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UFC 259 prelims power to No. 2 program in overall ratings on cable on Saturday

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UFC 259: Cruz v Kenney
Casey Kenney and Dominick Cruz
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The UFC 259 prelims delivered with a packed lineup filled with former champions and ex-title challengers and that paid off with the ratings on Saturday night.

According to the Nielsen Ratings System, the UFC 259 prelims headlined by Dominick Cruz getting a win over Casey Kenney in the featured bout averaged 1.208 million viewers over the course of the broadcast on ESPN. The card also received 541,000 average viewers on ESPN2 after the prelims were forced to start there due to a college basketball game running late on the flagship ESPN network.

Overall, the UFC 259 prelims ended the night at No. 2 in overall cable ratings behind only the college basketball game that led into the event with 1.871 million viewers. The UFC 259 prelims also earned a .46 rating in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic.

The prelim broadcast also featured multi-time title challenger Joseph Benavidez in a scrap against undefeated flyweight contender Askar Askarov.

While there have only been three pay-per-view cards for the UFC in 2021, the UFC 259 prelims ended just behind UFC 257, which was the show that featured Conor McGregor in his return against Dustin Poirier. That event earned 1.433 million viewers for the prelims broadcast.

Ratings for the prelims don’t always translate to pay-per-view buys but it’s likely a good sign for the main card that featured three title fights headlining the show.

In addition to the ratings for the featured prelim card on ESPN, the early prelims that aired on ESPN2 starting at 5:56 p.m. ET ended the night at No. 21 overall on cable with an average of 447,000 viewers.

The next UFC pay-per-view goes down on March 27, with UFC 260 headlined by a pair of title fights on the main card. Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight championship against Francis Ngannou in the headliner, while the co-main event sees Alexander Volkanovski put his featherweight belt up for grabs against Brian Ortega.