Last Saturday was a preposterously busy day for combat sports. There were two UFC events (1 on Fight Pass and 1 on FS1), a Bellator “tentpole” event, and a major HBO Boxing PPV. At one point, the main events of UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. Nogueira, Bellator 165: Chandler vs. Henderson, and Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward were running simultaneously.
We have the TV ratings for UFC FN 100 and Bellator 165, and on a rare night when the UFC and Bellator went head-to-head, the Sao Paulo card scored the edge in viewership, although the numbers breakdown is quite intriguing. Overall, UFC Fight Night 100 averaged 769,000 viewers, compared to Bellator 165’s 597,000. For the UFC, it’s a ratings decrease from UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson on November 5th, which averaged 860,000, while Bellator sees its ratings go up from their last live offering on November 4th*, with Phil Davis’ LHW title win over Liam McGeary averaging a rather dismal 507,000. The 597,000 figure is the lowest rated Henderson-headlined Bellator card since he signed with the promotion earlier this year. His loss vs. Andrey Koreshkov had an event average of 618,000 viewers, while his win vs. Patricio Pitbull averaged 725,000 viewers for the whole event. Both of those cards peaked during Ben’s fights at 1.1 million viewers, and also aired on Friday night.
*- Bellator 164: Koreshkov vs. Lima aired on tape-delay on Friday, November 11th and averaged 555,000 viewers.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer has more details on the viewership totals, as well as the ratings peaks for both broadcasts.
“The audiences peaked at 1,570,000 viewers just after midnight as each main event was coming to a close. Bader's third-round stoppage of Nogueira did 823,000 viewers while Chandler's five-round decision in a lightweight title match with Henderson averaged 744,000 viewers. The fight did 741,000 after midnight for the final two rounds, showing that while the UFC was ahead, this was a competitive battle.
Bellator was only ahead at one point during the show, from 11:45 p.m. to midnight, as its main event started before the UFC main event meaning for that quarter hour, Bellator was up 747,000 to 730,000. That also explains the small decline in the Chandler vs. Henderson audience at midnight even though it was an exciting championship fight going to the wire, as its likely some viewers then switched over when the UFC main event started.
In the overall 18-49 demo, UFC had 374,000 viewers to 307,000 for Bellator.”
It’s also worth noting that peak numbers for UFC Sao Paulo were not for Ryan Bader’s mauling of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, but rather Claudia Gadelha’s victory vs. Cortney Casey, which averaged 881,000 viewers. Michael Chandler’s split decision over Ben Henderson peaked at 744,000 viewers for Bellator.
The UFC and Bellator will be going head-to-head in just over a week. On Saturday, December 3rd, The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale will take place in Las Vegas, with flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson facing the TUF 24 winner in the FS1 main event. Meanwhile, Bellator 167: Patricky Pitbull vs. Derek Campos will air live on Spike from Thackerville, Oklahoma.