UFC and Fox officials were in celebratory mood over the success of Saturday night's UFC on Fuel show headlined by Wanderlei Silva's knockout win over Brian Stann.
The fight of the year candidate, on a show that featured Silva, Mark Hunt and Takanori Gomi's return to fighting in Japan, where they all made their names during the heyday of combat sports in that country, drew 485,000 viewers live for the three-hour show. That more than doubling the previous all-time record for a live main card on the station, 217,000 viewers set for UFC on Fuel 1 which was headlined by Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Ellenberger, on Feb. 15, 2012.
The station's all-time highest rated show was the prelims for the Jan. 19, UFC on FX show from Brazil, which did 255,000 viewers.
In what blew away Fuel's all-time biggest day in the station's history, both the pre-fight show (250,000 viewers) and post-fight show (219,000) became the third and fourth most-watched shows in station history. The post-fight show, which didn't start until 1 a.m., was the second most-watched show, behind the main card, in station history in the Male 18-49 demo, as 70 percent of the viewers fit into the target demo..
"****in amazing, FOX is going crazy," said Dana White in a text message to MMAFighting.com when the rating was released.
The show did a 0.78 rating. The 1.32 rating in Males 18-49, a figure largely thought to be impossible for a station with the profile and dial position of Fuel, was the seventh highest rated show in the demo on cable Saturday.
The Silva vs. Stann match was almost storybook like with the thought-to-be broken down Silva, coming back from three first round knockdowns to win via spectacular second round knockout. But, if anything, the actual quality of the last two fights probably only had minimal effect on the numbers, since people wouldn't have known when tuning in what was going to happen. The numbers were strong for all three hours, peaking at 542,000 viewers for the main event. Plus, the pre-show numbers, going head-to-head with actual fights on Facebook, already indicated record levels.
The No. 2 fight saw Hunt, also an underdog, giving up 14 inches in height, knock out Struve in the third round.
If anything, it shows that it's far more about the personality profile than the UFC record when it comes to ratings. Silva came into the fight with a 3-5 UFC record, but remains one of the company's most popular fighters stemming from his fighting style and his legend from Japan. Stann was only 6-4 in UFC competition, but also very popular. Stann is a great public speaker, which is a tremendous attribute for a main event fighter, and both men do have good track records of providing exciting fights.