clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC 202 looks to be one of the three biggest pay-per-views in company history

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Saturday's Conor McGregor fight with Nate Diaz is looking to be, at worst, one of the three biggest pay-per-view events in company history.

Dana White said shortly after the show that it was tracking to be the company's biggest show to date. Because of the rise in pay-per-view orders through the UFC web site, which theoretically should mirror the demand of orders on television, the company actually can get a strong read on how the show is doing right after the show.

The earliest pay-per-view estimates are ranging from 1.2 million to 1.5 million buys, which would put in the top three, along with UFC 196 in March (the first McGregor vs. Diaz fight) and UFC 100 in 2009 (headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir) as one of the three biggest events in company history. Based on UFC's Internet-based numbers of orders, the number could exceed that.

The live gate of $7,629,010 was the fifth-largest in company history, although major show gates are escalating because UFC has charged record ticket prices for its shows headlined by McGregor, as well as UFC 200, over the past year. Live ticket sales themselves didn't indicate any kind of record level interest.

Other indicators, such as the television ratings for the prelims and other shows associated with UFC 202 were well down from both UFC 200 and UFC 196. Internet searches, which is also a good indicator of pay-per-view numbers were up eight percent in the U.S. from UFC 200, which is believed to have done 1.1 million to 1.2 million buys. Since November, UFC has topped the 1 million buy mark on five occasions after hitting it only a few times previously in its history. It shows that at least for major fights, pay-per-view is continuing to get stronger, which contradicts most predictions that the increased price tag and more entertainment options would end the pay-per-view era.

It is likely a big impetus for the number was the Wednesday press conference which devolved into a bottle throwing scene that caused Dana White to shut down the press conference only five minutes after McGregor had arrived late. While on one hand the incident was embarrassing, not to mention dangerous for the fans, it garnered a ton of late attention for the fight and heightened the grudge match aspect. But interest levels for the fight increased greatly immediately after the press conference.

Based on the results from these two fights, it's more clear than ever that it is the idea of grudge matches or perceived personal issues involving top stars, as opposed to championship fights or a quest to prove who is actually the best in divisions that are driving the numbers these days. That's unfortunate for fans who want the company to revolve around matching up the best fighters in the quest to find out who is truly No. 1 in different weight divisions, or want fighters to be more sportsmanlike in the promotion of their fights.

The success, along with the quality of the first two fights, and the fact the two are even with one win each, makes it all but a lock the company will try and match them up again, although probably not right away.