There was a lot of hand-wringing going into UFC 144 that it would not perform well on pay-per-view (PPV) and that the main event should have been saved for UFC on Fox 3. It appears that those concerns were unfounded. Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer (subscription required) is reporting that early PPV estimates are "about 375,000 buys."
Those numbers, on top of the UFC's best yet numbers for preliminaries on FX, are a very strong performance for the UFC and ex-champion Frankie Edgar. Edgar's most recent title defenses at UFC 125 and UFC 136 (both against Gray Maynard) did 270K and 225K respectively.
It's a good sign because the usual rule is that an overseas show doesn't do as well as a North American show, and may be a very positive sign for the upcoming Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen fight. The surprising numbers have started ever since the move back an hour which seems to have resulted in stronger West Coast numbers. That also coincides with the FOX deal going into effect.
As far as reasons, I did see a lot more advertising for this than usual with a lot of televised stuff. The pre-show being two hours and doing a good rating may have helped. The TV commercial was also good. And it could be that Edgar was finally getting over (in looking at trending patterns before the show and who had the most interest, it was Edgar slightly ahead of Jackson, with Henderson about half that of Edgar and Ryan Bader next, and well below Henderson). This also came with a Countdown show airing on Fuel (it probably aired on Fox Sports Net as well but wasn't advertised and probably didn't do much in the way of viewers). But across the board, everything was positive here.
This is excellent news for the UFC and bodes very well for the rest of 2012.