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Good to Know: The 20 Most-Watched MMA Fights in U.S. History

(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)

2. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock— 6.524 million viewers (Aired from 9:42 PM to 9:45 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)

4. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith— 5.867 million viewers (Aired from 10.39 PM to 10:57 PM)

5. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Quinton Jackson vs. Dan Henderson— 5.811 million viewers (Aired from 11:29 PM to 12:03 AM)

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)

8. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Jake Shields vs. Paul Daley— 5.338 million viewers (Aired from 10:34 PM to 10:44 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)

10. EliteXC on CBS (10/4/08): Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson— 5.154 million viewers (Aired from 10:12 PM to 10:20 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)

13. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Marcus Davis vs. Paul Taylor— 5.023 million viewers (Aired from 9:35 PM to 9:39 PM)

14. UFC on Spike TV (7/19/2008): Anderson Silva vs. James Irvin— 4.795 million viewers (Aired from 11:38 PM to 11:38 PM)

15. EliteXC on CBS (5/31/2008): Joey Villasenor vs. Phil Baroni— 4.348 million viewers (Aired from 9:47 PM to 9:48 PM)

16. UFC on Spike TV (10/10/2006): Jason MacDonald vs. Ed Herman— 4.297 millon viewers (Aired from 8:44 PM to 8:47 PM)

17. UFC on Spike TV (9/8/2007): Houston Alexander vs. Alessio Sakara— 4.204 million viewers (Aired from 9:13 PM to 9:14 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)

Cagepotato Comments

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springsteen- October 16, 2008 at 9:36 pm
im surprised the gonzaga vs. cro cop match isn't on that list. neither is any of the ultimate fighter finales.
babcock- October 16, 2008 at 9:21 am
lol i never used to post up messages until i started going to this site and seeing all you tards talkl shit to eachother...*sigh* its a beautiful thing so while we're at it

Dear Fuck John McCain. this is a fuckin MMA site leave ur garbage political views at the door cunt muscle.
KTFO- October 16, 2008 at 8:43 am
Yes, meathook, thank you for repeating what we all already know you dead horse beating mother fucker. Until you said it I wasn't sure if i'd read a similar post 50,000 times before or not.
babcock- October 16, 2008 at 3:30 am
to Meathook Jones- all i got to say is...fuckin a...that makes a lot of fucking sense. another reason why i hate people overall
babcock- October 16, 2008 at 3:28 am
Who the fuck is chris price????
Anonymous- October 16, 2008 at 3:08 am
shut up meathook jones
sirch6002- October 16, 2008 at 2:24 am
what they also aren't taking into account is the fact that some of those viewer's may have gotten a call telling them about an aweomse fight that just happened on the same card, but actually tuned into some lame ass fight because the other one was over.
MeatHook Jones- October 16, 2008 at 12:55 am
I am only 26 years old. As a fan of UFC first and MMA overall my father would be ashamed. He had me watching UFC events since the very first one and wrestling form the time I was born. These fights (aside from a few good ones) are a travesty among the MMA world. The kind of shit talk and misinterpretation of the sport should not seem so misplaced considering the stupid and lackluster performances that main streem America/the world has been forced to watch. This list should prove beyond a reasonable doubt the one question that true, informed, inteligent, MMA fans ask themselves over and over again...

Why can't this sport be taken seriously? There my friends you have the answer. Please correct me if I'm wrong. But ask yourself first are we talking about entertaining fights? Or are we talking about fights that have a legitimate impact on the sport we love, as a true sport, or as a twenty seconds of fame freakshow it has become in main stream media?
Turdburglar- October 15, 2008 at 10:51 pm
if they broadcasted me busting a DVDA for free that would break record numbers.
brownsfan- October 15, 2008 at 10:42 pm
ya its not just one person per ppv buy... and i coulda' sworn that Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar on the TUF1 finale had some redic numbers....?
kimbos a bitch- October 15, 2008 at 10:26 pm
if wanderlei and chuck was free that might have taken the tops all time
Fuck John McCain- October 15, 2008 at 9:27 pm
nuff said
I'm like a Jewish Ferry Seinfeld- October 15, 2008 at 8:57 pm
How can Elite XC be doing so bad? They have 7 of the top 10 fights on this list.
geoff- October 15, 2008 at 8:55 pm
whoops, just realized its non-ppv. my bad!
geoff- October 15, 2008 at 8:52 pm
man, i was rly expecting the fedor/sylvia fight to be up there.
cgood24- October 15, 2008 at 7:35 pm
Just 2 UFC ppv's ago it was bought by 1.2 mill homes which means about 9 mill ppl watched the fights. I buy every UFC ppv & have at least 6 ppl here watching it so I am guessing that about 10 mill ppl watch the UFC ppv's on any given ppv.
HamBone- October 15, 2008 at 7:32 pm
Yea and those free Elite XC fights are sweeeeet!
Apes Can Organize Rallies Now ACORN- October 15, 2008 at 7:29 pm
Nostradamus was a heeb.
The Truth- October 15, 2008 at 7:27 pm
Hey Big Chris...are you kiding?

PPV's NEVER hit the 5 million+ mark like all the fights above. I'm not even sure if a UFC PPV has even generated 1 million buys.

The network fights will always have more viewers then PPV, because it is FREE
Armbutt- October 15, 2008 at 7:22 pm
I actually predicted you would say that.

It's written down on a small piece of paper in my desk drawer.
to arm butt- October 15, 2008 at 6:51 pm
i think nostradamus WAS white...
but what do i know im just an asian kid living in america trying to survive
Had_Matter- October 15, 2008 at 6:34 pm
yea deff. agree... if it had PPV then u would see all the legendary fights... lots of pride... chuck and tito, chuck vs. randy., bj and st. pierre.. a lo of the good ones
Armbutt- October 15, 2008 at 6:28 pm
Interesting. The only fight on there that was awesome IMO was Hendo and Rampage.

Sucks that the mainstream audience is exposed to Elite XC but not to more entertaining fights. This will change with time I predict; I'm like a white Nostradamus.
StevO- October 15, 2008 at 6:28 pm
sad to admit but prolly its the kimbo Thompson fight :(
BIG CHRIS- October 15, 2008 at 6:20 pm
UH's only the non Pay Per Veiw fights.....but i wonder what the all time list is with PPV included.