16 for 16: No. 6 The year of Conor McGregor
December 27, 2016
Conor McGregor showed the world why he continues to dominate and elevate the sport of MMA.
McGregor lost in March at UFC 196, scoffed at having to do media for UFC 200 and retired, unretired and returned to avenge his loss at UFC 203 and then headline UFC 205 in New York.
At every stop, McGregor has set records and pulled huge buy rates. He’s also elevated the career of Nate Diaz. It was Diaz that upset McGregor at UFC 196. Diaz’s victory meant at least a rematch with McGregor. The two met again in a 5-round war in August at UFC 202. McGregor pulled out the victory in the rematch. Most believe there will be a trilogy at some point.
In the meantime, McGregor headlined UFC 205 as the company debuted in New York. McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight title. He became the first fighter to hold two titles at the same time. He would later agree to relinquish the featherweight title.
McGregor’s star appeal was apparent this year as he pulled out huge numbers for each of his PPV fights.
UFC 196 – 1.3 million PPV buys
UFC 202 – 1.65 million PPV buys
UFC 205 – ~1.3 million PPV buys
Attendance and Gate
In addition, UFC had the third-highest-ever gate in Nevada for UFC 196. It drew 13,412 for a gate of $8,197,628.00 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Their rematch in August at UFC 202 drew the fourth-highest-ever gate with 12,657 for a gate of $7,700,810.60. Notably, Conor stars in 4 out of the 5 top gates in Nevada.
UFC 205 set a gate and attendance record with $17.7 million before a crowd of 20,427. It was the largest gate since the stadium show at UFC 129.
McGregor has been a crossover success. Notwithstanding the constant rumors about a mythical fight with Floyd Mayweather, he is on the mind of the mainstream. He was regularly featured on ESPN, lampooned on Saturday Night Live and a Chris Jones Esquire feature on him made 2016’s Best American Sports Writing.
While not everything worked out for McGregor this year, including his loss to Diaz in March, a fine assessed by the NAC (which he is appealing) and a power play which failed and cost him UFC 200, he has had a remarkable 2016. McGregor was the first UFC fighter to have made a reported $3 million for his August fight with Diaz.
With McGregor likely taking some time off, his return should only mean bigger numbers for 2017.