You may or may not know about the Harley Davidson Hometown Throwdown contest, where UFC fans vote on which location they’d like the UFC to show up at. Fort Lauderdale Florida won and their reward was last night’s UFC on FX: Johnson vs McCall event. Unfortunately, all those people who voted to bring the UFC to town must not have shown up, because attendance was dogsh*t. Here’s Dana White at the post-event press conference:
“I love it down here, but we just have a hard time selling tickets down here,” White said after the post-fight news conference. “It’s not that I don’t like South Florida – believe me. I wish we could do more events down here. It’s just a really tough market to sell tickets.”
White announced a live gate of $329,110 on attendance of 6,635 for Friday’s card, which featured a main-event flyweight-title-eliminator rematch between Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall, which Johnson won by unanimous decision.
“If we show up and get 10 people in an arena, that’s not a good thing,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Ticket sales are what kept us alive before we got on pay-per-view. One thing about the UFC is, before we were on pay-per-view, and even back in the dark days when this thing was burning cash, we always did sell tickets. Just not down here (in Florida). It’s so weird. I don’t get it.”
Things were so bad Dana White actually went out into the street after the event started to give away tickets. So what happened? Cultist writer Francisco Alvarado explains in his aptly named article ‘Dana White Brings Mediocre UFC Show To South Florida, Then Complains About Low Turnout’
Cultist had a ringside seat for the Hometown Throwdown alongside two dozen sports reporters on press row. From our vantage point, it was easy to spot all the empty seats in the hockey arena. The final attendance numbers were around 10,000, way below the venue’s capacity for 22,457 people.
But, you can’t blame south Florida MMA fans from staying away. When you’re expecting folks to pony up between $43.75 for general admission to $178.75 for VIP ringside seats, you better damn make sure the main event features fighters most MMA fans know or that the earlier cards are stacked with local brawlers with loyal followings in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Yeah, UFC tickets have a well earned rep for being pricey, but $45 nosebleed seats for an event like this seems slightly excessive. And a lack of Florida fighters is just dumb. The UFC doesn’t land in Canada or the UK without draping itself in a flag and stuffing the card to the tits with nationals. But in this case the UFC hit up Florida and didn’t bring in a single hometown fighter, or at least some guys from ATT who train in the area. Not like this is gonna magically turn Florida into a sell out, but bringing a smaller event to a tough market and gouging without locals isn’t exactly a recipe for success.