The UFC's growth may not be as rapid as it was during the Lesnar era, but the organization's fanbase continues to swell. According to a report released on Tuesday (via MMAfighting.com), the UFC drew its all-time best numbers for any FX program with the preliminary card of Saturday's UFC 156 event.
With 1,897,000 viewers tuned in, Evan Dunham defeated Gleison Tibau via unanimous decision in the network's featured contest. Prior to that, Strikeforce imports Tyron Woodley, Bobby Green and Isaac Vallie-Flagg picked up impressive wins over Jay Hieron, Jacob Volkmann and Yves Edwards, respectively.
This news comes only two weeks after the UFC broke the same record with a free card headlined by middleweights Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping. The Brazilian event drew a total FX audience of 1,860,000.
If you need a baseline to help you see the impressive growth of the UFC on FX, take a look at May of 2012 for UFC 146.
The main card featured all heavyweights, and the FX preliminary card was packed full of fan favorites such as Dan Hardy, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Jamie Varner and Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao. Even with those stars, the UFC 146 prelims only drew in a total viewership of 1.3 million.
The additional 597,000 viewers represents an incredible 46 percent increase in only nine months.
Perhaps these numbers are truly indicative of the UFC's growth. Maybe they are simply a one-time boost generated by the sports fever that sweeps American fans during Super Bowl weekend.
Regardless of the reasoning behind it, Dana White and Co. have got to be smiling ear to ear with this news.