Quinton Jackson. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
For the first time in his brief career under the UFC banner, former light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is headlining next month’s UFC 96 event as the sole top draw. Will he be able to generate an adequate number of PPV buys? Michael Rome is skeptical:
I think these expectations are way too high considering this card. The undercard is abysmal, the semi-main event has one guy that is a proven non-draw and a guy no casual fans know, and the main event only has one drawing star. If this show does better than Anderson Silva v. Dan Henderson a year ago in March I think it has to be considered a success.
If this show does anything above 400,000 it is reason to celebrate. If it hits 500, then Rampage really is a huge draw. It’s very hard to assess Rampage as a draw because there are always qualifying factors. He did a big number against Liddell, but that was Liddell at his peak and it had all the ESPN coverage. He did a huge rating with Henderson, but it was the title unification match on free TV. He did a very good number with Forrest, but it was coming off a full season of TUF. He had a gigantic number in December, but it was part of a big triple main event. This is the first time a whole show has been placed on his shoulders to carry.
This is also another one of the lackluster major events the UFC is putting on to gauge how well they can draw with the UFC brand name. So far, the method hasn’t failed them. However in terms of star power and interesting matchups, this is one of the worst fight cards Joe Silva and company have put together in a long time. UFC 55 is the last time that comes to mind for me. There are a few fights of which I’m interested in the outcome, but none that are “must-see” in my opinion.
So will Rampage be able to draw in viewers? I would tend to think so, but I don’t expect a number anything close to what the UFC has generated with its last couple of shows. Somewhere between 400,000-500,000 buys sounds about right to me.