There’s no mistaking that Conor McGregor is one of the sport’s most popular stars both in America and Internationally. With that in mind, UFC President Dana White is already proclaiming that the upcoming fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to break records by eclipsing the 2 million PPV buys mark. In an interview with TSN Sports, White made the following comments:
INTERVIEW: Dana White discusses how the mega fight between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at #UFC229 came together, Nate Diaz's tweet and whether we could see a fight between Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) August 3, 2018
“We’re looking at two million pay-per-view buys. This is a fight between two straight killers, who are coming out of the gate straight after each other, head to head. There was really no problems putting this fight together. It’s what makes Conor McGregor such an international superstar. This guy fights anybody, anywhere, any time. After a two-year layoff, he comes right out of the gates and wants Khabib and Khabib, who’s undefeated and obviously destroyed everybody in front of him, wants this fight now and wants to defend his title against Conor McGregor. Two guys in their prime; two animals.”
White also stated that the UFC won’t be doing an international tour for this fight due to the lack of time since this event is taking place on October 6th. However, White is very fortunate that he won’t have to do much promoting at all for this bout. The UFC 229 main event is already selling itself based on the excitement of McGregor’s return to the octagon after a 2-year hiatus and that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the undefeated champion after destroying all of his competition.
Additionally, this fight sells itself on the clashing of styles. Khabib Nurmagomedov is a grappler, wrestler who enjoys getting opponents in a clinch and mauling his way to victory. Once the undefeated champ gets his opponents on the mat, it’s game over. Nurmagomedov will devour McGregor if he can get him on the mat. As for Conor, he can knock out Khabib Nurmagomedov with a left hand or his right uppercut. His elite striking level allowed him to hang with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing fight for 10 rounds last year. And, we all know that Khabib is no Mayweather Jr.
So, the question will be – which fighter can impose their specific style onto the other and win the fight?
Who is the UFC’s PPV King
What there is no question about, is the fact that McGregor has become a massive PPV draw. In his last fight inside the octagon, McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez via TKO in the 2rd round of the UFC 205 main event bout. The UFC 205 event would go on to sell 1.3 million PPVs, tying it for the 3rd highest PPV draw of all-time with UFC 100. It just so happens that McGregor also holds the top two spots as well.
The 2nd highest UFC PPV of all-time was the UFC 196 event that saw Conor McGregor go up in weight and lose to Nate Diaz. It drew 1.317 million PPV buys. The rematch between these two fighters set the all-time UFC PPV record with 1.6 million buys at UFC 202 in August of 2016, just 5 months after their first encounter. In total, McGregor has 4 of the top 5 most successful UFC PPVs of all-time.
The following is a list of the Top 15 UFC PPVs of all-time. This list is only for the PPV’s that sold over 1 million PPVs, according to Tapology.
|UFC||UFC Main Event||UFC PPV Buys|
|UFC 202||Diaz vs. McGregor 2||1,600,000|
|UFC 196||McGregor vs. Diaz||1,317,000|
|UFC 205||Alvarez vs. McGregor||1,300,000|
|UFC 100||GSP, Brock Lesnar and others.||1,300,000|
|UFC 194||Aldo vs. McGregor||1,200,000|
|UFC 116||Lesnar vs Carwin||1,160,000|
|UFC 207||Nunes vs. Rousey||1,100,000|
|UFC 193||Rousey vs. Holm||1,100,000|
|UFC 114||Jackson vs Evans||1,050,000|
|UFC 66||Liddell vs. Ortiz 2||1,050,000|
|UFC 92||The Ultimate 2008||1,050,000|
|UFC 121||Lesnar vs. Velasquez||1,050,000|
|UFC 168||Weidman vs. Silva 2||1,025,000|
|UFC 91||Couture vs Lesnar||1,010,000|
|UFC 200||Tate vs. Nunes||1,009,000|
What About Brock Lesnar’s UFC PPV Numbers?
Before McGregor was even in the UFC, Brock Lesnar was smashing PPV records and firmly establishing himself as the sport’s top PPV draw. The following is a quick look back at Lesnar’s biggest PPV fights:
- UFC 100: Lesnar was on the card (co-main event) with other big names. PPV drew 1.3 million buys.
- UFC 116: Lesnar vs Carwin drew 1.16 million PPVs
- UFC 121: Lesnar vs Velasquez drew 1.05 million PPVs.
- UFC 91: Couture vs Lesnar drew 1.01 million PPV buys
- UFC 200: Lesnar took on Mark Hunt in his return. Although Tate vs Nunes was the main event, everyone recognizes Lesnar’s return as the reason why the PPV drew 1 million buys.
- UFC 141: Lesnar vs Overeem drew 750K PPV buys.
As you can see, there was a time where Lesnar would draw a million PPVs regardless of who he fought. Now that he’s returning to take on Cormier early next year, we’ll see if Brock still has the PPV juice he used to have.
The UFC Was Desperate for McGregor and Lesnar to Return
It’s no secret, the UFC was getting hammered on the PPV front with low numbers throughout the year. Their big super fight with Cormier and Miocic failed to even break 400,000 PPVs. No wonder they were so desperate to have Brock Lesnar come into the cage and be named the next opponent for Cormier. You can expect that to be another million PPV event for Lesnar and the UFC.
In 2017, after McGregor took his hiatus and Lesnar was nowhere in sight, the company had an abysmal PPV total for their 12 major PPV events as they averaged a little over 300K per PPV. None of the events broke 1 million and the two top PPV events couldn’t even muster 900K PPVs despite featuring GSP at UFC 217 and Jon Jones at UFC 214.
McGregor’s fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov will most likely outdraw the majority of 2017’s PPV events combined.
The UFC PPV King is Conor McGregor
From December 2015 to November 2016, McGregor had an amazing run of PPV success:
- UFC 202: Diaz vs McGregor 2 drew 1.6 million PPV buys
- UFC 196: Diaz vs McGregor 1 drew 1.31 million PPV buys
- UFC 205: Alvarez vs McGregor drew 1.3 million PPV buys
- UFC 194: Aldo vs McGregor drew 1.2 million PPV buys
No other fighter has ever drawn numbers like that. Only Brock Lesnar has come close. Let’s also not forget that McGregor vs Mayweather Jr. drew 4.3 million PPV buys last year. If McGregor can pull 2 million PPV buys in his next UFC fight, he will not only be the undisputed UFC PPV king, but he will also be one of the greatest PPV athletes of any sport.