A Year of Struggle for the UFC
2017 will go down as one of the UFC's most financially trying years. In its first full year under new owners WME-IMG, the Ultimate Fighting Championship saw profit go down with pay-per-view buys, ticket sales, and TV ratings all taking a hit. Much of this blame goes to Conor McGregor who pursued a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as opposed to defending his lightweight belt.
The absence of Ronda Rousey and other stars exacerbated the situation and the return of Georges St-Pierre was one of the few bright spots. Here are key numbers that summarize the difficulties the UFC has been in getting people to watch:
- $6.2 million: the total gate for UFC 217, the promotion's biggest event this year; in comparison, UFC 205 from last year did $17.7 million
- 875,000: the estimated pay-per-view buys for UFC 217, the highest-selling PPV for the UFC this year; this is the first time since 2014 where the UFC failed to register a million-selling PPV
- 336,000: the average PPV buys for the UFC in 2017 so far, down from the average of 620,000 in 2016 at the same time last year
- 1.64 million: the overnight ratings, a record-low, for UFC on FOX 25 in July headlined by Chris Weidman and Kelvin Gastelum from New York; the previous record-holder was the UFC on FOX before it with 1.74 million
- $200 million: the reported new offer FOX pitched the UFC as their current contract expires in 2018; the UFC turned down the offer and are shopping for other broadcasters
Key UFC Betting Odds & Stats:
The year wasn't just gruelling for the UFC's pockets but towards some bettors as well. The unpredictable nature of the sport may lead many to believe underdogs are a solid option but 2017's betting stats shows underdogs getting crushed for the most part. The worst part is, favourites haven't exactly dominated meaning chalkers should beware as well.
While underdogs were few and far between, there were still plenty of them enough to cause a stir most notably during UFC 217, which saw the biggest underdog come out on top. Here is a compilation of some of the UFC's most telling numbers (all betting odds are from SportsInteraction unless stated otherwise).
- 146: the number of fights that ended in a T/KO accounting for 32.6 per cent of the 447 fights; among these knockouts included some of the biggest prop bets to cash led by Rose Namajunas and Canadian Kajan Johnson
- +330: the closing line on Rose Namajunas, the biggest underdog winner of 2017; Namajunas was as high as +550 in some places when she knocked out former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the first round. Namajunas was +1300 to win by T/KO and +2100 to win in the first
- 137: the number of underdogs that won as of today accounting for 31.7 per cent of the 432 fights that had a clear favourite or underdog winner; only three of the 38 UFC events saw a larger amount of underdogs emerge victorious
- -$450: the dollar amount a bettor would have if they placed a $100 bet on every favourite this year; in comparison, if they had bet $100 on every underdog, they would lose over $5,500
UFC 219 Betting Trends To Care About
The final UFC events tend to be one of the most memorable. UFC 219 features a featherweight matchup between champion "Cyborg" Justino and former bantamweight champion Holly Holm. This is the biggest women's fight today and we break down some key betting stats:
- -39%: the line movement for Cyborg (-335); this is the biggest drop since it opened. Cyborg is also the card's biggest favourite
- +16%: the line movement for Myles Jury (-255) who is fighting Rick Glenn (+185); this is the biggest rise for a favourite as Jury opened at -200 and is as high as -195 in some books
- -275: the betting line for the returning unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov; this is his highest line as a favourite since he fought Thiago Tavares back in early 2013
- 78%: the expected outcome for Khalil Roundtree (-310) to finish Michal Oleksiejczuk (+225), the highest percentage even over a Cyborg finish (72%)
- +192: the average underdog betting line.
- 4: the number of underdogs lined at +200 or higher on the betting lines: Holm (+240), Smolka (+230), Oleksiejczuk (+225), and Barboza (+200).
- +240: the betting line for under 1.5 rounds for the Cyborg-Holm fight, the biggest underdog line on round totals (over/under)
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