As expected, the UFC’s third trip to Madison Square Garden didn’t come close to matching the commercial success of its previous two shows at the famous New York City venue, but for a card that didn’t have a main event until roughly a month away from fight night, it wasn’t exactly a pay-per-view disaster.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer reported over the weekend that UFC 230 drew an estimated 250,000 buys, with heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier predictably defeating popular but severely overmatched Derrick Lewis in the main event. It’s well down from the reported 375,000 buys for both Cormier’s historic title win over Stipe Miocic at UFC 226, as well as UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou, which featured Cormier in the co-main event defending his light heavyweight title vs. Volkan Oezdemir.
This is more in line with the buys for UFC 192, when Cormier edged out Alexander Gustafsson in a thriller back in October 2015. For a 2018 comparison, that number is identical to the estimate for UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero in June. It’s higher than UFC 221, 224, and almost double that of 228, but is otherwise somewhere in the middle in the overall PPV landscape.
While it’s not setting the world on fire in terms of it being a big pay-per-view, the alternative was nearly a women’s flyweight title bout between Valentina Shevchenko and Sijara Eubanks, which quite conceivably wouldn’t have cleared 125,000 buys. Fan response to that contest was overwhelmingly negative, and the UFC went another direction. Lest we forget of course that Dustin Poirier vs. Nate Diaz was slated to be the co-main event, only to be scrapped when Poirier pulled out with injury. The slow ticket sales and lack of promotion may be a sign though that Diaz’s starpower was a tad overplayed when not fighting Conor McGregor.
The live gate at MSG was around $2.7 million, which is just about the same at UFC 227: Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 from August, but down from the $5.6 million for UFC 226. Obviously Cormier has his sights set on a big money fight vs. Brock Lesnar, one of the biggest draws in combat sports history between both his time in the WWE and as the former UFC heavyweight champion.