When martial arts fans think of MMA they often think of UFC. How-ever while Obi-wan may have once said “that boy’s our last hope”, Yoda was wise when he said “No, there is another.” Ok, ok, Star Wars references aside, Bellator is actually quite entertaining to watch. While some may argue that the fighters on the roster can’t compare to the finest the UFC has to offer, things are shifting and we are seeing more and more talent flow into Bellator.
Since Viacom’s purchase of Bellator in 2011, one of the most notable acquisitions the fight promotions company has made is that of Randy Couture. Stealing Couture from the UFC ranks didn’t come without a price. Currently president of the UFC, Dana White, has a definite grudge against Randy for leaving the UFC in favor of Bellator. He’s been banned from UFC events and will be unable to corner his son Ryan Couture. Of course, as begrudged as Dana may be, in the end it is just business and as such this is the price one pays for switching teams.
Back to Bellator. What do they stand for and how do they differ from the UFC? The UFC has a somewhat informal process for progressing through the ranks. Fighters are expected to engage in promotions just like any other organized sport, how-ever in the UFC just because an individual fighter fighters a certain number of bouts or wins a certain number of matches they don’t necessarily qualify for a Title shot. The system employed for determining who will get a Title shot in UFC appears to be based on fan reaction, talent and compliance with the guidelines that UFC fighters are expected to follow. Some of the specifics are not publicly known, thus there is a degree of skepticism as to the fairness of the qualifications among many fans of MMA.
Bellator takes a different approach. In their press materials they prominently state that it is the place “Where Title Shots Are Earned, Not Given”. This obviously makes a statement and also takes a jab at the UFC in the process.
As far as scoring each fight there are many similarities, however Bellator distinguishes itself by using a tournament format for the progression of a fighter from the bottom ranks to a Championship bout. Like an obstacle course they must defeat a number of challengers who are also competing against other challengers in the same weight class and by a process of elimination only one is left to challenge the reigning Champion.
There’s definitely an appeal to this format and it’s somewhat reminiscent of the battles between Gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. This also being alluded to with Bellator’s adoption of a Roman gladiator’s face and helmet as part of their logo.
Currently aired on Spike TV as well as streamed online; This evening (March 21st, 2013) at 7PM PST Bellator will be featuring the Lightweight Tournament finals between Marcin Held and Dave Jansen. In addition other bouts will be held in the Heavyweight division between Travis Wiuff and Ryan Martinez as well as a Welterweight bout between Marcus Davis and Waachiim Spiritwolf.
Over the coming weeks we will be structuring a format for coverage of events in Bellator. Due to the frequency of the bouts and the short duration of the events we may only cover the Title fights, however we are open to any feedback the community has on specific fighters they want to learn more about and any other thoughts on coverage anyone may have. We wish all those competing tonight the best of luck and we will report back with the complete score card at the end of the event!