UFC Phoenix pulls the best numbers of Fight Night in three years


Francis Ngannou-Cain-Velasquez

The UFC recently held its first-ever main card on ESPN with UFC Phoenix on Feb. 17.

At the main event, we witnessed the return of former heavyweight king, Cain Velasquez, while he was fighting the modern day terrorist, Francis "The Predator" Ngannou.

Unfortunately for Velasquez, his return would be wasted in just 26 seconds. This has also been seen by most viewers of UFC Fight Night over the last three years since MMA Fighting reported that UFC Phoenix had an average of 1,463,000 viewers with an average of 988,000 viewers. That's a little less than their official debut on ESPN TV with the preparatory matches of UFC Brooklyn that averaged 1,956,000 viewers.

This means that the last card with so many numbers was back in January 2016 with UFC Boston when Dominick Cruz came back to claim his title as a bantamweight against TJ Dillashaw. This event attracted an average of 2,280,000 viewers on Fox Sports 1.

Although the performance is still relatively good, the UFC might have done even better with the UFC Phoenix if it had scheduled the event for a different day than the All Star Game of the NBA, which attracted an average of 6,797,000 viewers.

In addition to the main event, the UFC Phoenix has also been the scene of a thrilling battle pitting welterweight Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena.

Gracie also won the first victory of his family in 24 years when Kron Gracie quickly helped Alex Caceres to win a first round of choking.

And just before the main event, "The Irish Dragon," Paul Felder pioneered his way into the top 10 by winning a unanimous decision at the expense of James Vick.

As for the next ESPN UFC card, it will be UFC Philadelphia on March 30 when the best lightweight contenders will face it as former World Series of Fighting champion Justin Gaethje will face Edson Barboza.

Time will tell if the investment is profitable for the UFC and ESPN, but it's safe to say it's a good start.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com the 20/02/2019


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