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Barnett vs. Nelson does slightly below average numbers against tough competition

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Going against a slew of college football, and a Deontay Wilder heavyweight title defense on NBC, Saturday night's UFC show did slightly below what an average show in prime time has done in 2015 on FS 1.

The show from Saitama, Japan, headlined by Josh Barnett's five-round decision win over Roy Nelson, did 841,000 viewers of which 542,000 fell within the target 18-49 demo. For prime time live main cards on FS 1 so far this year, not including the Conor McGregor show in January, the average is 882,000 viewers.

The show went against college football on FOX and ABC, boxing on NBC, as well as college football on ESPN and ESPN 2.

The end of the Barnett vs. Nelson main event drew the peak viewership of 1,103,000, and the show had the positive sign of a continued increase in viewers from start-to-finish even with the main event going into the ring well after 12:30 a.m.

Actually the most positive note out of the ratings were the prelims on FS 2.  Despite having no name stars, and a main event of Li Jingliang vs. Keita Nakamura, the show averaged 270,000 viewers from 8-10 p.m. It was the tenth largest audience for any television show since its name change.

A key note is that the prelims were not on FS 1 due to baseball, but the UFC prelims performed far better head-to-head. The UFC prelims rating was drawn on a station in 48.7 million homes nationwide. A St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers baseball game on FS 1 did 381,000 viewers on a station that is in 84.3 million homes.

As compared to Bellator's show the previous Saturday night, the UFC show finished slightly above when it comes to average audience, even though Spike is in more homes than FS 1, and did far stronger in the main event segment.

Bellator on Friday night drew 669,000 viewer on Spike, which was the second most-watched sports program of the night, trailing a Boise State vs. Virginia football game on ESPN that did 1.75 million viewers. That is right at the Bellator average for a non-major show.

The Joe Warren vs. L.C. Davis main event did 777,000 viewers. The actual peak number was 885,000 viewers during the semifinal with Kendall Grove vs. Joey Beltran.