UFC 285 rumored to have sold under a million PPV buys

UFC 285 featured the long-awaited return of Jon Jones, who competed against Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title in the main event.

Jones, who submitted Gane in a little over two minutes into the first round, solidified his status as the greatest of all time in many people’s eyes. The co-main event saw a surprise upset when Alexa Grasso submitted women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in the fourth round.

Despite being knocked down several times, Grasso managed to hold her own and ultimately defeat Shevchenko.

Meanwhile, former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou commented on Jones’ performance, noting that he seemed to become impatient and go for the takedown early. Regardless, Jones’ triumphant return has left fans eager to see what he will do next.

Ngannou analyzed Jones’ performance in a video:

“What I did notice is that Jon was rushing. Jon didn’t want to give him space, because I think he was afraid of something. Maybe he’d get exhausted at some point, not be able to grab him, so he was chasing him from the first minute to grab him. It worked out pretty good, but it tells me something like he wasn’t very confident, he was rushing, which is good for him [smiles].”

UFC 285 is being hailed as a huge success after Ali Abdelaziz, UFC’s mega manager, announced that it drew close to one million pay-per-view purchases.

Chairman of UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, previously bragged about the company removing all the unpredictable variables from their business plan thanks to a lucrative deal with ESPN.

According to a Sportico article from late 2022, ESPN has experienced a loss of approximately 10 million subscribers over the last two years. Although this marks a 12% decline in ESPN’s linear TV base, it is not as severe as the 12.6 million pay-TV subs that have churned off over the same period.

Despite this, ESPN has experienced an uptick in direct-to-consumer subscribers on its ESPN+ streaming service, which has reached 24.3 million subs as of last month. This marks a 42% increase from the previous year and a 136% jump from October 2020. However, ESPN+ generates an average of $4.80 per sub per month, which is only half of what the flagship generates from affiliate fees charged to cable operators.

Therefore, although ESPN’s linear business is shrinking, its streaming business is growing stronger. ESPN+ generates significantly less revenue than cable operators, leading to a revenue loss of over $1 billion for Disney.

In 2019, UFC and ESPN signed a five-year deal which is set to expire in 2023. However, there have been reports that an early two-year extension was signed, meaning the partnership between UFC and ESPN will continue beyond the original agreement.

UFC is rumored to be exploring moving the Contender Series to linear television.