By Zach Arnold | November 3, 2013
I thought Saturday night’s show would give us some answers. Some answers, but just as many questions now.
This Bellator crowd is kind of a dud. Bet they wouldn't even try to steal a hat if they had the chance.
— Dann Stupp (@MMAjunkieDann) November 3, 2013
The Long Beach crowd was small & less enthusiastic than the Irvine crowd last January. Bellator makes Southern California their home and yet it doesn’t across on television that So. Cal is home base. Not that rabid hardcore following. Feels more like a passing following. This Long Beach crowd seemed like they came to watch a show as opposed to watching the Chandler/Alvarez fight. The pops both men got was slightly above the reactions the other fighters on the card received but not really substantial at all.
Going into the show, the expectation was 8,000 tickets sold for Rampage Jackson vs. Tito Ortiz. Just stating what was said behind the scenes. A month ago, news broke that 4,000 tickets were sold. When MMA Junkie broke news that only 1,800 of those tickets were actually sold and another 2,200 were given to fighters to contractually sell, then the bubble popped and there was a lot of second-guessing.
Then Tito backed out of his fight with Rampage. And suddenly there wasn’t going to be 8,000 fans in Long Beach. Not sure what the crowd size was on Saturday, but 4,000 a best case scenario. What it means is simple. Bellator is not ready for PPV. They still remain a sold show proposition first and foremost. Until they can change the dynamic and prove they are a drawing powerhouse as a non-sold show entity, then it’s difficult to see the path forward.
The TV opener with Mike Richman was a nice scrap.
Then the show dragged — and dragged hard. Joe Riggs won Bellator’s reality TV show.
It's the end of 2013, and Doug Marshall and Joe Riggs have both won Bellator tournaments this year.
— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) November 3, 2013
Daniel Strauss decisioned Pat Curran and killed the crowd in the process. Strauss is the kind of guy that you have a grudging respect for but you’re not willing to pay to see his fights. That’s a problem.
Emanuel Newton put an end to the King Mo experiment by defeating him (again) via decision. Dreadful showing by Mo. Even Roy Nelson was getting on Mo’s ass in the corner. Mo really doesn’t have much of a defensive posture at all and it’s easy to tag him. I noticed that when you hit him, no matter where on his body, that he’ll immediately drop his hands and leave himself wide open to get blasted. It’s the King Hippo syndrome from Punchout.
Spike has decided to make November the month of Rampage. They’re promoting a fight between Rampage & Joey Beltran. Wait until Viacom hears about the legal trouble Rampage is in with Juanito Ibarra.
After 25 minutes of very rare violence between two very rare and violent men, 48-47 Chandler. Two more rounds, please.
— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) November 3, 2013
R1 & R2 – Chandler. R3 – Alvarez. R4 – Chandler. He absolutely pummeled Alvarez from top position. R5 – Alvarez. Chandler went for a choke, Alvarez got back on his feet, both guys still had some pop on their strikes. Alvarez landed lots of strikes against the cage and went for the choke, Chandler got on top with 30 seconds. Bloody mat.
Michael Chandler was tired and bleeding in round three. His left eye was a mess. By the time round five started, it was 12:33 AM. The West Coasters got a taste of what the East Coasters have to put up with regarding the late show times. The live crowd showed some life (finally) after the end of round five.
R2 was the swing round… but not apparently to the California judges. Scores: Mike Beltran (48-47 Chandler), Steven Davis (48-47 Alvarez), Derek Cleary (48-47 Alvarez). The fans were mixed about the decision and I agree with their sentiments. Look at the round-by-round score card here. Beltran got the right overall score but gave Chandler R3 when Alvarez won it and he gave R2 to Alvarez. Alvarez got R2 on all the cards. That gave Cleary his 48-47 score and the same with Davis.
I'm hearing Djork oops Bjork got served a big fat plate of Karma tonight Congrats Eddie!!
— Dana White (@danawhite) November 3, 2013
What struck a chord with me about the main event was the Thursday preview special in which Eddie Alvarez said he was going to make Bjorn regret how he handled the contractual situation and that winning the fight would be the catalyst of that regret. He got the belt.
It’s a nice pitch and all but it’s like watching AJ Styles tell Dixie Carter that he’s going to “make her pay” and then the payoff is that he’s leaving the promotion, kind of like what Eddie Alvarez wants to do. Not exactly the the most inspiring message to send to the public about what the top fighters think of Bellator. Imagine if the casual fans knew what was going on with Ben Askren.
And finally, since the show was in California, it was interesting to watch the various cast of characters working for the commission at the show. Some of the guys Andy Foster has brought on (you know who you are) are decent. Some of them are complete goofs, however. The LAPD/LASD influence is strong. Big John McCarthy worked the show and so did his son as a judge. My favorite character getting bookings in Southern California is a security guy named Louis Perry. He’s the imposing tall guy (w/ glasses) who got TV time after Mike Richman scored his KO. Perry’s claim to fame is that he worked for free for the infamous Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s doctor, so that he could get a marketing rub for his private security business. I kid you not. Not only that, Perry told the press that he felt Murray was a good guy caught in a bad situation and being tugged apart by different camps who were trying to use the guy. Perry has been spotted in the past signing off fighter handwraps and telling them to go to his web site.
Joe Ulrey, the veteran athletic inspector, always has an uncanny knack of finding the camera (and vice versa).
I had a veteran athletic inspector point out to me a habit that referee Jason Herzog displays when he’s watching two guys strike. The inspector noted that Herzog is always looking to his left in striking exchanges and never to his right.
What stands out to me about California shows now is that the style of regulation for the MMA events is more focused than the boxing events. The boxing shows may be regulated by Andy’s right hand man, Mark Relyea, but it’s the wild west with bad judges and mismatches compared to the MMA side of the equation. This is really the first time in modern combat sports history that we’ve seen a “major” commission be largely an MMA-first operation. The boxing side leaves a whole lot to be desired.