Despite good television numbers for its debut outing as a solo promoter on Showtime cable, foreign fight organization M-1 Global had a tough time at the gate, drawing just over 1,000 fans for its recent Virginia show.
Mary Broz-Vaughan, a director of communications for the agency that oversees the state's MMA regulation, told MMA Fighting that M-1 Challenge 24: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa, drew 1,007 paid fans for a live gate of $30,650.
The event, which took place at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, was the first of four shows to be broadcast on the premium network, as first reported by MMA Fighting
The telecast, which aired at 11 pm ET, drew an average of 189,000 viewers, considered a good number for a first offering with little promotion. By comparison, Showtime's most recent Strikeforce Challengers Series show drew an average of 214,000. But as a live event, the numbers weren't so rosy for M-1. The arena, which is on the campus of Old Dominion University, has over 8,100 fixed seats while additional floor seating can take capacity to over 10,000.
While M-1 is best known as the team behind Russian star Fedor Emelianenko, it has a long history as an international fight promoter, producing over 100 events ranging back to its start in the late 1990s. The company, however, is still working on establishing a foothold in the U.S. The Virginia show was just its seventh show in on American soil. Of the previous six, three were in Kansas City, Missouri and three were in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
M-1's next Showtime outing will be on July 8. The event will emanate from the U.S., though the promotion has yet to announce a specific location.[Editor's Note: On April 7, Broz-Vaughan told MMA Fighting that the overall attendance for the event was actually 2,031. Of those fans, 1,007 paid for tickets, and 1,024 were given complimentary tickets, most of those going to soldiers at a nearby military base.]