The early pay-per-view numbers are in for Saturday night’s UFC 145: Jones Vs Evans event and suggest that the show was a successful one for the promotion.

Based on early estimates provided by The Wrestling Observer, approximately 700,000 fans bought the event on PPV making it the biggest show of the year so far and roughly in line with the three biggest UFC events in 2011.

It’s also the biggest buy rate Jon Jones has enjoyed to date as a headline attraction, around 180,000 more than his previous best of 520,000 buys for his fight with Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson at UFC 135 last year.

That’s great news for the UFC who have invested heavily in the idea of Jones as the next big thing in mixed martial arts, and with numbers like these that’s now proven to be the case and legitimizes him as a genuine superstar of the sport.

By way of comparison, Georges St.Pierre is currently the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw who’s fights consistently pull in around 800,000 buys, so Jones is now not far of that mark.

Of course the challenge now will be for Jones to maintain those numbers consistently as GSP has managed to. That may prove easier said than done as what we saw at the weekend was the equivalent of lightning in a bottle in terms of an opponent for Jones as Rashad Evans brought with him an engaging storyline due to the intense rivalry between the two former training partners that captivated fans in the long months leading up to their eventual showdown.

Matching that intensity will be difficult from this point forward, as will finding suitable opponents for the light-heavyweight champion given that he’s now defeated four former champions in a row.

He does however still have at least one worth adversary left at 205lbs in former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Dan Henderson who he’ll face next in the Octagon, with rumors suggesting that bout could take place in the summer.