Considering UFC Fight Night 28 featured many fighters that aren’t familiar with mainstream fans, that it was the promotion’s third card in eight days, and that it started really early on the West Coast, no one is likely surprised to hear that its ratings took a hit.
According to a report from MMA Fighting.com, Wednesday’s card in Belo Horizonte drew an average of 531,000 viewers for the main card, in comparison to the 824,000 that tuned in to watch UFC FN 27 in Indianapolis one week earlier. UFC FN 28 featured Glover Teixeira taking on Ryan Bader in the main event, while UFC FN 27 saw Carlos Condit battle Martin Kampmann, who were fighting for a second time.
In between the shows was UFC 164 on Saturday night, which was headlined by a long awaited lightweight rematch between Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis. The same report says that the season debut for TUF 18, starring Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, pulled 762,000 viewers, which is the lowest yet for a TUF season opener. Of course, all three events were broadcast on FOX Sports 1, which just got off the ground in August.
In response to the ratings for UFC FN 28 and TUF 18, Dana White released a statement to MMA Fighting.com to comment on the figures.
We were #1 on all of cable with M18-34 and M18-49. We also beat the US Open and the Detroit vs Red Sox MLB game. This is all part of the building process. We’ve made a commitment to work with FOX to build this network. If you look at all of the other networks we’ve ever been on we consistently pull strong ratings. The first time we put our prelims on FX we pulled 880K viewers and it grew, depending on the fight, up to 1.9 million viewers for UFC 156. Also, the TUF season with Carwin and Big Country averaged 822K viewers then Jones vs Sonnen averaged 1.3 million viewers.
We currently hold the top 4 most watched telecasts on FS1 since the network launched. To be honest, our Prelim and Fight Night numbers weren’t bad considering we started on the west coast at 2pm in the afternoon on a Wednesday. The most important thing is last night’s fights were awesome and this season of TUF is great. Yes, we didn’t pull the 1 million + but we will. But, we also fucked up last night by not starting the main event later so that we could get a live lead into TUF. The bottom line is FOX couldn’t be happier with the UFC and the ratings we’re pulling. And we couldn’t be happier with the way we’ve been treated by the network.
So, there you have it. Despite White’s points, there will still be some observers who believe it was just too many cards in a short time frame, without enough big name fighters to draw a sizeable audience. Of course, the hardcore fans could care less and are just loving the busy schedule. Speaking of which, Bellator 98 goes down tomorrow night.
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