Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) once again countered live programming from a competing mixed martial arts promotion when it aired selected fights from UFC 100 on Spike TV last Saturday (Aug. 15 at 10 p.m. ET) -- directly opposite the Strikeforce: "Carano vs Cyborg" event that aired live on Showtime.
The replay, headlined by the UFC heavyweight championship unification bout between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, drew a whopping two million viewers for a 1.8 rating in men 18-34, a 1.7 rating in men 18-49 and a 1.5 household rating.
The Showtime broadcast of Strikeforce: "Carano vs. Cyborg," in comparison, averaged 576,000 viewers, with 856,000 tuning in for the night's main event.
However, it isn't exactly a level playing field, as Spike TV is a basic cable station available in approximately 98 million homes. Showtime, on the other hand, is a subscription-based premium cable channel that has approximately 21 million subscribers.
Zuffa's July 11 event, available for free barely one month after airing live on pay-per-view, also outdrew Major League Baseball (MLB) on FOX as well as Golf's PGA Championship on CBS in the advertiser-coveted demographic of men 18-34.
This latest news, of course, should come as no surprise since Zuffa has made a habit of counter programming in the past. The UFC went up against the Elite XC debut show on CBS in May 2008 with a tribute to perhaps the most popular mixed martial artist on the planet, Chuck Liddell, called "Ultimate Iceman."
They also hastily put together UFC Fight Night 14 to draw interest away from the debut of Affliction: "Banned" on PPV last July with a main event between Anderson "The Spider" Silva and James "The Sandman" Irvin.
For Affliction’s second effort, "Day of Reckoning" on Jan. 24, the UFC answered with a replay of UFC 91: "Lesnar vs. Couture."
Strikeforce can be now be considered a major player in mixed martial arts with its signing of heavyweight free agent, Fedor Emelianenko, as well as its current cable and network television deals.
While UFC President Dana White has long since supported the efforts of Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, he is now at war with "Strikefarce" since it entered the proverbial big stage.
Competition 101 (or perhaps "100" in this case).
This battle's just getting started.