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Mayweather vs. McGregor: Ticket demand isn't living up to the hype

  • The Aug. 26 fight between boxer Floyd Mayweather and MMA fighter Conor McGregor is getting a huge amount of hype.
  • However, ticket demand isn't quite living up to the hype.
  • The cheapest ticket for this fight right now is $1,500, a far cry from the "low" of $4,000 for the last mega Vegas matchup – Mayweather-Pacquiao.
  • There is also a relatively high quantity of tickets available in the secondary market.

In the history of sports fandom, dream matchups have been the topic of much discussion, debate and hype. While some, like the debate between the 1960s Celtics and 1980s Lakers, will never be settled, current-day dream matchups, like LeBron versus Steph and Brady versus Manning, can be settled between the lines. The latest incarnation of that hype will take place when Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor step into the ring at T-Mobile Arena on August 26.

As with any dream matchup, ticket demand is high, and currently the cheapest ticket on the secondary market to see the fight is $1,500. While that makes it one of the most expensive "combat" events — mixed martial arts or boxing — that TicketIQ has tracked over the last eight years, demand isn't nearly as robust as promoters would have liked.

A few weeks ahead of the last mega Vegas fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015, the cheapest ticket was $4,000, more than double current prices for Mayweather-McGregor. That fight had a title on the line, and was between the two best boxers of their generation.

When tickets first went on sale for Mayweather-McGregor, Ticketmaster expected demand to be so high that it rolled out a new bot-busting Verified fan tool, which is also being used for ultra high demand events like Hamilton and Bruce Springsteen on Broadway.

But, despite a series of reality-TV worthy press junkets hyping this fight, neither bots nor humans have been interested in paying face prices. A week after tickets first went on sale, nearly 2,000 tickets hit the secondary market. These tickets were priced at roughly a 30-percent discount to "face price," and since then, prices are down another 30 percent. With nearly 1,500 tickets still available, it's likely that prices will continue to fall in the days leading up to the fight.

In the 10 days before Mayweather-Pacquiao, average prices fell 17 percent. If the same happens for or Mayweather-McGregor, the cheapest ticket for fight night would be close to $1,000.

Regardless of how low prices go, though, the majority of travelers coming to Vegas will not even think about buying tickets. Instead, they'll choose to pay anywhere from $60 for general admission to $1,000 for a 10-person table with bottle service to watch the fight on closed circuit.

For Mayweather-Pacquiao, one week before the event, not only were all those tickets completely sold out, but there were over 1,000 tickets for sale on the secondary market — roughly three times as many tickets as were available for the fight itself.

We'll see how that plays out with Mayweather-McGregor in these final days leading up to the fight.

Commentary by Jesse Lawrence, the founder of event ticket search site TicketIQ. Follow the company on Twitter @Ticket_IQ.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

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