Get used to seeing the smaller guys headline UFC on Fox cards. As reported by multiple news outlets today, final ratings for Saturday’s UFC on Fox 6 averaged 4.2 million viewers. This marks the second time in as many Fox cards that throngs of MMA fans tuned in to see little guys in the main event.
The UFC has started the year off with a bang. On Jan. 19, UFC on FX 7 delivered record MMA ratings for the FX network. Three days later, the Ultimate Fighter Season 17 premier drew a solid 1.51 million viewers. However, as UFC on Fox 6 approached, few fans knew what kind of ratings to expect from an event showcasing flyweights.
The UFC definitely took a risk with Saturday’s main event. The lighter weight classes have not drawn as well as the big guys while headlining major cards. Even dynamic featherweights like Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes have had trouble drawing respectable pay-per-view numbers. As a result, drawing fans to UFC on Fox 6 seemed to be daunting task.
In addition being part of an unpopular weight class, neither Demitrious Johnson nor John Dodson were thought to have the name recognition to carry a major card. The UFC seemed to realize these challenges and focused their promotional efforts on the championship at stake instead of Johnson and Dodson. The promotion counted on the importance of the title fight transcending the lack of popularity for either fighter. The fans responded and tuned in. Expect the UFC to continue that successful formula on future UFC on Fox cards.
Immediately after Saturday’s flyweight title fight, Dana White told Fuel TV’s Ariel Helwani, “It was an awesome fight.” I am certain White repeated that exact statement today after seeing the final ratings that fight pulled in.