Top 10 Biggest Fights in UFC History

9 months ago By Sports Desk

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has witnessed numerous epic battles that captured the attention of millions of fans worldwide. Here are the top 10 highest pay-per-view (PPV) selling fights in UFC history, featuring some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts.

Top 10 Biggest Fights in UFC History

#10. UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor – 1.2 Million PPVs Sold

In 2015, UFC 194 brought together two formidable fighters, Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor, in a highly anticipated Featherweight Championship title clash. The event garnered an impressive 1.2 million PPV purchases, generating a total revenue of $80 million.

Conor McGregor won the interim title against Chad Mendes to earn his shot at undisputed featherweight gold. The Irishman created a pressure cooker environment leading up to his title unification bout with longtime champion Jose Aldo, who hadn’t tasted defeat in nearly a decade.

Many expect the bout to be a drawn-out and back-and-forth contest, considering Aldo’s dominance and both fighters were primarily strikers. ‘The Notorious’ shocked the masses on the night, putting away the Brazilian icon in just 13 seconds.

#9. UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal – 1.3 Million PPVs Sold

Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal faced off in a Welterweight Championship title fight at UFC 251 in 2020. This bout attracted 1.3 million PPV sales, contributing to revenue of $90 million.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion created a bubble on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, where this pay-per-view was underway. Kamaru Usman was slated to take on Gilbert Burns in the main event, but an injury to Burns forced him to withdraw, paving the way for then-BMF champion Jorge Masvidal.

Masvidal took the fight on just a week’s notice, which showed in the fight. Usman outwrestled ‘Gamebred’ en route to a unanimous decision victory to retain his title.

#8. UFC 205: Alvarez vs McGregor – 1.3 Million PPVs Sold

UFC 205 in 2016 saw Conor McGregor in yet another blockbuster PPV event. His showdown against Eddie Alvarez resulted in a record-breaking 1.3 million PPV purchases, generating a total revenue of $83 million and adding another milestone to McGregor’s impressive resume.

Fresh off his two-fight series with Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor sought champ-champ status in his bout with then-light champion Eddie Alvarez. No other fighter in promotional history had held two belts simultaneously, so the Irishman was chasing history. Like the fight against Jose Aldo, this was also expected to be a tough fight for McGregor. Alas, it was a one-sided beatdown.

McGregor delivered a flawless performance against Eddie Alvarez, coming away with a TKO victory to become the first-ever simultaneous two-division champion.

#7. UFC 100: Lesnar vs Mir 2 – 1.3 Million PPVs Sold

Brock Lesnar‘s fight against Frank Mir at UFC 100 in the Heavyweight Championship title bout became a major attraction, drawing 1.3 million PPV buys. This match marked Lesnar’s dominance in the UFC, and he later transitioned to WWE, where he became one of the highest-paid wrestlers.

Brock Lesnar notably lost to Frank Mir in his UFC debut. ‘The Beast Incarnate’ then racked up a win streak to work his way to the heavyweight championship, and at UFC 100, he had a shot at revenge against Mir. The bitter rivalry was palpable, making for one of the biggest pay-per-views in MMA history.

After a challenging first round, Lesnar rallied in the second to defeat Mir via TKO and retain the heavyweight belt.

#6. UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz – 1.317 Million PPVs Sold

Conor McGregor’s clash with Nate Diaz at UFC 196 captured the imagination of fight fans, leading to 1.317 million PPV sales. Although McGregor suffered a loss, the event generated an impressive $77 million in revenue, making it one of the most memorable fights in UFC history.

Conor McGregor was scheduled to take on then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos for the 155-pound crown in his pursuit of champ-champ status. However, a last-minute foot injury to dos Anjos forced the Brazilian to pull out of the fight, allowing top-ranked lightweight Nate Diaz to step in on short notice. Diaz wasn’t a big name then, but certainly made the most of the opportunity.

McGregor was the biggest superstar in the sport at the time. He was undefeated in the UFC and was a massive betting favorite heading into the bout against Diaz, who went on to shock the world, winning via submission.

#5. UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cerrone – 1.353 Million PPVs Sold

UFC 246, held in 2020, featured Conor McGregor facing Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for the UFC Welterweight Championship. The event secured 1.353 million PPV sales, generating $80 million in revenue.

After his devastating loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018, Conor McGregor remained inactive for nearly two years. He returned to action in early 2020 against MMA veteran and fan favorite Donald Cerrone. The Irishman made quick work of ‘Cowboy’, putting him away just 40 seconds into the very first round.

#4. UFC 264: Poirier vs McGregor 3 – 1.5 Million PPVs Sold

The trilogy bout between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at UFC 264 in 2021 was one of the year’s most anticipated fights. With 1.5 million PPV purchases, the event grossed an impressive $95 million.

Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier clashed for the first time back in 2014, when ‘The Notorious’ cruised to a first-round TKO victory. They ran it back at UFC 257 in 2021 in Abu Dhabi, where Poirier exacted his revenge, leveling their series at 1-1. Their rubber match went down later the same year in Las Vegas, Nevada, where a gruesome injury saw the trilogy bout end in anti-climactic fashion.

Toward the end of the opening round, McGregor’s shin split in half. He collapsed on the canvas, and before the commencement of the second round, it was ruled a doctor stoppage.

#3. UFC 202: Diaz vs McGregor 2 – 1.6 Million PPVs Sold

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz delivered an intense battle in their second meeting at UFC 202 in 2016. The event garnered 1.6 million PPV sales, resulting in a revenue of $90 million, cementing McGregor’s status as a top PPV draw.

As mentioned earlier in this article, Nate Diaz shockingly handed Conor McGregor his first loss in the UFC at UFC 194, making for a highly anticipated rematch. They ran it back just a few months later, and the bout that ensued was an all-out war, pushing both fighters to the absolute limit. McGregor dominated the early rounds, but as his gas tank faded, Diaz banked the later rounds and finished strong.

Ultimately, McGregor was awarded a majority decision victory.

#2. UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor 2 – 1.6 Million PPVs Sold

The rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor took place at UFC 257 in 2021 amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event’s 1.6 million PPV sales generated a staggering $120 million in revenue, making it one of McGregor’s highest-earning fights.

After his dominant showing against Donald Cerrone in early 2020, McGregor was forced into a year-long stint on the sidelines owing to the pandemic. With no crowds in attendance, the promotion didn’t give the Irishman a fight until UFC 257, where he took on Dustin Poirier for a second time. The duo notably squared off for the first time in 2014, when McGregor won via first-round TKO.

In the rematch, Dustin Poirier showed improvements in his game as he put away ‘The Notorious’ in the second round to exact his revenge.

#1. UFC 229: Khabib vs McGregor – 2.4 Million PPVs Sold

The highest-selling UFC fight of all time was the historic UFC 229 event. With an incredible 2.4 million PPV purchases, the clash between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight championship reached unparalleled heights. The event generated a massive $180 million in revenue, solidifying its place as the biggest PPV event in UFC history.

After becoming a two-division champion in the UFC, Conor McGregor squared off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a historic boxing bout. He came up short against the undefeated boxer and returned to the octagon the following year, taking on newly-crowned lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Irishman created a dark atmosphere around the build-up to the fight, repeatedly insulting Khabib’s religion, family, and team.

Khabib remained largely stoic during the build-up but showed disdain for McGregor during the fight. The Russian dominated the first two rounds, using his wrestling to smother the Irish superstar. While the third round was close, ‘The Eagle’ closed the show in the fourth frame, submitting McGregor with a neck crank to retain the lightweight title.

These top 10 fights not only showcased the incredible skills and determination of the fighters but also highlighted the immense popularity and global reach of the UFC. With the sport’s continuing growth and the emergence of new talents, it’s only a matter of time before new PPV records are set and history is rewritten.

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