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UFC 201 prelims do sixth-best number in FOX Sports 2 history

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Often one looks at the prelim numbers for a UFC pay-per-view to get a first indication of how the pay-per-view did.

But for UFC 201, there isn't much of a comparison point because the show was moved to Fox Sports 2 in favor of major league baseball on FS 1.

The prelims averaged 331,000 viewers, peaking at 423,000 for the Nikita Krylov vs. Ed Herman fight. It was the sixth-most watched television show in the history of FS 2.

The major league baseball game on FS 1 that moved the show to the weaker station did 386,000 viewers, far less than UFC would have done on FS 1, which is available in about 83 million homes as compared to 51 million for FS 2. Plus, a show on FS 1 has an advantage of being on a more popular station with a better dial position on most systems.

The only other FS 2 full two-hour pay-per-view prelims were for UFC 171 on March 15, 2014, which was the show headlined by Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler, and did 305,000 viewers.

The show wasn't expected to do big numbers, with Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley not a major marquee bout and a weaker undercard from a star standpoint than most of the shows in 2016. The post-game show on FS 1 did 108,000 viewers, well under usual levels.

UFC wasn't the only MMA event on cable Saturday night. The World Series of Fighting on NBC Sports did 250,000 viewers airing from 10:35 p.m . to 12:35 a.m., head-to-head with the pay-per-view portion of UFC 201. The show was headlined by two title fights, including Marlon Moraes retaining the bantamweight title over Josh Hill, as well as a brother vs. brother fight with Caros Fodor vs. Ben Fodor, which got more attention than most fights from the promotion.

The number is well up from usual, but that's probably more to do with having such a strong lead-in, as NBC Sports Network broadcast a NASCAR Infinity race before the show which did 1,053,000 viewers and was the most-watched sports event of the night.

Showtime boxing, headlined by Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton, was broken down into segments as premium cable boxing usually is, starting out at 244,000 viewers and peaking at 357,000 for coverage of the main event.

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