We have covered Scott Coker’s role as Bellator CEO and his abandonment of the tournament format extensively at scifighting.com. We have also covered what Coker’s goals are for Bellator, MMA, and how he plans to go about enacting the changes that are bound to help the organization. With Bellator 131, MMA fans will finally have a chance to see what the future will look like as the organization moves to bigger monthly events.
In an interview with MMA Fight Corner, Coker divulged his plans for 2015:
“Basically, Bellator will go once a month for its championship series,” said Coker. “And then four times a year, we’ll do a big tentpole event which will be stacked with all the big fighters and will be in big arenas across the country. So that will be a difference.”
“A weekly show going around the country from arena to arena, you see a lot of fights, but at the end of the day, I looked at the depth of the roster and it’s going to be real tough to put on real big fights. And that’s really what we want to do. We want to put on big championship fights and that’s definitely why we had to change.”
Viacom purchased a majority stake of Bellator MMA in October of 2011. With one look at the amount of fights that would take place under the tournament structure, it makes sense why media giant Viacom would be interested. Whereas the UFC (circa 2011) would only have an event a couple times per month, the tournament format would make for the perfect way to make a weekly show of the recently acquired promotion. It stands to reason why an seasonal and weekly “MMA Show” would be desirable for traditional TV format on Spike. The problem, as we’ve discovered, is it’s hard to get people excited about a weekly MMA show with a lot of fighters you aren’t familiar with. The tournament format had some pros to this con, but from a strictly entertainment-driven basis, you can’t make a successful TV show if the cast is changed every week.
Bellator 131 has one sweet-looking card. Say what you will about Tito and Bonnar being past their prime, they are names with draw. It’s a fight they had the time to promote with promotional videos and an in-cage confrontation (albeit a little pro wrestling-y). It’s got the lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler (one of the promotion’s best names) against wicked talent Will Brooks. King Mo is another Bellator staple that will add characteristic flair to the card. Melvin Manhoef is a seasoned, but established killer facing Glory crossover Joe Schilling. Switching to monthly events gives Spike and Viacom the most important resource for event promotion and organization: time. Switching from a “weekly show” to bigger events will mean a better concentration of effort and resources.
Combination with Glory
The best part of it all? Spike and Viacom get to eat their cake too. It makes sense that they want to push the Bellator brand every week, but it isn’t conducive to putting on the best fights. The solution to this problem lies in coordinating with Spike-owned Glory World Series. As Glory CEO Jon Franklin tells Bloody Elbow:
“The plan is one or two more events in 2014 and then a full schedule in 2015. We’re looking at ten or eleven events. I can say that January will be a month off, we won’t be doing a live event in that month,” he says.
In coordination with Glory World Series, Spike gets to showcase their combat sports talent at least twice a month with bigger, better shows. The two promotions will effectively be able to tag team together in alternation to keep the network booming with combat sports entertainment. Whats more, switching up between kickboxing and MMA keeps both from getting stale and over-saturated on the network.