This weekend was a good one for MMA fans, who were treated to good shows on back-to-back nights, starting with Bellator 145 on Friday night, and UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3 on Saturday evening. The ratings are in for both events, and Bellator came out on top, averaging 814,000 viewers (869,000 with DVR +3) per Spike TV officials. UFC Fight Night in Sao Paulo drew 757,000 viewers on Fox Sports 1 for the main card, with 609,000 tuning in for the two-hour prelims preceding it.
While the main event of Bellator 145 was the thriller between Patricio Freire and Daniel Straus, the card peaked at 1.048 million (1.147 million with DVR +3) for Bobby Lashley vs. James Thompson, which was the 2nd fight of the evening. The main event averaged 944,000 (DVR +3), while the co-main between Will Brooks and Marcin Held averaged 963,000 (DVR +3) at the 11:00-11:15 PM ET time frame. It's a much-needed boost for Bellator after sagging ratings in recent events, including Bellator 144, which was the worst rated show under Scott Coker. Of the four tentpole cards, Bellator 145 ranks 3rd in average viewership, with Kimbo vs. Shamrock as the gold standard at 1.58 million, and Bellator: Dynamite 1 coming in last at 800,000.
As for UFC Fight Night, it's a decrease from the September 26th event headlined by Roy Nelson and Josh Barnett, which delivered 841,000 viewers. Belfort vs. Henderson 2 only pulled in 722,000 in 2013, and at a time when FS1 was all of 3 months old as a television channel. If there's anything you could potentially cite as a reason for the ratings drop, it's the big LSU/Alabama college football game which aired from 8-11:30 PM ET on CBS. That averaged 11.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched college game of the year. There are only two FS1 Fight Nights scheduled for the remainder of 2015: TUF Latin America 2 Finale on 11/21, and TUF 22 Finale on 12/11.
All things considered, even factoring in college football competition on Saturday, this wasn't the best of nights for the UFC, although they should finish strongly in December. It's a good rating for Bellator, who have bested the UFC (read: Spike TV vs. FS1 Fight Night on same weekend) in that department for the first time this year.
On a boxing note, Timothy Bradley vs. Brandon Rios flopped at around 910,000 viewers on HBO's World Championship Boxing, which is a real bad sign for Bradley if he's in the running to be Manny Pacquiao's final opponent. It's rated lower than his previous bouts against Jessie Vargas and Diego Chaves, and fellow potential Pacquiao opponent ,Terence Crawford, was able to pull in 1.07 million for his win over Dierry Jean two weeks ago.