While the executives at Fox and the UFC aren’t going to make predictions on just how big they expect the first live UFC event on Fox on Nov. 12 to be ratings wise, everyone believes it will be huge.
The first major MMA event on network television was the EliteXC fight on Saturday, May 31, when former street fighter Kimbo Slice faced James Thompson in the night’s main event.
The peak viewership for that card hit 6.51 million viewers, with an average of 6.12 million viewers for the event’s last 50 minutes, which encompassed the main event for the card.
With the UFC set to debut on Fox Saturday, Nov. 12 with the heavyweight title up for grabs as Cain Velasquez faces Junior Dos Santos, the stakes have been raised. So do the Fox executives expect a bigger number than what the Kimbo vs. Thompson fight drew?
“One of my golden rules is never predict ratings because it’s a zero sum game,” said Fox Sports chairman David Hill. “If I was a betting man, which I am, I’d probably put a couple of bucks on the fact that we will.”
UFC president Dana White wasn’t quite so coy.
White first pointed to the fact that the fight Kimbo had with Roy Nelson on Spike TV as a part of The Ultimate Fighter, which was a taped broadcast, pulled in five million viewers. He expects huge numbers for their debut on Fox.
“I’m not going to be too cocky here and trump what David Hill said, but I’ll tell you right now, I’m expecting to blow that number out of the water,” White stated.
The fight will air on Fox as a one-hour special with the only live fight on air being the bout between Velasquez and Dos Santos. There will be a short pre-fight show, and then the championship bout filling the air for the 60-minute special event.
The fight card will stretch out for a full event in the arena, but the bout between Velasquez and Dos Santos will be the only bout on Fox that night.