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UFC 205 fails to break FOX Sports 1 prelims record, finishes third best

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

While UFC 205 smashed some UFC records, notably the live gate, it didn't break every big show record as UFC president Dana White talked about after the event.

The one that White said he didn't know about, the ratings record for the FOX Sport 1 prelims, didn't fall, as the show headlined by Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens and also featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson did 1,801,000 viewers. The number was the third largest for a pay-per-view prelims in FS1 history, only trailing prelims for two other shows headlined by Conor McGregor.

The record remains 1,931,000 prior to UFC 194, where McGregor won the featherweight title from Jose Aldo. Saturday night's show was also slightly behind the prelims before UFC 196, which was the first McGregor vs. Nate Diaz fight, which did 1,843,000 viewers. It finished slightly above the comparably loaded prelims to UFC 200, which did 1,768,000 viewers.

The prelims did the best numbers of the year in the male and overall 18-49 demo, as well as the male and overall 18-34 demo, but was behind UFC 196 in over-50 viewership as well as overall viewership.

The prelims did allow FS1 to beat ESPN college football head-to-head in the 18-49 demo, with 1,106,000 viewers between those ages for the UFC show compared to 895,000 for the ESPN broadcast of LSU vs. Arkansas.

The numbers for both overall 18-49 and male 18-49 did set FS1 records for prelims prior to a pay-per-view.

Saturday's show went head-to-head with four major college football broadcasts on ABC, FOX, ESPN and ESPN 2, which combined to do 14.2 million viewers.

On FOX Sports' streaming service, the prelims delivered 101,929 total streams, 40,653 unique streams and the average minute of the two hours were viewed by 10,151 devices.

As far as other programming went, the weigh-ins on Friday from Madison Square Garden drew 255,000 viewers. The record remains 358,000 for the first McGregor vs. Diaz weigh-in. The pre-fight show did 642,000 viewers. The record is 767,000 for the first McGregor vs. Diaz fight. The post-fight show did 258,000 viewers, lower than after most major shows, probably because it started so much later than usual, as the show aired from 1:34 a.m. to 3 a.m.

It should be noted that across the board, the television competition was stronger on Saturday than in March, when the first McGregor vs. Diaz fight took place. The second McGregor vs. Diaz fight did the better pay-per-view numbers, but its television numbers were lower, going against the Olympics.

Bellator on Friday night did 555,000 viewers for a taped show from Tel Aviv, Israel, where Douglas Lima upset Andrey Koreshkov to become the company's welterweight champion. 

The number was below Bellator's average, but Spike TV has lost significant numbers of coverage in homes this past year, as it's down to 85.4 million U.S. homes, from a peak years back of more than 100 million.

The surprise is that the taped show with lesser names beat the prior week's 507,000 viewers for a live show where Phil Davis, a better-known fighter, beat Liam McGeary to win the light heavyweight title.

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