(Article updated to reflect new updated data released by FOX Research that more closely reflects the actual numbers).

Last night’s UFC On FOX debut pulled in an average of 5.7 million viewers during it’s primetime slot on the schedule from 9-10pm according to a FOX Research press release.

That was enough to give the hour long broadcast a 3.1 household rating and 5 share. Top markets for the show were Las Vegas followed by Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tulsa, San Diego, Greensboro, New Orleans and L.A.

While both UFC and FOX execs had superstitiously avoided giving ratings predictions for the debut event it was widely acknowledged that the 4.3 million average viewers (6.5 million peak) that Elite XC: Primetime produced on CBS back in 2008 with a Kimbo Slice Vs James Thompson main event was a watermark that they had been hoping to surpass.

In an article earlier this week looking at the potential TV ratings I predicted an average of 5-6 million viewers, which appeared to fall within the boundaries of a number of other MMA analysts.

The quick 64 second KO produced by JDS in the only televised fight during the live hour broadcast on FOX undoubtedly hindered the overall peak rating on this occasion, as was acknowledged by UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta after the event.

“From a ratings perspective, it will probably affect it in a negative way,” Fertitta told ESPN. “People tune in to watch the fight and once it’s over, you tend to leave the channel. But overall, I think it’s going to be a success.”

5.7 million is a much stronger average figure than the 4.64 million than was initially being reported and is a number that should satisfy both UFC and FOX execs. It comfortably outdoes the average number produced by Elite XC: Primetime and is now the most watched fight of any kind on network TV since boxing’s Lewis Vs Klitschko fight back in 2003 which drew 7 million viewers.

It’s also the most watched fight on FOX since 1998. Another impressive fact is that in terms of the 18-34 male demographic the event rated higher than all college football games this season other than LSU Vs Alabama.

Also, don’t forget when comparing these numbers to past offerings on network TV such as Elite XC that this wasn’t a full event, but rather a one hour show which contained just one live fight so that makes it all the more impressive.

As Dana White was keen to stress during the post-fight press conference it has to be kept in mind that this was only a teaser event, their deal doesn’t even officially start until January 1st, 2012.

That’s when We’ll start to see weekly editions of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ running live on Friday night’s on FX, 25% of Fuel TV’s coverage being focused on the UFC and live events being spread across all of FOX’s television properties which can only help take the promotion’s ratings to new heights.

As UFC color commentator Joe Rogan stated in the aftermath of last night’s event, regardless of this event’s ratings, “It’s pretty much unstoppable. It’s too exciting, it’s too good.”

Read Dana White’s thoughts on the latest numbers here.

Props: TVByTheNumbers

Further Reading: