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Friday, November 13, 2009
Top 30 Most-Watched Fights on Live Event Broadcasts in U.S. MMA History
by Ivan Trembow

Ratings figures for individual MMA fights are typically 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.

Using minute-by-minute Nielsen ratings data, the most accurate possible viewership information for any given fight can be determined.

The viewership figures listed below 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 of the fighter is known.)

Please note that all of the fights listed below aired on a live event broadcast, either live or on a same-day tape delay, as opposed to being taped months in advance for a reality show such as The Ultimate Fighter. Based on the minute-by-minute ratings for the fight between Kimbo Slice and Roy Nelson, which aired on the September 30 episode of The Ultimate Fighter 10 from 10:45 PM to 10:56 PM, that fight drew an average of 5.931 million viewers (based on premiere viewership, plus same-day DVR viewership).

The Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson fight on The Ultimate Fighter notwithstanding, there have not been many additions to the top 20 all-time most-watched list over the past year.

On the recent Strikeforce broadcast on CBS, only two of the event's four fights made it on to the top 20 list. While the Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers fight clocked in at #8, and the Jake Shields vs. Jason Miller fight is #16 on the list, the other two fights did not make the top 20.

There has not been a fight on a UFC live event broadcast in the past year that has cracked the top 20 on the all-time most-watched list. However, if one expands the list to include the top 30 fights instead of only the top 20 fights, there is one fight from the past year that makes the list. The fight between Nate Diaz and Melvin Guillard drew 3.6 million viewers in the main event slot of a UFC Fight Night event on September 16, immediately before the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 10.

Please note that CBS is in approximately 114.9 million U.S. households, while Spike TV is in approximately 98.6 million U.S. households.

In addition, please note that these are just the most-watched fights on live event broadcasts in U.S. MMA history, not the most-watched in worldwide MMA history. In Japan, a fight would need to draw over 30 million viewers to crack the top five.

Most-Watched Individual Fights on Live Event Broadcasts in U.S. MMA History

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: The Final Chapter 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 (10/4/2008): 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 75 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 75 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. Strikeforce on CBS (11/7/2009): Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers: 5.467 million viewers (Aired from 11:01 PM to 11:09 PM)

9. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/2008): Jake Shields vs. Paul Daley: 5.338 million viewers (Aired from 10:34 PM to 10:44 PM)

10. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/2008): Gina Carano vs. Kelly Kobold: 5.171 million viewers (Aired from 9:45 PM to 9:59 PM)

11. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/2008): Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson: 5.154 million viewers (Aired from 10:12 PM to 10:20 PM)

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

13. UFC 75 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)

14. UFC 75 on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Marcus Davis vs. Paul Taylor: 5.023 million viewers (Aired from 9:35 PM to 9:39 PM)

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

16. Strikeforce on CBS (11/7/2009): Jake Shields vs. Jason Miller: 4.381 million viewers (Aired from 10:11 PM to 10:44 PM)

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

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

19. UFC 75 on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Houston Alexander vs. Alessio Sakara: 4.204 million viewers (Aired from 9:13 PM to 9:14 PM)

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

21. Strikeforce on CBS (11/7/2009): Gegard Mouasi vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou: 3.952 million viewers (Aired from 9:44 PM to 9:54 PM)

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

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

24. UFC 70 on Spike TV (4/21/2007): Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic: 3.806 million viewers (Aired from 11:51 PM to 11:56 PM)

25. UFC/Ultimate Fighter 5 Live Finale on Spike TV (6/23/2007): B.J. Penn vs. Jens Pulver: 3.726 million viewers (Aired from 11:35 PM to 11:44 PM)

26. Strikeforce on CBS (11/7/2009): Fabricio Werdum vs. Antonio Silva: 3.704 million viewers (Aired from 9:14 PM to 9:34 PM)

27. UFC Fight Night on Spike TV (7/19/2008): Cain Velasquez vs. Jake O'Brien: 3.684 million viewers (Aired from 10:02 PM to 10:04 PM)

28. UFC Fight Night on Spike TV (9/16/09): Nate Diaz vs. Melvin Guillard: 3.600 million viewers (Aired from 9:53 PM to 10:02 PM)

29. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/2008): Benji Radach vs. Murilo "Ninja" Rua: 3.528 million viewers (Aired from 9:18 PM to 9:27 PM)

30. UFC 70 on Spike TV (4/21/2007): Andrei Arlovski vs. Fabricio Werdum: 3.508 million viewers (Aired from 11:06 PM to 11:26 PM)

Related Article: Minute-by-Minute Ratings for Strikeforce on CBS