Fedor Emelianenko & Big John McCarthyThe ratings for the Strikeforce “Fedor vs. Rogers” main event on CBS are in, and guess what? They’re pretty darn good all things considered.

The return of MMA to the CBS airwaves netted the network 5.46 million viewers for the Strikeforce/M-1 Global main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers, official today announced.

Overall, the two-hour-plus broadcast averaged 4.04 million viewers and a 2.5 household rating.

The total viewers for the 10:30-11:00PM slot were right around 4 million total, so essentially 1.5 million additional viewers tuned in to see what all this Fedor business was about. The average number for the entire event and total viewer numbers for the main event still trail behind the two EliteXC/CBS shows headlined by Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano, but they were at least much closer to those numbers than the disaster that EliteXC’s July show was on CBS last year.

No one knows what CBS will do yet, but I like to think they were as pleasantly surprised as I was to see what Fedor pulled on their network and it will be enough to convince them to move forward with MMA. The problem they face now is that Fedor is going to be out of commission for possibly six months. Their only proven star, Gina Carano, won’t be in a position to fight until next summer unless her movie plans change, so they really don’t have anyone else who draws on a national level to capitalize on the momentum they built Saturday night. Rather than hastily throwing an event together on CBS at the last minute which they hopefully learned their lesson from last summer, my guess is we’ll be seeing Showtime events for the next six months until they get Gina and Fedor back.

The Rogers fight alone probably wasn’t enough to turn Fedor into the breakout star he deserves to be, but one or two more impressive performances on CBS just might get him there. There’s reason for hope if nothing else.

Image via Esther Lin for Showtime

Update: Dave Meltzer has Spike’s counter-programming ratings from Saturday. No boastful press releases this time because they weren’t that good.

UFC’s attempt at counterprogramming the opposition didn’t prove as successful as in the past. UFC has always put on replays of past major pay-per-view events against the prior CBS shows, usually doing a 1.2 rating, considered very strong for Spike TV for using old footage. But they were down 25 percent from usual, doing a 0.9 rating and 1.2 million viewers with a custom-made show featuring the television debuts of four recent never-before-seen pay-per-view main event matches.