As many MMA fans know, the UFC aired the replay of UFC 91 (originally broadcast live on PPV Nov. 15th) on Spike TV, in which Brock Lesnar defeated Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Title, as a counter-program to Affliction’s Day of Reckoning on Jan. 24th. According to Spike TV’s press release on Tuesday, the number of viewers was impressive.

The “free” cable premiere was the highest rated show among Men 18-34 in all of television (broadcast or cable) in its time slot on Saturday, January 24 (9:00-11:30pm ET/PT). UFC 91 peaked at 3.3 million viewers at 11:15, easily making UFC 91 the most-watched taped UFC event in network history.

The entire card, which included Kenny Florian defeating Joe Stevenson, Demien Maia choking out Nate Quarry, and Jeremy Stephens KO’ing Rafael dos Anjos via a monstrous uppercut, drew a 1.7 household rating and a 1.8 among M18-49 (991,000), a 1.8 among M18-34 (508,000) and had an average audience of 2.3 million viewers.

With over a reported 1.01 million PPV buys, UFC 91 ranked 2nd among all UFC PPV events, second only to UFC 66 in 2006, which featured a showdown between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, netting the record for most buys with around 1,050,000. Combining the PPV buys and Spike TV’s report will make another bargaining chip to add to HW Champ, Brock Lesnar’s already impressive resume.

With the PPV buy numbers for Affliction’s Day of Reckoning still not in, it would be speculation to say that the “counter-programming” attempt by the UFC was a total success. It is safe, however, to say that the UFC and Spike TV did what they intended to do, which was grab 3.3 million male viewers, age 18-49, which is THE demographic in the MMA business. It is hard to see how they didnt succeed at least in part in putting a dent in Affliction’s sophomore event.

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