Conor McGregor became the UFC’s first ever simultaneous two-weight champion last Saturday night where, at UFC 205, he defeated Eddie Alvarez to add the lightweight belt to his featherweight title.
The victory cemented the Irishman’s place as the biggest name in MMA, and following his victory ‘The Notorious’ one had a couple of announcements to make. The first was the long touted ‘left field’ news that Dana White had alluded to weeks earlier.
It had been rumoured that McGregor is set to become a father and at his post-fight press conference, he confirmed as much. However, it was his second announcement that will have grabbed the attention of UFC bosses.
Set to bank in the region of $40 million this year McGregor is keenly aware of his value to the promotion. Any event he has headlined over the last two years has been one of the biggest pay-per-view draws and from a business perspective, the man is a golden ticket.
Now, following what was yet another record breaking event, McGregor has issued UFC bosses a demand for equity in the company.
According to Bloody Elbow, this demand has just received a massive boost. Though definitive pay-per-view numbers are not released by the company, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer has compiled figures based on industry estimates and they make for incredible reading.
Looking at the UFC’s other big names, the assumed top draw, Ronda Rousey, pulled in some 5.1 million buys over seven events, a 730,000 average.
Georges St-Pierre took in 10.5 million buys over 14 fights, a 750,000 average, while Brock Lesnar managed an impressive 7.7 million buys over eight events, an average of 970,000.
Taking a look at McGregor’s figures, for his first three headlining pay-per-view events, the Irishman had 3.5 million buys. This is an incredible average of over 1.1 million per event and easily makes him the number one draw in MMA, ever.
These three events, held between July of 2015 and March of 2016, amount to more PPV buys than the entire UFC roster in 2014. Spinning it another way, in the last twelve months, up to and including UFC 205, where preliminary figures look like it was a 1.6 million PPV event, the man from Dublin can claim over 6 million buys.
On his own, therefore, McGregor drew down almost double the figures achieved by the entire UFC roster in 2014. Cut it whatever way you want, Conor McGregor is the biggest star of the UFC. Forget Rousey, forget Lesnar, forget GSP.
So what does this mean for his demand of part-ownership? Simply put, he might actually have a strong case. The dual champion has changed the way in which MMA and the UFC is perceived by the mainstream media. Increased sponsorship deals have flowed in since his arrival in 2013. Pay-per-view buys have reached dizzying heights.
Most astoundingly, at 28, McGregor is only now reaching his prime. The manner in which he decimated the rock solid Eddie Alvarez last weekend showed the world that the McGregor show is only getting better.
Whenever he chooses to fight again next year, it is already a nailed on record breaker. Be it at featherweight, lightweight or even welterweight, the clamour to watch the champion redefine the sport and rewrite the record books is simply staggering.
Conor McGregor is a ‘golden goose’ for the UFC. They have made him an incredibly rich man while, at the same time, he has brought untold riches and opportunities in the door at UFC headquarters.
Whether he will be cut a slice of the pie remains to be seen but looking at his value to the business from a pay-per-view perspective, it has very hard to argue that he doesn’t have just cause to demand more.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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