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The wheels fall off of the Humpty Dumpty Bellator PPV

By Zach Arnold | October 25, 2013

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When news broke on Friday that Tito Ortiz had a neck injury and was pulled off the Bellator November 2nd PPV in Long Beach, you knew Dana White was going to throw a party on social media. You also knew that the chants from UFC fans of death to Bellator would start. Bad contracts, legal fights with Eddie Alvarez, a tumultuous free agency situation with Ben Askren. Like a house of cards, Viacom’s attempt to stay in MMA on the cheap is proving to be worth a whole lot of trouble.

It’s been a bad week for California State Athletic Commission boss Andy Foster. First, the attempt to create a commission-controlled association for officials with Big John McCarthy was revealed. Second, a connecting-the-dots article on our site about the current violent mismatches being rubber stamped by the Sacramento front office was published. And now, say bye bye to the Bellator PPV next week.

Last August, Bellator had Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson stare down at their event in Albuquerue, New Mexico. Less than three months later at the same venue, Bjorn Rebney delivered the news that Bellator’s PPV would be converted into a three-hour Spike TV special with Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus & Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez getting top billing. Part of the settlement between Alvarez and Bellator was the idea that his fight would be on PPV. Now it’s not. That’s a whole another can of worms.

In retrospect, it’s amazing to look back at how much faith Viacom put into Tito vs. Rampage. They spent over a month pushing the fight by integrating the two fighters into TNA storylines. Tito then turned heel on Rampage and both men disappeared to training camps. Rampage taped a reality show in which he slacked off from training and wasn’t taking the fight seriously. Way to promote the fight. Months of advertising was launched. Even during Friday night’s Bellator event from New Mexico, there were still Rampage/Tito ads all over the place.

So, next Saturday night, we have a 3-hour Bellator block on Spike TV. Here is how the card looks:

As for Rampage Jackson, he told Inside MMA that he wanted his fight still on PPV and that he would approve of Kimbo Slice, Houston Alexander, Tyrone Spong, or Chuck Liddell as opponents.

“My heart goes out to Tito. At the end of the day I can’t be selfish and be upset. Injuries. Damn things happen all the time. … Throw another opponent at me and still keep the PPV. I just wanted to show the world and the fans that still support me that I’m back.”

Dave Meltzer has a breakdown of what happened on Bellator’s hastily-arranged Friday conference call.

For Andy Foster and the California State Athletic Commission, they just lost an automatic $25,000 PPV tax check. CSAC will get a TV tax check but it may be smaller than expected. John Morgan of MMA Junkie claimed that 1,750 tickets were sold and that another 2,000 tickets were given out to fighters to go sell. Yes, a Viacom-owned MMA property reportedly used an independent promoter gimmick of having fighters sell ticket blocks. The word going around in optimistic Sacramento circles was that they were told that 4,000 tickets had been sold for Long Beach and that 8,000 tickets would be dispersed come show time. Instead, there’s going to be a whole lot of papering going on with the freebies available the day of the show. Fans probably won’t need to pay for a ticket if they show up near the building (or have connections) the day of the show. This will certainly mean a smaller tax haul for the commission from the live gate revenue than first expected.

Bellator is now based in California. This was supposed to be one of the crown jewels for Andy Foster. Bellator running PPVs and big events in the state. So far, the TV tax revenue from Bellator events has been minimal because Spike is only budgeting $50,000 to $60,000 per event, which translates into a $2,000-$3,000 TV tax check to the commission. Viacom is making money on Bellator through advertising because they aren’t spending a whole lot of money on shows. However, as I wrote recently on Fightline, there was a reason Viacom wanted Bellator to make the gamble and hit PPV. They’re not into small ball. They want to see growth. They want higher cash flow. Now the Long Beach PPV is canceled — and that’s probably a good thing given how tough of a sell it was going to be. Live to fight another day.

In the grand scheme of things, there are plenty of lessons for Viacom/Spike TV/Bellator to take away from the failed Long Beach PPV experiment-turned-dry-run. The question is whether or not they will learn from those mistakes when they attempt to get on PPV in 2014.

Topics: Bellator, CSAC, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “The wheels fall off of the Humpty Dumpty Bellator PPV”

  1. RST says:

    That’s a decent card! There is a lot of mileage in quote unquote EX ufc dudes! A lot of hardcore isht!

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    1) The Cheick Kongo fight has been moved to the following weekend.

    2) Dana White is right about there being no value in Bellator. When you have 3 title fights and the twos biggest “stars” you created yourself (Chandler & Curran) and you do not have faith it can sell a PPV…. it proves DFW right.

    There are probably about 10 fighters the UFC would be interested in picking up.

    And the value for Zuffa is in these 10 or so fighters…

    Ben Askren, Douglas Lima, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Emmanuel Newton, Mo Lawal, Pat Curran, & maybe a few others. I could see them taking a few Heavyweights just because thete division is hurting for prospect.

    Even champions like Vegh and Schlemenko are more likely to help fill the WSOF roster then they are to go to the UFC. If anything buying Bellator would be a burden on a company who already has a huge roster they are trying to trim. I just cant see them buying up 100 more guys.

    3) Will Showtime try and pick up the pieces, buy Bellator, and use it as a foundation to start back MMA? If they do not try it here, then I would say they are officially out of the MMA market for the long term.

    4) The question now becomes if Bellator will make it to 2014. I say 60/40 they will but it will be the final swan song.

    5) I like the idea of a solid #2 that can funnel talent to the UFC. Bellator was just too shady and bad to its fighters to be that company. A shame really.

  3. Jonathan says:

    You base your PPV around the fragile neck of Tito Ortiz, do not be surprised when it all falls apart.

    But back when the UFC shut down Strikeforce, I told everyone not to treat Bellator like a UFC competitor just because they were the largest organization left.

    Bellator never was true competition for the UFC, but everyone wanted to look at them as such simply because they were not Zuffa-owned.

    I said it then, and I will say it. The UFC IS the sport of MMA,just the NFL is football and the NBA is basketball. Yes, there are smaller regional leagues in those sports that none of us had heard of, and that is exactly what Bellator is to the UFC.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Taking Bellator out of the picture…

      The problem for MMA going forward will be the farm system. NFL has college football. College football is as popular as the pro game in certain parts of the States. Where’s the farm system going to be for UFC? It can’t simply be amateur wrestling programs.

      There needs to be promotions below UFC who can help fill out the farm system. WSOF is not that deal. They’re simply the stalking horse for Zuffa against any ‘national’ rivals.

      UFC is quickly going to find themselves in the same situation that Vince McMahon did after he raided the territories in the 80s. Over 30 years later, we’re talking about how much the destruction of the territory system hurt the business.

      • nottheface says:

        Why can’t the UFC create regional promotion franchises to fill that role? They could easily set up a UFC Brazil, Australia/Oceania, Europe, Asia, Russia, plus the current North American. Each of those cold hold their own 8-12 fight night/challenger type cards that are only aired in that region plus the 12-16 world wide ppv type shows sold everywhere. Now they would have their own feeder system with the added benefit of pushing out possible regional competition. Fighters would have less leverage and they can lock fighters into their contracts even earlier in their careers.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          They are starting to do that with the European Series which will be more for Europe and might not even be shown in America.

          Long term there future might be a monthly show in 10 or so countries.

      • Jonathan says:


        I understand what you are saying, but I think that the sports that make up MMA are far more prevelant in our world than the wrasslin’ territories were in the 1980s before the rise of WCW and WWF.

        I know that you are a pro-wrestling guy, and yes the sports are similar, but that does not mean that everything that happens in wrestling directly correlates or makes the leap to MMA.

        Regarding Bellator, there is no problem with them being around, but the second that Strikeforce shut down people just switched their attention to Bellator, like somehow over night they became the #2 organization behind the UFC by default. People started building them up because they were the only other viable option left, and the sad thing is that they believed it.

        There will never be another “Pride” foil to the UFC.

  4. Great CSAC sucks. They should have taken this fight to Texas.

    Rampage is training in Rosarito, Baja Ca. He probably now is in TJ at Adelitas. LOL

  5. Chris says:

    Its actually a good thing for Bellator because they would have put on the biggest and best card they could make and it would have flopped terribly on PPV. It would show the whole world they cant compete with the UFC and months of promoting and title fights couldnt even crack 100k buys.

    So now you make it a Spike card which should be the highest rated Spike card they’ve done and they can spin it into a positive.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      It is already a bad thing no matter how you slice it. It proves they cant produce stars who can make them money. It also show that they will tale financial hits wheb UFC washouts cant keep healthy on there cards.

      This is a disaster.

  6. RST says:

    Thats the first I heard about tito pulling out.
    He can even be bothered to show up?

    But hey man!
    How much sympathy am I supposed to have for someone who would hang their hat on tito and rampage?


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