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Rory MacDonald vs. Paul Daley peaks at 955,000 viewers on Spike

The ratings are in for Rory MacDonald’s Bellator MMA debut against Paul Daley.

Bellator MMA

Rory MacDonald’s emphatic beating and eventual rear-naked choke win of Paul Daley marked the Canadian’s debut fight in Bellator MMA. The card took place in London, England last Saturday, with the main card airing on one-hour delay in the UK, and a much longer delay on Spike in North America.

We have info on how the ratings fared on both side of the Atlantic Ocean. MMAjunkie Chamatkar Sandhu reported that Bellator 179 outperformed last year’s Bellator 158: Daley vs. Lima, which was also in London.

Meanwhile, Spike’s broadcast averaged 607,000 viewers for its three-hour broadcast from 9 PM ET-12 AM ET. In a press release sent out by Spike PR, “The Rory MacDonald- Paul Daley main event drew 877,000 viewers - peaking with 955,000, despite heavy sports competition that evening.” Those numbers were based off of DVR +3 recordings. Sans those, the main event averaged 765,000 with a peak of 813,000.

The sports competition referenced would be game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Final between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, plus the NHL’s Eastern Conference Final game 4 showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. Cleveland-Boston was by far the biggest sporting event that night and was a massive blowout by halftime, and also ended before Bellator’s broadcast of the main event began.

Here’s Dave Meltzer’s analysis of the numbers:

The number is in the ballpark of what a usual Bellator show would do when airing live, but not the boost one would have hoped for under normal circumstances for MacDonald's debut, particularly against Paul Daley, a big-talking fighter of some name value.

Not being live didn't help. The last time Bellator was on tape delay, the April 14 show from Budapest, Hungary, they did 522,000 viewers, so this was an increase from under similar circumstances, but it was also a far stronger main event. Bellator also faced competition from the NBA playoffs and the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, which did 5,096,000 and 1,546,000 viewers respectively, which likely had significant impact..

Bellator 179 may not have been a smash hit on television, and who knows how much the tape-delay affected viewing patterns, but it wasn’t really a bust. In MacDonald’s final UFC fight against Stephen Thompson, the entire UFC Ottawa main card averaged 964,000 viewers on FS1, but peak numbers actually were reached before the main event.

MacDonald’s next fight will be against the winner of the welterweight title bout between Douglas Lima and Lorenz Larkin. It’s quite possible that MacDonald and Larkin, two fighters who were on the UFC roster last year, could be fighting each other for Bellator gold very soon.

Bellator 180 will take place at Madison Square Garden on June 24th. It’ll be a two-hour broadcast on Spike, headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Phil Davis and Ryan Bader. The card will serve as a lead-in for Bellator: NYC, which is exclusively on pay-per-view. Of considerable importance for Bellator 180 is that the broadcast will be shown live on both coasts.

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