Combat sports remain one of the most popular sports globally. Whether it's boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA), nothing beats the adrenaline of watching two talented fighters go head-to-head in the ring.
As the fighting industry grows in popularity, professional fighters continue to gain more attention from millions of fans worldwide, inspiring many fight-related games and movies, from slots such as WWE Legends to the iconic Creed.
To reveal the biggest fights and fighters in history, we took a deep dive into various factors, including the pay-per-view of the world’s most-watched battles ever, the highest-grossing fights of all time, and the most popular fighters on social media.
We also unveil the richest fighters, from former superstars such as Floyd Mayweather to some of the biggest stars today, including Conor McGregor and Canelo Álverez. Get ready to rumble!
The Highest-grossing Fights of All Time
1. Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao
Pay-per-view buys: 4,600,000
Pay-per-view revenue: £336.7 Million
Dubbed the ‘Fight of the Century,’ Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao is the highest-grossing fight ever. The professional boxing match, which took place in May 2015, received 4.6 million pay-per-view (PPV) buys and a whopping £336.7 million.
Despite several predictions surrounding the undefeated five-division world champion Mayweather Jr. and eight-division world champion Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather won the battle unanimously.
2. Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor
Pay-per-view buys: 4,300,000
Pay-per-view revenue: £325.2 Million
Seen as one of the biggest bouts in combat sports history, the eleven-time boxing world champion Mayweather and the two-division MMA world champion Conor McGregor went head to head at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada.
The long-awaited fight became the second highest-grossing of all time, with a PPV revenue of £325.2 million. Billed as ‘The Money Fight,’ it was also one of the most viewed in history, with a PPV buy rate of 4.3 million. Mayweather upheld his undefeated streak by achieving his 50th victory with no defeats after defeating McGregor by technical knockout.
3. Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Álverez
Pay-per-view buys: 2,200,000
Pay-per-view revenue: £123.2 Million
Held in 2013, the boxing light middleweight championship super fight between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Álverez occurred at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The bout quickly became among the highest-grossing of all time after receiving £123.2 million in pay-per-view revenue.
Mayweather won the prize after a 12-round majority decision before a sold-out crowd. Even before pay-per-view sales, the boxing icon reportedly received £34.1 million for this fight.
The Most Viewed Fights of All Time
1. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
Pay-per-view buys: 4,600,000
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao tops the list as the most-viewed fight in history, with 4.6 million pay-per-views. Floyd Mayweather remained undefeated with a perfect professional record with 47 wins and no losses, creating more suspense when the fight was first announced.
Despite losing against Mayweather, Pacquiao earned superstar status with his eighth-round technical knockout victory over Oscar De La Hoya, moving him up from lightweight to welterweight.
2. Mayweather vs. McGregor
Pay-per-view buys: 4,300,000
With 4.3 million pay-per-views, Mayweather vs. McGregor 2017 secured the second most-viewed fight ever. As a result of the fight’s immense success, both fighters received a substantial payout, with Mayweather reportedly earning £230 million from the fight, while McGregor an estimated £107 million.
3. De la Hoya vs. Mayweather
Pay-per-view buys: 2,400,000
De la Hoya vs. Mayweather is the third most-viewed fight, with 2.4 million PPVs. Almost two decades ago, the bout was the most lucrative boxing match ever, generating over £107 million in revenue. After 12 rounds, Mayweather won the fight through a split decision, earning him the WBC super welterweight title.
Fights with the Highest Ticket Revenue
1. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
Ticket Revenue: £59,287,915
The long-awaited fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in May 2015 set a new record for live gate revenue, cashing in more than £59 million. As one of the most hotly-anticipated boxing bouts of all time, the match-up was six years in the making and did not disappoint when it came to ticket revenue, with over 16,000 people in attendance.
2. GGG vs. Canelo
Ticket Revenue: £22,221,143
Billed as ‘Supremacy’, the professional boxing match between Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin accumulated the second highest ticket revenue ever, with over £22 million in earnings. Despite Golovkin outlanding Álvarez in 10 of the 12 rounds, the fight surprisingly ended in a controversial split draw.
3. Canelo vs. GGG
Ticket Revenue: £19,276,086
The controversial outcome of the previous match led to a rematch the following year. The fight occurred at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, earning over £19 million in ticket revenue.
Álvarez claimed victory in the year’s biggest fight, taking home the unified middleweight world championship after winning via majority decision. Álvarez’s win in front of a sold-out crowd of over 21,000 ended Golovkin's undefeated run and historic 160-pound title reign.
The World’s Richest Fighters
1. Floyd Mayweather
Net Worth: £328,474,000
The American former professional boxer, Floyd Mayweather, ranked first as the fighter with the highest estimated net worth of a whopping £328 million. Retiring with an undefeated record, Mayweather won 15 major world championships, from super featherweight to light middleweight. According to Forbes, he was named the highest-paid athlete in the world in 2018, with total earnings of £234 million, including endorsements.
2. Manny Pacquiao
Net Worth: £180,660,700
Regarded as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time, Manny Pacquiao is estimated to have a net worth of more than £180 Million. Pacquiao has won 12 major world titles and is the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing. He is also the first boxer to win the lineal championship in five weight classes.
3. Conor McGregor, Canelo Álvarez, Oscar De La Hoya, Amir Khan
Net Worth: £164,237,000
Conor McGregor, Canelo Álvarez, Oscar De La Hoya, and Amir Khan all come in third place with an estimated net worth of £164 Million, respectively. Both Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Álvarez have received various world titles. Forbes ranked McGregor as the world’s highest-paid athlete in 2021, while Amir Khan received a silver medal in the Olympics at just 17 years old.
Most Popular Fighters on Instagram
1. Conor McGregor
Instagram handle: @thenotoriousmma
Instagram followers: 46,800,000
Irish professional mixed martial artist Conor McGregor tops the list as the most popular fighter. Said to have been the first UFC fighter to hold UFC championships in two weight classes simultaneously, his success has brought him fame in the ring and on social media, where he is incredibly active. To his 46.8 million Instagram followers, McGregor often shares snaps of his training sessions and daily life.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Instagram handle: @khabib_nurmagomedov
Instagram followers: 35,100,000
With a following of 35.1 million, Khabib Nurmagomedov is the second most popular fighter on Instagram. Despite being widely considered as one of the greatest lightweight fighters in UFC history, MMA is not the only sport he’s adept at.
Nurmagomedov took to Instagram a post of himself playing a unique rugby basketball game. Needless to say, fans were thoroughly impressed by the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion’s hooping skills.
3. Floyd Mayweather
Instagram handle: @floydmayweather
Instagram followers: 29,700,000
Floyd Mayweather is the third most popular fighter on Instagram, with 29.7 million followers. The sports star’s fans aren’t spared from his lavish lifestyle on the social media platform, where the former professional boxer flaunts his £246,603 worth of watches while also showing off his £164 million yacht.
Throughout his career, Mayweather secured 26 consecutive wins in world title fights and 24 victories against former and current world titlists.
Most Popular Fighters on TikTok
1. Ryan Garcia
TikTok handle: @kingrygarcia
TikTok followers: 5,600,000
Ranked as the world’s fourth best active lightweight, the American professional boxer Ryan Garcia tops the list as the most followed fighter on TikTok with 5.6 million followers. The lightweight superstar has developed a loyal fan following on the social media app, where he even replies to many of his fans' comments.
At the age of 25, Garcia has accumulated a total of 23 victories and only one loss. One of his most successful bouts was against Gervonta Davis, which occurred at the start of the year.
2. Amir Khan
TikTok handle: @amirkhanboxer
TikTok followers: 1,200,000
The former professional boxer Amir Khan is TikTok's second most popular fighter. To his
1.2 million followers, Khan showed off his stunning mansion with its own gym. After earning titles such as the Commonwealth lightweight title and the WBC Silver welterweight title, the former world champion wasn’t holding back in showcasing the fruits of his labour on his TikTok video.
3. Israel Adesanya
TikTok handle: @freestylebender
TikTok followers: 1,000,000
Israel Adesanya completes the top three with one million followers on TikTok. In his recent bout against Sean Strickland at UFC 293, Adesanya wasn’t shy to let fans know of his plans to do a TikTok Dance if he took home the victory.
The New Zealand professional MMA fighter is also a kickboxer and former boxer. The former two-time UFC Champion also competes in the UFC Middleweight division.
Most Googled Fighters in the World
1. Conor McGregor
Search term: "Conor McGregor"
Total number of searches: 27,550,000
Conor McGregor is the most Googled fighter globally, with over 27.5 million searches in just the last 12 months. Born in Dublin, the professional fighter has headlined five of the highest-selling UFC pay-per-view events, making him one of the biggest pay-per-view fighters in MMA history. McGregor’s bout with the UFC Lightweight Champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, drew over 2.4 million PPV buys, the most ever earned for an MMA event.
2. Tyson Fury
Search term: "Tyson Fury"
Total number of searches: 21,390,000
With over 21.3 million Google searches from around the world, the British professional boxer Tyson Fury has become one of the most successful fighters in the world. Fury has held the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title since 2020 and was ranked as the world’s best active heavyweight at the end of last year. However, the undefeated heavyweight champion’s new Netflix series ‘At Home With The Furys’ may have possibly played a large role in Fury’s boost in popularity and Google searches.
3. Jon Jones
Search term: "Jon Jones"
Total number of searches: 18,121,000
The American professional MMA fighter, Jon Jones, is the third most searched fighter on Google, with over 18.1 million searches worldwide in the past year. Currently the UFC Heavyweight Champion, at just 23 years old, Jone became the youngest champion in UFC history with his title after his victory over the former Brazilian MMA fighter, Maurício Rua.
Most Googled Fights in the World
1. Davis vs. Garcia
Search term: "Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia"
Total number of searches: 3,799,400
Billed as ‘It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This,’ the bout between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia is the most Googled fight worldwide with nearly 3.8 million searches. Taking place earlier this year, the fight reportedly sold over 1.2 million pay-per-view buys on Showtime. The successful fight also generated a revenue of £18.7 million from ticket sales. The fighter saw Davis take home the victory after a knockout in the seventh round.
2. Canelo vs. GGG
Search term: "Canelo vs. GGG"
Total number of searches: 1,920,300
The fight between Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin III, who is also known as GGG, is the second most Googled fight worldwide, with over 1.9 million searches in the last year. The most recent bout between these two middleweight champions took place in September 2022, but the pair first fought in 2017, where the fight received 1.3 million PPVs.
3. Khabib vs. McGregor
Search term: "Khabib vs. McGregor"
Total number of searches: 453,900
With a total of 453,900 global Google searches, Khabib vs. McGregor is the third most searched fight. Held at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada in 2018, the bout between the former featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor and undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov saw over 20,000 people in attendance. The fight also achieved a PPV buy rate of 2.4 million and earned almost £14 million in ticket revenue.
We looked at pay-per-view (PPV) revenue data from World Sports Weekly to reveal the highest-grossing sports fights of all time. We then used figures from Tapology to gather data on the top 100 fights with the highest PPV buys. This source was also used to collect the ticket revenue (live gate) for each sporting event, which we then ranked to determine the fights with the highest revenue. Data for this was collected on 19/09/2023.
We used Instagram and TikTok to find out which fighters are the most popular on social media. Using both platforms, we collected data on the number of followers each of these fighters has accumulated during their career. We then ranked them in order of most to least number of followers. Please note this was only for the fighters with public and active social media accounts. This data was completed on 22/09/2023.
Using Google’s Keyword Planner, we gathered global search data on the fights and fighters with the most searches over the past 12 months (September 2022 - August 2023). Data for this section was completed on 22/09/2023.
We used Celebrity Net Worth for each fighter's estimated net worth. This data was then ranked in order from highest to lowest. This data was collected on 25/09/2023.
Please note that the currency used on the original sources was converted from USD to GBP using Google Finance on 26/09/2023.