Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown”: Bellator Needs To Fight The UFC, Not Run From It
By Joshua Molina
Bellator recently announced that it would move to Friday nights in the Fall to avoid going head to head with the NFL on Thursday nights.
Boy, is this a bad move.
Not that Bellator wants to challenge the NFL, but moving to Friday is about the second worst move it could make.
Young men, the largest demographic that watches MMA, aren’t home on Friday nights to watch MMA, and especially not Bellator.
The UFC’s Ultimate Fighter struggled in this slot a year ago, and UFC is the most popular MMA company in the world.
The other problem is that Bellator will be moving away from its pro-wrestling lead-in, TNA, which is pretty dumb.
When you have a million people, mostly young men, watching the show before you, you probably want your product, which targets a similar demographic, to follow that show.
Bellator can’t move to Wednesday’s because the UFC plans several Fox Sports 1 shows on those nights.
Tuesdays are out because that’s when The Ultimate Fighter airs. Monday night cable is owned by the NFL and WWE.
Suddenly, there aren’t enough nights in the week for Bellator programming.
It’s a good thing Viacom owns Bellator because without a corporate network backing Bellator would be in big trouble.
All of the scheduling problems are just distractions from the real problem, however; Bellator isn’t resonating beyond hardcore MMA fans.
It needs to drop the tournament format. Unless, it’s a one-night tournament, tournaments are boring.
Fans want titles and weight classes and No. 1 contender matches.
Bellator also needs female fighters — and needs to spotlight them heavily.
Women’s MMA is hot. Fighting over Eddie Alvarez’s contract is not.
Bellator signed “Rampage” Jackson, which is a great move. It needs to do more of that. Sign big stars and big names. The UFC has Mike Tyson. Bellator should go get Evander Holyfield or Lennox Lewis.
Bellator is never going to make it as the alternative to UFC. This is fighting. Bellator needs to take the UFC on head-on.
Challenge them on Wednesday or Tuesday nights. If MMA fans are already watching the UFC on a particular night, it’s much easier to get them to flip to Bellator, and maybe stay there and not flip back, than it is to ask them to carve out an entire night of their lives, every week, especially on a Friday, to watch Bellator programming.
It’s the fight business. You can’t win if you don’t swing.