For years, UFC president Dana White shied away from making predictions on pay-per-view numbers and instead just touted how big an event would be before it happened.
Those days are long gone in the Conor McGregor era as White seemingly has no problem throwing out numbers in anticipation of his upcoming fights including UFC 229 on Saturday night.
After being away from the UFC for nearly two years, McGregor’s return was already going to get a huge amount of attention no matter who he faced but the fact that he’s taking on an undefeated Russian wrecking machine in Khabib Nurmagomedov only ups the ante on this card.
According to White, his early predictions that UFC 229 would shatter all previous records doesn’t come close to the figures he’s throwing out now with the event just a few days away.
“We’re trending close to 3 million pay-per-view buys for this fight.” ~ Dana White on UFC 229
“This thing is breaking every record we’ve ever had as far as numbers go,” White told ESPN on Tuesday. “If you look at Mayweather-McGregor, the first episode of Embedded in 24 hours with Mayweather-McGregor did 800,000 views. This one’s at 1.7 million in 24 hours. If you look at the most popular [press conference] when we did the world tour, London was the biggest and over the last year, London has done 4.7 million views. In the last two weeks or however long the press conference has been, we’re almost at 4.7 million views with Khabib and Conor.
“I could just go on for days with numbers and how it’s scaling. It’s going to be big. I told you guys that we trending at 2 million pay-per-view buys — we’re closer to 3 million now. We’re trending close to 3 million pay-per-view buys for this fight.”
To put that in context — the biggest selling pay-per-view in company history is UFC 202, which also featured McGregor in the main event against Nate Diaz and that card reportedly did around 1.6 million buys.
That means White believes McGregor’s return against Nurmagomedov could pull in nearly double that when they clash on Saturday night.
White says the live gate for UFC 229 will end up being the second biggest in company history with around a $17 million paid in tickets and even celebrities are being forced to pay for seats that would typically be gifted by the promotion.
“This is the biggest fight we’ve ever done.,” White said.
What do you think will be the final pay-per-view number for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 229? Sound off in the comments and let us know!