Coming Home – Extended Cut
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In season, you’d imagine Bellator being the hottest ticket in town. Every Friday night we got us some free fights on MTV2, a channel, unlike FUEL, that just about everyone gets, and they consistently deliver with exciting events. Yet no seems to give a shit about Bellator. Why?
Could it be the lack of promotional recognition? The Friday night death slot? The fact that aside from Eddie Alvarez (and if we’re being honest, mostly only hardcore fans know who he is) there isn’t a single fighter of casual interest on the Bellator roster? Or that Bjorn Rebney has a weird name and looks like Jason Statham on crack?
Much is made of the abysmal ratings for the UFC on the FOX family of networks. The Ultimate Fighter reached a new low of just over 600,000 last week. And aside from the FUEL shows, which have nowhere to go but up, the FX and FOX events have failed to impress in the ratings department. But last week’s Bellator on MTV2, an event which showcased their featured fighter – Eddie Alvarez, garnered only 175,000 viewers, which for Bellator is a very solid number. Granted, comparing Bellator to the UFC is as unfair as comparing Roscoe’s Burger Shack to McDonalds, but you get the point.
This past Friday, Rich Clementi was their featured attraction, and the commentators did their best to sell him as a viable property, but most fans couldn’t pick him from a lineup. Clementi hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2009, and like it or not, the UFC is MMA nowadays. Shit, most casual fans don’t even know what MMA means. Don’t agree? Go ahead and ask a few co-workers what MMA is? Go ahead, do it. Chances are you’ll be met with blank stares. Now ask them what the NFL is. Anyone who doesn’t know NFL is either retarded or Amish. The UFC is not just a promotion, but sadly the entire sport. Fighters aren’t mixed martial artists, they’re “Ultimate Fighters.” Ugh, that term never ceases to give me an incredibly soft-on.
Starting next year Bellator will move from MTV2 to SPIKE, and more than likely they will see a ratings bump. How much depends on how vigorously FX decides to stick it in and break it off by counter-programming their events. Still though, SPIKE is a known MMA network, and that will help some. But Bellator is still not the UFC, and as long as all the top talent in the world is under the UFC banner Bellator is going to be forced to forage for the crumbs that fall from the Zuffa table. After Alvarez bounces that leaves them with only Michael Chandler and Pat Curran as legitimate Top 10 fighters. I reject Ben Askren’s placement on that list on the grounds that his best win is Jay Hieron. Minus major draws all the network exposure in the world isn’t going to get people to tune in.
But Bellator isn’t Affliction. They’re not trying to go head up with the UFC. They know their place, and they seem to run a smart business. This year alone they will put on 25 events. That’s a lot of tusslin’ for the low, low price of absolutely dick. I understand they’re not the UFC, and they have no major draws, but it still baffles the mind why no one gives a shit about Bellator.