938,000 viewers tuned in to watch the
Bellator Fighting Championships’ Spike TV debut on Thursday
night, network officials announced Friday.
The figure marks a sharp viewership increase from Bellator’s past
seasons on MTV2, which averaged between 155,000 and 230,000 viewers
over the span of about 21 months. Spike TV -- the longtime
broadcast partner of The Ultimate Fighting Championship -- is
available in about 98 million homes, while MTV2 is available in
roughly 80 million, according to an industry source.
According to Spike TV president Kevin Kay, viewership peaked at 1.2
million for the opening 15 minutes of the broadcast, and an
audience of 1.1 million witnessed the featherweight title bout
between Pat Curran
Freire. 950,000 viewers saw Michael
Chandler defend his lightweight strap against Rick Hawn
later in the evening.
Bellator 85 took place at the UCI Bren Center in Irvine,
Calif., and was headlined by a lightweight title confrontation
between Chandler and Rick Hawn.
Chandler put forth arguably the best performance of his young
career, as the 26-year-old strangled Hawn with a second-round
rear-naked choke to retain his belt.
The result marked the second successful title defense of the
evening, as Curran kicked off the Spike TV broadcast by taking a
hard-fought split decision over Freire. The evening’s main draw
also saw Mikhail
Zayats and Jacob Noe
advance to the Season 8 light heavyweight tournament semifinals by
earning first-round technical knockouts over UFC veterans Renato
Sobral and Seth