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UFC 251, headlined by Kamaru Usman-Jorge Masvidal, generated around 1.3 million pay-per-view buys, per The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger.
For context, this is a massive number. Not just for this card, but historically. This equals the sales of Canelo Álvarez vs.Gennady Golovkin, which benefited from years of hype. According to Business Insider, Canelo-GGG ranks 21st on the list of the highest-selling combat sports cards.
More surprisingly, Usman-Masvidal topped McGregor-Cerrone, with approximately one million buys, earlier this year. Despite the intrigue of “Fight Island,” McGregor’s return garnered far more mainstream pre-fight discussion.
What’s more, UFC 251 toppled February’s Fury-Wilder II, which sold between 800,000-850,000 pay-per-views. That fight was the most hyped non-Mayweather boxing matchup of the past decade.
Interestingly, Usman-Masvidal, as did McGregor-Cerrone, suffered some airing via ESPN’s distribution method. ESPN only allows subscribers of ESPN+ the option to purchase UFC events in the U.S. Which makes the total that much more impressive. Under the old method, the sales would be substantially higher.
Despite his loss, UFC has found a draw in Masvidal. The sport needs some semblance of an individual star with the futures of its two biggest, McGregor and Jon Jones, unknown. Or in McGregor’s case, the urge to retire every few weeks.
Only five UFC cards have reached the 1.3 million mark, the most recent being Khabib-McGregor, with its UFC record of 2.4 million.
Here are the pay-per-view sales of the 10 best-selling combat sports cards, via Business Insider:
10. Mike Tyson v Evander Holyfield — 1.59 million
9. Brock Lesnar v Frank Mir II — 1.6 million
8. Nate Diaz v Conor McGregor II — 1.65 million
7. Lennox Lewis v Mike Tyson — 1.97 million
6. Evander Holyfield v Mike Tyson II — 1.99 million
5. Floyd Mayweather v Canelo Álvarez — 2.2 million
4. Oscar de la Hoya v Floyd Mayweather — 2.4 million
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor — 2.5 million
2. Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor — 4.3 million
1. Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao — 4.6 million