Jon Jones long-awaited return definitely paid off for the UFC.
The new heavyweight champion helped build UFC 285 into the biggest selling card of the past year for the promotion along with a sellout crowd at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. While the total sales for the pay-per-view were not made available, Endeavor — parent company to the UFC — touted UFC 285 as a record-setting card for the past year along with some other high marks achieved while reporting the first-quarter results for 2023.
“At UFC, we continued to deliver more record-breaking events across the globe,” Endeavor CFO Jason Lublin said during an investor call on Tuesday. “UFC 284 in Perth was Australia’s highest-grossing event of any kind and UFC 285 in Las Vegas was UFC’s highest-grossing commercial pay-per-view event within the past 12 months.
“Additionally, UFC 286 in London was the highest-grossing event in O2 Arena history.”
The UFC has continued to string together a huge number of sellout events since returning to arenas during the global pandemic.
Overall since 2021, the UFC has sold out 36 of 38 total live shows with the only two exceptions being UFC 283 in Brazil and the recent UFC event in Kansas City, which was headlined by Max Holloway against Arnold Allen. Outside of those two events, every other card with a crowd in attendance has been a sellout for the UFC for the past two years.
As far as the first-quarter results go, Endeavor’s owned sports properties, which is led by the UFC, reported revenue of $353.3 million for the quarter, which is up $56.6 million or 19 percent from the same exact time in 2022. The increase was attributed to media rights fees, sponsorships, event-related revenue and pay-per-views with an additional pay-per-view card during the first quarter also contributing the highest amount of revenue.
While the UFC typically only runs one pay-per-view per month, March saw two cards take place including the record-setting UFC 285 event along with UFC 286, which took place in London.
There were early plans for another month with two pay-per-views this summer with UFC 290 scheduled on July 8 with a second pay-per-view tentatively scheduled for July 29, although it remains to be seen if those plans move forward or not.
As it stands, the UFC remains part of Endeavor’s overall owned sports property segment but that is expected to change in the near future with the upcoming merger where the promotion will join forces with WWE in a new publicly traded company.
Plans are still in motion for the new UFC-WWE merged company to go public later this year, but Endeavor executives reported regulatory issues that still have to be cleared before any deals can be finalized. Right now, Endeavor is still referring to the merged company as TKO — a symbol that could be used when going public — but a new name is expected to be announced in the coming months once the deal is completed.