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Holly Holm leads UFC on FOX 20 to best summer ratings in history

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Holly Holm may have lost two fights in a row, but her star power from the Ronda Rousey win in November made her one of the biggest ratings draws in FOX UFC history.

The final three rounds of Holm's loss to Valentina Shevchenko on Saturday night from the United Center in Chicago drew 4,687,000 viewers, the fifth-best fight since UFC signed on with FOX in 2011. More impressive is that three of the four fights that beat that figure were during football season, when UFC ratings, because of the promotion during NFL games, are traditionally much higher. The only non-football season fight to beat that figure was the April 30, 2013 lightweight title fight where Benson Henderson won a close decision over Gilbert Melendez, which did 4,977,000 viewers during its peak quarter hour.

Overall, the show did a 1.8 rating and 2,975,000 viewers, making it the most-watched UFC event on television since the Jan. 24, 2015, show from Sweden which was headlined by Anthony "Rumble" Johnson beating Alexander Gustafsson. That show did a similar 1.8 rating and 3,049,000 viewers. It was the most-watched UFC fight and event ever held during the summer since UFC went on FOX in late 2011.

It was also the second most-watched show of the night, barely, as an NBC movie did 2,976,000 viewers. But it won handily in the key demos, doing an 0.8 in 18-34, double that of any show on the competing networks. It also did a 1.1 in 18-34, with nothing else on television that night on the networks or cable topping an 0.7.

The number was even more impressive given the overall lineup and name recognition of the show. While Melendez has been a top fighter for more than a decade and has headlined major events in the past, and Edson Barboza is a lightweight title contender, they were the only other fighters on the show with any kind of mainstream name recognition. Because fewer people watch television in July, compared to the winter, it makes the numbers even more impressive.

The overall rating was helped greatly because of the strong main event interest, and the fact that fight went five rounds. The strongest interest, not surprisingly, came in Holm's home city of Albuquerque, where the show did an 8.8 rating and 18 share, meaning 18 percent of the homes watching television in the city watched the two-and-a-half hour show. That was more than double of any other market.

The prelims, headlined by Eddie Wineland vs. Frankie Saenz, did 1,261,000 viewers.

The post-fight show on FS 1 did 222,000 viewers, making it the fourth-highest number for such a show after a FOX card.

As far as the overall matches, the quick Felice Herrig win over Kailin Curran did 2,191,000 viewers. The Francis Ngannou win over Bojan Mihaljovic did 2,356,000 viewers. Melendez vs. Barboza did 2,906,000 viewers. The first two rounds of Holm vs. Shevchenko did 3,863,000 viewers.

Bellator also had good numbers, as its Friday night show headliend by Joe Taimanglo upset win over previously unbeaten former NCAA champion Darrion Caldwell did 668,000 viewers, peaking at 880,000 viewers. It was the most watched sports event on television that night, beating a USA vs. Costa Rica women's soccer game that did 488,000 viewers.

What was notable is that the show drew a bigger number than Bellator's recent shows headlined by Benson Henderson, Rampage Jackson and Paul Daley.

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