The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first live bout on network television lasted only 64 seconds, but nonetheless managed to become one of the most-watched fights of the new millennium.
Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez’s heavyweight title fight attracted 5.7 million viewers and a 3.1/5 household rating to Fox on Saturday night, according to figures released Sunday by Fox Sports Media Group. The statistic makes UFC on Fox 1 the most-watched event in the 18-year history of the UFC, as well as the most-watched professional fight since 2003, when 7 million viewers tuned in to watch Lennox Lewis defeat Vitali Klitschko on HBO.
The UFC on Fox rating also eclipsed the 4.9 million viewers which EliteXC drew to CBS in May 2008 with a heavyweight bout between Kimbo Slice and James Thompson.
In an official release, Fox projected the UFC event to win its 9:00-10:00 p.m. time slot for Saturday, despite heavy competition from a trio of college football games on ABC, NBC and ESPN. UFC on Fox pulled strong numbers in key demographics, including 4.3 and 4.0 in Men 18-34 and Men 18-49, respectively. According to Fox officials, the Men 18-34 rating was higher than all but one college football game thus far this season, bested only by the Nov. 5 showdown between top-ranked Louisiana State and No. 2 Alabama.
The show, which took place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., was highest-rated in the UFC’s hometown of Las Vegas, where it earned a 5.3/9. Other successful local markets included Dallas (5.1/10), Phoenix (5.1/9) and San Antonio (5.1/8).