Stats Mania: UFC Free Card History

First written at Bloody Elbow.


Several weeks ago someone requested in this article that someone break down televised cards (prelim bouts shown if applicable) to see if we’re “watching more decisions” than recent numbers have told us. Well I’ve obliged and taken a crack at this challenge. For today’s post I will break down main card results for every non-PPV shown in the UFC’s history, as well as how many bonus fights were broadcast on the original telecast. In total the UFC has offered 40 cards on cable TV and they consist of:

22 Fight Nights on Spike

11 TUF Season Finales on Spike

5 UK events on Spike (tape delayed)

2 events on Versus

The tables presented here show the event number, the broadcast hours, the rounds in which the main card fights ended (or if they went to a decision), and lastly the number of preliminary card fights that made it to the broadcast in lieu of a 15 minute string of commercials.

Ultimate Fight Night Live on Spike

Event Hrs R1 R2 R3 Dec. Prelims aired
1 2 1 0 0 3 2 of 4
2 2 1 2 1 0 0 of 3
3 2 3 0 0 1 3 of 4
4 2 0 0 0 4 0 of 5
5 2 1 0 0 3 1 of 5
6 2 1 1 0 2 1 of 5
Ortiz vs. Shamrock 3 3 3 0 0 1 0 of 5
7 2 1 0 0 3 0 of 5
8 2 0 2 0 2 1 of 4
9 2 1 0 1 1 1 of 6
10 2 1 1 0 1 2 of 6
11 2 2 0 2 0 0 of 5
12 2 2 0 0 2 1 of 5
13 3 1 4 0 1 1 of 6
14 3 3 0 1 2 1 of 5
15 2 1 0 0 3 0 of 6
16 3 3 1 0 1 2 of 5
17 2 1 3 0 0 2 of 6
18 2 1 0 0 3 0 of 7
19 2 0 1 0 3 0 of 6
20 2 0 0 1 3 0 of 7
21 2 1 1 1 1 1 of 7
Total 45 28 16 7 40 17 of 106 (16%)

Before the most recent UFN we had a run of 3 consecutive cards featuring 3 decisions out of 4 main card bouts.. Decisions aren’t always indicative of how good an event is. Some can be totally awesome like UFN 19 and others can be kinda boring like UFN 20. Regardless, main card fights going the distance reduces the chance of a prelim fight being shown. In total, 13 out of 22 FNs have shown at least 1 prelim, including all 3 hour broadcasts.

The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale

Event Hrs R1 R2 R3 Dec. Prelims aired
TUF 1 2 2 0 0 1 0 of 6
TUF 2 2 0 1 0 3 0 of 3
TUF 3 2 1 1 0 2 1 of 5
TUF 4 2 2 1 0 1 0 of 4
TUF 5 2 1 3 0 0 3 of 5
TUF 6 3 2 0 2 1 1 of 4
TUF 7 3 1 0 1 3 1 of 5
TUF 8 3 2 1 1 1 2 of 5
TUF 9 3 1 0 0 4 0 of 5
TUF 10 3 2 2 0 1 2 of 5
TUF 11 3 0 3 0 2 1 of 5
Total 28 14 12 4 19 11 of 52 (21.5%)

Ever since TUF changed to a 3 hour broadcast we’ve gotten at least 1 prelim on all but 1 card, the insanely awesome but decision-filled TUF 9 Finale. TUF 5 was the final 2 hour finale and no fight (prelim or main) went the distance. Strangely enough the 11/52 prelim rate for TUF is identical to the first 11 Fight Nights in the table above.

Tape Delayed UK Cards

Event Hrs R1 R2 R3 Dec. Prelims aired
70 3 2 1 0 2 1* of 5
75 3 2 0 0 3 0 of 4
89 3 0 2 0 3 0 of 6
95 3 3 0 1 1 4 of 5
105 3 0 2 1 2 2 of 6
Total 15 7 5 2 11 7 of 26 (27%)

* UFC 70 was a special case in the prelim category. Lyoto Machida vs. David Heath was on the televised card for overseas viewers but apparently it wasn’t exciting enough so Spike TV instead put Terry Etim vs. Matt Grice from the preliminary card on the broadcast instead of Machida/Heath.

UFC 75 featured the first, and so far only time we’ve ever had a title fight for free. The infamous 95 show is the most fights ever aired on a single event on free TV.

UFC on Versus

Event Hrs R1 R2 R3 Dec. Prelims aired
Versus 1 2 3 0 1 0 1 of 7
Versus 2 2 2 0 1 1 1 of 6
Total 4 5 0 2 1 2 of 13 (15%)

Both Versus shows have delivered the finishes, with only one main card bout going the distance (Mark Munoz vs. Yushin Okami). The bizarre ending to Irvin/Sakara and the all around crapfest that was Kongo/Buentello probably prevented another fight from being shown on the broadcast (ahem)Schaub vs. Gormley(ahem).

So once you accumulate all of the results your final tally is:

  • 173 main card fights with 102 finishes and 71 decisions.
  • 54 ending in the 1st round, 33 in the 2nd, and 15 in the final round.
  • 37 of 197 (18.8%) preliminary card fights making the original televised broadcast. None of them shown went the distance.

Okay I’m exhausted, absorb the information and then bitch about the number of commercials shown on Spike and Versus.

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