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UFC Fight Night 81 pulls second-highest FS1 rating for UFC show

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The UFC's Sunday show with a title fight on top drew a very good rating for FS1, though it wasn't Cruz/Dillashaw that had the most eyes on it.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

UFC Fight Night 81 did excellent viewing numbers for Fox Sports 1. The Sunday show, which was the promotion's second title fight on the network (the TUF 20 Finale for women's strawweight gold was on there as well), drew the second-highest rating for any UFC show on FS1. It was only outdone by a card one year ago, with Conor McGregor headlining.

The card, which was strategically placed on the same day as the NFL playoffs, drew an average of 2,280,000 viewers according to MMA Fighting. This isn't close to McGregor's 2,751,000 when he fought Dennis Siver last January, also on an NFL playoff night. But it's still pretty impressive.

One odd thing is that the title fight between Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw did not draw the biggest audience, likely because the main card started at 10pm ET. The heavyweight bout between Travis Browne and Matt Mitrione had the most viewers at 2,464,000. The prelims also drew way more than usual, getting 1,767,000 viewers. That almost doubled the previous high for prelims for a non-PPV show.

Cruz ended up beating Dillashaw by split decision to claim the UFC bantamweight title in the headliner.