Bellator’s 2005 dream fight, taking place 13 years later, of Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir headlined a Saturday night show that averaged 750,000 viewers on a night filled with sports competition.
Emelianenko’s 48-second win in what was the only real marquee-level match on the show, didn’t allow the rating to build like a longer fight would have. The viewership averaged 581,000 viewers on Paramount and another 169,000 viewers on CMT, the company’s second-best showing so far this year, but below what fights with names of that level were doing on Spike alone in past years.
The show was built around the idea that Emelianenko was the Pride champion in 2005, while Mir at the same time was the UFC champion. They were meeting in the first round of an eight-man Bellator tournament for its vacant heavyweight title.
The UFC had the Saturday night off, but Bellator went against boxing competition that night on FOX, HBO and ESPN. FOX did 839,000 viewers for a show headlined by Josesito Lopez’s win over Miguel Cruz, a number that puts UFC’s 2 million numbers for its Saturday night specials on FOX into perspective. HBO, which figures its ratings by the fight instead of the show as a whole, did 706,000 and 811,000 for its two fights, with the main event of Daniel Jacobs vs. Maciej Sulecki. ESPN did 701,000 viewers for a show headlined by Isaac Dogboe 11th-round win over Jessie Magdaleno.
Bellator also had competition from both the NBA Playoffs on TNT, the NHL playoffs on NBC, local market playoff games in both sports, as well as local and national Major League baseball.
Bellator’s prior show, on April 13, headlined by Michael Chandler vs. Brandon Girtz did 403,000 viewers, which was 242,000 on Paramount and 161,000 on CMT. The Paramount figure was shocking because Bellator had never fallen below 400,000 viewers on Paramount, or its predecessor, Spike, for a live show.
Emelianenko vs. Mir was the third of four first-round matches in the tournament.
The first tournament match, Chael Sonnen’s decision win over Rampage Jackson on Jan. 20, averaged 770,000 viewers on Paramount and 163,000 on CMT, going head-to-head with a UFC pay-per-view event. The second, Matt Mitrione’s win over Roy Nelson on Feb. 16, did 476,000 viewers on Paramount and wasn’t simulcast on CMT.