(Believe it or not, Kendall Grove vs. Chris Price was one of them.)
Using minute-by-minute Nielsen ratings data, MMA Weekly’s Ivan Trembow has painstakingly put together a list of the 20 individual MMA fights with the highest U.S. viewership. As he clarifies: “Viewership levels 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.” A few things to keep in mind before we get to the list:
— Pay-per-view fights are excluded due to a lack of reliable information, so the list only includes UFC fights on Spike and EliteXC shows on CBS.
— Seth Petruzelli actually appears on the list twice, thanks to his recent headlining fight at EliteXC: Heat and his fight against Matt Hamill at UFC: The Final Chapter in October 2006. Kimbo Slice, Gina Carano, and Hamill also show up on the list twice.
— Keep in mind that these aren’t even close to being the most-watched MMA fights worldwide. Due to Japan’s love of New Year’s Eve freak show bouts, a fight would need to draw over 30 million sets of eyeballs to crack the top five. In the U.S., only a bout between Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano would come close to putting up those kinds of numbers. So here we go…
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)
3. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Seth Petruzelli vs. Kimbo Slice— 6.451 million viewers (Aired from 11:08 PM to 11:08 PM)
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 on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill— 5.475 million viewers (Aired from 10:41 PM to 11:06 PM)
9. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Gina Carano vs. Kelly Kobold— 5.171 million viewers (Aired from 9:45 PM to 9:59 PM)
11. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Kendall Grove vs. Chris Price— 5.100 million viewers (Aired from 9:13 PM to 9:17 PM)
12. UFC 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)
18. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Matt Hamill vs. Seth Petruzelli— 4.007 million viewers (Aired from 8:09 PM to 8:28 PM)
19. UFC on Spike TV (7/19/2008): Brandon Vera vs. Reese Andy— 3.847 million viewers (Aired from 10:58 PM to 11:19 PM)
20. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Brett Rogers vs. Jon Murphy— 3.824 million viewers (Aired from 9:26 PM to 9:27 PM)