Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Why Can't Bellator Stay out of Its Own Way?

After a much maligned first attempt at pay-per-view that wound up airing on cable, Bellator seemed to actually get it right the second time around. Sure, the main players were the still the same: Michael Chandler, Eddie Alvarez, Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, Tito Ortiz. But this time the emphasis wasn’t on two UFC castoffs, legends years removed from their prime, it was right where it should’ve been.

It’s an insult to both men that they weren’t the main event for the first card, especially when the fight they were opening for featured two men who had no allegiance to the company. One of whom had never even (and still hasn’t) fought for the company. Not that I ever want to see anyone injured, but I was happy when the Jackson/Ortiz bout got scrapped and Chandler and Alvarez were allowed to headline their own show on free television.

Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez are not only the two best fighters currently in Bellator, they’ve delivered the two greatest fights in the history of the promotion as well. And while Alvarez had a notorious contract dispute with the company, one that turned out to be a public relations nightmare for it,  Chandler has been the consummate company man.

So when Chandler/Alvarez III was announced as the main event for the inaugural Bellator pay-per-view, Bellator 120, they had my money guaranteed. When misfortune again reared its ugly head a few days ago and Alvarez was forced out of the fight with a concussion, Chandler was kept on the card against Season 9 Lightweight Tournament winner Will Brooks. I still planned on purchasing the event. Bjorn Rebney and company were dealt a disastrous hand, but they were attempting to do the right thing and I believed that warranted my money.

And then, this happened.

Just like that, Bellator lost me as a paying customer. In a market where there is more demand for consumers’ dollars than ever before, from the UFC’s innumerable events to Fight Pass, Bellator’s battle for market share was going to be an uphill one. They had to rely on the much-talked about “hardcore fans” to give them their money. Showcasing your best fighters is the way to do that, putting them on the back burner is not.

You would think that by now Bellator would realize that their public perception can only take so many hits. The first time they put Rampage in the main event, they were the only ones excited about it. Fans and media alike slammed the promotion for the move, so why would Bellator resort to this same tactics?

It’s behavior like this that, for better or worse, reminds us that the UFC isn’t going anywhere for a long time. Not with competition as improperly mismanaged as this at least.

On the bright side though, I did just get $45 back in my bank account. I guess I’m just a fight card-half-full kind of guy.


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