McGregor Dominates Conversation Despite Losing, Demand for Khabib Fight Surges

Conor McGregor generated 22.7 million online engagements at UFC 257

1.7x more mentions of McGregor than his victorious opponent Dustin Poirier

McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov rematch speculation creates 12,000 discussions

439k new fans for McGregor’s +50 million follower profiles during fight week

Nielsen Sports analysis compares McGregor’s social performance from last two fights

Insight from Nielsen Sports, the global leader in sports industry analytics, has revealed that Irish MMA icon Conor McGregor remains the UFC’s most influential figure across social platforms. While McGregor lost his fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Saturday, online excitement was weighted ten times in his favour, with 22.7 million engagements in the build-up to the event.

The fight marked McGregor’s return from retirement, and the preceding week saw his social profiles gain 439,000 new followers, with the majority of these coming from Instagram (+311,092). Although this is substantial growth for his 56 million audience, it was down on his previous fight week performance – McGregor gained 1.4 million new fans ahead of his fight with Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in January 2020. The slight difference can be attributed to the UFC 257 fight being a rematch (McGregor originally fought Poirier in 2014), therefore the Cerrone fight presented a more unique spectacle.

Nielsen Sports analysis also shows that McGregor dominated discussion at UFC 257. With almost 76,000 mentions during fight week and 49,000 during the event, McGregor generated 1.7x more online conversations than Poirier. This exceeds the fight at UFC 246, where McGregor was mentioned 22,000 times during the event, although he still dominated 2.1x more discussions than Cerrone.

Although Poirier’s online engagement was down on McGregor’s during fight week, he still made a substantial gain of 520,000 new followers. This exceeded Cerrone, who onlygrew his profile by 341,000 as McGregor’s opponent. Poirier’s engagement this week was 2.3 million across all his channels. The UFC itself dwarfed all its athlete’s efforts via it’s own channels, generating almost 43 million in engagements and close to 100,000 mentions during fight week.

Crucially, the Nielsen Sports data shows that there is considerable appetite from UFC fans for McGregor to fight his undefeated Russian rival Khabib Nurmagomedov again. The pair have the two largest audiences in the UFC (56 million for McGregor, 31 million for Khabib), and there were 12,000 discussions mentioning both fighters simultaneously in just three days.

Spencer Nolan, Managing Director, UK at Nielsen Sports said:  “Conor McGregor has once again shown that his popularity on social media continues to remain at unprecedented levels, despite spending a year out of action. Online conversation centred on the fact that McGregor lost, and not that Poirier won. This tells us that win or lose, he remains a pivotal character that has transcended an entire sport. Using Nielsen Sport’s bespoke social analytics tools allows us to drive real insight in this area.

“Analysing the conversation across social media during fight week in more detail, it’s clear there is a demand from fans to see a rematch between McGregor and Nurmagomdov. Driven by Khabib’s presence in the UFC’s own channel content during fight week, we can see that conversation was rife regarding the promotion’s two biggest assets meeting again. Here is another example of how rights holders can work effectively to leverage their athlete’s following and create key moments for key athletes around their sport as well as the opportunity to potentially amplify a brand’s messaging.” 


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