Profit-Topping UFC Back to Ohio, Montreal in 2009

By Sherdog.com Staff Dec 23, 2008
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The UFC seems to be heeding this advice by following a successful live event formula in 2008 with return visits to Ohio and Montreal in 2009.

UFC 96 was made official for March 7 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus through an announcement released Tuesday by the promotion’s official fan club. This will be the promotion’s third collaboration with the successful Arnold Sports Festival, a three-day health and fitness expo that draws some 165,000 visitors to the Midwest town.

UFC 97 will be held on April 18 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, nearly a year to the day that local Georges St. Pierre retrieved the welterweight title from Matt Serra at UFC 83 in 2008. UFC 83 holds the North American attendance record of 21,390 spectators.

MMAJunkie.com reported on Monday that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (23-4) and Thales Leites (11-1) had agreed to headline the promotion's second effort in Canada. MMAWeekly.com reported that contracts for the matchup has been signed as of Tuesday, according to Leites. Silva is undefeated in his last nine bouts, including a criticized third-round victory over Patrick Cote at UFC 90 on Oct. 25. It is not known if St. Pierre, who was a considerable draw for the first Montreal venture, will return for UFC 97. St. Pierre rematches lightweight champion B.J. Penn for the welterweight title at UFC 94 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.

Though the lucrative promotion plans to veer off into new territory with UFC 99 on June 13 at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, it is easy to see why it won’t stray too far from its proven pattern.

Zuffa LLC., which owns the UFC, looks to have matched and even surpassed its 2007 live attendance and pay-per-view profits in 2008. The UFC held 19 live events in 2007 and duplicated that number in 2008 (not including a Dec. 10 closed-to-the-public charity event held for the military in Fort Bragg, North Carolina).

Three of those events broke into the top-10 gates in Nevada this year, with Dec. 27’s UFC 92 expected to follow the trend.

On the pay-per-view front, the UFC offered 11 events in both 2007 and 2008, with 2007 estimated to have generated 4,885,000 buys, according to unsubstantiated reports. The UFC is on track to topping that number in 2008 with an estimated 4,950,000 buys (UFC 91 currently at 850,000) already heading into its final event of the year on Dec. 27.
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