Lyoto Machida seems to have earned the title of needle-mover as Saturday’s UFC Fight Night from Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil, drew the fourth-largest audience of 22 such events since UFC started on Fox Sports 1.
The Machida vs. C.B. Dollaway-led show drew an average of 966,000 viewers between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. eastern time. Machida’s previous fight on Fox Sports 1, on Feb. 15 against Gegard Mousasi, drew 1,400,000 viewers, which was the second-best total for a show on FS1.
Saturday’s number is more impressive considering the main event itself, which did 1,237,000 viewers in the first minute, was over in 62 seconds, leaving it little time to build the audience average. The Mousasi show had the benefit of a NASCAR Sprint car race that did 3.53 million viewers as its lead-in.
The show had little when it came to name support for Machida and Dollaway, as only former bantamweight champion Renan Barao, and to an extent Erick Silva, were names established as stars to the UFC audience.
Machida, who held the UFC light heavyweight title in 2009 and 2010, and was thought at one point to be someone who would be one of the most dominant champions of the era, when it comes to television drawing power, was not necessarily strong coming into this year. His Oct. 26, 2013 win over Mark Munoz, which aired on FS 2, was one of the least watched live Zuffa televised fight events in history, related to being in a bad time slot and airing on FS 2.
It was Machida’s fifth win in his last seven fights, although you could strongly argue it should be six out of seven since a decision loss to Phil Davis was questionable.
The show paced a strong day for the station’s UFC programming, as the pre-event show from 7-8 p.m., did 206,000 viewers, well above the usual average, the prelims from 8-10 p.m. did 626,000 viewers, and the post-fight show starting at 1 a.m. did 325,000 viewers.