UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Brunson had the fewest viewers of any primetime Fight Night card in FS1 history.
UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Brunson was a very good card on paper and certainly delivered an entertaining night of fights in Brazil, but it definitely did not do well in terms of television viewership.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer has the details:
The show from Sao Paulo, Brazil, headlined by Derek Brunson’s first-round knockout win over Lyoto Machida, averaged 588,000 viewers.
The lowest mark prior to Saturday happened twice. Most recently was a rare Wednesday night show on July 13, 2016, headlined by John Lineker vs. Michael McDonald, which was UFC’s fourth live event in a one-week period. The other was a May 31, 2014, event also in Sao Paulo, headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado. Both shows did 609,000 viewers.
It should be noted that FS1 is in slightly fewer homes this year than in previous years due to cord cutting, although the drop from the peak is still only three to four percent.
UFC Sao Paulo was also slightly impacted by the short time of the main event. The peak of the show was during the Colby Covington vs. Demian Maia fight, which had three rounds to build the audience instead of 2:30 for Brunson vs. Machida. The Covington vs. Maia fight averaged 671,000 viewers.
As Meltzer noted in his article, Major League Baseball’s World Series surely played a role in hurting the UFC’s ratings. Game four between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers averaged a whopping 15.4 million viewers on FOX and ended at about 11:26 PM ET, or roughly halfway into the FS1 main card broadcast. College football games on ABC and ESPN were also down.
There’s not much the UFC could do about that one, to be honest. World Series ratings are heavily dependent on which teams are playing, and the Dodgers are a marquee name from a major television market. This year’s World Series has made for captivating television and will culminate in a winner-take-all game seven on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
The next UFC Fight Night card on FS1 is scheduled for November 11th in Richmond, Virginia, with Anthony Pettis and Dustin Poirier serving as the main event, and Diego Sanchez vs. Matt Brown as the co-main event. Other than the usual college football slate, there shouldn’t be any other major sports competition for the UFC that night.