UFC staff was told early last week that the UFC 117 numbers were looking to be just under 600,000 buys, significantly down from fight night expectations. I had actually predicted 550,000, though when the show was over the feeling I had was that it was an easy 1 million buys show. It should be noted that our trending numbers plus sources outside UFC are tracking it closer to 1 million. Part of the issue is that there are wide variations throughout the country with some systems showing huge numbers and other systems showing much smaller numbers. It'll be several weeks before we get what we can really call a solid number.
This is a pretty dramatic shift from the previous estimate. Given the excitement over how Chael Sonnen seemed to have sold the show single handed and turned it into a one million buy pay-per-view now there is almost a sense of disappointment in what would have been seen as a very positive number heading into the event.
There are still some indicators that the final number could be close to a million buys and it wouldn't be absurd to think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Really though, for an Anderson Silva topped card anything over 500,000 is a very good number.
It will be very interesting to watch the media reaction to this as Sonnen was basically being treated as a superstar based off one card which he did an admittedly wonderful job at selling. But if the number isn't completely off the charts does the idea of doing Sonnen vs. Vitor Belfort for the next title shot start to make more sense than holding Chael out for an immediate rematch with Silva?