At this point, the back and forth between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather has been going on for so long that the excitement for the fight is dying off significantly (or so analytics tell me). Obviously, when the fight is officially made, which it looks like it will be, the buzz will be tremendous and the promotion will feature more bling than a ’90s rap video (rumor has it McGregor and Mayweather will hold press conferences on opposing gold-plated yachts).
The holdup is a matter of money. A lot of money. Both men want massive paydays, and the men behind the men (and the corporations behind those men) want a lot of money too. That’s why this insane, somewhat stupid fight is even getting made in the first place — one of the greatest boxers ever doesn’t take on an MMA champion who has yet to defend a belt he’s won with zero pro boxing experience unless a few hundred million bucks are on the line. The prizefighting rulebook states that clearly.
There’s a very real fight before the fight — the negotiations. Mayweather laughed when Dana White suggested his purse be $25 million and a PPV cut, and now White has confirmed that Conor McGregor will likely make around $75 million and Mayweather will get his $100 million purse he’s grown so accustomed to.
What this means, is that we the fans will be paying a lot of money for this PPV. If everyone’s going to get their cut — Mayweather, McGregor, the UFC, the PPV provider, Showtime (in conjunction with the UFC), then they’re going to charge way more than the normal UFC PPV cost of $60.
We need to start mentally preparing for a damn expensive Mayweather/McGregor card.
Here’s what we know: Mayweather/Pacquiao generated 4.6 million PPV buys and a revenue of over $400 million (some reports have it at over $600 million) thanks to their $99 price tag. From this, Mayweather made a $230 million purse and Pac got $160 million in their 60/40 split. Pacquiao had to split his cut with his promoter, Bob Arum, but the UFC’s new owners, WME-IMG have been trying to make the biggest fights possible after paying over $4 billion for the UFC.
This has led us to Dana White saying he feels like he owes it to Conor to make the fight, but we all know the subtext is that WME-IMG desperately wants a nice cash injection after the crappy year they’ve had in 2017.
So these ongoing negotiations are no doubt affecting the price tag fans will soon contemplate. McGregor has recently said he’ll make more than the $75 million expected, which muddies things further. Floyd demands the A-side of this fight, and Conor’s ego demands the same. If Floyd takes the B-side, he’s already lost. It would never happen. This is a double A-side fight between Conor and Floyd, and we’re gonna pay dearly for it.
How are those negotiations going? Dana’s working on it:
“Mayweather’s team would have to deal with [Showtime]. I’m dealing with my side, I’ll let them deal with their side,” White said. “I’ve been talking to [Mayweather’s team] for a while now.”
Boxing promoter Bob Arum said the UFC wanted 50% of McGregor’s purse from the potential fight. Dana denied this (as well as Jeff Mayweather’s claim of an 80-20 split between the UFC and McGregor) but a split is going to happen. Everyone needs to get paid. And if Dana and the UFC don’t want to take too much from Conor’s earnings because they owe him a favor or whatever, then they can just crank up the price. What better way to get 100% of the cash you would normally get off a $60 PPV if you have to split it than by just doubling the price?
Dana at UFC 210 press conference said the following:
“What I would like to clarify is all the (expletive) about the 80-20 split (between the UFC and McGregor): it’s all bullshit. Jeff Mayweather? Come on Jeff. Me and Jeff go way back. Jeff, are you the spokesman now for (expletive) Team Mayweather? And Bob Arum? You piece of (expletive) – (expletive) you too. What do they know about this fight? Want to know what they know about this fight? Nothing. Believe me.”
White rants about no one knowing anything aside, a picture is being painted that has everyone getting paid (as it has been stated many times before). Could we looking at a $100 PPV, or perhaps even a $120 PPV?
I brought this question to MMAPayout’s Jason Cruz (visit them, they’re great) for to poke holes in it and give some general theory checking. He’s a known commodity when it comes to the thrilling world of PPV buy rates and revenue splits. He doesn’t believe the cost could go above $99, but there are things that need to be paid for beyond just the main event — piracy-curbing, the undercard (which could be stacked to a degree we’ve never seen before with Anderson Silva vs. Roy Jones), the producers and PPV providers getting their cash. How will the promoters even afford this and make it worth their while unless the cost is jacked way up?
I think you have everyone down that would get paid. The satellite and cable companies (i.e. DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, Cox, etc) McGregor, Mayweather (Mayweather Productions), the UFC and definitely Showtime PPV. I think Showtime will need to be the PPV producer and would refrain from another joint venture with another company as it did with the Pacquiao fight. You may recall that the joint venture between Showtime and HBO actually ended in a lawsuit as the two sides battled over indemnity issues when PPV purchasers sued HBO, Showtime, etc. when it was revealed that Pacquiao did not disclose an injury prior to the fight. The lawsuit ended in a settlement.”
I think $120 will be a hard price point to sell considering the last time a Mayweather fight charged $100, versus Manny Pacquiao, it was lackluster. Also, it was met with bad press due to the lack of action. So, $120 will be a hard pill to swallow for most.
From a financial payout perspective, I understand a justification to raise the PPV price to $120. The anticipated PPV buys would allow for a huge split to seemingly satisfy all parties. But, regardless of how much this fight could make, Mayweather will demand to be the “A” side no matter what and I cannot foresee anything less than a 60-40 split.
In addition, I just don’t see this being more than $100 for a fight. First, it would scare away the curious fan. Certainly, a huge amount of the 4.4 million PPV buys that purchased Mayweather-Pacquiao were likely first-time purchasers. Based on that fight, they will likely never purchase a PPV again. Second, a hefty price would likely bring up the issue of piracy. Many folks Periscoped the fight and illegally rebroadcast it. The enforcement to curb piracy would be an additional cost.
Thus, I think $100 would be the most they could charge for a PPV. Certainly, McGregor could negotiate for International rights to the fight and maybe more with other types of rights. Then, there is the issue of whether this could be seen on UFC Fight Pass at a later date. If Showtime produces this event, I don’t think we would ever see that happen.
*Note: You might recall White did not like Showtime production when the UFC took over Strikeforce. If past actions dictate future ones, White might not want Showtime to produce a possible Mayweather-McGregor event.
It’s hard to deny Cruz’s logic here, but Mayweather is known for setting records and price points never seen before. His fight against Canelo Alvarez in 2013 cost $75 for the HD broadcast — a record at the time.
We need to look at this matchup between Floyd as Conor as a series of battles. Conor and Floyd have no problem charging people more because then they can say they did it. They both want to be the first, the biggest, the baddest and the richest. We’ll pay to make that happen.