Does Bellator need stars?

by Kirik Jenness | source: The Underground

The fates of the six wives of Henry VIII are told in the line "Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived."

FIght promotions that go head to head with the UFC have suffered a similar fate, although in summary it is a little less poetic. About WFA, Pride, Bodog Fights, IFL, ProElite, Affliction, and Strikeforce you could say "Acquired, acquired, died. Died, died, died. Acquired."

Along the way the losses were startling. The IFL lost approximately $55,000,000, an extraordinary fall for a company that once had a paper value higher than the NY Yankees. BodogFIGHT lost a reported $38,000,000. ProElite's IRS return showed a one year loss of $55,567,437. Fedor made millions from Affliction; the promotion lost, well, millions.

The IFL knew that any fighter they built into a star would eventually want to move to the UFC, and that matching the UFC's offer would be problematic. So they set on the concept of teams instead. If people became fans of a fighting team, losing a player or two regularly would not hugely detract from their efforts.

While the reasoning was sound, the concept was a failure - no one cares about a clash between the Los Angeles Anacondas and the Hairy Beavers of Oregon.

Bellator now faces a fight with the UFC over two if its biggest stars, Eddie Alvarez and Hector Lombard. However, if it loses them, Bellator may be able to carry on with little loss.

Bellator's business model is based on a tournament format and bringing exciting new (and cheap) talent to the national spotlight.

However, the model makes it hard to find regular credible challengers for its bigest stars. Further, until 2013, SpikeTV has opted to keep running UFC content in rerun, over expanding Bellator programming (their contract with the UFC stipulates that the UFC has to be the only MMA promotion that runs). So for now Bellator is watched on MTV2, and would not be able to capitalize fully on a superstar fighter.

At this point going head to head with UFC over fighter contracts might not be a wise, and thus Rebney may not do it. He may simply wish Lombard and Alvarez well, and go back to putting on exciting tournaments on MTV2, with his business little the worse for it.

Given the history of fight promotions on the national stage, that may be brilliant.

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tags: UFC   IFL   Bellator   

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Recent Comments »

TheThrill site profile image  

4/23/12 1:35 AM by TheThrill

God damn that is so much money ifl and proelite lost...55 mil? Fuck

PrecisePrecision site profile image  

4/23/12 1:05 AM by PrecisePrecision

lol you jacked my pro membership

Haulport site profile image  

4/23/12 1:01 AM by Haulport

Bellator don't handle their big stars well anyway. They are constantly having their champs fight non-title bouts, mostly against EXTREMELY underserving and boring talent (even outside the promotion just for them to stay busy). They need to have their champs fight in the tourneys and just dump the belts. The tourneys are what is interesting and it allows them, like other sports, to create excitement and manufacture stars regularly and not have to work all these machinations around a belt to legitimize their stars.

Unseen site profile image  

4/23/12 12:49 AM by Unseen

 Letting Alvarez go should be easy.  It Eddie showhow wins the UFC belt the UFC would be in a position that usually smaller orgs find themselves in having a champion that was beaten by a signed fighter in a competing promotion.

KingD87 site profile image  

4/22/12 11:26 PM by KingD87

No thank you kind sir :)

Combat Sport Fan site profile image  

4/22/12 2:33 PM by Combat Sport Fan


coffeeNcream site profile image  

4/22/12 2:31 PM by coffeeNcream

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Garv site profile image  

4/22/12 2:26 PM by Garv

 Whatever Bellator is doing, they are doing it right.  Those cards have been absolutely great. Good article, Kirik.  And since you are giving out extensions for finding typos, here's one: At this point going head to head with UFC over fighter contracts might not be a wise, and thus Rebney may not do it. I assume the missing word is "decision."  :)

Combat Sport Fan site profile image  

4/22/12 2:01 PM by Combat Sport Fan

Bellator has a chance of being the golden gloves (pro version) of mma and can really carve out a market that will add excitement to up and coming fighters on their road to the UFC please bellator don't sign alvarez

Combat Sport Fan site profile image  

4/22/12 1:58 PM by Combat Sport Fan

Great blog I totally agree their best business model is to be the top 2nd tier developmental organization and if they play nice with zuffa they will be successful. I really hope they embrace their role and not go after the UFC. Very well written. Ttt