- PART 2: BOXING VS MMA GATES

January 7, 2006
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MMAWeekly.com by various writers compiling stories
Yesterday, the MMAWeekly staff compiled numbers comparing boxing vs the UFC over the years as far as the live gate is concerned. We had so much interest in Part I yesterday about the live gates for UFC vs Boxing that we decided to give you a Part II that we weren’t planning on doing originally.

These were the typical emails we received from readers. “I really enjoyed reading the 2005 numbers between Boxing and MMA. Can you do a follow up comparison between Boxing and MMA live gates over the years?” Mark Gordocky – Tampa, Florida.

No problem. What we will focus on in this article is not only comparing the MMA salaries over the years, but boxing as well.

We will first start when Zuffa purchased the UFC starting with their first show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first show that Zuffa did in Las Vegas was of course UFC 33. It may have been one of the best jobs of matchmaking by Joe Silva as the card was stacked from top to bottom, but the fights? That was a completely different story. MMAWeekly’s Ryan Bennett who worked for the company on the broadcast team explained…

“The UFC will openly tell you that this was the worst pay per view the company has ever done, because every single fight went to decision. The fighters were so nervous to lose, that they didn’t fight to win in my opinion. While that was rough, what made it worse was the main event was only seen by those in attendance if you wanted to watch all five rounds. Those watching on the pay per view never saw the end of the fight.

Tito Ortiz and Vladimir Matuyshenko were squaring off in the last fight of the evening. The UFC bought a three hour block of programming for the pay per view as they wanted to show all eight fights on the card. The thing they didn’t anticipate as we mentioned was that every fight would go to a decision, which caused the pay per view to run over the three hour allotted time. It was the third round between Ortiz vs Matyushenko and all of a sudden everyone’s pay per view went to black. That’s right, the pay per view companies pulled the plug on the UFC during the third round because the three hour time limit had come and gone. It was an interesting way to put an end to a bizarre night for an uneventful evening. I felt bad for the UFC,” Bennett said.

It’s not an accident that UFC 33 has never been available on VHS or DVD. UFC President Dana White commented in many interviews after UFC 33, that those fights wouldn’t be available for future video rentals. As bad as the pay per view went and as badly as the UFC felt, the bottom line was people came to see Tito Ortiz vs Vladimir Matyushenko. That fight went down as the top gate for MMA fights in 2001. It outdrew Randy Couture vs Pedro Rizzo that year in Las Vegas.

Here are the UFC gate numbers and note you may see more attendance on certain shows, but the biggest gates money wise were ranked first to last on both lists. Here are the biggest gates in UFC History in Nevada.

MMA LIVE GATES IN LAS VEGAS Attendance Gross Sales
1. Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture – 12,643 Attendance, $2,575,450 Gross Sales
2. Chuck Liddell vs Jeremy Horn – 11,634 Attendance, $2,336,550
3. Rich Franklin vs Nate Quarry – 9,995 Attendance, $1,986,600
4. Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock – 13,055 Attendance, $1,540,340
5. Tito Ortiz vs Vitor Belfort – 9,268 Attendance, $1,493,555
6. Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz – 9,129 Attendance, $1,444,020
7. Vitor Belfort vs Randy Couture – 8,831 Attendance, $1,377,620
8. Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort – 8,597 Attendance, $1,293,035
9. Randy Couture vs Tito Ortiz – 7,593 Attendance $1,129,985
10. Ken Shamrock vs Kimo Leopoldo – 6,528 Attendance, $901,655
11. Josh Barnett vs Randy Couture 7,663 Attendance, $898,850
12. Tito Ortiz vs Vladimir Matyushenko 7,238 Attendance $816,660
13. Randy Couture vs Pedro Rizzo 4,295 Attendance $502,550

MMA is starting it’s 11th year in existence. Boxing has been around for over 100 years. The numbers clearly show that boxing is in a different league than MMA as far as live gate numbers go; however, MMA has had bigger attendance figures in many fights in 2004 and 2005 than boxing. Here are the Top 30 pay per views in boxing history.

TOP 30 BOXING PAY PER VIEWS Attendance Gross Sales
1. Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield – 17,078 $16,860,300
2. Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson 2 – 16,279 $14,277,200
3. Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson 1 – 16,103 $14,150,700
4. Mike Tyson vs Peter McNeeley -16,113 $13,965,600
5. Felix Trinidad vs Oscar De La Hoya -11,184 $12,949,500
6. Bernard Hopkins vs De La Hoya – 15,672 $12,782,650
7. Mike Tyson vs Frank Bruno II – 16,143 $10,673,700
8. Shane Mosley vs De La Hoya – 16.074 $9,840,000
9 OSCAR DE LA HOYA vs. FERNANDO VARGAS 10,984 $8,871,300.00
10 OSCAR DE LA HOYA vs. JULIO C. CHAVEZ I 14,738 – $7,579,100.00
11 LENNOX LEWIS vs HASIM RAHMAN 9,830 – $7,537,400.00
12 FELIX TRINIDAD vs FERNANDO VARGAS – 9,309 – $7,486,400.00
13 FELIX TRINIDAD vs DAVID REID – 9,584 – $7,329,500.00
14 MIKE TYSON vs FRANCOIS BOTHA -10,221 – $7,055,800.00
15 EVANDER HOLYFIELD vs JAMES DOUGLAS – 10,117 – $6,546,441.00
16 ROY JONES JR vs JOHN RUIZ -11,490 – $6,526,350.00
17 LENNOX LEWIS vs DAVID TUA -10,809 – $6,508,500.00
18 RAY LEONARD vs THOMAS HEARNS II -12,064 – $6,468,600.00
19 RAY LEONARD vs ROBERTO DURAN – 11,904 – $6,448,700.00
20.RONALD “WINKY” WRIGHT vs FELIX TRINIDAD – 13,590 – $6,433,500.00
21 MIKE TYSON vs BRUCE SELDON – 9,511 – $6,305,900.00
22 LARRY HOLMES vs GERRY COONEY 29,214 highest attendance $6,239,050.00
23 RAY LEONARD vs MARVIN HAGLER – 12,379 – $6,215,400.00
24 MIKE TYSON vs DONOVAN RUDDOCK II – 13,047 – $6,200,276.50
25 EVANDER HOLYFIELD vs RIDDICK BOWE II -10,923 – $5,792,838.50
26 LARRY HOLMES vs MUHAMMAD ALI – 24,570 – $5,766,125.00
27 EVANDER HOLYFIELD vs MICHAEL MOORER – 9,395 – $5,566,700.00
28 MIKE TYSON vs DONOVAN RUDDOCK I – 12,563 – $5,454,918.50
29 OSCAR DE LA HOYA vs PERNEL WHITAKER 11,764 – $5,143,000.00
30 OSCAR DE LA HOYA vs JULIO C CHAVEZ II – 13,384 $5,070,100.00

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