Saturday's UFC 158 may wind up being the biggest pay-per-view event UFC's top draw, Georges St-Pierre, has done on his own with preliminary indications that the show will top 800,000 buys.
The show was expected to be the company's most successful show since July's UFC 148 with Anderson Silva's return match with Chael Sonnen. St-Pierre had done numbers in the 750,000 to 800,000 range in previous fights with B.J. Penn, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields, but this show is expected to finish slightly ahead of those fights.
St-Pierre vs. Thiago Alves was the co-headliner at UFC 100 in 2009, which was by far the most successful event in company history, doing an estimated 1.6 million buys. However, that number was drawn on the combination of the number of the event, St-Pierre, and a heavyweight title grudge match with Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir.
The difference maker is that the public found Nick Diaz to be St-Pierre's most intriguing opponent to date, Diaz was coming off a loss to Carlos Condit and a one-year suspension for a second marijuana test failure in Nevada. But in playing up the grudge match aspect, public interest in the match up was strong all week with near-record numbers watching the press conference and the weigh-ins.