Five years ago, the UFC was bleeding money to the tune of $44 million in the red. Now, according to Dana White, the UFC is worth $2.5 billion. How did this happen? Lots of reasons, including a little show on Spike TV. However, these 10 fighters in particular are helping matters by keeping fans intrigued enough so to keep shelling out the dough for the pay-per-views.
It’s no surprise that Brock Lesnar leads the way, averaging over one million buys for every PPV he headlines. Since his UFC debut, he has generated—at the very least—$300 million in PPV revenues. Everything Lesnar touches turns to gold, including the selling power of five other fighters on our list who have all appeared at the top of a card Lesnar has headlined (St-Pierre, Mir, Carwin, Bisping, and Alves).
ODD MAN OUT
Every pugilist in the chart has found himself fighting in a title match, except for one. That would be middleweight Michael Bisping, who nonetheless outdrew such luminaries as BJ Penn, Rampage Jackson, and Rashad Evans. While it certainly helped his numbers by co-headlining events with Lesnar and Rampage-Rashad, don’t underestimate the Brit’s brashness and exciting fighting style as factors in his high buy rate average.
BIGGER IS BETTER
The lure of the heavyweight title fight causes even casual fans to shell out $49.99 to watch the sparks fly. While the smaller guys tend to be quicker and more technical, the thrill of watching two behemoths duke it out trumps it, which explains why you find three heavyweights among the top four PPV draws in the UFC.
BAD BLOOD = BIG BUCKS
What’s the only thing better than watching two heavyweights throw down? A good, old fashioned feud. Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir hate one another, so UFC 100 does 1.6 million buys. Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans trash-talked their way through their coaching gigs on The Ultimate Fighter, then Rampage backed out of the fight to film The A-Team, leading to even more bad blood between them. When they finally did collide, on an otherwise pedestrian UFC 114 card, it sold more than one million PPV buys. HATE = MONEY.