Current estimates indicate that UFC 202, the Aug. 20 show headlined by Conor McGregor's decision win over Nate Diaz, will be the most successful non-boxing pay-per-view event in the history of the genre.
Current estimates have the show doing 1.65 million buys on pay-per-view, putting it slightly ahead of UFC 196, the first McGregor vs. Diaz fight, which was estimated at 1.6 million. Both would be ahead of the prior record set at UFC 100 for the second Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir fight.
Sources close to the situation reveal that the DirecTV numbers were the highest in the promotion's history. UFC's own pay-per-view orders through the Internet were believed to have also broken the record set at UFC 196.
The 1.65 million projected number would not include orders directly through the UFC for streaming rather than traditional television. However, the streaming numbers give the UFC immediate figures where they can project how well a show is going to do.
The UFC does not usually release pay-per-view numbers. Dana White did say after the event that it was trending to be the biggest show ever.
Usual strong indicators, such as television ratings for the prelims and other programs related to the show, and Internet searches regarding the event were all strong, but none were at record levels. Television numbers were likely held down due to competition with the Summer Olympics, but that didn't seem to affect pay-per-view numbers.
What is interesting is the lack of correlation between live ticket sales and pay-per-view. The show sold 12,657 tickets, and that's with late discounting of tickets, and there were 14,060 in the building. The live gate announced the night of the show was $7,629,010. The Nevada Athletic Commission didn't have a final gate figure as of press time. UFC 200 at the same T Mobile Arena sold 15,154 tickets and had 16,691 in the building for a gate of $10,746,248.
The key to the figure, or at least the record-breaking aspect, looks to be the press conference a few days before the show, which ended abruptly. McGregor arrived 30 minutes late, and a few minutes after he arrived, Diaz abruptly walked off, apparently on the directive of older brother Nick. As he did so, it degenerated from there with McGregor swearing, a bottle or bottles being thrown by members of the Diaz camp at McGregor, and McGregor throwing bottles back. Dana White immediately called the press conference off and security took McGregor to the back while Diaz left.
Diaz and McGregor received two of the three largest announced purses in UFC history, with Diaz getting $2 million and McGregor $3 million guaranteed, not including their percentages of the pay-per-view revenue. Each also got a $50,000 best fight bonus.
With the exception of boxing matches, the UFC is the only promotion ever to top 1 million buys on North American pay-per-view. The WWE, before largely getting out of the pay-per-view business, did more than 1.2 million buys on two separate occasions for WrestleMania events, but those are worldwide numbers and they did anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of their buys outside North America.
This was UFC's third show of 2016 to top the 1 million mark, with UFC 200 in July joining the two Diaz vs. McGregor fights. Previously, only a handful of UFC shows have topped that mark, most headlined by either Lesnar, Ronda Rousey or McGregor.