Business Grades: Who Got the Most Bang for the Buck at UFC 246?

By Patrick Auger Feb 2, 2020

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 247 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

After all the talk of fighter pay and 2 million+ pay-per-view buys surrounding UFC 246, I figured what better way to kickstart the new year than with a column looking at the business grades for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first event of 2020. In this piece, I’ll take a look at the financial numbers of the event, how the fighters made out and if fans got the action they deserved for what they shelled out. I’ll use $ as a substitute for stars, with the more $ next to a group indicating the better business-grade that particular group received. With that in mind, let's take a look at how everyone fared following UFC 246.

The Numbers We Know

Attendance: 19,040
Gate: $11,089,129.30
Performance of the Night Bonuses ($50,000 each): Conor McGregor, Alexey Oleynik, Brian Kelleher, Diego Ferreira, Drew Dober

Fighter disclosed salaries can be found here: UFC 246 Salaries: McGregor Takes Home $3 Million Disclosed Payday

The Grades

Conor McGregor $$$$: The Irishman made an emphatic return to the Octagon at UFC 246. McGregor was able to put away Donald Cerrone with relative ease. While his estimates of making $80 million were most likely exaggerated, PPV trends are still favoring that “Mystic Mac” will take home a big payday for his efforts. There had been a number of controversies surrounding McGregor going into this fight, and, as such, “Notorious” seemed to be on his best behavior, far more reserved and respectful going into the bout. More important than the actual check in many ways, McGregor’s actions in and out of the cage helped rehab his image and brand, something far more valuable for the 31-year-old as he looks to put his past struggles behind him.

Donald Cerrone $$$$: He may have been finished in 40 seconds, but “Cowboy” did well on the business side of things. The longtime UFC veteran only got a slight $25,000 base pay bump up to $200,000 to show and $200,000 win, but based on his comments leading up to the fight it certainly sounds like he has a side agreement with the promotion moving forward that is lucrative, which probably included PPV points for UFC 246. Even if that somehow is not the case, Cerrone says that he likes where his contract stands now. Any sort of pay bump in future fights for the performance he put on against McGregor is a win on the business side.

Holly Holm $$$: It certainly wasn’t a pretty win, but it got the job done. Holm managed to secure a unanimous decision over Raquel Pennington in the co-main event of UFC 246, bouncing back from a brutal first-round TKO at the hands of Amanda Nunes last year at UFC 239. The win not only keeps Holm at the top of the 135-pound division, it also helps her mainstream appeal. Considering “The Preacher’s Daughter” walked away with the third-highest salary on the card, it wasn’t a bad day at the office, especially considering the way former women’s title contenders have been treated as of late.

Ode Osbourne $: Osbourne’s UFC debut couldn’t have gone much worse. After Alexa Grasso missed weight so badly that her fight with Claudia Gadelha was canceled, the UFC newcomer found himself bumped up to the main card of UFC 246, a coveted spot given the headliner in place. “The Oddity” was a betting favorite heading into his matchup against Brian Kelleher and the 28-year-old was confident that he would be able to terrorize Kelleher with ease, but he ended up being submitted via guillotine by the promotional veteran in just under three minutes. To add to the embarrassment, Osbourne ended up being the lowest-paid fighter on the card due to his loss, banking a measly $10,000 for an event that probably attracted the most viewers for the promotion since the UFC’s deal with ESPN was put in place. Ouch.

The UFC $$$$$: The promotion’s first outing in 2020 proved to be nothing short of a roaring success. Their last remaining crossover star got a highlight reel finish, all while managing to avoid discussing his ongoing legal issues (with a little help), and metrics for the event trended in a very positive direction. The attendance for UFC 246 was the second largest for the organization behind only UFC 229, and aside from the main event, total fighter costs were relatively low for the amount of revenue brought in. With McGregor claiming he wishes to fight multiple times this year, the UFC has to be excited about the potential matchups for the Irishman and the amount of income that could be generated from his services in 2020.

The Fans $$$: UFC 246 might have been a hit with the promotion, but for fans, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Although there were plenty of finishes, the co-main event took some steam out of the audience going into the headliner and the lack of name value on the card was noticeable. When McGregor and Cerrone finally took the stage, it was so one-sided and ended so abruptly that a sizeable subset of fans stated that the fight was fixed, expressing their frustration in the form of baseless accusations. Given that this was the first pay-per-view following a price increase in the US and international markets had to pay for the event as well, fans didn’t exactly get their money’s worth for McGregor’s return to the Octagon. Advertisement

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