The UFC and Bellator went head-to-head this past Friday night and for the most part it was the UFC who came out on top, though it was by no means a whitewash.
The sports two leading promotions had somewhat backed away from a direct collision in the weeks leading up to their events with Bellator 123 (their 11th season premiere) being moved forward to 8pm ET while the UFC opted to change up their UFC Fight Night 50 main card so that it started at 10pm ET.
That latter move seems to have benefited the UFC as their main card drew 911,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, while Bellator’s main card pulled in 667,000 viewers on Spike TV.
There was an overlap between the two events between 10pm – 10.45pm as the UFC got underway with Joe Lauzon and Michael Chiesa while Bellator were airing their main event title fight featuring Patricio Freire Vs Pat Curran and the numbers were closer during that period with the UFC doing 781,000 viewers to Bellator’s 728,000.
So, the UFC had the edge in the TV ratings which they’ll be somewhat pleased with given that FOX Sports 1 is available in less homes than Spike TV and generally has a lower average audience, but given that the UFC are undoubtedly the biggest promotion in the sport they didn’t blow the competition completely out of the water.
The other battleground took place in Connecticut where both events were taking place within a few miles of each other. Bellator had been the first to set their stall out in the region, booking the bigger venue at the Mohegun Sun arena and that helped them achieve a bigger attendance on the night with over 7,000 watching the action live, while the UFC had to settle for the smaller Foxwoods Resort which resulted in a 4,086 seat sellout.
However, when it comes to gate receipts it was still the UFC who saw the bigger financial return despite the smaller attendance, with UFC Fight Night 51 earning $479,620 while Bellator 123 is reported to have taken $302,000.
This won’t be the last time we see the two promotions lock horns as it emerged at the weekend that Bellator 131: Ortiz Vs Bonnar will air on Spike TV on Saturday, November 15th – the same night that UFC 180 airs on pay-per-view from Mexico.