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UFC on FOX 21 gets hurt badly by preemptions, does record-low numbers

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Competition from the NFL, which led to local affiliates preempting the live UFC broadcast, largely contributed to Saturday night's UFC on FOX 21 in Vancouver doing the lowest ratings in the history of the series.

The card, which was headlined by Demian Maia and Carlos Condit, did a 1.2 rating and 1,983,000 viewers. The show was previously reported as doing 2.22 million viewers on the overnights but, as noted at the time, that was a rating for the FOX network in prime time, which didn't include the UFC show on the West Coast and was boosted by ratings in 15 markets that aired NFL preseason games instead of the UFC show.

In those 15 markets, the UFC show either aired on a tape delay later in the weekend, or on another station in the market.

The previous low mark for a UFC on FOX show was 2.38 million viewers for the July 27, 2013, flyweight title fight where Demetrious Johnson retained his title over John Moraga.

Because of the preemptions and time slot changes, it's not really a fair comparison to any of the other UFC events on FOX.

The show was also hurt by the main event only lasting 1:52, meaning it ended just before 10pm. UFC on FOX shows traditionally do their best numbers after 10pm, and the longer the main event goes, in almost all cases, the better it is for the ratings. On last month's FOX show, the Holly Holm-Valentina Shevchenko fight went a full five rounds and did unusually high numbers, which boosted the entire show average by 11 percent. That show did the best summer numbers the UFC has ever done on FOX with a 1.8 rating and 2,975,000 viewers. 

The peak rating for Saturday's show was 2,207,000 viewers for Anthony Pettis's win over Charles Oliveira.

The show went head-to-head not only with an NFL preseason game on CBS, which did 3,805,000 viewers, but the NFL in a number of local markets as well.

This was the first time FOX had broadcast a special during August.

If there was good news, it was that the prelims, which did a 0.7 rating and 1,122,000 viewers, a little below usual numbers for all the same reasons, did do an 0.6 rating in males between 18-34. That's the best ever for FOX-aired prelims.

The post-fight show on FS1 did 222,000 viewers. Friday's weigh-ins did 74,000 viewers.

Bellator, on the other hand, had better news for its show on Friday night from Anaheim, Calif., headlined by Benson Henderson and Patricio "Pitbull" Freire. The show did 725,000 viewers, above the usual show average for the promotion, even with competition of both NFL preseason football on the NFL Network (918,000 viewers) and college football on ESPN (782,000 viewers).

The show peaked at 905,000 viewers.