Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) went out with a bang on FOX.
Last Saturday night’s (Dec. 15, 2018) mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card, UFC on FOX 31, returned the highest overnight ratings in two years for the “Lee vs. Iaquinta 2” event, held inside Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
That’s according to a report from MMA Fighting, which has the final UFC show on FOX — thanks to the promotion’s new deal with ESPN and ESPN+ — pulling 2,153,000 viewers on the fast nationals with an 0.7 in the 18-49 demo, tops among the major networks during that time slot.
Dave Meltzer explains:
The fast nationals measure only the 8-10 p.m time slot for FOX and the corresponding network slots, 7-9 p.m. Central, 6-8 p.m. Mountain and 8-10 p.m. Pacific. Because of that, it measures lower rated filler programming on the West Coast where the show aired starting at 5 p.m. In addition, most of the Iaquinta vs. Lee fight took place after 10 p.m., meaning it wasn’t measured. So, with a five-round main event where the outcome was in doubt until the finish, and West Coast numbers added in, the final numbers should be significantly higher.
Not too shabby.
I’m sure it helped to know that UFC Milwaukee was the final show on the network and let’s face it, the FOX main card kept giving viewers a reason to stick around. Two of the first three bouts ended by way of violent finish (like this one) and the headlining act was a thrilling, back-and-forth affair.
The UFC on FOX ratings were on a steady decline ever since the promotion made its 2012 debut, with some of the more recent offerings being the lowest in history (sample here). I’m not sure what’s expected to change under the new partnership, but ESPN will certainly have an uphill battle.
For complete UFC on FOX 31 results and play-by-play click here.