Attila Vegh's Bellator light heavyweight title win over Christian M'Pumbu may have been a sleeper, as in a fight that threatened to put its audience to sleep, but if you did watch it Thursday night you may be surprised to find out it was the most-watched Bellator main event in history.
Bellator did 901,000 viewers on Thursday night, its second-best number in history. Even more impressive, is that the total can't be attributed to its pro wrestling lead-in. The show peaked from 11:45 p.m. to midnight, nearly two hours after TNA wrestling ended, during the latter stages of the main event. The show, which also featured two semifinal matches in the lightweight tournament, peaked with 1,005,000 viewers.
The show also set its all-time records in both Males 18-34, doing a 0.7, and Males 18-49, doing a 0.8, being up more than 40 percent in the key demographics.
The overall audience increased 22 percent from the Feb. 21 show, which with six knockout finishes and the upset loss of "King" Mo Lawal, was probably the most talked about show in recent weeks. That show was the most likely reason for the large increase since it was the best received Bellator show to date, and it received great word-of-mouth after the fact. If anything, it's too bad that so many people were watching when, from an action standpoint, the match lacked so much.
The show also averaged 341,000 from 12:08 to 2:15 a.m. for the replay.
Bellator's all-time record was 938,000 viewers, set for the debut on Spike.
Its pro wrestling lead-in did 1,490,000 viewers, up 10 percent from the prior week. Bellator went against college basketball on ESPN (1.75 million viewers) and the NBA on TNT (1.68 million).
Tuesday's Ultimate Fighter on FX, with Josh Samman of Team Jones winning via knockout over Tor Troeng, did 1.14 million viewers. At this point, the show is up 46 percent over the record lows set in the previous season with Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin as coaches. But it is also down five percent from Spike's lowest-rated season with Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos as coaches.