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UFC 231 prelims average 786,000 viewers

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Saturday night’s prelims before UFC 231, headlined by the Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega featherweight title match, did 786,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1.

The number was aside from UFC 229, the Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov-led show, the best prelim number since April 7, for the Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta-led card.

The number was likely up from recent months due to the lack of college football competition. The biggest competition was the Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza card on ESPN that averaged 1,865,000 viewers. It also went head-to-head with the Showtime replay of the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight that did 488,000 viewers.

The UFC prelims were the third most-watched sports event on television on Saturday trailing the Lomachenko fight and the MLS Cup on FOX which did 1,563,000 viewers.

The 786,000 is slightly above the 2018 prelims average of 776,000. The show also averaged 8,299 viewers for an average minute streaming.

The prelims were headlined by a key women’s strawweight contenders fight where Nina Ansaroff won a decision over Claudia Gadelha. That fight drew 915,000 viewers. The prelims also had a Jessica Eye win over Katlyn Chookagian, a key women’s flyweight fight, and opened with a wild fight where Elias Theodorou won a decision over Eryk Anders.

Prelim numbers are usually good predictor of pay-per-view numbers, but they are far from absolute.

It’s notable that on Google searches for Saturday night, the UFC show did 600,000 total searches while the Lomachenko fight did more than 200,000. Searches are usually the best predictor of how the pay-per-view will do, although that wasn’t the case with the recent Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz fight that did big with searches but fizzled on pay-per-view.

The pre-fight show averaged 211,000 viewers and the post-fight show averaged 136,000 viewers. The prior pay-per-view show, UFC 230, headlined by Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis, averaged 205,000 for the pre-fight show and 188,000 for the post-fight show.

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