UFC 166: Velasquez vs. dos Santos took place Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Toyota Center in Houston, where heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez defeated Junior dos Santos to retain his title, and Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez became an instant classic.
The fans in Houston certainly welcomed the UFC with open arms, selling out the Toyota Center well before fight time. UFC officials even reconfigured the arena, removing the trademark video screens at the ends of the arena to open up more seats.
“No end screens, just the center hung (screens),” said UFC president Dana White in a meeting with the media in Houston on Thursday. “This place is going to be jam-packed wall to wall. We like Houston.”
The Toyota Center, as predicted, was packed “wall to wall” to the tune of 17,238 in attendance. That crowd also hit the expected mark of $2.5 million at the gate, which makes it the third highest grossing event in the venue’s history.
“To give you an idea of how amazing Houston is,” said White at the post-fight press conference, “No. 1 (top grossing) is the UFC, No. 2 is the Rolling Stones, No. 3 is the UFC, No. 4 is Madonna, and No. 5 is the UFC.”
UFC 69 is the top-earner that White referred to. It featured Matt Serra’s upset of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in the main event, and attracted 15,269 people in attendance for a live gate of $2.8 million on April 7, 2007.
The third fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard headlined UFC 136 on Oct. 8, 2011, drawing an audience of 16,164 and a gate of $2.23 million, notching it at No. 5 on the list.