UFC 229 is set to take place on October 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with defending champion Khabib Nurmagomedov taking on returning UFC poster boy Conor McGregor. In betting it is the defending champions who is the favourite when looking at odds McGregor Khabib.
— UFC (@ufc) September 25, 2018
It has been a fight long in the making and comes with a fascinating degree of narrative, with old friends turned bitter rivals set to face-off in a bout that pits two finely-matched but very different fighters against one another. The stakes are high in Sin City and – with a fight of this magnitude – so are the numbers.
Within three minutes of live ticket sales going on sale last month, the UFC had already sold enough for 229 to be the second largest gate receipt in the history of the sport, only being beaten by the inaugural bout at the famous Madison Square Garden in 2016. That event produced an incredible $17.7 million gate, and although in a considerably smaller arena, Las Vegas will be pushing incredibly close to those sorts of receipts.
Just over 20,000 fans are expected to squeeze into the T-Mobile Arena, with tickets on the secondary market now going for prices ranging from $700 to a staggering $28,000.
Despite the impressive gate figures, it is with the international pay-per-view market where this event is set to truly lay down a gauntlet.
UFC President Dana White has already been hyping the expected success of the fight.
“It’s massive. We’re trending right now at 2.5 million buys. So that’s how big this fight is” White told ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ show last week.
If so, that would beat the current UFC record-holder, UFC 196, by nearly one million buys. That bout – fought between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz – saw a global television buy of 1.6 million.
Given what has been a relatively slow 2018 for UFC, with no pay-per-view figure yet to exceed 500,000, it is clear the commercial boost McGregor and company will bring. It may yet only be the prologue to what is a continued commercial expansion for the promotion with its move to ESPN in 2019, worth $1.5 billion across five years.
McGregor himself is set to have a considerable payday from his return to the sport, with his contracted earnings rumoured to be only second to the $30,000,000 he earned for his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
229 is the first of six fights the Irishman has now committed to with his recently-announced new contract with the UFC. Whilst the details of finances were kept confidential, Dana White did confirm that the new deal would make McGregor the highest-paid fighter in the promotion’s history. It also allowed for McGregor’s new whiskey venture, Proper Whiskey, to be a sponsor at every bout the Irishman fights.
“It’s not hard to do a deal with Conor McGregor because we know what he’s worth” said White.
There is no finer evidence of the unmatched drawing power of McGregor than UFC 229.
Indeed, the statistics of both fighters justify the astronomical finances of the bout in October.
Khabib is undefeated in 26 bouts, including an 8 fight streak in the UFC lightweight division. Whilst he may not bring the sheer chaos of McGregor, he is a match for him in the Octagon every step of the way.
McGregor himself – returning to the UFC for the first time in 2 years – has only lost 3 fights in his 24-fight MMA career and is easily the largest PPV draw in the sport’s history.
The stage, therefore, is well and truly set for an historical matchup in Las Vegas in only 2 weeks’ time. The stakes are as high as the expectations and, with the MMA world having been waiting on baited breath for years for this bout, the finances are set to be even bigger.
All eyes are on Las Vegas on October 6th.