It didn’t do 3 million, or 3.5; it didn’t crush May/Mac. But UFC 229: Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor was a major milestone for the UFC. As Dave Meltzer reports, the promotion didn’t just set a new high water mark for pay-per-view buys following their October, 6th event, they buried their previous top score.
In an article for MMA Fighting, Meltzer estimates that the Vegas fight card pulled in somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.4 million PPV buys. That’s almost a full million higher than the previous all-time best for an MMA event – also set by Conor McGregor – back at UFC 202 where he hit 1.65 million* in a rematch against Nate Diaz.
Added to that success is the estimation that nearly half a million of UFC 229’s PPV purchases were done via UFC online streaming services. That’s a much, much higher number than past estimations, and the revenue split for streaming PPVs is much higher for the UFC than it is when dealing with cable & satellite providers.
While it’s still nowhere near the all time biggest boxing PPV events, the ability to generate even one card a year of this kind of magnitude has the potential to turn the worst year of PPV buys into a success. An okay 2017 that likely delivered somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million buys – where the biggest successes were 8-900k* events headlined by Cormier vs. Jones 2 and Bisping vs. GSP – has likely already been eclipsed in what had been a dismal 2018.
This year saw rumors that the UFC had slipped under the 100k* buy mark for an event (UFC 224) for the first time since 2005. The previous reported most profitable PPVs this year were Miocic’s title fights against N’Gannou and Cormier, both of which were supposedly somewhere in the neighborhood of 350-400k*. This card alone swings a year that looked to be sitting somewhere around 2.25 million* buys total up toward 5 million, and that’s with 3 more PPVs still on the calendar.
Luke Rockhold recently said that Khabib – his teammate and training partner – would demand a massive pay increase to have a rematch with Conor McGregor. And, with success like this to back him up, he may just get it.
*Note: PPV buy estimates have been taken from a variety of sources, often relying on rumors and estimates based on indirect metrics. Actual final PPV numbers are almost never released by the UFC to the public.