I think it’s safe to say the UFC has pulled out of their winter pay-per-view recession thanks to the top of the light heavyweight division (you know, that weight class Chael Sonnen calls a “joke”).

If early estimates are at least somewhere in the ballpark, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson led the company to well over a million pay-per-view buys in the month of May. UFC 113 ‘Machida vs. Shogun 2’ on May 8 is estimated to be around 520,000 while the highly anticipated and promoted UFC 114 ‘Rampage vs. Evans’ event may have come in even higher than Dana White’s 850,000 prediction. Both estimates via Dave Meltzer:

The earliest cable estimate is 925,000 buys, which would make it the fourth highest number in UFC history. Any estimate this early is a very rough estimate, and the real number could end up significantly higher or lower. Based on that number, it would trail the 1.6 million for UFC 100 and the 1.05 million for the 2006 Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz fight, and right at 1 million for UFC 92 (a triple main event of Evans vs. Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva). It would be in the same range as UFC 91, with Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, and UFC 94, with the second Georges St. Pierre vs. B.J. Penn match. Both of those shows were really one match drawing shows.

It’s also worth noting that Rashad and Rampage would make well into the seven figures in pay-per-view bonuses based on the preliminary numbers. I’m not sure if Shogun and Machida have PPV bonuses in their contracts, but my guess is no.

In other splendid news, the UFC got one step closer to running a mega-event at Madison Square Garden in New York City today.

Image via UFC.com