If there is one thing that is common between WWE and UFC apart from both the rosters taking potshots at each other, it is the motto, 'What's best for business'.
Punk was up against tall odds, facing Mickey Gall. Although Gall did not have much experience in the Octagon, he had a far more experienced background in MMA going into the fight. As many expected, Punk lost after he lasted for a mere 2 minutes and 14 seconds in the cage. His debut was the most awaited one since he signed to the UFC in December 2014, which got delayed due to a shoulder injury. He finally tasted the canvas when he got taken down by Gall at UFC 203.
UFC 203 had big names on its main card like Stipe Miocic, Fabricio Werdum, and Urijah Faber and without the debutant Punk, Dave Meltzer estimated that the PPV would’ve gotten around 250K to 300K buys. A range that was a good approximation considering the revenue drawn at UFC 198 which had Werdum vs Miocic on the card. The event drew approximately 350K buys, but it also had a stronger card from top to bottom.
Speaking to MMA hour, Dave Meltzer said, “Anything over 270K buys is because of Punk. Because I was looking at it and probably you know 250K-300K ish buys right? Probably below 300k if you take Punk out of it. So if it does 400K, then Punk was one hell of a draw....If somehow it does 500K then I completely underestimated the pro wrestling audience.”
And he did underestimate the pro wrestling audience, with the PPV buys surging to 550K! Punk drew in heaps for the UFC at Cleveland, Ohio on his debut.
With that being said, Dana White, speaking from a performance's perspective had mentioned that it might be best for Punk to not compete at the UFC level. Punk still has a large drawing power, although it might not be as much as he had for his debut. Punk might not be on the pro wrestling roster anymore, yet, has a wide fan base and can draw huge numbers from, especially from the pro wrestling fanbase for the UFC.
It will be interesting to see if Dana will consider foregoing Punk knowing the numbers he draws or will the WWE think of retaining Punk because, at the end of the day, it's the numbers which matter and that's what’s 'best for business'.
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