He may have suffered defeat in the UFC 257 main event against Dustin Poirier but Conor McGregor’s status as the fight game’s premier star remains clear as experts calculate that Saturday’s fight card drew over 1.6 million buys.
While it wasn’t the “masterpiece” that McGregor predicted in advance of his rematch with Louisianan slugger Poirier, McGregor’s bank account will make for some satisfying reading for the Irishman as he licks his wounds after suffering his first defeat since submitting to Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov two-and-a-half years ago.
The fight, which came amid social media pledges of charity donations from the new, more humble version of the usually controversial McGregor, failed to follow the blueprint of their first meeting six years ago in Las Vegas when, on that occasion, McGregor had triumphed by first-round TKO.
In the sequel, it was Poirier who had the last laugh as he became the first fighter in combat sports to finish McGregor via strikes, with the spectacular finish coming in the second frame.
And so bright is McGregor’s star that he drew a bountiful audience to witness it.
Per media reporter John Ourand, UFC 257 sold 1.2 million pay-per-views in the United States and a further 400,000 from other international territories, making a total of 1.6 million sales – a figure good enough to tie the record for the second best-selling PPV in UFC history, which was set by McGregor’s rematch with Nate Diaz in 2016.
The top spot is still held by Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov from their UFC 229 scrap, and means that McGregor has been involved in most of the most-viewed MMA events of all time, and seven of the top 10.
However, McGregor vs. Poirier 2 was still some way off the record set by the Irishman and his fierce rival Nurmagomedov, a fight which garnered 2.6 million viewers to watch the culmination of their heated rivalry in 2018.
UFC boss Dana White will likely be licking his lips at the potential of any PPV payday when it comes to the potential of a third fight between McGregor and Poirier, a showdown which would likely outstrip the sales for last Saturday’s fight.
White had been publicly petitioning for Khabib to return from retirement for one final fight in pursuit of a 30-0 record and was caught on camera last weekend attempting to persuade the undefeated Russian champion to consider the possibility of his own rematch with McGregor, which White enthused would shatter the all-time combat sports pay-per-view records held by Floyd Mayweather for his fights with McGregor and Manny Pacquiao.
But any hopes that White may have had that Nurmagomedov may return appear dashed after the events last weekend, with the UFC head appearing to admit defeat to the media in his attempts to persuade the usually-stoic Khabib to backtrack on his decision to step away from the sport.