UFC President Dana White had predicted big numbers heading into UFC 229 but his estimates may prove to be conservative as MMA Fighting has more recently suggested worldwide pay-per-view numbers closer to 2.4 million.
UFC 229 featured the returning Conor McGregor, the unquestioned king of pay-per-view draws and the promotion’s leading box office draw. His opponent, Khabib Nurmagomedov is the unbeaten Dagestani wrecking machine, that oh, by the way, holds the lightweight title.
As UFC 229 drew nearer, the event seemed to lack the big fight feel that last year’s Floyd Mayweather vs McGregor boxing match had in its build up.
Of course, the UFC promoted the fight as the biggest in the history of the sport. Images of McGregor hurling a dolly at a bus full of people was nearly unavoidable while watching UFC programming. Couple that with the constant insults, disparaging an entire country and religion, and some terrible accusations, and it’s fair to say the UFC made their bed when allowing these actions to persist. Turning a blind eye is tantamount to complicity, at least according to Nurmagomedov, and likely the reason he temporarily lost sanity.
However, as the PPV numbers start to trickle in from UFC 229 one thing is clear. People were watching. It’s estimated that the event scored around 1.9 million traditional PPV buys and 470,000 to 480,000 via streaming PPV’s. After you factor in late buys, it puts the figure right around the 2.4 million total buys. Not too shabby.
As the UFC doesn’t release the official PPV buy numbers for months after an event, these numbers are an estimate. However, White revealed earlier this week that numbers were well above the two million mark, but he stopped short of declaring UFC 229 hit three million.
The previous UFC PPV record was set by McGregor and Nate Diaz for their scrap at UFC 202 in August 2016. That fight set the record with 1.5 million PPV buys.
The Irishman now holds three of the top drawing UFC PPV event in company history. The highest grossing non-McGregor event was UFC 100 headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir 2. UFC 100 did 1.3 million buys.
Just to give you an idea of McGregor’s star power, UFC 228 headlined by Tyron Woodley vs. Darren Till did an estimated 130,000 buys.
A rematch between Nurmagomedov and McGregor has already been talked about amongst the MMA community. However, its unlikely a rematch will take place anytime soon.
But if the UFC does decide to book Nurmagomedov vs McGregor 2, it will no doubt set yet another new PPV record.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/11/2018