Conor McGregor, Jon Jones are big stars among FightPass subscribers

Kevin Iole
Cagewriter
Conor McGregor, Jon Jones are big stars among FightPass subscribers
Conor McGregor, Jon Jones are big stars among FightPass subscribers

FightPass, the UFC's digital streaming service, is three-quarters of the way through its first year. It's already been a boon to the UFC because it gives it its own network that protects it from the vagaries of the fast-changing world of television.

As more television viewers cut the cord with their cable connections and opt for services such as Apple TV, Roku and streaming via apps on smart TVs, the UFC is positioned to take advantage.

All of the fights in UFC history are available on FightPass, though there is a delay for fights that were just on Fox or FoxSports, and pay-per-view bouts are held back briefly (By the way, someone at the UFC should change the delay on the PPV bouts, because in boxing, the replay of a PPV is always aired the following Saturday).

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But after nine months, Yahoo Sports requested the UFC data on the most watched individual bouts and cards in several different categories. Several interesting trends emerged after sifting through the data.

Conor McGregor. (Getty Images)
Conor McGregor. (Getty Images)

The most intriguing is that in the 10 most-watched UFC fights ever on FightPass, none occurred any earlier than UFC 158 on March 16, 2013. All 10 of the most-watched fights occurred in the nearly 19 months since that show.

There are many older bouts in the most-watched non-UFC events on FightPass, where Fedor Emelianenko dominates as much as he did as when he was ruling PRIDE as its heavyweight champion. Of the 10 most-viewed non-UFC bouts on FightPass, Emelianenko competed in five.

By far, the most watched bout on FightPass was the light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson in Toronto on Sept. 21, 2013.

That bout was considered the greatest fight in UFC history by many. It was also a close bout with many swings in momentum that left fans with a split opinion about the outcome.

Jones rallied from behind to win on the scorecards, but there are a large number of fans who believe that Gustafsson was cheated out of the decision. That, and the quality of the fight, are probably why it's No. 1.

Here is a look at the full Top 10, through Oct. 6, per UFC research:

Top 10 most-watched fights:

  1. Jon Jones-Alexander Gustafsson, Sept. 21, 2013, Toronto, UFC 165

  2. Gilbert Melendez-Diego Sanchez, Oct. 19, 2013, Houston, UFC 166

  3. Anderson Silva-Chris Weidman, July 6, 2013, Las Vegas, UFC 162

  4. Georges St-Pierre-Johny Hendricks, Nov. 16, 2013, Las Vegas, UFC 167

  5. Benson Henderson-Anthony Pettis II, Aug. 31, 2013, Milwaukee, Wisc., UFC 164

  6. Conor McGregor-Max Holloway, Aug. 17, 2013, Boston, UFC FIght Night 26

  7. Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos III, Oct. 19, 2013, Houston, UFC 166

  8. Benson Henderson-Rustam Khabilov, June 7, 2014, Albuquerque, N.M., UFC Fight Night 42

  9. Conor McGregor-Marcus Brimage, April 6, 2013, Stockholm, Sweden, UFC Sweden 2

  10. Johny Hendricks-Carlos Condit, March 16, 2013, Montreal, UFC 158


The top 10, which White said he was not aware of until a reporter read him the list, did not surprise the UFC president. Only three of McGregor's fights were on FightPass at the time of the counting since UFC 178 was not up because of a pay-per-view hold. Two of those three made the list.

"I've been telling everyone this, but maybe this will give me evidence to back up what I've been saying, and that is that Conor McGregor is a huge star," White said. "People are interested in what he's doing, they want to see him fight and they're going to FightPass to check him out."

McGregor is also the most searched fighter on FightPass.

Joining him on that list are many of the UFC's elite names:

  1. Conor McGregor

  2. Jon Jones

  3. Nick Diaz

  4. Anderson Silva

  5. T.J. Dillashaw

  6. Daniel Cormier

  7. Rory MacDonald

  8. Ronda Rousey

  9. Mark Hunt

  10. Cain Velasquez

 

The biggest surprise on that list is not only that McGregor sits atop it, but that Rousey is as low as she is on the top 10 and that big names such as Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz aren't a part of it.

"It's funny how fast things have changed," White said of the absence of many of the UFC's biggest names from the most-searched list.

When it comes to non-UFC bouts, it's no surprise that the names of Emelianenko and Diaz are littered throughout the top 10.

The full list of most-watched non-UFC fights is as follows:

  1. Nick Diaz-Paul Daley, April 9, 2011, San Diego, Calif., Strikeforce

  2. Benson Henderson-Anthony Pettis I, Dec. 16, 2010, Glendale, Ariz., WEC 53

  3. Fedor Emelianenko-Mirko FIlipovic, Aug. 28, 2005, Saitama, Japan, PRIDE

  4. Nick Diaz-Takanori Gomi, Feb. 24, 2007, Las Vegas, PRIDE

  5. Nick Diaz-Frank Shamrock, April 11, 2009, San Jose, Calif., Strikeforce

  6. Fedor Emelianenko-Mark Hunt, Dec. 31, 2006, Saitama, Japan, PRIDE

  7. Fedor Emelianenko-Kevin Randleman, June 20, 2004, Saitama, Japan, PRIDE

  8. Fedor Emelianenko-Mark Coleman I, April 25, 2004, Saitama, Japan, PRIDE

  9. Urijah Faber-Jose Aldo, April 24, 2010, Sacramento, Calif., WEC 48

  10. Fedor Emelianenko-Kazuyuki Fujita, June 8, 2003, Yokohama, Japan, PRIDE

 

The UFC has acquired fight footage from numerous promotions which it has made available via FightPass. One of its most recent acquisitions in that regard is the all-women's Invicta promotion and it has clearly been a wise move.

All eight Invicta shows appear in the top 10 of the most-watched non-UFC events.

The full list of most-watched non-UFC cards is as follows:

  1. Invicta FC 8: Waterson vs. Tamada, Sept. 6, 2014, Kansas City, Mo.

  2. Invicta FC 6: Coenen vs. Cyborg, July 13, 2013, Kansas City, Mo.

  3. Invicta FC 7: Honchak vs. Smith, Dec. 7, 2013, Kansas City, Mo.

  4. Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson, April 5, 2013, Kansas City, Mo. 

  5. Invicta FC 1: Coenen vs. Ruyssen, April 28, 2012, Kansas City, Mo.

  6. Stirkeforce: Diaz vs. Daley, April 9, 2011, San Diego, Calif.

  7. Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg, Jan. 29, 2011, San Jose, Calif.

  8. Invicta FC 2: Baszler vs. McMann, July 28, 2012, Kansas City, Mo.

  9. Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt, Jan. 5, 2013, Kansas City, Mo.

  10. Invicta FC 3: Penne vs. Sugiyama, Oct. 6, 2012, Kanas City, Mo.

 

It's a small slice of information, and you can make of it what you wish. Rousey's absence on any of the lists is interesting, particularly her failure to rank on the most-watched non-UFC fights. Her Strikeforce bout with Miesa Tate did great ratings on Showtime at the time.

UFC FIghtPass subscribers love watching Nick Diaz fight. (Getty Images)
UFC FIghtPass subscribers love watching Nick Diaz fight. (Getty Images)

 

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