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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