International Sports

A record 2 million pay-per-view sales predicted for Conor McGregor’s UFC return

Key Points
  • Two-weight UFC Champion will fight unbeaten lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov on October 6th.
  • McGregor hasn’t fought since boxing against Floyd Mayweather in August 2017, when he earned $100 million dollars.
  • UFC President Dana White said the fight will be the “biggest fight in the history of the company."
Conor McGregor hits the heavy bag during a media workout at the UFC Performance Institute on August 11, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Brandon Magnus | Zuffa LLC | Getty Images

Controversial Irish fighter Conor McGregor announced his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) after not taking part in the sport for the last two years.

UFC 229 on October 6 in Las Vegas will be the setting for McGregor against Russian lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, with UFC President Dana White promising over the weekend that it will be the "biggest fight in the history of the company."

Negotiations appeared to have stalled for this grudge match, with undefeated Nurmagomedov demanding to renegotiate his UFC contract, suggesting he doesn't need to fight McGregor, but if the company wanted it to happen, it needed to be worth it.

White is already doing his best to hype the fight, saying this meeting could provide a new pay-per-view record for UFC. "In the 2 million ballpark," White said to Canadian Sports Network TSN when asked about potential pay-per-view sales. "We're looking at 2 million pay-per-view buys."

McGregor's last Mixed Martial Arts outing in November 2016 against Eddie Alvarez on the fight card of UFC 205, drew an estimated 1.3 million PPV buys, according to MMA site Tapology.

That fight saw 30-year-old McGregor knock out Alvarez to win the lightweight title and become the first fighter to hold two UFC belts at the same time.

Since then, his only prize fight has been a lucrative boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather which he lost, but still walked away with a reported $100 million purse.

More recently, McGregor pleaded guilty in New York last month to a misdemeanour disorderly conduct charge for throwing a hand truck at a bus full of fighters, including Nurmagomedov in Brooklyn in April.

McGregor to make UFC return against Nurmagomedov on October 6
McGregor to make UFC return against Nurmagomedov on October 6

That was the latest question raised relating to McGregor's motivation to continue in the sport, after his MMA inactivity and brief foray into boxing. His lavish lifestyle and other business interests have also come in for scrutiny.

Currently ranked number four on Forbes Highest Paid Athletes list, McGregor is valued at $99 million and is backed by sponsors including Beats by Dr. Dre, Burger King and Monster Energy drink. Cars are an important feature of McGregor's image as well, with over 10 luxury vehicles making up his fleet. That includes his custom Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, valued at around $500,000.

UFC's sharp rise in popularity can be put down in part to the efforts of fighters like McGregor, Rhonda Rousey and Brock Lesner, the latter two having now departed for stints in the WWE. More indication of its global appeal came this weekend, when the organization announced a first event in Beijing at the end of November.

UFC Fight Night Beijing marks a return to China for the first time since debuting there last year. In a move to rival One Championship, Asia's other major MMA force, UFC will use the event to mix local Chinese fighters with others from its stable.

"China is the next frontier for the growth of UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts, and this market is paramount to our success internationally," UFC Vice President of Asia-Pacific Kevin Chang said Sunday.