UFC 254 only ‘FIFTH biggest pay-per-view event in 2020 with 675,000 buys’ for Khabib’s win over Justin Gaethje as promotion takes hit after moving away from primetime TV slot in US
- UFC president Dana White had said the event was ‘trending off the charts’
- But the 675,000 buys for UFC 254 do not come close to biggest card of the year
- Kamaru Usman’s title defence against Jorge Masvidal did 1.3million buys
- But Khabib vs Gaethje was shown at 2:00pm in US, meaning lower numbers
Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s victory over Justin Gaethje and subsequent retirement was the landmark moment of the year for the promotion from a sporting perspective but it seems they have paid the price for changing the timings.
The fight was broadcast at 2:00pm in the United States, moved back from a prime time slot to cater to Khabib’s fans in Europe.
Dana White was optimistic about UFC 254’s pay-per-view potential but he will be disappointed
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s huge fight with Justin Gaethje was not on primetime in the US
TOP FIVE UFC PAY-PER-VIEW CARD IN 2020:
Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal – 1.3million buys
Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone – 1million buys
Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa – 700,000 buys
Justin Gaethje vs Tony Ferguson – 700,000 buys
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje – 675,000 buys
Having an early to mid afternoon time meant the event was in direct competition with college American football in the US and the numbers predictably took a hit.
Last week, White had told TMZ: ‘This thing is trending off the charts for us right now.
‘So, today is Tuesday and on Monday, this thing was trending to be the biggest fight we have ever had. Not Thursday, not Friday, Monday.
‘Will the trend hold? One of the things that is a big negative for us is that it is not in primetime at home and it is hard to message that to people.’
And his fears were confirmed, according to the Sports Business Journal, who report that UFC 254 delivered 675,000 pay-per-view buys with 500,000 of those from the US and an average of 343,000 viewers for the pre-lims.
Khabib had his hand raised for the 29th time and then retired after the victory
The record number for pay-per-view buys in UFC history was the UFC 229 grudge match between Conor McGregor and Khabib which drew 2.4million.
And having worked tirelessly to secure a contingency plan while the coronavirus crisis rages on, the UFC have performed well with a number of other cards this year.
Jorge Masvidal’s short notice defeat by Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title on Fight Island is the most successful pay-per-view event of the year so far with 1.3m buys.
Then comes McGregor’s return against Donald Cerrone in January, which generated 1m before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The Russian’s fight with Gaethje was the biggest of the year in sporting terms for the UFC
Israel Adesanya’s title defence against Paulo Costa picked up 700,000, the same number as Gaethje’s interim title fight with Tony Ferguson.
Khabib’s retirement has been huge news since UFC 254 but the UFC will be disappointed not to have cashed in to the extent they might have with a prime time slot.
The promotion are anticipated to have eight more events this year with the next pay-per-view card taking place on November 21 as flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Alex Perez and women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko defends her belt against Jennifer Maia.