UFC 205 was in many ways the pinnacle event in the 23 year history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The company made its debut in New York City after years of being locked out of the state for political reasons. In addition to the symbolic achievement of running in New York City proper (UFC has run several successful shows in nearby Newark, New Jersey), and the history made in the cage when Conor McGregor became the first fighter to hold championships in two separate weight classes simultaneously, the show looks to have broken business records as well.
The event did a reported $17.7 million live gate, which is a Madison Square Garden as well as UFC record. The old company record was a $12 milion gate for UFC 129 in Toronto, a show which sold nearly triple the amount of tickets to achieve the number. The old MSG record was for a 1999 Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield boxing match that drew $13.5 million.
It’s far too early for accurate pay-per-view estimates, but UFC President Dana White did tell media following the event that he expects the show to break the company pay-per-view record as well. The current high mark is the UFC 202 rematch between McGregor and Nate Diaz. That event did 1.65 million buys with much less undercard support and arguably less mainstream media attention.
The business success of the show was not lost on McGregor who, with being in control of two weight-classes, feels he should be more than just the sport’s biggest star attraction, but should have an ownership role in the company as well.
“I’m going to be a daddy early next year,” McGregor said at the post-fight press conference. “I need to be set for life for this. If you want me to be truly on on board, then I need to be all-in on this proper, as an owner, and have an equity stake in the company. That’s what I’m looking for.”
While he didn’t state how much stake in the company he’s looking for, or if he’d be willing to give up his hefty guaranteed purses in exchange isn’t known, but McGregor has been known to be tough to negotiate with this year with his fight at UFC 200 falling through and his fights at UFC 202 and 205 being finalized late in the game.
Lost in all the madness Saturday night was the abrupt retirement of Miesha Tate who lost a unanimous decision to former Ultimate Fighter pupil Raquel Pennington in the main card opener. Tate appeared primed for the fight during walkout and introductions but failed to execute a gameplan or show any aggression against the much improved Pennington.
After the fight, Tate announced that she was going to retire largely due to the result of the fight. She said she had the fight in her but couldn’t bring it out. Tate gave no indication during fight week that this was a possibility, instead talking about a potential fight with Ronda Rousey down the line. Tate’s departure closes out a year that saw her win and lose the Bantamweight Championship in consecutive fights. Pennington finds herself knocking on the door of the top level of a very tumultuous division. Timing could be in her favor with the Nunes-Rousey championship fight going down next month and other top contenders all having recent losses.
All in all, UFC made a tremendously successful debut in New York City both in and out of the cage and it’ll be tough to top.
For full results and analysis of last night’s event, check out our full detailed report HERE.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: This was the show I think we all wanted UFC 200 to be. Star studded from top to bottom, with great fights and memorable outcomes. I was blown away by McGregor’s performance, and am done writing him off. He’s as legit as they come and 155 looks to be the perfect division for him. Now, if he’s having a child and he wants ownership in the company, we may not be seeing him for a while. Here is hoping a deal can be made to appease both sides as McGregor is too valuable to the company and it would be a shame to see him sidelined, upsetting two divisions in the process. Ownership would be unprecedented, but considering his value to the company, may be warranted.
Tate’s retirement surprised me. I had speculated in an MMATorch Roundtable recently as to which version of Miesha Tate would show up last night and it was closer to the one who fought Amanda Nunes than the one who fought Holly Holm earlier this year. If her head and heart aren’t in it, then it’s the right time for her to step aside, and I’m not going to argue with that. She has a podcast and will likely have some other opportunities outside of fighting so I’m sure she’ll be just fine.
Sunday Notebook Items…
–Post-fight bonuses went to Conor McGregor and Yoel Romero for Performance of the Night. Fight of the Night went to Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson who fought to a five round majority draw.
-Here are the judges scorecards from the Woodley-Thompson fight. I had it 48-47 for Thompson with no 10-8 rounds, although there is a very strong case for both the first and fourth rounds as 10-8’s for Woodley. One judge had a 10-8 first round and another a 10-8 fourth for Woodley, causing the two “draw” cards. The other judge gave rounds one, three, and four to Woodley 10-9, for a 48-47 score.
-At the press conference, Dana White said a rematch is likely between Thompson and Woodley. Duh.