Saturday's UFC on FOX show headlined by Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson for the flyweight title ended up doubling everything else on network television for the night in the key 18-49 demographic.
The full numbers, which now include West Coast viewers who saw the show at 5 p.m., were a 2.43 rating and 4,219,000 viewers, MMA Fighting confirmed. The numbers were along the same lines as the Dec. 8 show, which did a 2.5 rating and averaged 4,390,000 viewers. FOX in the summer and fall usually earns about 3 million viewers in that time slot with Major League Baseball and college football.
The minor difference is probably more because the previous show went longer, giving it more time to build up the audience, but it also faced tougher competition with a Manny Pacquiao fight and the Heisman Trophy winner being announced.
Still, doing similar numbers is a positive, and a surprise to most, since there were questions regarding the marketability to the masses of putting flyweights on top. There were many who predicted that fans would tune out after seeing Rampage Jackson with 125-pounders fighting next. That turned out not to be the case. Johnson and Dodson peaked at 5.2 million viewers, ranking it as the 14th most watched MMA bout in U.S. television history based on that number. That doesn't include the Spanish language viewership on Fox Deportes that would likely move it up a slot or two.
The key seems to be the promotion during football season. UFC has scored strong numbers in four of its six FOX specials, all of which were promoted heavily during football broadcasts. The other two shows, which each did 2.4 million viewers, came in the spring and summer.
The next special is set for April 20 from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., and is headlined by UFC lightweight champion Henderson defending the title against Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. It will be the first time the champion from a major defunct organization would face the UFC champion since 2008, when Pride 183-pound champion Dan Henderson faced UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. On paper, the idea of champion vs. champion should be the strongest main event UFC has presented on FOX since the initial Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos heavyweight title match. The numbers for that show will indicate the power of the time of the year the show takes place.
UFC on FOX 6 show scored a 2.09 overall in the 18-49 demographic. No other network show that night topped a 1.0. Advertisers for UFC programming are usually aiming for males 18-49. The show, which sold out of all ad inventory, did a 3.01 in males 18-49 and 3.02 in males 18-34.