For UFC, to misquote a famous Elton John song, Friday Night isn’t alright for fighting.
Bellator has had declining numbers this year in its traditional time slot, and the UFC this past Friday for the Fight Night show headlined by Marlon Moraes’ 33-second win over Jimmie Rivera did 517,000 viewers.
It would be the second-lowest for a UFC prime time live fight card in history. The only show it beat was also on a Friday, the Dec. 1 TUF season 26 finale that did 501,000 viewers, for the show that crowned the first women’s flyweight champion with Nicco Montano beating Roxanne Modaferri.
The show had little in the way of major sports competition like on a Saturday. Neither the NHL nor NBA had playoff games on Friday and the only major sports competition was the College Softball World Series on ESPN, which did 774,000 viewers.
The Saturday night record low is 609,000 that was set on May 31, 2014 for a Fight Night from Brazil headlined by Stipe Miocic, long before he was heavyweight champion, facing Fabio Maldonado.
In addition, streaming numbers were well below usual with an average of 5,809 viewers per minute, well down from the usual numbers in the 10,000 range.
In another surprise, the peak rating was for the first fight of the main card, Sam Alvey’s split-decision win over Gian Villante, which did 593,000 viewers. While it’s not unusual for a long show that can end around 1 a.m. for the audience to peak before the main event, rarely does the audience decline from the first fight unless it has to do with a great lead-in, which this show didn’t have, or an unusually popular fighter on the undercard, which neither Alvey or Villante are.
The prelims, headlined by Sijara Eubanks’ decision win over Lauren Murphy, did 322,000 viewers, the lowest number to date for a UFC prelim show in prime time on FS 1. The show also did another 6,685 viewers per minute on average streaming.
The post-fight show did 181,000 viewers.