UFC president Dana White revealed to TMZ Sports on Tuesday that this weekend’s UFC 254 pay-per-view event featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje was on its way to breaking some impressive UFC box-office records.
“This thing is trending off the charts for us right now…on Monday this thing was trending to be the biggest fight we’ve ever had,” White told TMZ.
The best-selling UFC pay-per-view event in history is UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor in October 2018.
According to Tapology, UFC 229 sold 2.4 million PPVs.
Surprisingly, White said the early numbers this week were suggesting UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje could potentially outsell it.
“Yeah, it’s trending bigger than that right now,” White said.
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Early Start Time for UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje
But White also wondered whether the early start time in the United States compared to other UFC PPV events might somehow throw a wrench into the system.
“Will the trend hold? One of the things that’s a big negative for us is that’s it’s not in prime time at home and it’s hard to message that to people.”
UFC 254 takes place on Saturday, October 24 at Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi. Early prelims get underway at 10:30 a.m. ET, followed by the prelims at noon and the main card pay-per-view at 2 p.m. ET.
That’s way earlier than most other UFC PPV cards, and it could keep UFC 254 from setting the new record.
Still, the UFC already pulled off one huge PPV event this year during the global pandemic, so adding another to the list would be one of the most impressive feats in recent combat sports history, at least from a promotional perspective.
UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal sold 1.4 million PPVs back in July which made that card the fourth best-selling UFC PPV event in history (tied with two other cards).
Might UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje be making its way onto the same list, too?
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White Comments on Khabib vs. GSP
TMZ Sports also asked White about Nurmagomedov possibly facing retired UFC legend Georges St-Pierre next year for the Russian dynamo’s 30th professional prizefight.
White responded by saying that the global pandemic had changed the way the UFC operates its business to the point that he’s nowhere near close to thinking about what might come next for Khabib assuming he gets past Gaethje on Saturday night.
“One of the crazy things about this business right now is like eight months ago if you asked me ‘hey what are you guys doing in December’ I could tell you exactly what we were going to do…Now? All I’m focused on is Saturday,” White said.
White will know more next week.
“Once Saturday is over, then we’ll go home on Sunday and try to figure out what’s next,” White said. “I don’t know if GSP is a possibility…I’ll talk to Khabib [after UFC 254].”
Still, White admitted that the Khabib vs. GSP fight was intriguing. Moreover, White suggested the proposed megafight could potentially take place at 155 pounds, assuming St-Pierre could cut down to that weight class.
St-Pierre is one of only seven UFC champs in history to win titles in more than one division. GSP has been the UFC’s welterweight and middleweight champ.
But if he beats Khabib at 155?
“He’d be the only guy to ever win three titles,” White said.
That’s a history-making fight, assuming Nurmagomedov defeats Gaethje at UFC 254.
Come to think of it, if Khabib vs. Gaethje is tracking to be one of the biggest fights in UFC history, imagine how much bigger Khabib vs. GSP might be.
“Yeah, I’d be interested in talking about it,” White said. “But just because that’s what Khabib wants doesn’t mean that fight can be made. There’s just so many things that have to come into play for that fight to happen.”
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