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UFC's first show of 2017 battles the NFL, still cracks 1 million viewers

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Even against a massive audience for an NFL divisional playoff game, UFC held up relatively well for its first FS1 Fight Night show of the year as Sunday's card, headlined by the return of BJ Penn, averaged 1.090 million viewers.

That number was less than half the audience of the Sunday night show a year ago, but that had a much bigger lineup and main event (Dominick Cruz vs then-bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw).

Over half of the four-fight show went up against NBC's Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs NFL playoff game which did over 37 million viewers. The game was originally supposed to be at 1 PM EST, but weather forced its pushback to 8 PM EST instead. 

To put things in perspective, Sunday would have been the fifth highest rated Fight Night show in 2016 and marks the biggest number since the September 26 Cyborg Justino-headlined show which did 1.109 million viewers.

The prelims, which also aired on FS 1, did 824,000 viewers. That is a good number given that there were no fighters familiar to anyone but hardcore fans.

UFC's returns to the airwaves a week from this Saturday on Fox, headlined by Valentina Shevchenko vs. Juliana Pena in a #1 women's bantamweight contender bout.