The figures have been mostly tallied, and though UFC 168 won’t go down as the organization’s biggest pay-per-view event, you won’t hear company officials complaining.
UFC 168 took place Dec. 28 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena, and in the heavily promoted co-headliners, middleweight champion Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva, and women’s bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey stopped Miesha Tate.
Due in large part to those two rematches, UFC 168 reportedly drew more than a million pay-per-view buys – a significant improvement over the 400,000 or so buys the year’s other PPV shows averaged.
“It was a great way to end the year,” UFC President Dana White told MMAjunkie earlier this week (skip to the 9:35 mark of the above video). “I knew it, though. I said it before. You don’t hear me going into every event saying this is going to be the biggest one we’ve ever done.”
But by fight week, White said the company was expecting to see big numbers. Despite the show taking place just three days after Christmas, when many fans are offline and focused on non-MMA interests, White said he could sense a worldwide interest in UFC 168.
“If you watched the lead-up to that week, the buzz – not just in Vegas but all over the country and all over the world in Brazil and all these places – it felt like it, anyway,” White said of UFC 168. “I knew it was going (to be big), and it delivered. It was a great night.”
In addition to the PPV revenue (which benefited from a onetime $5 cost increase), the UFC saw big numbers elsewhere. The event drew 15,650 attendees for a $6.2 million gate (making it the second highest-grossing MMA event in Nevada history), and the UFC Prelims special drew nearly 1.6 million viewers, a new FOX Sports 1 record. (The buzz from the event, especially the fallout, also helped MMAjunkie shatter its previous traffic records.)
UFC 168 allowed the organization to end 2013 on a high note. The story of 2012 was the rash of injuries that depleted fight cards, resulting in a number of subpar PPV lineups. But in 2013, the organization introduced a new women’s division, announced plans for a second, saw champs such as Demetrious Johnson and Renan Barao elevate their status in the sport, and with UFC 168, the organization proved it still can score some PPV blockbusters.
Sure, it wasn’t the milestone UFC 100 show, which reportedly drew 1.6 million buys in 2009. But looking beyond just the PPV numbers, White considers it an important show.
“It was the biggest one ever – in some ways,” he said.
For complete coverage of UFC 168, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.