Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged its first-ever event on big ESPN last night (Sun., Feb. 17, 2019) as UFC on ESPN 1: “Ngannou vs Velasquez” went down from inside Talking Stick Resort & Casino in Phoenix, Arizona.
And it was a massive success.
According to “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” the event -- which was headlined by a Heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and former division king — Cain Velasquez, averaged 2.28 million viewers.
From ESPN, #UFCPhoenix Main Card averaged a 1.1 metered market rating.— Jed I. Goodman (@jedigoodman) February 18, 2019
Based on overnight ratings, the main card ranks as the highest-rated Fight Night on cable since FN 81: Dillashaw/Cruz.
That event averaged 2.288m viewers. #UFC
ESPN Media Zone has more numbers highlighting the success of the event:
Last night’s UFC Fight Night on ESPN featuring Francis Ngannou vs. Cain Velaszquez aired from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. and averaged a 1 metered market rating.
The Prelims from 7-9 p.m. averaged a 7 rating and the full five-hour window on ESPN averaged a 0.9 rating.
Based on overnight ratings, last night’s main card (9 p.m. – 12 a.m.) ranks as the highest-rated UFC Fight Night on cable since the Dillashaw-Cruz headlined event on January 17, 2016. Last night’s Prelims (7-9 p.m.) rank as the second highest-rated UFC Fight Night Prelims on cable since that same 1/17/16 date, behind only ESPN’s premiere telecast on January 19 of this year.
Through three linear events, ESPN has now aired the three highest-rated UFC telecasts on cable since the start of 2017.
Last night’s telecast was up 83% from the comparable Fight Night (Cerrone/Medeiros) that aired on February 18, 2018 (0.6 rating). The Fight Night Prelims were up 40% and the five-hour window was up 50%.
Francis knocked out Cain in just 26 seconds (see it) to earn back-to-back first round knockout wins that lasted a combined 71 seconds in cage time. Also on the card, James Vick and Paul Felder went toe-to-toe for 15 minutes in a back-and-forth affair, while Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena stole the show with a thrilling “Fight of the Night” that saw Luque knockout “Bam Bam” in the closing seconds of the bout after an all-out standup brawl.
The numbers are impressive considering there were plenty of other sporting events airing during the show. Chief among them were the NBA All Star game featuring Team Lebron vs. Team Giannis, as well as NASCAR kicking off its season with the Daytona 500.
Also, WWE was holding “Elimination Chamber” featuring Ronda Rousey, while the PGA Tour was in full effect with The Genesis Open. Bottom line, it’s safe to says UFC’s partnership with ESPN couldn't have gotten off to a better start with its first two events.
For complete UFC on ESPN 1: “Ngannou vs Velasquez” results and play-by-play, click HERE!