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Bellator 214 draws best viewership numbers in one year

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Saturday’s Bellator show, built around the heavyweight title tournament final with Fedor Emelianenko, the MMA debut of Jake Hager and the sixth fight of heavily promoted Aaron Pico was the company’s most-watched television show in one year.

The show averaged 697,000 viewers, finishing sixth in its time slot on cable in 18-49 demographic. The number was the best for a Bellator show since Jan. 20, 2018 a show headlined by a first-round heavyweight tournament fight headlined by Chael Sonnen against Rampage Jackson.

The audience would have been significantly higher if the top three fights had lasted longer than a combined four minutes.

The Emelianenko vs. Ryan Bader tournament finale that ended with a first punch knockout by Bader in 35 seconds, drew 1.2 million viewers.

Generally, a big fight starts at a certain level and the audience consistently grows until the finish.

The same thing happened with the other two big fights.

Pico’s loss to Henry Corrales did 808,000 viewers even though it only lasted 67 seconds.

Similarly, Hager, the pro wrestler better known as Jack Swagger, did 809,000 viewers for a two-minute fight where he defeated J.W. Kiser.

Bellator had significant sports competition that night. The Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics NBA game on ABC did 4,290,000 viewers. Premier Boxing on FOX, headlined by Keith Thurman’s win over Josesito Lopez did 1,980,000 viewers. The NHL All-Star Game on NBC did 1,778,000 viewers.

The Bellator audience was strongest with males 35-49, far weaker with older viewers, but in a surprise, in the 12-34 age group the audience was 43.8 percent women, far higher than the 22 to 33 percent women’s percentage that big MMA television shows usually do.