Millions will be tuning in Saturday when Conor McGregor squares off in the octagon against José Aldo at the UFC 194 main event.
The rivals’ original showdown was scheduled for July, but Aldo bowed out due to a rib injury. Still, 825,000 MMA fans watched McGregor beat Aldo’s replacement, Chad Mendes, on Pay-Per-View, generating about $45 million in revenue. Saturday’s revenue is expected to be even stronger for the UFC, which has a worldwide fan base of 200 million. The box office gate — total take for ticket sales — for Saturday’s rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will exceed a record-breaking $9 million, making it the second-highest gate in UFC history and the highest one in the U.S., according to a UFC spokesman. Viewership for Saturday’s face-off is expected to be among the highest in UFC history, the spokesman added.
Nicknamed “The Notorious,” the Dubliner is the UFC Interim Featherweight champion. McGregor, who appears in “The Ultimate Fighter,” Fox Sports 1’s reality show about a MMA competition, is said to be looking for a new UFC contract of $100 million. The UFC spokesman said Thursday, “We don’t disclose or discuss the terms of our contracts with athletes.”
The Irish-born fighter will have a slew of fans from his homeland cheering him on this weekend, since 15 percent of ticketholders are flying in from Ireland, the UFC spokesman said. With a win this weekend, the 27-year-old stands to overshadow Ronda Rousey in the UFC’s fame game, according to some MMA observers.
As part of Reebok’s seven-figure deal with the UFC, McGregor is among the MMA fighters who consulted with the brand to develop Reebok’s “Fight Kit.” At the launch event earlier this year, the Irishman talked about his life as a fighter. Here, some of his observations:
WWD: What’s the most difficult thing about training?
Conor McGregor: I really enjoy training. Exercise is something that motivates me. It’s probably my true passion. With exercise and training, there are so many benefits for the mind as well as the body.
WWD: How many hours a day do you spend training?
C. M.: That depends but usually I am active all day. I wake up and I begin to stretch, drink water and loosen my body up. Then I may go training in the evening. I don’t really set a specific time. I just wake up and stretch and go.
WWD: What is most misunderstood about you?
C.M.: About me? I don’t really pay attention to what other people think. I am happy in my own little bubble of positivity. And that’s it — I focus on myself.
WWD: How involved were you in the development of the Reebok UFC gear.
C.M.: In the outfits? They sent over some samples, we got to pick and choose some things. Then they listened to what kind of materials and fit we like. We have been very involved in this.
WWD: Did anything surprise you about the process?
C.M.: No, no, Reebok’s been pretty straightforward and accommodating about everything. A lot of people, me particularly, are picky about the gear. You want the gear to be correct. So they listened to what we were saying and they produced quality gear, so I’m happy.
WWD: Does anything frighten you?
C.M.: Not particularly, no.