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Thursday, October 16, 2008
Mixed Martial Arts--- Top 20 Most-Watched Fights in U.S. MMA History
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Previous ratings for individual fights have been based on quarter-hour ratings, which measure the average viewership for an entire 15-minute period. Given that some fights last for well over 15 minutes and some fights last for well under 15 minutes, measuring a fight's average viewership based on quarter-hour ratings has always been an inexact science.

In the majority of cases, the average viewership for any given fight is dragged down by the lower viewership in the minutes immediately preceding and following the fight. It's the minutes containing the actual fights themselves that generally draw the highest viewership levels, so why not track the ratings on a minute-by-minute basis?

Using minute-by-minute Nielsen ratings data, the most accurate possible viewership information for any given fight can be determined. Viewership levels are based on live viewership, plus same-day DVR, rounded to the nearest 1,000 viewers, and the times listed are ET/PT. The indicated times begin at the opening bell of a fight and end at the minute in which the winner of the fight is known.

(In the case of a fight that ends in submission or KO/TKO, the ending time is obviously when the fight ends. In the case of a judges' decision, the ending time is the minute in which the judges' decision is announced. In the case of a doctors' stoppage, the ending time is the minute in which the fight is officially stopped by the doctor. The ending time is always the minute in which the winner if the fighter is known.)

Note that these are just the most-watched fights in U.S. MMA history, not the most-watched fights in worldwide MMA history. In Japan, a fight would need to draw over 30 million viewers to crack the top five. It also excludes pay-per-view, as accurate data on viewers per household is not made readily available for PPV events, although the biggest PPV buyrate in MMA history was 1,050,000 households for Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz on December 30, 2006.


Based on Average Number of Viewers using Minute-by-Minute Ratings

1. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson--- 7.281 million viewers (Aired from 11:27 PM to 11:40 PM)

2. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock--- 6.524 million viewers (Aired from 9:42 PM to 9:45 PM)

3. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Seth Petruzelli vs. Kimbo Slice--- 6.451 million viewers (Aired from 11:08 PM to 11:08 PM)

4. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith--- 5.867 million viewers (Aired from 10.39 PM to 10:57 PM)

5. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Quinton Jackson vs. Dan Henderson--- 5.811 million viewers (Aired from 11:29 PM to 12:03 AM)

6. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Gina Carano vs. Kaitlin Young--- 5.508 million viewers (Aired from 10:09 PM to 10:17 PM)

7. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill--- 5.475 million viewers (Aired from 10:41 PM to 11:06 PM)

8. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Jake Shields vs. Paul Daley--- 5.338 million viewers (Aired from 10:34 PM to 10:44 PM)

9. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Gina Carano vs. Kelly Kobold--- 5.171 million viewers (Aired from 9:45 PM to 9:59 PM)

10. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson--- 5.154 million viewers (Aired from 10:12 PM to 10:20 PM)

11. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Kendall Grove vs. Chris Price--- 5.100 million viewers (Aired from 9:13 PM to 9:17 PM)

12. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Cheick Kongo vs. Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic--- 5.098 million viewers (Aired from 9:58 PM to 10:24 PM)

13. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Marcus Davis vs. Paul Taylor--- 5.023 million viewers (Aired from 9:35 PM to 9:39 PM)

14. UFC on Spike TV (7/19/2008): Anderson Silva vs. James Irvin--- 4.795 million viewers (Aired from 11:38 PM to 11:38 PM)

15. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Joey Villasenor vs. Phil Baroni--- 4.348 million viewers (Aired from 9:47 PM to 9:48 PM)

16. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Jason MacDonald vs. Ed Herman--- 4.297 millon viewers (Aired from 8:44 PM to 8:47 PM)

17. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Houston Alexander vs. Alessio Sakara--- 4.204 million viewers (Aired from 9:13 PM to 9:14 PM)

18. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Matt Hamill vs. Seth Petruzelli--- 4.007 million viewers (Aired from 8:09 PM to 8:28 PM)

19. UFC on Spike TV (7/19/2008): Brandon Vera vs. Reese Andy--- 3.847 million viewers (Aired from 10:58 PM to 11:19 PM)

20. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Brett Rogers vs. Jon Murphy--- 3.824 million viewers (Aired from 9:26 PM to 9:27 PM)

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