With UFC 213 coming up, it’s a good opportunity to check out the most successful UFC events to date according to PPV numbers. Conor McGregor and Brock Lesnar stand a head above the rest of the fighters with their ability to draw in paying crowds: McGregor was a main event fighter in four of the events in the top 15; Lesnar appears in four as well.
15. UFC 92, Evans vs Griffin: 1,000,000
UFC 92 took place in December 27, 2008. The clash between Rashad Evans and light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin was a first title fight between two winners of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ show. Griffin was dominating the first two rounds, before Evans managed to catch a low kick and counter, breaking through Griffin’s guard and winning in a third round TKO.
14. UFC 200, Nunes vs Tate: 1,009,000
UFC 200 had two different main events cancelled before settling on Amanda Nunes vs Miesha Tate. Conor McGregor pulled out of his rematch with Nate Diaz, and the Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier fight was dropped due to Jones testing positive for illegal substances. So it came down to Nunes vs Tate for the Women’s Bantamweight title. Nunes won with a choke after stunning Tate with knees and punches, picking up a title belt for the first time in her career.
13. UFC 91, Lesnar vs Couture: 1,010,000
There was a lot of controversy over Brock Lesnar, with only three fights in MMA (one of them a loss to Frank Mir), getting a title shot against Randy Couture for the Heavyweight belt. But he got the shot, and on November 15, 2008, he beat Couture to win the championship with a second round TKO.
12. UFC 168, Weidman vs Silva II: 1,025,000
The headliner for UFC 168 (taking place on December 28, 2013) was the rematch between Scott Weidman and Anderson Silva. Weidman beat Silva 5 months earlier to claim the Middleweight title. In the rematch, it went back and forth (mostly with Wiedman in control) until Silva broke his leg after a kick from him got blocked by Weidman’s knee. Breaking his left tibia and fibula on contact, Silva wasn’t able to continue, and Weidman retained his title.
9-11. UFC 66, Liddell vs Ortiz II: 1,050,000
On December 30, 2006, Tito Ortiz got his second chance to fight Chuck Liddell, the reigning light heavyweight champion. Liddell won with a third round TKO, doing well to counter Ortiz’ style for most of the fight. It was something of a swan song for Liddell, who lost five of his next six fights, including the last two by first round knockouts.
9-11. UFC 114, Evans vs Jackson: 1,050,000
UFC 114 took place on May 29, 2010. In a non-title fight that went the distance, Rashad Evans beat Quinton Jackson by unanimous decision.
9-11. UFC 121, Lesnar vs Velasquez: 1,050,000
On October 23, 2010, Cain Velasquez beat Brock Lesnar with a first round TKO to win the heavyweight title for the first time in his career. Since then he has lost it, regained it and lost it again, last fighting in 2016, beating Travis Browne in UFC 200. Despite the loss, Lesnar made out with $400,000 from the fight while Velasquez got “only” $200,000.
7-8. UFC 193, Rousey vs Holm: 1,100,000
Holly Holm taking on Ronda Rousey in front of 56,000 at the Etihad stadium in Melbourne is one of the most memorable nights in recent UFC history. Rousey wasn’t just the Bantamweight champion heading into the fight; she was undefeated, and pretty much Dana White’s golden girl. But Holm obliterated her and didn’t just become the new champion, but pretty much ended Rousey’s career. Holm lost her next three fights, finally bouncing back on a UFC fight night event in Singapore.
7-8. UFC 207, Nunes vs Rousey: 1,100,000
A year after losing to Holm, Rousey was finally willing to fight again, taking on Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. The swagger, the confidence and the ability, there were all gone. Nunes beat Rousey with a TKO called after only 48 seconds in the first round.
6. UFC 116, Lesnar vs Carwin: 1,116,000
On July 3, 2010, Lesnar won for the last time in the UFC, beating Shane Carwin to unify the Heavyweight belts (Carwin was an interim champion). Lesnar won with an arm-triangle choke in the second round. He has since lost twice and in his most recent fight, despite winning in the arena, the decision was taken away from him due to testing positive for clomiphene.
5. UFC 205, Alvarez vs McGregor: 1,300,000
In what is currently McGregor’s last fight in the UFC, the Irishman beat Eddie Alvarez in front of a packed Madison Square Garden with a 2nd round TKO, winning the Lightweight championship. His next fight is actually a boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.
4. UFC 196, McGregor vs Diaz: 1,317,000
In UFC 196, Nate Diaz stuck a pin in the balloon that was Conor McGregor’s ego, although the deflation only lasted for a little while. However, on that night in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Diaz dominated McGregor and won with a 2nd round submission. Diaz took home $500,000, McGregor, coming off 14 consecutive wins, took $1 million.
3. UFC 194, McGregor vs Aldo: 1,400,000
Conor McGregor became the Featherweight champion on December 12, 2005, needing only 13 seconds to knockout Jose Aldo, sending him to the canvas with a left hook before adding a bit more pain while Aldo was on the ground. It was the fastest finish to a UFC title fight. After the fight, McGregor said Again, nobody can take that left-hand shot. He’s powerful and fast. But precision beats power, and timing beats speed. And that’s what you saw there.
2. UFC 100, Lesnar vs Mir: 1,600,000
In his second fight with Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar got to avenge his only loss (up to that point) in UFC with a 2nd round TKO, unifying the heavyweight belts. UFC 100 was about a few main events, but the July 2009 fight was mostly about this heavyweight bout. The second big fight of the night was in the Welterweight division, when George St. Pierre defended his title by beating Thiago Alves.
1. UFC 202, McGregor vs Diaz II: 1,650,000
The event that finally broke UFC 100’s hold on the PPV record. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz tussled in a rematch to UFC 196, and after 5 rounds McGregor came out on top, winning with a majority decision going his way (48-47, 47-47, 48-47). McGregor made $3 million from the fight, Diaz took home $2 million.