According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Saturday’s UFC on FOX 5 broadcast averaged 4.4 million viewers, with viewership climbing steadily through the night until it peaked at a hearty 5.7 million sets of eyeballs for the main event of Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz.
Although total viewership still fell short of the first two UFC on FOX offerings, the 4.4 million average for “Henderson vs. Diaz” nearly doubled the audiences of the last two FOX broadcasts, which both averaged just 2.4 million viewers apiece. More importantly, “Henderson vs. Diaz” was television’s most-watched broadcast on Saturday night among males 18-34, males 18-49, adults 18-34, and adults 18-49. As Dana White told Yahoo!: “We just killed it. We killed it in every demo.”
The ratings performance was also enough to clinch Henderson vs. Diaz as the ninth most-watched MMA fight of all time in the United States. Four years ago, the top ten list was dominated by Kimbo Slice — and not much has changed since then. Here’s Dave Meltzer with an update on MMAFighting.com (number rankings added for clarity):
“The 5.7 million viewers drawn by the main event would rank it behind only five UFC fights in history: [#1] the record-breaking Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos fight on November 12, 2001, which did 9.6 million viewers between FOX and Fox Deportes; [#3] the Oct. 10, 2006, Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz fight on Spike, which did 6.5 million viewers; [#5] the Jan. 28, 2012, Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis fight on FOX and Fox Deportes, that did 6.4 million viewers; [#6] the Sept. 30, 2009, taped fight on the Ultimate Fighter reality show with Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson, which did 6.1 million viewers on Spike; and [#8] the Sept. 8, 2007, taped fight from England pitting Dan Henderson vs. Rampage Jackson for the light heavyweight title, which did 5.8 million viewers on Spike.
The only other fights it trailed were Kimbo Slice fights on CBS with James Thompson [#2: 7.281 million viewers] and Seth Petruzelli [#4: 6.451 million viewers], and the first Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith fight [#7: 5.867 million viewers], which aired before Slice vs. Thompson on the first Elite XC show on CBS in 2008.
However, if you add in Spanish language viewership in the U.S. on Fox Deportes, numbers which are not available at press time, the total audience should top 6 million and move to either the No. 6 or No. 7 slot.”
In the past, Henderson has underperformed as a pay-per-view draw, but a brilliant fight against Diaz in front of a massive network audience might change all that. Can Bendo become the UFC’s next breakout star?