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The obstacles ahead for Bellator on MTV2

By Zach Arnold | March 5, 2011

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Tonight, they essentially ran head-on against Strikeforce’s event from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. ESPN ran results from the Strikeforce show on their news ticker. Bellator results? Not so much. The two shows provided a contrast for the MMA fan looking for something different than the standard set by UFC.

The Bellator show at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, California featured a crowd that was more laid back than active. That’s a promoter’s worse nightmare. The toughest job in the world for an event promoter is to keep a crowd active and involved and energized throughout a show. On too many Bellator events, the crowds are sitting back and acting like they are watching a movie as opposed to really being involved in cheering for certain fighters.

Both the Bellator & Strikeforce telecasts aired on tape delay for the West Coast. Bellator’s PR staff had already e-mailed out event results before the show started to air on MTV2 for those in the Pacific time zone. Oops. As for the fights that aired on TV, there were two that didn’t air on TV that probably would have made the fans at home happier (Spiritwolf’s gritty split-decision win and Zoila Frausto’s 125-pound bout). BTW, it appears that Zoila will no longer fight at 115 pounds and a 125 pound tournament will be developed shortly. So much for Zoila defending a 115 pound title. Doesn’t make that tournament look good in hindsight.

Back to the MTV2 telecast. It was slow-paced tonight. The fans weren’t all that into it. The one time they did get into the action was when referee Josh Rosenthal found himself in controversy. Jay Hieron had Anthony Lapsley in a choke and was doing his best to try to cover it against the cage ala Urijah Faber on Takeya Mizugaki. Rosenthal stopped the fight because Lapsley wasn’t responding to him and he thought that he was out cold. However, once Rosenthal ordered for the break and stoppage, Lapsley popped up and the fans started booing loudly. It was the one time the crowd showed some life on the telecast. Rosenthal was interviewed by Jimmy Smith after the fight for a clarification and promptly got booed. Jay Hieron, who can never seem to win even when he technically does, got booed hard by the crowd as well after he said, “I’m back.” He put over Lapsley as a dangerous fighter because he had 8 kids and needed to win fights to feed them.

As for the other fights, the less said about Rick Hawn vs. Jim Wallhead the better. The first two rounds of Brent Weedman vs. Dan Hornbuckle were fun. Round three was not, however. Lyman Good did enough to beat Chris Lozano and get the decision win to move on. It was not exactly a rocking start for the promotion’s Welterweight tournament.

Results from the TV matches:

If MTV2’s demographics cater to 10-to-12 years olds, I don’t think this show exactly appealed to their senses. A lot of work remains.

As for tonight’s Strikeforce event (results here), it was largely what I expected when I said the show looked good on paper. I liked what I saw. Interesting to note that if the promotion had booked Marloes Coenen vs. Liz Carmouche for a non-title three-round fight that Liz would have won the decision and a rematch would have been booked. Instead, it was a title fight and Marloes survived and won in four rounds. Dan Henderson continues being the guy that everyone cheers for and tonight it was no different. Feijao gave him everything he could but Dan’s powerful punching came through in the clutch and he battled back in excellent style to win the 205-pound title.

Quotes from the post-fight press conference.

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 40 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

40 Responses to “The obstacles ahead for Bellator on MTV2”

  1. Chuck says:

    Tonight I watched Bellator, Strikeforce, and HBO Boxing that had Saul Alvarez (next big boxing star) vs. Matthew Hatton, Ricky’s younger brother. Yeah that’s a lot of fights. Oh, and AAA Lucha Libre earlier in the day, if that counts!

    The Bellator show was alright, and yeah the Hornbuckle/Weedman fight was a good grappling match. I had Hornbuckle 29-28, but it could have gone either way (first round was close, second for Weedman, third for Hornbuckle).

    The Strikeforce card was a lot of fun. Especially the title fights. Coenen showed a lot of heart surviving the fight, and Carmouche definitely came to win, and she did great. She had nothing to be ashamed of. But in the second and third rounds when Carmouche had Coenen in the full mount and rained down punches she really didn’t do much damage. Coenen did a great job covering up and protecting herself. And the victory was definitely Silva/Sonnen like. Or Big Nog in general.

    Henderson/Feijao was fun. Henderson has a gift on loan from GOD with that right hand. Man! He could probably take down small militias if he throws enough of those right hands!

    I didn’t think the Hawn/Wallhead fight was bad. Neither guy has much of a future in MMA, but it was an alright stand-up match. The size differential was phenomenal between the two. Hawn was so much bigger than Wallhead. It is obvious Hawn cut a lot of water weight to make 170 lbs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ballooned up to 190 or so lbs. by fight time. I’m calling it now, Lyman Good wins the tournament, beating Brent Weedman in the finals (if the brackets are set up as that). I think the Rick Hawn hype-train ends pretty damn soon.

  2. I highly doubt this card appealed to the 12-24 years old demo of MTV2

    Even the crowd didn’t seem to like the event, which didn’t have any real highlights

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    I didn’t see the SF card yet. Here are my thoughts on the Bellator show….

    1) No HD made the program really ugly. Sometimes non HD programs can look half decent. That was not the case here. Some of the stuff wasn’t friendly on the eyes. A complete 180 to last years presentation which was some nice looking video.

    2) And keeping on the topic of comparing it to last year…. In general the production values seem to be down. Not as many fighter interviews. The graphics looked a little more cheesy. You could tell they were cutting costs.

    3) More sponsorships. Who knows how much money they actually got for those deals. I’m sure they were sold based on the bulk of the season. But still an upgrade.

    Now onto the fights….

    4) Here on the east coast they had 1 hour of no competition before SF started. What a bad way to start the show with 2 boring fights. It gave hardcore fans no reason to stick around for the rest of the show if they had Showtime.

    5) Rothensals stoppage was horrible. Just horrible. And the worst part about it was that after he knew he screwed up, he was still trying to justify it to the guy. He needs to man up to his mistakes sooner rather then later. And it was a shame too because Hieron would have likely won anyways and gotten a legit stoppage.

    6) I would be surprised if Hieron didn’t win the tournament.

    Overall….. Bellator’s programming was just lacking. It felt like a chore to continue to watch it. I’ve never felt that watch the UFC or SF. I’ve been bored with fights in those organizations. I’ve been annoyed with commentators (like Mauro). But never felt like watching the telecasts was like a chore. Bellator is a good place for a prospect to get experience. But it’s a place they can get trapped once they have wholly cleared out their division (like Alvarez). And their telecast doesn’t make me want to continue watching it every week. I still will…. But maybe I will start the show an hour late and use the DVR as my best friend.

    On a completely random comment…. What are the chances of MTV2 dropping Bellator once the UFC signs back on with SpikeTV? Is Bellator just CBS’s insurance policy just in case the UFC decides to love to FX?

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    SF’s show had an attendance of around 7,100. Which was down over 1,000 from what the WEC drew the previous year with Cruz/Bowles headlining.

    It’s a shockingly low number considering the type of demographic that is at the Arnold Classic.

    Makes me wonder if the UFC knew it was a depleting market which is why they went from a UFC event to WEC event to nothing.

    Oh, and at least on a gate level it shows Henderson is not a draw. For a guy who has crazy power in his right hand…. For some reason he doesn’t translate well to casual fans.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      To me, the general rule of thumb with SF is that, for most shows, they aren’t a good live house promotion. They have a small office and largely rely on Showtime to help with production. Compare that to the amount of people Zuffa have in their office and it’s not even close. The Showtime structure is more or less a boxing structure and to run as many shows as SF is, you need a lot of bodies and a lot of elbow grease.

      I say put less blame on Henderson and more of it on the promotion.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        After I posted this comment I read a post on the UG where somebody said the grappling tournament at Arnold’s was really bad this year because it was run by karate guys instead of NAGA. And the number of participants for that event was way down fromthe previous year. I would assume that’s the type of fan who would be a MMA ticket…. So that could have also led to it.

        And I agree that SF is also to blame…. But if you even look at Henderson’s ratings for SF, he is not one of their biggest draws. The CBS show tanked. His SHO cards haven’t done great numbers.

        Even in the UFC he wasn’t a huge draw. He was in the right place at the right time for UFC 75 which was the first free title fight. But his name on top of PPV’s with guys like Franklin were baseline PPV numbers for the time.

        • nottheface says:

          Henderson may not have been one of the bigger draws for the UFC but they must have thought he had some drawing power as evidence by signing him on as a headliner for UFC 92, putting him on TUF, planning on his headlining UFC 103 (before his contract became an issue) and then reportedly offering him a bout against Nate to top the card at UFC 108 or 109.

          And if one compares his ppv numbers for UFC 92 (350,000 buys) to the other non-title foreign ppv cards (UFC 127 – 300,000 buys, UFC 111 – 240,000 buys, UFC 96 – 360,000 buys, UFC 85 – 215,000 buys) it compares nicely. As I said before, he’s not one of the elite A-listers (which there are but a handful) but he’s a solid “B” star with a strong core of fans.

  5. EJ says:

    So the king of the bs stoppage strikes again seriously Josh Rosenthal has to be the worst ref that isn’t named Big Dan.

    As far as the Bellator show goes the fights didn’t exactly deliver but it was a solid night of action. And I was happy that the judges scored the Weidman/Hormbuckle fight correctly so they get points for that.

    The SF show was typical SF, it has it’s moments but overall there isn’t really anything i’ll take away aside from the women’s fight which was really fun.

  6. Jun says:

    Why are comments closed on the Nagashima story?

  7. EJ says:

    So let me get this straight Nick Diaz makes 150k and Dan Henderson makes 250k while Fedor makes about 2 million. And people want to act like SF isn’t going down the same road as Affliction?, give me a break.

    • TheRage says:

      Showtime pays Fedor.

    • nottheface says:

      For the 1st show, Affliction paid 5 fighters more than what they paid Dan and they paid Ben Rothwell the same amount.

      For their 2nd show they paid Fedor $300k (plus over a $1 mil consulting fee), Barnett $500k, and Arlovski $1.5mil, and Belfort and Lindland both made $200k or more.

      I don’t know how anyone can look at those payroll numbers and think Strikeforce is following the same path. In fact, with Cung Le and Frank Shamrock both having received as much as Henderson his “huge contract” suddenly looks a lot more affordable. Shit, Michael Bisping makes more.

    • Zack says:

      That’s the opposite of going down the same road. Hendo & Diaz are two of their headliners and bigger stars and they’re making healthy but not huge salaries. Compare that to paying Ben Rothwell $250k…or Lindland $300k.

      • EJ says:

        Looks like the same road to me all the people who justify Dana and Nick’s payrolls probably thought it was a great move for Affliction to overpay for Big Tim and AA.

        I mean Affliction thought they could afford to overpay these guys because they would make it back with the ppv buys then reality hit and they found out the truth.

        I’m sure someone at Showtime and SF thinks they can also afford to overpay these guys but I think they’ll learn the same lesson.

  8. Mr. Roadblock says:

    The Bellator show was unwatchable. I turned it off after the farce with Hieron/Lapsley.

    They need more exciting action fights if they’re trying to get people watching MTV2 to tune in.

    As for production values it looked terrible. The old IFC shows looked better. Much better. From a lighting and camera perspective. Nothing wrong with the old IFC shows I’m just trying to compare to something on a similar scale shot in SD.

    I’ll check out a few more Bellator shows because I work Saturday nights. But that was absolutely horrendous.

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    Bellator averaged 200,000 viewers. Which is what I was figuring it would do. Less then a typical SF Challenger show.

  10. mr. roadblock says:

    Dangerous Dan certainly isn’t a draw. By whatever metric you use. 412,000 viewers on Showtime is terrible. That’s 100,000 less than Nick Diaz draws.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      But what about all that momentum? I thought SF was pushing to the next level! Lol.

      SF & Bellator combined couldn’t get as many viewers as Sanchez/Kampmann…. And that was a horrible ratings show for the UFC.

    • nottheface says:

      Out of the 37 MMA events Showtime has aired the last 3 cards rank as the 1st, 3rd, and 6th highest viewed cards.

      The only cards that beat last night are Gina vs Cyborg, last years Herschel Walker card, and Kimbo Slice vs Tank Abbot.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Half of those cards are challenger shows and get low ratings. So they shouldn’t even be part of the discussion.

        Strikeforce was supposed to have momentum. They were supposed to have a serious carry over of interested since the Fedor card. That did not happen. And that is the problem.

        Once you get past The GP, Gina, and Walker….. This show is within the normal range of the rest of their championship shows. It didn’t have any magical peaked interest. It shows that SF still can’t bring in a greater audience when there isn’t a gimmick. And that’s a huge problem. Because constantly selling a gimmick gets old and doesn’t have longevity.

        SF is right back to where they started really….. I say that in terms of being unable to promote their championship fights to get good interest.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Yeah that’s pretty disappointing for them coming of their record rating, obviously they can sell Walker, Carano and a HW tourney but little else.

      FWIW, it is actually 70,000 viewers higher than the last Henderson headlined card in December which averaged 341,000 and peaked [dirty word!] with 465,000 viewers. And in my opinion that card had a far more intriguing undercard.

      All in all, not good and only underscores the damage that not getting the tourney on track for April 9th will do to any traction they’d gained. That and Hendo is not much of a marquee drawing card.

      • nottheface says:

        I don’t see it as being that disappointing. Just consider the fact that it would have been the 2nd highest rated event of the year for Showtime if it had aired in 2007, 2008, or 2009. Because the number is down from their record peaks earlier in the year it’s a failure?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          The sport wasn’t as popular back then. Smaller fanbase. If you need to reach that far back then you really are reaching.

          The fight only did 70,000 more then Henderson’s last SHO fight. And that fight was going up against TUF. So really, there was no gain. It was about the same showing. Which means the GP had no effect.

          That’s the point. People were touting that the GP improved SF’s popularity. This is showing it didn’t. They are already backto where they were before the GP. It’s no different then the Fedor ratings on CBS. People talked about how great it was. And then no gains.

        • nottheface says:

          EDIT: Was also the 2nd highest viewed of 2010. In 2007 it would have been the highest rated.

        • nottheface says:

          It would have been the 2nd highest rated Strikeforce show of 2010, only behind the Miami event which had Herschel on the card. It would have been the 2nd highest rated show of 2009, only behind Carano vs Cyborg. It would have been the 2nd highest rated show of 2008, only behind Kimbo vs Tank. And yet it is a failure? The ratings are only poor in comparison to the last two cards that aired which also happen to be the number one and number three highest rated cards for MMA in Showtime’s history.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          You are completely missing the point. You are obsessed with previous years numbers that mean nothing.

          The problem is that the GP was supposed to be a jump start for SF. It was supposed to increase interest in their shows.

          Now here we have one of their top stars who fought recently before and recently after that card to gauge what impact the GP had.

          And what was the difference? 70,000 fans. And that number can easily be explained away by the lack of UFC counter programming this time around.

          That is the entire problem. The Grand Prix didn’t do anything to increase the profile of the company.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And the next indicator will be Nick Diaz. He had a card right before and soon after the GP. Without Walker on the card you should expect a slight decrease. If he can sustain the same ratings, then they have shown an increase in Diaz ratings from pre to post GP.

          Understand how that works?

          If he is down in ratings once again it shows they made no traction from the GP.

        • nottheface says:

          Holy shit you’re obsessed with proving Strikeforce is on their way out. Yes the numbers are down but if this is their new basement – 412,000 (and for a card with with little hype or interest in comparison to many of their other cards) – in comparison to lows of 310,000 and 164,000 last year.

          If next month rating are better – meaning a new entry into the top 5 for their best ratings ever – then this show will mark their new base support level and we can talk about how much was their increase in popularity. If ratings keep deteriorating then you can run with your “they lost their momentum” meme.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Your not getting it. I would assume you haven’t taken even a basic statistical analysis class in college. This is basic stuff.

          At no time in this discussion have I said SF is on their way out. What I am saying is that the GP didn’t do what it was supposed to do. And that is not good.

        • nottheface says:


  11. Zack says:

    LOL @ “your not getting it”

    45 is about to ejukate you on this situation

  12. smoogy says:

    Hey 45, what was your ratings expectation for Feijao vs. Henderson? Try to keep a straight face while you explain it too.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      I thought it would average over 500,000 viewers. Between. 500 and 550. I thought there would be some continued interest from the Grand Prix that transferred over to this show.

      That’s not what ended up happening. The bump up accounts for the lack of UFC but that’s it.

      With Bellator, they got exactly what I thought they would. So I was 1 for 2 on my guesses.

      • smoogy says:

        Your expectations were unrealistic, that’s all. The ratings do show a continued momentum from the WGP, but retaining 70-75 percent of the audience from Fedor vs. Silva with a much smaller build to Feijao vs. Henderson was never very realistic. I predicted 375k-400k average, for the record.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Unrealistic for SF to keep more views after their previous record? No, not really.

          Henderson got 70,000 more and probably because there was no TUF competition. It showed no real increase in a Henderson/SF card.

          So far there has been a Championship and Challenger shows since the GP and they are not on the same path.


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