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Total Attendance

Even as the Ultimate Fighting Championship surges in virtually every measurable popularity metric, including Pay Per View buyrates, television ratings, and merchandise sales, enormous room for growth remains in its capacity for large venue ticket sales. Even in 2010, the average fan attendance for recent UFC events remained decidedly middle-tier, with overall attendance rates for major UFC Pay Per View events hovering between 10,000 and 20,000 fans. The venues supporting UFC live events are almost exclusively "arena" (sub-40,000 person) class venues as opposed to "stadium" (40,000 person and over) class venues.

Those who doubt the ability of mixed martial arts to expand into large-scale baseball, football, and European soccer stadium venues need only look to the history of live attendance of combat sporting events to prove otherwise. As early as July 4, 1921, barely two decades into the nascent rise of professional boxing as a major American spectator sport, more than 90,000 fans attended the light heavyweight boxing "Fight of the Century" pitting Jack Dempsey against Frenchman Georges Carpentier just across the river from New York City. Dempsey-Carpentier was a landmark sporting event, the first of any sport to gross over $1,000,000 from a live gate, and the first to be broadcast on live radio. From that time on, major boxing events were routinely held in front of audiences in excess of 60,000 fans in venues such as the old Yankee Stadium. More than thirty championship boxing bouts in all were held in Yankee Stadium before its demolition in 2008. Attendance totals of roughly 50,000 were not unusual, such as the 47,000 who witnessed an aging "Sugar" Ray Robinson fall to Joey Maxim in June of 1952.

Recent UFC fans might also be surprised to learn that history's largest mixed martial arts sporting events as measured by fan attendance have taken place exclusively outside of the United States. The current record for live attendance of an MMA event is now (and surely will be for some years to come) the August 2002 inaugural Pride Shockwave event held in Tokyo National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Reportedly 71,000 fans attended the event, a truly massive crowd for any event regardless of the sport. Pride Shockwave featured Mirko Filipovic defeating national hero Kazushi Sakuraba in the main event, and the event was such a success that the promotion's annual Shockwave series continued to draw some of the largest crowds in MMA history for years to come. Indeed, as is amply demonstrated by the listing below, 19 of the 20 largest events in MMA history as measured by fan attendance were Pride FC events.

The three largest UFC events to date as measured by fan attendance, UFC 124, UFC 97 and UFC 83, were also each held outside of the United States, as well as in the same venue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada's Bell Center. Over 21,000 fans were in attendance for each of the three events.

Total Attendance

Event   Name   Date   Attendance
Pride Shockwave 2002.08.28 71,000
Pride Final Conflict 2003 2003.11.09 67,451
UFC 129 St. Pierre vs. Shields 2011.04.30 55,724
Pride Shockwave 2005 2005.12.31 49,801
Pride Shockwave 2006 2006.12.31 48,709
Pride Shockwave 2004 2004.12.31 48,398
Pride Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round 2000.01.30 48,316
Pride 1 1997.10.11 47,860
Pride Final Conflict 2004 2004.08.15 47,629
Pride Total Elimination 2005 2005.04.23 45,423
Pride Critical Countdown 2004 2004.06.20 43,711
Pride Total Elimination 2004 2004.04.25 42,110
Pride Total Elimination 2003 2003.08.10 40,316
Pride Shockwave 2003 2003.12.31 39,716
Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals 2000.05.01 38,429
Fields Dynamite!! 2009 2009.12.31 35,000
Pride 10 Return of the Warriors 2000.08.27 35,000
UFC on FOX 14 Gustafsson vs. Johnson 2015.01.24 30,000
Pride 15 Raging Rumble 2001.07.29 27,323
Pride 12 Cold Fury 2000.12.09 26,882
Pride 28 High Octane 2004.10.31 24,028
UFC 124 St. Pierre vs. Koscheck 2 2010.12.11 23,152
Pride 29 Fists of Fire 2005.02.20 22,047
UFC 97 Redemption 2009.04.18 21,451
UFC 83 Serra vs. St. Pierre 2 2008.04.19 21,390
UFC 188 Velasquez vs. Werdum 2015.06.13 21,036
UFC 144 Edgar vs. Henderson 2012.02.25 21,000
UFC 180 Werdum vs. Hunt 2014.11.15 21,000
UFC 158 St. Pierre vs. Diaz 2013.03.16 20,145
UFC 171 Hendricks vs. Lawler 2014.03.15 19,324
UFC 68 Uprising 2007.03.03 19,049
Dynamite!! USA 2007.06.02 18,340
UFC 140 Jones vs. Machida 2011.12.10 18,303
Strikeforce Shamrock vs. Gracie 2006.03.10 18,265
UFC 127 Penn vs Fitch 2011.02.26 18,186
UFC 184 Rousey vs. Zingano 2015.02.28 17,654
UFC 113 Machida vs Shogun 2 2010.05.08 17,647
EliteXC Destiny 2007.02.10 17,465
UFC 110 Nogueira vs. Velasquez 2010.02.20 17,431
UFC 103 Franklin vs. Belfort 2009.09.19 17,428
UFC 101 Declaration 2009.08.08 17,411
UFC 154 St. Pierre vs. Condit 2012.11.17 17,249
UFC 166 Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3 2013.10.19 17,238
UFC 185 Pettis vs. Dos Anjos 2015.03.14 17,160
UFC 120 Bisping vs. Akiyama 2010.10.16 17,133
UFC 96 Jackson vs. Jardine 2009.03.07 17,033
Fields Dynamite!! 2010 2010.12.31 17,000
UFC 111 St-Pierre vs Hardy 2010.03.27 17,000
UFC on FOX 11 Werdum vs. Browne 2014.04.19 17,000
UFC on FOX 2 Evans vs. Davis 2012.01.28 16,963
UFC 115 Liddell vs Franklin 2010.06.12 16,915
UFC 153 Silva vs. Bonnar 2012.10.13 16,844
UFC 152 Jones vs. Belfort 2012.09.22 16,800
UFC 105 Couture vs Vera 2009.11.14 16,693
UFC 82 Pride of a Champion 2008.03.01 16,431
UFC 123 Rampage vs. Machida 2010.11.20 16,404
UFC 135 Jones vs. Rampage 2011.09.24 16,344
Strikeforce Shamrock vs. Le 2008.03.29 16,326
UFC 75 Champion vs Champion 2007.09.08 16,235
UFC 136 Edgar vs Maynard 3 2011.10.08 16,164
UFC on FOX 6 Johnson vs. Dodson 2013.01.26 16,091
UFC 149 Faber vs. Barao 2012.07.21 16,089
UFC 102 Couture vs. Nogueira 2009.08.29 16,088
UFC on FOX 4 Shogun vs. Vera 2012.08.04 16,080
UFC 77 Hostile Territory 2007.10.20 16,054
UFC 189 Mendes vs. McGregor 2015.07.11 16,019
UFC 119 Mir vs Cro Cop 2010.09.25 15,811
UFC 168 Weidman vs. Silva 2 2013.12.28 15,650
UFC 165 Jones vs. Gustafsson 2013.09.21 15,504
UFC 90 Silva vs Cote 2008.10.25 15,359
UFC 85 Bedlam 2008.06.07 15,327
UFC on FOX 13 Dos Santos vs. Miocic 2014.12.13 15,300
UFC 69 Shootout 2007.04.07 15,269
UFC 159 Jones vs. Sonnen 2013.04.27 15,227
Strikeforce Shamrock vs. Diaz 2009.04.11 15,211
UFC 148 Silva vs. Sonnen 2 2012.07.07 15,104
UFC 87 Seek and Destroy 2008.08.09 15,087
UFC 104 Machida vs Shogun 2009.10.24 14,892
UFC 94 St-Pierre vs. Penn 2 2009.01.31 14,885
UFC 121 Lesnar vs. Velasquez 2010.10.23 14,856
UFC 167 St. Pierre vs. Hendricks 2013.11.16 14,856
Affliction 1 Banned 2008.07.19 14,832
UFC 84 Ill Will 2008.05.24 14,773
UFC 60 Hughes vs Gracie 2006.05.27 14,765
UFC 161 Evans vs. Henderson 2013.06.15 14,754
Strikeforce Evolution 2009.12.19 14,749
UFC 88 Breakthrough 2008.09.06 14,736
UFC 71 Liddell vs Jackson 2007.05.26 14,728
UFC 131 Carwin vs. Dos Santos 2011.06.11 14,685
UFC on FUEL TV 8 Silva vs. Stann 2013.03.02 14,682
UFC 146 Dos Santos vs. Mir 2012.05.26 14,674
UFC 65 Bad Intentions 2006.11.18 14,666
UFC Fight Night 37 Gustafsson vs. Manuwa 2014.03.08 14,604
UFC 52 Couture vs. Liddell 2 2005.04.16 14,562
UFC on FX 2 Alves vs. Kampmann 2012.03.02 14,537
UFC on FUEL TV 9 Mousasi vs. Latifi 2013.04.06 14,506
UFC on FOX 5 Henderson vs. Diaz 2012.12.08 14,387
UFC 169 Barao vs. Faber 2 2014.02.01 14,308
UFC 91 Couture vs Lesnar 2008.11.15 14,272
UFC 114 Jackson vs Evans 2010.05.29 14,246
UFC Fight Night 26 Shogun vs. Sonnen 2013.08.17 14,181
UFC 118 Edgar vs. Penn 2 2010.08.28 14,168
UFC 92 The Ultimate 2008 2008.12.27 14,103
UFC 78 Validation 2007.11.17 14,071
Strikeforce Carano vs. Cyborg 2009.08.15 13,976
UFC 107 Penn vs. Sanchez 2009.12.12 13,896
UFC 163 Aldo vs. Korean Zombie 2013.08.03 13,873
UFC 139 Shogun vs. Henderson 2011.11.19 13,832
UFC Fight Night 59 McGregor vs. Siver 2015.01.18 13,828
UFC 59 Reality Check 2006.04.15 13,814
UFC 141 Lesnar vs. Overeem 2011.12.30 13,793
UFC 76 Knockout 2007.09.22 13,770
UFC 66 Liddell vs. Ortiz 2 2006.12.30 13,761
UFC Fight Night 24 Nogueira vs. Davis 2011.03.26 13,741
UFC 155 Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 2012.12.29 13,561
UFC 108 Evans vs Silva 2010.01.02 13,529
UFC 54 Boiling Point 2005.08.20 13,520
UFC 174 Johnson vs. Bagautinov 2014.06.14 13,506
UFC on FOX 7 Henderson vs. Melendez 2013.04.20 13,506
Pride 11 Battle of the Rising Sun 2000.10.31 13,500
UFC 172 Jones vs. Teixeira 2014.04.26 13,485
UFC Fight Night 66 Edgar vs. Faber 2015.05.16 13,446
UFC 41 Onslaught 2003.02.28 13,401
Pride 27 Inferno 2004.02.01 13,366
UFC on FOX 15 Machida vs. Rockhold 2015.04.18 13,306
UFC 95 Sanchez vs. Stevenson 2009.02.21 13,268
UFC 40 Vendetta 2002.11.22 13,265
UFC 157 Rousey vs. Carmouche 2013.02.23 13,257
Affliction 2 Day of Reckoning 2009.01.24 13,228
UFC 73 Stacked 2007.07.07 13,183
UFC 183 Silva vs. Diaz 2015.01.31 13,114
UFC 132 Cruz vs Faber II 2011.07.02 13,109
UFC 150 Henderson vs. Edgar 2 2012.08.11 13,027
UFC 8 David vs Goliath 1996.02.16 13,000
UFC 162 Silva vs. Weidman 2013.07.06 12,964
UFC 117 Silva vs Sonnen 2010.08.07 12,917
Pride 33 The Second Coming 2007.02.24 12,911
UFC 125 Resolution 2011.01.01 12,874
UFC 99 The Comeback 2009.06.13 12,854
UFC 130 Rampage vs Hamill 2011.05.28 12,753
UFC 116 Lesnar vs Carwin 2010.07.03 12,740
WEC 41 Brown vs. Faber 2 2009.06.07 12,706
WEC 34 Faber vs. Pulver 2008.06.01 12,682
UFC 128 Shogun vs Jones 2011.03.19 12,619
UFC 187 Johnson vs. Cormier 2015.05.23 12,615
UFC 98 Evans vs. Machida 2009.05.23 12,606
UFC 63 Hughes vs Penn 2006.09.23 12,604
WEC 48 Aldo vs Faber 2010.04.24 12,555
UFC 32 Showdown in the Meadowlands 2001.06.29 12,500
UFC Fight Night 52 Hunt vs. Nelson 2014.09.20 12,395
UFC 160 Velasquez vs. Silva 2 2013.05.25 12,380
UFC 49 Unfinished Business 2004.08.21 12,100
UFC 53 Heavy Hitters 2005.06.04 12,000
UFC 56 Full Force 2005.11.19 12,000
Strikeforce Fedor vs. Werdum 2010.06.26 11,757
Pride 32 The Real Deal 2006.10.21 11,727
UFC on FOX 16 Dillashaw vs. Barao 2 2015.07.25 11,663
UFC on FOX 1 Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 2011.11.12 11,607
UFC 133 Evans vs. Ortiz 2 2011.08.06 11,583
UFC 182 Jones vs. Cormier 2015.01.03 11,575
UFC on FOX 9 Johnson vs. Benavidez 2 2013.12.14 11,573
Strikeforce Fedor vs. Rogers 2009.11.07 11,512
UFC on FOX 12 Lawler vs. Brown 2014.07.26 11,482
UFC 47 It's On! 2004.04.02 11,437
UFC 179 Aldo vs. Mendes 2 2014.10.25 11,415
UFC Fight Night 33 Hunt vs. Bigfoot 2013.12.06 11,393
UFC 61 Bitter Rivals 2006.07.08 11,167
UFC 74 Respect 2007.08.25 11,118
UFC 177 Dillashaw vs. Soto 2014.08.30 11,100
UFC 79 Nemesis 2007.12.29 11,075
UFC 51 Super Saturday 2005.02.05 11,072
UFC 173 Barao vs. Dillashaw 2014.05.24 11,036
UFC 112 Invincible 2010.04.10 11,008
UFC 57 Liddell vs. Couture 3 2006.02.04 11,000
UFC 86 Jackson vs. Griffin 2008.07.05 10,990
UFC on FOX 10 Henderson vs. Thomson 2014.01.25 10,895
UFC 126 Silva vs. Belfort 2011.02.05 10,893
UFC 100 2009.07.11 10,871
UFC 138 Leben vs. Munoz 2011.11.05 10,823
UFC Fight Night 54 MacDonald vs. Saffiedine 2014.10.04 10,782
Pride Bushido 9 2005.09.25 10,775
UFC 109 Relentless 2010.02.06 10,753
UFC 46 Supernatural 2004.01.31 10,700
UFC 81 Breaking Point 2008.02.02 10,583
UFC Fight Night 32 Belfort vs. Henderson 2 2013.11.09 10,565
UFC 178 Johnson vs. Cariaso 2014.09.27 10,544
UFC 106 Ortiz vs Griffin 2 2009.11.21 10,529
UFC Fight Night 72 Bisping vs. Leites 2015.07.18 10,451
UFC 44 Undisputed 2003.09.26 10,400
Strikeforce: Revenge 2006.06.09 10,374
UFC Fight Night 30 Machida vs. Munoz 2013.10.26 10,355
UFC on FUEL TV 7 Barao vs. McDonald 2013.02.16 10,349
UFC 137 Penn vs. Diaz 2011.10.29 10,313
UFC 156 Aldo vs. Edgar 2013.02.02 10,275
UFC Fight Night 18 Condit vs. Kampmann 2009.04.01 10,267
UFC 67 All or Nothing 2007.02.03 10,227
UFC 170 Rousey vs. McMann 2014.02.22 10,217
WEC 38 Varner vs. Cerrone 2009.01.25 10,201
UFC 64 Unstoppable 2006.10.14 10,173
UFC 186 Johnson vs. Horiguchi 2015.04.25 10,154

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