The ratings are in for the UFC's first full-length show on FOX, and while they're down from the debut one-hour event last November, they're still solid overall.
It's being reported that the show drew 4.37 million viewers, which is down 27% from the 5.7 million viewers drawn in November for the Cain Velasquez vs Junior dos Santos heavyweight title fight. However, FOX won the night in the key young adult demographic once again.
The reasons for the decline in ratings seem pretty easy for me to process. The fights themselves weren't very entertaining, with all three going to decisions and dragging at times. The first fight of Demian Maia vs Chris Weidman was marred by both men looking exhausted early in the fight and plodding through most of it, opting to kickbox sloppily as opposed to playing to their strenghts (jiu-jitsu and wrestling, respectively). The night's second fight of Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping featured a lot of trash talking beforehand, but the fight itself was lackluster, with lots of clinchwork against the cage. And finally, the main event of former champion Rashad Evans vs undefeated Phil Davis was an absolutely dominant performance by Evans, who swept all three cards 50-45. That fight mainly featured Evans pounding on Davis, who ended up not posing much of a threat to Evans.
It could have been much worse for the UFC, though. Now defunct competitor EliteXC drew 4.85 million viewers (on CBS, mind you) for their first show, 2.62 million viewers for their second network show, and 4.56 million viewers on their third and final show. The two higher rated EliteXC shows featured former street fighter Kimbo Slice and celebrated women's fighter Gina Carano, which the company seemed to use as a crutch. The UFC really doesn't rely on any one fighter like EliteXC did, and instead chooses to build up several fighters at once.
Another former UFC competitor, Strikeforce, also had shows on CBS. They drew 4.04 million viewers for their first show and 2.9 million viewers on their second show. Strikeforce's second show resembled Saturday's UFC show, with three fights all going to decision and running overtime on their timeslot. The difference was that all three Strikeforce shows were five rounds, as opposed to just one five round fight on the UFC show. The fact that UFC on FOX 2 held much more of its viewership after its primetime debut must be encouraging to Dana White.
The third (and second full-length) UFC show on FOX is scheduled for May 5th in East Rutherford, NJ. The only fights announced so far are between top lightweight contenders Nate Diaz and Jim Miller, both of whom are very exciting fighters, and bantamweights Darren Uyenoyama and John Dodson, which would likely be a preliminary fight to air on Fuel TV.