I think it’s safe to say the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix has been a big hit. Fans turned out in droves for the fan experience Strikeforce put in New York City last week, they posted one of their highest attendance numbers since hitting the national stage and today comes word that Saturday’s event broke ratings records on Showtime. MMA Junkie has it:

Overall, the Feb. 12 event averaged 741,000 viewers and peaked with 1.1 million for the Antonio Silva vs. Fedor Emelianenko headliner. Both broke Strikeforce’s previous bests.

MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the numbers with an industry source.

The new ratings records break those previously held by “Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg,” an August 2009 event headlined by female fighters Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos that averaged 576,000 viewers and peaked with 856,000.

For perspective, we’re talking about an organization that struggled to attract an average viewership over 400,000 for much of 2010. Following last month’s “Diaz vs. Cyborg” event that averaged 561,000 viewers and peaked with 653,000 (or 853,000 depending on who you ask), I’d say Strikeforce is off to a great start in 2011.

I have to imagine Scott Coker is thrilled with the interest level thus far, and he isn’t going to let Dana White crash the party with another one of his infamous Twitter rants. Coker told Ariel Helwani yesterday, “At least the guy’s watching, right? He’s watching Strikeforce. As long as he wants to keep watching Strikeforce that’s a good thing.”

It turns out a lot of people are watching Strikeforce. The question is, will they continue with Fedor out of the grand prix?

Image via Esther Lin for Strikeforce/Showtime