UFC and Bellator appeared to somewhat split the MMA audience on Saturday night in direct television competition.
The two groups went head-to-head with the UFC Boise prelims on FS 1, headlined by Alejandro Perez vs. Eddie Wineland, doing 572,000 viewers. Bellator’s show from Rome, Italy, topped by Patricio “Pitbull” Freire’s featherweight title defense over Daniel Weichel, averaged 391,000 viewers on Paramount. For a comparison, the UFC prelims the previous Saturday night in the same time slot as the prelims this past Saturday did 668,000 viewers. That show would be expected to do better numbers leading into what was expected to be the biggest pay-per-view show of the year.
The Bellator show, which aired on tape delay in prime time, ended at 10:04 p.m, just as the UFC main card from Boise, Idaho, was getting started. The main card did 754,000 viewers, which is normal range over the past year. The audience stayed for the duration for the most part, peaking during the early rounds of the Junior dos Santos five-round decision win over Blagoy Ivanov, at 840,000 viewers.
The UFC main card averaged 14,859 streaming viewers over the three hour and 14 minute broadcast.
The difference between the main card audience and prelims audience was larger than usual, likely owing to a split viewership with some UFC fans watching the Bellator main card instead of the UFC prelim card.
Both MMA shows faced competition from Major League Baseball on FOX (2,373,000 viewers), NASCAR on NBC Sports Network (2,264,000 viewers) and Boxing on ESPN (518,000 viewers).
Bellator fared slightly better on Friday night, which has proven to be a tougher night for MMA to do ratings. With no opposition, the show from Thackerville, Okla., headlined by Julia Budd’s featherweight title defense against Talita Nogueira did 405,000 viewers. That figure is down from the June 29 number of 466,000 for Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s flyweight title defense against Alejandra Lara on June 29, which was well above usual numbers for Paramount.
UFC’s pre-fight show did 237,000 viewers. The post-fight show did 113,000 viewers.