The PPV numbers guru known as Dave Meltzer has stated over at MMA Fighting that UFC 153 did 340,000-410,000 pay-per-view buys, making it the highest-selling PPV to emanate from Brazil yet. The numbers are well down for an Anderson Silva fight, but that was pretty much to be expected. Here's what he had to say in regards to that:
It also beat the numbers of several of Anderson Silva's title defenses in the past. While not close to the Silva vs. Chael Sonnen number from July, which did an estimated 925,000 buys, there were no expectations of doing half that going in. The number was far greater than the original show would have done with Jose Aldo as the headliner, and according to one UFC source, beat the company's budgeted projections for the match.
Meltzer also says that the number could end up approaching what the UFC 152 card did in number of buys, which is estimated at about 450,000. To me that seems awfully optimistic, considering the show could have very well done 110,000 buys less than that as well. But overall, it's a good number for a card that completely fell apart at the seams and had to be stitched back together with some mismatches.
Dave gives Stephan Bonnar a lot of credit for drawing the number:
Credit for a lot of the success of the show should go to Bonnar. Bonnar made the obvious mismatch work in building the fight. He told the story of a retiring mid-level fighter, whose main attribute is that he was difficult to finish and had been in a number of exciting matches, seeking one last shot at a glory that he never felt he'd get a chance at.
While I don't see Bonnar himself as drawing many people into ordering the card, Meltzer does makes a solid point about the build to the fight. Hardcore fight fans likely saw right though the UFC pushing size angle and a few other things, but it's obvious that some fans bought into the UFC's hype, and ended up buying the show as well. So, kudos to Bonnar, Silva, and the UFC for making the best of a tough situation.