UFC 251 proved to be a smashing commercial success, and it’s safe to say that Jorge Masvidal was the main reason for it.
Early estimates have last Saturday’s pay-per-view at roughly 900,000 buys in the United States, with international sales taking the overall total past the one million mark. Between UFC 251 vs. Kamaru Usman and last November’s UFC 244 bout vs. Nate Diaz, it’s evident that Masvidal has become one of the sport’s biggest names at such an unlikely time in his career.
UFC president Dana White didn’t divulge exact PPV numbers with media at Tuesday’s UFC on ESPN 13 pre-fight scrum, but he was nevertheless quite pleased.
“It was a very successful event,” White said (via MMA Fighting). “We’re happy. This thing killed it across the board in every way you could possibly kill it. It was awesome. The thing did really well.”
In addition to the reported high buyrate, the television ratings for the preliminary card topped all cable programming. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC has produced two very strong PPVs in the form of 251 and 249, not to mention the pre-pandemic one million buys reportedly pulled in from Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in January.
Masvidal’s win over Nate Diaz at UFC 244 was the UFC’s best-selling PPV of 2019, and he’s near or at the top of that list in 2020. He may have lost to the reigning welterweight champion Usman on short notice, but there’s no denying his status as a superstar.
“I said it to you guys the other night, when you put on a fight, a successful promotion of an event, it’s a big melting pot of different things,” White explained. “’Fight Island’ was a massive star in this thing. Masvidal is a massive star. Obviously, Usman, the champion and a guy that we’re all start to realize is tough to beat and a great card underneath.
“It all came together perfectly. It was a major success. Everybody’s healthy. It’s all good. Literally not one negative thing that I could point out.”
The public contract negotiating battle between the UFC and Masvidal last month feels so long ago now, doesn’t it?