The strong recent run of ratings for Combate Americas has continued. Back in June, the Latin fighter-focused MMA promotion pulled in higher ratings (an average of 416,000 viewers) than UFC prelims on ESPN and a Bellator event on Paramount. This past weekend, they again beat Bellator, ONE Championship and Professional Fighters League events. (The UFC’s Fight Night event was on ESPN+, which isn’t rated.)
As per a Combate Americas release, Combate Tucson (headlined by Joby Sanchez’s win over Jose Alday, it took place the night of Friday, Oct. 11, with the broadcast beginning on Univision at midnight ET and running into Saturday) averaged 411,000 viewers. That’s ahead of Bellator (202,000 on Paramount Network Saturday night, beginning at 9 p.m. ET), One Championship (262,000 on TNT Saturday evening, beginning at 11 p.m. ET), and PFL (165,000 on ESPN2 Friday night, beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern). Univision does have a distribution edge over those cable networks, but those are still impressive numbers for Combate Americas.
It’s also significant how this event performed relative to last year’s Oct. 13 Combate Americas event in Tucson, which averaged 310,000 viewers. Both events were on the same weekend, and neither had a Liga MX lead-in (thanks to it being an international soccer match date), but this year’s event drew a 33 percent larger audience. That fits with some of the remarks Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren made to Awful Announcing back in August about their growth, and about how they’re bringing new fans to the sport:
“Our trajectory is pretty apparent. …Our goal is to be the number-two sport in the world for Hispanic sports fans. The number one is soccer, or fútbol everywhere outside of the U.S….So we want to be the number-two sport for Hispanic sports fans behind fútbol . That’s a billion people, a lot of people; Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world; Mandarin, then Spanish. So here I have a sport that is relatively new to Spanish-speakers, that plays in very well to the boxing traditions of Hispanic sports fans, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, great boxing traditions. And I think we’re rapidly on our way.”
…We’ve commissioned Nielsen to do very deep dives on our audience. Preliminary research from the Univision audience was over 90 percent didn’t watch MMA before Combate, so that’s pretty spectacular. Univision also has an established reputation for being an unduplicated audience, folks watch things on Univision they don’t watch other places. So I think Univision’s unduplicated audience base and the fact that we’re fan-friendly to new fans, that’s what I think is growing it. So when you see the half a million, 400-500,000 people at midnight, spectacular ratings, if you keep in mind that those are new fans, I think that’s a particularly powerful statement to Combate’s success. It’s not only our fighters that are the future of the sport, our fans are the future of the sport.”
We’ll see if Combate Americas can continue to build on this ratings momentum going forward. They have another event this Friday night, Combate Monterrey, which will also be broadcast on Univision and TUDN beginning at midnight Eastern.