Ratings for both The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and Bellator this week were a little below the season average even though both shows looked to be stronger than usual going in.
TUF did 1.09 million viewers, a drop of 16 percent from the 1.30 million viewers of the previous week. Tuesday's TUF had both an appearance by Ronda Rousey as a guest coach, as well as two quarter finial fights. Kelvin Gastelum of Team Sonnen scored a 32 second knockout of Collin Hart in the first one, and Dylan Andrews of Team Jones scored an overtime win over Luke Barnatt in the other.
There had been talk and hype from those involved with the show, in particular Chael Sonnen, hyping it as a show that shouldn't be missed. And there was no major sports competition that did big enough numbers that would have been an obvious reason to cut into the audience more than usual.
Bellator, which featured the finals of two tournaments in the next to last show of the season, did 713,000 viewers, down five percent from last week's 748,000. That's at the low end of the normal range. The immediate replay did 359,000 viewers, which is right at what the show usually does.
The show was built around Emanuel Newton winning a light heavyweight tournament that was filled with surprises, beating Mikhail Zayats via decision in the finals. Newton had earlier eliminated one favorite in "King" Mo Lawal. Zayats had eliminated the other early favorite in Renato 'Babalu' Sobral. Newton will face light heavyweight champion Attila Vegh at a date to be determined.
In addition, David 'The Caveman' Rickels, complete with a costume dinosaur as part of his ring entrance, scored a come from behind knockout literally at the bell of the end of the second round over Saad Awad, a late addition to the tournament who had scored two quick knockouts to reach the finals.
Rickels and Dave Jansen, who won last season's lightweight tournament, although the finals were actually held last week, are now both in line for title shots at Bellator's flagship fighter, champion Michael Chandler. The wait for a shot could be lengthy because in the Eddie Alvarez court case, Bellator had offered Alvarez an immediate shot at Chandler's title if he was to sign.
Alvarez was attempting to get into UFC, but per his Bellator contract, they had the right to match terms. A legal issue has ensued and thus far, Alvarez was not allowed to sign with UFC. A settlement has not been reached.