The dust has settled on one of the world’s most anticipated fights with Irishman Conor McGregor taking out the featherweight title against Jose Aldo in an unbelievable thirteen second knockout.
It’s been slated as the UFC’s biggest event to date, a fight which the organisation claims is even bigger than any Floyd Mayweather event.
That’s a fair bragging call against another code, but for a company which pulled in an estimated US$10 million from gate sales alone and an extra +$100 million from pay per view in America, the revenue for one night’s bout is absolutely staggering.
So is UFC still a sport or purely a business?
UFC President Dana White told reporters at a press conference earlier in the week that “this fight is the biggest gate we’ve ever done in the MGM.”
“The metrics are off the chart. I’m looking to break some records.”
Records aside, the point here is that the UFC brand’s continual growth on a global scale is proving that hand-to-hand combat is no longer a viable industry – it’s a lucrative one.
The package isn’t all a showcase of brute force though. A lot of it, as many expect, lies in the characters that drive the sport and hype before every title match. Think wrestling archetypes without the animated acting.
Better yet, think McGregor – a crude, trash talking Irishman who lives up to his brawler stereotype in front of the cameras, and then follows through with sheer brutality in the ring. He may have his detractors, but there’s no doubting that these are the types of anti-hero personalities that bring in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the sport.
Dublin-born McGregor is one of these few men. He went from a plumbing apprentice who had his Opel Astra repossessed, to a fierce MMA fighter in just two year and is now a UFC rock star.
It’s little wonder the Irishman can make public statements such as, “I’m in a totally different stratosphere to the rest of them,” or “this sport has never had anything like me. I am blazing a trail.”
It’s investing big in these types of fighters that have paid off for the UFC. What White saw as a $2 million business opportunity way back in 2001 has now grown into an organisation claimed to be worth up to $3.5 billion.
The UFC are often tightlipped about financials, but whether there’s any truth to that claim, one would suspect it’s only a matter of time. With the sport’s popularity cementing itself year on year, comments from people like McGregor telling reporters that he will be the first-ever $100 million UFC contract could well be a reality.
“I’m waiting on my next multi, nine-figure contract, which is en route,” he told The MMA Hour.
“I just let everyone up there know, I let the bosses know and everybody there know what I bring and my worth. I am a man with something to prove. And a man with something to prove is a dangerous individual.”
“I’m bringing these big numbers and the sky is the limit.”