From Scifighting’s coverage of Bellator 131, there were many components to the event that felt reminiscent of a past MMA promotion. Strikeforce was a strong competitor to the UFC before they acquired the promotion and some of its distinct qualities live on in Bellator. Beyond just the names and faces, here are 3 ways Strikeforce appears to live on in Bellator MMA.
#3- Event Production
The first production similarity to Strikeforce at Bellator 131 came with the announcement of Bellator 133’s “British Invasion.” The Bellator events are still numbered, but a theme like the British Invasion tells a larger story to the event than just the fight. Selling the fight with the main event names remains in other announced events, but it felt familiar to the early days of “Strikeforce: At the Dome,” and “Strikeforce: Revenge.” Sure, those titles may have been a little too over the top, but adding in a few themed shows like the 133 card does a lot to change up the repetitiveness of numbered events.
#2- Cross Promotion Prospects
Scott Coker formed alliances with Dream,and M-1 Global as CEO of Strikeforce. Co-promotion efforts saw fighters Gilbert Melendez of Strikeforce exchanged for Shinya Aoki and a back and forth exchange that made for a lot of great cards. In our press day interview with Scott, he stated to still have prospects of trading fighters back and forth between promotions. Soon, we may see Bellator trading fighters with One FC and Polish promotion KSW just like the Strikeforce days.
#1- Promotional Competition
November 15 was a very busy night event for MMA. UFC 180, Bellator 131 and WSOF 15 competed on the same night of MMA entertainment. Despite the competition, Bellator broke a franchise record with a peak 2 million viewers tuning in. To the UFC’s credit, both of the main event competitors were hall of famers in the promotion. However, they are still established names in the latter stages of their careers that managed to make for a huge draw. It’s too early to try to compare Bellator on an equal level to the UFC, but Bellator 131 felt like it had the kind of super card potential to have a real presence in MMA entertainment. The night felt reminiscent of a time when Strikeforce and Pride FC had their own competitive roster and great events alongside the UFC.