2011 wasn’t the greatest year for the UFC on pay-per-view, especially in the latter half of the year. According to MMA Payout’s Blue Book, most events fell in the 225,000 – 350,000 range with the exception of UFC 135 and UFC 140 (~480,000 each) while it wasn’t uncommon for events to eclipse the 500,000 mark in 2010. Needless to say, the UFC was certainly hoping Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem would give them a strong finish to what was otherwise a relatively disappointing year.
Well if the early estimates are any indication, Lesnar vs. Overeem brought in the kind of the numbers the UFC hasn’t seen since UFC 129 despite major concerns about running the event on a Friday. Here’s The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer with the numbers via BE:
Because of the holiday, our early PPV numbers are somewhat sketchy but early industry estimates have ranged between 750,000 and 810,000 North American buys, which would be slightly higher than most expectations. The show probably would have hit the 1 million mark if it was on New Year’s Eve. The original plan was to do a New Year’s Eve show from Abu Dhabi, but when that fell through, they booked the MGM Grand. Because the strip in Las Vegas is shut down from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, it really would be impossible to run a show like they do in Las Vegas on that night.
As Meltzer mentions, scheduling the show on a Friday probably hurt the buy rate, however 750,000 buys is still pretty impressive considering Brock Lesnar was coming off a loss and Alistair Overeem was just being introduced the UFC pay-per-view buying fan base. I don’t know what the UFC’s expectations were for the event, but I doubt they’re disappointed with the numbers all things considered.
On an interesting side note, here’s MMA Payout’s Jose Mendoza with some interesting updates on Alistair Overeem and Brock Lesnar’s pay in light of the news.