Last August became one of the most embarrassing months in the history of the UFC. That was the month when UFC 151, scheduled for Sept. 1, fell apart. The event was canceled due to a barrage of injuries. None of those injuries sealed the fate of the show more than the one suffered by headliner Dan Henderson. The cancellation came as a bit of a surprise, and it seemed to have been a humbling moment of sorts for UFC President Dana White and the rest of the organization. Just to put things in perspective, the headliner for UFC 151, should it have moved forward on pay-per-view despite the injuries, would have seen Jake Ellenberger go up against Jay Hieron, with a co-main event of Dennis Siver vs. Eddie Yagin. Now, I may be addicted to MMA as much as any fan of the sport, but there’s no way to justify the pay-per-view price tag for a card like that, and thus it was canceled.

Now, let’s leap forward to the present day. Here we are, heading towards a similar situation with UFC 163, which takes place on Saturday, Aug. 3, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. What was once shaping up to be a pretty decent card has now crumbled. Anthony Pettis, Josh Koscheck, Robert Drysdale, Phil Harris and Clint Hester were all pulled from the card due to injuries. Granted, these aren’t all elite fighters, but if these guys were originally put on this pay-per-view card, then imagine what their replacements will look like.

The main event is now Jose Aldo vs. “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, with the co-main event being Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis. Here is what the average fan is saying about these two headlining fights:

“Jose Aldo is fighting? He’ll be fun to watch.”

“Machida vs. Phil Davis? That might be interesting.”

From there, though, most fans aren’t going to recognize a face or name below the co-main event on the 163 card unless “Uncle Creepy” shows up with his handlebar mustache. The point is that there are 24 fighters on the UFC 163 card and I’d be hard pressed to imagine that the majority of fans know who anything about more than five of them. At what point does the UFC realize this and either cancel the event or offer the fight on pay-per-view at a discounted price? I’m guessing $19.95 would be a good price point for most fans. Then again, from what I’m reading, maybe asking for $4.95 would be too much in this case.

The UFC 163 situation reminds me a little of UFC 147, which also took place in Brazil. For UFC 147, the main event was supposed to be Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, but that fight was moved to another date. The co-main event featured Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort. Belfort broke his hand and was replaced by Rich Franklin. The pay-per-view numbers were a disaster, somewhere right around 140,000 buys according to MMA Payout’s Blue Book.

I believe UFC 163 has a chance to be even worse than that. What ends up happening with these Brazilian shows is that three solid fights are set up on the main card with very little depth to the rest of the card. One or two fights on the main card will feature guys that fans outside of Brazil have never heard of, and that’s exactly what has happened with regard to UFC 163.

I don’t feel as though a card should be canceled unless there is a situation going on that would make the event not suitable to continue. For example, inclement weather or some sort of terrible incident in the hosting city. Although we may not know the fighters on the card too well, they have worked their tails off to get to this point and their hard work should be rewarded. From a fan perspective, however, the pay-per-view pricing model needs a revision.

If the standard pay-per-view cost for a UFC event is going to be around $50, then that should be the most a fan will have to pay to watch an event. When things go awry and injuries pop up to take the luster away from a card, there should then be some sort of dynamic pricing that would allow fans to purchase the fights for half-off, or whatever the UFC has in mind. Dynamic pricing is done for fans of other sports attending games, and it should somehow be adopted by the UFC and implemented in the promotion’s pay-per-view cost scheme.

What is dynamic pricing? Well, take for example Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers. If the Dodgers are playing the San Diego Padres, then a ticket costs $10 (for example’s sake). That same ticket will cost $25 if they are playing the New York Yankees. The cost of the ticket fluctuates based upon the Dodgers’ opponent.

The UFC should, at the very least, entertain this pricing method. If the headliner is Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks, sure charge us $50. Jose Aldo vs. “The Korean Zombie”? Bring that down to $35. If the rest of the card falls apart, then knock it down another $15.

This would be the most fan-friendly way of doing it, but there are two negatives that go along with such a move. For one, it would be the UFC admitting that the card isn’t worth your money and that it is knocking the price down to entice you to buy. Second, it opens up a whole other debate about which fighters are worth the $50 pay-per-views and which ones aren’t. Dealing with rankings and bonuses are already enough of a headache for Dana White, so having to explain why somebody’s fight is going to be on a $20 pay-per-view card will just make things more difficult.

I believe the UFC needs to say what the fans are thinking: UFC 163 hasn’t turned out to be what it was expected to be. This should be followed by an announcement that the price of the pay-per-view is being reduced. Chances are that people will still complain about having to pay anything to watch a card that turned into a shell of its former self, but at the very least it’s a good move for the UFC to continue to try to make its fights more accessible to everyone. If nothing is done about UFC 163, then it may very well become one of the worst-selling pay-per-views of all-time.

Photo: Chan Sung Jung (Scott Petersen/MMA Weekly)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.