With the WWE’s third biggest event of the year SummerSlam happening this Sunday, there was little doubt that the UFC’s name would be brought up while promoting the event. The UFC has had back to back PPV events that were extremely successful with the latter event of the two, UFC 190, featuring Ronda Rousey.
It was in the WWE’s biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania 31, where Ronda Rousey tried to steal the show with a surprise appearance alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Rousey got in the ring, tossed Triple H with a judo throw and the internet exploded.
STEPH: “Get the Hell out of my ring!” RONDA: “Any ring I step into is MINE!” #WrestleMania pic.twitter.com/VQa4e7mZSg
— WWE (@WWE) March 30, 2015
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar is headlining this Sunday’s WWE event. In an appearance on ESPN, Lesnar said that Vince McMahon was a better promoter than Dana White, yet again forcing the two promotions to cross paths.
It is no coincidence that the WWE and the UFC are mentioned in the same breath now more than ever. Lesner is up against the Undertaker at SummerSlam, a story line that began when Lesnar lost his UFC title at UFC 121. Rousey is turning into the UFC’s biggest star and has been featured twice on WWE programming. CM Punk, one of the biggest draws for the WWE in the past five years, will likely make his UFC debut in 2016.
So what does the WWE and the UFC have to offer to each other? Although both companies have a very similar style in promotion, both have found their strengths in different mediums. Here is a picture displaying the WWE’s dominance of social media compared to the UFC.
The top five most followed WWE superstars each have millions of more followers than their UFC counterparts. Anderson Silva is the only UFC fighter with over 2 million followers while the WWE has nine superstars above that amount.
Furthermore, there are over 30 WWE superstars with over 1 million Twitter followers. The only UFC fighters with over 1 million followers are the fighters mentioned above, along with Jon Jones and Junior Dos Santos. (CM Punk has 2.4 million followers but has yet to compete in the UFC).
Another area that the WWE has dominated the UFC in is television ratings. The WWE has been drawing millions of television viewers to their flagship show Monday Night Raw on a weekly basis since 1993.
In 2013, Monday Night Raw averaged 4.16 million viewers for 52 events. In 2013, UFC on Fox averaged 3.3 million viewers for four events. Prelims for UFC PPV events averaged 1.12 million for 13 events. UFC events aired on Fox Sports 1 averaged 0.83 million views for seven events.
If the UFC has one advantage over the WWE, it would be their ability to sell PPVs. In 2013 the WWE held 12 PPV events and averaged 303,000 buys. The UFC held 13 PPV events in 2013 and averaged 467,300 buys. The year marked a decrease in PPV sales for both companies.
The WWE has two yearly events that usually sell a half million buys, Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. Outside of those two yearly events, the WWE has yet to see a PPV surpass 500,000 buys since 2008. In 2013, the UFC had five separate events that had more than 500,000 buys and have already reached that mark again in 2015.
The WWE ditched the PPV model in 2014 by creating the WWE Network, which streams live PPV events, along with an expansive archive, for $9.99 a month. The move was risky, but essentially took the company out of the PPV business. The UFC has Fight Pass, but since PPV business is booming for them in 2015, they will likely not follow the WWE’s lead in that regard. If the UFC has one thing right, it’s that they know how to promote and sell PPVs far better than the WWE does.
So what does this all mean? Why am I pulling out statistics on PPV buys and Twitter followers? As much as both WWE and UFC fans hate to admit it, the two companies can use each other to thrive. With the help of the WWE, Ronda Rousey found a new fan base to buy her PPVs. With Brock Lesnar competing at SummerSlam, several MMA websites will likely cover the action, anticipating any mention of the UFC.
The cross-over will reach its peak when CM Punk makes his UFC debut next year. If you aren’t a fan of MMA websites mentioning pro-wrestling or UFC fighters stepping into the squared circle, you better hold on. This is likely just the beginning of a closening relationship between the two companies. When numbers are down and the fans aren’t buying what either are selling, a dip into the others fan-base has proved an easy way to boost ratings.
(All PPV buys reported by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter)
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