UFC President Dana White expects UFC 254 headlined by the lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Interim Champion Justin Gaethje to break all records.
For the longest time in the UFC, it has always been either Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey that have sold the big cards. With both fighters parting ways with the promotion, the UFC didn’t fall off as most people expected it to. In fact, the UFC is now more popular than it has ever been, and is doing crazy numbers with new stars like Israel Adesanya, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Francis Ngannou etc.
The highest PPV record is still held by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor in UFC 229, which exceeds the follow-ups by a mile. The hype for that card was unlike any other card, due to the innate rivalry between Conor and Khabib, and the set up for the fight. Since then, Khabib has gained a lot of attention and fans, and is a much bigger star now. Justin Gaethje is the biggest threat to Khabib’s reign to retire at 30-0, and that is what makes this fight so exciting.
“This thing is trending off the charts for us right now,” Dana White said to TMZ Sports. “So, today is Tuesday and on Monday, this thing was trending to be the biggest fight we have ever had. Not Thursday, not Friday, Monday.”
Will Khabib vs Justin beat UFC 229?
However, it is hard to believe this card will do better than UFC 229 due to a lot of factors. The main one being the timing at which the fight will be broadcasted in the home country of the UFC, the United States. Because of the stardom of Khabib in the Middle East, the UFC has tried to accommodate the audience in the Middle East so that they see the fight on Saturday night. This puts the American fans in trouble where they have to watch it in the afternoon, which could result in a loss of some pay-per-views.
Another factor is the rivalry between Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov. UFC 229 did the numbers it did because of the storyline behind the fight, and the continuous trash talk between Conor and Khabib. While stylistically, Justin Gaethje is as exciting of a fight as anybody else in the division, there isn’t enough drama it takes to sell a typical Pay-per-view card.
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