Saturday night’s UFC 181 preliminary card was watched by an average of 840,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1.

That’s up 216,000 viewers from last months UFC 180 prelims and is slightly above average for this kind of event on FS1 overall.

The numbers will no doubt have been boosted by the inclusion of popular bantamweight Urijah Faber in the ‘main event’ of the prelims against Francisco Rivera. For the second time in recent memory the former WEC champion actually requested to appear on the preliminary card knowing that he’d reach more viewers that way than if he was placed on the pay-per-view card.

It’s an interesting strategy that certainly ensures he has more eyeballs watching him in the U.S, though there’s many other countries around the world that get to watch the main card for free too, so it’d be interesting to know how many people globally saw his preliminary fight compared to the bouts on the main card.

One thing we do know for sure is that this event didn’t quite fare as well for Faber ratings wise as the last time he headlined a preliminary card against Alex Caceras at UFC 175 as he drew one million viewers on that occasion.

Perhaps the most interesting ratings for FOX Sports 1 on the night came with the pre-fight show produced 606,000 viewers, and that’s a new record.

It’s a little puzzling as to why it proved to be so popular – perhaps people were tuning in to see if there were any clues about what the big announcement on the pay-per-view card was going to be? (pro-wrestling star CM Punk signing for the UFC).

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