Preliminary overnights initially suggested an average of 4.6 million viewers for the event, which saw Junior dos Santos knock out Cain Velasquez in the first round, but those estimates were expected to change as more information became available. The final number suggests an audience that was around 20 percent larger than originally thought.
According to FOX, it was the most watched professional fight since boxing heavyweights Lennox Lewis and Vladimir Klitschko drew 7 million viewers to their HBO fight in 2003. The network also says it projects the hour to win its key demographics, including the coveted 18-to-34-year old age group.
While the event was the first time ever for the UFC on broadcast television, it wasn't the first time for MMA on a network platform. In 2008, an EliteXC event was the first to pull off the feat, airing an event featuring Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson that drew an average of 4.3 million viewers. That event, which lasted more than two hours, peaked with over 6.5 million viewers to watch Slice knock out Thompson. The match went into the third round, likely helping the broadcast draw viewers as it went along. That's a stark contrast to dos Santos-Velasquez, which lasted just 64 seconds.
The one-hour special was extremely strong among the male 18-34 demographic, as it out-rated every college football game this year with the exception of November 5's LSU vs. Alabama game, a matchup that featured No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the national rankings.
Among local markets, Las Vegas led the nation in ratings. Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma rounded out the top five.
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