UFC 126 sets “UFC Prelims” record with 2 million viewers on Spike TV

By Dann Stupp

This past weekend’s “UFC Prelims” broadcast on Spike TV, which coincided with the Feb. 5 “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” event, scored a series-high 2 million viewers.  Spike TV officials today emailed the ratings information to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).

The broadcast, which featured preliminary-card fights of Donald Cerrone vs. Paul Kelly and Chad Mendes vs. Michihiro Omigawa, topped the previous 13 “UFC Prelims” installments and the former record of 1.7 million viewers.

UFC 126 took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Prior to the Spike TV broadcast, the UFC streamed another prelim fight, Demetrious Johnson vs. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, for free on Facebook.

Overall, the Spike TV broadcast earned a 1.2 household rating, including an impressive 1.7 among men 18-49. The one-hour broadcast was the highest-rated program in its timeslot among men 18-49 and men 18-34.


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Kid Yamamoto: “I don’t have to worry about the heavy punches anymore”

By Tony Loiseleur

TOKYO — Ahead of his promotional debut against Demetrious Johnson at UFC 126 this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto — one of Japanese MMA’s biggest stars — serves as a reminder of Zuffa’s inexorable global dominance of the sport.

Japan’s shows are too much about entertainment. It’s not like the UFC, not like a sport. The UFC is like boxing style. They have a champion and rankings, but the biggest Japanese MMA shows on TV aren’t like that,” says Yamamoto. “It’s like they only do whatever they think will be best in the here and now. They don’t plan for the future.”

Yamamoto can attest to these critiques. While he will compete as a bantamweight stateside, he was positioned as a lightweight star during his run in K-1’s Hero’s brand, simply because that was where the promotion had the most talent. With the advent of Dream, promoters tried to base a 139-pound division — firmly between the legitimate bantamweight and featherweight divisions — around Yamamoto’s stature. After chasing the stardom and wealth of Japan’s fight scene, Yamamoto’s current venture into foreign waters comes as somewhat of a physical relief.


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At long last, Kid Yamamoto enters the Octagon!

By Frank Curreri

Enjoy Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto while you can, because the Japanese sensation is not on the Randy Couture career plan, or even the Chuck Liddell longevity plan, for that matter.

Not even close.

Couture, 47, is still fighting. Liddell, at 41, recently retired. Yamamoto, a 33-year-old bantamweight, aims to crown his legacy with a UFC title and fight for two or three more years before walking away from the sport that made him famous in his homeland.

“I can fight when I’m older, but I don’t want to fight at that age,” said Yamamoto (18-3, 1 NC). “Maybe a couple more years and then I’ll quit. I always wanted to fight in the US and now the UFC has my weight (135), so it’s the right time. This is my last season.”

It’s been quite a wait – taking nearly a decade to finally land the ultra-aggressive knockout artist into the Octagon. For too long, when American fans debated the top bantamweights, it was begrudgingly wrapped in theory (which makes for a rather poor proving ground). Go back five years or so to when there was much talk about what would happen if Japan’s “Kid” clashed in a Super Fight with California’s “Kid” (Urijah Faber)? Miguel Angel Torres vs. Kid Yamamoto, who takes it?


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