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Fitch vs. Okami draws 167,000 viewers for World Series of Fighting


A battle of former UFC title contenders, and two championship fights, highlighted Saturday night's World Series of Fighting event that drew 167,000 viewers on NBC Sports.

The show was headlined by Jon Fitch, who spent years in UFC as the top welterweight contender in the Georges St-Pierre era, facing Yushin Okami, who once faced Anderson Silva for the middleweight crown. Fitch won a three-round decision to earn himself a shot at the vacant welterweight title, where he'll face Jake Shields. The title was vacated when Rousimar Palhares was released by the company after one too many times of releasing submission holds late, including against both Fitch and Shields.

The show also featured fights for the heavyweight and flyweight championship. Both fights featured lesser known fighters, with Blagoi Ivanov beat Derrick Mehmen in the heavyweight fight and Magomed Bibulatov beating Donavon Frelow to become the company's first flyweight champion. Nick Newell, in what appears to have been his retirement fight, won on the main card as well. Newell, born with a birth defect leaving him with only one fully formed arm, had gotten substantial press since debuting with the company in 2013.

The number is 16 percent below the company's 2015 average of 198,000 viewers. The prior show, headlined by Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino for the lightweight title last month, did 184,000 viewers.

The difference was probably more outside related, with a big night of sports. The New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs baseball playoff game on TBS did 7,891,000 viewers. A Florida vs. LSU college football game did 6,777,000 viewers on ESPN. There was also a boxing pay-per-view card from Madison Square Garden in New York, headlined by Gennady Golovkin vs. David Lemieux.

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