The UFC’s hegemony over the MMA world has been threatened, even if it’s only in a very small sense, after Bellator 183 beat out UFC Fight Night: Saint Preux vs. Okami by 96,000 viewers over the weekend.
While neither card did earth-shattering numbers, Bellator’s card, which was stacked with big name fights featuring Roy Nelson, Benson Henderson, Lorenz Larkin and Paul Daley, managed to pull 598,000 viewers on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the UFC card, which aired live from Japan on Friday night, only drew 502,000 viewers.
Henderson vs. Patricky Freire was the most-watched fight over the weekend, averaging 754,000 viewers and peaked at 847,000.
The UFC card likely suffered from a number of reasons, mainly being aired on Friday, as Saturday night is typically the traditional date among combat sports. Also, the UFC card aired live on FXX rather than FOX or FS1 due to college football games taking up airtime on the latter channels.
Just a week prior to the Japan card, UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs Branch managed 872,000 viewers with another 8300 streaming live on FOX Sports Go. Bellator 183 went toe-to-toe with a replay of GGG vs Alvarez, which drew 726,000 viewers. Their previous card drew only 481,000, but did not have the big names that Saturday’s card had.
Much has been made over Bellator’s recent acquisitions of former UFC contenders such as Rory MacDonald and Gegard Mousasi, while the overall attraction of UFC cards has been called into question ever since ZUFFA sold the promotion to WME-IMG in July.