Written by:
Alex Windsor
Fact checked by:
Oliver Dickinson
Updated:
March 13, 2024

UFC Viewership Statistics: Can Conor McGregor shatter his pay-per-view record in an epic comeback?

UFC Viewership Statistics

To say that UFC has come a long way since the day Senator John McCain, the UFC’s arch nemesis of the time, labeled it “human cockfighting”, would be a massive understatement.

What was once considered a niche sport that mostly appealed to the folks in the Deep South has grown into a global phenomenon attracting viewers from all corners of the world, and the viewership data is here to prove it.

Looking at the UFC viewership statistics, it is easy to notice the potent impact of a savvy social media strategy combined with the star power of household names such as Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya, and Khabib Nurmagomedov. This winning formula has propelled the sport to unprecedented heights, maintaining an enduring momentum that consistently attracts fresh viewers with each successive event.

Key UFC Viewership Statistics:

Global UFC Viewership Statistics

With 43 live events in 8 countries across 4 continents, UFC recently celebrated its incredible 30th Anniversary, and judging by the sports viewership data, it was a very successful year in the Octagon.

1. UFC 229, featuring the bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, amassed over 2.4 million PPV purchases

(Statista)

According to the UFC viewership data presented at Statista, the average UFC PPV buys for 2018 was 447,000. If we compare this number with the numbers from previous years, we will quickly notice a massive spike. The main event at UFC 229 is the biggest reason behind it.

When you put an undefeated Dagestani wrestling prodigy against the most notorious trash-talker who happens to have the most frightening left hook in the fight game, add a drizzle of sizzling rivalry and a dolly thrown at a bus, the fireworks in the Octagon are practically guaranteed.

The personal feud at UFC 229 produced the biggest MMA spectacle, generating 2.4 million PPV purchases and exceeding $180 million in revenue according to sports industry revenue statistics.

2. UFC 243 holds the record for highest live attendance for a single UFC event

(Statista)

If you were a part of the 57,000 attendees on October 6, 2019, at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, congratulations on contributing to an official UFC record and watching one of the most iconic middleweight combats of the decade.

UFC 243 featured a Middleweight Championship unification bout between the champion Robert Whittaker and undefeated interim champion Israel Adesanya. The Last Stylebender knocked out Whittaker in the second round, which marked the commencement of his astonishing rise to the pinnacle of the promotion and the birth of his undeniable star power.

According to the official UFC viewership data, the event broke the live attendance record for UFC live events with a total of 57,127 people, beating the previous record of 56,214, set at the same venue.

🥇Rank🥊UFC Event📺Main Event🏟Attendance
1stUFC 243Whittaker vs. Adesanya57,127
2ndUFC 193Rousey vs. Holm56,214
3rdUFC 129St. Pierre vs. Shields55,724
4thUFC 198Werdum vs. Miocic45,207
5thUFC On Fox 14Gustafsson vs. Johnson30,000

3. Conor McGregor headlined the Top 3 highest gates in UFC’s history

(Statista)

Whether you call him The Notorious, The Mystic Mac, or the GOAT, one thing is for sure, the Crumlin-raised 35-year-old is the biggest PPV draw not just in UFC but in mixed martial arts history.

Conor McGregor’s ascent to the pinnacle of the promotion has produced some of UFC’s most memorable nights. The Notorious has so far headlined nine PPV events, amassing an impressive total of 13,342,000 PPV buys.

The fact that he is the biggest box office sensation shows on the official UFC viewership statistics. Based on the official UFC gate numbers, Conor headlined the top 3 events that brought in the highest gate totals in UFC history.

🥇Rank🥊UFC Event📺Main Event🏟Gate
1stUFC 205Alvarez (c) vs. McGregor$17,700,000
2ndUFC 229Khabib (c) vs. McGregor$17,200,000
3rdUFC 264Poirier vs. McGregor 3$17,200,000
4thUFC 295Procházka vs. Pereira$12,432,563
5thUFC 285Jones vs. Gane$12,154,753

However, we must not ignore UFC 295 featuring Procházka versus Pereira. According to the UFC gate numbers reported by Forbes, with a total revenue of $12,432,563, the event ranks as the second-highest-grossing at Madison Square Garden and the fourth-highest-grossing in UFC’s history.

4. UFC 224 is the lowest-selling PPV in the last 10 years

(Forbes)

While UFC president Dana White is widely recognized as a well-known pay-per-view magician, UFC 224 demonstrated that even the savviest businessmen can have a bad day at the office.

The event was held on May 12, 2018, at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro and headlined by the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. Despite The Lioness thrilling the crowd with her brutal TKO victory over Raquel Pennington, the event turned out to be the biggest PPV flop of the decade.

According to the official UFC viewership statistics, UFC 224 did only 85,000 PPV buys. While Machida’s brutal frontkick was phenomenal, people will mostly remember the event for Mackenzie Dern’s outrageous weight-cut failure.

5. The UFC accounts for over half of the Top 20 highest-selling PPV events in history

(Forbes)

For decades, the sport of boxing has been known as the sole producer of the most lucrative PPV events. However, things started to shift with UFC 100.

UFC 100 shattered the all-time PPV record for mixed martial arts at the time, attracting a paying audience of 1.6 million. This allowed Dana White and the Fertitta brothers to show the world how big their Las Vegas-based MMA company had grown.

Today, UFC takes up more than half of the list of the top 20 highest-selling PPV events, and with Conor’s comeback on the horizon, we will most likely be adding one more.

Who and Where Watches the UFC?

6. According to UFC viewership statistics, the UFC is the preferred combat sport among American males

(UFC)

Over the past decade, MMA and the UFC have rapidly closed the gap with Boxing in popularity among fight fans despite the historical dominance of The Sweet Science.

While it may sound like a quote from a heated argument between Dana White and Oscar De La Hoya, this statement is an official statistic from a Scarborough research that polled 200,000 residents aged 18 to 77 in major U.S. markets.

The survey shows that 74.6% of the males favor the UFC. Boxing is second with 72%, while WWE is third with 62%.

7. Only 10% of the fight fans are female

(Nielsen)

Another notable statistic is the predominantly male audience for UFC and MMA fights. Despite the presence of female stars like Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Valentina Shevchenko, UFC continues to attract a mostly male audience with the female audience being only 10% of the total count of MMA fans worldwide.

However, judging by the latest trends and the significantly increasing popularity of women’s MMA, this statistic is most likely to change soon. According to Dana White, UFC Noche featuring Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko was the most watched UFC Fight Night in history. The event brought 1.1 million viewers to ESPN and their potential second rematch will most likely generate even more interest.

8. Beyond the United States, Brazil has hosted the most UFC events compared to any other nation

(ONE Championship)

From Andrade’s devastating knockout victory over Namajunas to Holloway’s dominance over Jose Aldo and Ronda Rousey’s 34-second demolition job, Brazil was a host to plenty of thrilling UFC bouts.

In fact, the Land of the Holy Cross that gave us the great Anderson Silva hosted so many memorable events that Stipe’s KO victory over the home-crowd favorite Fabrizio Werdum nearly slipped our minds.

Given Brazil’s rich history with the sport, boasting nearly 40 UFC events spread across a dozen different cities, expecting a spectacle inside the Octagon for UFC 301 at the Rio Arena is more than justified.

9. Nearly 51 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 are fans of combat sports like the UFC

(Statista)

Mixed Martial Arts have seen a substantial rise in popularity in recent years, with the UFC leading the charge as the premier organization in the sport. According to an online survey with more than 2000 respondents done in May 2023, combat sports have captured the attention of a considerable portion of the sports audience.

The data indicates that among respondents aged 18 to 34, 51% are fans of combat sports. Additionally, within this demographic, 21% are classified as devoted enthusiasts, highlighting a strong and passionate following for boxing, MMA, and UFC in particular.

10. With just 12% of individuals aged 65 or older demonstrating interest in combat sports, UFC proves to be “No Country For Old Men”

(Statista)

According to the aforementioned survey conducted in May 2023, only 12% of respondents aged 65 or older showed interest in combat sports, with 10% being casual fans and just 2% avid enthusiasts. This emphasizes the UFC’s focus on targeting Gen Z and millennials, evident in their robust commitment to social media marketing strategies.

How big of a role does social media play in the growth of UFC’s fan base all over the globe?

Social media has been one of the major catalysts behind UFC’s global fan base expansion. Through innovative marketing campaigns, the promotion created a virtual arena that allows fighters to shine and fans to unite online. This virtual arena has proven to be one of the key components of driving interest and fostering a passionate global community that transcends borders and cultures.

11. UFC has more social media followers than any other MMA organization

(The Athletic)

Dana White and the hard-working people behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship have been on top of the social media game for quite some time now, and according to the data, the competition is far behind them.

The promotion has more than 120 million followers on all social media platforms, and the marketing team works around the clock to keep most of them engaged.

12. The UFC gains over 100,000 new YouTube subscribers each month

(Social Blade)

17.7 million subscribers, more than 16000 uploads, a total view count of almost 8 billion views… Do we really need to go on to demonstrate to you how the UFC utilizes its YouTube channel to attract thousands of new MMA fans daily?

Whether you’re into Countdowns for pre-fight hype, Embedded series for behind-the-scenes access, or compilations of the most vicious knockouts, one fact stands: the UFC’s YouTube channel delivers the best combat sports content, bar none.

According to the UFC data on Socialblade.com, since April 2021, UFC has been getting more than 100,000 new subscribers each month. Based on the future projections, the promotion can expect to reach 20 million subscribers by the end of the year.

While most people that are subscribed to the YouTube channel are American males within a particular age group, viewers from Canada, Australia, Brazil, Russia, and all over Europe are without any doubt frequently showing interest in UFC’ s content.

13. Conor McGregor tops the list of most influential combat sports personalities on Instagram

(The Athletic)

While the TBE, as the boxing fans dub him, dominated McGregor in the ring, the Notorious emerged victorious in the social media arena, winning by knockout despite Mayweather’s career-long dominance in pay-per-view sales.

With over 47 million followers, Conor McGregor stands as the undisputed champion of combat sports athletes on Instagram. As Instagram is obviously cementing its spot as the go-to social media platform for most avid fans of the UFC, McGregor’s massive following reflects the UFC’s soaring popularity and promising future trends.

Final Thoughts

Whether it will be Conor’s comeback, a blockbuster Light Heavyweight title bout or Suga Sean’s massive pay day after his fights with Aljamain Sterling and Chito Vera, one thing remains certain: the UFC is dominating the fighting scene and gaining enough momentum to compete for viewers with the more traditional sports like basketball.

As a matter of fact, according to the latest UFC trends, the biggest PPV events of the year are poised to bring more people than most other sports events including games from the NFL and NBA.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to watch an UFC PPV event in the USA?
    ESPN+ is the exclusive provider of UFC PPV events in the USA, so as long as you have an active ESPN+ subscription you can watch exclusive UFC PPV events for $79.99 per event.
  • Is the UFC bigger than the NFL?
    While the NFL brings more viewers in the USA, UFC's popularity around the world is way more significant. As reported by Forbes, UFC surpassed the NFL in Instagram followers as early as 2018, and today, the gap between them is exceeding 10 million.
  • Besides the UFC, what are some other well-known Mixed Martial Arts organizations?
    Although significantly smaller than the UFC, Bellator MMA, ONE Championship, PFL (Professional Fighters League), and RIZIN Fighting Federation are the largest mixed martial arts promotions around the world.
  • What is the highest-selling fight in UFC history ?
    With more than 2.4 million pay per view buys, UFC 229 featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Conor McGregor is the highest-selling PPV event in the history of the promotion.

Sources

  1. Statista
  2. Statista
  3. Statista
  4. Forbes
  5. Forbes
  6. UFC
  7. Nielsen
  8. ONE Championship
  9. Social Blade
  10. Bloody Elbow
  11. The Athletic
AUTHOR
Alex Windsor

Alex is the Head of Content here at Minimum Deposit Betting Sites, leveraging his immense experience in the sports betting and iGaming industry to steer the boat and make sure all of our content is up to par and of the best possible quality.