With the Saturday night competition easing somewhat without college football, both MMA and boxing put on four different shows on Saturday night with mixed results.
The big winner was ESPN boxing, a show headlined by Vasiliy Lomachenko’s seventh round win over Guillermo Rigondeaux from the Theater in Madison Square Garden. The show did 1,730,000 viewers, coming off a strong lead-in of the announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner. It was the second-best number for boxing this year on basic cable.
The UFC, with its debut in Fresno, Calif., on a show headlined by Brian Ortega’s second-round submission win over Cub Swanson, averaged 870,000 viewers for the three-plus hour show. It was UFC’s best Fight Night number since September, when a Luke Rockhold win over David Branch did 872,000 viewers.
The show’s ratings also indicated what has been a major change in the audience over the years, as the over-50 audience did a 0.36 rating, while the 18-49 audience did a 0.32. The UFC was built on the 18-34 audience (which did a 0.28), making it a great target market for advertisers. At that time the audience was heavily male, with a relatively lower number of viewers under 18, or over 40. Now the audience is more in line with the rest of television, but a heavy male sports fan skew.
The show also averaged 11,409 viewers via streaming on Fox Sports Go and FOX Now.
Also notable because of the main event going on so late, after the Lomachenko fight was over, was the peak of 1,037,000 viewers came early, during the wild Albert Morales vs. Benito Lopez fight.
The four-fight prelims show, which was headlined by former bantamweight title contenders Alexis Davis and Liz Carmouche, both debuting as flyweights, did 707,000 viewers on television and anther 8,036 streaming. Davis vs Carmouche drew the highest number with 826,000 viewers.
The pre-fight show did 191,000 viewers and the post-fight show did 315,000 viewers.
Bellator, on the other hand, with a taped show from Florence, Italy, featuring Rafael Carvalho defending the middleweight title beating local favorite and former UFC fighter Alessio Sakara in 44 seconds, did only 394,000 viewers. That was the lowest audience for a prime time Bellator show since debuting on Spike TV.
HBO also ran Boxing After Dark against the UFC main card, with the audience ranging from 486,000 viewers to 576,000, the latter number for a main event of Orlando Salido vs. Miguel Roman.