The Bellator promotion have been in the midst of a TV ratings slump on Spike TV for some time now and it seems that even the debut of their latest big-name signing, Gegard Mousasi, couldn’t pull them out of it.
Saturday night’s Bellator 185 event pulled in just 476,000 viewers on Spike, one of the promotion’s all-time lowest audiences, although troublingly the numbers have even dipped below that in the past year, with Bellator 176 having done 438,000 and Bellator 184 recording 437,000 viewers.
Those who did tune in saw Mousasi struggle to make the kind of impact many had expected as former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko broke his orbital bone in the opening round, leaving his eye swollen shut, yet he did still manage to fight on and just edge out his opponent on the scorecards by unanimous decision.
Mousasi, who had been on a five-fight winning streak in the UFC prior to the fight, won’t have done much to bolster his star power as a result of this performance, but it could have been worse.
For instance, Bellator have had high hopes for boxer turned MMA fighter Heather Hardy, but despite showing herself to be extremely tough on Saturday night, she was still TKO’d due to a doctor’s stoppage after eating some nasty head kicks on the main card.
MMA in general is suffering a bit of a hangover this year with Conor McGregor not competing in the Octagon in 2017, Ronda Rousey having all-but retired and Jon Jones getting into yet more trouble, but Bellator in particular seem to be struggling despite now having their strongest ever roster, and that’s a concern given that they are also forking out bigger salaries now to retain these big-name stars.