UFC Fight Night 73 drew an average of 1,159,000 viewers this past Saturday night on FOX Sports 1.
That’s very good going considering that on paper this was one of the least anticipated cards on what’s been an extremely hectic UFC schedule over the past few weeks.
The main event featuring Glover Teixeira Vs Ovince St. Preux, which peaked with 1,356,000 viewers, wouldn’t have been enough of a draw on it’s own to warrant this event being the sixth most watched Fight Night ever on FS1, so there had to be another explanation.
The obvious answer here would be what we’ll term ‘The Ronda Rousey effect’. The UFC’s biggest star is believed to have pulled in around one million pay-per-view buys for UFC 190 a week earlier, much to everyone’s surprise, and then enjoyed unprecedented levels of interest from mainstream media and social media as her 34 second KO of Bethe Correia went viral around the world.
That blaze of publicity is bound to have generated additional interest in the sport, and while there’s no guarantee how long it might last, the halo effect certainly seems to have benefited UFN 73 which even managed to pull in 306,000 viewers for the prelims over on FOX Sports 2, the highest ever rating for a preliminary card on that channel, and indeed the fourth highest rating period for FS2.
The UFC appeared to have anticipated that this surge in interest might happen as in the days leading up to the fight they switched up the main card, moving a meaningful 135lb woman’s bout between Amanda Nunes and Sara McMann up from the prelims, and that seemed to pay off as Nunes produced an upset win over the former Olympic wrestling silver medalist to mark herself out as a new potential challenger to Rousey’s title.
All in all this has been a great spell for the UFC with the rise of Conor McGregor and just an all-round fantastic UFC 189 event also helping to elevate the promotion to a level we haven’t seen since the wave of interest in superstars like Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre several years ago when they were regularly pulling in solid PPV numbers and also had blockbuster shows like UFC 100 which still holds the record of 1.6 million buys.