, despite being indestructible forces in the cage. Such is the case of the two-division champion Amanda Nunes.
The promotion returns to Canada with Nunes (22-5) booked to fight Irene Aldana (14-6) at UFC 289 this Saturday. However, with the upcoming PPV approaching closer, fans and critics have begun wearing their predictions hat. The MMA community is collectively trying to wonder how many PPV buys will the June 10 event sell. And by the looks of it, speculations suggest it might perhaps not do so well.
UFC 289 poster pic.twitter.com/vf0g0Er1Vo
— Patrick (@fight406) May 5, 2023
The UFC has a peculiar ability to mainstream the promotion as well as the sport. It does so while establishing reliable revenue streams through TV contracts and massive pay-per-view events. The Las Vegas-based promotion eyes to bring one PPV every month annually. And so far this year, they have seemingly done well.
Right before the Nunes-Aldana headlining bout, former lightweight king Charles Oliveira will take on Beneil Dariush. Other notable athletes on the main and preliminary cards include – Dan Ige, Eryk Anders, Chris Curtis, and Diana Belbita.
While the card does have several fun matchups, many suggest it will fail to rake in good finances. And most of the fingers seemingly point to the 35-year-old Brazilian and her recent PPV buy history. Nunes’ last few headliners brought in considerably low numbers.
Despite being a well-rounded fighter and sheer dominance over the year, ‘The Lioness‘ failed to become the UFC’s cash cow after Ronda Rousey’s exit. Her intriguing case reaffirms that no matter how high a fighter is on the P4P list, their celebrity factor will decide their economic value more than their actual fighting skills.
How many PPVs did Amanda Nunes sell in her last few fights?
Up until now, Amanda Nunes has headlined a total of 6 UFC pay-per-views. Her bantamweight championship reign began when she finished Miesha Tate at UFC 200. The PPV buys for that night reached 1,009,000. However, the card was stacked from top to bottom. The likes of Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, and more fought that night, who arguably and collectively brought in the astronomical figure.
To add more ammunition the Nunes headliners are the three worst drawing shows in company history post TUF.
For context, UFC 1 drew 86,000.
— It’s Not Cagefighting (@INCagefighting) July 25, 2022
Nunes’ first title defense came in against the biggest promotional star at the time – Ronda Rousey. UFC 207 marked Rousey’s comeback after a year-long layoff. The company left no stone unturned in making most of the promotional material about Ronda. This led to the event generating 1,100,000 PPV buys. Once again, Amanda arguably had nothing to do in contributing to those numbers.
However, tragedy started kicking in with her upcoming headliners. UFC 215 saw the Brazilian rematch against Valentina Shevchenko. As per MMA Mania, the PPV brought in a mere 100,000 buys, a drastic drop in numbers. It kept getting worse as UFC 224 and UFC 250 both raked in 85,000 PPV buys. The said headliners were against Raquel Pennington and Felicia Spencer respectively.
Most don’t get released. Usually means that didn’t do too well.
— MMA Orbit (@mma_orbit) August 23, 2022
UFC 277 saw Nunes reclaim the bantamweight gold from Julianna Pena after losing it to her at UFC 269. Surprisingly, the promotion never released the PPV buys for their rematch. Fans have often speculated that it might be due to the night not doing too well business-wise.
Compare those numbers to Cris Cyborg‘s, for example. The heavy-hitter made her UFC debut in 2016. After bagging the UFC featherweight title in just her 3rd UFC fight, she went on to headline UFC 219. Her successful title defense against Holly Holm brought in 380,000 PPV buys. Her very next main event fight against Yana Kunitskaya at UFC 222 produced 260,000 PPV buys.
Between Rousey and Cyborg, Amanda Nunes has singlehandedly killed the most valuable women in the sport.
Brutally damaging to UFC.
Nunes isn’t in the same marketing ballpark as either of those two.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 30, 2018
Going by Amanda’s fight results and the above numbers, she has proved that being the best ever and being marketable is not the same thing. Whether intentionally or not, Nunes has framed herself as a ruthless killer inside the cage. While her performances keep backing that up, it might not appear to be a recipe to gain widespread fame.