Thanks to the interest generated by Conor McGregor’s return, UFC 246’s prelims drew an average of 1,767,000 viewers on ESPN earlier this month.
That makes the show the most watched of it’s kind on ESPN so far for the UFC, while also being the most watched prelims since all the way back at UFC 205 in 2016 when McGregor fought Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title on pay-per-view.
The UFC 246 prelims came out as the top rated show on cable for both the 18-49 and 18-34 demographics and top rated show of the day overall for males in those same categories.
The event peaked with 1,911,000 viewers during Roxanne Modafferi’s upset win over the previously unbeaten Macy Barber, who it later emerged had completely torn her ACL in the opening seconds of the fight.
One indication of the huge level of interest in McGregor’s fight with Donald Cerrone that night was that there were a staggering 11 million searches for the event on google, compared to the UFC average of around 1 million searches.
That would appear to bode very well for the PPV numbers, which MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer has already suggested would have fallen around the 2 million mark based on the UFC’s old pay-per-view format, though it’s harder these days to predict the actual number due to those events being exclusively tied to ESPN who keep the numbers to themselves.