It’s no secret that the UFC has actively pushed Paige VanZant and Sage Northcutt to be the next generation of superstars for the promotion. Last Saturday’s UFC on FOX 22 card saw VanZant headline the event, with Northcutt making his first ever co-main event appearance on any platform. While Paige and Sage both suffered brutal rear-naked choke defeats, the event as a whole proved to be a very successful one for FOX’s ratings.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer breaks down the numbers.
“The show, from her home base in Sacramento, Calif., averaged 3,178,000 viewers and the period from 10 to 10:15 p.m., which covered her loss to Michelle Waterson, averaged 4,800,000 viewers, the show's high point.
Because the fight only lasted 3:21, the quarter hour average measures a lot of time both before and after the fight, so the actual fight viewership was likely greater than 5 million and would have increased had the fight gone longer.
Google search numbers, which can help break down what the casual public is interested in, saw VanZant as the fifth-most searched for topic in the U.S. on Saturday. The other two that likely helped the rating were Urijah Faber, who was 12th, and Sage Northcutt, who was 18th. The negative is that the FOX show is there to make new stars. VanZant and Northcutt both lost handily, and Faber retired after his win.”
Initial overnight ratings were 2.69 million viewers, but the final average total of 3.1 million is the highest for a FOX card since Ben Henderson’s win over
Giblert Gilbert Melendez pulled in 3.7 million in April 2013. The 4.8 million peak is also a shade above the 4.7 million peak viewing total for Valentina Shevchenko’s win over Holly Holm at UFC on FOX 20. The only other FOX card with a non-title main event to draw a higher average number is the January 2012 show headlined by Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis, which was just the 2nd ever UFC card on the network.
It should be noted that VanZant was on the main card (but not main or co-main) of UFC on FOX 21 this past August, which did record-low ratings, but was also affected by local FOX affiliates pre-empting UFC coverage to air NFL preseason telecasts. This time around, VanZant proved to be a television hit. She’s been quite visible on primetime television this year, having finished as runner-up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.
The next UFC on FOX card will be on Saturday, January 28th in Denver, Colorado. Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena will be in the main event, which would also mark the 3rd FOX card out of the last 4 to be headlined by either a women’s strawweight or women’s bantamweight bout.