Due to a scheduling conflict, last Saturday’s UFC 211 televised preliminary card was on FX. The UFC used to have Fight Night shows and PPV preliminary card broadcasts on FX prior to the creation of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, so this was a little bit of a reunion of sorts.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer breaks down the impressive ratings the prelims managed.
UFC 211, thought to be the company's biggest event of 2017, got early good news as the prelims on FX averaged 1,148,000 viewers.
It was the best prelims number so far this year, beating the average up to this point of 877,000 viewers by 31 percent.
It was particularly strong for FX in the 18-49 demo. FX, which rarely televises UFC, averages 1,003,000 viewers, and 347,000 between 18-49 in that time slot. The UFC prelims averaged 643,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo.
During UFC's strong 2016, the 1,148,000 viewers of the prelims would have been more than any show of the year aside from the five big events that did more than 1 million pay-per-view buys, the three shows headlined by Conor McGregor, the one show headlined by Ronda Rousey, and UFC 200. It was also the second-largest number of viewers for any UFC event on cable this year, trailing the 1,158,000 viewers for the fight night headlined by Chan Sung Jung vs. Dennis Bermudez.
Peak numbers were 1.36 million for Dustin Poirier vs. Eddie Alvarez.
FX admittedly has a larger subscription base than FS1, but these are still solid numbers for a card that was stacked on paper but didn’t have major superstar name value. Fans who tuned in for prelim action were treated to the eventual Fight of the Night between Chase Sherman and Rashad Coulter, James Vick’s knockout of Marco Polo Reyes, Jason Knight’s third-round stoppage of Chas Skelly, and the exciting Poirier vs. Alvarez feature bout, which sadly ended in a no-contest after an extended period of dramatic action.
We won’t know the UFC 211 buyrate until several weeks down the line. Historically, stronger preliminary card ratings have been paired with high-buyrate pay-per-views, but that’s not the case 100% of the time. Even if it wasn’t a PPV hit, American Airlines Center was sold out and they managed a live gate of well over $2 million, so consider this event a success.
The UFC 212 preliminary card will return to FS1, with a feature fight of Marlon Moraes vs. Raphael Assuncao. Given the strength of that event, you can expect a sharp drop in viewership, but it’ll surely pick up again with UFC 213 and 214 coming up in July.