Interest in this past weekend’s blockbuster UFC 196 pay-per-view event helped the promotion break several of their records for their shows on FOX Sports 1 over the course of Friday and Saturday night.
First up, the UFC 196 weigh-ins on Friday were watched by a record 358,000 viewers, breaking the previous high of 294,000 viewers for UFC 194: Aldo Vs McGregor back in December.
Then the pre-fight show on Saturday night delivered 767,000 viewers – another record number.
The good news continued for all concerned with the UFC 196 prelims, headlined by a welterweight scrap between Brandon Thatch and Siyar Bahadurzada, being watched by 1,843,000 viewers which is the second highest ever for a PPV undercard show on the channel behind the UFC 194 prelims which drew 1,931,000.
All this positive data bodes well for the events pay-per-view numbers which likely won’t be known for some time yet, but appear to be trending north of one million buys, just as UFC 194: Aldo Vs McGregor did in December.
So, it’s another big success story for the UFC, though their recent popularity surge could potentially now be under threat since the two biggest stars who’ve helped bring them to this point – Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey – have now been beaten, denting the air of mystique surrounding them.
Holly Holm’s defeat to Miesha Tate on Saturday night also puts a further potential spanner in the works, cooling plans to put on a rematch between Rousey and Holm later in the year.
Also, there’s now a big question mark over the line-up for UFC 200 which had been seen as the promotions best chance to break the 1.6 million ppv record they set at UFC 200.
However, it should be noted that despite her defeat, Rousey is still enjoyed a great deal of mainstream attention, so her eventual comeback fight will no doubt still prove to be big business for the UFC, and there’s no reason to think the same won’t be true for McGregor – particularly as he jumped up two weight classes on short notice to fight Diaz at UFC 196.
There’s talk that McGregor may now defend his featherweight title in a rematch with Jose Aldo, potentially at UFC 200 which will still be a must-see fight. Meanwhile, Nate Diaz has now enhanced his drawing power considerably, Miesha Tate is a marketable new champion and even the likes of UFC 197: Jones Vs Cormier II and UFC 199’s double title-fight line-up of Luke Rockhold Vs Chris Weidman II and Dominick Cruz Vs Urijah Faber III gives plenty of reason for optimism that the promotion can continue their recent run of success.