Opinion: What Does The Future Hold For Bellator?
Bellator, possibly along with World Series of Fighting (should they defy the odds and survive with the business model they’re currently using), is in place to challenge to be the sole “primetime” challenger to the UFC’s near monopoly on mainstream MMA. While other promotions slip and miss their opportunities to take a shot at the industry leader, Bellator seems capable of chasing the Zuffa flagship, at least for a while.
In January of 2013, Bellator is set to break new ground, escaping from the television confines of MTV2 and onto the former national network home of the UFC, Spike TV. It seems highly likely that Bellator, which plans to hold some 25 live events on Spike TV during 2013, will find a better chance of achieving ratings success when partnered with a channel such as Spike, which already gears its programming toward the coveted male aged 18 to 49 demographic. All of this should allow Bellator to creep above the often sub-200,000 viewers figures that it has been perennially stuck at.
Bellator CEO, Bjorn Rebney, stated in a recent interview that his promotion is gearing up to set fire to another UFC house, this time launching its own reality show. Rebney has stated that Bellator’s new reality show won’t be of the same “cookie cutter” variety as commonly seen on TV today, but rather, it will be something unique and exciting. Rebney does drop the hint that the show is being developed by Bertram van Munster, the co-creator of “The American Race”.
Now I’m as big a fan of competition as you’ll find, and I’m certainly hoping that Bellator can give the UFC a run for its money. Competition is good for the sport and certainly good for the fighters. Yet, there are troubling signs that Bellator might very well be another on the list of promotions that were ultimately bankrolled and brought down by the UFC machine.
Bellator has some very good, young, yet to be widely known talent. However, with the potential departure of Eddie Alvarez, one of Bellator’s most talented and recognizable fighters, has entered into negotiations with the UFC. One worries that a promotion such as Bellator, one without the exposure or abundance of financial resources, may be relegated to locating and grooming young talent, only to see a big fish like the UFC snatch them up when they appear ready for the “big show”.
I hope this doesn’t happen, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against such an outcome. In the meantime, I wish Bellator all of the success in the world, and I very much look forward to seeing what they have in store for MMA fans come January.