This past Friday’s Kimbo Slice-Ken Shamrock event on Spike delivered the highest rated and most watched Bellator MMA show in the network’s history. A hefty 2.1 million viewers (11:45pm-12:00am) tuned in to the Slice-Shamrock main event at Bellator 138, breaking the previous record of 1.8 million viewers who watched Stephan Bonnar vs. Tito Ortiz last November.
Bellator 138 overall was #1 with Men 18-49 in all of television in its timeslot with 1.6 million viewers. It also ranked #1 with Adults 18-49 on cable in the timeslot. And it was the most-watched MMA fight on cable since January.
Bellator 138 took out the sports competition on Friday night as well, including FOX’s coverage of U.S. Open golf by +128% with Men 18-34, +99% with Men 18-49, and +89% with Adults 18-49.
The event was also a hit on social media with a reach of 105 million, compared to Bellator’s previous high of 40 million with Bonnar-Ortiz. The hashtag #Bellator138 trended worldwide and No. 1 in the U.S. from 15 minutes into the broadcast until the end.
Sure, everyone loves a freakshow fight now and then, but who is currently on the Bellator MMA roster that can help them sustain this kind of viewership or surpass it? Kimbo is obviously their biggest star, but how long can they prop him up before we get another Seth Petruzelli situation?
Many MMA fans already believe the Slice-Shamrock fight was a work. Any fighter with half a takedown and a BJJ blue belt will likely end Kimbo easily despite the former street fighter’s “I have evolved!” claims after the bout.
It’s great that Kimbo and Ken got people to tune in to Bellator. Now the organization just has to continue to hold their attention and for that they’re going to need more big names.