Ariel Helwani Claims Ngannou-Fury Fight Brought in Over 400,000 Buys Worldwide: ‘You’re ignoring all these numbers’

Ariel Helwani

Renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani is disputing recent reports that Francis Ngannou’s professional boxing debut against Tyson Fury in Riyadh bombed.

Since walking away from an offer that would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in UFC history, Francis Ngannou has been continuously doubted. Fans and even some of his peers thought he was foolish for turning down Dana White’s offer. Many claimed he “fumbled the bag” after turning down massive deals with the BKFC and ONE Championship.

Even after signing a ground-breaking deal with the Professional Fighters League and bagging a big-money fight with Fury, ‘The Predator’ was still the subject of significant criticism.

Now, the boo-birds have a new narrative, reporting that Ngannou’s critically acclaimed performance against ‘The Gypsy King’ only brought in 67,000 pay-per-view buys. Everywhere you turn, that number, which was first reported by Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, seems to be all anyone wants to talk about.

However, Ariel Helwani says that’s only one small piece of the puzzle.

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During Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Helwani reiterated that the numbers being reported by Meltzer only include purchases of the event on ESPN+ and through U.S. cable and satellite providers, completely ignoring how the event did around the world.

“The new thing is that [Ngannou] bombed on pay-per-view,” Helwani began. “Let me explain a couple of things to you because there’s a lot of new people to the fight game. Number one; the A-side was Tyson Fury so if anyone is to be blamed, it’s Tyson, and he should not be blamed. I believe the way they announced it. Having it on Saturday afternoon… All these things are factors, but that doesn’t even matter because I see a lot of people posting this 67,000 number and using that as some sort of gotcha moment.

“That number that you keep seeing parrotted around isn’t the entire actual number, and I can’t believe I even have to sit here and explain this to all of you,” Helwani continued. “Again, the guy who was never even arguing in favor of the pay-per-view or not. It’s ESPN+ and U.S. numbers. That’s what that number is from Dave Meltzer who’s been doing this for a very long time.

“My sources tell me it’s a little bit above that, but let’s just say it’s nowhere above 100,000. That’s the ESPN+ on Saturday afternoon and American pay-per-view numbers. Completely ignoring the fact that it also on TNT Sports Box Office, aka the network formerly known as BT Sport, in the U.K. where Tyson is his biggest draw. That’s where he has the most drawing power. Ignoring that… Ignoring the Canada number, which I don’t think is a massive one, and ignoring the DAZN number which is everywhere, but the U.S., the U.K., and Ireland. You’re ignoring all these numbers.”

Ariel Helwani Offers His Global Estimate for Fury vs. Ngannou

So what exactly are those numbers? According to Helwani, the total number of pay-per-view buys is, at minimum, 400,000, but is likely to be significantly higher once all the receipts roll in.”

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“Those numbers are still not 100 percent, but I can tell you with great certainty right now, and I’m being extremely conservative when I say this, the number you should be throwing in my face isn’t 67,000. It’s not even 100,000. The number you should be throwing in my face is 400,000, and I feel very confident it will be above that,” Helwani said.

“That’s at its base. 400k. You’re not seeing that number parrotted around and that’s fine. You might be saying, ‘400k? That’s nothing compared to what the UFC does.’ Okay, maybe, but that would also make it the highest-selling pay-per-view involving an MMA fighter in an event not promoted by the UFC.

Obviously [Conor] McGregor and [Floyd] Mayweather did way more, but it was also promoted by the UFC.”