The promise of a potential fight of the year did not lead to strong ratings last night for UFC.
Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje, on paper, was as close to a sure thing for an outstanding fight as UFC has presented since, well, the last time Gaethje fought. The fight delivered, making Gaethje three-for-three in match of the year contenders, but only 1-2 as far as his UFC record goes, since Poirier won via fourth round stoppage.
Based on the fast nationals, which wouldn't have included most of the main event, the show did 1,780,000 viewers. That would be the fourth lowest in the nearly seven year history of the series. FOX also would have finished fourth among the four networks last night, although it did finish second to the Toronto vs. Boston NHL playoff game in the key demos, 18-34 and 18-49. The NHL game did 2,180,000 on the fast nationals.
The final number, which comes out Tuesday, will be higher, probably by a good margin. The fast nationals only measures FOX stations from 8-10 p.m.. Eastern, 7-9 p.m. Central, 6-8 p.m. Mountain, and 8-10 p.m. Pacific. So for the West Coast, which the show aired from 5-7:30 p.m., it counted local programming and not the show.
In addition, the four round main event started at 10 p.m. Eastern, meaning that none of the main event figured into the rating, and the match going four rounds, and being such an exciting fight, meant it had a lot of time to build the number.