Thursday, December 23, 2010

FIGHT BLOG: Bellator on MTV2?

More MMA will now be available on television, as Bellator Fighting Championships has signed a deal with MTV2 to show all of their events for the next three years.

This means around 20 more events will be covered live on TV in 2011.

For those who don't know, Bellator is the first MMA tournament promotion of its kind. Named for the Latin term for "warrior," fighters compete in an 8-man tournament over three months. This year, they will do four weight classes in spring (205, 170, 155, 145) and four more in the fall (HW, 185, 135, Women's 115).

The company also does superfights between champions of the unused weights and between season winners, thereby creating an overall undisputed champion in each weight class. Think of it as MMA in the same tourney format as American Gladiators.

A lot of MMA bloggers and pundits have trashed this deal, citing that MTV2 isn't known for ratings, which it isn't, and has a history of moving stuff around as it fails, which it does. They are also disappointed, as am I, that a deal with FX fell through, since that network had the brilliance to make us care about Toughman competitions for years despite less-than-stellar boxers.

But I will say this: Is it really any worse that the deals they have in place now. Fox Sports Net has completely dropped the ball with Bellator, effectively using it as filler while they wait for the local hockey team to start their game.

This is a company that doesn't have aspirations of crushing the UFC (Elite XC, Affliction) or outgrowing the format they're famous for (Strikeforce). This is simply a company who wants to be successful and carve a niche for itself in the newly-growing MMA world.

MTV2 could be great for them in that it gives significantly more exposure and will most likely give it a set time for people to watch their events come their start in March.

This deal works for MTV2 as well, who is quickly becoming a wannabe Spike TV. After two failed attempts at wrestling (Wrestling Society X and Lucha Libre USA), they still want to get on the sports bandwagon, adding the Lingerie Football League, which in itself isn't a high-caliber sport but will certainly garner a cult following, and now Bellator in MMA.

If this works out for them and ratings are good, they could have a great No. 2 promotion after Strikeforce inevitably spends themselves into extinction, or they could be put in a position to go after UFC cards when the contract expires.

I don't necessarily think any of that will happen, and Bellator will probably not exceed 500,000 viewers at any one time, but that is still pretty good for the network and will be enough to keep it going. I wish Bellator the best and I advise anyone to check out a Bellator event on MTV2 in spring. These aren't the elites (Eddie Alvarez excluded) but they are certainly fun to watch.

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