The UFC has three upcoming pay-per-views that look to fill the pockets of promoter and fighter alike. The question, however, lies in which will be the most successful.

The action begins with UFC 167 this Saturday night with Georges St-Pierre defending his welterweight title against Johny Hendricks. GSP has become the company’s biggest draw since Brock Lesnar departed, but selling any challenger against St-Pierre is tough for the hardcore fans. St-Pierre is the epitome of a complete fighter and outside a few moments in the cage, hasn’t looked vulnerable.

Hendricks brings one of the most accomplished amateur wrestling backgrounds we’ve seen in MMA history and one heck of a left hand. Hendricks’ power is scary enough to give opponents nightmares, but one would assume Team GSP has crafted the perfect strategy to neutralize Hendricks’ offense.

The evening’s co-main event looks to be a major seller on paper. Former UFC light heavyweight champ “Suga” Rashad Evans is one of the company’s most visible fighters and faces a man who never met a microphone he didn’t like, Chael Sonnen. Instead of focusing on hyping this fight, however, Sonnen has turned his focus to Wanderlei Silva and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.

The card has received a push from the UFC hype machine, but at this point MMA fans are so jaded with St-Pierre’s success that he isn’t a “must-see” attraction. The card is littered with a number of good fights and should see solid numbers, but it will not be the biggest money-maker of the upcoming series of pay-per-views.

UFC 169 is still forming and cannot be completely analyzed in terms of buyrates, but we do know the two featured fights for the show. Long-reigning (and long-injured) bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz returns from a two-year layoff to face interim champ Renan Barao. This fight represents the two best 135-pounders in the world going one on one, but don’t expect there to be too much interest from MMA fans. That title fight suffers from the same pitfalls as the co-main event, where Jose Aldo will defend his featherweight title against the surging Ricardo Lamas.

The issue with both fights is one that’s plagued the smaller weight classes since the WEC merger. Fans can’t seem to get into the little guys. Whatever reason fans want to use, it’s pretty clear that the vast majority of them (or at least the ones buying events) haven’t bought into the smaller weight classes. That’s where the big men come in. A Frank Mir-Alistair Overeem match-up looks intriguing on paper, but when you consider the losing streaks both men are on, the fight loses its luster. However, putting Mir and Overeem on the card would help sell the fight to the casual fans because both are imposing figures and know how to sell a fight.

Where the UFC will make the big bucks, though, is with UFC 168. The card is loaded with everything from big-name fighters to guys who may be one win away from a title fight, and that’s before discussing the two headlining contests.

Dustin Poirier and Diego Brandao should be the frontrunner for “Fight of the Night” honors. Both guys are explosive athletes who look to push the pace at every opportunity.

Josh Barnett and Travis Browne may very well be competing for the next shot at UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. In their last outings, Barnett made a successful return to the Octagon against Mir and Browne had a miraculous comeback win against Overeem.

However, all eyes will be focused on UFC 168’s main event and co-main event.

In the evening’s co-main event, Ronda Rousey faces her biggest rival, Miesha Tate. The UFC women’s bantamweight champion has defeated Tate once before and will look to do so again, this time in the Octagon. The two women have been coaching opposite each other on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter, and their rivalry has only intensified.

UFC 168’s main event has many questions surrounding it, possibly more so than any other recent main event. Chris Weidman shocked the world by dethroning Anderson Silva at UFC 162. He finished “The Spider” by knockout in the second round.

Silva fans flocked to their keyboards to immediately claim the win a fluke, as Silva was doing “Silva things,” which is the equivalent to clowning around in the cage. The anti-Silva crowd replied with the fact that Weidman was already up a round and simply avoided falling into Silva’s trap—a form of karma if you will.

Was Silva playing too many games and simply got caught? Did Weidman face the best Silva possible? Was the first fight a fluke? Is Silva’s heart still in the fight game, or is he just trying to collect a paycheck?

All of these questions and the countless others will not only be answered at UFC 168, but they will cause fans to tune in at home.

Photo: Georges St-Pierre (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.

  • Shawn

    Ufc 169 will have no interests from mma fans? Your a moron mma fans will have plenty of interest in this ppv Dominic cruz is a household name in mma so is barao. Aldo and lamas same thing. Mir And overeem hells fn yeah and more fights to come. So keep your pie hole closed. Plus they’re rumors of Gilbert Melendez fighting on this card so in yo face. I’ll be here with a friend in jersey for this fight can’t wait. Remove your article idiot!

    • Bryan Henderson, Editor-in-Chief

      Kyle didn’t say “no” interest, just “little” interest. In the big picture, he’s not wrong. Look at the pay-per-view numbers for events (here’s the link to the MMA Payout Blue Book) and you’ll see that the trend is that events headlined by the featherweight and bantamweight champs do tend to see a dip in numbers from the series of ppv events that come directly before and after them. UFC 169 might draw interest, but if anything keeps it anywhere near UFC 167 and 168 numbers, it’ll be Overeem/Mir and any other high-profile lightweight-or-above fights added to the lineup. The smaller guys have yet to prove that they can deliver comparable numbers.

      • Shawn

        The only low number I see on there is the one where Aldo headlined back in August ufc 163 and that card sucked so I can see why the card was so low and it had nobody’s on it. This card has two title fights and 2 big heavyweights frank Mir and overeem. Everybody will wanna see Cruz’s return after being out over 2 years now. I’m not saying it’s gonna do huge numbers like a big heavyweight fight card would ex. Ufc 166, or other ppvs coming up ufc 167 and 168 but it ain’t gonna be ufc 163 low Being on Super Bowl weekend too it’ll draw huge no doubt in bars and at home no doubt the whole card hasn’t been announced I think we’ll get 2 more fights announced for the ppv main card and maybe some prelim fights before the on sale next week I would think!

        • Kyle Symes

          UFC 166 doing good numbers? I didn’t know 330K buys was good numbers for a heavyweight title fight. Although Lamas is popular in the Chicagoland area, I don’t believe the national audience has bought in to him being “the guy” to take out Aldo.

          And people excited for Cruz? I don’t know anyone that’s excited to see Cruz. Maybe intrigued to see if he’s healed but it will only take a few moments of watching his fighting style to remind everyone why he wasn’t missed. And if Cruz is such a household name how come he couldn’t beat out Hendricks in the first round of the EA UFC cover vote?

          Mir-Overeem is a fight between two big names with very little resumes lately. How are people supposed to literally buy in to a match up between a guy who’s on a three-fight losing streak and another who has lost his last two?

          I’m glad you’re excited for going to an UFC event and I hope it turns into a fun experience but there’s no way I’m saying Cruz-Barao and Aldo-Lamas are bigger draws than Weidman-Silva and Rousey-Tate. Rousey’s PPV that she headlined almost sold as much as Aldo’s last two PPV’s combined!

          • Shawn

            I’m not saying that I know ppvs like ufc 167 and 168 etc. are much bigger draws for ufc they have bigger names on them rousey Tate Gsp Hendricks silva Weidman etc. the Super Bowl weekend ones are the little guys but still big names regardless. This ppv already has Facebook, mma forums etc. excited and people in the ny tri state area are excited to attend and it’s the day before the Super Bowl so these guys will have a chance to have more exposure because it’s all about sports that weekend and if people find out that there’s a fight Saturday night they’ll watch. Hell I’m sure even famous athletes and celebs in the area might wanna come check it out. If this was in the middle of May or something I’d agree with you but trust me this ppv will do huge because of the weekend it falls on. The card is fun too like I said it gives cruz, barao, Aldo etc. more exposure and people just might gain more interest to watch these guys in the future. Ufc live is fun I’m very excited and I’m sure the event is gonna be a sellout come fight day the last card in Newark ufc 159 I attended that show was definetely bigger because of jones and sonnen and Nelson and bis ping etc. were on the card and the buy rate showed it but this will do nice numbers I think between 300-400 thousand I estimate!