Did Silva vs. Franklin Disappoint?
This weekend we watched two legends in MMA square-off for the second time in their career, for what was one of the least promoted fights of the year. Franklin was a late addition to the card, filling in for the often injured Vitor Belfort, and ended up grinding out a decision against the former PRIDE champion. After reading through the main card a lot of North American fans scratched their heads and asked “why?”.
In all fairness to the UFC, the original headliner for this fight was supposed to be Sonnen v. Silva – which was poised to be the largest fight of the year. After the injury that main event was bumped the co-main event was promoted to the top spot on the bill. While the main event of Franklin v. Wanderlei didn’t hold as much appeal as the originally planned one the UFC took a chance that it would pay dividends for them – and believe it or not it didn’t disappoint.
While the actual viewership numbers for the event are not yet available, it’s safe to say that the pay-per-view numbers fell flat – or did they? Ratings for the prelims averaged about 1.47 million, which is in line with what they would typically be. The statistic that will blow you away is that the event was viewed by more than 20 million people! Most of those people were, of course, not North Americans, but Brazilians. Check mate, ZUFFA.
The card, while lacking depth in the average fan’s eyes, was stacked to the average Brazilian viewer. The whole point of this event was to continue to bolster the international presence of the UFC. The Brazillian fans finally got to see the finale of their version of TUF (The Ultimate Fighter), which was highly rated through the course of the show’s lifespan.
So, did the UFC succeed, despite having only minimal North American appeal? I think 20 million viewers would say: “yes”!
As for the event itself, the fact that Rich Franklin pulled out a decision victory over Wanderlei is not what is important when considering the bigger picture. Saturday night proved that the sport has yet to peak as many have argued. It will continue to grow and build fans around the world.
… and that is the last word.
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