That’s a fairly lofty claim by UFC president Dana White, considering it encompasses the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the World Series, and, this year, the Summer Olympics; but it is a claim he made.
The UFC is pulling out all the stops for the UFC 148 rematch between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and challenger Chael Sonnen, who square off July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Not only is the UFC promoting it as its top event of the year, they’re also promoting a UFC Fan Expo around it and partnered with the city of Las Vegas for International Fight Week with a plethora of fan events all week long leading up the fight.
The biggest event ever in the promotion’s history to date was UFC 100, where Brock Lesnar defeated Frank Mir and Georges St-Pierre beat Thiago Alves.
UFC 100 reportedly pulled in 1.6 million pay-per-view buys, a live gate over $5 million, and drew just under 11,000 fans to the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
White expects UFC 148 to rival that event.
“There’s no doubt that we plan on doing over a million (PPV) buys here. We expect UFC 100 numbers,” he boldly predicted on Monday.
Those are going to be difficult numbers to replicate, but the rivalry surrounding Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen has reached epic proportions.
Everyone is used to Sonnen spouting his diatribe at his Brazilian foe, but this is really the first time in Silva’s career that he has shucked his humble, nice guy image.
“Chael Sonnen is going to get his ass kicked like he’s never gotten his ass kicked before,” Silva declared on Monday. “I’m going to beat his ass like he’s never been beaten before. He’s going to not be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself; I can guarantee that.”
Silva added that the time for trash talk was over, but in this day and age when many fans seem to latch onto controversy, sometimes even more so than achievement, the trash talk will likely continue right up until fight time, propelling it to huge numbers, if not UFC 100-like results.