The ratings for Saturday night’s Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Cyborg” event are in and they’re surprisingly very good compared to past Strikeforce/Showtime events. ( today confirmed that this past Saturday’s “Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg” event peaked with 853,000 viewers.

Industry sources confirmed that viewership on the premium-cable channel peaked during the evening’s main event between Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz and Brazilian slugger Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos.

Overall, the event averaged 561,000 viewers, which is more than any single Strikeforce event broadcast on Showtime in the past year.

For comparison’s sake, last June’s main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum peaked at 700,000 viewers and that was with DVR and on-demand data factored in. Herschel Walker likely played a role in Saturday’s impressive ratings, but the show did peak with the Diaz vs. Cyborg main event so it certainly seems like Nick Diaz’s popularity is rising.

Last year’s ratings fell after a strong January event (that also featured Herschel Walker), so it will be very interesting to see how the ratings turn out for the first batch of heavyweight grand prix bouts next week. With more fans and a relevant tournament might Strikeforce finally be turning a corner?

Image via Esther Lin for Strikeforce/Showtime

Update: This post is going to change a little. Kevin Iole says he has the Nielson data in hand and Saturday’s show peaked at 653,000 viewers, not 853,000, during the main event. That means Nick Diaz vs. Cyborg Santos did not attract more viewers than Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum as stated above (although that could be a possibility when they factor in the DVR and on-demand viewers). Still an strong number though regardless.