McGregor set for $5m Aldo payday
He may not yet be the undisputed UFC featherweight champion, but Conor McGregor unquestionably stands alone as the promotion's marquee earner.
Having pocketed a reported $5 million in capturing the interim featherweight title by beating Chad Mendes at UFC 189 in Las Vegas last month, the 27-year-old can expect to earn at the least the same again on December 12, when he faces champion Jose Aldo in UFC 194 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a featherweight title unification bout.
It is a meeting that, come fight night, will be 11 months in the making.
Having dismantled Dennis Siver in Boston last January, McGregor was slated to face Aldo at UFC 189. But, after an unprecedented outlay from the UFC in marketing the fight, Aldo withdrew with just 12 days' notice, citing a broken rib.
Mendes admirably stepped in to face McGregor, who then recorded a stunning second round TKO finish. The victory saw him become just the fourth European to win a UFC title.
Despite Aldo's absence, the event generated an incredible windfall for the UFC and, indeed, McGregor.
The 16,091 fans in attendance accounted for a gate of $7.2m, while the promoters have reported it broke one million pay-per-view buys, sold at roughly $60 apiece, with the Dublin native receiving a sizeable portion of the proceeds.
After weeks of speculation, UFC President Dana White announced the date and venue for the showdown while speaking to Yahoo! Sports on Monday night. Initially, the UFC had toyed with the idea of staging the event at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium, with women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey also on the bill.
However, White dispelled the notion and, as was largely expected, confirmed that McGregor and Aldo will finally settle their business under the bright lights of Sin City. The promotion’s schedule suggests that the pair will face off at UFC 194.
It is distinctly possible though, that the UFC brass never had any intentions of undertaking a venture as bold as filling the Dallas venue, but allowed the notion circulate as a means of the forcing the hand of the MGM Grand.
The casino had originally rebuffed the promotion’s tentative request for staging the showcase on December 5, with opera singer Andrea Bocelli already scheduled to perform on the night in question.
Conveniently, talk of Dallas immediately gained traction and the Las Vegas resort are said to have made considerable efforts to host what may well prove to be the most lucrative event in mixed martial arts history.
The genuinely visceral rivalry between Aldo and McGregor, that manifested due to the latter’s incessant verbal assaults in the lead up to their ill-fated bout and which have continued in the interim, provides a premade bedrock on which the UFC can predicate a promotional campaign that will undoubtedly go well beyond the point of saturation.
With that being said, contests of such magnitude are no longer commonplace in the world’s foremost MMA organisation, so the time to make hay is now.