The Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC), the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion, expects to see the most lucrative haul in its history Saturday when Ireland’s Conor McGregor fights Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov in UFC 229’s main event in Las Vegas.
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The organization projects 3 million pay-per-view (PPV) buys. If achieved, that total would dwarf the UFC’s existing record for PPV buys and establish UFC 229 as the third highest-selling fight event in U.S. history, behind boxer Floyd Mayweather’s bout with Manny Pacquiao in 2015, which generated 4.6 million buys, and Mayweather’s crossover clash with McGregor in 2017, which yielded 4.4 million buys.
UFC 229 costs $64.99 to buy on pay-per-view, meaning that the mixed martial arts promotion would yield close to $200 million from that revenue stream alone minus distribution fees, Variety reported. The event is expected to produce a further $17 million in gate receipts from a sold-out crowd at T-Mobile Arena, which would break UFC’s gate record in Vegas.
“It’s certainly going to be a high-water mark for UFC in our company’s history, along virtually very metric we measure the business,” UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein told Variety.
Regardless of the fight’s result, McGregor stands to turn a major personal profit from the bout. UFC President Dana White said McGregor’s haul could approach $100 million if the event meets the high end of PPV sales projections, though McGregor himself said at a press conference Thursday that he expects the figure to be closer to $50 million.
A two-time UFC titleholder, McGregor returns to mixed martial arts after a two-year layoffs. He was arrested last April after he attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov before another UFC event, injuring other fighters in the process.
McGregor, 30, owns a 21-3 record as a professional mixed martial artist. Nurmagomedov, 30, enters the fight undefeated, with a 26-0 record.