Mike Chiappetta at MMA Fighting has the quote from Dana White suggesting that the grudge match angle worked well:
Grudge fights are big business, especially when a superstar is involved. We already knew this. For evidence, we can point to Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir highlighting the monstrous UFC 100 or Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson drawing over 1 million pay-per-view buys for the culmination of their feud, or going back even further, the Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock trilogy.
Apparently, we can add Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz to the list. Shortly after UFC 158 concluded, UFC president Dana White told the media that all indicators pointed towards a buy rate that would equal 2012's biggest show.
While there was some debate -- spurred by statements from the fighters before and after the fight -- over the truth of the grudge angle, it did likely help the casual interest in the fight.
The Sonnen vs. Silva rematch at UFC 148 did 925,000 PPV buys, here's how the shows have done since:
- UFC 149 - 235,000
- UFC 150 - 190,000
- UFC 151 - Cancelled
- UFC 152 - 450,000
- UFC 153 - 410,000
- UFC 154 - 700,000
- UFC 155 - 590,000
- UFC 156 - 300,000-350,000
- UFC 157 - 400,000-450,000
So, it's almost a certainty that GSP vs. Diaz will be te top drawing PPV since the Silva vs. Sonnen rematch. GSP has drawn 700k, 800k, 800k, 770k since 2010. Having a solid antagonist should put him right back around the 800-850k range.