If you’re wondering which UFC events made the biggest splash in combat sports history, look no further.
I’ve ranked the top 10 UFC PPV buys in the promotion’s history, using a combined analysis of PPV ticket prices, the number of PPV buys per event, and gate sales.
Table of Contents
Biggest UFC PPV buys by total revenue
Inside this ranking, I’ll count down from the least to the most total revenue.
Try this interactive graph that shows a preview of the top 10 events ranking by total revenue:
Let's look into the details behind each event and how their key revenue was generated.
10. Brock Lesnar v Frank Mir II (UFC 100) — $59,041,740
The UFC reaching one hundred major events was one hell of a milestone.
The promotion had its struggles in the early 00s to build momentum, make enough revenue to survive, and battle with many state rules banning professional fighting.
Brock Lesnar's transition from pro wrestling to the UFC in 2008 came at a pivotal time that enabled audiences to crossover and bring a massive crowd from the wrestling fanbase into real combat sports.
Brock's entry to the UFC saw him lose swiftly to a kneebar submission against Frank, but as Brock put a couple of wins under his belt, the rematch was inevitable.
Lesnar continued his winning streak by defeating Mir via TKO in the second round, electrifying the combat sports world.
When UFC 100 came around in 2009, the event broke records that continue to last today despite 14 years since.
When UFC 100 took place in 2009, the PPV cost $44.95 to get access, with 1.3 million buys total.
This contributed to generating approximately $58 million in PPV revenue.
Add to that the $5 million from 9,764 ticket sales at the gate, and you reach $63 million in total revenue.
9. Aldo vs. McGregor (UFC 194) — $81,994,249
This event catapulted Conor McGregor into insane levels of stardom with his swift knockout of Jose Aldo.
Although there was plenty of hype surrounding The Notorious from what was then a six-fight win streak, combat sports overall were still growing.
When the event took place in 2015, the UFC hadn't even hit its peak yet — which came shortly after in 2016.
The tenacity and excitement that McGregor brought to the UFC and all of combat sports, and his masterful trash-talking to Aldo in the buildup, made this event so monolithic.
For UFC 194 in 2015, the PPV cost $59.99, with 1.2 million buys total.
That generated $71 million in PPV revenue.
The 16,516 attendees at the gate added a further $10 million, for a total of $81 million in revenue for the event.
8. Usman vs. Masvidal (UFC 251) — $84,487,000
During the height of the COVID situation in 2020, a selection of UFC fighters were invited to join a "bubble" on what became Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
The event was initially intended for Perth, Australia, in June. But as the worldwide panic set in, Australia closed its borders and made travel there impossible.
Dana White had the smarts to keep the fight game going for the UFC despite the conditions and successfully captured a global audience of very bored and locked-up people to create the 8th most successful event in UFC's history.
Despite having a closed event with no gate revenue, UFC 251 still generated 1,300,000 (1.3 million) PPV buys.
It was a special event that featured three championship matchups for the Welterweight, Featherweight, and Bantamweight belts, plus many more great fights, including:
- Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
- Petr Yan vs. José Aldo
- Rose Namajunas vs. Jéssica Andrade
- Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant
- Jiří Procházka vs. Volkan Oezdemir
These factors likely contributed to the overall success of this event and entering this top ten.
There were, of course, no people in attendance and no money from the gate.
But based on the PPV price and the number of buys, the card could well have generated up to $84 million in revenue.
7. McGregor vs. Diaz (UFC 196) — $87,204,458
The inevitable moment when the baddest MF on the UFC roster clashed with the greatest trash-talking superstar — Diaz Vs. McGregor.
Just three months before, McGregor had knocked out Aldo in mere seconds to become the Featherweight champ.
This short turnaround time was made possible at Welterweight, where Conor could have a more relaxed weigh-in after cutting down so much against Aldo.
But that might just have been his Achilles heel, facing Nate Diaz at a weight class far outside his usual experience.
Extra weight meant more power behind the punches, which turned out to be very effective for Nate to wear Conor down and eventually submit him with the rear-naked choke.
The loss ended a 15-fight win streak for McGregor but showed the heart of both fighters, winning countless fans for both camps.
Conor would return once again, just a few months later, for the rematch at UFC 202.
For UFC 196 in 2016, the PPV cost $59.99, with 1,317,000 buys in total.
That generated $79 million in PPV revenue.
The 14,898 attendees at the gate contributed another $8.1 million, for a total revenue of $87.2 million.
6. Alvarez vs. McGregor (UFC 205) — $95,687,000
Conor McGregor's prime moment was during this event where he defeated Alvarez in clinical fashion to grab the Lightweight belt and become the champ-champ.
The first UFC champion in history to hold two belts of separate divisions at the same time.
For UFC 205 in 2016, the PPV cost $59.99, with a total of 1.3 million PPV buys.
That generated $77.9 million in PPV revenue.
The 20,427 attendees at Madison Square Garden contributed another $17.7 million in gate revenue, for a total revenue of $95.6 million.
5. McGregor Vs. Cerrone (UFC 246) — $99,046,980
After a break from mixed martial arts, as McGregor went off to face Floyd Mayweather, fans were eagerly anticipating his return to the octagon.
It was the perfect stylistic matchup for Conor, too, as he secured a warmup fight with Donald Cerrone.
A fighter that had name and recognition, but was potentially at the beginning of his way out of the UFC (he has since retired).
An electric entry into this fight and a swift knockout victory exploded McGregor's name back onto the map.
For UFC 246 in 2020, the PPV cost $64.99, with a total of 1,353,429 PPV buys.
That generated $87.9 million in PPV revenue.
The 19,040 attendees at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas contributed another $11 million in gate revenue.
My research estimates total revenue of $99 million for this event.
4. Diaz Vs. McGregor II (UFC 202) — $103,684,810
The rematch between Diaz and McGregor was one of Conor's greatest moments in my opinion.
He suffered a loss to Nate but came back with an incredible amount of grit and hard work to overcome the lanky and multi-disciplined Diaz brother.
This fight will go down as one of my favorite Conor McGregor moments as he proved he was still one of the best in the game at that time.
For UFC 202 in 2016, the PPV cost $59.99, with a total of 1.6 million PPV buys.
That generated $95.9 million in PPV revenue.
The 15,539 attendees at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas contributed another $7.7 million in gate revenue.
This concludes an estimated total revenue of $103.6 million for this event.
3. Poirier Vs. McGregor II (UFC 257) — $111,984,000
The unique event that saw Poirier get his chance to run it back with the notorious Conor McGregor.
It was also an excellent opportunity for Dustin to expand his businesses, where his Louisiana hot sauce featured as he gifted a bottle to Conor in their faceoff.
More than that, he was successful to even the score with Conor after he defeated him by knockout. A defeat that the Irishman took well, probably for the first time in his career!
For UFC 257 in 2021, the PPV cost $69.99, with a total of 1.6 million PPV buys.
That generated $111.9 million in PPV revenue.
There were approximately 2,600 attendees for this event at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, but it was still a "closed event," so there wasn't any paid gate revenue contributing to the event.
This puts the total revenue at $111.9 million for this event.
2. Poirier vs. McGregor III (UFC 264) — $141,741,800
Conor made the trilogy happen with Dustin Poirier, trying to recover his loss just months earlier.
Unlike his previous rematch with Poirier, McGregor decided to go full outlandish in the fight buildup to try and get under his opponent's skin.
But it never seemed to work as Dustin remained calm all throughout the buildup as he knew that it was one of Conor's few tactics he had left in his pocket to get an edge.
The new bad blood between the two created the kind of interest that brought more global fans to watch as Conor suffered a nasty leg break and ended the fight earlier than expected.
For UFC 264 in 2021, the PPV cost $69.99, with a total of 1.8 million PPV buys.
That generated $125.9 million in PPV revenue.
The 20,062 attendees at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas added another $15.7 million in gate revenue.
This puts the total revenue at $141.7 million for the trilogy.
1. Khabib Vs. McGregor (UFC 229) — $173,164,894
The biggest moneymaker in the UFC's history was the draw of the conflict between the reserved Khabib and the outlandish Conor for UFC 229.
McGregor was doing everything he could to make a repeat of the hype he once generated for his clash with Aldo.
Harsh levels of trash talk and even violence between the fighters and their teams went on for months into the buildup for this one.
Fans around the globe were tuning in, with the entire Russian continent in support of Khabib and many for either the love or hate of The Notorious.
You either wanted to see him KO Khabib or wanted to see The Eagle do what he does best (and did) and smash.
For UFC 229 in 2018, the PPV cost $64.99, with a total of 2.4 million PPV buys.
That generated $155.9 million in PPV revenue.
The 20,034 attendees at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas added another $17.1 million in gate revenue.
This puts the total revenue at $173.1 million for Khabib Vs. McGregor and still, after five years, remains the greatest PPV event for the UFC of all time.
Digging into the PPV statistics
There are other ways to rate the success of these top UFC events. Take a look below.
Ranked by PPV ticket buys (revenue)
When ranking by the PPV ticket buys alone, only a few spots change the overall ranking.
Usman Vs. Masvidal (UFC 251) jumps into the 6th spot (from 8th on the total revenue ranking) largely because it was a huge UFC event where 99% of viewership had to be from home.
This was due to the COVID situation in the middle of 2020.
Then Alvarez Vs. McGregor (UFC 205) drops down to the 8th spot while others shuffle around.
So, generally speaking, the ranking doesn't change much in this sample bar a couple of outlier scenarios.
Ranked by PPV buy rate (total)
These are the top ten events when considering the buy rate alone. That's the total number of PPV buys.
As you can tell, Conor McGregor's name often features, with only two of the top ten events having not featured him.
UFC 100 had a big attraction due to the Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar rematch.
The beef between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, a global lockdown, plus an excellent fight card helped push that event into the list.
Ranked by gate ticket revenue
Both UFC 251 & UFC 257 did not have any official gate revenue since it was during the COVID situation and there were no public ticket sales.
When comparing the UFC events by the gate revenue, Alvarez Vs. McGregor for UFC 205 jumps ahead into the top spot.
It's still the best event based on sales at the gate with only UFC 229 coming close to it.
At this stage of the UFC, it seems unlikely that it'll be beaten anytime soon since the draw of Conor McGregor is reducing each year.
Average UFC PPV buys
The average PPV buys from the top ten UFC events is 1,507,043.
But considering data from every year between 2008-2018, the average UFC PPV buys drops massively to 373,611.
Sources & methodology
PPV buys: I collected the total number of PPV sales generated from the event.
- How many pay-per-view buys did UFC 229 do? (Sportskeeda)
- Report: UFC 264 does monster pay-per-view numbers, Poirier vs. McGregor 3 tops rematch (MMA Junkie)
- Conor McGregor reveals huge UFC 257 pay-per-view buys for rematch with Dustin Poirier (MMA Fighting)
- Top 10 UFC PPV buys of all time, ranked (MMA Mania)
- Average number of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Pay-Per-View (PPV) buys per event from 2001 to 2018 (Statista)
PPV ticket price: I researched the PPV ticket prices by finding quality sources to confirm PPV prices either by the event itself or for that year. The highest ticket price is always used. For example, some years had SD or HD PPV price differences.
- McGregor vs Khabib pay per view price (Sports Illustrated)
- Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier ticket prices are insane, but PPV is a lot cheaper. Here’s how to order (NJ.com)
- UFC 257: Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 2 (The Athletic)
- Philippines Offers the Lowest Prices for UFC 202 Pay-per-View (Newswire)
- When Is Conor Mcgregor's Next Fight? Ufc 246 Date, Time, Ppv Price, Card, Odds for Mcgregor Vs. 'Cowboy' Cerrone (DAZN)
- UFC 200 time, fight card, and PPV ordering information (ForTheWin/USAToday)
- How to watch UFC 251: UFC's 'Fight Island' starts this weekend with 3 championship matches (Business Insider)
- Order UFC 100 pay-per-view on UFC.com, and get the prelims fights for free (MMAJunkie)
Total PPV revenue per event: A simple calculation of PPV ticket price X Total pay-per-view buys per event gave me a good estimate of the total revenue generated for PPV ticket sales.
Gate attendees: I pulled the gate attendees for each event.
- UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor Does Second Highest Gate in UFC History (Yahoo! Sports)
- UFC 264 post-event facts: Dustin Poirier joins exclusive 20-win club (MMA Junkie)
- UFC given huge boost as Abu Dhabi confirm ‘limited number’ of fans can watch Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier rematch on Fight Island (TalkSPORT)
- UFC 202 attendance: Entertaining card nets fifth highest gate in UFC history (MMA Junkie)
- Conor McGregor's return draws announced 19,040 attendance, $11 million live gate at UFC 246 (MMA Junkie)
- UFC 205 draws 20,427 fans in New York City debut, smashes gate record with $17.7 million (MMA Junkie)
- UFC 196 draws announced 14,898 fans in Las Vegas for $8.1 million live gate (MMA Junkie)
- Where is UFC Fight Island? Inside UFC 251 location in pictures (Radio Times)
- UFC 194 draws reported 16,516 attendance for $10.1 million live gate (MMA Junkie)
- UFC 100 officially nets second-largest gate in company history with $5.13 million (MMA Junkie)
Gate ticket revenue: Total ticket sales/revenue was sourced from the below. These are often made publicly available for each UFC event.
- Nevada's Top 35 MMA Gates (State of Nevada Athletic Commission via Archive.org)
- UFC 264 post-event facts: Dustin Poirier joins exclusive 20-win club (MMAJunkie)
- UFC 205 draws 20,427 fans in New York City debut, smashes gate record with $17.7 million (MMAJunkie)
Total revenue per event: I combined the Total PPV revenue per event with the Gate ticket revenue to get a final total revenue for each UFC event.
(Featured image of UFC octagon) The original uploader was East718 at English Wikipedia., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Press & media inquiries
If you have any feedback about this top ten, the data I've collected, or any other press and media inquiries you can email me on [email protected]