UFC on ESPN 2 went head-to-head with the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night, and as a result, the ratings fell short of the Las Vegas-based promotion’s debut on the Worldwide Leader.
According to ShowBuzz Daily, UFC on ESPN 2 averaged 828,000 viewers for the main card, which took place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and aired beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The event was in competition with the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, as both Texas Tech vs. Gonzaga (7.72 million viewers) and Purdue vs. Virginia (10.48 million) drew significant audiences while overlapping with UFC coverage.
UFC on ESPN 1 averaged 1.463 million viewers for a card headlined by a heavyweight battle between Francis Ngannou and Cain Velasquez on Sunday, Feb. 17. That card, however, didn’t go up against other sports programming that was as likely to demand the attention of a national audience.
UFC on ESPN 2 saw Justin Gaethje defeat Edson Barboza via knockout 2:30 into the opening round of their lightweight encounter in the evening’s headliner. Ratings would likely have improved somewhat had the bout lasted longer, but figures did peak at 1.4 million viewers during the short-lived main event.
Meanwhile, the preliminary card, which also aired on ESPN, averaged 480,000 viewers. Three early prelims streamed on ESPN+.