I know the brainiacs running UFC and FOX Sports 1 are smart and savvy and we’re all a bunch of idiots, but one thing you can’t dispute are the cold, hard numbers coming from last Saturday night’s show in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Headliner Justin Gaethje hasn’t produced a boring fight in 21 trips to the cage, so when “The Highlight” returns the lowest Saturday night rating in the history of the UFC on FOX Sports 1 partnership, you know something is wrong with the formula.
Like asking mixed martial arts (MMA) fans to stay up until 1 a.m. ET to slog through a six-fight main card that is bogged down by 7,842 commercial breaks. Supporting that gripe is the fact that Deiveson Figueiredo vs. John Moraga was the most watched fight of the night and they competed much earlier in the show.
UFC Fight Night 135 drew a meager 596,000 viewers for the FOX Sports 1 main card, according to MMA Fighting, far below the previous low of 609,000 viewers when Stipe Miocic knocked around Fabio Maldonado back in May 2014 and not even close to the 803,000 average for 2018.
Who’s to blame?
Competition from NFL preseason football on CBS, as well as the Logan Paul vs. KSI pay-per-view (PPV), though I’m not sure how many MMA fans over the age of 14 were lured away by a couple of YouTube personalities.
Sadly, not much is expected to change when UFC transitions to its new home on ESPN.