Even with all the buzz that it brought, last weekend’s UFC 254 card only generated 675k pay-per-view buys according to Sports Business Journal. It was the fifth-biggest pay-per-view in 2020.
This comes as a surprise after UFC president Dana White's comments in the lead-up to the event that it was 'trending off the charts' and was en-route to potentially setting a PPV record for the company.
UFC 254 - the North American promotion’s final trip of the year to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi - featured a solid lineup of fights. It was capped off by a lightweight championship unification bout between reigning and defending champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov and interim titleholder Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje.
At the end of the event, it was Nurmagomedov who was standing tall as he submitted Gaethje in the second round to maintain his perfect record and push it to 29-0.
Afterwards, the Russian star dropped a bombshell by announcing his retirement from MMA.
Nurmagomedov’s retirement and the storylines that have emerged from it have dominated newswires since.
As big as the event ended up being, it still lagged behind the UFC’s other offerings for 2020 such as UFC 251, UFC 246, UFC 253, and UFC 249.
Topping the bill in terms of PPV buys for 2020 so far with 1.3 million buys is UFC 251, which featured the welterweight title clash between champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Jorge Masvidal. UFC 246, which featured the return of Conor McGregor against Donald Cerrone, comes in at second with 1 million buys.
UFC 253, which was headlined by a middleweight championship bout between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa, pulled in as many PPV buys as UFC 249, which saw Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson square off in the main event. Both did 700,000 PPV buys.
It’s also important to note that of the year’s top-5 selling PPVs, only UFC 246 happened pre-pandemic.
UFC set to close out the year with more big fights
While 2020 is drawing to a close, the UFC still has a handful of events on tap for the remainder of the year.
On October 31st, UFC legend Anderson Silva returns to the Octagon for what could be his final bout as he faces striker Uriah Hall.
On November 7th, a pair of Brazilian former title contenders collide, as Thiago Santos takes on Glover Teixeira.
The UFC returns to pay-per-view on November 21st for UFC 255, headlined by flyweight championship bouts in the men’s and women’s divisions. Reigning UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo puts his title on the line for the first time against Alex Perez, while UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko will look to continue her reign of dominance when she faces Jennifer Maia.
The UFC is expected to have eight more events before the end of the year.