MMA Mathematics – Would McGregor-GSP be the highest selling PPV of all time?

Conor McGregor
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Conor McGregor attends The Fashion Awards 2017 in partnership with Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 4, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/BFC/Getty Images)

The MMA community is licking their chops at a potential Conor McGregor vs. Georges St-Pierre matchup. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself:

Now, I know Firas Zahabi is probably a little biased. But, it is undeniable that McGregor-GSP would most likely top 2 million PPV buys. But, would it top the holy grail of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao’s record 4.6 million buys? Let’s take a look!

McGregor has headlined 5 events in the UFC:

UFC 189 – McGregor vs. Mendes (825k buys)
UFC 194 – McGregor vs. Aldo (1.025m buys)
UFC 196 – McGregor vs. Diaz (1.317m buys)
UFC 202 – McGregor vs. Diaz 2 (1.65m buys)
UFC 205 – McGregor vs. Alvarez (1.3m buys)

GSP has more than twice the amount of card headlines that McGregor has. So, comparing his top five looks like this:

UFC 158 – GSP vs. Diaz (950k buys)
UFC 94 – GSP vs. Penn 2 (920k buys)
UFC 217 – GSP vs. Bisping (875k buys)
UFC 124 – GSP vs. Koscheck (785 buys)
UFC 111 – GSP vs. Hardy (770k)

Looking at the buys, only one of McGregor’s five cards (McGregor vs. Mendes) was less than St-Pierre’s top card (GSP vs. Diaz). But, to be fair, GSP is partially responsible for the fruitfulness that McGregor enjoys. GSP paved the way for McGregor to launch from. (I also give Ronda Rousey credit for elevating the sport even further for McGregor, but people seem to not like to credit her anymore).

On the other hand, GSP did have a comeback fight where he secured a second belt post-McGregor and Rousey. But that card “only” did 875k. Compare that to Conor’s clenching of the second belt (McGregor-Alvarez, 1.3 million buys) and it’s clear that even though McGregor had a better launching pad, he is the bigger star.

Numbers don’t lie…

Conor McGregor enjoys an average PPV buy rate of 1.223 million. That doesn’t even count Mayweather-McGregor. GSP, alternatively, sits at 860k in his top 5 cards. McGregor is the obvious star here.

St-Pierre is the biggest star that Conor McGregor will have faced if the fight were to happen. It’s not about the biggest stars, however. Jose Aldo was the biggest and best fighter Conor McGregor ever faced. He was the UFC’s only featherweight champion. But, it was the rematch with Nate Diaz that is McGregor’s highest PPV sell. Why?

Drama

You see, after McGregor fought and lost to Nate Diaz, there was drama beyond anything we could have expected. The trash talk and the defeat from the massive underdog, Diaz, sold the fight. It was that history that sold the rematch into McGregor’s highest UFC fight card.

GSP stays away from drama, or he just isn’t as good at selling it.

Compare that to Conor’s hype machine:

It is just not comparable. GSP relies on past performances to build his following, while Conor talks the talk and walks the walk.

Look at the golden standard. How long did Mayweather and Pacquiao build their fight? Mayweather built his reputation and backed it up. Pacman did as well. After YEARS of back and forth, it finally happened and both fighters reaped the rewards.

Now, let’s breakdown Mayweather-McGregor. 4.3 million buys is what the super fight brought in, just shy of breaking the record that both fighters predicted. Here is what Mayweather-McGregor had working for it:

– Floyd Mayweather, the ultimate PPV machine
– Boxing fans
– MMA fans
– Two best trash talkers of all time
– Floyd breaking the all-time boxing record
– Conor McGregor’s knockout potential
– Showtime promotion
– UFC promotion
– Soccer moms were aware of the fight

ALL THAT hype and it didn’t break the drama-filled Mayweather-Pacquiao record. Do you know why? NO DRAMA! We all KNEW how the fight would end. It still sold a lot but not enough to be crowned king.

The verdict:

The UFC has never been anywhere near the 4.6 million buy range. In fact, it would take the top three UFC cards of all time (UFC 202, UFC 100, and UFC 196) to eclipse 4.6 million buys. Georges St-Pierre’s top 5 selling cards don’t even eclipse the 4.6 million mark.

Simply put, with the numbers stacked up, McGregor vs. GSP would probably do about half of what Mayweather-Pacquiao would do. No small feat, but not the all time king. But, the fight would be atop of the UFC’s PPV list, making the spring board that much closer to taking the record!

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