Photo: Esther Lin / MMA Fighting
UFC 141 was a big-time experiment as, even with a main event of Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem, placing the show on a Friday rather than a Saturday carried a degree of uncertainty on if the public would tune in. Dave Meltzer is reporting in the Wrestling Observer newsletter that the numbers were very solid.
From the newsletter:
Because of the holiday, our early PPV numbers are somewhat sketchy but early industry estimates have ranged between 750,000 and 810,000 North American buys, which would be slightly higher than most expectations. The show probably would have hit the 1 million mark if it was on New Year's Eve. The original plan was to do a New Year's Eve show from Abu Dhabi, but when that fell through, they booked the MGM Grand. Because the strip in Las Vegas is shut down from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve, it really would be impossible to run a show like they do in Las Vegas on that night. It would be either the second or third biggest number in UFC history drawn by a non-title match. Rashad Evans vs. Quinton Jackson holds the record at around 1 million, Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz II was second at 775,000, and please don't insult anyone's intelligence by claiming the Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski heavyweight title match on that show was really the main event.
750,000 is what I predicted the show would do. Even with Lesnar seeming very human in his last two trips to the cage he still carries a mystique and the WWE crowd is still interested. Add to that a long layoff that had people interested in another Lesnar fight and an opponent who made for a great visual and easy sell.