World Series of Fighting Vice President Ali Abdel-Aziz hasn’t minced words in criticizing Bellator and its CEO Bjorn Rebney. Earlier this month, he claimed Eddie Alvarez single-handedly brought down the promotion and ruined people’s careers along the way. Rebney didn’t retaliate and has not formally responded to Abdel-Aziz’ proposed inter-promotional card where WSOF and Bellator would each select ten fighters, leading Abdel-Aziz to label his rival a “Candyass.”
Up until a month ago, Rebney and Abdel-Aziz kept their distance, competing on separate networks for the label of MMA’s second organization. But as TheMMAReport.com points out, a proposed partnership between Bellator and NBC Sports may be the reason for Abdel-Aziz’ war of words.
NBC Sports offered Bellator a lucrative multi-year deal to broadcast preliminary cards from the promotion’s upcoming tenth season. The sides couldn’t reach an agreement, meaning that Bellator continues to stream on Spike.com.
Apparently Abdel-Aziz didn’t know that the two were in talks, leaving the vice president fuming. According to The MMA Report’s Jason Floyd, Abdel-Aziz said that Bellator had “done something disgusting and very dirty” but didn’t elaborate.
In Jan. 2012, Versus was rebranded as the NBC Sports Network. Having aired UFC and WEC events before the change, NBC tried to purchase future broadcast right for the UFC, eventually losing out to Fox.
NBC Sports agreed to broadcast WSOF’s inaugural event WSOF: Arlovski vs. Cole in Nov. 2012. The two eventually contracted a one-year deal that lead to a three-year deal, running through 2015.
Rebney has not commented on why Bellator didn’t accept the deal, but one reason may be that having dueling promotions on one network may confuse fans. It would also appear like an underhanded move aimed at phasing out WSOF. This wouldn’t benefit a promotion trying to diversify itself, especially after Bellator’s tumultuous end to 2013.
Abdel-Aziz, WSOF, and Spike TV have not officially commented on the proposal.