As 2019 winds down, it’s a good time to look at the effect Conor McGregor’s absence has had on the UFC’s bottom line.
UFC president Dana White has said the promotion is on pace to break attendance records in 2019. Judging from the numbers they have disclosed for the events that have taken place this year, White seems to be correct. With three UFC cards still to come before the end of the year, the promotion has topped the 500,000 mark in attendance for 2019.
There might be a reason White has focused on the attendance numbers. That reason is the promotion is going to fall well short of the live gate number from 2016.
The UFC will top the live gate numbers from 2017 and 2018. During those two years the promotion brought in $44,744,143.28 and $66,808.666.31 at the gate, but it will fall far short of the $88,806,982.50 live gate from the year before.
Care to guess what the difference was between 2016 and 2019? If anyone needs a hint, here are two letters, CM.
No, CM Punk was not the difference-maker, although he did fight Mickey Gall in 2016.
Give it another shot and this time, think green and gold.
Yes, that’s right, Conor McGregor was the difference. McGregor fought three times in 2016. The combined live gate for those three events, which McGregor headlined, was over $33 million. The largest of those events, UFC 205, brought in an astounding $17,700,000.
So, while White and the UFC are sure to brag about the attendance (which I will say is entirely justified) don’t forget that that number is not nearly as important to the UFC’s ownership group as the amount of money the promotion brings in. That fact is especially true since the vast majority of that money goes not to the fighters, but to the UFC.
I don’t believe McGregor should fight while he is under active investigation for two sexual assaults. However, we know the UFC has no such qualms.
As such, I fully expect McGregor to be booked to fight under the UFC banner as early as possible in 2020. If that fight brings in even a third of what UFC 205 generated at the gate, count on the UFC trying to add at least one additional McGregor bout to the 2020 schedule.
Fans can bet that McGregor and his team know these numbers. They can also be sure that McGregor and company are going to do everything they can to force the UFC to pay up, because the UFC needs McGregor a lot more than he needs the UFC heading into 2020.
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