UFC 128 Fan Poster by Olieng P via olieng.net
The UFC 128 preliminary fights on Spike TV drew 1.3 million viewers Saturday night per MMA Weekly. The show, featuring Edson Barboza vs Anthony Njokuani in the Fight of the Night and Luiz Cane vs Eliot Marshall with a bonus showing of Erik Koch's KO of Raphael Assuncao was down considerably from the UFC 126 preliminaries that drew a record setting 2 million viewers.
MMA Junkie compiles the ratings for every UFC preliminary aired on TV:
1) UFC 126 (February 2011): 2 million viewers
2) UFC 109 (February 2010): 1.7 million viewers
3) UFC 114 (May 2010): 1.6 million viewers
4) UFC 108 (January 2010): 1.5 million viewers
4) UFC 121 (October 2010): 1.5 million viewers
4) UFC 123 (November 2010): 1.5 million viewers
7) UFC 104 (October 2009): 1.4 million viewers
7) UFC 103 (September 2009): 1.4 million viewers
9) UFC 128 (March 2011): 1.3 million viewers
9) UFC 119 (September 2010): 1.3 million viewers
9) UFC 116 (July 2010): 1.3 million viewers
9) UFC 115 (June 2010): 1.3 million viewers
9) UFC 106 (November 2009): 1.3 million viewers
14) UFC 111 (March 2010): 1.2 million viewers
15) UFC 118 (August 2010): 1.1 million viewers
16) UFC 125 (January 2011): 829,000 viewers
17) UFC 127 (February 2011): 714,000 viewers
MMA Junkie reports that the event drew 12,619 attendees for a live gate of 2.14 million. They conveniently provide the attendance numbers for previous UFC's in NJ:
- UFC 111 (St-Pierre vs. Hardy): $4,000,000 gate (17,000 attendance)
- UFC 128 (Jones vs. Rua): $2,140,000 (12,619)
- UFC 78 (Bisping vs. Evans): $2,100,000 (14,071)
- UFC 53 (Arlovski vs. Eilers): $1,100,000 (12,000)
MMA Junkie also reports that the Jon Jones "In the Moment" special on Spike TV drew 550,000 viewers on Thursday night, outperforming the main UFC 128 Countdown on Spike which drew 406,000 viewers per MMA Payout.
MMA Payout has some commentary on those numbers:
The strong ratings show the popularity of Jones. Even more impressive than receiving better ratings than the Countdown show was the fact that the show ran opposite the tail end of NCAA tournament basketball games. Similar to the UFC Primetime series, the show went behind-the-scenes of Jones' training camp. The one difference was that it gave Jones' point of view. Although there is speculation about doing future specials like this, you'd have to find a fighter as articulate and personable as Jones to feature.
Not too much to take away from all this. There is no indication that the ratings for the prelims correlate in anyway to PPV numbers for the actual event. As for the live gate, it's a clear indication that Shogun Rua hadn't really registered with casual UFC fans as a major attraction and Jon Jones is not yet a massive draw.