Ultimate Fighting Championshiop (UFC) star Conor McGregor will make his return to the sport on Saturday night, which is expected to be one of the biggest fights in the history of mixed martial arts.
UFC 229 will be McGregor’s first fight in more than a year — not counting a highly-publicized rampage on the sidelines of a UFC fight that culminated in his arrest.
McGregor, who will face off against against Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas, last fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August 2017’s now famous “Money Fight.” In that boxing match, Mayweather won $ 300 million and kept his undefeated record intact, but McGregor walked away with a cool $ 100 million.
UFC President Dana White told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Friday that he expects viewers will purchase between 2.5 and 3 million subscriptions to see the Irish brawler. At $ 64.99 per view, UFC 229 could pull in between $ 160 million and $ 200 million in pay per view sales.
In May, UFC signed a 5-year $ 1.5 billion media partnership deal with ESPN and Disney. ESPN will broadcast 30 UFC events per year, beginning in 2019.
The event also does well in sponsorship and ticket sales. High profile guests expected to attend include LeBron James, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Rory McIlroy, and Elon Musk.
White said he is very happy that HBO will no longer be airing UFC matches. “”I love that HBO is getting out of it. I’m actually looking to get into it,” he said.
William Morris Entertainment (WME) acquired UFC for $ 4 billion in 2016. With the possibility of WME going public, White thinks that the company’s potential IPO would be mutually beneficial for WME and UFC.
“This business is fun to be in, I think it will do well with investors. There’s fans for the UFC all over the world. People love this sport, love this brand. I think it would do well,” he said.