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Five Biggest Box Office Events In UFC History

With the historic UFC 300 taking place in April, Quintin van Jaarsveld looks back at the world’s pre-eminent mixed martial arts promotion’s five top-drawing pay-per-views of all time.

Conor McGregor

With the historic UFC 300 taking place in April, Quintin van Jaarsveld looks back at the world’s pre-eminent mixed martial arts promotion’s five top-drawing pay-per-views of all time.

There’s nothing in all of sports like a big fight and the UFC has become a combat sports juggernaut by consistently putting on the biggest and best fights possible.

With the rise of Conor McGregor as the biggest star in MMA history and undisputed king of pay-per-view, the UFC has smashed records and taken the sport to unprecedented heights.

With the game-changing Irish megastar as leading man, these are the five biggest UFC pay-per-views of all time:

5: UFC 246: McGregor v Cerrone

After a 15-month hiatus, McGregor made his highly anticipated return against Donald Cerrone at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on January 18, 2020.

The first-ever two-weight UFC champion was at this brilliant best, treating the capacity crowd and 1,353,429 fans who tuned in on pay-per-view to a thrilling 46-second thrashing of an outclassed “Cowboy”.

4: UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3

McGregor was unhinged going into the trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier at the T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021. With one win apiece, the respect McGregor showed Poirier ahead of their second showdown went out the window and he returned to his trash-talking ways, making things personal with comments about Poirier’s wife.

The 1,504,737 fans who watched on pay-per-view were eager for an epic conclusion, but the intended rubber match left everyone unsatisfied as McGregor broke his leg in freakish fashion at the end of the first round, resulting in a TKO win for Poirier that settled little.

3: UFC 257: Poirier v McGregor 2

Seven years after their first fight, which saw McGregor knockout Poirier in the first round, the pair renewed their rivalry on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on January 24, 2021.

McGregor was returning from a near-one-year layoff while “The Diamond” was as sharp as can be and it showed as the much-improved and dialled-in Poirier became the first man to knockout “The Notorious” inside the Octagon.

The second-round stunner was a superstar-making moment for Poirier with the fight drawing 1,600,000 pay-per-view buys.

2: UFC 202: McGregor v Diaz 2

After Nate Diaz shocked the world by submitting McGregor in their first meeting at UFC 196, which launched Diaz into mega-stardom, the heated rivals ran it back at the T-Mobile Arena on August 20, 2016.

The duo delivered in spades, putting on one of the greatest fights in UFC history – a back-and-forth five-round war watched by 1,600,000 people on pay-per-view, which ended with McGregor earning redemption via majority decision.

1: UFC 229: Nurmagomedov v McGregor

The biggest fight in UFC history centred on a blood feud between McGregor and undefeated lightweight champion of the world, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and took place at the T-Mobile Arena on October 6, 2018.

The bad blood boiled over before and after the much-anticipated megafight in two of the most infamous incidents in UFC history. McGregor, in a fit of rage, threw a dolly through the window of a bus Nurmagomedov was on in retaliation for the Dagestani slapping McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov.

The madness was akin to pouring gasoline on the pay-per-view fire and saw the fight garner a record 2,400,000 buys and generate a whopping $182 million. With tensions at an all-time high, Nurmagomedov proved he was the best 155-pounder on the planet as he submitted “The Notorious” in the fourth round and preceded to leap out of the Octagon and ignite a massive brawl with McGregor’s team.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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