UFC 100 remains the high water mark for UFC pay-per-view business more than four years after taking place in July of 2009. There's no particular shame in not topping the 1.6 million buyrates for the card given the effort made to promote it as something special, and big round numbers always seem to do wonders in the eyes of the public.
But, if you believe UFC president Dana White, that record will fall in December at UFC 168 and the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman (via MMA Fighting):
"I think it's going to be the biggest fight we've ever done," White said.
Bigger than UFC 100, he's asked?
White nods. "Bigger than UFC 100. On every level. Tickets, pay-per-views, everything. You're going to see a motivated Anderson, but what makes this so much fun is, what Anderson are you going to see? How is this thing going to go? That's such a big part of the fun."
Dana is right that the fight involves a few important factors. Silva is an established star, one of few the UFC currently has, and there's intrigue that exists outside of the marketing machine in how a rematch with the only man to ever beat him will turn out. When you combine legitimate sporting intrigue with big personalities and add in a major effort to hype a fight (like the UFC has done with their riff on the Mayweather cross country promotional tour) you can do big business.
There are some other factors that could come into play. Casual fans who want to spend money on big names may decide to have bought Mayweather vs. Canelo on September 14 and Pacquiao vs. Rios on November 24. That's a combined $135. If they decide to buy UFC 167 because of Georges St. Pierre, that combined few months of high cable bills plus the pinch of the holiday seasons could cause a few people to hesitate. Or, maybe not. There's just no shortage of big name fights in the final part of 2013 that could burn (or spend) people out before getting all the way to New Year's Eve weekend.
Or maybe people just aren't motivated if they don't get the right impression that Silva is still "in it." His promoting of the fight is going to be important as he treated the loss in the immediate aftermath as some sort of end of him being in serious title fights. That quickly changed back to wanting his title back, but he may have to be unwaveringin his selling of being 100% committed to the fight.
Again, I'm only talking about breaking the UFC 100 record. 168 is going to do very good numbers regardless. The only question in my mind is if it does very good or positively great.