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UFC 194 prelims blow away FOX Sports 1 ratings records

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor likes to brag about doing record-setting numbers, and like in his fights, he backs it up.

Besides drawing a $10.1 million gate on Saturday night, breaking the all-time U.S. record of $7.2 million that he set in July for the Chad Mendes fight, UFC 194 set FS 1 records for the most watched prelims before a pay-per-view and the most watched weigh-ins in history.

The prelims on Saturday night did 1,931,000 viewers on FS 1 and another 146,000 on Fox Deportes, the most-watched pay-per-view prelims since UFC was on Spike TV. It was also the second-largest audience ever to watch a UFC event on the station, trailing only the 2,750,000 set for a Fight Night card in January headlined by McGregor vs. Dennis Siver.

The number was a combination of an expected large pay-per-view viewership tuning in early, plus the star power of Urijah Faber. Faber won a close decision over Frankie Saenz in the prelims main event. The Faber fight peaked the numbers at 2,380,000 on FS 1. Fox Deportes numbers are not available for the match, but the main event should have done more than the show average.

The prior record for prelim ratings was 1,554,000 for UFC 168, the show headlined by Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate. The Faber match broke the post-Spike era prelims single match record of 1,992,000 viewers set by Miesha Tate vs. Sara McMann before UFC 183.

While ratings for the prelims are not always good predictors of pay-per-view numbers, more often than not they are. It would, along with other numbers for television programming related to the show, give every impression of strong pay-per-view numbers for the second straight month.

At the press conference after UFC 194, UFC Senior Director of Public Relations Dave Sholler said the event was tracking to be the biggest of the year, even beating UFC 193, which topped 1 million buys on pay-per-view. He said it was looking to be either the first or second-biggest number of all-time. UFC's record was set in 2009 for the Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir match that headlined UFC 100, and only a handful of UFC events have been in the seven-figure range. But trends based on web site traffic and social media traffic are indicators, but don't necessarily predict how good the numbers would be.

The show did more than 3 million Google searches, which is below Rousey numbers, but her numbers are always incredibly high in that category. But they are well above anything on a show that didn't involve Rousey, and well above McGregor's July numbers. The McGregor vs. Chad Mendes pay-per-view did 800,000 buys, and this show had a stronger main event, as well as the company's best undercard of the year. The prelims for the McGregor vs. Mendes UFC 189 show did 847,000 viewers.

The weigh-ins on Friday did 294,000 viewers, the largest since the Spike era.

The prefight show at 7 p.m. on Saturday did 556,000 viewers, the fourth-largest total on FS 1. The post-fight show did 344,000 viewers, also the fourth-largest total in station history.

Friday night's Ultimate Fighter finals from 10 p.m. to 1:12 a.m. did 883,000 viewers on FS 1 and 98,000 viewers on Fox Deportes. The prelims, airing from 8-10 p.m. did 809,000 viewers on FS 1 and 63,000 on Fox Deportes.