In the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required), Dave Meltzer reports that last weekend's UFC 126, headlined by Anderson Silva defending the UFC middleweight title against Vitor Belfort, appears to have done very well on pay-per-view in the early estimates, doing anywhere from 700,000 to 750,000 buys.
Initial buy rate projections based on trending patterns is 700,000 and an independent cable estimate was 750,000 based on very early returns. Keep in mind anything the first two weeks is at best an estimate. That's is also pretty much along the lines of what most predicted out of this show, which is a good number but the show had a strong main event given Vitor Belfort's highlight reel for commercials, Anderson Silva's long winning streak, Forrest Griffin being a big draw and returning after more than a year out facing a frequent headliner in Rich Franklin, plus the explosion of Jon Jones as a new star.
Meltzer also adds an interesting twist to this:
The day of the show, Dana White texted Kevin Iole that their trending numbers indicated a 1 million buy show. The text was actually meant to be sent to Lorenzo Fertitta (it could have been a mistake on purpose as White said it was meant for Fertitta and if you have numbers alphabetically by either first or last name they could conceivably be next to each other on his phone) which would indicate an honest number meant only for internal use that got out. We were told from the cable side estimates were hard because it was one of the shows with wide variations.
We'll be sure to follow up on this with Iole today on the debut edition of Bloody Elbow Radio.
Obviously, with such a stacked lineup in terms of star power, this is a successful number for the UFC. In terms of Silva, this is his second straight solid effort as a headliner after drawing around 600,000 buys for his UFC 117 title defense against Chael Sonnen. These numbers are a far cry from Silva's earlier outings, especially from 2008 where he drew around 325,000 and 300,000 respectively for fights against Dan Henderson (UFC 82) and Patrick Coté (UFC 90).
This also goes to show that cards perceived as stacked by the fans generally end up doing well. In terms of fight card quality, the UFC seems to be hitting a solid stride right now. It will be interesting to follow how well the UFC's cards do through the rest of the spring.