Bellator and UFC dueled somewhat evenly in going head-to-head on a Saturday night where nearly 1.5 million fans watched MMA between 8 and 10 p.m. on cable television.
The UFC aired the prelims for UFC 198, doing 786,000 viewers, headlined by Demian Maia vs. Matt Brown, a stronger than usual FS 1 main event. It was the lowest prelim number before a pay-per-view so far this year. The head-to-head competition with Bellator was probably at least partially responsible. The prelims for UFC 197 did 835,000 viewers.
The Brown vs. Maia main event peaked at 985,000 viewers for the final rounds.
Bellator, which ran from 8 p.m. to 10:22 p.m., headlined by Phil Davis vs. King Mo Lawal, did 709,000 viewers, slightly above what Bellator usually does, a number fairly impressive given it was not on the regular night, started an hour earlier than usual and had the UFC competition.
In the key 18-49 demo, UFC had an edge in viewers by 399,000 to 346,000.
Spike, which airs Bellator, is available in about nine million more homes than FS 1.
The shows were the two most-wafched live sports events on television that night.
Last year, the May show did 780,000 viewers for the prelims, and that was for a card without Bellator competition, and a main card that included a light heavyweight (Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson) and a middleweight (Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort) championship fight.
The pre-fight show did 253,000 viewers, finishing slightly ahead of UFC 195's 252,000 for the lowest leading into a pay-per-view this year. The post-fight show did 117,000 viewers, the lowest so far this year after a pay-per-view.
In Brazil, the main card aired on Globo, and did four million viewers, up 50 percent from the four previous Saturdays in that time slot, which was 11:15 p.m. to 1:22 a.m., and did a 38 share, which means 38 percent of the people in the country watching television at the time were watching UFC. .
Taking out the monster Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz show, UFC's 195 and 197 shows this year had averaged had averaged 934,000 viewers for pay-per-view prelims, 266,000 viewers for pay-per-view pre-shows and 185,000 for pay-per-view post-fight shows.