10 Greatest MMA And Boxing Matches Ever
Combat sports, especially those where you’re allowed to beat your opponent to a pulp, has for a long time held man’s interest with a level of passion and support that is best reflected in ticket sales or viewer support through pay-per-view (PPV). Over the years, with the rise of social media influencers, marketing fights have become much more diverse. And successful marketing equals more followers, more fans, and ultimately, more ticket sales. Done right, skillful marketing has helped to produce some of the greatest MMA and professional boxing matches in history. Here are a few historical moments in the world of bloodsport that saw all-out wars turn into record pay-per-view sales.
10 vs. Miguel Cotto
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The sport of boxing has attracted a great deal of admiration from fans across the globe, either loyally in support of their favorite boxers or in love with the sight of seeing a man’s face get smashed in. Fighters know this and use their influence to their advantage. One boxer in particular who has mastered the art of marketing and “fight hype” is the owner of Mayweather Promotion (The Money Team) Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, Jr. According to HBO Sports, the highly anticipated fight generated a whopping 1.5 million PPV purchases, amounting to about $94 million in PPV revenue, It’s for this reason that Money Mayweather is considered the PPV king.
9 Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield
The highly sensationalized showdown between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield was classified as a heavyweight fight both in weight class and in PPV earnings. “Iron Mike” and Holyfield had slugged it out once before, but the 1997 rematch was even more successful and went down in history as the ‘Bite Fight’, the fight where Tyson infamously bit the ear of his opponent, Evander Holyfield. Tyson was immediately disqualified, but the fight still managed to rake in over 1.99 million PPV buys totaling $110 million in revenue, making it the highest PPV number bought for a heavyweight fight to date. The first fight brought in 1.59 million PPV viewers, ending with Tyson losing to Holyfield by TKO in the eleventh round.
8 Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez
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Although professional boxing has secured itself a committed following of fans to the sport, another more potentially dangerous bloodsport known as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) also has a community of die-hard fans, celebrity personalities like Joe Rogan and Wiz Khalifa are associated with this combat sport which draws millions, if not billions of followers every year. One name that has become synonymous with controversial showmanship is Conor McGregor, a brash, vocal, and skilled fighter who dominated a number of opponents with his unorthodox style. One such opponent was Eddie Alvarez, who fought McGregor in New York in 2016. The heavily anticipated fight fished a mammoth 1.3 million buys on PPV and ended with McGregor laying out Alvarez three times in the first round.
7 Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
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6 Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masdival
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While MMA platforms such as the UFC may never be as influential as renowned boxing promotions like Golden Boy or The Money Team Promotions, appreciation for the competitive sport has grown over the past decade, so much so that there have been collaborations between UFC and pro-boxing athletes. One fight in particular that captured fans’ attention was the match between the popular Jorge Madvisal and welterweight champion Kumaru Usman. Madvisal lost the first fight in the fifth round by unanimous decision as Usman defended his welterweight title victoriously. The fight pulled in 1.35 million pay-per-view buys partly because the event was held in Abu Dhabi during UFC’s ‘Fight Island’.
5 Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez
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It seems that even at 36, Floyd still wasn’t able to be outboxed by the younger lion on the rise, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who at the time was 23. The match took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and, at the time, grossed the highest PPV earning of all time with $150 million in revenue from 2.2 million pay-per-view sales. The light-middleweight championship also set a new boxing record for the most live gate revenue earned in a single fight at $20 million. Mayweather disappointed the hopes of the Mexican people, who expected the young star in Canelo to reign as the new light-middleweight pound for pound king in the wake of Floyd’s 17-year long boxing career.
4 Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
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Going down in history as likely one of the most-watched UFC fights ever, the battle between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor was as personal as it could get, which definitely added to the tension that helped to build up this super fight. McGregor, also known as ‘The Notorious One’ had only been defeated by a handful of fighters. Literally, only 5! And Khabib was one of them. Following McGregor’s return to UFC after a two-year leave to train for a super fight with Money Mayweather, he sparked one of the biggest rivalries with Khabib in MMA history. The emotional charge between the fighters drew in an astounding 2.2 million pay-per-view sales and ended with a loss for MMA superstar Conor McGregor.
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3 Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis
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After what has been considered the most disturbing fight in boxing history against Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, it appeared that every time Tyson’s name was mentioned, it carried with it some level of unpredictability, fear, and excitement. People came to expect anything when watching a Tyson fight. So when he went against Lennox Lewis in 2002, fans came in by the droves to show their support, raking in 1.95 million PPV sales and $103 million in PPV revenue, which surpassed the record broken for the Tyson vs. Holyfield II bout in 1997, which accumulated $99 million in pay-per-view revenue.
2 Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II
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Believe it or not, there have been elite MMA fights that have amassed a great deal of success that didn’t involve Conor McGregor. One such fight was between the hulking Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir in 2009. This would be the second fight between the two heavyweights after a controversial first match. The fight was among one of the most commercially successful pay-per-view events in UFC history, seeing a total of 1.6 million PPV buys with an estimated return of revenue at $82 million. The fans were well pleased, as Lesnar got his revenge on Frank Mir and secured his heavyweight belt victoriously.
1 Manny Pacquiao vs. Money Mayweather
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Coming in at number one and still with a record-breaking pay-per-view earning of 4.6 million buyers and PPV revenue of $410 million is the 2015 fight between Money Mayweather and Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao in 2015. However, even with a historical pay-per-view buyout, the fight did not live up to the hype, and viewers left feeling robbed. The fight wasn’t as exciting as many thought it would be. What took six years to arrange was over in 12 rounds of over-hyped and under-delivered action, which ended with Money Mayweather taking home the win. The second-place prize fight was between Mayweather and Conor McGregor, which returned $396 million in revenues and sold 4,300,000 pay-per-view buys. The bloodsport business is truly a goldmine!
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Sources: World Sports Weekly, ESPN, Fox Sports, MMA Junkie, Spotskeeda
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