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UFC 229 almost sold out; already second-largest gate in UFC history

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Tickets were put on sale to the public on Friday, and UFC ticket sales are already the second largest live gate in MMA history.

Manchester Arena
Sold out Manchester Arena for UFC 204
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If you have any doubt that UFC 229 will be among the biggest financial events in UFC history, live ticket sales say that you shouldn’t.

Tickets were put on sale to the public Friday, after a presale that started two days earlier for UFC Fight Club members. By the three-minute mark, the company had already sold enough tickets to where it will be the second largest live event gate in the history of the sport.

UFC 229, the Oct. 6 show headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor for the lightweight title, with a ticket price range from $205 up to $2505, had only a few hundred tickets, all in the most expensive sections, available after the first three minutes tickets were put on sale to the public. The show was reported as an immediate sellout, but there were still a small amount of tickets left at the AXS ticket web site at $990 and up, as of Saturday afternoon. On Friday night, there were only 300 tickets left remaining.

With the way the show was scaled, the advance has surpassed the Nevada MMA gate record, set at UFC 200 of $10,746,248. Most of the tickets for that show were sold based on Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title, a bout canceled late due to Jones failing a drug test, and Anderson Silva replacing him in a non-title match. Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt was also a major part of that show, as well as just the symbolism of being UFC 200. On fight night, the actual main event was Miesha Tate defending the women’s bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes.

The advance has also surpassed one of the sport’s most legendary events, UFC 129 at Rogers Center in Toronto, which drew a quick sellout of 55,724 fans, but with lower ticket prices. That gate was $12,075,000 U.S., for a show headlined by Georges St-Pierre defending the welterweight title against Jake Shields, A key aspect of the quick sellout of a stadium was it being UFC’s first time in Toronto, which had been one of the company’s strongest pay-per-view markets dating back to the mid-90s.

The all-time record, which this show won’t break is the one set for UFC 205 on November 12, 2016, the company’s first-ever event in New York, held in Madison Square Garden. That show set the all-time record for any event ever held in the world’s most famous arena, doing $17.7 million. McGregor captured the UFC lightweight title beating Eddie Alvarez. McGregor was later stripped of the title for failing to defend it, and Nurmagomedov became champion beating Al Iaquinta on April 7 at the Barclays Center in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

On the secondary market, the cheapest tickets, originally priced at $205, are going for $631 and up. A number of ringside seats are being priced in excess of $10,000, with $45,000 currently the highest asked-for price for a front row ringside seat. The number of tickets on the secondary market are substantially lower than one would expect for a show that has sold nearly 18,000 tickets.

Because of much higher ticket prices, the UFC’s biggest live gate were well above some of the huge stadium gates in Japan during the heyday of the Pride organization, which never came close to a $10 million show.

The quick pace of ticket sales is more impressive in Las Vegas, which gets major shows all the time, as compared to a blockbuster show in a first-time major market like the New York and Toronto show. Historically, when UFC increases ticket prices to set a gate record for Las Vegas, the tickets may sell out, or come close, but they’ve never sold this many tickets at the speed they did for this show in Las Vegas.