The preliminary ratings are in for UFC on FOX 23, and they’re not particularly strong. TVbythenumbers.com reported that Saturday night’s event drew in 2.02 million viewers in the overnight ratings, with a 0.7 Nielsen rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic. We’ll know more details about the final numbers later in the week (including peak viewership and the average rating for the main event between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena), but they are not likely to rise much higher, as the card did not run over its allotted two-hour timeslot.
As it stands, 2.02 million is tied with UFC on FOX 12: Lawler vs. Brown for the third-lowest overnight rating for a FOX show. The previous low for any January FOX card was last year, when Anthony Johnson’s win vs. Ryan Bader averaged 2.65 million viewers (with a 2.43 million overnight mark). The only live sports competition for UFC on FOX 23 was an NBA primetime special featuring the Golden State Warriors against the Los Angeles Clippers, which averaged 2.58 million viewers and was a one-sided game by halftime. A CBS episode of 48 Hours topped network TV ratings with just over 5 million viewers.
Leading up to the event, Julianna Pena told MMA Fighting that she turned down the opportunity to fight Valentina Shevchenko at the hugely successful UFC 205 card in Madison Square Garden. One of her reasons that that she “didn’t want to share the spotlight with Conor McGregor,” whose fight vs. Eddie Alvarez served as the night’s main event. Pena opted for the five-round network TV main event slot without much surrounding star power. Unfortunately for her, not only did her first headlining spot end in an armbar defeat to Shevchenko, but it could possibly be one of the lowest-rated UFC on FOX cards ever.