Bellator hopes return of Fedor Emelianenko means reaching two million viewers mark
Bellator chief Scott Coker told MMAjunkie Radio he’ll be happy if Fedor Emelianenko (36-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA)vs. Matt Mitrione (11-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA)drives a big number on Spike when the main event airs fromSAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
“If during the main event, we can peak over twomillion, I think that will be a fantastic number again,” Coker said.
That would make it two in a row for “tentpole” events that have crossed the two million mark in peak ratings. According to Spike officials,Bellator 170 featuring TitoOrtiz vs. Chael Sonnen came in at a 2.2 million, sending Ortiz out with a bang in his retirement fight and giving the Viacom-owned promotion a big boost.
So far, the Bellator led by Coker has thrice hit the two million mark in peak ratings, starting with the inaugural “tentpole event” between Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar at Bellator 131, then Bellator 138 with Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson vs. Ken Shamrock.Coker has reason to be bullish on Saturday’s event. Emelianenko was a huge draw during his tenure in Coker’s former promotion, Strikeforce, breaking company ratings for MMA events broadcast on Showtime when Emelianenko vs. Antonio Silva drew 741,000 viewers.
During Strikeforce’s short-lived stay on network TV, Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers drew a peak of 5.46 million viewers on CBS in 2009.
Of course, Emelianenko’s stock dropped considerably during his time in Strikeforce. After defeating Rogers, he dropped three straight against Fabricio Werdum, Silva and Dan Henderson. He then returned to his native Russia and won three fights against moderate opposition before retiring.
In 2015, Emelianenko un-retired and returned to the ring, beating MMA neophyte Jaideep Singh and UFC veteran Fabio Maldonado in a highly suspect bout before signing with Bellator.
Saturday’s event will show whether Emelianenko is ready to fight top-level competition and also whether he’s still the mega-draw of his earlier days. Coker hopes both are true.For more onBellator 172, check out theMMA Rumorssection of the site.
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