In his appearance with UFC Tonight, Lorenzo Fertitta came in and addressed various topics from the amount of money he has in his wallet, to doing PED random testing for every single UFC athlete on the roster. The video above is a must watch, and one of the interesting topics he addressed was Dana White's statements about Conor McGregor being bigger than both . and Georges St-Pierre
He agreed with the statements made by his partner, although Fertitta also clarified that Dana was likely referring to McGregor's immediate, rather than overall, impact being incomparable to anyone who ever entered the UFC:
At the end of the day, when you look at the fact that we've never had an athlete come in to the UFC with this much excitement and this much impact, I think that's what Dana was referring to. When Brock came in, there was a lot of people talking about Brock, and he was a star in the WWE, but he didn't impact the show as much. He wasn't selling places out. He wasn't generating PPV buys that early. Obviously GSP is the same thing. He took the long road out and earned his shot.
You've got a guy like Conor, who has an incredible personality. He's incredibly brash, and he backs it up... He's really really good, and I think it's going to be an interesting run with this guy, and he backed it all up.
Now, he's going to promote his product the best way he wants, but it's simply not true that Lesnar didn't have a huge immediate impact with ticket sales or PPV buys. This isn't exactly earth shattering news, but let's have some fun and take a look at the numbers on these claims.
Lesnar came in to the UFC immediately as the co-headliner against Frank Mir. The bout was even promoted more than the main event interim title fight between Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and he drew roughly 600,000 PPV buys and a $2.4 million gate. McGregor's first fight was a prelim bout on a Fight Night card which was only shown on Facebook. It still did a fantastic $2.7 million gate in Sweden, but the early sales was largely carried by the hometown star in Gustafsson.
Lesnar's second bout was in another co-headliner, this time against Heath Herring. Even when coming from a loss, he still helped draw 625,000 buys and $2.3 million. Georges St-Pierre of course was on the card as well, but the event was held in Lesnar's home town of Minnesota. As for McGregor's 2nd bout, it was still on the prelims of a non-PPV card that drew $1.5 million gate with guys like Sonnen, Shogun, Overeem and Faber all in featured bouts.
McGregor hit his stride and by his third fight, he was headlining his first card in Dublin where he drew a $1.4 million gate on a non-PPV card. That rise from prelim to headliner was clearly fast and very impressive, but it is still dwarfed by Brock's mammoth numbers. By Lesnar's third UFC fight, he's also headlining a card for the first time, but he was in a title fight against Randy Couture which drew a whopping 1.01 million buys and a $4.8 million dollar gate.
I don't think we need to go on, but on his next fight McGregor made his PPV debut as part of the main card at UFC 178. He had a 2.2 million dollar gate, and while the PPV numbers still aren't out, it's not even going to come close to half of what Lesnar did on his next headlining bout -- at UFC 100.
Four fights in, Lesnar had drawn almost 4 million PPV buys. McGregor, on the other hand, has a single PPV appearance which would probably be a lot less than an 8th of that.
Once again, this isn't a slight at McGregor, who is certainly one of the rare breed of athletes who has the skills to attract masses both in and out of the cage. He has the potential to achieve great things in the sport, especially with a country behind him, but it's silly to make bold comparons to the absolute biggest stars in MMA history just yet.