So I watched UFC 200 on Saturday and for the most part I thought it was decent, but there was a long dead spot right in the middle of the Main Card that started with the Aldo - Edgar fight, hit rock bottom during the Cormier - Silva Snuggle Match, and finally started picking back up with the return of Brock Lesnar to the UFC.
The thing that really interested me about UFC 200, though, was the introduction of the Topps Now program to UFC trading cards. During the week before the event, Topps opened the cards up for sale, announcing that the cards would feature the winners of the Main Card bouts, with art being revealed on Monday and sales lasting for 24 hours past that point. I ordered all five cards, one from the Topps site and the other four from eBay sellers. I don't have them in-hand yet, but I was really curious to see today what the print runs would be once sales ended. I anticipated that they would be much lower than the baseball print runs just because the UFC market isn't that big.
For the most part my expectations were accurate. The Cain Velasquez card was the lowest print run of them all, with only 87 cards ordered. I don't know how popular Velasquez is, but I know most of the people in the chat rooms pan Travis Browne cards when they get pulled. The Jose Aldo card was third out of the five when it comes to print run, although it was closer to the bottom two than it was to the top two. His card got up to 110 orders, probably because both he and Frankie Edgar have decent followings.
The Daniel Cormier - Anderson Silva fight was a real snoozer, and people in the arena booed throughout as Cormier kept taking Silva down to the ground, holding on to him and preventing any kind of striking from going on. It was probably a smart strategy for winning the fight, but it was horrible to watch. As expected, the next two cards had significantly higher print runs. Brock Lesnar's card had the highest of all at 320 cards, probably due to his celebrity reaching beyond the UFC and the fact that his return was the most exciting storyline of the event. The fight could have been more exciting, but Lesnar was at least active in his wrestling and the size of the dudes involved in the fight meant that at any point a solid punch could lay one of them out. The fight went the distance and Lesnar won in a decision, but I was entertained in spite of the lack of fireworks. His post-fight speech was a little weird, but that's okay. I think he meant well.
The Main Event (of the Evening!) was a title match between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes for the Women's Bantamweight title. Nunes came out fast and absolutely rocked Tate early, which led to a quick choke submission in the first round and the crowning (belting?) of a new Champion. It was pretty exciting after all the slow-moving Men's bouts, and I was happy for the early finish because I had to be up early Sunday morning for work. The Women's divisions are extremely popular among card collectors, so this card wound up with a print run of 214, which is good for second-highest among these five cards. If this were a baseball card, it would be second-lowest, just above an Evan Gattis card with a print run of 212. I think the print run might have been higher if Miesha Tate had won, but that's just speculation because she got her nose broken and looked absolutely lost before the submission that ended the fight. I thought the ref could have ended the fight a little earlier because she was clearly running away and dazed, but I guess he saw enough fight in her to let it continue.
So there are the first five Topps UFC Now cards. I am interested to see them in-hand, and also whether Topps sees fit to continue the program after these low print runs. Topps had to expect that they wouldn't sell as well as the baseball cards, but I wonder what their threshold is as far as sales needed to turn an acceptable profit? Is 100 cards enough? What about 87? The price goes down as individuals order more cards, so a 100-card print run only generates between $400 and $1000 in sales, while an 87 card print run only brings in $348 to $870. It that enough to warrant designing and producing a unique card? Anyway, I wanted to get in on the ground floor of this one. We'll see if Topps saw enough good out of it to continue the line.