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Ratings Report: TV shows supporting UFC 159 pull good numbers

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The television programming surrounding UFC 159, headlined by Jon Jones' light heavyweight title defense against Chael Sonnen on Saturday, did generally good ratings particularly the weigh-ins and post-fight show on Fuel.

The prelims on FX, even with some lackluster fights, fluke finishes and having to air the Sara McMann vs. Sheila Gaff fight twice did 1,382,000 viewers. That is above the 1.2 million average that the pay-per-view prelim fights have done on the station, but down 12 percent from the 1,597,000 on UFC 158.

UFC 158 was headlined by Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz, and with all the last week of controversy surrounding the Diaz interviews, it ended up as the most successful pay-per-view show in a long time.

The UFC 159 prelims were up from the 1,057,000 for the FX prelims the previous Saturday for the FOX show, even though the April 20 show was a significantly stronger FX lineup. It featured top-ranked fighters like Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez, but that's also to be expected. Saturday's show aired from 8-10 p.m. and the prior Saturday's prelims aired in a less advantageous 5-8 p.m. Eastern time slot.

For Fuel, the post-fight show did a 0.34 rating and 159,000 viewers. That broke the record for post-fight coverage after a pay-per-view show. The old record was 125,000 viewers set after UFC 158. Before that, the highest number was 96,000 for UFC 155. The post-fight show after the March 2 Brian Stann vs. Wanderlei Silva fight, that aired on Fuel did 219,000 viewers, but it's much easier for the post-fight show to do a rating when it's on the same station and starts directly after the main event ends.

The weigh-ins on Friday did 109,000 viewers. While barely half of the Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz weigh-in audience that holds the record at 215,000 viewers, it was the fourth most-watched weigh-in ever on Fuel.

Pay-per-view numbers for the show were not available at press time. Most expectations, including internally by UFC, were that Jones vs. Sonnen would be the biggest show of the year behind UFC 158.