Although more than a year has passed since the much-hyped bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, one question remains constant: can UFC ever match boxing in the long term?
In order to gauge this, McGregor’s key financial stats will be compared to Deontay Wilder’s.
Although Wilder (as of August 2018) holds only one heavyweight belt to Anthony Joshua’s three, his greater fight experience, and status as an American, gives a clearer view of how UFC athletes compare with their boxing counterparts.
The rate of the development of female athletes in the UFC franchise is also rising at a considerable pace, and thus, the question of just how marketable female MMA fighters could become is also raised.
There can be no doubt that Conor McGregor’s bout with Floyd Mayweather boosted his net worth above and beyond some of the finest boxers on the planet. Thus, in the interests of fair comparison, only his financial earnings from UFC fights will be taken into account.
It is also worth remembering that Wilder has opted to shun the sort of large sponsorship deals that have been the financial making of McGregor, and Cris Cyborg, who is arguably the female ‘face’ of the UFC franchise.
Without sponsorship and endorsements, McGregor would still lag behind Wilder, but the rate at which his marketability rose before fighting Mayweather in August 2017 provides a massive clue that the most charismatic UFC fighters are closing the gap on boxers in terms of the rate at which they accumulate personal wealth:
Although Cris Cyborg’s fight earnings continue to undulate around the $500k mark, and do not rise in the same uniform fashion as fellow martial artist McGregor, there is every indication that her average will rise over the next couple of years. Her recent sponsorship deal with Reebok has also grown in value.
Perhaps the most intriguing observation is that, although ratings are approximate and always subject to manipulation, Conor McGregor’s last UFC bout is said to have outperformed Wilder’s battle with Luiz Ortiz.
The tagline is, of course, a major part of a PPV fulfilling its expected buyrates, and there is the additional question of what storyline the audience wants.
For McGregor v Alvarez, it was a story of a comeback fight, and establishment as a multiple belt holder.
Meanwhile, Wilder’s own agenda was simply to go 40-0, and get within ten victories of the all-time record. In the short term, McGregor’s backstory is arguably more marketable.
This is especially true, given that Wilder hitting 50-0 is a long shot, and one for the more distant future, in any case.
Ultimately, rather than it being a case of UFC slowly eclipsing boxing through natural order, the PPV buys are created by shrewd marketing and the presence of a true ‘face’ to go with a storyline.