Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight smashing machine, Wanderlei Silva, tried to explain to the mixed martial arts (MMA) community how the promotion was afraid to compete with Bellator MMA because it did not want to get trounced in the television ratings.
Those comments from “The Axe Murderer” right here.
Apparently, nobody at FXX was paying attention and tried to get UFC Fight Night 117: “Saint Preux vs. Okami” to the top of the combat sports mountain last weekend in Saitama, Japan, roughly 24 hours before Bellator 183 popped off from San Jose, Calif., on Spike TV. The former averaged 502,000 viewers while the latter averaged 598,000.
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The Bellator show was on Saturday night, a more traditional night for big MMA events, but was also going against a plethora of college football games, on FOX, ABC, FS 1, ESPN and ESPN 2, a NASCAR race on NBC Sports Network as well as a replay of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin fight on HBO. The boxing replay did 726,000 viewers, while the live Luke Campbell vs. Jorge Linares fight on HBO did 687,000 viewers.
The Saitama show was put on FXX because FS 1 aired a college football game on Friday night with Utah vs. Arizona, that did 581,000 viewers. Most likely, had the UFC show aired on the more familiar FS 1, it would have beaten the football number. The least-watched live prime time UFC Fight Night on FS 1 so far this year did 724,000 viewers. But the show was likely also hurt by being on Friday night, rather than the traditional Saturday.
Working in Bellator’s favor was the fact that former UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson was headlining the show. Hurting UFC was the absence of Mauricio Rua, thanks to a late injury that bounced “Shogun” from the overseas fight card and left the promotion without a bona fide draw.
Bellator and UFC will swap nights in their next battle for television ratings when Bellator 187, headlined by James Gallagher, airs Friday, Nov. 10, ahead of UFC Fight Night 120, topped by Anthony Pettis, on Sat., Nov. 11.
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