MMA fans were treated to a rare Sunday Night card from the UFC this past weekend in the form of UFC Fight Night Phoenix.
The show, which was headlined by Francis Ngannou defeating former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, brought in a 1.1 overnight rating according to MMA Fighting. That was the best overnight rating for a free UFC card since UFC Fight Night 81, which saw Dominick Cruz defeat TJ Dillashaw to win the UFC Bantamweight Title.
Other fights on the main card saw Paul Felder defeat James Vick, Cynthia Calvillo defeat Cortnery Casey, Kron Gracie defeat Alex Caceres, Vicente Luque defeat Bryan Barberena and Andre Fili defeat Myles Jury.
Full viewing numbers for the whole event, as well as Bellator 215, are not expected until Wednesday, which is a one day delay since Monday was a holiday.
A four fight preliminary card also aired live on ESPN, with Aljamain Sterling defeating Jimmie Rivera in the featured spot, and that brought in a 0.7 overnight rating. Other fights on that portion of the preliminary card saw Manny Bermudez defeat Benito Lopez, Andrea Lee defeat Ashlee Evans-Smith and Nik Lentz defeat Scott Holtzman.
It should be noted that the overnight rating is obtained from the 55 major metered markets in the United States and the final rating could vary.
Also, a statement was issued by the UFC on the show's success on ESPN, giving an even bigger breakdown into the ratings and viewership:
Last night, UFC Fight Night on ESPN debuted as heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou (13-3) knocked out former two-time heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (14-3) in his highly anticipated return to the Octagon in the main event at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz.
The ESPN telecast of the main card from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. ET averaged a 1.1 metered market rating, while the UFC Fight Night on ESPN Prelims on ESPN from 7 – 9 p.m. averaged a 0.7 rating. The full five-hour window on ESPN averaged a 0.9 rating. Through three linear television events, ESPN has now aired the three highest-rated UFC telecasts on cable since the start of 2017.
Main Things to Know:
* Last night’s UFC Fight Night on ESPN featuring Francis Ngannou vs. Cain Velaszquez aired from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. and averaged a 1.1 metered market rating.
* The Prelims from 7-9 p.m. averaged a 0.7 rating and the full five-hour window on ESPN averaged a 0.9 rating.
* Based on overnight ratings, last night’s main card (9 p.m. – 12 a.m.) ranks as the highest-rated UFC Fight Night on cable since the Dillashaw-Cruz headlined event on January 17, 2016. Last night’s Prelims (7-9 p.m.) rank as the second highest-rated UFC Fight Night Prelims on cable since that same 1/17/16 date, behind only ESPN’s premiere telecast on January 19 of this year.
* Through three linear events, ESPN has now aired the three highest-rated UFC telecasts on cable since the start of 2017.
* Last night’s telecast was up 83% from the comparable Fight Night (Cerrone/Medeiros) that aired on February 18, 2018 (0.6 rating). The Fight Night Prelims were up 40% and the five-hour window was up 50%.
The Octagon now travels to the O2 Arena in Prague for UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ in the first-ever UFC event in the Czech Republic. In the main event, top light heavyweights Jan Blachowicz and Thiago “Marreta” Santos battle it out while heavyweights Stefan Struve and Marcos Rogerio de Lima face off in the co-main event. The main card will be live and available exclusively on ESPN+ in the U.S. in both English and Spanish starting at 2:00 p.m. Prelims will be live and available on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes beginning at 11 a.m. ET.
A tweet was also sent out by ESPN, prasing how well the UFC Phoenix card did: