Things have to be going pretty well for the UFC in 2021 when a 600,000 buy PPV clocks in as just the 4th highest selling card of the year to date. That’s the number quoted in the Sports Business Journal, who estimate that the UFC 263 fight card headlined by a rematch between Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori pulled in as much as 500,000 buys in the North American ESPN+ market alone—with an estimated 100,000 buys coming from overseas, international PPV markets.
Assuming these numbers hold water, UFC 263 would rank as the 3rd highest selling PPV reported of Israel Adesanya’s career. The ‘Last Stylebender’ set his high bar at 800,000 just back in March of this year at UFC 259, when he fought Jan Blachowicz in an attempt to secure the UFC light heavyweight title. That card featured a women’s featherweight title fight between Amanda Nunes & Megan Anderson, as well as a bantamweight title fight between Aljamain Sterling & Petr Yan to help bolster the numbers. The Nigerian-born New Zealander’s title fight with Paulo Costa last September reportedly drew 700,000 buys.
No doubt some of the success of Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 goes to the presence of Nate Diaz on the PPV undercard. The 209 rep. was one half of one of the biggest selling UFC PPVs of all time back in 2016 for his rematch against Conor McGregor—reportedly hitting the 1.6 million buys mark (something McGregor did again earlier this year against Dustin Poirier).
With the lightweight rematch between McGregor and Poirier on the immediate horizon, it seems likely that the UFC will exit 2021 with multiple PPVs breaking the 1 million buys mark and several tracking in at the 500k-1mil range that used to be a standard for UFC events, but had largely vanished in more recent years. Alongside the promotion’s ESPN distribution deal and the Apex facility minimizing expenses (and a return of live PPV gates), it seems likely that the promotion is going to have a very, very profitable year.