Bellator debuted with live action on Spike TV only four days ago and dew record numbers on their new network. Bellator 85 peaked with 1.1 million viewers for the opening fight that saw featherweight champion Pat Curran defeat Patricio “Pitbull” Freire via split-decision. The final average number of viewers came in at 938,000. It was nearly triple Bellator’s previous record.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney isn’t looking to compare his promotion to the UFC or start a ratings war.
“We got to do great shows, put all these different fighters on TV, put compelling backstories and the numbers are going to be what they’re going to be,” said Rebney to Sherdog. “There’s nothing I can do other than put together as good as a show to have any kind of influence.”
Rebney stated that unlike the IFL and Elite XC, he’s not looking to shoot on the UFC. He wants to put on solid shows, but doesn’t view the UFC and Bellator as opponents. Rather, they are two separate companies who have a job to produce quality action.
“It’s never been my nature to talk down about the UFC,” said Rebney. “We’re in the same space. Sport entertainment is probably the most competitive aspect of the sport. It’s the nature of the beast to want to make your show better and see better numbers, but I don’t look at it from the perspective that we’re a competitor to the UFC.”
Season 8 of Bellator continues this Thursday, January 24, from the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, OK. Bellator 86 will see the debut of Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Ben Askren defending his welterweight championship against Karl Amoussou, live on Spike TV.