UFC president Dana White has been making big claims for the pay-per-view (PPV) numbers he's expecting for UFC 148. He told ESPN last week that "all the indicators" that the UFC watches to try and predict PPV performance were at an "all-time high." The all-time best for UFC PPV numbers is UFC 100 from 2009 which sold a reported 1.6 million buys.
I'm extremely skeptical that UFC 148 will match that record but the early indicators do seem to point to a strong PPV performance. First there was the U.S. record gate of $6.5 million although that was partly due to higher than usual ticket prices.
Now MMA Junkie is reporting that the UFC 148 Preliminaries on FX have set a new record for UFC prelims on that network with 1.8 million viewers. The Spike TV all-time record for UFC preliminary fights was set last year at UFC 126 with 2 million average viewers.
UFC 126 which featured a UFC Middleweight title fight between Silva and Vitor Belfort sold 750,000 PPVs in North America. Keep in mind that there's no evidence of a strict correlation between high ratings for preliminary fights and the PPV performance.
The failure of the UFC to secure air time on FX or Fox for the UFC 148 Countdown or Primetime specials is a remarkable lost opportunity as that could have sold the fight to hundreds of thousands of casual fans.
Having said that, based on the information at hand I'd expect something in the range of 800K to 1M PPV buys for UFC 148. What's your prediction? Poll after the jump.
SBN coverage of UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II