In announcing yesterday that Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will headline UFC 200, the organisation effectively ended speculation about Conor McGregor's involvement in the July pay-per-view.
The decision - one which UFC president Dana White had insisted was the case since last Wednesday - is sure to cause debate amongst fight fans. Some will side with White and argue the Irishman needed to be put in his place. Others will be ruing the fact that the biggest name in the business will not be involved in one of the biggest events of the year.
But, while White seemed happy with the card during Wednesday's UFC 200 press conference, just how costly will keeping McGregor off the event be to the UFC? According to calculations done by ESPN in recent days, it could cost the organisation almost half a billion dollars.
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According to ESPN's business reporter, Darren Rovell, a conservative estimate taking into account PPV sales, ticket prices and a fall off in interest in fan events at UFC 200 would mean the UFC "leave $45 million on the table" by snubbing McGregor.
That mammoth figure was based on the following:
Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz at UFC 196 did 1.5 million PPV buys. The first fight between Jones and Cormier - the UFC 200 headliners - sold 800,000, per Cormier's camps. Factoring in a decline in interest following McGregor's defeat to Diaz and an increase in interest in Jones vs Cormier, Rovell sees McGregor's absence costing the UFC 525,000 buys.
Factoring in a decline in interest following McGregor's defeat to Diaz and an increase in interest in Jones vs Cormier, Rovell sees McGregor's absence costing the UFC 525,000 buys. With the pay-per-view likely to cost around $75, that is $36.7 million in gross revenue lost straight off the bat.
The McGregor factor has also influenced ticket sales to recent events. Per Rovell, the Irishman's past three fights in Vegas are the UFC's three highest gate receipts. UFC 196 with McGregor brought in $6 million more than the UFC 195 event that didn't include 'The Notorious One'.
The UFC had been hoping to record $10 million in revenue at UFC 200. Without McGregor, that number could fall to around the $7 million mark due to decreased interest. With fewer people choosing to turn up, it would also mean merchandise and concessions take a hit - to the tune of $800,000 per ESPN's calculations.
Rovell also notes that around $500,000 in potential revenue will be lost because fewer fans will opt in for fan rallys and events surrounding the July pay-per-view. McGregor, of course, brings with him a huge contingent of fans from his native Ireland who will likely now stay away.
That is $45 million all told. While White may not want to be seen losing power to one of his fighters, it is a brave promoter who turns down that sort of cash for the sake of keeping his reputation.
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