Subpar Card Results in Subpar Fan Turnout

Published on June 16th, 2014 5:32 pm EST

The UFC returned to Vancouver following a three year absence this past Saturday night, but the results were underwhelming.

UFC 174 marked the third time that the promotion had been to Vancouver. The first card, which took place in June of 2010, saw Chuck Liddell square off against Rich Franklin in the main event. The second card, which took place in June of 2011, saw Junior dos Santos square off against Shane Carwin in the main event (note: the original main event for this card was supposed to be Brock Lesnar vs Junior dos Santos). This past Saturday night, the promotion returned to Vancouver with a Demetrious Johnson vs Ali Bagautinov main event.

Let's look at the attendance and gates for these three cards:

June 2010 - 17,699 fans, $4.2 million gate
June 2011 - 14,685 fans, $2.8 million gate
June 2014 - 13,506 fans, $1.14 million gate

The June 2011 card took place right in the middle of the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup run, so you could pardon the fans for electing not to turn out for that event (it still did a very strong gate, however).

This most recent card, however, did a very low gate of $1.14 million, despite the fact that it was a "numbered" event. As some have pointed out, some Fight Night shows have done a bigger gate than this.

So, what happened to this card?

There were a few things that seemed to ail this card:

1) Lack of a "big" main event. Demetrious Johnson is one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC, but fans don't really seem that interested in watching the smaller fighters, especially in a main event. The co-main event was very solid (MacDonald vs Woodley), but the main event was certainly lacking.

2. Lack of coverage in the Vancouver market. With the Stanley Cup just wrapping up and the World Cup getting underway, the Vancouver sports media market didn't have that much time for the UFC card. The buzz for this event was barely audible in the Vancouver market.

3. Oversaturation. With the UFC running shows practically every weekend, the cards are getting watered down and the market seems to be getting oversaturated with UFC content.

4. Low ebb for UFC in general. With Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva and Brock Lesnar no longer fighting in the UFC (at least for the time being), many casual fans seem to be losing interest in the sport.

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It will be interesting to see if the UFC returns to Vancouver next year for another June card. If they do, they had better bring a decent main event or I doubt that the fans will turn out.


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