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UFC 203 prelims ratings solid, but not at UFC 202 levels

Saturday's UFC 203 prelims were watched by 870,000 viewers, headlined by Bethe Correia defeating Jessica Eye in a lackluster three-round decision.

The number was down 33% from the 1.3 million viewers who watched the August UFC 202 prelims, but prelim numbers are usually way up for shows with Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey on the main card.

Taking UFC 200 out of the comparison, as that was a special case, non-McGregor and Rousey shows have averaged 841,000 viewers since the start of 2015. 

Prelims ratings are usually a fair indication of interest in the main card, but this may be an exception. Google Trends, which are also an indication of PPV interest and buy numbers), were way up from normal levels for Saturday's show, headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem, and CM Punk's MMA debut.

Given the fairly stiff competition on cable -- three college football games did a total of 10 million viewers opposite the UFC prelims -- it's possible, and maybe even likely, that casual viewers interested in seeing Punk's debut fight would have only watched the main card and skipped the prelims. 

UFC gets another crack at FS1 this coming Saturday with a Fight Night show from Hidalgo, TX, headlined by top lightweight contenders Dustin Poirier and Michael Johnson.