Conor McGregor’s fight with Jose Aldo set a UFC record on Saturday night by generating a $10.1 million gate at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He’s become the biggest star in MMA, and the new featherweight champ is looking to make even more history.
McGregor was immensely popular before he became the undisputed champion, but his 13-second knockout of Aldo at UFC 194 has made him a superstar. After Saturday’s fight, McGregor said he had his eyes set on headlining a pay-per-view that would generate more money than the May 2 boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
“What did Floyd vs Manny do? 72 Million? I’m catching up,” McGregor said at the UFC 194 post-fight press conference, via Bloody Elbow. “I’m only 27. Them old motherf—–s were 40 before they got that. I’m only warming up!"
“I said to [UFC co-owner] Lorenzo [Fertitta], and I said to [UFC president] Dana [White], I’m bringing in these big numbers,” McGregor continued. “I’m bringing in these half a billion dollar revenues, like the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has done.”
“At 27 years of age, with every record in the book, with weight divisions above, ready for me to go at, super-fights left and right. Tell me one other champion who has been like that,” he added. “I’m bringing these numbers, and sky’s the limit.”
UFC continues to become more of a mainstream sport in the U.S., and at just 27 years old, McGregor’s stardom will only continue to grow. But that is a lofty goal that won’t be easy for him to attain.
Mayweather and Pacquiao were much more established than McGregor is. The two boxers combined for 110 career fights before they met, while McGregor has only been in the octagon 21 times.
Most importantly, McGregor will need to find a formidable opponent. Mayweather and Pacquiao weren’t only the two best boxers at the time of their match, but they were the sport’s top stars of their generation. While Aldo dominated the featherweight division for years, he was never a huge PPV draw. It could be years before McGregor ever has the chance to face another star of his caliber.
Much of the boxing world was disappointed that Mayweather and Pacquiao didn’t meet in 2010 when they were both in their prime, but the long wait actually helped anticipation for the fight grow. It was a five-year build up that resulted in well over four million PPV buys. Even if McGregor eventually faces off with a UFC star that crosses over to the mainstream like he has, it will be difficult to manufacture the rivalry that grew between boxing’s top welterweights.
McGregor headlined UFC 189 in July, generating close to one million PPV buys and a $7.2 million gate for his main event match against Chad Mendes. Even if he doesn’t approach the mark set by Mayweather and Pacquiao, he seems poised to continue to set UFC records that will be difficult for anyone else to match.