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UFC 189 preliminary television ratings only at average levels

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While promoted as the biggest show of the year, the lackluster prelims for UFC 189 did an average of 847,000 viewers, which is at the average level for 2015, and well below the numbers that the prelims for the three biggest pay-per-view events did.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The atmosphere over the weekend at the UFC activities was like no other in Las Vegas, but the television ratings did not reflect that anything was significantly different.

Ratings of Fox Sports 1 for the prelims before UFC 189 and for the entire The Ultimate Fighter finals ranged from average to below average. The only television event of the week that did much better than usual were the Friday weigh-ins for the pay-per-view show.

The prelims for UFC 189 did 847,000 viewers, which is average level for such a show. While the correlation isn't always perfect, the bigger pay-per-view events will generally do higher ratings for the prelims, for all the logical reasons. For a comparison, for the three big shows this year, the Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier prelims did 1,039,000 viewers, the Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz prelims did 1,546,000 viewers (boosted by the Miesha Tate vs. Sara McMann fight that headlined) and the Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano prelims did 1,203,000 viewers.

Regarding the bigger question, which is how the pay-per-view itself did, it is too early to get an accurate number. The earliest indications are very strong, with it likely being the biggest number so far this year. The largest so far this year was UFC 182, the Jones vs. Cormier show, which is estimated at doing close to 800,000 buys.

The prelims peaked at 989,000 from 9:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., which would have been the latter rounds of the Mike Swick vs. Alex Garcia fight. The prelims had been lackluster up to that point, but it is a surprise the audience didn't peak for Matt Brown's fight that followed.

The prelims faced competition from the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Kentucky that drew 3,216,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network, which is a phenomenal number for that station. It did beat PBC boxing on ESPN with the Keith Thurman vs. Luis Collazo main event, that did 799,000 viewers.

The post-fight show on FS 1 did 194,000 viewers. The pre-fight show did 345,000 viewers.

The strongest number of the presentation in comparison with usual was the weigh-ins, which did 178,000 viewers. That number is 39 percent above the usual levels. In addition, it was the most watched weigh-in show ever on FS 1 that didn't include Ronda Rousey.

The Ultimate Fighter finals show headlined by Stephen Thompson's win over Jake Ellenberger did 691,000 viewers. It would be the second-lowest main card number this year for a prime time UFC card on FS 1, beating only the March 21 show headlined by Demian Maia vs. Ryan LaFlare, that did 617,000 viewers. Even throwing out the ridiculous number that Conor McGregor drew in January, the prime time Fight Night cards this year are averaging 900,000 viewers.

The show peaked at 778,000 viewers for the Hayder Hassan vs. Kamaru Usman battle which the Blackzillians winning the team championship in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter. The prelims for the show did 470,000 viewers, the lowest for prelims on FS 1 for a prime time event this year.

UFC was the third-most watched sports event of the night, losing head-to-head to a St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game on ESPN that did 2,216,000 viewers and a Mexico vs. Guatemala soccer game on Univision Deportes that did 1,400,000 viewers.

All ratings are tabulated by Neilsen.