“Neo, stop trying to hit me and hit me!”
Anderson Silva put on an absolutely stellar performance at UFC 101 and all the early indicators say that the show was a huge success from a business perspective. I won’t be all that surprised if the event drew over a million buys on pay-per-view. Considering all of this, “The Spider” is officially a draw for the UFC. And to think, it only took him ten fights.
Michael Rome over at Bloody Elbow puts some perspective on the situation:
Anderson Silva still won’t draw opposite guys like Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt, but if he’s against a charismatic underdog that fans believe in they will pay to see it. Fights with Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz would probably do a lot of business, and fights with GSP or Randy Couture would almost surely break the million buy threshold.
We hear a lot about Anderson’s pending retirement, but I am skeptical he will really stop fighting in 3 fights. He’s been upset with poor payouts on his contract because his shows haven’t done that well, but if he starts making millions of dollars per fight like he will for UFC 101, I suspect he will reconsider. Two or three UFC fights that draw like this will net him more than any fight with Roy Jones would, and he’s obviously still at his athletic peak. The threat to leave and fight Roy Jones is an effective tool that got Silva a better contract, and it will probably be used again to get an even better contract. With so many big fights on the horizon and so much money on the table, Anderson Silva probably isn’t going anywhere.
I think this is right on the money. Boxing Roy Jones is a personal goal Silva wants to achieve, but it could mean sacrificing ever increasing paydays with the UFC. Rome is right: fights with guys like Hendo, Rampage, Tito, Couture, and GSP will all do absolutely monstrous numbers and they will also serve the purpose of stacking more high profile names on Silva’s victim list. If Marquardt is able to finish Maia in impressive fashion, I would bet a fight between Silva and Nate the Great does pretty well, too.
(Then again, your sister finished me in impressive fashion the other night, but only a handful of people tuned in to my live internet feed. If only I had the UFC marketing machine behind me…)