Saturday night's eagerly anticipated UFC middleweight championship rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen is expected to set a record gate for mixed martial arts in Nevada.
Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer told ESPN.com that UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will earn near $6.5 million in gross ticket sales, besting a 2006 rematch in the same venue between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz by $1.1 million.
The gate for Silva-Sonnen 2 will be barely more than half the $12.1 million record figure UFC established in 2011, when 55,724 fans packed Toronto's Rogers Centre to watch Georges St. Pierre defend the welterweight title against Jake Shields. However, UFC 148 is the first MMA event in Nevada that will register among the state's top 35 boxing gates. Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s split decision over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 tops the list at nearly $18.5 million in gross sales.
Zuffa, which owns and operates UFC, maintains 33 of Nevada's top 35 MMA gates. Before being purchased by Zuffa in 2007, Pride, Japan's most successful MMA organization, delivered consecutive $2 million gates at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Under Zuffa ownership in 2001, UFC's first card in Nevada -- the first MMA event sanctioned by the NSAC -- featured a main event between Ortiz and Vladimir Matyushenko, which brought in a paltry $816,660.