With the loss of the Josh Barnett vs. Ronny Markes main event, Friday’s Bellator show on Paramount did 228,000 viewers on average.
It was the company’s second lowest prime time number since it started on Spike TV, which is now Paramount.
The first of two shows from the Neil Blaisdell Center in Honolulu was built around Barnett returning to the cage for his first fight in more than three years, after a long battle with USADA over a failed test that he was ultimately vindicated in. During that period, he had left the UFC and this was to be his Bellator debut.
Barnett took ill earlier in the day on Friday and was pulled off the show by the medical staff of the Hawaii State Boxing Commission, leaving the show without a main event. Erik Perez, who came into the fight with a five-bout winning streak in UFC and Combate Americas, making his Bellator debut, was knocked out by Toby Misech in 54 seconds in what turned out to be the main event.
The combination of no main event and a short new main event were the key factors in such a low number.
The only Bellator show to do a lower number in prime time on Paramount was the Oct. 12 show, a taped show from Milan, Italy. That event, headlined by Vadim Nemkov vs. Rafael Carvalho, did 202,000 viewers. That show also overlapped a ONE show from Tokyo on TNT. which featured Demetrious Johnson.
Bellator’s major event of the weekend on Saturday night was a DAZN exclusive, headlined by Ilima-Lei Macfarlane retaining her Bellator women’s flyweight title over Kate Jackson.
Friday’s show featured significant sports competition, with WWE Smackdown on FOX doing 2,395,000 viewers, the Miami Beach Bowl college football game on ESPN2 doing 1,248,000 viewers and a Dallas Mavericks vs. Philadelphia 76ers NBA game on ESPN that did 1,136,000 viewers.
Bellator has one event left this year, which would be the one remaining major MMA television event of the year, onn Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on Paramount from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. The show has a Bellator vs. Rizin theme underneath and is headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Rampage Jackson. Given the headliners, it would be expected to do one of Bellator’s biggest numbers of the year.