Conor McGregor is still big business for the UFC as he and Dustin Poirier helped generate a reported 1.6 million pay-per-view buys for Saturday's UFC 257 according to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal.
Ourand said sources have the domestic total at 1.2 million buys with an additional 400,000 purchased internationally. After the event, Dana White said the event would likely be either the second or third highest in company history. McGregor has been in the main event of the top five best-selling UFC PPVs of all time with his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 holding the top spot at 2.4 million buys.
From a technical perspective, the show had its issues as hundreds of thousands of potential buyers attempted to buy right before the main card started, causing a bottleneck that resulted in many unable to watch the show as it started -- even those who had pre-bought the event.
ESPN issued a statement that night, saying “We are aware of an issue impacting some fans’ ability to access to tonight’s PPV event and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible." It's unknown if the 1.6 million includes those buys which technically failed to play and/or refunds.
The event was also the first since ESPN raised the UFC PPV price to $69.99, an increase of $5 from 2020.
Poirier defeated the Irish star by second round TKO in the main event which also featured the debut of former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler in the co-main event.
Ourand also reported that "ESPN has reacted so well to the numbers that execs are talking about finding more windows" on ABC for more live UFC shows. The UFC made its ABC debut on January 16th with an afternoon show opposite an NFL playoff game that still averaged 1.22 million viewers. Ourand said that number "convinced ESPN execs to try and find more ABC windows for UFC."