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Bellator 157: Dynamite 2 averages 601,000 viewers

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Rampage Jackson's drawing power took a turn for the worst, as Friday night's Bellator show built around his return to the promotion averaged 601,000 viewers. The number was well below even the company's usual numbers of 650,000 for a secondary show.

But Friday's show was Dynamite, with the idea of it being Bellator's big event of the year. Nobody expected it to touch the kind of numbers they did in February when a double headliner of Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie and the late Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000 drew a record 1,964,000 viewer average over three hours.  But this show, which also had a bout for the vacant lightweight title where Michael Chandler, Bellator's biggest homegrown star, beat Patricky "Pitbull" Freire, drew less than one-third of that total.

If anything it shows a combination of just how big Slice, Shamrock and Gracie were as draws, and that Jackson, at least when it come to a fight with Ishii, was not in their league when it came to garnering interest in his fight.

Jackson had always been a strong television draw. His Spike fight with Dan Henderson in 2007, which didn't even air live, did 5,811,000 viewers, still the third most-watched MMA fight in U.S cable television history.

Spike TV broadcast Bellator programming all night. It started at 7 p.m. with a documentary on Slice that did 416,000 viewers. Dynamite ran from 8-11 p.m. which combined both MMA and kickboxing. Bellator Kickboxing, also airing live from St. Louis from 11 p.m. to 12:40 a.m., did 418,000 viewers,.

Segment-by-segment numbers were not available, so one can't at this point evaluate whether mixing the kickboxing and MMA content on the same show worked or not. It was the second time Bellator did that. Last year's Dynamite show really didn't show a major difference . Friday's show saw the audience gradually grow from start-to-finish.

Jackson vs. Satoshi Ishii, the former Olympic judo gold medalist who had never fought previously in the U.S., averaged 914,000 viewers and peaked at 1 million by the end of the fight. The rating was hurt somewhat by the 8 p.m. start time, since Bellator usually starts one hour later. His individual drawing power wasn't much different than that of Tito Ortiz, who drew big with well-known Stephan Bonnar, but about the same for his match as Jackson did, against lesser-known Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary.

With the exception of Slice, who did big with an unknown, it appears fighters like Jackson and Ortiz need a name opponent to pull big numbers. 

The last time Jackson headlined a show on Spike, on Feb. 28, 2014, when he faced Christian M'Pumbu, it drew 880,000 viewers for the show average and his fight was well above 1 million viewers. Last June, Bellator had two shows. One, headlined by Slice vs. Shamrock, averaged 1.58 million viewers. The other show, headlined by Cheick Kongo vs. Alexander Volkov, did 764,000 viewers.

The viewing audience for the Dynamite show was heavily between the ages of 35 and 49, with a 65/35 split between men and women. An interesting note is that those between 18 and 34 who watched Dynamite almost all watched the kickboxing that followed. But of those between the ages of 35 and 49, the rating in that demo was only 61 percent as high for the kickboxing show that followed. For those over 50, the rating was 76 percent as high for the kickboxing.

The kickboxing show peaked early, coming off the Jackson audience, for a Joe Schilling loss to Hisaki Kato, which was a rematch of an MMA fight in Bellator. That fight averaged 595,000 viewers and grew to 636,000 at the finish.