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UFC does 2.5 million viewers for UFC on FOX 19 event

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Saturday's UFC on FOX show headlined by Glover Teixeira's first round knockout of Rashad Evans did a 1.4 rating and 2,487,000 viewers. The number is along the lines of what a usual UFC on FOX event would do in April, and a positive when you factor in the circumstances.

The number was down from a 1.5 rating and 2,745,000 viewers for last year's April show, which had a stronger marquee main event of Luke Rockhold vs. Lyoto Machida, which determined the next middleweight title contender.

Two years ago the show, featuring Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne, did a 1.6 rating and 2.5 million viewers.

Saturday's show had a number of issues that didn't help the ratings. The scheduled Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson main event fell through due to injury. Two of the best-known names scheduled, Machida and Dan Henderson, were pulled from the show days earlier because Machida had an issue with declaring usage of a banned substance that resulted in their fight being canceled.

The other key is the main event only went 1:48, which isn't enough time to build an audience. Traditionally, the longer a FOX show goes, the better the rating will be. Viewership usually grows throughout the biggest match, particularly for a FOX show where the main event airs earlier in the evening than most FS 1 or Bellator shows.

For a comparison, the Werdum vs. Browne show two years ago did a lower rating from 8-10 p.m. as measured by the overnight numbers. But because the main event went five rounds, and did 3.3 million viewers, it made a difference in the overall average.

With the shorter main event, the Saturday night peak was 2.8 million viewers.

The prelims, headlined by Michael Chiesa's win over Beneil Dariush, did 1.4 million viewers on FOX. The number was identical to the Rockhold vs. Machida prelims last year.

The UFC would have been the second most-watched sports programming in its time slot, trailing a Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks NBA game on ESPN that did 2,930,000 viewers. UFC nearly doubled Premier Boxing on NBC, which did 1,262,000 viewers.

Also on Saturday, airing from 10 p.m.. to 12:02 a.m., Bellator ran a show from Turin, Italy. The show, which started just as UFC ended, was taped delayed.

The show was headlined by Patricky "Pitbull" Freire beating Kevin Souza via decision, and drew 580,000 viewers on that night and 619,000 if you include DVR viewership over the next three days. The peak rating, which came early in the show, was 851,000 viewers including DVR viewership over the next three days.

The number was below what a normal Bellator show would do, hurt by a change in the main event and the one hour later than the usual start time. The show also went head-to-head with the replay of Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley on HBO, which did 750,000 viewers.

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