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PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

UFC 268: A New York Homecoming Means Big MMA Business

On Saturday, Madison Square Garden hosts a UFC PPV for the first time since 2019 — and the economic implications are huge for the world’s richest MMA organization.

UPDATE 11/8: UFC 268 generated a reported $9,903,557 in gate revenue with a sold-out crowd of 20,715.

UPDATE 11/22: UFC 268 pay-per-view buys are estimated at 700,000.

For the first time since Nov. 2, 2019, MMA is back in New York City. Capping off consecutive Saturdays of loaded cards on opposite ends of the world, UFC 268 rolls into MSG highlighted by two title fights and some out-and-out bangers.

Expect 20,000 fight fans creating seismic activity in Midtown Manhattan — particularly for the night’s main event when pound-for-pound No. 1 Kamaru Usman faces top contender Colby Covington in a rematch of their UFC 245 thriller two years ago.

Overall, the top attractions at the World’s Most Famous Arena include:

  • Usman (champion, -310 at FanDuel) vs. Covington (+240) for the UFC welterweight (170-pound) title
  • Rose Namajunas (champion, +100) vs. Zhang Weili (-122) for the UFC strawweight (115-pound) title
  • Justin Gaethje (-220) vs. Michael Chandler (+176) in a lightweight (155-pound) bout with championship implications

Sure, mobile sports gambling isn’t available in New York quite yet, but it’s a safe wager that the overall handle for UFC 268 given its cross-continental appeal will be of the serious variety.

All told, if absence makes the ticket lines grow longer, we could be in for the biggest New York pay-per-view ever that didn’t feature the biggest star in the sport, Conor McGregor. The stakes are simply higher when you take your act to the media capital of the world. As the fifth New York PPV in the promotion’s history, here’s the precedent UFC 268 is up against as it relates to paid viewership and ticket sales.

Madison Square Garden’s UFC PPV History

UFC 205
  • Date: Nov. 12, 2016
  • Venue: Madison Square Garden
  • Main event: Conor McGregor defeats Eddie Alvarez for UFC lightweight championship
  • Gate revenue: $17.7 million
  • PPV buys: 1.7 million
UFC 217
  • Date: Nov. 4, 2017
  • Venue: Madison Square Garden
  • Main event: Georges St-Pierre defeats Michael Bisping for UFC middleweight championship
  • Gate revenue: $6.2 million
  • PPV buys: 875,000
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UFC 223
  • Date: April 7, 2018
  • Venue: Barclays Center
  • Main event: Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Al Iaquinta for vacant UFC lightweight championship 
  • Gate revenue: $3 million
  • PPV buys: 350,000
UFC 244
  • Date: Nov. 2, 2019
  • Venue: Madison Square Garden
  • Main event: Jorge Masvidal defeats Nate Diaz
  • Gate revenue: $6.6 million
  • PPV buys: Not publicized

UFC 268 Fight Card

Main Card (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV)

Welterweight championship: Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Colby Covington 2
Strawweight championship: Rose Namajunas (c) vs. Zhang Weili 2
Bantamweight: Frankie Edgar vs. Marlon “Chito” Vera
Featherweight: Shane Burgos vs. Billy Quarantillo
Lightweight: Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler

Prelims (8 p.m. ET, ESPNews & ESPN+)

Middleweight: Alex Pereira vs. Andreas Michailidis
Lightweight: Al Iaquinta vs. Bobby Green
Middleweight: Phil Hawes vs. Chris Curtis
Middleweight: Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Nassourdine Imavov
Welterweight: Ian Garry vs. Jordan Williams

Early Prelims (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Heavyweight: Gian Villante vs. Chris Barnett
Light heavyweight: Dustin Jacoby vs. John Allan
Featherweight: Melsik Baghdasaryan vs. Bruno Souza
Flyweight: CJ Vergara vs. Ode’ Osbourne