More than 1.1 million people watched Bellator 106 on Spike TV last Saturday night, the highest rating in the history of the promotion.
The show peaked at 1.4 million viewers at 11:17 p.m. and was the No. 2 most-watched show for the week among men 18-49.
The ratings are good news for Bellator, which had had originally planned a Pay-Per-View show the same night. The promotion originally planned to have UFC legend Tito Ortiz fight UFC legend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, in the main event of the show.
Ortiz, however, pulled out of the fight after suffering a broken neck. Spike TV then decided to move the card to a free show on Spike.
The high rating was fueled by the Alvarez vs. Chandler main event, which featured two athletes in their priming vying for the Bellator lightweight championship. Chandler submitted Alvarez in their first fight, but after a failed attempt to move to the UFC, Alvarez returned to Bellator and signed on for a rematch against the champ.
Bellator is currently locked in a battle with the UFC for MMA supremacy. Although the UFC is the most popular and successful brand in MMA, Bellator is owned by Viacom, which has invested big dollars in the promotion in an attempt to make the company competitive.
Bellator has signed some of the UFC’s well-known talent, including Jackson, Ortiz and Randy Couture, who served as a coach on Spike TV’s show “Fight Masters.”
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney says he expects Ortiz to come back and fight in Bellator. Jackson will fight in two weeks against UFC veteran Joey Beltran on Nov. 16. The ratings help breathe energy into Bellator, which has looked to topple the UFC, but so far has been unable to catch on with the mainstream.