MPO Year in Review: No. 1 The Money Fight

January 1, 2018

MMA Payout’s business story of the year is likely everyone else’s big news of the year: The Money Fight which saw Conor McGregor make his debut in the ring against Floyd Mayweather.

What many thought would never happened at the beginning of 2017 actually came together rather quickly as the two squared off the last week of August at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.  Although the fight did not break the gate record for a boxing event in Nevada or the PPV buy record (both retained by Mayweather-Pacquiao), it drew blockbuster numbers.

The event was not a sellout but drew 13,904 for a gate of $55 million.  The PPV drew 4.3 million domestic buys and set records overseas for PPV.

McGregor received $30 million for his part in the fight while Mayweather drew $100 million.  With all of the PPV upside and other payouts tied to the event McGregor ended up with something near $100 million.

The event included an ambitious 4 city tour which went from Los Angeles, to Toronto, to Brooklyn, to London in successive days.  The events ranged from heated to comical to off-putting.

Still, the buzz for the event drew mainstream interest and was on the top of ESPN shows during fight week.  There was a small controversy concerning glove size but in the end the Commission allowed a last-minute change.  Then, there was the last-minute change to add Zuffa as co-promoter.  Frankly, the Commission would have let this go with any and all additional conditions as it was willing to allow McGregor, an MMA fighter, with no pro boxing record to step into the ring against one of the best fighters in boxing and a 49-0 record.

The event was truly a spectacle and basically a fantasy matchmaker’s dream.  The fight itself was easy to predict with Mayweather winning via stoppage in round 10.  The match was not that competitive as you could sense that Mayweather was never in peril.

But, from a business standpoint, one might surmise that it was the biggest revenue driving event for the UFC this year.  With a down year for PPV, the company capitalized on this fight with its top star.  McGregor sold himself to get the fight and his confrontational style help promote it to the casual viewer.

The event also made every fighter on the UFC roster dreaming to box.  Also, Dana White unveiled the idea that Zuffa would promote boxing in the near future.  As for McGregor, we will see if/when he returns to the Octagon.  Despite floating the idea of another boxing match, it’s hard to think he would do one for anything less than he was paid for Mayweather.  One would think that his deal with the UFC would include a return to the Octagon to fight in exchange for the boxing match with Floyd.  Yet, with all the money, McGregor might wait until he is given the money he wants before setting foot back into the Octagon.

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