UFC 196 “McGregor vs. Diaz” trending as biggest pay-per-view event in UFC history

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

UFC 196 may turn out to be the UFC’s biggest ever money earner on pay-per-view, surpassing the amount of money brought in by UFC 100’s 1.6 million pay-per-view buys in 2009.

UFC President Dana White this week threw out that the event brought in 1.5 million pay-per-view buys, which would be second only to that UFC 100. The UFC as well sent out a press release on Friday saying the event is trending as their biggest ever event, which from a monetary standpoint would be accurate at 1.5 million buys given they’re charging $5 more per event than they were six and a half years ago.

“People have been telling me ‘what are you going to do when Chuck Liddell retires?’ then ‘what are you going to do when GSP is gone?’ There is always new great fighters coming down the pipeline,” White said in another ESPN Radio appearance (transcribed by BloodyElbow.com). “In this sport, we put the best against the best, or sometimes we do crazy stuff like on Saturday night, where Conor McGregor says ‘I want to fight Nate Diaz. I’ll fight him at 170 [pounds].’

“These are things that capture people’s imaginations. That is why the thing does 1.5 million pay-per-view buys. That is because it captures the imaginations of fight fans.”

The significant buyrate was boosted by what the UFC characterized as record digital pay-per-view sales, either through UFC.tv or the UFC Fight Pass app on various platforms.

Penick’s Analysis: It’s believable, and yet absolutely incredible at the same time. It was a million buy event with Rafael dos Anjos defending against Conor McGregor, but they got a huge push of interest late with the change to the Nate Diaz after dos Anjos’ injury. The UFC capitalized in a major way with the 11 days they had to promote the new fight, and a combination of McGregor’s star power and Diaz being the perfect foil for him boosted things even further. If they’re giving accurate figures here, this is a somewhat unexpected but still hugely impressive draw, and even in defeat Conor McGregor’s proven his draw.

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