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Conor McGregor’s $20 Million UFC 303 Feat Despite 3 Years Hiatus, Receives UFC Legend’s Surprising Verdict

Published 05/15/2024, 12:42 PM EDT

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Conor McGregor is by far the biggest superstar in the history of mixed martial arts. The bombastic Irishman, after all, holds an unbelievable eight spots in the top ten list for the most successful events in UFC history. Including, of course, his contentious and personal UFC 229 clash against Khabib Nurmagomedov, which smashed all previous records to become the most successful fight in MMA history. And just recently, despite his three years out of the ring and recent form, the Dubliner broke another UFC record.

Ahead of ‘Mac’s UFC 303 comeback bout against Michael Chandler on June 29, UFC CEO Dana White told reporters that the card has already become the highest-grossing gate event in the history of the promotion (with $20 million worth of ticket sales for the T-Mobile Arena card in Las Vegas). And UFC analyst and former superstar Chael Sonnen is in awe of ‘The Notorious’ given the circumstances his record-breaking achievement came under.

Sonnen is fascinated by Conor McGregor still breaking records

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The verbose UFC analyst tried to explain the magnitude of McGregor’s star power and bankability to his audience, pointing out that his upcoming fight had beaten his own 2016 UFC 205 record for the highest-grossing gate of $17.7 million. “So Conor McGregor currently has the highest gate ever which is the New York show at 17.4 million. This one [UFC 303] will no longer be the big escape because he is beating himself… But it’s different right, it’s a different point in his career,” Chael Sonnen said in a video on his YouTube channel.

This, of course, despite the Irishman coming off of a long layoff, consecutive losses, a serious injury, and a general decline in his fighting abilities. Which, according to ‘Uncle Chael’, made it even more fascinating of an achievement. “[He’s] older, not coming off of a victory, different weight class… So you got a few of these things and… the light is bright but it’s dimming. Well, numbers don’t lie, and Conor McGregor already has surpassed the live gate record, of which is currently held by Conor McGregor he’s, already surpassed it for number one,” Sonnen added.

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While McGregor may still be the biggest star in the promotion, Michael Chandler is determined to change that. The former Bellator champion, waiting to fight the Irishman since their contentious ‘TUF 31’ season last year, wants to break McGregor’s “jaw” and “spirit” and retire him. In addition, Chandler has recently claimed that he plans to beat the Irishman so comprehensively and embarrassingly that the fans will no longer be interested in watching the Irishman fight after UFC 303.

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However, Chandler’s wish is still, at best, a distant possibility as of now, since, at the moment, Mystic Mac’s popularity has no equal. And according to Sonnen, the bombastic Dubliner is about to fight in what is shaping up to be the most popular fight in MMA history.

Sonnen terms McGregor-Chandler the most sought-after fight in MMA history

While Chandler may have a dim view of the Irishman, Chael Sonnen continued to sing paeans of the former two-division champion over his latest feat. He observed that despite the plethora of disadvantages McGregor, at least on paper, is coming into the Chandler fight with, combined with the simple fact that the bout does not hold any significance for the division or the title picture, it has still managed to rake in a record-breaking gate. Because of this, the former middleweight title contender made a very tall claim, calling the McGregor-Chandler UFC 303 main event bout “the most sought-after fight” in MMA history.

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“I mean do you know what an incredible draw guy would be if [he was] coming back, not off of a victory [defeat], different weight class, the fight has nothing on it: it’s not for a title, it’s not for a made up title, it’s not for a contendership, it’s not a personal feud. It has nothing on it. It is [still] the number one most sought-after fight in the history of MMA, if your trajectory for coming up with that basis is live gate,” Sonnen claimed.

What are your thoughts about the whole affair? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by

Kanishk Thakur

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Kanishk Thakur is a senior UFC writer at EssentiallySports. A seasoned writer with about 5 years of professional writing experience, he has expertly covered the heated rivalries in the fight game and delivered meticulous reports of ‘athlete payouts’ here at ES. Additionally, he also unravels stories that occur outside the cage, in fighters’ lives.
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Edited by

Sakshi Jain