It hasn’t exactly been a smooth transition for the new UFC owners, following the 2016 ZUFFA LLC buyout by WME/IMG.
2016 was the UFC’s benchmark year. With stars like Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey leading the promotion to T.V. ratings record after T.V. ratings record.
In 2017, it’s been the exact opposite. With the new UFC owners in place for their first calendar year of fights, they’ve done everything but deliver fans fight cards worthy of tuning into.
As a member of the MMA world’s economy, 2017 has been a troubling year for us all.
Adding insult to injury, the return of former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida didn’t even get fight fans off the couch to watch … and the card was free!
MMA’s T.V. numbers guru Dave Meltzer has it:
The show from Sao Paulo, Brazil, headlined by Derek Brunson’s first-round knockout win over Lyoto Machida, averaged 588,000 viewers.
The lowest mark prior to Saturday happened twice. Most recently was a rare Wednesday night show on July 13, 2016, headlined by John Lineker vs. Michael McDonald, which was UFC’s fourth live event in a one-week period. The other was a May 31, 2014, event also in Sao Paulo, headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado. Both shows did 609,000 viewers.
It should be noted that FS1 is in slightly fewer homes this year than in previous years due to cord cutting, although the drop from the peak is still only three to four percent.
UFC Sao Paulo was also slightly impacted by the short time of the main event. The peak of the show was during the Colby Covington vs. Demian Maia fight, which had three rounds to build the audience instead of 2:30 for Brunson vs. Machida. The Covington vs. Maia fight averaged 671,000 viewers.