Spike TV’s recent show “Fight Master: Bellator MMA” made its debut June 19th of this year with a concept very similar to the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” series. Despite featuring MMA celebrity coaches such as Randy Couture, Greg Jackson, Frank Shamrock, and Joe Warren, the shows first episode bombed with 432,00 viewers. This was a significant decrease from Bellator’s season 8, which averaged 800,000 viewers throughout late winter and early spring.
Much of the blame for the initial low numbers was placed onto Bellator being moved from thursdays to wednesdays, and the Chicago Blackhawks vs Boston Bruins Stanley Cup finals airing the same night. Spike Tv’s Senior Vice President of Communications was quoted saying “A lot of hockey fans are MMA fans, and that’s 6.5 million viewers, a few hundred thousand were guys that we were counting on, and that’s what we attribute the low numbers to. We took a big hit with the hockey game.
Despite the weak debut, “Fight Master” has climbed its way back up the ratings. According to “MMAfighting.com” the third episode of the series drew 676,000 viewers, and the fourth is pinned at 505,000 viewers. This is a step down from 676,000, but still comfortably above the original 432,000.
For the sake of the MMA community, we can only hope that “Fight Master” will do well. It is full of interesting concepts, and new spins on old ideas. For instance, instead of coaches making teams, the fighters interview and choose a coach to serve as a mentor for the duration of the season. Multiple camera shots at the same time during fights, gives a fresh new perspective on the combat in the cage. Now that the drafting phase is over, the series will have much more fights and hopefully draw enough viewers to stick around.