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UFC on FOX 23 peaks at over 3 million viewers, but final average is just under 2.2 million

The final numbers are in for UFC on FOX 23, and it’s one of the lowest rated FOX events of all-time.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Shevchenko vs Pena Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

UFC on FOX 23 was an entertaining card, with finishes in all of the main card bouts, including Valentina Shevchenko’s slick armbar of Julianna Pena in the night’s headlining fight. As for how it fared in the television ratings, however, the promotion’s first trip to Denver in over four years was a bit of a dud. MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer breaks down the final numbers for this card.

“The show averaged 2,189,000 viewers on a night that aside from an NBA game on ABC, had little in the way of major sports competition. The Kansas vs. Kentucky college basketball game was over 27 minutes into the main card broadcast, and HBO boxing started after the show went off the air.

“The lowest number for a FOX prime time show was 1,983,000 viewers for the Aug. 27 show headlined by Demian Maia's win over Carlos Condit. But that show was preempted in 15 markets due to preseason NFL coverage. The previous low mark was 2,380,000 viewers for a January 27, 2013, show featuring Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga for the flyweight title.

“There were a few reasons for the low numbers. With quick fights, three second-round finishes, and the Francis Ngannou win over Andrei Arlovski lasting 92 seconds, the amount of actual fight time was less than usual. In addition, the show ended at 10 p.m. For maximum ratings, the key is often a long main event that goes as far past 10 p.m. as possible. This show ended at 10 p.m.”

Peak viewing figures clocked in at 3,003,000 viewers for Shevchenko vs. Pena, which aired during the 9:45-10:00 PM window. That’s a mark that is well down from UFC on FOX 22, which averaged 3,178,000 viewers and peaked at 4.8 million for the main event between Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson. Shevchenko’s win over Holly Holm, which also headlined a FOX show, peaked at just under 4.7 million viewers, and averaged about 2,975,000 million.

Original overnight ratings had UFC on FOX 23 averaging 2.02 million viewers, the third-lowest overnight for any live UFC on FOX card, of which the first one aired in November 2011. With the card not running over the 10 PM ET timeslot, there was never going to be a major bump for the final number.

As an aside, the preliminary card on FS1 averaged 619,000 viewers. down from the 679,000 viewers for the UFC on FOX 22 prelims on the same network.