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UFC Fight Night 114 tops boxing show head-to-head on Saturday night

Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night did 859,000 viewers, beating the 728,000 for boxing on ESPN, and the big surprise was the audience that made the difference was 50 and older.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Markos vs Grasso Miguel Tovar-USA TODAY Sports

A UFC show with little-known headliners beat a boxing show with a world title fight on a stronger network head-to-head on Saturday night.

And the big surprise is that the difference was an audience over the age of 50.

That flies in the face of what most would expect on a head-to-head basis.

UFC Fight Night from Mexico City averaged 859,000 viewers on FS 1. The high point, the Alexa Grasso vs. Randa Markos co-main event, which went head-to-head with the boxing, averaged 988,000 viewers.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN, which opposed the last two fights of the UFC show, built around Vasyl Lomancheko's WBO featherweight (130 pounds) title defense over Miguel Marriaga, did 728,000 viewers.

Keep in mind head-to-head comparisons are slightly misleading, because the UFC audience during the last two fights was ahead of its three-hour plus average, so the gap in head-to-head audience and demos would be more in favor of the UFC show, even though ESPN is a significantly higher rated network than FS 1.

But in the key demos, both shows were almost identical in audience between the ages of 12 and 49, with the boxing show having a small advantage between the ages of 18 and 34, but the edge for UFC was because its audience past the age of 50 was 44 percent higher than the Top Rank audience.

The biggest difference between the audiences is that boxing drew a significantly higher percentage of male viewers. In the 18-49 demo, the boxing audience was 78 percent male, while the UFC audience in the same demo was 68 percent male.

The UFC show was one of the best of the year for action, with seven first-round finishes, as well as three exciting fights that went the distance in Alejandro Perez vs. Andre Soukhamthath, and the top two fights on the show, Grasso's win over Markos and the main event where Sergio Pettis scored a five-round decision win over Brandon Moreno. The top two fights were close enough that the outcome was likely determined in the closing minutes of the final round.

Of the nine UFC Fight Nights on FS 1 in prime time so far this year, the 859,000 figure fell right in the middle, in fifth place. That would have to be considered a positive given the limited star power on the show. Pettis, while a top flyweight contender and the brother of former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, is well known to ardent fans but certainly not a major mainstream name. Grasso has done well in television rating quarter hours in the past, but is still not a major name. The biggest name on the show, Rashad Evans, was low on the card and not promoted heavily.

The prelims, which aired six fights, five of which ended in the first round, but also very limited in name value, did 633,000 viewers. The prelims main event was Jack Hermansson vs. Brad Scott.

The pre-fight show, which started 25 minutes late due to baseball coverage, did 208,000 viewers. The post-fight show averaged 327,000 viewers.

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