Rory MacDonald made a big splash in the cage in his long awaited Bellator debut, but he failed to drum up much interest when it came to television viewership.
Last Friday’s Bellator 179 event headlined by MacDonald fighting Paul Daley averaged 607,000 viewers for the tape-delayed show from London, England, down from the 674,000 viewers the live airing of Bellator 178 drew last month. Bellator 179 had theoretically much more star-power with MacDonald, Daley, and Cheick Kongo all competing on the card. Bellator 178 was headlined by Daniel Straus vs. Patricio Freire without much support.
MacDonald became arguably Bellator’s best free-agent steal from UFC when he signed with the promotion last summer. Injuries kept MacDonald out of the cage until last week, but he showed he can still perform, finishing Daley inside two rounds.
With a contract reported to be in the neighborhood of $400,000 a fight, MacDonald should have been expected to cause a bump in ratings, but that wasn’t the case. The fight aired on a several hour tape delay due to the time difference between the U.K. and the United States. Tape delays haven’t put a huge dent in viewership for Spike fights in the past, but times may be changing and the accessibility of real-time results on Twitter may have kept a segment of fans away from their televisions on Friday night.
The show was up against competition from the NBA and NHL playoffs, but did not have to compete for MMA fans’ attention with UFC being dark last weekend.
MacDonald proved he’s worth his contract in the cage, but he will still have to prove himself as an attraction if he wants another big contract.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Not a great start for MacDonald from a ratings perspective. Several factors may have contributed to the underwhelming viewership including the delay between MacDonald’s signing and his first fight, the lack of local publicity that comes with running a show overseas, lack of a personal grudge between MacDonald and Daley, and of course the time-delay. They might have been able to generate a little more buzz if they ran in a Canadian market where MacDonald’s name carries some more weight but Friday’s rating may just be a sign that fighting second from the top on big UFC shows or headlining UFC Fight Night shows does not make a star in and of itself.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Gegard Mousasi appeared on UFC Tonight Wednesday night and said he was displeased with the contract offer he received from UFC. “It’s not good,” he said. “We don’t like it.”
-Robbie Lawler appeared on ESPN’s “Five Rounds” podcast and acknowledged his split from former gym American Top Team but didn’t provide much in the way of details. “It was time for me to go,” Lawler said (via MMA Fighting). “It wasn’t the place for me. I have a lot of friends and buddies still training there but the place wasn’t for me anymore and that’s what I have to say about that.”
-According to his manager Gustavo Lacerda on the MMA Ganhador podcast, Vitor Belfort is looking at fights with Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen after he fights the final fight on his UFC contract on June 3 at UFC 212. “Vitor doesn’t need to prove anything regarding to ranking or title,” Lacerda said (via MMA Fighting). “The idea is to have fights that are interesting. Interest the fans, and interest the fighter.”
-UFC has signed kickboxer Gokhan Saki. Saki has one MMA fight on his record, a 2004 loss to James Zikic. (SOURCE)
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP
-Sage Northcutt vs. Claudio Puelles, Chan Sung Jung vs. Ricardo Lamas, Aljamain Sterling vs. Renan Barao, Kailin Curran vs. Alexandra Albu, Josh Burkman vs. Drew Dober, Dmitrii Smoliakov vs. Adam Wieczorek, and Eric Shelton vs. Jarred Brooks all for UFC 214 on July 29 from Anaheim, Calif.
-Jared Gordon vs. Michel Quinones and Joachim Christensen vs. Azamat Murzakanov at UFC Fight Night Oklahoma City on June 25.
-Travis Browne vs. Alexey Oliynyk and Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad at UFC 213 on July 8 from Las Vegas, Nev.
-Kendall Grove vs. John Salter at Bellator 181 on July 14 from Thackerville, Okla.
-Shane Burgos vs. Godofredo Pepey at UFC on Fox on July 22 from Uniondale, N.Y.
-Gavin Tucker vs. Rick Glenn at UFC 216 on Sept. 9 from Edmonton, Alberta.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa from April 2014.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UDPATE: WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST 5/24: Huge UFC Middleweight Interim Title fight and history-making title fight in works (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)