If UFC 261 felt like a big event, it’s because it was.
Mainstream attention for the event was off the hook. Internet traffic was also big. We’re talking Conor McGregor-esque fight big. And now Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has let slip the numbers the event did on ESPN+ ... and they’re pretty big.
According to Sports Business Journal (the gold standard these days for in-the-know PPV numbers), UFC 261 sold at least 700,000 buys domestically in the United States. That’s pretty damn impressive given the fact that ESPN+ is now the exclusive stateside seller of UFC pay-per-view (PPV) events. People who want to buy a UFC PPV these days have to pay for ESPN+ before paying for the UFC PPV. That’s two gates, and the numbers for UFC 261 show you why ESPN is so hot on mixed martial arts (MMA).
Now let’s not blow things through the roof. UFC’s biggest events break one million these days. The first Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal event at UFC 251 sold 1.3 million PPVs off the strength of the “Fight Island” debut and everything else in the world being shut down by COVID-19. And we imagine Conor McGregor is happy knowing he’s still around 500,000 buys above the next biggest superstars in UFC.
Before we mention the fact that last weekend’s Triller event featuring Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren, which sold a reported 1.3 million PPV buys, we should say that UFC President, Dana White, has thrown some serious shade at that number.
“They said they did two million pay-per-views, too,” White said during the UFC 261 post-event press conference. “I don’t believe anything they say, that’s a f—king circus. None of that’s real. You think any of that s—t that’s going on over there is real? Come on man.”
Regardless, we’re sure everyone on UFC’s side is pretty happy with the domestic numbers for UFC 261, and we wouldn’t be surprised if international buys push the event up close to one million.
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