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Ratings report: UFC, WSOF both pull strong weekend numbers

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Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Ratings were strong across the board for MMA programming this past weekend.

The prelims to UFC 175 on Saturday night drew 1 million viewers, the best number for a pay-per-view prelims show so far this year. That wasn't a surprise since UFC 175 was expected to be the year's biggest show so far, and Urijah Faber, who headlined the prelims, was the biggest star to appear this year on the pre-PPV shows on FS 1.

The number was slightly ahead of the 936,000 viewers for the prelims of UFC 170 on Feb. 22, which was the Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann show.  The prelims are averaging 863,000 viewers so far this year and summer is traditionally the hardest time of the year to draw a big television rating.

The Ultimate Fighter finals on Sunday night, featuring what was very likely the final fight of B.J. Penn's MMA career, also did 1 million viewers. The number is well above the finals of the last U.S. season of the show, which did 755,000 viewers, but it should have been with such a strong main event. Had the Penn vs. Frankie Edgar fight taken place when it wasn't the day after the biggest UFC event of the year, it probably would have done even better.

World Series of Fighting on Saturday afternoon on NBC drew 906,000 viewers for a 4 p.m. Eastern time show that was headlined by Justin Gaethje's lightweight title defense against Nick Newell, and featured familiar UFC fighters like Jon Fitch and Melvin Guillard. The number was more than four times the usual average that watches the promotion, based on moving from NBC Sports in prime time to NBC in the afternoon. Most WSOF shows do in the range of 200,000 viewers, with the June 21 show setting a record with 365,000 viewers.         

The negative is the visual of the main event, where Newell, born with one arm, took a terrible beating from Gaethje. It would have likely been a major turnoff to anyone who had not seen Newell fight in the past, which would likely have been the case for the vast majority of the viewers. 

WSOF is contracted to air twice per year on NBC.