Bellator has always sought to differentiate itself from the other promotions as they look to gain a foothold in the ever-increasing MMA marketplace. They may not be able to provide the same star-studded fight cards, and their champions may not hold the same public name recognition, but they have stood proudly by their business model. For years, CEO Bjorn Rebney has boasted that his company offers the “toughest tournament in sports”,” where title shots are earned, not given. He has sought to develop home-grown talent, and up until recently has adamantly opposed the overpaying of UFC cast-offs and former stars to create buzz around the top of a card. With the new Viacom/Spike TV deal in place, these stances have begun to soften.
For over a year, Bellator has teased the idea of entering the realm of Pay-Per-View. It was assumed that in order to do so they would have to use their new TV platform to increase viewership, and reach a critical mass of interest. The UFC has been criticized for watered down events following their Fox deal (even before injuries, UFC 163 was hardly a star-studded event), and with the right build-up, maybe Bellator could have eventually rivaled the world’s largest MMA promotion.With as many events as the UFC is churning out, it’s simply not possible for them to put their full star power on display in each showing. With the correct timing, Bellator had the opportunity to put on less frequent events at a lower cost of viewing to draw in those willing to part with their hard-earned dollars.
The news we received this week from Bellator doesn’t resemble anything listed above. Monday’s press conference revealed an asking price of anywhere between $35 and $45 (a slight discount from the usual UFC fare), and will be headlined by two former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions in Quentin “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz. The two finished their UFC careers amidst runs of 0-3, and 2-7-1, respectively. Both were once forces within the division, but no one will argue either is in their prime. Bellator is likely to fill out the rest of the card with at least a few championship bouts, but feature a non-title affair between two fighters debuting in the promotion leaves us scratching our heads. Viacom provides Bellator with plenty of resources to seek out new talent, but is prominently displaying two fighters nearing the end of their careers as their new biggest stars really best for business?
Let us know, how do you feel about Bellator’s recent PPV announcement, and what do you think the future will hold for their promotion?