ABU DHABI – UFC 251 was nothing short of a major success for UFC president Dana White, who admits Jorge Masvidal played a big part in that.
At a UFC on ESPN 13 pre-fight scrum held Tuesday, MMA Junkie asked White about a recent report that Saturday’s event raked in upward of 1.3 million pay-per-view buys. White didn’t confirm the specific numbers, but he did praise his promotion’s execution.
“It was a very successful event,” White said. “We’re happy. This thing killed across the board in every way you could possibly kill it. It was awesome. It was awesome. The thing did really well.”
White attributes the lucrative night of fights to a handful of factors. The “Fight Island” branding played a part – but so did headlining challenger Masvidal (35-14 MMA, 12-7 UFC). White also tipped his cap to UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, complimenting his in-cage abilities.
“I said it to you guys the other night. I think when you put on a fight – a successful promotion of an event – this is a big melting pot of different things,” White said. “‘Fight Island’ was a massive star in this thing. Jorge Masvidal was a massive star. Obviously, Usman, the champion and a guy that we’re all starting to realize is tough to beat – and a great card underneath it. It all came together perfectly.”
As for areas of improvement, White had trouble locating any. In recent meetings, White said he’s brainstormed what could’ve gone better at UFC 251 but hasn’t come up with anything.
“It was a major success,” White said. “Everybody is healthy. It’s all good. Literally, (there’s) not one negative thing I could point out as I’ve been talking to people, especially here from Abu Dhabi, who were involved in the event. I’ve had meetings since the fight, and they’re like, ‘What can we do better next time?’ I’m like, ‘I wish I could tell you something negative. I wish I could tell you something that didn’t go perfectly, that wasn’t perfect.’ Everything here has been perfect.
“When you think about this safety zone that we’re in from the restaurants to the hotels and the service and everything else, it literally could not be done better than this if you look at all the other places. California just shut down again. With what’s going on in the States, you couldn’t execute a better event with better facilities with better food for everybody. The list just goes on and on. It could not be better.”
The estimated 1.3 million buys are the most the promotion has drawn for a single event since UFC 229 in October 2018, which holds the promotion’s record at an estimated 2.4 million. That event was headlined by the infamous grudge match between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.
Three title fights were on Saturday’s billing: Usman vs. Masvidal, Alexander Volkanovksi vs. Max Holloway, and Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo. Masvidal lost a five-round unanimous decision after taking the fight on just six days’ notice.