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UFC Fight Night's Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Oliveira averages 983,000 viewers

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A Sunday night Fight Night, billed as the Battle of the Cowboys, did 983,000 viewers, up 11 percent from,last year's average.

David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

While not doing the big numbers of UFC's first two FS1 fight nights of the year, Sunday's battle of the 'Cowboys' still finished 11 percent above the 2015 average for prime time Fight Nights on the station.

The welterweight main event, featuring former lightweight top contender Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone against Brazil's Alex "Cowboy" Oliveira, averaged 983,000 viewers. The main event did the show's peak number of 1,207,000 viewers.

UFC was coming off big numbers for its first two events of the year. The Jan. 17 show, headlined by Dominick Cruz beating T.J. Dillashaw for the bantamweight title did 2,288,000 viewers, the second best MMA number in the history of the station. The previous event, the former UFC 196, which became a Fight Night due to losing the heavyweight championship main event, on Feb. 5, did 1,317,000 viewers.

After three events, UFC is 73 percent above last year's average, but that is misleading because of the Cruz vs. Dillashaw number. However, a more normal show like on Sunday being ahead of the last year average is a strong sign for the future.

It was the second most-watched sports program on television that night, trailing the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls NBA game that did 1,645,000 viewers.

The prelims, which featured no major marquee names, did 829,000 viewers, up 18 percent over the 2015 average. The main event of the prelims featured Sean Strickland winning a third round stoppage over Alex Garcia in a welterweight fight.

The post-fight show, airing earlier than usual with the main event ending in the first round and the main card starting an hour earlier than usual, did 596,000 viewers. The pre-show did 345,000 viewers.

The UFC show finished a distant second to Bellator's Friday night show, featuring legends from the past like Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, as well as one of the early stars of YouTube, Kimbo Slice, that did 1,964,000 viewers on Spike. The show broke every Bellator ratings record, and was the most-watched show on television that day in several key male demos..

Spike officials released that the peak rating for the show was 2.7 million viewers for the ending of the Slice vs. Dada 5000 match.

A third weekend MMA show, a World Series of Fighting Event on Saturday night on NBC Sports Network, did 168,000 viewers. The show, headlined by Marlon Moraes retaining his bantamweight title over Joseph Barajas via stoppage in just 1:13, was 11 percent down from the 2015 average of 189,000 viewers.