by Ivan Trembow
The official live gate numbers have come in for the UFC’s Ultimate Fight Night event, and it’s not good news for the UFC. The event took place on August 6th at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, and it was the second consecutive UFC event at the Cox Pavilion that failed to draw 1,000 paid tickets.
Ultimate Fight Night sold just 929 paid tickets, while 1,541 free “comp” tickets were given out by PR people. That adds up to a total of 2,470 fans in attendance in a building that holds 2,950, as the UFC sectioned off several hundred seats at this event and still didn’t sell out the allocated number of tickets.
In general, while many “comp” tickets are given out to advertising and television industry executives, the majority of them are given out to fans simply to make the building look better on TV.
Previously, the UFC’s live season finale of the Ultimate Fighter, which took place on April 9th at the Cox Pavilion, sold just 779 paid tickets, while 2,171 comp tickets were given out by PR people.
If there’s any consolation for the UFC, it’s that the paid attendance was slightly higher for the August 6th event. While only 26% of the fans in attendance at the April 9th event actually had to pay for their tickets to get into the building, 38% of the fans in attendance at the August 6th event had to pay for their tickets. That’s slightly better, but still a bad number.
On the other hand, due to the fact that ticket prices were lowered for the August 6th event, it actually drew less money than the April 9th event at the box office. While the April 9th event had a live gate of $180,950, the August 6th event had a live gate of just $130,410. So, even though the average sold ticket price went from $232 for the April 9th event, all the way down to $140 for the August 6th event, the number of paid tickets sold only went up slightly.
The August 6th live gate figure of $130,410 isn’t even enough to cover the total fighter payroll for the event, which was $139,000.
While the two Spike TV events have been failures in terms of live attendance, it’s important to note two things. The first is that selling tickets to these events is far less important to the UFC than drawing TV ratings. The second is that the UFC’s core pay-per-view events on the Vegas Strip still draw huge amounts of fans for huge live gate figures.
The biggest-drawing live gate attraction in UFC history was UFC 52, which took place on April 16, 2005 and headlined with Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell. That event drew 12,643 paid fans, in addition to 1,631 comp tickets, for a total attendance of 14,274 fans and a total live gate of $2,575,450.