The UFC on FOX excitement has quickly dissipated, and so have the ratings. After storming out of the gate with a 5.7 million viewership average for the championship fight between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, the most recent FOX headliner of Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller did just 2.25 million. The 4th FOX card isn't looking much better, with Mauricio Rua facing Brandon Vera as the main event. To prevent another drop in the ratings market, FOX has decided to go back to what worked for FOX 1 and provide a "Countdown-esque" show for their final two events of the year. The first of two "Road to the Octagon" shows airs tomorrow: (Official FOX Press Release)
The first UFC’S ROAD TO THE OCTAGON special airs Sunday, July 29 (2:00-3:00 PM ET) and features an in-depth look at Rua, Vera and fighters on UFC on FOX’s main card Saturday, Aug. 4 (8:00-10:00 PM ET) live and in prime time from Staples Center in Los Angeles. The second special, which focuses on the fighters battling in the Saturday, Dec. 8 prime time UFC on FOX event, airs Sunday, Dec. 2 opposite local NFL on FOX singleheader coverage (3:00-4:00 PM ET or 4:30-5:30 PM ET).
Of course, the preview special tomorrow will take a hit in the ratings based on the Olympics coverage across the NBC sports networks, but it's still a step in the right direction. There needs to be more promotion and event build-up from both the UFC and FOX and I think the first attempt with Cain vs. JDS was very well done. I expect the 2nd preview show in December to have significantly better ratings because it will attract an NFL viewing audience of either those who have completed watching the 1 PM ET games or those who will see (with the current schedule) Tampa Bay vs. Denver in the 4:05 ET slot.
Tomorrow's preview will cover both the Shogun vs. Vera fight as well as the co-main event between Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader.