by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
The final attendance figures for UFC 68 have come in from the Ohio Athletic Commission, and the event has officially broken the all-time total attendance record for a mixed martial arts event in North America.
The total number of fans in attendance at UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio on March 3rd was 19,079. The previous record for an MMA event in North America was set by the Strikeforce promotion, which drew a total of 18,265 fans at a show in San Jose, California on March 10, 2006.
The paid attendance for UFC 68 was 17,358. This falls just short of Strikeforce’s paid attendance record for an MMA event in North America, which still stands at 17,465 for its March 10, 2006 event in San Jose.
The initially announced figure of $3,014,520 for UFC 68′s live gate revenue was not correct, as the final live gate figure for the event was actually $2,741,820.
This is almost identical to the live gate total for UFC 67 ($2,767,130), despite the fact that UFC 67′s paid attendance of 8,700 was much smaller than UFC 68′s paid attendance. The reason for this disparity is that UFC 68 had much cheaper ticket prices than most of the UFC’s Las Vegas events. The average price per ticket sold for UFC 67 was $318, while the average price per ticket sold for UFC 68 was $158.
UFC 68 out-drew the Pride event that took place one week earlier at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC 68 came out on top in total attendance (19,079 to 12,911), paid attendance (17,358 to 8,334), and live gate revenue ($2,741,820 to $2,033,098).
Comparisons to Previous UFC Records and Worldwide MMA Records
The previous record for total attendance at a UFC event was set by UFC 60, which was attended by a total of 14,765 fans in Los Angeles, California on May 27, 2006. The UFC’s web site still claims that UFC 59 drew over 17,000 fans in Anaheim, California on April 15, 2006, but the building capacity for that sold-out show was actually 13,814.
The new record of 19,079 in total attendance is strictly for North American MMA events and does not apply to Japanese MMA events. Pride has sold out the Saitama Super Arena numerous times, and with Pride’s seating configuration, the arena can hold approximately 35,000 fans (though the attendance is usually announced as being over 45,000).
However, Pride has never drawn anywhere near as much pay-per-view revenue as the UFC, which generated $222,766,000 in pay-per-view revenue in 2006 alone.
The worldwide total attendance record for an MMA event was set at Tokyo Outdoor Stadium on August 28, 2002, as a Pride and K-1 co-production drew over 70,000 fans (though it was announced as being 91,107).
Compared to WWE’s biggest pro wrestling event in the United States over the past twelve months (WrestleMania 22 in Chicago, Illinois on April 2, 2006), UFC 68 out-drew WrestleMania in total attendance (19,079 to 17,155) and in live gate revenue ($2,741,820 to $2,500,000).