If you were to put yourself in the shoes of UFC President Dana White and don the promoter’s cap that he wears, the loss of a title fight on an upcoming pay-per-view card would have a crushing effect on your mood. Ever since the UFC went from five divisions to nine in recent years, there have been more title fights available, but it still doesn’t take the sting away from not being able to offer a championship title fight as advertised. Nor does it do much to ease the thought of the lost revenue generated from the pay-per-view event sans title fight.

So, when interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao had to pull out of his title fight against Eddie Wineland, scheduled for UFC 161, White had to be feeling at least a little frustrated. This fight would have been the second time that the interim champ has put his strap on the line since winning the title against Urijah Faber back at UFC 149. But now his next defense is on hold while he recovers.

With the loss of this particular main event, speculation arises as to how the pay-per-view buys for the event will be affected.

Including the interim title, the bantamweight championship has been fought for in the main event of only two pay-per-view events. Although the pool of data is small, there is still a bit of consistency in the numbers. According to the MMAPayout.com Blue Book, the buy rates for the events were 320,000 for UFC 132 (Dominick Cruz vs. Faber) and 230,000 for UFC 149 (Barao vs. Faber). If we also consider the two pay-per-view events that were headlined by a championship bout between featherweights, the other former exclusive WEC division, then we’re looking at UFC 142 (Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes) and UFC 156 (Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar), which pulled 215,000 and 330,000 buys, respectively.

Whether it is a case of fans saving their money for what they may deem as bigger pay-per-view events, or perhaps they simply are not as interested in the lighter weight classes as they are in the bigger ones, the proof stands in the sense that cards with the featherweight and bantamweight championships as main event are only producing an average of 273,750 buys.

Fortunately for the promotion, the UFC 161 card is by no means a wash. The promotion may have learned from the fiasco that took place back at UFC 151. It had a strong card built around the championship contest. The new main event features two light heavyweight fighters—Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson—who have each had a frustrating performance in their last outing and are looking to wash the bad taste out of their mouths and the mouths of the fans.

The new co-main event fight between two former Pride legends in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira provides a rematch eight years in the making. Rua was able to edge “Little Nog” back at Pride Critical Countdown 2005 by unanimous decision, but Nogueira is coming off a decision win over Evans in what is arguably the biggest victory of his career. A victory for “Little Nog” could put him in the upper echelon of the busy 205-pound division.

And speaking of contenders, heavyweight Roy Nelson has been added to the card in a bout against Stipe Miocic. A victory for “Big Country” would mark his third in a row and put him right on the fringe of getting a title shot.

And we cannot forget about the fact that the pay-per-view card also features a fight with the always exciting Pat Barry. “HD” doesn’t bring the most impressive resume or record into the cage with him, but he rarely puts on a dull performance.

Having a championship title fight headlining a pay-per-view card is never a bad idea. If anything, it will only enhance the fights around it. When fighters reach the top of the mountain and get to fight for what is the holy grail of the sport, you will usually see two warriors trying their hardest to capture what they feel is rightfully theirs.

Regardless of how you feel about the lighter weight classes, the fights that would have led up to this title fight result in a card that should still excite fans. Losing the title fight has to sting a little bit for the promoters, but the card will go on and still be worth watching.

In other words, the fight between Barao and Wineland would have been the whip cream and cherry on the sundae. The ice cream will still be good, but the additional toppings just make everything a little bit better. It will still be a great night of fights, just minus the cherry on top.

Photo: Dan Henderson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.