Gegard Mousasi, who had been one of the UFC’s top middleweight fighters, struggled both in the cage, and as a ratings draw, in his debut on Friday night.
The show from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Ct., did 476,000 viewers on Friday night. The DVR viewership over the next three days added another 47,000 viewers for a 523,000 total.
The number is well below the 660,000 average that Bellator has done so far in 2017. It’s on par with some of the recent shows that didn’t feature a highly-paid big-name coming from UFC, but the number was likely significantly lower due to the much stronger than usual sports competition that night.
The previous Bellator show, on Oct. 6, headlined by Darrion Caldwell’s bantamweight title win over Eduardo Dantas did 437,000 viewers that night. The Sept. 23 show in San Jose, a more loaded event headlined by Benson Henderson vs. Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and also featuring Roy Nelson, Lorenz Larkin and Paul Daley, did 598,000 viewers. The Aug. 25 show, headlined by Andrey Koreshkov vs Chidi Njokuani, did 481,000 viewers.
Including DVR viewership through Monday night, the peak number was during the Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko main event, at 792,000 viewers.
Mousasi won the fight over Shlemenko on straight 29-28 scores, but the decision was booed in the building and media scores were more in favor of Shlemenko, but it was a fight that could have gone 29-28 in either direction.
Mousasi signed a six-fight deal with Bellator in July after UFC decided against matching the offer. He had won his previous five fights in the UFC, including stoppages of former champions Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort, both in the second round.
The show went head-to-head with the Houston Astros clinching the American League championship, beating the New York Yankees, which drew 8,225,000 viewers, as well as NBA basketball which drew 2,387,000 viewers, which is significantly tougher competition than would happen on most Friday nights.