The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday night held the first live event of its new deal with Fox on the Fuel TV network.

UFC on Fuel TV 1: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger pulled in an average audience of 217,000 viewers over the course of its three-hour telecast.

That may seem rather low when the UFC was pulling in nearly one and a half million viewers just for its prelims shows on Spike TV and often times pulling two-million-plus viewers for a UFC Fight Night or Ultimate Fighter Finale.

The fact of the matter is that Fuel TV still has a rather small reach compared to Spike TV, although UFC on Fuel TV 1 was part of the network’s freeview week on cable and satellite systems that carry it.

The number is a marked increase over the two UFC preliminary bout telecasts on Fuel TV, which each drew just under 150,000 viewers on average.

UFC and Fuel TV officials don’t expect to break the bank initially anyway. The strategy is for the UFC’s presence on Fuel to help make the network a more attractive property, getting viewers to demand it from their television providers, building audience as they go.

For its part, Spike TV continues to counter the UFC programming on Fox networks with its own library of UFC programming. Spike is still drawing good numbers in doing so. A replay of the TUF 13 Finale on Wednesday night drew an average of 694,000 viewers, while UFC Unleashed hit 661,000.

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