Bellator 106 may not have been broadcast on pay-per-view as had originally been planned, but instead it aired for free on Spike TV to an average of 1.1 million viewers on Saturday night.
The show peaked with 1.4 million viewers during the main event, a rematch between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez which proved to be by far the best fight on the card, and indeed one of the most enjoyable of the year as a whole.
That’s impressive as the fight didn’t conclude until well after midnight and the bouts that proceeded it left a lot to be desired.
The numbers will come as a real boost for Bellator after a tough couple of weeks that saw their heavily hyped headline bout between Tito Ortiz and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson collapsing at short notice due to injury, leading to the cancellation of the PPV, while on the night some key stars like Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal and Pat Curran underperformed and were defeated.
Now they have something to smile about, and even a chance to boast that they have gone one-up on the UFC, as Bellator 106 is now the most watched MMA event of the fall season so far.
That’s not saying an awful lot though given that it’s essentially down to the fact that the UFC are having to rebuild their audience again after being moved over to the fledgling FOX Sports 1 channel. Prior to that a figure of 1.1 million on FX would have been below average for the UFC, but nonetheless, it’s still a feather in Bellator’s cap.
The big question now is whether they can retain some of these new viewers for their upcoming shows. ‘Rampage’ Jackson is scheduled to headline Bellator 108 opposite another former UFC fighter Joey Beltran in a little over a week’s time, so that certainly could attract more attention than normal.
Bellator 107 this Friday also looks solid with three tournament final’s on tap featuring notable names like Cheick Kongo and Joe Warren.
It’s likely that without all the media interest that surrounded last weekend’s show we’ll see a significant drop for the next show, but it’ll be interesting to see if it can break past the 600-700,000 viewer bubble that they’ve been trapped in for most of the current season.