Any fight featuring UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is a big deal. When you have him face a dangerous adversary like UFC interim lightweight titleholder Justin Gaethje, anticipation reaches a fever pitch.
According to UFC President Dana White, that aforementioned anticipation for UFC 254 is correlating in some interesting trends when it comes to pay-per-view buys.
“This thing’s trending off the charts for us right now,” White told TMZ Sports. “It’s the end of Tuesday going into Wednesday…On Monday, this thing was trending to be the biggest fight we’ve ever had. Not Thursday, not Friday — Monday.”
Curiously, UFC 254 is trending this way despite the fact the event is being broadcast at a time to suit audiences in Europe and the Middle East, rather than the bastion of PPV buys, North America.
The UFC 254 main card is set to begin at 10:00pm local time on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. That time equates to 7:00pm UK time and a morning or mid-day start depending where you live in the United States and Canada.
At present, the UFC PPV record is held by UFC 229: the event which saw Nurmagomedov defend his UFC lightweight title against foe Conor McGregor in October, 2018, which reportedly garnered 2.4 million buys.
Whether UFC 254 will beat that lofty figure or not remains to be seen. However, White has tempered expectations for later in the week when the event gets closer and the North American audience become more aware of UFC 254’s earlier start time.
“It’s trending bigger than that [UFC 229] right now,” White said last night. “Will the trend hold? One of the things that is a big negative for us is it is not in primetime at home.
“It is hard to message that to people. This thing starts in the afternoon.”